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  #1  
Old 10-01-2009, 06:00 PM
Bloggingheads Bloggingheads is offline
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Default Disgusting (Will Wilkinson & James Poulos)

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  #2  
Old 10-01-2009, 06:32 PM
Stapler Malone Stapler Malone is offline
 
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Default Re: Disgusting (Will Wilkinson & James Poulos)

James has a way of speaking where sometimes I just get plain lost, like suddenly I'm not fluent in English anymore. Not sure what exactly it is. It's a combination of the relaxed tempo along with a tendency toward precarious double-jointed structures and expansive parenthetical clauses. Charles Homans put it well when he described James as "prone to densely cerebral sentences that unfurl over the course of a whole paragraph."

This is as much to say, I feel you Will.
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  #3  
Old 10-02-2009, 09:23 AM
badhatharry badhatharry is offline
 
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Default Re: Disgusting (Will Wilkinson & James Poulos)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stapler Malone View Post
James has a way of speaking where sometimes I just get plain lost, like suddenly I'm not fluent in English anymore. Not sure what exactly it is. It's a combination of the relaxed tempo along with a tendency toward precarious double-jointed structures and expansive parenthetical clauses. Charles Homans put it well when he described James as "prone to densely cerebral sentences that unfurl over the course of a whole paragraph."

This is as much to say, I feel you Will.
gotta say...haven't listened to the diavlog yet, but just love this post.

Perhaps he's related to another James, Henry who was described similiarly
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  #4  
Old 10-01-2009, 07:38 PM
DenvilleSteve DenvilleSteve is offline
 
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Default something exceptional/wonderful about America

America has people who are willing to fight and die so that people of other nations can be free. This has been demonstrated in all the wars of the 20th and 21st century. This makes for a much better world, much better than the dog eat dog tribal approach exhibited by the vast majority of other countries.
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  #5  
Old 10-02-2009, 01:00 AM
cousincozen cousincozen is offline
 
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Default Re: something exceptional/wonderful about America

"America has people who are willing to fight and die so that people of other nations can be free."

Yeah, they're called saps.
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  #6  
Old 10-02-2009, 06:38 AM
DenvilleSteve DenvilleSteve is offline
 
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Default Re: something exceptional/wonderful about America

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Originally Posted by cousincozen View Post
"America has people who are willing to fight and die so that people of other nations can be free."

Yeah, they're called saps.
and the people with that POV are called democrats.
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  #7  
Old 10-02-2009, 01:04 PM
cousincozen cousincozen is offline
 
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Default Re: something exceptional/wonderful about America

Well, I just broke your theory.
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  #8  
Old 10-06-2009, 03:28 PM
JonIrenicus JonIrenicus is offline
 
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Default Re: something exceptional/wonderful about America

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Originally Posted by cousincozen View Post
Well, I just broke your theory.
It is broader than a blanket democratic thing.

Paleocons
Realists
Isolationists
Leftists
Libertarian (These are an interesting case. I have yet to see the libertarian for interventions en masse. I think they tend to be concerned mostly with themselves and as close a circle as possible, damn the rest if they have to lift a finger for a non self interested act)


Incidentally, I cannot understand the derision of the sentiment of trying to fight for the "freedoms" of others. More befuddling to me is the line drawn domestically vs internationally. As if the crossing of a man made line changes the act of fighting to change something by itself.

So the abolitionists who joined the Union Army were saps? No, because it was domestic. But had Abolitionists from Canada done the same, they would be?

It is such a perversion of basic morality, at least in so far as we are talking about the merits of an act by itself (practicality is another matter).

This is the point where guys like Bob roll their eyes at my self righteousness. Well, the argument stings for a reason.
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  #9  
Old 10-01-2009, 07:55 PM
rfannan rfannan is offline
 
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Default Re: Disgusting (Will Wilkinson & James Poulos)

It seems to me you have to know a little about the Polanski case in order to comment on it. Will and James simply don't have that knowledge. Here are the undisputed facts:
Polanski was charged with real rape.
The girl testified to real rape (she says she was drugged and given liquor and then still resisted)
He pled guilty to statutory rape
He claims that the judge reneged on a plea bargain to sentence him to no more than the time he spent undergoing a psychiatric evaluation
He fled before sentence could be imposed

James' complaint that there is something wrong with drawing a line between 13 and 16 years old for purpose of statutory rape is just nuts. Most criminal statutes draw lines (grand theft v. petty theft, .08 alcohol v. .07 alcohol for a DUI). If you don't draw lines, you couldn't prosecute someone who raped a three year old (because a three year old isn't that different than a four year old, and a four year old isn't that much different than a five year old, et seq).
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  #10  
Old 10-01-2009, 11:16 PM
Jay J Jay J is offline
 
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Default Re: Disgusting (Will Wilkinson & James Poulos)

rfannon,

First, you're going to have to help me out, I failed to see where James made a substantive claim that laws about statutory rape are illegitimate.

Second, I'm having a hard time seeing where the diavloggers knowledge of the case led them astray in their discussion. There was one point where Will said "But wasn't she 13 and he raped her?" and James said "Oh yea the 15 year old was..." it was someone else suffice it to say (James quickly recovered). In other words, it didn't seem to me that their knowledge of the case diverged from the facts you listed in any non-trivial way.

EDIT: I see now where James said Polanski may not have been charged for what he's now being held for (implying he was charged with something less serious). That contradicts my own understanding. On the first point, I'm still unconvinced that James made the claim that statutory rape laws are illegitimate.

Last edited by Jay J; 10-02-2009 at 02:09 PM..
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  #11  
Old 10-01-2009, 07:56 PM
Freddie Freddie is offline
 
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Default Re: Disgusting (Will Wilkinson & James Poulos)

James talks like a French post-structuralist writes.
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  #12  
Old 10-01-2009, 08:10 PM
graz graz is offline
 
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Default Re: Disgusting (Will Wilkinson & James Poulos)

That's quite the hypothetical!
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  #13  
Old 10-01-2009, 09:36 PM
daveh daveh is offline
 
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Default Re: Disgusting (Will Wilkinson & James Poulos)

Will's whole "I don't see the problem with incest" take is too obviously schtick. It sounds like the sort of epater le bourgeoisie thing you might hear from a philosophy professor at a commuter school.

Has he considered doing it himself? Does he know anyone in an incestuous relationship? Has he recommended this to friends?
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  #14  
Old 10-01-2009, 10:19 PM
Jay J Jay J is offline
 
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Default Re: Disgusting (Will Wilkinson & James Poulos)

Daveh,

Seeing how moral skepticism is not exactly unheard of in the philosophy academy, I don't think you would have to go to a commuter school to find this attitude. But my reasoning here is not stellar, since Will was not here saying that nothing is wrong, therefore incest is not wrong. Rather, he was saying that incest is not something he thinks we should be concerned with stopping, while he still think we should be worried about stopping murder, for instance. But I think that's exactly the problem with your argument, because Will is in fact a moral skeptic, (I believe this is his view, meta-ethically, at least) but still has an interest in what he sees as better and worse societies. So his argument that he sees nothing wrong with incest seems to mean that he does not think that anyone, including the government, has a legitimate interest in trying to stop consenting adults from entering into romantic relationships, even those adults that are closely genetically related. If anything, I think perhaps you would want to claim that Will has not sufficiently incorporated his own moral instincts into his larger view of what's right and wrong. I know this is what you were driving at, but I think that Will's point that people involved (consenting adults) in incestuous relationships should be left alone (which was at least part of his point) should at least be acknowledged, before his view is dismissed.

ADDENDUM: Will's interest, as he says in the diavlog, is in finding the norms necessary for civil society, and inculcating and policing those norms. So that's the standard he's declared in terms of what's right and wrong. I haven't read everything he's written or said on the topic, but from what I have been exposed to from him, this is more or less his view on morality. Since very few people enter into incestuous relationships, if you're working with the standard Will is interested in using, then incest seems to be a small problem at worst, and not a problem at all at best. And since consenting adults in incestuous relationships are not directly harming others (at least, direct harm to others is not a necessary feature of incest) then there is nothing wrong with it, in spite of how he would feel if someone close to him entered into this kind of relationship (of course, he hasn't admitted it would bother him, but even if he did, he said that disgust alone is not sufficient to condemn).

IF incest became a common practice, (many impaired children were born, or people stopped reproducing, or take your preferred pick of social problems springing from incest), THEN it may be a problem, but even then, it would be a problem, not intrinsically, but on account of its effects on the larger society. That something is harmful to society does not make it a wrong in all circumstances. This last part, about what's potentially wrong about incest, is my riffing based on Will's expressed views in the diavlog (but it seems consistent with what he said).

Last edited by Jay J; 10-01-2009 at 11:17 PM..
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  #15  
Old 10-02-2009, 03:06 AM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Default Re: Disgusting (Will Wilkinson & James Poulos)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay J View Post
[...]
Good summary. (Which, probably, means "that sounds like what I think Will thinks, too.")
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  #16  
Old 10-02-2009, 01:03 PM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Default Re: Disgusting (Will Wilkinson & James Poulos)

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Originally Posted by graz View Post
Okay, yeah. But I have to say, the larger question that led Will to that point -- whether drawing an obviously sexualized picture of a generic juvenile human being should constitute a crime (an instance of child pornography, say) -- is a fascinating one in its thorniness. You'd be hard-pressed to raise another issue that would cause my mind to ping-pong as rapidly as this one does.

Clearly, there is an initial reaction of disgust -- YOU PERV!!! -- and I would guess that for almost as many of us, there is a quick second thought, which Will noted -- this comes awfully close to a "thought crime." My third impulse is to think, eh, hard problem, sure, but you have to wonder about someone who would do such a thing, but is it really a widespread problem, so do we need to respond to one instance of this by saying THERE OUGHT TO BE A LAW? (More on this in a moment.) And then the fourth impulse is to think, man, those computer animations are getting pretty lifelike these days and they're only going to get more so, so hadn't we ought to start thinking about this now before someone makes a movie where you really will not be able to tell that that is not a real five-year-old, hogtied to a bed, being set upon by some real adult? Or is that really just the same question as the original one? But then what happens when you have FantasyTykes.com, with six thousand such videos, available for streaming? And what about when this website upgrades its software, to allow visitors to upload a set of photos of themselves that can be digitally manipulated so that the uploader then gets to star in the role of the adult (with a purely fictitious, digitally-created "child") in the previous example video? But do we want to get into the business of making laws because we can imagine scenarios, that with enough hand-waving and extrapolation, could persuade a majority of the population to say, "okay, that's just wrong"?

And of course, following up on impulse 3 above, if you do decide that Something Must Be Done, then you're back at the basic dilemma of how to define pornography. There are endless examples of depictions of (non-specific) naked children that are considered art -- a significant fraction of Christianity-motivated paintings for the last half of the previous millennium feature cherubs, often with their little wieners flapping in the breeze, and pretty much no one less disturbed than John Ashcroft has a problem with these. Also, I find it heart-breaking when I read a story about some parent getting in all sorts of trouble because a cretinous employee at EZ-Kwik Photo called the cops when he saw a perfectly innocent picture of Junior in the bathtub or at the beach.

Due to the lack of any conclusion to these thoughts, I was going to title this post M鐽ius Strip, but, you know, family web site.
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Last edited by bjkeefe; 10-02-2009 at 01:35 PM.. Reason: typo
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  #17  
Old 10-02-2009, 01:05 PM
graz graz is offline
 
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Default Re: Disgusting (Will Wilkinson & James Poulos)

I stand guilty of dingalinking for effect without context.

And here is a lovely example of providing context and then some:
Quote:
Originally Posted by bjkeefe View Post
Okay, yeah. But I have to say, the larger question that led Will to that point -- whether drawing an obviously sexualized picture of a generic juvenile human being should constitute a crime (an instance of child pornography, say) -- is a fascinating one in its thorniness. You'd be hard-pressed to raise another issue that would cause my mind to ping-pong as rapidly as this one does.

Clearly, there is an initial reaction of disgust -- YOU PERV!!! -- and I would guess that for almost as many of us, there is a quick second thought, which Will noted -- this comes awfully close to a "thought crime." My third impulse is to think, eh, hard problem, sure, but you have to wonder about someone who would do such a thing, but is it really a widespread problem, so do we need to respond to one instance of this by saying THERE OUGHT TO BE A LAW? (More on this in a moment.) And then the fourth impulse is to think, man, those computer animations are getting pretty lifelike these days and they're only going to get more so, so hadn't we ought to start thinking about this now before someone makes a movie where you really will not be able to tell that that is not a real five-year-old, hogtied to a bed, being set upon by some real adult? Or is that really just the same question as the original one? But then what happens when you have FantasyTykes.com, with six thousand such videos, available for streaming? And what about when this website upgrades its software, to allow visitors to upload a set of photos of themselves that can be digitally manipulated so that the uploader than gets to star in the role of the adult (with a purely fictitious, digitally-created "child") in the previous example video? But do we want to get into the business of making laws because we can imagine scenarios, that with enough hand-waving and extrapolation, could persuade a majority of the population to say, "okay, that's just wrong"?

And of course, following up on impulse 3 above, if you do decide that Something Must Be Done, then you're back at the basic dilemma of how to define pornography. There are endless examples of depictions of (non-specific) naked children that are considered art -- a significant fraction of Christianity-motivated paintings for the last half of the previous millennium feature cherubs, often with their little wieners flapping in the breeze, and pretty much no one less disturbed than John Ashcroft has a problem with these. Also, I find it heart-breaking when I read a story about some parent getting in all sorts of trouble because a cretinous employee at EZ-Kwik Photo called the cops when he saw a perfectly innocent picture of Junior in the bathtub or at the beach.

Due to the lack of any conclusion to these thoughts, I was going to title this post M鐽ius Strip, but, you know, family web site.
Yes it is thorny. Credit to both Will and James that they didn't reduce it to a simple case of disgust/denial. Shout out to this pairing.

Last edited by graz; 10-02-2009 at 01:19 PM..
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  #18  
Old 10-06-2009, 09:38 AM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Default Re: Disgusting (Will Wilkinson & James Poulos)

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Originally Posted by graz View Post
I stand guilty of dingalinking for effect without context.
Nah. But thanks for setting my thoughts in motion.

Here's an editorial (warning: somewhat disturbing) on a similar issue: Should videos of dog-fighting and other acts of illegal animal cruelty be illegal to sell?

The NYT editors come down on the side of free speech here. I confess I find the mistreatment of animals so heinous it's nearly impossible for me to be rational about this.
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  #19  
Old 10-02-2009, 02:56 AM
JonIrenicus JonIrenicus is offline
 
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Default Re: RP solution

Follow this and be done with it.


Re offer the plea deal he supposedly had earlier, have him spend some time in jail, maybe a month, but less than the time in jail he will spend anyway while fighting extradition.

He will take it to be done with the issue.

Perks

he pays some price

it does not draw out the expense for a fight the state may lose

It is settled fast and all parties can go on with their lives


negatives

some may think the punishment is not harsh enough, anything less than rotting in jail till death is unacceptable.


Retort - get over it, the victim forgave him and wants charges dropped, that goes a long way to staying my hand. Further we have a track record, he is not a repeat offender.


Incidentally, had he murdered someone instead, this offer of mercy would not be offered on my part. That crime is infinitely worse, which is why releasing that Libyan terrorist free was infinitely worse.

Last edited by JonIrenicus; 10-02-2009 at 03:00 AM..
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  #20  
Old 10-02-2009, 03:03 AM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Default Re: Disgusting (Will Wilkinson & James Poulos)

A fascinating discussion. Thanks to you both, J&W.

Don't know why others complain about James being hard to understand/follow. (Am I missing that much, maybe?)
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  #21  
Old 10-02-2009, 03:30 AM
Jay J Jay J is offline
 
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Default Re: Disgusting (Will Wilkinson & James Poulos)

FWIW, I thought the discussion was interesting and understandable, and it didn't occur to me that James was unclear in the way he communicated until I read it in the comment section. There were a couple of times where Will had to pause and ask for a clarification, but that's not so unheard of.
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  #22  
Old 10-02-2009, 04:31 AM
JonIrenicus JonIrenicus is offline
 
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Default Re: Disgusting (Will Wilkinson & James Poulos)

The morality issues are a problem area for me.


While I do not see some sort of societal or individual harm done by engaging in incest, cannibalism.... that is just a bit too hard core for me to be indifferent about. Not so for Will !

But seriously, I think James was having trouble addressing Wills examples because without some appeal to the divine, there it really no leg to stand on.


I am ALL for certain moral judgments of the sort most liberals would shun. Single motherhood is NOT something I see as a "neutral" development for individuals or society. Would I support outlawing it? Of course not. But I would be fine with encouraging women/girls to avoid that status. But this aversion and negative view of something like single motherhood (in general, not in specific cases) is based on data that shows that the outcomes for kids that are raised in single parent homes vs two parent households is MUCH worse.

They would have been better off, for themselves and their children giving the baby up for adoption or waiting longer to have kids. Cases like Angelina and Rosie O'Donnell are exceptions, most single parents are not that wealthy with unlimited resources for nanny's and the like.



But you see the problem? While my indifference to certain things is not as all encompassing as the common liberal, I can only make my case based off some sort of empirical result. I need examples of better or worse outcomes.

So while my attitude towards say a heroin addict is not one of, his body his choice (disgusting indifference), it's still based off a level of personal harm, a negative reaction based off the fact that someone is engaging in a behavior that is empirically shown to produce bad outcomes.

With incest, I have no bridge to connect a bad outcome, no basis by which to appeal to to say something is better or worse. James tried to make a bridge, but as far as I can tell, people like Will, and in some sense myself, are missing the capacity to see such an act as "wrong" in some logical sense.

In the case of cannibalism, there is a more core/biological revulsion. It is not based on logic or argument, it is a sort of super/sub conscious aversion or disgust of the act.

But ask me to make the case about the "why" cannibalism is wrong, and I draw a blank.


I think to bridge that gap you need some sort of divine prohibition or law, something I do not have.
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  #23  
Old 10-02-2009, 09:49 AM
badhatharry badhatharry is offline
 
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Default Re: Disgusting (Will Wilkinson & James Poulos)

Quote:
Originally Posted by JonIrenicus View Post
The morality issues are a problem area for me.


.... But this aversion and negative view of something like single motherhood (in general, not in specific cases) is based on data that shows that the outcomes for kids that are raised in single parent homes vs two parent households is MUCH worse......

But you see the problem? While my indifference to certain things is not as all encompassing as the common liberal, I can only make my case based off some sort of empirical result. I need examples of better or worse outcomes.
Yes, I see the problem, but in another way. Some would say that the reason the outcomes are worse, is that since society sanctions rather than approves those behaviors, the actors are at a disadvantage.

You are saying that there are objectively better ways of behaving than others. I would agree. What we have to go on is common sense and custom.
But we can't agree on these things and so off we go.
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  #24  
Old 10-02-2009, 06:03 AM
Francoamerican
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Default Re: Disgusting (Will Wilkinson & James Poulos)

Will Wilkinson and James Poulos are two of the most intellectually acute dialoguers on bh.tv. Wide-ranging, thoughtful discussion.

On the question of American exceptionalism, I agree that Americans have had a tendency to overestimate their own importance and underestimate the degree to which other nations have also seen themselves as exceptional---Britain, France and Germany come to mind. Indeed just about every past nation-state or empire has seen itself as "unique," i.e. exceptional. Americans have also had a tendency to forget how much they owe to European civilization. The myth of a totally new beginning (novus ordo seculorum) has fed all kinds of messianic fantasies, from "Manifest Destiny" to "Making the World Safe for Democracy." Both tendencies, though, only became a problem--for the rest of the world if not for Americans---during the Cold War when the struggle against the Soviet Union and "international communism," coupled with supreme military power, produced an often delusional foreign policy, for which many smaller nations paid the price. Neoconservatism is (was?) the latest manifestation of this ingrained belief in American exceptionalism.

So dare we hope that Poulos' "postmodern" conservatism signals a change of direction in the younger generation?

Last edited by Francoamerican; 10-02-2009 at 07:00 AM..
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  #25  
Old 10-02-2009, 06:54 AM
DenvilleSteve DenvilleSteve is offline
 
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Default Re: Disgusting (Will Wilkinson & James Poulos)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Francoamerican View Post
Will Wilkinson and James Poulos are two of the most intellectually acute dialoguers on bh.tv. Wide-ranging, thoughtful discussion.

On the question of American exceptionalism, I agree that Americans have had a tendency to overestimate their own importance and underestimate the degree to which other nations have also seen themselves as exceptional---Britain, France and Germany come to mind. Indeed just about every past nation-state or empire has seen itself as "unique," i.e. exceptional.
it is not the achievement that is exceptional. It is historic America's decency and ability to peacefully self govern which is exceptional. Excluding England, its colonies and of course the Irish, the remainder of the world is a very tribal place. A friend from Bulgaria describes his home region as a place riven with rivalries and regional conflicts. Where people have intentionally develop different languages to reinforce each others separateness. It is remarkable how America was settled, the rule of law established, limited government put in place from sea to sea. Just watch the movie "Shane". It is only now, as the clutching government has grown to critical mass, that the spirit of american is being smothered.
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  #26  
Old 10-02-2009, 07:01 AM
Baltimoron Baltimoron is offline
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Default Re: Disgusting (Will Wilkinson & James Poulos)

Quote:
It is remarkable how America was settled, the rule of law established, limited government put in place from sea to sea. Just watch the movie "Shane". It is only now, as the clutching government has grown to critical mass, that the spirit of America is being smothered.
I believe Osceola said it best: what a load of alligator dung!
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  #27  
Old 10-02-2009, 12:03 PM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Default Re: Disgusting (Will Wilkinson & James Poulos)

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I believe Osceola said it best: what a load of alligator dung!
Win.
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  #28  
Old 10-02-2009, 07:15 AM
DenvilleSteve DenvilleSteve is offline
 
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Default Why would Chicago be selected to host the Olympics?

I don't follow how the Olympic committee could select Chicago over Brazil to host the 2016 Olympics. By 2016 the US could very possibly be dealing with a massive breakdown of the economy and government. The news that social security is running a deficit, years earlier than expected, is the most recent indicator of calamity to come. Based on what is read in the papers, Chicago has the most corrupt political system in the country. Corruption is not something the Olympic Committee wants to be associated with. Construction projects in urban areas of America are notorious for running over budget and not being completed on time. In NYC the WTC site is not close to being reconstructed. The construction of a single basketball arena in Bklyn is taking decades to complete. As the American economy worsens, the credibility of Obama and his cronies will be in tatters. They will not have the political heft needed to ensure construction of the Olympic venues are completed on time. Add to this the ascendency of Brazil on the world stage. The IOC would be nuts to select Chicago over Rio.
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  #29  
Old 10-02-2009, 12:02 PM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Default Re: Why would Chicago be selected to host the Olympics?

Shorter DenvilleSteve:

Quote:
Because some memorial statue in lower Manhattan hasn't been completed, Barry "Hussein" Bloomberg should be fired as mayor of Chicago.
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  #30  
Old 10-02-2009, 07:47 AM
DenvilleSteve DenvilleSteve is offline
 
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Default Will Petraeus and McChyrstal be resigned?

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...l?hpid=topnews

Looks like it is Petraeus and McChyrstal advocating for more troops, Biden adamantly against, Hillary on the sidelines, Gates not leading his dept and allies of Biden leaking to the press. No mention of whether recent American casualties are due to their being too few in number to back each other up.
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  #31  
Old 10-02-2009, 09:22 AM
DenvilleSteve DenvilleSteve is offline
 
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Default Unemployment up again

Wow, the number of unemployed is still increasing! http://finance.yahoo.com/news/US-Sep....html?x=0&.v=1

Will democrats ever come to understand that their economic policies don't work? There is the stimulus spending, mega deficit spending, extended unemployment payments, cash for clunkers, tax credits for first time home buyers. Yet the economy continues to crater. What about slashing the pay and retirement contributions of government workers, getting replacements for those who quit from the ranks of the unemployed? Eliminate the minimum wage - this enables everyone who wants to work to be able to get a job. And dont extend people's unemployment benefits. Much better to work at any job than to sit idle for an extended period of time.
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  #32  
Old 10-02-2009, 10:20 AM
badhatharry badhatharry is offline
 
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Default Re: Disgusting (Will Wilkinson & James Poulos)

Incest aversion is hardwired. It is not a fine honed tool which is capable of discerning the difference between a thirty year old woman (hopefully fixed) who wants to screw her daddy and a man who has access to his daughters on a continual basis.

Will says, "the disgust response enforces social norms". James says that the disgust response reinforces the feeling of being an individual being. Both seem to think it has some usefulness.

On slavery. people felt fine with it until.what? I was waiting for them to explore this. They then went on to say that the integrity of persons is something which need to be protected. I would say this idea of the individual is not hardwired but has developed historically.

The SS guards were radically damaged. I guess that means that it is good for ones health to be good.

And after all that Will says, I dont think were going to solve this.

Ever? Probably not, but I suppose its good to talk about it.
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  #33  
Old 10-02-2009, 10:40 AM
Me&theboys Me&theboys is offline
 
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Default Re: Disgusting (Will Wilkinson & James Poulos)

I'm a little baffled by Will's inability or unwillingness to even mention the probable evolutionary basis for incest aversion. Sure, today, with birth control and safe abortion available, one can intellectualize the likely harm, or lack thereof, caused by incest. But for most of human history incest would have frequently resulted in children with genetic problems. Especially among small tribes which were somewhat genetically related to begin with. This would have likely reduced the fitness of that child and his/her parents. The fact that people react to parent-child and sibling-sibling incest much more strongly than to cousin-cousin incest speaks to a very practical basis for the evolved attitude toward incest. How bad it is is a matter of degree of relatedness because the magntude of its consequences is also a matter of degree of relatedness.

Certainly those who had a negative attitude toward incest would likely have had greater reproductive fitness than did those who engaged in incest. We don't have to personally feel this way today to understand why that feeling may have evolved and why many people still feel that way. Not everyone arrives at their moral positions through an intellectual process - many people adhere to an emotionally driven moral decision-making process.

Also, I am disturbed with Will's attitude that incest is a harmless activity. This is not always the case, because incestuous relationships can result in the birth of a child. The criminality of an incestuous relationship that results in the birth of a child with genetic deformities (the likeliness of which is known in advance) strikes me as quite different than the criminality of an incestuous relationship that does not. The discussion would have been more interesting if Will had addressed how society should handle behaviors like incest that may often be victimless but that can, at times, result in serious, lifelong harm to another.
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  #34  
Old 10-02-2009, 12:37 PM
cragger cragger is offline
 
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Default Re: Disgusting (Will Wilkinson & James Poulos)

I take your point about one reasonable sounding evolutionary explanation of the development of the incest taboo. An alternative and similarly reasonable explanation might be that "marriage" or pairing off outside of the immediate family group advantages a couple and both the involved families by bonding a larger group together, with an expanded resource base, and so on.


Regarding the following:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Me&theboys View Post
... Not everyone arrives at their moral positions through an intellectual process - many people adhere to an emotionally driven moral decision-making process.

Also, I am disturbed with Will's attitude that incest is a harmless activity. This is not always the case, because incestuous relationships can result in the birth of a child. The criminality of an incestuous relationship that results in the birth of a child with genetic deformities (the likeliness of which is known in advance) strikes me as quite different than the criminality of an incestuous relationship that does not. ...
I wonder if the point you make in the first quoted sentance is what informs the opinions that follow. Are you reacting to your feelings of disgust regarding incest, or claiming a logical base for prohibition of couplings that entail a risk of disadvantaged offspring that is greater than the background risk for any randomly selected couple? We now know of a number of genetically related disadvantageous conditions. Should sexual relationships including folks with those conditions, say diabetics for example, likewise be criminalized? The risk of other conditions such as down's syndrome increases with the age of the parents; should sex beyond some specified age be criminalized?

So I wonder whether your "potential harm to others" argument is part of a consistent intellectual framework, or represents our human tendency to come up with rationalizations for emotionally driven viewpoints.
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  #35  
Old 10-02-2009, 02:43 PM
Me&theboys Me&theboys is offline
 
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Default Re: Disgusting (Will Wilkinson & James Poulos)

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Originally Posted by cragger View Post
I wonder if the point you make in the first quoted sentance is what informs the opinions that follow. Are you reacting to your feelings of disgust regarding incest, or claiming a logical base for prohibition of couplings that entail a risk of disadvantaged offspring that is greater than the background risk for any randomly selected couple? We now know of a number of genetically related disadvantageous conditions. Should sexual relationships including folks with those conditions, say diabetics for example, likewise be criminalized? The risk of other conditions such as down's syndrome increases with the age of the parents; should sex beyond some specified age be criminalized?

So I wonder whether your "potential harm to others" argument is part of a consistent intellectual framework, or represents our human tendency to come up with rationalizations for emotionally driven viewpoints.
Based on my comments you have pulled out for quoting and on your questions, I think you may have read too much into my post. I am not making claims about which moral decision making process is better nor about whether incest is good or bad. I am neither disgusted by incest (though baffled at the urge, perhaps), nor am I advocating prohibition. I am complaining about Will's handling of the topic, which I feel dismisses without exploration some commmonly held views and some realities, an attribute which, IMO, does not enhance a discussion. People who say things like "I don't see what the problem is" or "I don't understand why anyone would have a problem with X" are not trying very hard. Usually, Will tries pretty hard. Then again, maybe he assumed we'd all read his piece on incest, which I have not. As to your other questions, I certainly do not have the answers, thus my closing statement that a discussion of those very issues would have made for a better diavlog.

In response to your last question, I think that, while emotions are necessary for helping us to decide what issues to care about, rational decision making should take over when it's time to decide what to do about those issues. As AEMJeff said elsewhere on these boards, "Be skeptical. Especially when you want something to be true." I think that's a good attitude to hold toward statements of fact/claims made and towards one's emotions about the facts/claims. I prefer to engage in as intellectually sound a decision-making process as possible than to arrive at a desired endpoint. Which is why I generally prefer to engage with people about how they think, or why they believe something, than about what they think. For me, what someone thinks is uncompelling if not accompanied by an understanding of why they think it.
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  #36  
Old 10-02-2009, 04:46 PM
cragger cragger is offline
 
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Default Re: Disgusting (Will Wilkinson & James Poulos)

While I don't want to put words into Will Wilkinson's mouth, I understood him to be saying that he didn't see a valid basis for incest prohibition involving consenting adults that includes criminal sanctions. This seems to be a position consistent with his overall philosophy, and I gathered he just didn't feel the need to go into the possible how's and why's that the prohibition got codified. I suspect he has considered the possible bases for the taboo that both of us have put forth, and I do recall him diavloging previously on the emotional base for moral judgements.

Not that you asked, but in line with your statement regarding thought processes - you put forth a possible source for the origination of the taboo involving the creation of genetically damaged children. You then said you were disturbed that Will found (adult) incest harmless, and expressed the harm in terms of the potential harm to a resulting child, a view consistent with the source for the taboo you thought likely. And please don't read these "you said ..." as accusatory, just explaining how consideration of your post overall led to my view of your view, so to speak.
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  #37  
Old 10-05-2009, 05:23 PM
Me&theboys Me&theboys is offline
 
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Default Re: Disgusting (Will Wilkinson & James Poulos)

Quote:
Originally Posted by cragger View Post
Not that you asked, but in line with your statement regarding thought processes - you put forth a possible source for the origination of the taboo involving the creation of genetically damaged children. You then said you were disturbed that Will found (adult) incest harmless, and expressed the harm in terms of the potential harm to a resulting child, a view consistent with the source for the taboo you thought likely. And please don't read these "you said ..." as accusatory, just explaining how consideration of your post overall led to my view of your view, so to speak.
I responded to this earlier, but somehow my post disappeared in the tech snafu over the weekend. I just wanted to clarify that I consider the "harm" of reduced reproductive fitness in my first point to be completely independent of and completely different from the "harm" that may accrue to the offspring of an incestuous couple in my second point. My fomer point belongs in the realm of how things are (how natural selection works); my latter point belongs in the realm of how things should be (what's right, what's wrong, and how to decide). The former is addressing Will's points about how an incest taboo came about, and the latter is addressing Will's claim that incest is harmless. I consider these to be two entirely unrelated issues. I suppose it is possible that incest came to be viewed as taboo purely because of the harm it caused to the offspring. My personal view is that I doubt it. I think it far more likely that humans evolved to have an instinct against incest because having such an instinct resulted in favorable differential reproduction, and that instinct was later enshrined as a social taboo. My default view of humans is that our ancient and universal behaviors (of which incest avoidance is one) don't exist because they were originally deemed right in a moral sense but because they were more effective at getting our genes into the next generation. Labeling them "right" came later. I try not to draw ought from is conclusions about human nature because I think they're a cop out for anyone with a brain - just wanted to make it clear that I was definitely NOT doing that in my original post, even though it may be possible to read such a thing into my comments.
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  #38  
Old 10-05-2009, 08:49 PM
cragger cragger is offline
 
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Default Re: Disgusting (Will Wilkinson & James Poulos)

Yes, Bob Wright's dog ate a lot of homework.

The following represents either my confusion about what you are saying, or suggests to me that potential genetic harm is the root what I'm still reading as a moral objection based on the potential causing of harm:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Me&theboys View Post
I just wanted to clarify that I consider the "harm" of reduced reproductive fitness in my first point to be completely independent of and completely different from the "harm" that may accrue to the offspring of an incestuous couple in my second point. My fomer point belongs in the realm of how things are (how natural selection works); my latter point belongs in the realm of how things should be (what's right, what's wrong, and how to decide). The former is addressing Will's points about how an incest taboo came about, and the latter is addressing Will's claim that incest is harmless. I consider these to be two entirely unrelated issues.
I understand the distinction you go on to make about how the existance of a reproductive disadvantage and our moral feelings about things that cause that disadvantage might come to be common. And I agree with you that the issues of how some moral feeling or law or both came about, and whether one can make a case regarding right and wrong independantly of how we feel or what rules currently obtain are both worthy of consideration.

Whether the current taboo is more related to the coincident genetic (dis)advantage/emotional disinclination you suggested or more related to internalization of similar inclinations coupled with cultural survival and reproductive advantages of cross-family relationships is certainly something we won't tease out here. It most likely includes both effects to whatever degree. But my main question is still whether the development of this taboo is really separate as you say from an objection to the "harmless" claim on moral grounds, and whether we can justly say that such potential harm gives validity independant from our feelings to the application of collective power in enforcing prohibition.

Isn't a potential increased risk of disadvantageous genes the harm you consider in addressing the moral "should be" question? Is there some other valid reason for extending our discomfort about the subject (i.e. what "is") to criminalization (which if just, reflects the "should be")? And if the "harm" of incest between consenting adults (contra Will W's assertion) rests on that potential harm, it seems to lead directly to the questions about how we quantify such risks or even for that matter potential advantages depending on the individuals, compared to other known and likely risks, and whether there exists something beyond an emotive reaction to incest that justifies, as well as explains, the current status. Your objection to the "harmless" claim suggests that you feel or find such justification. This leads me to wonder whether it is "find' or "feel" if you see what I mean.

Last edited by cragger; 10-05-2009 at 08:56 PM.. Reason: attempt to clarify
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  #39  
Old 10-05-2009, 09:57 PM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Default Re: Disgusting (Will Wilkinson & James Poulos)

Quote:
Originally Posted by cragger View Post
Yes, Bob Wright's dog ate a lot of homework.
I am so stealing that.
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  #40  
Old 10-06-2009, 10:42 AM
Me&theboys Me&theboys is offline
 
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Default Re: Disgusting (Will Wilkinson & James Poulos)

Quote:
Originally Posted by cragger View Post
The following represents either my confusion about what you are saying, or suggests to me that potential genetic harm is the root what I'm still reading as a moral objection based on the potential causing of harm:

Originally Posted by Me&theboys
"I just wanted to clarify that I consider the "harm" of reduced reproductive fitness in my first point to be completely independent of and completely different from the "harm" that may accrue to the offspring of an incestuous couple in my second point. My fomer point belongs in the realm of how things are (how natural selection works); my latter point belongs in the realm of how things should be (what's right, what's wrong, and how to decide). The former is addressing Will's points about how an incest taboo came about, and the latter is addressing Will's claim that incest is harmless. I consider these to be two entirely unrelated issues. "
I'm not sure if this will help or make things murkier, but here goes: From an evolutionary perspective, I consider the "harm" caused by incestuous mating to be the harm of reduced reproductive fitness. People with an inclinication toward incest would have fewer children able to themselves reproduce than would people disinclined to do so, and over time, people disinclined to do so would come to dominate the population. The story could easily end there, with humans having evolved with a disinclination toward incest and that was that.

Alternatively, humans could have gone on (and I believe did) and chosen to imbue their instinctive disinclinations with a basic level of moral meaning and labeled as taboo those behaviors that most people were disinclined toward. Later, as survival was more assured and people had the luxury of elevating moral decision-making to a more prominent place, the idea could have developed (and I think did) that the harm incest is likley to bestow on another being is itself wrong as well. All of these scenarios may ultimately derive from the fact that incest can cause genetic harm, but they differ in terms of the consequences that are deemed most salient and in terms of whether they operate at a conscious or unconscious level.

I think the former, evolutionary concept of the harm of incest is a human universal, as is the taboo against it. But it is a concept that does not operate at the conscious level. It operates at the genetic level, in how we are wired, and its source is the mathematics of survival, not the concept of individual human rights. It nevertheless manifests itself as an emotion, as do many of our instinctual behaviors.

The latter concept of harm couched in terms of the harm done to the offspring of an incestuous relationship is definitely not a universal. Among those who do share the concept, I think it is more a product of reason about harm and fairness, which is a pretty Western idea. For most of human history, survival was more important than lofty ideas about harm and fairness, and the risks to one's survival and to the survival of one's other or future children were the primary issues under consideration when choosing to avoid incest; the genetic harm that would befall a child of incest was the cause of the harms to be avoided, not the harm to be avoided in and of itself. For many people today, the tables are probably turned in terms of what is more salient, and with modern birth control and safe abortion, both are probably much less salient than in the past, at least to those who choose to reason about the issue.
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