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[Xmca-l] Re: Appeal for help

This next post reminds me of Hutchins's Distributed Cognition.

I don't think the intentions of increasing happiness in the world is a bad thing. I think trying to quantify it is a bad thing, because everyone sees happiness reflected in the world differently. How does one quantify a reflection?

That is where the issue lies.

Once you believe that you can quantify something as ethereal as happiness, then you can legitimize data collection and data crunching as a means of reading tea leaves.

It's better to leave the leaf reading to the professionals.

The intention of utilitarianism is totally appropriate, the execution is what fails, summing that up.

Kind regards,


From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu <xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu> on behalf of Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net>
Sent: Wednesday, July 6, 2016 9:43 AM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Appeal for help

You're not working for Tony Blair are you, Henry?

You don't know the consequences of what you do, Henry. OK,
you may possibly know the immediate, proximate results of
your action, but you can have no idea of the outcome of the
chain reaction you set off. Especially in any "difficult"
decision, given that we live in a world in which everyone is
acting strategically (as in game theory), devising their
strategy on the basis of what they think you're going to do,
while you are designing your strategy on what you think they
think you're going to do, etc. Ask any economist who is
capable of given a halfway honest answer. Ask Tony Blair.
Ask a bookmaker. We all tend to act as if we knew the
consequences of our actions, but we don't. The point is
aimed at ethical theories like utilitarianism which say you
should do whatever increases the sum total of happiness in
the world. This is a stupid idea, even if you did know the
consequences of your idea. So Einstein would never have
published his paper on relativity, I guess. But of course
he'd only know if he did the right thing 50 years later, and
then it would be too late. Anyone who isn't a prophet
shouldn't get out of bed in the morning.


Andy Blunden
Andy Blunden's Home Page<http://home.mira.net/~andy>
Andy Blunden's Home Page with links to pages I maintain and mail-to buttons


On 7/07/2016 1:14 AM, HENRY SHONERD wrote:
> Hi Andy,
> Your appeal has resulted in a very interesting discussion. One thing I think you said early on has been puzzling me, that we don’t know the consequences of our actions. Did I get that wrong? If not, could you explain that briefly?  Here is what you wrote that I am referring to:
> "There is no "criterion", otherwise we wouldn't have a virtue ethics, we'd have a consequentialist ethics, and the thing is that we never actually know the consequences of what we are about to do.”
> Henry
>> On Jul 6, 2016, at 1:57 AM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net> wrote:
>> Yes, your observation about 'hybrids" is exactly what I was asking for, Annalisa.
>> Andy
>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>> Andy Blunden
>> http://home.mira.net/~andy
>> http://www.brill.com/products/book/origins-collective-decision-making
>> On 6/07/2016 4:48 PM, Annalisa Aguilar wrote:
>>> Not sure this qualifies for your project, Andy, but something in your original post reminded me of Lakoff's Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think.
>>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moral_Politics_%28book%29
>>> What really sparked this recall for me was Lakoff's discussion of hybrids. For instance, a factory worker who is liberal at work (supports his labor brothers), but conservative at home (he is king of his castle), or a single mother who works in a law office: she is conservative at work, but liberal at home while raising her children.
>>> Lakoff claims that the elections in 2000 came from Karl Rove's mastermind-activation of the frames of these hybrids, who tend to hover around the center (in American politics).
>>> Of course, I'm recalling a book I read over 10 years ago, but it certainly assisted in my understanding conservatives, who constantly perplexed me. At least the purpose of the book was successful... for me.
>>> Hope it helps.
>>> Kind regards,
>>> Annalisa