Sunday, 28 April 2013

Is Liah Greenfeld the stupidest Sociologist in the Universe?

No. That's why, like Avis, she tries harder. She has just published a book which suggests that increasing levels of Mental Illness are associated with the Economically successful, Secular and Egalitarian Nationalisms of the sort  she thinks characterizes the free Societies of the West.
Her thesis, though not logically deducible from any possible combination of premises, is nevertheless associated in her writing with the following two assertions-
1)  Greenfeld's theory of Nationalism as defining the modern culture which shapes how we think. According to her, the Nation was invented by the English in the Sixteenth Century because the Tudors employed Commoners in high positions. Nationalism means all members of the Nation are equal and so, since they can't compete with each other for thymotic status,  they collectively engage in competition with other Nations in those fields where they have an absolute advantage.
Let us pause for a moment to consider whether there is any truth in what Prof. Greenfeld says.
Is there any type of Society which is not competitive? Did Athens not compete with Corinth and Sparta at the Olympic games? Of course not. Athens wasn't a Nation, it was a Polis- a City State. Thus, it couldn't possibly compete against some other City State. Pausanias tells us that City States didn't always play fair to score over their rivals '"Sotades at the ninety-ninth Festival was victorious in the long race and proclaimed a Cretan, as in fact he was. But at the next Festival he made himself an Ephesian, being bribed to do so by the Ephesian people. For this act he was banished by the Cretans."[4]
 However, Greenfeld might say City States, unlike Nations aren't INHERENTLY competitive because...urm...well they just aren't okay? Similarly, Empires aren't inherently competitive, Princedoms aren't inherently competitive- only Nations are because...urm... well, they just are, okay? Remember the U.S.S.R? It wasn't a Nation, it was a Union of Soviet Socialist Republics which is why it wasn't at all inherently competitive with the U.S.A- which actually is a Nation. Obviously, once the USSR was dissolved and Russia under Yeltsin became a Nation, it just got terribly inherently competitive with the U.S.A as I'm sure you'll remember. Unfortunately, Yeltsin concentrated on being a bigger drunken buffoon than Bush or Clinton, which didn't do the Russians any good, but Greenfeld, who was born in Vladivostok, can explain why-

True, Kruschev, who was Ukrainian, did say he was going to compete with the U.S.A in the field of Consumer products but since he wasn't the head of the Ukrainian Nation or any other Nation, but the head of something that wasn't a Nation, it follows that though outwardly competitive, inherently, no such competition obtained.

Similarly, the fact that Communist States showed far higher social mobility, at least before Brezhnev style 'stabilization of the cadres' created a hereditary nomenklatura, shows that ...urm... well, it shows something or other. Actually, come to think of it Afghanistan had more 'Civil Society' than British India coz. Faiz's dad was just a barefoot shepherd but rose to a high position by ability alone...but, hang on, that sort of thing happened a lot in Islamic States, including purely theocratic ones which, by definition, weren't 'wataniya'- i.e. Nationalist....Oh dear. This is strange. The notion of what we call meritocracy turns out to have existed in Qin China, pre-Mauryan India, come to think of it David, in the Bible, was a barefoot shepherd...well, clearly, though many polities have operated just like Greenfeld 'nations', still 'the form of consciousness prevailing in them did not allow for the existence of such political phenomena- though the noumenon corresponding to it did obtain- what actually happened was that when the Qin accepted the Mohtist argument for careers open to talent though people spoke and wrote as though they understood the concept, they didn't really, they were actually thinking about dragons or chop suey or other Oriental stuff of that sort.
Similarly, when the English- even though they invented the concept of a secular and egalitarian Nation- continued to talk and write and make laws which implied that Women weren't equal to men, Peers of the Realm remained entitled to a trial by members of their own chamber, Non Conformists and Catholics and so on suffered all sorts of Civil disabilities, workhouse kids were sent up chimneys or down coal mines- when all that was happening it was purely coincidental. You see, the English were preparing an after dinner skit all through the seventeenth and eighteenth and a long way into the Nineteenth century and so they habitually spoke or wrote or did things in a manner which gave color to the notion that they weren't a secular and egalitarian people at all. Thus, when a Seventeenth Century English Queen turned a nice little profit selling English girls into slavery in America that wasn't an example of  Slave trade. What Slave trade? We don't got no steenkin Slave Trade here!

What about Greenfeld's notion that Economies with sustained growth- countries which have transformed themselves in my life time like Singapore, Qatar, Kuwait, Mauritius - can't exist without Nationalism?

Surely that must be true?
Take the 2 Koreas. North Korea was more advanced Economically that is why it chose to compete by turning into an Economic powerhouse producing the best big screen T.Vs and mobile phones in the world. South Korea, being mainly agricultural, concentrated on folk dancing. This is why North Korea is a far more secular and egalitarian Society than South Korea- which is doomed to backwardness. The same thing happened with East and West Germany- the latter concentrated on building cathedrals and staging passion plays while the secular and egalitarian East concentrated on heavy industry.
What's that you say? There was a woman called Irma Adelman and she advised the South Koreans on how to industrialize and lift themselves out of poverty? Adelman you say her name was..Yes, no doubt about it. Typical Korean name. Clearly an out and out Korean Nationalist. She fucking Tae Kwan Do'd the Military Junta till they implemented her plans.
But what if some other country- like India- had invited over this Adelman chick and followed her advise instead of listening to shitheads like Kaldor and Joan Robinson? The fact is, Economists know absolute advantage means shit. Comparative advantage is what determines what you concentrate on. But you need smart people to spot where comparative advantage, acquired or otherwise, arises. Suppose smart and greedy people get their hands on Govt. policy. What is to stop them doing the economically smart thing even absent any sense of nationalism or entity which could be classed as a Nation? Can oligarchies never gain control of a Polity? If so, might Nationalism not be fabricated later on to get the masses to fight to protect the oligarchs' gains?
Greenfeld thinks not.
This is very interesting. It turns out that once a guy has made enough money he quits Business and does something else UNLESS Nationalism stops him by 'ennobling' his pursuit of yet further wealth. This proves that America isn't a nation. Lots of rich dudes- Herbert Hoover, Ross Perot, Bloomberg, Nelson Rockefeller, Bill Gates etc- quit business after they've made their pile and go in for something else. True a lot of other rich dudes don't quit but keep at it coz they like what they do or coz it's the only way they know to occupy their time meaningfully- but that happens in traditional societies too. Wealthy businessmen stick to business because it's all they know how to do. A Caste society, like India, can turn into an oligarchy if the merchant caste can hire better soldiers and that oligarchy can disguise itself as a Nation entrenching Caste privileges behind a camouflage of  Property and/or Credentialist Rights. Indeed, for Anglophone countries, the suspicion has always been that this is the true explanation of how things worked out and this have driven political struggle and ideological debate in a manner that, occasionally, has actually improved Social Equity.
How is this fact compatible with Greenfeld's thesis? I suspect she has a novel answer. People living in English speaking nations are all totally mad. That's why they think she is talking shite. If they weren't mad, they'd see she was totally in the right- being a Nation means you get advanced economic growth which drives you mad so you don't get how clever this girl from Vladivostok really is.

2) Greenfeld's theory of the Human Mind

Animals are born knowing their place in the world and their place in the pecking order. That is why two animals of the same species never fight to establish which is dominant. David Attenborough faked all his Nature Documentaries. Why? He's English- thus totally mad. Incidentally, God is an Englishman. Why? because he invented Evolution and Evolution is totally unnecessary coz animals automatically know their place in the social order and so don't have to go in for sexual competition through things like dominance or mating displays which only exist coz like animals are not just Cartesian meat-machines simply but also windowless monads going through the motions of a pre-established harmony choreographed by a lunatic God with a Michael Caine type accent.

Greenfeld's idiocy is in assuming that stuff about Identity is incompossibly cloud sourced and 'crowd forced'- in the sense that it is both downloaded from some cloudy 'Culture' detached from the agents you interact with and also that the crowd you actually interact with can force a synchronization upon you such that you become what they say you are leaving you no buffer. If this were true, Identity faces a Race Hazard and becomes glitchey in a noisy environment -i.e. the computational burden of maintaining identity would require a huge amount of logic redundancy. As a matter of fact, this is a possible way of thinking about schizophrenia- occupational therapy can be a bit like building Karnaugh maps, or finding an alternative neurological locus to do the sort of stuff, which kind of builds up a general purpose module that restores noetic function to a widening sphere of life supporting operations.
However, Greenfeld isn't interested in helping Schizophrenics have a better life. She believes there is something called 'the Symbolic Imagination' which is uniquely human and if you don't have it you're fucked. Why? Well, it turns out, instead of pattern recognition, Karnaugh map type solutions to Race Hazard, Greenfeld wants substantive logic redundancy on the basis of the Symbolic Imagination- i.e. you've got to imagine all possible worlds and build a huge number of logic gates all over the place and once you're done, turns out you're not done at all coz in addition to this uniquely human 'Symbolic Imagination' there's also a uniquely human 'Will' which has to go sit at each of those fucking logic gates and arbitrage everything while constantly worrying whether it's a 'strong' enough Will to do its job coz it turns out, Greenfeld tells us, them logic gates are context dependent and keeps changing as the System changes- so basically the Will is fucked. Sisyphus had it easy. Hand me the fucking Vodka, lady from Vladivostok- Russian Roulette is the only sane game in town.

The question I asked at the beginning of this post was whether Greenfeld is the stupidest Sociologist in the Universe. Did someone take her by the tail and twirl her around in the air? Something went wrong, that is clear. Overwork? But what work has this woman ever accomplished which wasn't vanity? She speaks of insanity, not to ameliorate the condition of those who suffer it, but to castigate, under the pretense of praising, those democratic nations which have provided her both education and advancement at the price, certainly, of a crushing sense of anomie inflicted by her own dismay at the Western Academy's abject failure to spot her worthlessness.
I'm not making this up. That's what the woman actually said at a Public lecture at the LSE.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

My Honeymoon in Kashmir

Thus is my Christian Wollf-man by Fraud transcended
& thus  every Frankly rape therapy ever ended
Not Nature or Culture, 'tis the Tame & the Wild
Snatches, Nund, the doll of a neglected child


As is the death of a neglected child, to a destitute mother, such relief
Know, Nund, Love as Second Creation in, now, the Eternity of Grief.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Kipling & Khusrou

A stripling Kipling and Kara Khitan Khusrou
Taught me Ind to naught Indian know
So the Soul dream, let God sleep
Baa baa Orhan sheep

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Sikdar's rule & gravity assists.

Ever wondered why the highest mountain peak in the world is called Everest? Wikipedia gives the bare bones of the story but has rejected my edit which would clarify the matter once and for all.

Briefly, Everest was a Nineteenth Century British dude who prevented a Bengali mathematician- named Radhanat Sikdar- from rising in the world to become a 'Dipty' (i.e. a Deputy District Collector of Revenues who might, ex officio, also act as Sub-Judge)  by enunciating the doctrine that subordinates can't switch jobs between different branches of the Raj Salariat without the express permission of their Department Head. Clearly, this was so salient and outstanding a dogma that its originator retains to this day the highest claim to being commemorated by, with such signal injustice, having had his unhappy subordinate's discovery named after himself.
Of course, as Radhanath well knew, Everest wasn't the most salient point on the Earth's surface in the sense of being furthest from its centre. In that sense, Kilimanjaro is higher as are Mountains in Equador- coz the Earth, like a Babu of the best type, has a bit of middle aged spread round its Equator.

Still, Sikdar's rule can mean one of two incompossible but, admitting Universal Ontological dysphoria, acutally necessarily complementary things
1) the concrete deontic right of a Dept. Head to fuck over his subordinate and take credit for the latter's work
2) the alethic, that is virtual or merely mathematical, geodetics which, absent an Everest to enforce Newtonian substantivism, turns into Poincare ergodicity- i.e. something French and totally immoral coz like Clairaut could mebbe start getting it on with Madame du Chatelet and Voltaire would be left just holding his dick like a loser and consoling himself with some bogus Upanishad or Purana forged by the Jesuits.

Siddhanta- In the sublime works of Sri Aurobindo & Mamta Di, we find a resolution of the philosophical aporias represented by Sikdar's rule.  Just as Mamta retained the Police Chief who once bit her and Aurobindo soared towards the Superman by dint of the drag put upon him by Police spies, so too is every Everest a but gravity assist slingshoting every Right Wing, Libertarian, Hindutva nut-job, like yours truly, out of the Blogosphere and into a more supernal type of Oblivion.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Should Caste be covered by the Equality Act?

If all you are concerned with is Justice and Utility and stuff like that- go ahead and answer yes. The same goes for looney toons Hindutva types who think eradicating Caste will instantaneously turn India into a Super Power and this will make every N.R.I or P.I.O dick at least two inches longer and wider.
But what if you were philosophically inclined? Would you still think the answer is yes?
Before rushing to judgement, consider the case of  Naveed vs. Aslam where an Employment Tribunal dismissed the Claimant's allegation of caste discrimination on the following grounds

What would happen if the Crown amends the Equality Act to bring Caste discrimination within its purview?
Well, in that case being discriminated against because of one's Caste- even if those doing the discriminating are of the same Caste- would be actionable. In the case of Mr. Naveed, a chef from Pakistan whose style of cooking was not to the liking of his employer's clientele, a case could be made that he was cooking 'proper' Arain food and his Arain employers were in fact discriminating against him because they had become deracinated Arains by reason of prosperity; in particular, their ownership of land and other assets ha turned them into 'Chowdhurys'. 
To my mind, this line of thought opens some truly marvelous vistas for litigious persons like myself. I have previously complained on this blog about the quite horrendous Racial and Sexual abuse I suffered, the former at the hands of my parents and the latter at the hands of my ex-wife. 
Previously, what restrained me from going to law was that it was open to the Court or Tribunal to find that, like Mr. Naveed, in the above example, since it was possible to alter my status within my Caste- for e.g by washing regularly or getting a job-in which case I would cease to be subject to abuse, therefore, it followed, that no actual Racial or Sexual abuse had occurred. I say this because it is only my lowly status within my Caste which endows me with such merely corporeal characteristics as Race and Gender. 
If the Equality Act is extended to Caste- at least Hindu Castes- then an exciting new vista is opened for the Philosophy of Law. This is because Caste- 'Jati'- signifies a type of concrete Universal such that it defines a class all of whose elements possess substance, quality and action as opposed to abstract Universals referring to things like inherence, existence or non existence, particularity, universality etc all of which are subsumed under the rubric of  upadhi -thus, assuming away the problem of 'sankaarya' (e.g. by a choice of vocabulary such that no ambiguity or over-lapping cross-reference arises) Jati defines what Western Philosophy calls an essence which, by definition,  must be permanent, unalterable and present in all possible worlds. In impossible or partly impossible and hence ontologically dysphoric worlds, Jati remains present but alterable or alterable but permanent. Thus, while remaining within the same Jati, one may be a God, a demon, an animal, a ghost or wholly insubstantial and all or none of these things simultaneously and with varying degrees of virtuality. More particularly, in the case of Hindus in the U.K- clearly they have lost Caste by crossing the black water but equally evidently they possess it by virtue of having never left India in the first place- in other words anything at all can be predicated of them with equal truth value. Furthermore, since Caste is alterable and moreover the possibility of subsisting in several different physical bodies simultaneously is admitted, if follows that the a priori virtuality of all Caste UK Hindus permits my bringing an action against myself for Caste discrimination- certainly a good way to punish myself for daring to be uppity.

What about non-Hindus? For them, clearly 'Caste' isn't about status but descent because there is no religious ceremony they can undergo, or ostracism they can incur, to change their Caste status. Here, though self-prosecution isn't possible, still the door is opened for sons to sue their fathers and brothers to sue their brothers. Speaking personally, it is my custom- as becomes a typically low status member of my caste- to hurl my feces at dinner guests while hanging from the chandelier. If my father fails to employ me, clearly it is because of my caste, not anything else. The fact that he belongs to the same caste doesn't change anything. He has improved his status within my caste but no one can deny that our very distant forbears behaved as I do now- hence it is something inherited by descent which can't be divorced from Caste since Caste- within non-Hindu Religions and Cultures- is wholly descent driven and, consequently, not alterable at will.

Not that any of the above excuses David Cameron's refusal to breast feed Nick Clegg- reserving all of his profuse lactation for the greedy little lips of the Chancellor of the Exchequer..
I've said it before and I'll say it again- that boy aint right.
Mind it kindly.

Friday, 12 April 2013

To Saigyo's ends, is the cat's wife thin

A Solomon's treasure is Mansur's fate
Yet I, majnun, but Night await
Tho' the Milky Way wends to Li Po's Inn
 To Saigyo's ends is the cat's wife thin?

David Friedman getting it wrong on Bork & Landsburg

Steve Landsburg, the enfant terrible of Demotic, Joe-the-Fox-News-watching-Plumber, Economics, posted some typically distasteful and speciously argued entries to his blog on the subject of the Stuebenville rape. David Friedman, the son of the illustrious Rose & Milton, came to Landsburg's defence in a series of blog posts which made the astonishing claim that there was something philosophically interesting in what Landsburg had written.

Was Friedman right?

Briefly- No.
Both the Law and Moral Intuition are unambiguous in determining that the State and/or Community takes guardianship of a person who lacks competence and is duty bound to take action against any transgression of that person's rights. It is of the essence of both Property and 'Natural' rights that they do not cease to exist in the absence or incapacity of the owner. If this weren't true, deontics would be as impossible a project, for rational Public Discourse, as Witchcraft or Vodoo. This being the case, for deontics not to be empty it must minimally be the case that a deontically legitimate State and or Community has an over riding duty to punish transgression of rights otherwise unenforceable by reason of absence or incompetence of the agent concerned.

Yet, it is a fact that Friedman has argued differently. What were his arguments?

Turning to his first post on the topic, we find he makes the following claims

1) that there is some similarity between some argument to be found in Landsburg's post and a principle enunciated in an essay by the Originalist legal scholar Robert Bork.

2) that the conjunction of Bork's essay and Landsburg's post somehow raises the bogey that the 'libertarian principle that I have a right to engage in what Mill referred to as self-regarding actions, actions that only affect me, is either false or empty.'

3) That there is in Law or lay Moral intuition some distinction between physical and mental harm. Friedman writes '"knowledge that pains you" isn't injury in the same sense as causing you to get cancer is.

 On the basis of his intuition of the truth of these 3 claims, Friedman feels able to say-
Bork was arguing that the harm caused by the use of contraception and the harm caused by air pollution were ultimately of the same sort, that it was legitimate to ban pollution hence legitimate to ban contraception—his article was in part an attack on Griswold v. Connecticut, the Supreme Court case that legalized contraception, a fact I had forgotten when I started writing this post. Landsburg is arguing that rape that does only subjective harm is of the same sort as reading pornography that does only subjective harm (unlike Bork, it isn't clear that he is thinks his argument is right, only that he thinks it interesting), that it is not legitimate to ban the reading of pornography hence not legitimate to ban that particular sort of rape. 

Let us now examine Friedman's 3 claims before evaluating his conclusion.
1) Is there a similarity between Landsburg's post and Bork's essay? 
No. A similarity between two texts can arise in the following ways
a) if they address the same issue or audience- this isn't the case. 
Bork is talking about the need for Supreme Court Justices to have a theory of the Constitution for Constitutional reasons. Landsburg isn't talking about any such thing. Furthermore, Bork wasn't against Contraception. On the contrary, he argued that the Statutory ban on it in Connecticut had fallen into desuetude and that it was ludicrous to pretend otherwise. What was mischievous about Grisworld vs. Conecticut was that the Judge had created a general right to Privacy which had no basis in the Bill or Rights, by pretending that the Connecticut statute still had some sort of force and thus presented an injury to the right of privacy. Friedman goes on saying 'Bork was against Contraception'. This is false. Bork says it would have been as ridiculous to enforce the relevant dusty old Statute as it would have been to arrest a Catholic priest under the Statute relating to Gambling just for hosting a Bingo night. To be clear, Bork was for Contraception or, at least, considered it as inoffensive as Bingo. There is not one iota of evidence for Friedman's claim yet he has made it on several occasions and on different fora. Bork's objection is to substantive due process as tending to the Judiciary's usurpation or unjust restriction on the proper operation of an essential function of the Legislature. Friedman does not understand this. He writes-

Bork's argument, in my words not his, goes as follows:

When I pollute the air I am injuring other people, so it is legitimate for the legal system to respond by penalizing me. What makes it an injury is not the fact that I affect the air but that the effect does harm; one could imagine an effect, such as a change in the ratio of two stable isotopes of trace gases in the atmosphere, that would not matter to anyone and so would not be seen as an injury or a proper subject for legal action.
Friedman is writing about what Lawyers call Justiciability which only arises when someone somewhere is injured either physically or feels a sense of moral outrage or affront or has some other objection to what is happening. The scenario Friedman puts forward- viz. one in which a harmless change in the ratio of stable isotopes occurs- is not justiciable because the point at issue is 'unripe'. Bork does not make this observation. It would have been ludicrous for him to do so since he was writing for Lawyers and Legal theorists perfectly familiar with this notion.
b) they share some premise or reflect upon a common history as happens if they have an intertwined intellectual genealogy- i.e Landsburg post encodes an intellectual tradition with which Bork had interacted in his essay. This is not the case. Friendman's reference to a chapter in his own book, on optimal punishment theory, is totally beside the point because Bork was an Originalist not a Utilitarian, and so, not surprisingly, there is nothing in his essay which shows an interaction with either Landsburg's intellectual precursors or those of Friedman.
c) they share a property of 'salience'- i.e. are important intellectual landmarks within a specific inter-subjective cognitive map. This is not the case. Bork's essay has salience- it was published in a respected Journal. Landsburg's blog post was a mere jeu d'esprit of a particularly juvenile and attention seeking sort.
Clearly, Friedman's claim is easily defeated by methods he must have some inkling of. The fact that he makes it anyway is evidence of either bad faith or mental impairment.

2) Even if there is no inter-subjective similarity between Bork and Landsburg, still subjectively Friedman has found, in their heteroclite conjunction, that a threat exists to the Libertarian principle re. self-regarding actions (i.e. those which have no 'externalities' i.e. impose no cost or benefit to others other than through the market). 
Is this claim reasonable?
For two items in your train of thought to be related by succession does not constitute, except perhaps in Mantic poetry, a publicly justifiable claim that the terminus of that train of thought is indeed, objectively and for the purpose of rational discussion, inter-related with what went before. In this particular case, Bork's Originalism goes hand in hand with something else- viz. the Constitutional right of Americans to change the Laws of their Country by putting pressure on their Legislators whose rights Bork defends against curtailment or usurpation by the Judiciary through his critique of substantive due process. Hirshcman would call this having 'Voice'. Suppose, for some reason, Hirschman 'Voice' is ineffective, then Americans have a Constitutional right to leave that country, renounce their citizenship, and thus cease to be bound by the Constitution created by its Founding Fathers. But, since such emigration (Hirschman 'Exit') can occur through the market, no externality arises. Thus Bork's essay is not relevant to the bogeyman that Friedman has raised.  
It appears that Friedman's invocation of the name and fame of the great Robert Bork- a hero to many-  in the context of Landsburg's puerile exhibitionism arises either from mental infirmity or bad faith. 

3) Neither the Law nor Moral Intuition makes any distinction between purely mental and physical pain. Why? If I make a credible threat that I will kill or torture you unless you do what I want, a crime has occurred, your rights have been violated, even if, by reason of your compliance, I do not actually carry out that threat. A little thought will show why a distinction between mental and physical injury- even if the two can be meaningfully distinguished- utterly vitiates any regime capable of enforcing Property or Natural Rights meaningfully. 
Friedman's motivation, it appears, is to isolate spurious from genuine claims of Psychic harm. In Economics, this is termed the problem of Preference Revelation. Yet neither Bork nor Landsburg nor Friedman himself address the topic. Instead, he uses the fact that this problematic is a feature of any Human Society to pretend to be a deep thinker. Once again, this is evidence of either mental infirmity or bad faith.

Having shown that Friedman's claims are false, and false in a particularly stupid and self-serving manner, we are in a position to pass judgement on his conclusion- viz that there is an intellectually plausible argument such that in our Society- 'rape that does only subjective harm is of the same sort as reading pornography that does only subjective harm'

This is false. 
Rape, by definition, is a Rights Violation. The State or the Community or whatever body it is that takes cognizance of Rights, has a duty to punish the transgressor of those Rights though that duty may be defeasible for all sorts of reasons. Bork's Originalist theory re. Constitutional Law is perfectly compatible with the view, which is now the mainstream view, that the Right to Privacy covers reading certain kinds of Porn- or indeed Landsburg's blog- but not others.
Friedman's own optimal punishment theory, without ambiguity or encountering any philosophical aporia, militates for this 'common sense' view. Even if the Local Govt. of Stuebenville had sold its right to Law enforcement back to the Community, rape that did not physical damage but 'only subjective harm' would still be punished. 
Now, to fully 'internalize' -in the Coasian sense- the benefit to the criminal of the crime as well as the benefit to others of his remaining free it is possible to stipulate- as happens in some Islamic regimes- that blood money or other compensation has to be offered the relatives of the criminal you want to execute or imprison. True, that is a possible market solution. But that doesn't militate against the principles involved here or my conclusion that Friedman's blog post evidences either bad faith or incapacity to reason.
Friedman's subsequent posts
Friedman's second post on this topic seeks to make a case that there is a fundamental distinction between 'property rules' and 'liability rules'. I have asked him to explain why this might be the case and if any relevant literature exists which supports his claim. He has not bothered to reply. I suggested reasons why Friedman is wrong in an earlier post.
Friedman writes-
I think I have now answered Steve Landsburg's puzzle. The difference between his example (or mine) of an action that imposes only subjective costs and his example of an activity such as reading pornography, or Bork's of using contraception, that imposes only subjective costs, is not the nature of the harm. The difference is that in the one case the cost is of a sort that can be measured, the action controlled, via a property rule. In the other, it is not. 

This is sheer nonsense. The same difficulties in imputing costs arise regardless of whether it is a property owner claiming damages or an appellant seeking compensation under a liability rule. Indeed, the distinction becomes meaningless if liability rule damages are assignable and survivable as is indeed the case for offences against the Right to Publicity, as opposed to that of Privacy.

In his third post on this topic, Friedman says that Landsburg's post is philosophically interesting and not trivial at all. Why? Well, it turns out he believes that Rights only obtain against the action of humans. If a bear attacks you, no question of Rights arise. If a human attacks you, the reverse is the case.
This is nonsense. It is of the essence of a Right that it arises independent of the species of the transgressor. I have a right to kill a bear who threatens me even if that bear belongs to someone else. I don't have the right to kill that bear, even if it belongs to no one, absent either a recognition that the act occurs in terra nullis or that the right has been ceded me either by Custom or Statute or some defeasible process of Public Reasoning.

In his fourth and final post on this topic, Friedman makes some disconnected references to issues in the Philosophy of Mind to suggest that at the root of his intervention in the Landsburg affair is some 'frightening idea' such that Moral Intuitionism cashes out as Nihilism or some other such Nasty. However, Friedman has never demonstrated any awareness or engagement with the areas of Philosophy which might make his claim plausible.  Here, more nakedly than elsewhere we see Intellectual mediocrity, if not meretriciousness, strutting its stiff on the catwalk or fashionable inanity as part of the 'Blogging Professor's collection'  brought to us by the 'Emperors without Clothes' Couture House or Designer Label.

Shame on David Friedman. He comes of distinguished stock. He has great talents- not least as a story teller.
Still, at least he isn't quite as awful as Landsburg. But Landsburg has worked hard to lower standards. Friedman can't hope to permanently boost his Blogger stats simply by becoming a free-rider on Landsburg's gadarene gravy train of thought.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Derrida's letter to a Japanese friend.

 Octopus traps! Ink's synoglyph hordes in which I, Derrida, dream Izutsu

As Friendship's Timeless Sea Roads flee Holzwege's Eternal Rome
Hélas! Fart and the French Academy farts flatteringly with you
Shit yourself and stink forlorn all the long hayride home.

'Modern scholarship has shown us that in a region of the timeless East, a language reaching its own state of perfection is deconstructed [s'est deconstruite] and altered from within itself according to the single law of change, natural to the human mind,' Villemain, *Preface du Dictionaire de l'Academie*."
(Derrida- letter to a Japanese friend)

(See Basho's poetry. Apparently, Japanese fishermen lowered an array of clay pots into the water and then tipped them over on their side. Small octopoi crawled into these pots, thinking them safe shelter in the coral reef, during the bright carnivorous moonlit nights of Summer. Before daybreak, the fishermen reversed the orientation of the pots, probably by tapping an ipad app for switching from Landscape to Portrait, and then them octopoi were Sushi.)

Monday, 8 April 2013

Verdict on Thatcher

I was a 15 year old in Finchley, Mrs. Thatcher's constituency, when it became obvious that Denis Healey's mix of monetary policy and Income's policy was going to fail. Nixon had tried a Wage freeze but failed. Healey and Callaghan, both Monetarists, understood that Incomes Policy couldn't work but still thought it might impact on Expectations and give the Economy a soft landing. But, there wasn't a single Trade Union leader- let alone City analyst- who was in any doubt that this simply could not be the case. Labor would have been better off appointing a Witch Doctor to perform Voodoo rituals if they wanted their policy to be credible. As a matter of fact, there were a couple of Witch Doctors- sorry I mean Economists- who thought a tax based Income Policy could work even though there was already plenty of evidence of 'wage drift'- i.e. actual Income differing from taxable Income- and the upshot of a Tax based Incomes Policy would have been to create a parallel black economy with permanently debilitating effects on the tax base.
This fact should be borne in mind when discussing Thatcher's ascent. Essentially, Labor didn't have a policy (or had a saner version of Tory Monetarism which they could not admit to) so the Tories had it all their own way.
 The Tories saw their chance to capture the upper working class- Essex man who worked for Ford- leaving Labour with the low paid dregs which meant that a militant fringe got disproportionate play time. However, what did for the British working class was  the precipitate Tory abolishing of Exchange Controls, for which they exculpated themselves by saying they didn't know about 'overshooting' and like how North Sea Oil would inflate the real exchange rate and cause massive de-industrialization, coz urm Hayek never mentioned it and didn't Friedman once say something about this and...oh, anyway Markets are efficient don't you know. Thatcher's Govt. did a complete U turn on Monetary policy but what really helped was the ridiculously low real exchange rate which obtained by 1985- itself a result of Reaganite profligacy.
Friedman had spoken of the signal extraction problem re. Inflation but what destroyed British manufacturing was crazy Ecxhange rate based uncertainty. This is because manufacturing is more tradable  and price elastic than services. Thatcher herself was insulated from all this- indeed, probably quite ignorant. Whatever her convictions, they were irrelevant to the manner in which history happened by default.
I suppose Thatcher will be remembered for defeating Scargil and Gen. Galtieri. But, Lawson tells us, Thatcher was initially wet on Coal- but this meant that Scargill got uppity and went too far thus making a terrible conflict inevitable- whereas, w.r.t the Falklands, it is not clear that Thatcher's diplomats had been sending Galtieri unambiguous signals in the first place.
Other policies which were genuinely dear to her heart- the Poll tax, staying out of the E.R.M- led to her downfall. Still, it was she who promoted John Major who somehow endeared himself to the voter and gave the Tories another innings- albeit by way of follow on.
What then is Thatcher's great legacy? Surely, it must be Privatization. McMillan might moan that it was selling the family silver, but Thatcher showed it was sound house-wifely sense. The pity of it is that many working class people who bought their Council House, took windfall payments from their Mutual Societies, invested in specious Financial products, ended up mis-allocating resources and will face a poorer retirement. Educationally, as well, Thatcher's years disadvantaged Engineering and Science based Professions while enriching Lawyers and Accountants and Estate Agents. In the long run, this might represent the true 'opportunity cost' of her period at Downing 10.

Self ownership, Extractive introjection & Jacking it in San Diego.

How does the Libertarian notion of Self-ownership differ from a set of Legally enforceable Entitlements all reasonable people would loosely agree 'amounted to the same thing'?
Ownership unlike Entitlement does not discriminate between animate and inanimate objects- a rock or a stone can own things in Anglo Saxon Law- as can abstract as opposed to concrete things. Since Libertarians tend to have rocks for brains and since their notions of Community are pretty sketchy and utterly abstract, they naturally prefer the notion of Ownership to Entitlement.
There are other differences.  Assignability and survivability (i.e. posthumous rights) characterize something owned. Thus, in America, 'the right to publicity' is considered something assignable and survivable such that my heirs, assignees, or Receiver in Bankruptcy can derive a revenue from the sale of naked pics of yours truly. However, my 'right to privacy' is not similarly assignable and survivable such that though I can claim damages against you for illegally downloading naked pics of me, my heirs or assignees have no such right absent some overt inter vivos  action on my part such that it is clear that I am claiming protection under 'the right of publicity' not privacy.

The concept of 'Self ownership' gives rise to a rabid sense of Entitlement and may, assuming some degree of rationality and sense of Reality- also militate for voluntary recognition of a Legal system of Entitlements with two different types of rights- ones which are justiciable only by the possessor of some corporeal thing, or his agent or assignee- and others which are justiciable independent of the desire of volition of the person in whom the Entitlement is vested. Both types of rights give rise to allocational and dynamic inefficiencies provided the ability to evaluate the value of, or otherwise exercise, those rights are unequal hence giving rise to Agent-Principal hazards. With property type rights, the very fact that it is of the essence of the right that a local monopoly is created militates for allocative inefficiency and strategic behavior. But this does not mean that Entitlement type rights are free of defect.
The law relating to Minors or vulnerable people lacking competency, is an example where the Legal Guardian can exercise rights and claim damages on the part of a person who, it may be, has no interest in pursuing legal redress.
This creates an Agent-Principal hazard- as in Munchausen's syndrome, where the Guardian exaggerates or inflicts injuries for some selfish motive. More generally, there is a type of psychic injury, which the psychoanalyst Christopher Bollas has termed 'extractive introjection' whereby the Agent confiscates the Principals' genuine injury for the sake of Publicity or some other sort of 'Rent' accruing to the role of Spokesman.
Much 'moral entrepreneurship' is genuine but much is self-seeking, strategic or downright corrupt. In the same way that 'extractive introjection' hollows out the vulnerable person- whose pain has been confiscated leaving them with less inwardness and moral agency than before- so too does it 'hollow out' the manicly protesting pseudo-Guardian who ultimately, South Park tells us, ends up 'naked & jacking it in San Diego.'

As regular readers of my blog will know, I only ever advert to such arcane topics as feature in this post when I've gotta killer hangover and the only thing that helps me keep my Cocopops-marinated-in-bloody-mary down is pretending I'm the ghost of John Rawls & Ronald Dworkin just got a sneak peek behind my veil of ignorance and is laughing himself silly. 
Still- to get to the 'kids, what I've learnt today' bit- the fact remains that self-ownership of a property type is vitiated by hysteresis based repugnancy costs (the dead dictate the disposition of living things) whereas, on the other horn of the dilemma, the hyper-inflationary bias of Entitlement theory hollows out the concept of self-hood from within.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Ghalib's ghazal 33

Its pathways but puttees to the blistered poppy's marching band
Not a droplet of the parterre's Hawaiian wave hasn't sand

 Of Jamshed's grail's graven design, a luckless Prometheus lacking wine
Steals not fire but ire & Satire's self-contemning Plimsoll line

Tho' in the Silence its Songs sow the Rose shreds its skirt
Calling the nightingale cuckoo, still Scent & Color flirt

I'm not green but grown lean chasing not the dragon, but a tramp
Color & Scent distinguish to extinguish my smell of the lamp

Tho' a hundred times manumitted from the fetters of Love
How housel my heart that's foe to flight above?

Without heart's blood in the eye, Vision's wave is of dust
 So haunting its bouquet, Wine's bodega went bust

 A garden in bloom- thy heart's unrolling picnic rug's display
Spring's purple cloud is which Mind's Beaujolais?

yak żarrah-e zamīñ nahīñ bekār bāġh kā
yāñ jādah bhī fatīlah hai lāle ke dāġh kā

be-mai kise hai t̤āqat-e āshob-e āgahī
kheñchā hai ʿajz-e ḥauṣalah ne ḳhat̤ ayāġh kā

bulbul ke kār-o-bār pah haiñ ḳhandah'hā-e gul
kahte haiñ jis ko ʿishq ḳhalal hai dimāġh kā

āzah nahīñ hai nashshah-e fikr-e suḳhan mujhe
tiryākī-e qadīm hūñ dūd-e chirāġh kā

sau bār band-e ʿishq se āzād ham huʾe
par kyā kareñ kih dil hī ʿadū hai farāġh kā
be-ḳhūn-e dil hai chashm meñ mauj-e nigah ġhubār
yih mai-kadah ḳharāb hai mai ke surāġh kā
bāġh-e shiguftah terā bisāt̤-e nashāt̤-e dil

abr-e bahār ḳhum-kadah kis ke dimāġh kā
not a single grain of the earth of the garden is useless) here even/also the path is the wick/bandage of the tulip's wound/brand
without wine, who has the strength for the tumult/terror of awareness?
weakness of enthusiasm/spirit/stomach has drawn the line on the cup
 at the doings of the Nightingale are the smiles of the rose
 what they call 'passion' is a defect of the mind)
 it's not fresh/new to me, the intoxication of the thought/idea/imagination of poetry
I'm a longtime opium-addict of the smoke of the lamp
 a hundred times, from the bondage of passion we became free
 but what can/would we do? for only/emphatically the heart is an enemy of freedom/disengagement

 without heart's blood, the wave of the gaze in the eye is dust
 this wine-house is ruined for [want of] a trace of wine
 your garden in bloom, a carpet/spread of the joy/fruitfulness of the heart
the spring raincloud, the {cask/distillery}-house of whose mind?

Landsburg, Efficiency and Rape.

Steve Landsburg has been getting very hot and bothered about the Stuebenville rape. He asks 'Let’s suppose that you, or I, or someone we love, or someone we care about from afar, is raped while unconscious in a way that causes no direct physical harm — no injury, no pregnancy, no disease transmission. (Note: The Steubenville rape victim, according to all the accounts I’ve read, was not even aware that she’d been sexually assaulted until she learned about it from the Internet some days later.) Despite the lack of physical damage, we are shocked, appalled and horrified at the thought of being treated in this way, and suffer deep trauma as a result. Ought the law discourage such acts of rape? Should they be illegal?
As usually happens with Landsburg's lucubrations, there is something obvious he is missing. 
What is it?  Public policy, in Econ, is about balancing costs and benefits. It is the latter he has forgotten to speak off so as to elide the obvious fact that Laws are created by either
1) the 'Stationary Bandit' of the State which taxes benefits accruing to individual agents for which task it gains legitimacy by levying punitive fines and/or imposing corporal punishment on transgressors of Social Conventions. One reason people may acquiesce in the State's policing functions is that their own property and personal rights are safeguarded in their absence or other state of non-competency. In the rape case, the State became the guardian of the girl once she lost competency by reason of intoxication and has, as a matter of empirical fact not moral speculation, the duty to punish the transgressors- perhaps in a way that sets an example and creates a deterrent.
2) Communities bound together by some tie- perhaps contiguity, perhaps genealogy, perhaps identity of interest cab create Laws vesting different types of Rights. Once again, it is the essence of rights possessed by virtue of belonging to the Community that they continue to operate and remain enforceable in the absence or non-competence of the agent concerned.

In neither case, does any philosophical puzzle for Utilitarianism arise from the Stuebenville rape case because that ideology has always recognized that

a) doing righteous things itself generates Utility
b) present Utility can be the capitalized value of a future stream
c) (since Wicksteed) that the correct Utility calculus in (b) concerns true opportunity cost- i.e. is computed globally across all possible worlds.

Now, following H.L.A Hart, it is entirely uncontroversial to say that it is of the essence of the Law and Social Conventions that they are defeasible especially under the rubric of a change in the information set regarding Wicksteed opportunity cost. But this does not give rise to any great quandary for the layman nor any aporia for the intellectual.
To see why, suppose the following-
We learn that an act of necrophilia has been committed on a corpse in a mortuary. The immediate friends and family of the victim bear a terrible psychic cost. The friends and families of other eligible corpses handled by that mortuary also bear a high psychic cost. Anybody about to die or who has friends or family about to die also bears a psychic cost. More generally, there is a diffused psychic cost of an ‘what sort of world are we living in?’ type.
Now let us look at an actual case- a young woman in Taiwan was raped by a mortuary attendant. The rape caused her to come back to life. Her family decided to forgive the mortuary attendant. Here the ‘victim’ who previously bore no psychic cost receives such a large psychic benefit that it makes sense for Public Policy to make an exception to the rule ‘punish necrophiliacs’ such that it becomes ‘punish necrophiliacs IFF their horrible crime fails to restore life to the corpse they violate AND Society is so constituted that the victim may be reasonably be expected not to suffer so extreme a stigma as to prefer death’.
True, the Social Cost of such a Law may be more cases of necrophilia but the pay off might be  more victims brought back to life who might otherwise have been killed by their violators.

By failing to take notice of psychic benefits- or Kenneth Boulding's notion of psychic capital- Landsburg condemns himself, and his readers, to an exercise in futility. He refuses to give himself access to the Econ theory which made talk of costs relevant to issues of Public Policy. One reason why he might be inclined to do so has to do with the redistributional consequences of external costs, including psychic costs. Now, standard Econ- e.g. in constructing Cost of Living indices- distinguishes an Income effect from a Substitution effect such that one can meaningfully speak of Hicks-Kaldor improvements- i.e. situations where Society is made better off because it is possible for the people gaining a benefit to compensate those incurring a cost such that the latter are no worse off than before. If one does not distinguish the Income effect from the plain fact that an adversely affected agent has accepted some substitute by way of compensation, one can't say if a Hicks-Kaldor improvement has occurred. For e.g.  Paul Pennyfeather, in Waugh's first novel, suffers a catastrophic loss by reason of the drunken loutishness  of a fellow undergraduate at his Oxford College.  Paul loses a valuable scholarship, his place at University and his chance to rise in the world. The offending student, Sir Alastair Digby Trumpe, sends him Five pounds by way of compensation. Since Paul is now a much poorer man he has to take the compensation- but this does not mean it is adequate. (In the novel, his High Victorian scruple that 'a gentleman never accepts an illicit perquisite' is shown to be deontological pi-jaw simply). Later, however, it turns out that being expelled from College is what permits Paul to marry a wealthy widow with whom he is infatuated. Alastair now qualifies as his true benefactor and best man. However, it turns out that the widow is running a White Slavery syndicate- for which Paul receives the blame and has to go to Jail. Oddly, Jail suits Paul and he is perhaps better off than in his original position. 

In Waugh's books- Decline and Fall, Vile Bodies, A Handful of Dust- though people have consistent preferences under the rubric of the Substitution effect- they continue to prefer caviare to bacon and Dickens to Maeterlinck whatever their socio-economic position- the reverse tends to be the case for massive reversals of Fortune which Economists study under the rubric of the Income effect. The upshot is that Waugh, inheritor of the High Victorian Gothic style, is able to arrive at a sort of Stoic ataraxia such that the Efficient cause of Happiness is immune to Externality. True, the Substitution effect, at the level of cocktails and canapes, continues to operate and, absent transaction costs, can be brought under the banner of the market; but radical Income effects open the gates to a Catholicity of inwardness.

Returning to Landsburg, for whom the Income effect is anathema because it raises the question of Income distribution in Society (vide his misreading of the Ramsey rule) ,  every access and approach to ataraxia must be vitiated by the putting forward of the following false question to The Law.

' When we say that the law should encourage all and only those actions that are efficient, what, exactly, should we mean?'
further to which he offers the following analysis.
Definition 1. The action is efficient if my willingness to pay exceeds your willingness to accept. For example, if I’m willing to pay $100 for the privilege of harvesting the tree, and if you’d accept less than $100 to part with it, then the tree-cutting is efficient.
Definition 2. The tree-cutting is efficient if it would occur in a world with no transactions costs (i.e. a world in which there are no impediments to bargaining).
In many circumstances (ones where Income effects are negligible, for example) these definitions are equivalent, and economists often pretend they’re equivalent always — (well, bad economists do when writing stupid blogs) but sometimes they’re not
Example 1. I want to punch you in the nose non-consensually. (The non-consensuality is a big part of my enjoyment.) I’d pay $100 to punch you in the nose, and you’d accept $50 to take the punch. By Definition 1, the punch is efficient. But the punch would be unlikely to occur in a world with no transactions costs, because it would require bargaining, hence consensuality on your part, which kills my interest. So by Definition 2, the punch is inefficient.
Example 2. I am willing to pay $100 to cut down a tree; you are willing to accept no less than $150 to part with it. By Definition 1, the cutting is inefficient. But part of the reason I’m willing to pay only $100 is that I’m credit constrained. In a world with no transactions costs, I’d borrow more, and would be willing to pay $200 to cut down the tree. So by Definition 2, the cutting is efficient.
Example 3. I am willing to pay $1000 to cut down a tree; you are willing to accept $500 to part with it. By Definition 1, the cutting is efficient. But the only reason I’m willing to pay so much is that I make an excellent living in my job as a mediator who helps people overcome transactions costs. In a world with no transactions costs, I’d be much poorer and would be willing to pay only $200 to cut the tree. So by Definition 2, the cutting is inefficient.

Landsburg's confusion, which arises out of his failure to do a proper Cost/Benefit, Income distinguished from Substitution effect, Econ analysis, nevertheless reveals  a fundamental problem re. Counterfactuals and Revealed Preferences. Essentially, to be able to speak of efficiency we have to have something like a David Lewis/Stalnacker  notion of ‘closest possible worlds’. But, once we grant the metaphysical reality of these worlds strange things start to happen which beg the question of whether Preferences can be consistent. If they can’t, then talk of efficiency is stymied- it’s an anything goes universe.

Example 1) we might make a sort of Konus index over possible worlds so that you get to non-consensually punch a guy whom we know (by examining the closest possible world) would settle for less than you are prepared to pay. But this does not really get rid of the problem. If your Preferences are consistent and robust to small perturbations of the Information set, you don’t want to non-consensually punch the guy whose closest, possible world, counter-part consents. This is when things get spooky. There are a whole lot of things you want to do now, and would happily pay for, but which you wouldn’t if you knew how easy, uncontroversial and therefore the reverse of thrilling, they are in the closest possible world. In other words, knowledge of your Konus Preference Map over all possible worlds would cause you to change that very Preference Map, more especially for positional goods or thymotic services.
There are a lot of problems with modal realism of this sort even though Lewis developed it going forward from a Schelling type analysis of the Co-ordination problem. Essentially, for this approach to work, there has to be some underlying ‘basic preferences’ that can be objectively determined which agents ‘ought’ to have. But if such basic preferences are inter-subjectively discoverable in some possible world then who needs markets? An altruistic Central Planning Authority, setting each agent's ration, would eliminate a source of Pareto inefficiency.

2) This same consideration arises with respect to Landsburg's Second Example.
 Here the credit constraint mentioned is equivalent to assuming imperfect arbitrage relating to information available from possible worlds. Clearly, in this scenario, my ‘true’ credit worthiness, based on modal realism, is greater than what obtains in this world and this creates the inefficiency. Again, spooky stuff starts happening when we think about this. If modal realism is true, why don’t we know more about possible worlds? Or perhaps we do have this knowledge at some ‘basic’ level. 
Here we come up against Lewis’s arguments that there is some ‘elite eligible’ criterion which is just better at determining the truth of things than that which arises out of our, this world, conventions.

Example 3) The transaction cost arbitrageur here, to be successful, must have better ‘Lewis elite eligible’ criteria yet he is an agent in this world just like any other. But this means the quest of Efficiency must give rise to a Rent. The spooky bit arises because, admitting a notion of meta-preferences, the arbitrageur can have a rent dissipation ratio higher than One. This is because self-contestation of the rent can outweigh the Rent to Information or potential Efficiency gain.In any case, iff, as I think plausible, the diachronous nature of meta-preferences makes them essentially ontologically dysphoric, then Consequentialism is empty.

I suppose Paul Pennyfeather, who returned to College to study Theology, might well have changed his name to Frank Ramsey. Landsburg, on the other hand, in a glaring example of a blogger becoming as egregiously shite as the type of bigot attracted to his blog, might just as well change his name to Sanjeev Sabhlok and get himself a Baba already.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Truth is cheap- if spatio-temporal

Truth is cheap- if spatio-temporal
& Pascal's Sphere's sine/jya ephemeral
Contested rents to our Rome decrees
Lewis eligible Druid trees

Truth is cheap- like children to the rich.

Children of the rich- Phoenicia's, that is, Moloch's
Lewis elite eligible, Scripts phonetic are bollocks
From Carthage, what figs Cato's return?
 Augustine plucked yet must burn.