Bleeding Heart Libertarians http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com Free Markets and Social Justice Wed, 15 Nov 2017 17:16:21 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.3 http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/cropped-site-icon-BHL-32x32.png Bleeding Heart Libertarians http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com 32 32 22756168 Truthiness and the Problems of Knowing, REALLY Knowing http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2017/11/truthiness-problems-knowing-really-knowing/ http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2017/11/truthiness-problems-knowing-really-knowing/#comments Wed, 15 Nov 2017 17:16:21 +0000 http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/?p=12071 Ten years ago, I published a piece in Public Choice. I wish I had been wrong. My claim was that we are pretty good at exposing falsehoods, but terrible and...

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Ten years ago, I published a piece in Public Choice.

I wish I had been wrong. My claim was that we are pretty good at exposing falsehoods, but terrible and in fact progressively more terrible at having a consensus on things that are real.

Here are my thoughts now.

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Anderson V. Munger Cage Match!!! http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2017/11/anderson-v-munger-cage-match/ http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2017/11/anderson-v-munger-cage-match/#comments Mon, 06 Nov 2017 18:29:04 +0000 http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/?p=12068 Okay, no. It was orderly and respectful. And she’s probably right. But Liz Anderson WAS kind enough to have a discussion/debate about her new book, Private Government. The video is...

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Okay, no. It was orderly and respectful. And she’s probably right.

But Liz Anderson WAS kind enough to have a discussion/debate about her new book, Private Government.

The video is here. Thanks to Bookmarks/Public Square for the opportunity!

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Permissionless Innovation http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2017/10/permissionless-innovation/ http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2017/10/permissionless-innovation/#comments Mon, 30 Oct 2017 21:33:24 +0000 http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/?p=12065 Some time ago, I wrote this little piece. For Learn Liberty. Russ Roberts and I got to talk about it. A very interesting conversation, from my perspective. I always learn...

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Some time ago, I wrote this little piece. For Learn Liberty.

Russ Roberts and I got to talk about it. A very interesting conversation, from my perspective. I always learn a lot from Russ.

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A Modest Proposal: Make Academics Who Call for Papers to be Retracted Do Their Jobs! http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2017/10/modest-proposal-make-academics-call-papers-retracted-jobs/ http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2017/10/modest-proposal-make-academics-call-papers-retracted-jobs/#comments Fri, 13 Oct 2017 20:54:28 +0000 http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/?p=12058 In the light of both the Gilley case (“The case for colonialism”) and the Tuvel case (“In Defense of Transracialism”) I’ve been thinking a lot about what an appropriate response...

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In the light of both the Gilley case (“The case for colonialism”) and the Tuvel case (“In Defense of Transracialism”) I’ve been thinking a lot about what an appropriate response would be to the originators (and signers) of the petitions that called for the retraction of their papers on the grounds that they were defending views that were “offensive”.
If you organize a mob to demand someone else’s work be silenced then you have horribly misunderstood your role as an academic–or else you just don’t care about it. (I think you’ve also misunderstood your moral obligations as a rational person, but I’m willing to accept that “activists” might have different duties in these cases than academics.) As I noted earlier rather than attempting to silence persons you disagree with you should attempt to rebut their views. If you claim that you shouldn’t do this as this would “dignify” the view you disagree with then you have simply abdicated your role as an academic. In any case, refusing to engage with views you disagree with and demanding their retraction is a clear example of professional misconduct.
So, what to do about “academics” who try to silence those they disagree with? I have a suggestion–which despite the Swiftian title of this post is absolutely serious.

Institutions should require that faculty who originate such petitions (and, perhaps, even those who sign them) to publish a peer-reviewed article rebutting the views they disagree with to be eligible for any future additional research support from their home institution. (I’d also suggest that the rebuttal should appear in a journal ranked the same or higher than that in which the “offensive” article appeared, and be at least as long as it was, so that “Response Notes” in low-ranked journals don’t count. The rebuttal should also be published in a journal in the same field as the article that is being criticized, not in a journal in the field of the faculty member doing the criticizing, if this is different. Thus, if an English professor criticizes the work on an economist, published in an economics journal, then the rebuttal must also be published in an economics journal.) This requirement would have several advantages:

First, it would clearly indicate that the institution that imposed this requirement on its “activist” faculty took the free exchange of ideas very seriously.

Second, it would require that the critical faculty member demonstrate that his concerns are legitimate–and that they are recognized as such by the academic peers of the original author.

Third, it would impose some costs on those who demand retractions. The required article would be more time-consuming to write than a petition and would take time to pass through peer-review before acceptance. During this time the faculty member would receive no additional research support–no course release, no conference funding, no technology grants, no research assistants, no sabbaticals.

Fourth, this suggestion would not involve taking anything away from those guilty of misconduct. It would simply withhold (or, in some cases, withdraw) benefits. And the benefits withheld would be those designed to aid in the free exchange of ideas–an enterprise that the faculty member guilty of such misconduct has shown his- or herself unwilling to engage in. This response would this be a fitting one for misconduct of this nature.

Finally, the faculty members thus castigated could not claim that they are being “censored” or “shut down”. They are not. In fact, this approach is the very opposite of silencing–it’s requiring them to express their views in a manner coherent enough to warrant publication.

 

 

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Discussion of Bruce Gilley’s “The case for colonialism” over at Cato Unbound. http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2017/10/discussion-bruce-gilleys-case-colonialism-cato-unbound/ http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2017/10/discussion-bruce-gilleys-case-colonialism-cato-unbound/#comments Fri, 13 Oct 2017 16:20:43 +0000 http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/?p=12056 My essay “Foreign Rule and Colonial Fictions” is now up at Cato Unbound‘s new issue “Perspectives on Colonialism”. This was written as a response to the absolutely excellent lead paper by...

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My essay “Foreign Rule and Colonial Fictions” is now up at Cato Unbound‘s new issue “Perspectives on Colonialism”. This was written as a response to the absolutely excellent lead paper by Sahar Khan, “Why Libertarians Shouldn’t Accept the Case for Colonialism”. I also highly recommend Berny Sebe’s response essay, “The Case Against Historical Anachronism”.

Enjoy the discussion!

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CFP: Social Trust http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2017/10/cfp-social-trust/ Mon, 09 Oct 2017 21:16:40 +0000 http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/?p=12051 Call for Abstracts The Bowling Green Workshop in Applied Ethics and Public Policy Social Trust April 20th-21st, 2018 Keynote Speakers: Cristina Bicchieri (University of Pennsylvania) and Ted Hinchman (University of...

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Call for Abstracts

The Bowling Green Workshop in Applied Ethics and Public Policy

Social Trust

April 20th-21st, 2018

Keynote Speakers: Cristina Bicchieri (University of Pennsylvania) and Ted Hinchman (University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee)

Political scientists and economists have studied social trust for decades, but social trust is seriously underexplored in philosophical contexts, despite a sizeable literature on personal trust in ethics, psychology, and epistemology. Yet given the centrality of social trust for social order, it seems natural to think that analyses of social trust and its value could help answer some of the central questions in social and political philosophy. The purpose of this workshop is to generate a cross-disciplinary discussion on the nature and value of social trust among philosophers, political scientists, and economists working in the area or interested in doing so. We invite a range of submissions from any theorists, social or normative, working on topics concerned with social trust.

Those interested in presenting a paper are invited to submit a 2-3 page abstract (double-spaced) by Dec. 15th, 2017.

Only one submission per person is permitted. Abstracts will be evaluated by a program committee and decisions will be made by the end of January 2018.

Please submit abstracts to Sally Pietrasz (pietras@bgsu.edu).

Information about previous workshops is available at the workshop website: https://www.bgsu.edu/arts-and-sciences/philosophy/workshops-and-conferences.html. Information about the 2018 workshop will be posted soon.

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Libertarianism for Luck Egalitarians http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2017/09/libertarianism-luck-egalitarians/ http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2017/09/libertarianism-luck-egalitarians/#comments Thu, 28 Sep 2017 15:38:27 +0000 http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/?p=12048 Luck egalitarianism is, roughly, the view that inequalities in life prospects resulting from luck are unjust. (There’s a lot to nit pick about that characterization, but it’s a start.) If...

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Luck egalitarianism is, roughly, the view that inequalities in life prospects resulting from luck are unjust. (There’s a lot to nit pick about that characterization, but it’s a start.) If Amy has better job opportunities than Bob because she happened to have parents who could afford to send her to a fancy private school, that’s unfair.

You might even think it’s unfair that Rob Gronkowski makes so much more money than, say, me simply because he was gifted with 6’6” height and fast-twitch muscle fibers that enable him to run a 4.68 40 yard dash. Even if we both work equally hard at our crafts, Gronk will earn more than me because his natural talents are more marketable than mine. But it’s not like Gronk earned those talents; he just got lucky and won the genetic lottery. So it’s wrong for him to make so much more money than I do.

Suppose, for argument’s sake, this account of distributive justice is correct. What institutional conclusions follow? Luck egalitarians suggest that the income disparities between people like me and Gronk show that free markets are unjust. It’s the job of the state to correct for these kinds of market-generated inequalities via regulation and redistribution.

As I detail in my book, luck egalitarians (and fellow travelers who might not apply the label to themselves) are nearly unanimous in their rejection of free market regimes. Here’s a small sample:

“Laissez-faire capitalism (the system of natural liberty) secures only formal equality and rejects both the fair value of the equal political liberties and fair equality of opportunity.” (John Rawls)

“Market allocations must be corrected in order to bring some people closer to the share of resources they would have had but for these various differences of initial advantage, luck and inherent capacity.” (Ronald Dworkin)

“Desert as a principle of justice, then, rather than justifying the distributional consequences of free market choices, requires precisely the elimination, or at least the minimization, of the differential brute luck that characterizes the free market […]. The adoption of desert as a principle of justice seems to result in a much more demanding requirement, as far as its implications for the regulation of the market are concerned, than a commitment to voluntariness as a legitimating condition for the imposition of obligations, even when this is suitably revised so as to square up with a defensible account of voluntariness and force.” (Serena Olsaretti)

I could go on, but you get the point: the market generates luck-based inequalities and the state reduces them.

One problem with this argument is that you don’t clinch the luck egalitarian case against free markets by simply showing that they create luck-based inequalities. What you need to do is show that the alternative is better. To use an old analogy of mine, showing that Steph Curry misses over half of his three point shot attempts doesn’t justify benching Steph Curry. To justifiably bench Steph Curry, you’d need to show that his replacement would do better. Similarly, luck egalitarians need to show that a highly regulated market with extensive redistribution will have less luck-based inequality than a libertarian regime.

Here’s a reason for doubting that claim: those who benefit from inherited wealth, elite education, and natural talent in the market also benefit from those factors in politics. Put very roughly, political power will concentrate in the hands of the rich—the very people the political power was created to regulate and restrain. Thus, we might naturally expect such power to be used to increase rather than decrease the advantages of the rich.

Interestingly, this is Rawls’s own view. He says that a

“reason for controlling economic and social inequalities is to prevent one part of society from dominating the rest. When those two kinds of inequalities are large, they tend to support political inequality. As Mill said, the bases of political power are (educated) intelligence, property, and the power of combination, by which he meant the power to cooperate in pursuing one’s political interests. This power allows a few, in virtue of their control over the machinery of state, to enact a system of law and property that ensures their dominant position in the economy as a whole.”

By Rawls’s own lights, the rich will use their “(educated) intelligence, property, and the power of combination” to acquire political power and “enact a system of law and property that ensures their dominant position in the economy as a whole.” But now we can see a problem for Rawls’s view. The people that Rawls wants the state to control (those with property, education, and so on) are the same people that Rawls thinks control the state itself. So how can the state control the rich if the rich control the state? Shouldn’t we instead expect state intervention into the economy to favor the rich? Indeed, this is exactly what we see in many cases: subsidies, licensing, trade restrictions, housing regulations, and so on tend to benefit the rich at the expense of the poor.

Of course, we cannot definitively establish a conclusion about the effects of regulation and redistribution on luck-based inequalities by doing a priori institutional analysis. But at a minimum, luck egalitarians shouldn’t rule out libertarianism as a viable institutional option at the level of philosophical theory. Perhaps libertarianism and luck egalitarianism are compatible after all.

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What Kneeling Athletes Reveal about Political Psychology http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2017/09/kneeling-athletes-reveal-political-psychology/ http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2017/09/kneeling-athletes-reveal-political-psychology/#comments Tue, 26 Sep 2017 18:37:43 +0000 http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/?p=12045 Today at the Princeton University Press blog, I have a post on the current controversy and what it tells us about how people “think” about politics.   Some excerpts:  ...

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Today at the Princeton University Press blog, I have a post on the current controversy and what it tells us about how people “think” about politics.

 

Some excerpts:

 

Both sides accuse the other side of hypocrisy and bad faith. And both sides are mostly right. Hypocrisy and bad faith are the self-driving cars of politics. They get us where we want, without our having to drive.

 

…Instead, as economist Robin Hanson likes to say, politics is not about policy. The hidden, unconscious reason we form political beliefs is to help us form coalitions with other people. Most of us choose our particular political affiliations because people like us vote that way. We then join together with other supposedly like-minded people, creating an us versus a them. We are good and noble and can be trusted. They are stupid and evil and at fault for everything. We loudly denounce the other side in order to prove, in public, that we are especially good and pure, and so our fellow coalition members should reward us with praise and high status.

 

 

….Now back to football players kneeling. My friends on the Right refuse to take the players at their word. The players say they’re protesting police brutality and other ways the U.S. mistreats its black populace. My friends on the Right scoff and say, no, really they just hate America and hate the troops. This reaction is wrong, but not surprising. Imputing evil motives to the other side is essential to politics. The Left does it all the time too. If, for example, some economists on the Right says they favor school vouchers as a means of improving school quality, the Left will just accuse them of hating the poor.

It’s worth noting that since 2009, the Pentagon has paid the NFL over $6 million to stage patriotic displays before games to help drive recruiting.[i] The pre-game flag shows are literally propaganda in the narrowest sense of the word. Personally, I think participating in government-funded propaganda exercises is profoundly anti-American, while taking a knee and refusing to dance on command shows real respect for what the country supposedly stands for.

Read the whole thing here.

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The Case for Colonialism: Don’t retract, rebut…. and censure those who seek to silence. http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2017/09/case-colonialism-dont-retract-rebut-censure-seek-silence/ http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2017/09/case-colonialism-dont-retract-rebut-censure-seek-silence/#comments Sun, 24 Sep 2017 16:41:13 +0000 http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/?p=12042 In a recent paper entitled “The case for colonialism” Bruce Gilley argued that “Western colonialism was, as a general rule, both objectively beneficial and subjectively legitimate in most of the...

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In a recent paper entitled “The case for colonialism” Bruce Gilley argued that “Western colonialism was, as a general rule, both objectively beneficial and subjectively legitimate in most of the places where it was found”. Gilley then argued that colonialism should be “recovered” “by reclaiming colonial modes of governance, by recolonizing some areas, and by creating new Western colonies from scratch”. These are highly controversial claims. But it is unlikely that Gilley anticipated the antipathy with which they would be received. Two petitions were initiated—gathering over 15,000 signatures between them—demanding that the journal in which the paper was published (Third World Quarterly) retract it.These petitions were followed by the resignation of several of the members of the journal’s editorial board in protest at the article’s publication.

But the calls for the retraction of this article are inappropriate responses to Gilley’s controversial claims. Gilley’s article does not meet either of the conditions that the publishers of Third World Quarterly (Taylor & Francis) have outlined for the retraction of articles. It should not be retracted for “unsound results” because its conclusions are not “seriously undermined as a result of miscalculation or error”. And it should not be retracted for “misconduct” for Gilley has made no “infringement of publishing ethics” nor has there been any claim that he has breached any “author warranties”.

The claim that this article should not be retracted is not new. But in response to the antipathy that he has been faced Gilley has requested that the article be withdrawn–not because he now believes that his arguments are mistaken, but because it has cased “pain” and generated “anger”. But Third World Quarterly should not accede to this request–the article should remain available. That an article upsets people is no grounds for its withdrawal. Moreover, if the journal did allow the article to be withdrawn it would violate the policy of the International Association of Scientific, Technical, and Medical Publishers Guideline for “Preservation of the Objective Record of Science” (to which the journal’s publisher subscribes) that “Articles that have been published should remain extant, exact, and unaltered to the maximum extent possible”.

It might be argued that Gilley’s paper should be retracted because his arguments do not support his conclusion, and so these are undermined “as a result of… [argumentative] error”. But to argue in this way would require that one first demonstrate where Gilley is mistaken–one would have to engage with his work, not simply call for its retraction. And even if one could show that his arguments were flawed this should not be used to support a call for retraction, for this would justify the retraction of any paper whose conclusions have been arrived at through erroneous argumentation. And this is not how academic debates are conducted—and nor should it be. Instead, persons present their conclusions supported by the best arguments and evidence that they can muster. These are then subject to critical scrutiny with the aim of identifying and correcting errors in the arguments. If the arguments are found not to support the conclusion then the original paper should be rebutted—not retracted.

But there’s more to be said in this case. The petitions demanding the retraction of this article secured over 15,000 signatures. I very much doubt that everyone who signed these petitions actually read the paper. Demanding that a paper be retracted because you don’t like its arguments is bad enough. Demanding that it be retracted because you don’t like what you think its conclusion is without having even read it is despicable. Moreover, if you’re an academic, a demand for retraction on either of these grounds would be a clear abdication of your professional responsibility. It is thus not Gilley who should be censured. It is the academics (such as Jenny Heijun Wills, Rebecca Salazar, and Carrianne Leung) who initiated and signed these deplorable petitions.

As a brief aside: If you object to the mocking of work in English, Gender Studies, and Geography that’s based not on reading the papers but simply on their titles and abstracts (e.g., those offered up for ridicule by places such as Real Peer Review) then you should be even more concerned with the demand that a paper be retracted on the basis of a similarly cursory examination.

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Black Liberty Matters http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2017/09/black-liberty-matters/ http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2017/09/black-liberty-matters/#comments Thu, 21 Sep 2017 11:37:34 +0000 http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/?p=12037 My new essay at Niskanen continues a lot of my longstanding themes from BHL posts.

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My new essay at Niskanen continues a lot of my longstanding themes from BHL posts.

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