יום שני, 19 בפברואר 2018

An honest discussion with Jan Helfeld is impossible, here's why

The following conversation is brought as evidence as to why Jan Helfeld shouldn't be regarded as someone worth debating. Look, people can be wrong, people can be stupid, but when people are dishonest and intentionally undermine the basic requirements for a critical discussion - conversing with them is a waste of air.

After posting a post-debate analysis (Victor Pross and Jan Helfeld, Anarchism Vs. Minarchism), Jan Helfeld asked that I read and respond to this "questions and extended remarks" (which is a block of nonsense he copy and pastes for anarchists to answer). I have done so, in length, see the previous post on my blog. Jan didn't have the time to read my answer, but has instead asked me to answer some more questions. I took the time to answer those even though I suspected they are nothing more than a window to escape through, to allow him to not deal with my original criticism.

Here are the questions he asked me to answer (after I've answered his "questions and extended remarks")

JAN HELFELD: Here are some fundamentals for you to answer:

1) how do you construct a valid principle ?
2) What is the relationship between a valid principal and the consequences of the actions of subsume ?
3) What is your ultimate value? I mean your supreme good that you expect to achieve with all your actions including advocating for advocating for Anarchy?
4) Do you think that persuading people there should be no victimless crime’s advances freedom?
5) Do you think that persuading people to have a non-interventionist policy advances freedom?
6) Do you think eliminating redistribution of wealth advances freedom? This is what I do in the public arena which you claim does not advance freedom at all. Please confirm.

And here's the answers I gave him on those questions:

EYAL LIOR: "how do you construct a valid principle" - Moral principle I suppose, the answer is UPB. Universally Preferable Behavior. I use the UPB framework to validate moral theories.

“consequences of the actions of subsume” sorry I didn’t get what you mean by “subsume”.

My ultimate value would be to be happy, to be good.

With victimless crimes, people either know it within themselves and feel suddenly more connected to their inner self when someone for the first time in their life talks with them about this realization, or they don’t and they have an obedient slave mentality, and then talking with them about principles is not changing their thinking. They have no thinking of their own. But those who do think for themselves, by talking with them about philosophy of morality, we give them tools to see truth better and to connect with others who think alike. When thinking people start letting go of statist friends and start to align with like minded thinkers, freedom get’s built.

I think that persuading people to stay away from government, not become dependent on it, not in good times and not in bad times, is helping us not lose healthy minds to this monster. When people become dependent on government, either by getting some help or by doing business with them, working for them, they become biased almost beyond repair.

I also think that voting and promoting politicians has the same negative side effect like any magic diet, you avoid doing the heavy lifting because you believe voting and protesting will do the work for you.

I think that the root of all political problems is not the commands politicians give, be it i.e. to redistribute wealth, but the root and the big problem is the willingness of millions of people to blindly obey and commit immoral actions because of political rules. So if you work to change the rules, you’re fighting the symptom, not the root of the problem, and also I think it’s not working. Fixing the system from the inside just doesn’t work. The benefit for a power group to push for getting government funds is huge, while the benefit for all other people to push against such funding is very low. If there was not a lot of rains this winter and 300 farmers push the government to give them $300M, it’s really worth while for them to spend time and money to try to get this funding, but for 300M Americans, it’s not worthwhile to protest against that funding, they each will lose only 1$.

Also, taxation is theft, government does wicked horrible stuff, jails tons of innocent people, and even if it could be fixed it doesn’t deserve to be fixed. It’s an evil and dangerous institution, and everything it does could be done much better in the free market. There is no evidence that it’s improving, and if it’s not improving, then spreading false hopes is not only not advancing freedom, it hinders the efforts toward freedom.

And here is the conversation killer, the debate ender that Jan has thrown back at me.

JAN HELFELD: I am glad I asked you these fundamental questions. I was surprised to see when it comes to fundamentals you are a follower and not an independent thinker because you go by what is universally preferable which in the first place does not exist except in the sense of a majority of people may think something and you are the sheep who follows the majority. Regarding your ultimate value you do not define what it is to be good except maybe in terms of what other people think, That is universally preferable and who knows what that is. You need to define what you mean by to be happy. Anyway I can’t go through all the problems in your fundamentals believe me there are plenty . It also makes no sense to discuss political theory unless we are in agreement on your ultimate value because the purpose of any political theory is to achieve the theorists view and ultimate value. Good luck

This is what I wrote in a reply comment, explaining why it's a straw-man argument that he's attacking, and why I am sure he's not merely mistaken but intentionally being dishonest and evading the serious criticism given to his "tanks in the street/mini-wars" arguments scare-stories.

EYAL LIOR: Jan, not only you are incorrect about the meaning of "universally preferable", but you also not following basic critical dialog rules that require you to do your best to understand the opponent position, and not attack straw-man arguments.

"Universally preferable" is not "what the majority prefers". It's confusing, I know, lots of people get confuse there. Notice the ___able suffix of the word. Universally preferable behavior is that which logically *can* be preferred by everybody, so, not necessarily that which *is* preferred by all. To give an example - Take the behavior of "stealing". Stealing cannot be preferred by everybody, as, if you and I prefer that you to steal my car, it is not stealing because stealing requires that I don't prefer you take my car.

So far for the straw-man argument you were attacking, and your conclusion "you are the sheep who follows the majority" that is based on that straw-man.

Jan just admit it, you're not willing to discuss my criticism and this is why you try to steer the conversation to "what is good what is happy what is your ultimate value".

Honest critical discussion requires the participants to assume the good intentions of each other. Asking "what is good" is undermining the basic assumption REQUIRED in any discussion, which is that the truth is universally preferable and that both parties prefer the truth, see it as a good thing.