Self-Interest, Moral Sentiments & Rationalism-Some Links

Many reactions to the market are moral ones, from the anti-corporate, romantically primitive, ideological collectivists on the Left to the biblically inclined, revelatory faithful who clearly see in the teachings of Jesus Christ reasons to doubt:

And Larry Arnhart looks at a Straussian: ‘Joseph Cropsey’s Straussian Attack On Adam Smith:’

‘Thus, Smith showed how the opulence and liberty of a commercial society would provide philosophers like Hume and himself with the intellectual commerce, the individual liberty, and the leisured independence necessary for living a philosophic life with their friends. Cropsey ignores all of this because it contradicts his argument that there is no place for the intellectual virtues of philosophy in Smith’s commercial society.’

Worth a read.


A brief introduction to Adam Smith’s ‘Theory Of Moral Sentiments’

Beware the men of systems, moralizers, rationalists, idealists and utopians:


As previously posted: Steven Poole at Aeon: ‘We Are More Rational Than Those Who Nudge Us.’

‘And so there is less reason than many think to doubt humans’ ability to be reasonable. The dissenting critiques of the cognitive-bias literature argue that people are not, in fact, as individually irrational as the present cultural climate assumes. And proponents of debiasing argue that we can each become more rational with practice. But even if we each acted as irrationally as often as the most pessimistic picture implies, that would be no cause to flatten democratic deliberation into the weighted engineering of consumer choices, as nudge politics seeks to do’

Taxing soda in Seattle schools has unintended consequences. It’s not just taxation, it’s banning happy meals altogether.

Related On This Site: Cass Sunstein’s got to create some space between the Bloomberg backlash and the totalitarians on the Left: Daddy’s Gonna Make You Do It

I’ve got enough friends, thanks: Repost-Cass Sunstein At The New Republic: ‘Why Paternalism Is Your Friend’

Anarcho-syndicalist, libertarian socialist and sometime blind supporter of lefty causes: Via Youtube: (1 of 3) Kant, Chomsky and the Problem of Knowledge

New liberty away from Hobbes…toward Hayek…but can you see Locke from there?: Repost-From Public Reason: A Discussion Of Gerald Gaus’s Book ‘The Order of Public Reason: A Theory of Freedom And Morality In A Diverse And Bounded World’

Richard Rorty tried to tie postmodernism and trendy leftist solidarity to liberalism: Repost: Another Take On J.S. Mill From “Liberal England”

Catholic libertarianism: Youtube Via Reason TV-Judge Napolitano ‘Why Taxation is Theft, Abortion is Murder, & Government is Dangerous’

Leo Strauss argued there is great danger in this approach, i.e. the problems of Europe. Political science, the social sciences, economics and the explanatory power of these products of reason and rationalism could increasingly form the epistemological foundation for explaining the world, people’s interior lives, how we ought to live and what we ought to do. This includes where our rights come from and who should be in charge: Update And Repost- From YouTube: Leo Strauss On The Meno-More On The Fact/Value Distinction?’

Ronald Bailey At Reason: ‘Delusional in Durban’

Full post here.

‘When nobody important is paying much attention and nothing significant is likely to be at stake, then, as the Durban draft negotiations documents show, even diplomats can and will say any silly thing that they’d like.’

And some of the poorer countries’ actual motivations and self-interest for signing global climate treaties are interesting to note at Durban, especially when the rhetoric highlighting one of the key the moral arguments for climate change is so florid (we’re heading for imminent disaster…wealthier nations must sign off on economy-altering pledges to prevent doom…all peoples must united by this particular international law…why have you abandoned us?).  It always was a bad way to organize so many disparate interests.

It’s a good, I think, to keep simply pointing out many of the political, ideological and monied interests in the West who need these ideas to be true, and many of the reasons for the need, apart from climate science.

Additional:  Bailey has more here.  The movement is at a low point it seems.

Another Addition:  Per Bailey:

 The 17th conference of the parties (COP-17) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change pulled back from the brink of collapse at around 3:30 a.m. on Sunday morning. Briefly, agreement between the negotiators from nearly 200 countries was achieved by adopting a formula that launches a process that commits the UNFCCC to negotiating a protocol, another legal instrument or an “agreed outcome with legal force.”

Related On This Site:  Ronald Bailey At Reason: “I’ll Show You My Genome. Will You Show Me Yours?”… There’s science and there’s science education. Isn’t Dennett deeper than that? From The Access Resource Network: Phillip Johnson’s “Daniel Dennett’s Dangerous Idea’…Maybe if you’re defending religion, Nietzsche is a problematic reference: Dinesh D’Souza And Daniel Dennett at Tufts University: Nietzsche’s Prophesy…

Don’t immanentize the eschaton!: From The NY Times: ‘Atheists Sue to Block Display of Cross-Shaped Beam in 9/11 Museum’

How do these ideas fit in with our foreign policy and our own self-interest (if the Greens and general Western Left succeeds in getting us to sign something like this…what could come of that foreign policy-wise?): From Foreign Affairs Via The A & L Daily: ‘Conflict Or Cooperation: Three Visions Revisited’

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