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Saturday, March 18, 2006

Coherent philosophy

Well, my worldview is partially informed by the following ideas. Some notes are attached:

Economics - Wealth of Nations, etc. Free trade. However, I have been studying some aspects of monopolistic behaviour and I'm not sure I agree with the state of the art. I'm closer to a supply-sider than a Keynesian, but I also believe tax cuts are better than spending because they increase allocative efficiency- the people receiving the benefits are making the decisions. This is an aspect of effective information architecture.

Information Architecture - Survival of the Smartest. Information input, power output, and decision making should all be vested in the same individual or entity for maximum efficiency. There are other aspects to information theory.

Information Theory - umm... my understanding of the topic comes from a lot of reading on networks, supernodes, quantum computing, game theory, etc. I have written about the network thing, which is sort of analogous to the "wisdom of crowds."

The Wisdom of Crowds - there's a book by that name. It says groups of people make better decisions than individuals in some situations. This is really just the result of economics, information theory, and whatnot.

Public Choice Theory - There is a common assumption, sometimes referred to as "Public Interest Theory," which says that everyone in the economy acts in their own self interest, but government bureaucrats and politicians act in the best interests of society. Public Choice Theory says that the individuals in the government act in their own interest. This is an obvious insight, but it has some less-obvious ramifications. The Causes and Consequences of Anti-Trust explains it succinctly in the first chapter or so. Google it, cuz I don't have any good links.

Foreign Policy Realism - see Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy by Henry Kissinger

Realpolitik - I think Orwell may've come up with the word, but it's the domestic equivalent of Realism, and it's a more sinister term for Public Choice Theory. I just like the word "realpolitik" so I wanted to put it in.

Anarcho-capitalism - I'm a moral AND consequential libertarian, due to the ideas already listed.

Natural Rights - see the writings of John Locke. I agree with him more or less, although I believe that the natural rights are predicated on solipsism as well as on practial and religious grounds. This is in contrast to Hobbes, who didn't seem to recognise an absolute basis for human rights.

Solipsism - Descartes, Meditations. There aren't many things that you can know for sure. In fact, your own existence may be the only thing that is real. I assume that the universe I see is real only because it is the default. This is an intellectual house of mirrors, but the existence of "negative" natural rights and the nonexistence of positive rights are the most useful ideas I derive from solipsism.

Stoicism - This is more of a personal preference. It means not being controlled by emotion to the point that it is counterproductive. The pursuit of knowledge as virtue and the use of ascetisim and mortification to increase willpower.

Burkean Conservatism - despite the fact that I have all the wild-eyed dreams of a gun-toting revolutionary, I'm not out there urging a Grey Revolution to overthrow the illegitimate US government. Why? Well, I could be wrong. Even if I am right, and some sort of anarchist utopia is *theoretically* possible, it is not practically possible and won't be for the forseeable future. Like any good conservative, I therefore prefer small, incremental steps towards the ideal. If we go astray, we can study it and fix it. We can get all the systems right.

A lot of these ideas seem intellectually dishonest, at least when taken together. What are the odds that libertarianism is the most moral AND the most effective system? Isn't that merely grasping for justification to force my own morality on others?

Well, what kind of a God would create a universe where the most moral system is ineffective and unstable? If it is ineffective and unstable, isn't it almost immoral by definition? If God ordained that it shouldn't work, then doesn't that make it immoral?

Maybe. Anyway, I'm sure I've forgotten things, but I thought that the public choice theory might be new to some people. Later.


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