I don’t know if you’ve noticed this, but all of our discussions about ethics so far have had one thing in common: God. Divine Command Theory, for example, argues that what’s good, and what’s not, are determined by a deity, whether that’s the God of Abraham, or a panoply of gods who come up with ethical rules by committee.

And the Theory of Natural Law, as advanced by Thomas Aquinas, says that morality comes from us but only because we were made by God, who preloaded us with moral sensibilities. But many other thinkers have argued that humanity’s moral code doesn’t come from some supernatural force.

18th century German philosopher Immanuel Kant, for one, thought religion and morality were a terrible pairing, and if anything, the two should be kept apart. Instead, Kant argued, in order to determine what’s right, you have to use reason. And a sense of consideration for other people. And – at least the way I’m teaching it today – chom-choms.

Kant took morality pretty seriously, and he thought we should, too – all of us – regardless of our religious beliefs, or lack thereof. Because, he knew that if we look to religion for our morality, we’re not all going to get the same answer. But he thought morality was a constant, in an almost mathematical sense. Two plus two equals four, whether you’re a Christian, Buddhist, or atheist.

And for Kant, the same went for moral truths.

But he made a distinction between the things we ought to do morally, and the things we ought to do for other, non-moral reasons.

He pointed out that, most of the time, whether or not we ought to do something isn’t really a moral choice – instead, it’s just contingent on our desires.

Like, if your desire is to get money, then you ought to get a job. If your desire is get an A in class, then you ought to study.

Kant called these if-then statements hypothetical imperatives.

They’re commands that you should follow if you want something. But hypothetical imperatives are about prudence, rather than morality. So, if you don’t want money, you can always choose not to work.

And if you don’t care about getting a good grade, studying becomes totally optional! It’d be a terrible option, in my opinion as an educator, but still: optional. But Kant viewed morality not in terms of hypothetical imperatives, but through what he called categorical imperatives. These are commands you must follow, regardless of your desires. Categorical imperatives are our moral obligations, and Kant believed that they’re derived from pure reason.

He said it didn’t matter whether you want to be moral or not – the moral law is binding on all of us.

And he said you don’t need religion to determine what that law is, because what’s right and wrong is totally knowable just by using your intellect. OK, so how do you figure out what’s moral? Kant said the categorical imperative can be understood in terms of various formulations. Basically, different ways of phrasing or looking at the same essential idea. And he came up with four formulations of the categorical imperative. Let me tell you about the two most popular ones.

The first formulation of the categorical imperative is often known as the universalizability principle. And Kant phrased it this way: “Act only according to that maxim which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law without contradiction.” OK, Kant. Pretty wordy guy. So let’s unpack what he was saying. A maxim is just a rule or principle of action. And a universal law is something that must always be done in similar situations.

So, as a Kantian, before I act, I would ask myself, what’s the maxim of my action? In other words, what’s the general rule that stands behind the particular action I’m considering? Let’s say you forgot your wallet in your dorm this morning. You don’t have time to go get it between classes, and you’re really hungry.

You notice that the student working the snack kiosk in the union is engrossed in a conversation, and you could easily snag a banana and be on your way. Sorry. Chom-chom. I mean: chom-chom. You could easily swipe that chom-chom and be on your way. Is it ok, morally, for you to do this? Well, the particular action you’re considering – taking a chom-chom from a merchant without paying for it – is stealing. And if you approve the maxim of stealing – which you’re doing, whether you admit it or not – then what you’re actually doing is universalizing that action. You’re saying that everyone should always steal. If you should be able to do it, then – everyone should be able to do it. The thing is, this leads to a contradiction – and remember: Kant’s wording specifically says that moral actions cannot bring about contradictions.

The contradiction here is: no one would say that everyone should steal all the time. Because, if everyone should always steal, then you should steal the chom-chom. And then I should steal it back from you, and then you should steal it back from me, and it would never end and no one would ever get to eat any chom choms. Therefore, stealing isn’t universalizable. So what Kant’s really saying is that it’s not fair to make exceptions for yourself. You don’t really think stealing is ok, and by imagining what it would be like to universalize it, that becomes clear.

Now, Kant’s view that moral rules apply to everyone equally sounds nice and fair. But it can sometimes lead to some pretty counterintuitive results. To see how this formulation can go awry, let’s visit the Thought Bubble for some Flash Philosophy. Let’s say, one morning, Elvira and Tony are having breakfast. Then a stranger comes to the door and asks where Tony is, so he can kill him.

Obviously, Elvira’s impulse is to lie, and say that Tony isn’t around right now in order to protect him from this would-be murderer. But Kant says that she can’t lie – not ever, not even to save Tony’s life. Here’s his reasoning: Suppose she’s at the front door, talking to the stranger.

At the time, she thinks Tony’s in the kitchen, where she left him. But it turns out he was curious about the caller, so he followed her into the living room, and heard the stranger make his threats.

Fearing for his life, Tony slipped out the back door. Meanwhile Elvira, in her desire to save him, tells the stranger that Tony isn’t there, even though she thinks he is. Based on her lie, the stranger leaves, and runs into Tony as he rounds the corner heading away from the house, and kills him. Had she told the truth, the stranger might have headed into the kitchen looking for Tony, which would have given Tony time to escape. But she didn’t. Now, by Kant’s reasoning, Elvira is responsible for Tony’s death, because her lie caused it. Had she told the truth, only the murderer would have been responsible for any deaths that might have occurred.

Now, she could have refused to answer the stranger altogether, or tried to talk him out of it. But the one thing she is never permitted to do is violate the moral law, even if others are doing so, even for a really good cause. Poor Tony. Very sad. But thanks, Thought Bubble! So, the first formulation of the categorical imperative is about the universality of our actions.

But the second formulation focuses on how we should treat other people. And it goes this way: “Act so that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in that of another, always as an end, and never as a mere means.” Again, we have to define some terms here to figure out what this is all about.

To use something as a “mere means” is to use it only for your own benefit, with no thought to the interests or benefit of the thing you’re using. Now, we use things as mere means all the time.

I use this mug to hold my coffee, and if it would stop benefiting me – like if it got a crack in it and started leaking, I wouldn’t use it anymore. It’s perfectly fine to use things as mere means – but not humans.

This is because we are what Kant called ends-in-ourselves. We are not mere objects that exist to be used by others.

We’re our own ends. We’re rational and autonomous. We have the ability to set our own goals, and work toward them. Coffee mugs exist for coffee drinkers. Humans exist for themselves. So, to treat someone as an end-in-herself means to recognize the humanity of the person you’re encountering, to realize that she has goals, values, and interests of her own, and you must, morally, keep that in mind in your encounters with her.

Now, Kant pointed out that we do use people, all the time, and that’s ok. Because, most of time time, we use other people as a means for something, but not as a mere means. We still recognize their humanity when we use them, and they agree to being used. So, for example, you are using me right now to get information about Kantian ethics. I am using Nick and Nicole to help me get that information to you.

Kant said that you and I, and Nick and Nicole – we all we deserve to not be used as mere means, because of our autonomy. Unlike other things in the world, we’re self-governed.

We’re able to set our own ends, to make our own free decisions based on our rational wills.

We can set goals for ourselves, and take steps to realize those goals.

This imbues us with an absolute moral worth, Kant said, which means that we shouldn’t be manipulated, or manipulate other autonomous agents for our own benefit. And this means that things like lying and deception are never OK.

Because if I’m being deceived, I can’t make an autonomous decision about how to act, because my decision is based on false information.

For instance, I might agree to loan you money so you can buy books for school, but I wouldn’t agree to loan you money so that you can get a new Xbox. I’m sorry, but no. So when you lie to me about what you’re gonna be doing with the money you’re asking for, you rob me of my ability to autonomously decide to help you.

You’ve treated me as a mere means to accomplish your goals, with no thought to my own goals and interests. And that’s a violation of Kant’s second categorical imperative. So! Kant argued that proper, rational application of the categorical imperative will lead us to moral truth that is fixed and applicable to all moral agents.

No God required. Of course, not everyone agreed with him. So next time we’re going to check out a theory that is in many ways the antithesis of Kantianism: utilitarianism. Today we learned about Kant’s ethics.

We talked about hypothetical and categorical imperatives, the universalizability principle, autonomy, and what it means to treat people as ends-in-themselves, rather than as mere means.




Is it wrong to steal to feed your family? Is there such a thing as a good lie? Questions like these are the domain of ethics – the branch of philosophy that studies morality, or right and wrong behavior.

But before we can parse questions like these, we need to go deeper – into metaethics, which studies the very foundations of morality itself. Metaethics asks questions as basic as: what is morality? What’s its nature? Like, is it an objective thing, out there in the world, waiting to be known? Or is it more like a preference, an opinion, or just a bunch of cultural conventions? There are lots of different metaethical views out there.

And one way to understand them is to put them to a test to see how they’d help you solve some thorny ethical problems. Like a scenario where you have to steal food or lie for a good cause.

Or what about this: What if you set out to harm someone, but you ended up saving their life by accident?

Some people think that ethics is a kind of science, that it seeks to discover moral truths, whose existence is testable and provable.

But others believe the nature of morality is every bit as subjective as whether you prefer plain M&Ms, or peanut. There’s just no right answer. Unless you have a peanut allergy. So, you and your friend might totally agree on whether something is immoral or not, but you might disagree fervently about why.

For an example of a slippery moral scenario, let’s just head straight over to the Thought Bubble for some Flash Philosophy.

A burglar plots to break into an old woman’s house on a Sunday morning, a time when he knows she’s always at church.

So one Sunday, he creeps up to her back window, and smashes it with a hammer. But, after he looks inside, he sees that the old woman isn’t at church. She’s in there, laying face-down on the floor.

The sight of her body scares the burglar, and he runs away. He was down for a little bit of burglary, but getting nabbed for murder was NOT part of his plan. But what the burglar didn’t know was that the old woman wasn’t dead. She was unconscious, having passed out because of a carbon monoxide leak that would have killed her.

When the burglar broke the window, he let out some of the toxic gas, and let in fresh air, which allowed her to regain consciousness. So, the burglar broke into the house with the intention of stealing from the woman, but, inadvertently, he saved her life. Did the burglar do a good thing? Does he deserve praise, even though he didn’t intend to help the woman? Likewise, does he still deserve blame, even though he didn’t actually get around to stealing anything, and ended up saving the woman’s life?

Thanks Thought Bubble! Your answers to these questions will help you suss out where your moral sensibilities lie. And why you answer the way you do will say a lot about what metaethical view you subscribe to. One of the most widely held metaethical views is known as Moral Realism, the belief that there are moral facts, in the same way that there are scientific facts. In this view, any moral proposition can only be true, or false. And for a lot of us, our gut intuition tells us that there are moral facts. Some things are just wrong, and others are indisputably right.

Like, a lot of people think that gratuitous violence is always wrong, and nurturing children is always right – no matter what. But, you don’t have to dig very deep into moral realism before you run into trouble.

Like for one thing, if there are moral facts, where do they come from? How do we know what they are? Are they testable, like scientific facts are? Are they falsifiable? And, if morality is based on facts, then why is there so much disagreement about what’s moral and what’s not, as opposed to science, where there’s often more consensus? This is what’s known as the grounding problem.

The grounding problem of ethics is the search for a foundation for our moral beliefs, something solid that would make them true in a way that is clear, objective, and unmoving. If you can’t find a way to ground morality, you might be pushed toward another metaethical view: Moral Antirealism.

This is the belief that moral propositions don’t refer to objective features of the world at all – that there are no moral facts. So a moral anti-realist would argue that there’s nothing about gratuitous violence that’s inherently wrong.

Likewise, they’d say, if you look at the rest of the animal kingdom, sometimes nurturing your kids doesn’t seem like it’s that important. So, maybe morality isn’t the same for everyone. But still, most people you know – including yourself – are committed to some form of moral realism.

And there are MANY forms. So let’s familiarize ourselves with some of its most popular flavors. Some moral realists are Moral Absolutists. Not only do they believe in moral facts, they believe there are some moral facts that don’t change. So, for them, if something is wrong, it’s wrong regardless of culture or circumstance.

Moral facts apply as universally and as constantly as gravity or the speed of light. If moral absolutism sounds too rigid, maybe Moral Relativism would appeal to you. This view says that more than one moral position on a given topic can be correct. And one of the most common forms of moral relativism is cultural relativism.

But there are actually two different things a person might mean when they talk about cultural relativism. The more general kind is Descriptive Cultural Relativism. This is simply the belief that people’s moral beliefs differ from culture to culture. No one really disputes that – it seems obviously true.

Like, some cultures believe that capital punishment is morally right, and other cultures believe it’s morally wrong – that killing another human is inherently unethical. But there’s also Normative Cultural Relativism, which says that it’s not our beliefs, but moral facts themselves that differ from culture to culture. So in this view, capital punishment is morally correct in some cultures and is morally wrong in others. Here, it’s the moral fact of the matter that differs, based on culture.

Now, normative cultural relativism might sound pretty good to you; it does at first to a lot of people. Because it seems like it’s all about inclusiveness and tolerance. Who am I to tell other cultures how they should live, right? But this view actually has some pretty big flaws. If every culture is the sole arbiter of what’s right for it, that means no culture can actually be wrong.

It means Nazi culture actually was right, for the people living in that culture. A dissenting German voice in, say, 1940, would have just been wrong, if it had claimed that Jewish people deserved to be treated the same as other Germans. And what makes things even weirder is that, if normative cultural relativism is true, then the concept of moral progress doesn’t make sense, either. If what everyone is doing right now is right, relative to their own culture, then there’s never any reason to change anything. Problems like these make some people take a second look at the antirealist stance, which, remember, is the view that there just aren’t any moral facts.

Just one flavor of moral antirealism is Moral Subjectivism. This view says that moral statements can be true and false – right or wrong – but they refer only to people’s attitudes, rather than their actions. By this thinking, capital punishment is neither right nor wrong, but people definitely have preferences about it.

And those preferences key into personal attitudes, but not into actual, objective moral facts about the world. Like, some people favor capital punishment, and think it’s just.

Others oppose it and think it’s unjust. But it doesn’t go any deeper than that. There are no moral facts, only moral attitudes. There are other varieties of both moral realism and antirealism, but this should give you an idea of the general, metaethical lay of the land. And by now, it probably seems like I’ve given you a lot more problems than solutions. So let’s talk about the moral frameworks you’ll use to navigate your way through all of these moral mazes. These frameworks are known as ethical theories.

They’re moral foundations that help you come up with consistent answers about right and wrong conduct. All ethical theories have some kind of starting assumptions, which shouldn’t be surprising, because really all of our beliefs rest on some basic, assumed beliefs. For instance, natural law theory, which we’ll study soon, relies on the starting assumption that God created the universe according to a well-ordered plan. While another ethical theory, known as utilitarianism, relies on the starting assumption that all beings share a common desire to seek pleasure and avoid pain. The starting assumptions of a theory can lead us to other beliefs, but if you reject those initial assumptions, the rest of the theory just doesn’t follow.

Now, in addition to starting assumptions, ethical theories also consist of Moral Principles, which are the building blocks that make up the theories. And these principles can be shared between more than one theory. For instance, many ethical theories agree on the principle that it’s wrong to cause unjustified suffering. Some ethical theories hold the principle that any unjustified killing is wrong – and that includes animals – while other theories hold the principle that it’s only wrong to unjustifiably kill humans.

But the thing about ethical theories is that most people don’t identify with just one. Instead, most people identify with principles from several theories that help them form their own moral views.

We’re going to be spending several weeks learning about these ethical theories, and you’ll probably find elements of some that you already believe, and others that you definitely disagree with.

But all of this accepting and rejecting will help you develop a new way to talk about – and think about – what are, for now, your gut moral intuitions. Today we talked about metaethics. We discussed three forms of moral realism and we learned the difference between descriptive and normative cultural relativism. We also learned about moral subjectivism, which is a form of moral antirealism. And we introduced the concept of an ethical theory. Next time we’re going to learn about the ethical theory known as the Divine Command Theory.

Invokes Goodwin’s Law, but Goodwin’s Law seems to be the only way to discuss negative cultures without people possibly accusing you of some secondary agenda.

i’m confused about your position. also, i’m not creating a strawman relativism position, i’m recounting the canon position in the literature (see the stanford encyclopedia entry for overview and articles to read about it). here’s a quick formal argument for what i’m saying :

(1) moral facts exist, and are either objective or subjective.

(2) there are no objective moral facts.

(3) if there are no objective moral facts, then there are only subjective moral facts.

(4) if there are only subjective moral facts, then all moral facts are neither objectively right nor objectively wrong.

(5) if all moral facts are neither objectively right nor objectively wrong, then any judgement about a moral fact can only be grounded in a personal, subjective viewpoint.

(6) if judgements about moral facts are only grounded in personal, subjective viewpoints, then no moral facts can be grounded by the same viewpoint.

(7) if no judgements about moral facts share the same grounds, then no judgements come to bear on any other.

(8) if no judgements come to bear on any other judgement, then no judgement about moral facts can serve as a reason to give up or take on any moral view.

(9) Therefore, no judgement about moral facts can serve as a reason to give up or take on any moral view for some other subjective viewpoint. so what i’m saying is, you may have a moral view that differs from some other culture.

You may think that this other culture is wrong for you, or that their views would be wrong for your culture. but, your judgements about their views cannot come to bear on their views, and cannot be a reason for them to adopt different views.

Additionally, supporting intervention to force a change in their moral views denies them their having totally legitimate grounds for their moral views, namely their subjective perspectives. you can’t give your own subjective perspective validity and deny theirs in turn.

also the “grounding problem” is not a philosophical problem, it is a psychological one, people seek absolute standards like morality to feel safe due to their inability to “face the absurd” as albert camous would say. in psychological terms it is a defense mechanism.

is still subjective. Are you saying that Psychopaths, rapists, and murderers aren’t supposed to have happiness? Also, there are people who are sadistic and have weird ways of enjoying life who are not criminal in anyway. Even if they do have flawed brain chemistry, are you saying that everyone else has the same way of enjoying life and having happiness? If you ask anyone they will disagree with you. Sure, a lot of people may have a similar way of happiness, but to say everyone does is a HUGE exaggeration.

Also, yes, some people have flawed brain chemistry, but they still are people who have their own way of happiness and life. While the things hitler did could’ve been done in different and better ways, he did save a lot of German people.

Your other argument that says it didn’t improve the human condition, which is wrong, but for the sake of this let’s say it’s right. So, like I said before, is it still right if you kill a group just to improve human condition?

He doesn’t say that utilitarianism is the only factually true ethical theory. He says it would be a good candidate to focus scientific research on, because it makes sense for most people and is universal.

Happiness and well-being are too important for science to stay out of. For example if someone says that ethic means treating rocks and sticks of wood with compassion, I can’t prove him wrong, but I can choose to discuss ethics with someone else and try to make sense of ethics.

Another example: If someone says he doesn’t believe in logic or evidence, I can’t prove him otherwise. But I can choose to discuss the universe with someone, who believes in them and we can make sense of the world.

I cannot exactly say where the concept of morality comes from, all I can do is speculate. The definition was probably created to describe the feelings normal people get when seeing someone give food to a homeless man or someone harming an innocent person. It’s much like art in the sense that no outline is laid out for what classifies as “beautiful”, but the feeling is, presumably, universal.

The tit-for-tat strategy in evolution might explain how morality came about. You start off nice, and if the other person cooperates, you continue to be nice. But if they stab you in the back, you attack back. This may explain the feelings of wanting to be good towards good people and take vengeance towards bad ones.

Empathy may have been developed in part to encourage groups to form, which in turn encourages survival. In short, morality could be a bi-product of evolution for survival, and as time progressed, our feelings of right and wrong has become more complex (for example, an eye for an eye is less popular than it once was).

Nothing is real. everything is made up, and that’s what things, places, ideas etc are, made up extrapolations. philosophers are just the thought police for thoughts they themselves didn’t have but understand. “Logic isn’t real, now watch me attempt to explain why logically!”

we don’t even focus on “what is ideal”, we focus on “what is ideal for me?” one is transcendental, the other is a philosophical and practical dead end masquerading as plurality.

I don’t mean to split hairs here, but I would argue that truth is experienced subjectively. Saying “all truth is subject” is an objective statement which one argues is true. Thus leading to a contradiction. But other than that, yes this argument is an attempt to construct a system which acts to merely minimize subjectivity



Imagine a world without rules. Nothing is illegal. Nothing is immoral. Everyone is absolutely free. This might sound like utopia to you, but according to 17th century British philosopher Thomas Hobbes, it would actually be your worst nightmare. Hobbes called this hypothetical time, with no rules to govern our behavior, “the state of nature.” And he described life there as “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” And he was probably right.

The land of do-as-you-please sounds great – until you realize that everyone else is also doing as they please. That’s when you find out that you have an abundance of freedom, but you do not have any security. Because, when everyone’s constantly watching their backs, whoever is the biggest bully will be able to dominate, simply by fear and aggression. And even if you happen to be the biggest bully, life’s not going to be any better, because when enough weaker bullies get together even the strongest can be overthrown. So, this type of system – a sort of anti-system, without rules and without order – is a terrible way to live. And Hobbes pointed out that rational people would want to change the system. They’d trade in some of their natural freedoms, in exchange for the security offered by civil society. The key to saving the world from chaos, he said, was a contract.

Hobbes didn’t think there was anything deeply real about morality. It’s not written in the stars, or waiting to be discovered by reason, or handed to us on stone tablets by the divine.

Morality, he believed, is not primitive, or natural. Instead, Hobbes proposed, anytime you get a group of free, self-interested, rational individuals living together, morality will just emerge. Because free, rational, self-interested people realize that there are more benefits to be found in cooperating than in not cooperating. Like, say I have an avocado tree growing outside of my house. I consider it mine, and I can take all the avocados I want from it.

You have a mango tree, and you can take all the mangoes you want. But sometimes avocado-have-ers grow tired of avocados, and mango have-ers grow tired of mangoes. This might actually be a bad example because is there any such thing as too much guacamole?! But sometimes you just really want a mango smoothie. And in the state of nature – where there are no rules – the only way for me to get a mango is to steal it. And the same goes for you and my avocados.

So we found ourselves living in a world where we steal from each other, which means that both of us are always on edge, and we see each other as enemies. But remember, we’re rational, so we find a better way. We make an agreement. We promise not to steal from each other. And we promise to trade, avocados for mangos. Now we have more security and a more interesting diet.

What we have created is a contract – a shared agreement – and suddenly, morality is born. This view, espoused by Hobbes and followed by many today, is known as contractarianism. Contractarians say that right acts are those that do not violate the free, rational agreements that we’ve made. And we make these agreements because we think they’ll make our lives better. So basically, we trade in some freedom for the benefits that come out of cooperative living. Avocado-for-mango contracts are pretty straightforward. We both want something, and we make an explicit contract that we both believe will result in us being better off. But some contracts aren’t so obvious.

We’re also bound up in a lot of implicit contracts – ones that we’ve never actually agreed to, but sort of find ourselves in. For instance, natural born citizens of the United States never agreed to follow the law of the land.

Immigrants who become citizens do; they have to engage in an explicit contract as part of the citizenship process. But for the rest of us, we are expected to follow all sorts of rules that we never agreed to follow. Now, if you try to explain to the cop who pulled you over that you never agreed to the speed limit, so you’re not bound to follow it, well, I’m pretty sure you’re gonna get a ticket anyway. And that might seem really unfair to you.

But contractarians will tell you that it’s not. Because you reap all kinds of benefits from being a part of this system. You get to drive on safe roads, drink clean water, and if your house catches on fire, people will show up and do their best to put it out.

Rights imply obligations, by Hobbes’ thinking, so when you take from the common pot – by enjoying the goods that the system provides – you are also expected to pay in. That’s what happens when you pay taxes, and when you show up for jury duty, and when you accept the punishment for violating the rules – even rules that you disagree with. So, contracts are a pretty brilliant way for making society not just survivable, but possible.

They save you from a situation that Hobbes described as a “war of all against all,” and puts you in this idyllic land where everyone cooperates. But can you really count on cooperation?

To explore that question, let’s head over to the Thought Bubble for some Flash Philosophy. In the 1950’s, Canadian mathematician Albert W. Tucker formalized an idea that had originally been posed by American game-theorists Merrill Flood and Melvin Dresher.

Since then, many versions of this dilemma have been presented. But Tucker’s scenario goes like this: You and your partner in crime are both arrested and put in separate rooms for interrogation.

The prosecution doesn’t have enough evidence to convict you for your main offense. The best they can hope for is to give you each a year in prison on a lesser charge. So, the prosecution offers you each a deal: If you rat out your partner, they’ll let you go free.

But now you and your partner face a dilemma. If you both remain silent, you know you won’t get any more than a year in prison.

But if you’re enticed by the thought of doing no time at all – all you have to do is squeal, and you’ll go free while your partner does three years.

The problem is, enticed as you are by the offer, you know that your partner is thinking the same thing.

And if you each give up the other, then the prosecution will have enough evidence to send you both away for two years.

So now you think, no, it’s better to stay silent.

That way, you’ll only get the one year – as long as you can count on your partner to reason the same way. But what if he doesn’t? What if you stay quiet and your partner’s the rat? Well, that means you’re doing three long years, while he gets away scot-free.

Facing that unpleasant prospect, if you’re both rational agents, you’ll be drawn to the conclusion that looking out for yourself is the best option, because it carries with it the prospect of either zero or two years, rather than the one or three years that you might get if you stay silent. Thanks, Thought Bubble.

The Prisoner’s Dilemma shows us some interesting wrinkles in contractarianism. Even though it was rational for both prisoners to squeal, they’d actually have been better off if they could count on each other to stay quiet.

Cooperation pays, but only when you trust your fellow contractors to keep their agreements.

This is why a lot of defection occurs among strangers.

Defection is where you break the contract you’re in – whether you agreed to be in it or not – and you decide to look after your own interests, instead of cooperating. For example, the next time you’re driving during rush hour, you’ll see rampant defection.

Instead of following the rules, waiting their turn, and merging when they’re supposed to, people will speed down the shoulders and try to sneak up to the head of the merge lane – which ends up slowing down everybody.

But, you see much less defection among people who know each other, because when you flagrantly violate a contract among people you know, it comes with a heavy social cost.

There’s a special kind of moral outrage for somebody who freely makes an agreement they didn’t have to make, and then violates it.

Because, our whole society is built on the trust that people will keep their word.

But, there’s another important part of this theory – one we haven’t mentioned yet.

And that is: In order for a contract to be valid, the contractors must be free. You can’t force someone into a contract.

And the contractors must be better off in the system that the contract makes possible, than they would be outside of it.

Sure, there are probably some rules that don’t work in your favor all the time, but the system, overall, must make your life better than if you were on your own.

So contractarianism necessarily rules out things like slavery. Any given person will always be better off outside a system that enslaves her, so that type of system could never be legitimate, even if it’s agreed upon by the majority of the group.

And maybe you’ve noticed something else about this moral theory – something that’s distinct from, say, the divine command theory, or kantianism, or even utilitarianism.

With contractarianism, there is no morality until we make it up.

There’s nothing fundamentally “real” about it. But it becomes real, as soon as you and I agree that it is, because once we agree to particular rules, they become real, and binding.

So in a way, contractarianism is the most permissive of the moral theories we’ve looked at. Morality is determined by groups of contractors, so whatever they agree to, goes. Which means, of course, morality can change. If, as a group, we change our minds, we can simply modify the contract. Which is what happens, explicitly, when we change laws, and implicitly, with shifting social mores.

But contractarianism is still pretty rigid in some ways. If you take on an obligation, you have a duty to keep it. This theory starts with the assumption that we get to choose what responsibilities we incur, so we’re all held to a high standard for keeping the agreements we choose to make.

Next time, we’re gonna conclude our unit on moral theory with a look at virtue theory. Today, though, we learned about contractarianism.

We talked about Hobbes’ state of nature, and the implicit and explicit contracts. We learned about the Prisoner’s Dilemma, and the benefits, and costs, of violating contracts.

And third, I think it’s false your claim that everybody would be better off outside of a system that enslaves them. In fact, if I recall correctly, there was a law in Rome, prohibiting slave owners to liberate them when they were old. While this may seem cruel, it was the opposite. By forcing the owners to keep them feed, you’ll ensure their survival. An old poor homeless ex-slave would probably die on the streets pretty fast. It’s not fair by any means, but it shows that some people in need would accept to lose their freedom in order to survive. While a “voluntary” slavery system (even when it has never really existed, as most slaves couldn’t decide to be set free) could work under the rules of contractarianism, it still feels wrong on a conventionally moral point of view, because you know those voluntary slaves can only choose living a miserable life, or death.

Am I the only libertarian who understands that corporations/businesses are entities that can do morally wrong things in the same way than an individual can? I don’t know how other libertarians think that a market completely free of regulations will always do what is morally right. This includes environmental issues too

You’re under the assumption that costumers will fight back if the market does something morally wrong. I would like to see some examples from you. I believe for the most part that what you are saying is true, however the only thing the free market has to fear is the loss of profit from the consumer once the consumer has realized that they have been taken advantage of. There’s no other punishment in place once the customer has realized they have been dooped. Private sector debt that was building up pre-Great Recession is an example of this in terms of loans

Given all it requires for a monopoly is to have a person that has an efficient enough productive mean to get any competition out, then re-increase the prices to a level, higher than before, where is not profitable to ex-competitors to come back, we would have a relatively worst situation for consumers, where they can’t do anything about it since there’s only one person suplying the good. The practice will still be corrupt, so people would be tolerating corruption. There’s also the case of cartels.

Yes, but not many providers of basketball entertainment are able to charge almost $2000 for a season ticket. – it’s called a niche market. Some people buy expensive suits, dresses, purses, jewelry, etc. Those companies can charge a lot because of a differentiated product, not because they are the only ones selling clothing or accessories.

What part of history would you like to be verified? That lawsuits preceded environmental regulation? Here: Because the government is a monopolistic system that essentially only takes money from those who would pollute without actually fixing the problem or adhering to its own rules itself. I’m not arguing against laws. I’m arguing against monopolized law. I’m arguing for a system in which the victim gets compensated for damages rather than just a penalty imposed upon polluters that goes to the state, which itself is the biggest polluter on the planet (US DoD last time I checked). I’m arguing for market regulations, not state ones.

Contractarianism: gives birth to loopholearianism

What i understood from “Morality is nothing but a contract between rational individuals living in a society rather than a divine theory. ” am i correct? Its why some societies see it as moral to comit canibalism while others see it as inmoral to even eat meat of any kind.

Are you intentionally misrepresenting libertarians? The libertarian idea is not “let me use your roads but don’t tax me.” It’s “keep your roads, I don’t want them. If I want to use roads, I’ll pay for those roads I use. People who choose not to use the roads won’t be forced to pay for those people that do.”

You need state when you have a lot of people doing contracts (explicit or implicit) with each other. Like Hank said, the social cost of violating contract with someone you know (like the case with neighbors trading fruits) is big. Therefore your contract there is relatively save. But if millions of people doing contracts with millions of other people daily (e.g trade, using the street, not being mugged, etc), then those contracts are very risky, since if there are no law enforcement, the possibility of getting away with violating contracts is very big.

You can trade your avocados for mango smoothies, stealing is not the only option and that’s a contract that doesn’t have to be enforced by a state.

You could trade, but you would have no real assurance that you would have anything to trade with after people steal all of your stuff

The argument is whether the state is a better arbiter or not. The state would be mandatory, a third party contract arbiter could also be used and not be mandatory. Then the argument would be well the private third party may not choose to enforce such a contract, but the same thing applies to the state.

Sorry for the long reply, but it’s long because we’re talking about a very complex thing here. Simplifying it would be counter-productive. > Many of these things I don’t even want as a contract.

I don’t care if people are selling drugs or doing insider trading or “predatory lending.” That’s sort of my point. Do you not want them as contracts because you know how they will affect you and you don’t mind? Or on the contrary, because you don’t. And for your information, they WILL affect you. Just because you don’t know about things, doesn’t mean they won’t affect you.

I won’t get into how because the complexity of interconnectivity between all those rules are crazy complex (and to be honest it’s way outside my expertise). But they ARE real. Remember US housing crisis? That’s because of unregulated mortgage practices.

A lot more things like that are bound to happen if you don’t have state regulating things like that. Things that we don’t even know exist, let alone understand.

The state is how you get those regulations that allow for society to work, without every member having to know most of them.

About the war, how is that contradictory? Logically you can’t have big wars if you don’t have a large number of people working together. Otherwise you’ll just have skirmishes.

And you can’t have a large number of people if you don’t have the stability to support it. Government -> more stability -> more people working together -> risk for bigger wars. It’s similar to how humans can grow bigger cancers compared to, say, mice. Yes the cancers are bigger, but not because humans are inherently more cancer prone. It’s just because humans are bigger.




Imagine if you could plug your brain into a machine that would bring you ultimate pleasure for the rest of your life.

If you were given the choice to sign up for that kind of existence, would you? That’s the question philosopher Robert Nozick posed through a thought experiment he called the Experience Machine.

The experiment asks us to consider a world in which scientists have developed a machine that would simulate real life while guaranteeing experiences of only pleasure and never pain.

The catch? You have to permanently leave reality behind, but you’ll hardly know the difference. Your experiences will be indistinguishable from reality. Life’s natural ups and downs will just be replaced with an endless series of ups.

Sounds great, right? It may seem like a tempting offer, but perhaps it’s not as ideal as it sounds.

The experiment was actually designed to refute a philosophical notion called hedonism.

According to hedonists, maximizing net pleasure is the most important thing in life because pleasure is the greatest good that life has to offer. For hedonists, the best choice that a person could make for himself is one that brings him the greatest possible amount of pleasure while bringing him no pain.

Limitless pleasure minus zero pain equals maximum net pleasure, or in other words, the exact scenario the Experience Machine offers. Therefore, if hedonism is your philosophy of choice, plugging in would be a no-brainer.

But what if there’s more to life than just pleasure? That’s what Nozick believed he was demonstrating through his Experience Machine thought experiment. Despite the machine’s promise of maximum net pleasure, he still found reason not to plug in, as do many other experimenters who consider the proposition.

But what could possibly dissuade us from choosing a future of ultimate pleasure? Consider this scenario. Betsy and Xander are in a loving, committed relationship.

Betsy is head over heels and has never felt happier. However, unbeknownst to Betsy, Xander has been romancing her sister, Angelica, with love letters and secret rendezvous for the duration of their relationship. If Betsy found out, it would destroy her relationships with both Xander and Angelica, and the experience would be so traumatic, she would never love again. Since Betsy is in blissful ignorance about Xander’s infidelity, hedonists would say she’s better off remaining in the dark and maintaining her high level of net pleasure.

As long as Betsy never finds out about the relationship, her life is guaranteed to go on as happily as it is right now. So, is there value in Besty knowing the truth of her situation? Imagine if you were Betsy.

Would you prefer to know the truth? If the answer is yes, you’d be choosing an option that sharply decreases your net pleasure.

Perhaps, then, you believe that there are things in life with greater intrinsic value than pleasure.

Truth, knowledge, authentic connection with other human beings. These are all things that might make the list.

By never learning the truth, Betsy is essentially living life in her own personal Experience Machine, a world of happiness that’s not based in reality.

This love triangle is an extreme example, but it mirrors many of the decisions we make in day to day life.

So whether you’re making a choice for Betsy or for yourself, why might you feel reality should be a factor? Is there inherent value in real experiences, whether pleasurable or painful? Do you yourself have more value when you’re experiencing real life’s pleasures and pains?

Nozick’s experiment may not provide all the answers, but it forces us to consider whether real life, though imperfect, holds some intrinsic value beyond the pleasure of plugging in.



If you’ve watched the news or followed politics chances are you’ve heard the term Orwellian thrown around in one context or another. But have you ever stopped to think about what it really means, or why it’s used so often?

The term was named after British author Eric Blair known by his pen name George Orwell. Because his most famous work, the novel “1984,” depicts an oppressive society under a totalitarian government, “Orwellian” is often used simply to mean authoritarian. But using the term in this way not only fails to fully convey Orwell’s message, it actually risks doing precisely what he tried to warn against.

Orwell was indeed opposed to all forms of tyranny, spending much of his life fighting against anti-democratic forces of both the left-wing and the right. But he was also deeply concerned with how such ideologies proliferate. And one of his most profound insights was the importance that language plays in shaping our thoughts and opinions.

The government of “1984”‘s Oceania controls its people’s actions and speech in some ways that are obvious. Their every move and word is watched and heard, and the threat of what happens to those who step out of line is always looming overhead.

Other forms of control are not so obvious. The population is inundated with a constant barrage of propaganda made up of historical facts and statistics manufactured in the Ministry of Truth. The Ministry of Peace is the military. Labor camps are called “Joycamps.”

Political prisoners are detained and tortured in the Ministry of Love. This deliberate irony is an example of doublespeak, when words are used not to convey meaning but to undermine it, corrupting the very ideas they refer to. The regime’s control of language goes even further, eliminating words from the English language to create the official dialect of Newspeak, a crudely limited collection of acronyms and simple concrete nouns lacking any words complex enough to encourage nuanced or critical thought.

This has an effect on the psyche Orwell calls, “Doublethink,” a hypnotic state of cognitive dissonance in which one is compelled to disregard their own perception in place of the officially dictated version of events, leaving the individual completely dependent on the State’s definition of reality itself.

The result is a world in which even the privacy of one’s own thought process is violated, where one may be found guilty of thoughtcrime by talking in their sleep, and keeping a diary or having a love affair equals a subversive act of rebellion.

This might sound like something that can only happen in totalitarian regimes, but Orwell was warning us about the potential for this occurring even in democratic societies. And this is why “authoritarian” alone does not “Orwellian” make.

In his essay, “Politics and the English Language,” he described techniques like using pretentious words to project authority, or making atrocities sound acceptable by burying them in euphemisms and convoluted sentence structures.

But even more mundane abuses of language can affect the way we think about things.

The words you see and hear in everyday advertising have been crafted to appeal to you and affect your behavior, as have the soundbites and talking points of political campaigns which rarely present the most nuanced perspective on the issues. And the way that we use ready-made phrases and responses gleaned from media reports or copied from the Internet makes it easy to get away with not thinking too deeply or questioning your assumptions.

So the next time you hear someone use the word Orwellian, pay close attention.

If they’re talking about the deceptive and manipulative use of language, they’re on the right track.

If they’re talking about mass surveillance and intrusive government, they’re describing something authoritarian but not necessarily Orwellian. And if they use it as an all-purpose word for any ideas they dislike, it’s possible their statements are more Orwellian than whatever it is they’re criticizing.

Words have the power to shape thought. Language is the currency of politics, forming the basis of society from the most common, everyday interactions to the highest ideals. Orwell urged us to protect our language because ultimately our ability to think and communicate clearly is what stands between us and a world where war is peace and freedom is slavery.

“Department of Defense” is always a good one, implying that our nations are never the military aggressors (as that would require a “Department of Offense”).

Exactly and all the terminology then relating to that, like “Matters of defense”, “Defense spending”, etc.

I read 1984 like 2 years ago for the first time and was wondering why is this book so liked, because i did not liked it at all. So i was searching if i can find some criticism on it or if i am alone. And so i was reading and searching for reviews and that’s when i found his and was kinda happy that many issues that i had with 1984 were mentioned in his review since i admired Asimov’s work a lot for almost a decade.

Maybe the reason why i did not liked it so much is that i read about dictatorship, propaganda and manipulation of the people before reading Orwell so it was not such a new idea to me. You just can control people much better with manipulation than with oppression. Illusion of freedom is much more effective than direct control.

There was nothing surprising for me in 1984. Parts of it seemed trivial and parts just seemed absurd and not very thought through and the most of the rest was just boring. And ending was not surprising at all, it was just gory and difficult to read.

There were very few things to like about 1984 for me but i thought that i would enjoy it before reading it. The main problem for me was that i just don’t think that humans work that way. I am aware that people can act like animals or just in purely evil fashion and that they can be controlled, manipulated and so on, but there are just very few specific ways to make them act like that and the one Orwell described was not one of them for the most part. So for me, there were basically no humans in that book (generally speaking) because population in 1984 think and act in a way that humans cant.

In reality the society would not be stable (just imagine the mental issues (paranoia, fear, mental breakdowns). Then there is the fact that people could basically put each other in a prison (out of spite, revenge, anything)). Those are huge problems even if we would forget about the “who would watch the watchers” argument.

In reality i don’t think it would go that far, because there would be unrest and overthrown of the government, that’s why dictators usually have a class of citizens which they spoil with many benefits. And because basically none of that was present i could not relate to the population of 1984.

1984 is a warning how a totalitarian regime (regardless of its political views) can change the fundamentals of freedom itself by alternating history, the language and its propaganda to form a brainwashed society where free thinking is banned.

“The Sleeper has awakened!” ~Paul Atreides

H.G Wells’s book “The Sleeper Awakens”

Eric Blair

“respect our troops” because they’re fighting for “our freedom”. When all they do is bomb countries with drones in the safety of their foreign Base…. fuck the US and their pathetic army

“All people are the same but some are autistic and those are different so we treat them differently by default…” Check, sir; autism is also Orwellian!

I will fight with my last breathe and die with no regrets. I refuse to be an ignorant slave that wants to sacrifice their individuality and human rights for “safety”.

At least I won’t live as a slave then while everyone else will be “dead” inside.

I actually like Super-Truth and Übertruth 🙂

I recommend reading an incredible social analysis called “Amusing Ourselves to Death” by Neil Postman. It’s a very thorough exploration of how the television, light speed communication, and image-based media have resulted in a negative change in public discourse.

Essentially, one of the main points he makes is that a society’s primary medium of communication reflects that society’s values of certain elements of discourse, and that certain media are better at encouraging some values than others.

For example, typography (reading and writing) is inherently enriching, because reading is a thought-demanding task that requires you to critically think with every phrase. Image based media, on the other hand (like the television) encourages dependence on the most primitive, reactive response of the human brain.

I once wrote a research paper on the subject, using the following analogy: I put a picture of a rose in front of you, and I tell you to say the first 12 words that come to mind. You might say something along the lines of: “Flower, red, thorns, beautiful, Spring, plant, nature, stem, pettles, etc.”

On the other hand, I could give to you a written excerpt of the following 12 word quote by Leo Buscaglia: “A single rose can be my garden…a single friend, my world.” Which one required more critical thought? One could hardly continue to elaborate upon the base visual response to an image, while surely an essay could be written about that one quote! Anyway, Neil Postman’s analysis is amazing, and anyone who had the patience to read this should take a look!

Orwell’s fear was the control of our thoughts and a dumbed-down, obedient culture. In Fahrenheit 451, the author’s issue was censorship. In Brave New World, we discover what the world becomes when we are seduced and controlled by our pleasures. All of these books reveal just a small facet of what is wrong, because the reality is actually a smorgasbord of dystopic trends in politics, economics, and culture alike.

This really reminds me a lot of our current modern culture. As if it were a preparation or pre show of the main act of tyranny. I see it especially in the radical left now. So much double think and buzzwords. Bullshit such as “listen and believe”.

It’s tyranny in the guise of social progress, without actually helping anyone with any real issues. It’s all faux liberalism. I know that sounds really conspiratorial and paranoid, but to me it’s too easy to see the parallels being drawn between the radical left and the tactics they use to this. I’m not a conservative (in fact most political tests put me on libertarian left), and I like to point out how modern radical left people are just like the conservatives who tried to pull the same shit. Just replace “communist” with ” misogynist/MRA”.

It’s a cheap tactic to dismiss what you saying based on who or what you are and not there merit of your argument. And all of the “these words are problematic” BS.

you’re right, you do sound like a paranoid conspiracy theorist. The slow shift in public opinion on matters of inequality and tolerance doesn’t suddenly mean you’re going to be thrown into a joy camp for talking like an old man who’s embarrassing his grand-kids.

This is basically the entire point behind this video-slash-TED talk. It’s a subtle but decisive slam against factions of people who push a breed of totalitarianism disguised as progress of some flavor or other, or, as in the case of the most current blatant example: Outrage culture and censorship, protected through method of shutting down conversation with the adherent catch-all words like sexist / racist / etc. Now I know how the conservatives feel to have the bulk of their population comprised of religious and/or militaristic nutbags. It’s embarrassing – worse, it’s destructive.

i always thought surveillance was one of the least important subjects in 1984, everything else is what matters, yet people always bring that thing up like Eric Cartman. And by the way, it was weird reading the comments, where everyone was like ”PC is orwellian”.

I hate it when people whines about the ”whitewashing” in Ghost in the Shell and things like that, but i think they are far from being orwellian.

Actually, it’s kinda ironic now that i think about it, but calling them orwellian isn’t something orwelian on itself? You can get called ”racist” or ”SJW” for the silliest things, and those words, or separating people in groups like that and calling them things like ”fascist” or ”orwellian” doesn’t solve any problem, it distractes us from the important things and ultimately, it’s only useful to place every person into one side or another in a discussion, and i think that’s the biggest problem nowadays: everything is black and white. I might be wrong, but i think a lot of people in the comments where missing the point.

The reason people say PC culture is “Orwellian” is because it’s concerned with controlling discourse through deceptive manipulation of speech. Words are redefined to obfuscate meaning or undermine someone’s point. For instance, the term “racist” is used as a VERY potent label by nearly anybody.

A common person will use it to mean “someone who irrationally hates someone on the basis of race”.

This is why the world holds social power. Someone engaging in PC culture/progressive politics/SJW rhetoric will use the word the exact same way. HOWEVER, when that word applies to them or a person or cause they support, they redefine it to mean “power + prejudice”, making them definitionally immune to the label This means they get the full power of the ORIGINAL definition when using it against other people to denigrate, insult, deride, muffle counter-opinions in discourse, or even fire them; but they are immune to that definition when it’s used against them (even if it’s fitting by the original definition). In my mind, that is VERY Orwellian.

And given that they have the reins of discourse at the moment, that makes this redefinition dangerous instead of annoying.

Orwell wrote about political dissidence and the persistence of collectivistic oligarchy, a form of rule that underlies all superficial government definitions, where the ignorance of the people to their methods is what kept their methods working, and thus keeping the people uneducated was a central part of keeping society afloat(part of 1984 is an analysis of previous and current civilizations and showing how certain forms of control have never changed despite pretense of democracy or benevolence etc). Monetary sanctions is a form of control where the government says “do as we say, or we will take away your economic freedom”, which isn’t actually orwellian, but uneducated people will throw it around as a buzzword for such things(in oceania there were in fact no laws whatsoever.

Control was accomplished through other means). Kafka wrote about society as a big pointless machine running to sustain its own bureaucracy, thus the “I had to wait in line” thing.

friendly fire and collateral damage = Legalised government murder.

However, words like Islamophobia and Homophobia are often used to shut down a conversation. When one person feels threatened or feels like another person’s views are different than his, he’ll throw out words like that, to distance himself from the person and turn off the conversation.

No, those buzzwords are examples of polarization. Newspeak is the intentional reduction of complicated subjects into buzzwords that limit a person’s ability to reflect, and rather just take that concept for granted. Take for example “terrorism”. What’s going on in the middle east and south asian countries is the culmination of decades of political conflict and war, most of which is directly the fault of the USA.
So what the USA has done is to intentionally reduce the entire concept of political dissidence, revolution and guerrilla warfare into the term “terrorism”, which in the minds of the people gullible enough to take the bait restricts them to think about the people in those countries who have the same motivations and actions as the American revolutionaries did, as equivalent to the people who come from afar to commit mass murder on innocents. This, of course, makes it much easier for the US to keep starting arbitrary wars and killing innocents and otherwise honorable armed groups in those countries.
Terrorism and stuff, right? That’s newspeak. Islamophobia accurately describes when people are xenophobic against muslims, but in many cases leads to polarization, which is a matter of human bias, not mass manipulation.
Honestly man, buzzwords and polarization can be products of new speak. Newspeak limits perception and nuanced critical thinking.
Polarization is straight up when people don’t think there is any nuance to a situation, it can only be one or the the other, and my pole is the right pole and my opponent’s pole is the wrong one.
Like a polarized topic is abortion, and the poles are the buzzwords “Pro-Life” and “Pro-Choice” Much like newspeak, the buzzwords take a series of complex questions about the morality of abortions and books them down to a binary choice.
I see. But the terrorism thing was a narrative very intentionally pushed by the government after 9/11. Only a few days after the attack the narrative was that every person the government dictated to be an enemy was a terrorist and that everyone who criticized that was a conspiracy theorist. This started being repeated en masse both in press releases and through the media.
Criticizing the government made you a conspiracy theorist, being a conspiracy theorist was dissidence, and dissidence was an act of support of terrorism(I think even the term “enemy of the state” was used unironically at one point) and therefore you were a traitor for criticizing the government.
Likewise all opposition of the US outside of the border was suddenly equivalent to terrorism.
You might know the word “Taliban” best from how Taliban is a terrorist group who are connected to 9/11 and therefore deserve to be killed, right? That’s the story the USA has been pushing at least.
The truth is that Taliban was actually just the Afghani government(the fundamentalist sharia enthusiasts similar to what you will find in saudi arabia or pakistan), and after the US first accused them of harboring Osama Bin Laden and then refused to provide any evidence that they did or even agree to speak to representatives for multiple years before starting sanctions(that essentially boiled down to cutting off trade routes leaving thousands of civilians to starve to death), they just invaded.
The Taliban, although a dubious bunch, had never done actual terrorism of any sort. Yet not only have we been told that they are a terrorist organization, but that our troops are in Afghanistan currently fighting the Taliban, which is also wrong.
The people who are fighting against western forces in Afghanistan currently are either jihadists from other countries(so people who fight against the occupation on principle, some of whom are terrorists), or Afghani civilians who are tired of the occupation(actual freedom fighters who try to end a system of oppression that to be fair has slowly killed the population and destroyed their country), while the actual Taliban was killed many many years ago. So the entire terrorism dichotomy has in that case provided so many layers of misinformation and confusion and propaganda that even after knowing the facts I can’t tell what the point of the war was in the first place. Bottom line is that the word “terrorism” itself has provided all the reason regular citizens needed to throw their money in to “support the troops” and not be “enemies of the state”, while nobody actually knew what the war was about or what any of the sides stood for.
And the situation appears very clearly to have been propaganda fueled in the first place. That’s why I think it’s an exceptionally good example of newspeak. But what do I know, I’m just a lunatic terrorist enemy of the state conspiracy theorist Goldstein communist traitor.
Political correctness culture. Which is mostly true, trying to ban words and censor journalism for the sake of political correctness is authoritarian. There’s a reason for our freedom of speech and freedom of expression in the US.
So, just like Newspeak reduced the English language to eliminate any words that could lead so subversion, PC culture seeks to eliminate words branded as ‘problematic’, essentially creating a new dialect. And just like new editions of Newspeak dictionaries were constantly being published in 1984, forcing the citizens to constantly re-purge their vocabulary to fit with the new acceptable standards of language, so PC culture is constantly expanding it’s list of ‘problematic’ words, forcing people to constantly re-purge their vocabulary to keep up with the new political correctness.
“Conservative aren’t ostracized” You’ve clearly haven’t been in a western university campus recently, where conservative speakers or those who touch sensitive topics get disinvited or sabotaged and where students ask for safe spaces watch?v=GO_X4DkwA_Q watch?v=w_vgu4ewxVc watch?v=Tsgc0k594Js Political correctness is self censorship, which can be as harmful as censorship itself.
Feminist with their “unconscious bias”(thought police), “micro aggression(lenguaje control with PC)”, leftist with their “safe spaces” “you are not allowed to disagree with us here”, social justice, BLM…not to mention the social justice tribunal in Canada (see J.Peterson speechs), the LGBTSADXSX+potato lobby to use goverment to force people do use a particular language and pronouns…the list goes on.
4:10 Everyone should read the book “The Tyranny of Cliches” by Jonah Goldberg. Yes he is conservative, so heaven forbid someone with a different view point enlighten your liberal brain, but his book speaks exactly about what this video is.
I didn’t see “spreading the wealth”, “micro-aggression” or “social justice”
This sounds like the foreword in amused to death, Orwell fearing the banning of books and Huxley fearing that nobody would want to read
North Korea = Authoritarian America = Orwellian
“Ethnic Cleansing” – Genocide “Enhanced interrogation” – Torture “Socialism” – Tax Funded “Mentally challenged” – Retarded “Foreign intervention” – War
Check out “Amusing Ourselves to Death” by Neil Postman. Part of the introduction [p.p. vii -viii] details why Huxley, not Orwell, is closer to the mark.
Coming from a huge fan whose read all his books, the language component of his distopia was one of countless others, so I really don’t agree with this attempt to tie the term solely to language manipulation.
Orwell isn’t warning us of a wolf, but warning us not to become sheep?
There is no totalitarian regime that is not Orwellian. Every dictatorship distorts language, history, meaning. Saying that there is such a thing as a authoritarian regime that is not necessarily Orwellian is a mistake that could be made only by someone who does not have a first hand experience with dictatorship.
Very deep and expresses my thoughts exactly. “Words have the ability to shape thought, language is the currency of politics.” I shall remember this quote.
This works the other way too. Take for example terrorist. The animal liberation front safe animals from labs, farms etc, but since they are technically a criminal origination you can call them terrorists and suddenly there is no argument anymore, they are just terrorists and terrorists are bad. Other words I’ve noticed this in are communist, misanthrope, skiver, extremist, anarchist, chav
“Scratchy voice” like Noah Tavlin’s will be inextricably linked to early 21st century dialect. Go back 20 years and listen to how both men and women talked. Nobody ever sounded like this before. I’m only aware of it now having lived abroad for 5 years.
How is the German Reich Right-wing? This is quite misleading as Nazi is an abbreviation of Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei which in english means National Socialist German Worker’s Party. They also had very liberal policies such as pro abortion rights, gun restriction and countless others. Although not as extremist left leaning as the Soviet Union they were very much left wing.
Sorry but that is historically inaccurate and was originated by political ideologues, not historians. Please allow me to explain. The pronunciation of Nationalist in German is Nazionalisch which was abbreviated to Nazi. The word Socialist in the name does not mean the organization embraced anything we would call Socialism today (much less left wing socialism, more on that in a sec). Take the “Democratic Republic of Congo”, the ‘German Democratic Republic’ or the ‘Peoples’ Democratic Republic of (North) Korea’. Nothing democratic at all about those governments.
In fact, there was a separate German Socialist party (SPD) up until 1936 and they were the biggest opposition to the Nazi party with 96 members in the Reichstag. Hitler banned the party. Many went into exile where they advocated his overthrow. Within the Nazi party there was initially a slight left wing element known as the Strasserites who were eliminated (along with other party dissidents) in The Night Of The Long Knives. Hitler despised the left He believed that Germany could have won World War I if the Socialist Second International had not conspired with the Bolsheviks, Hope this helps you understand the truth.
This video reminds me of epuilibrium
“extreme vetting”
“Alternative Facts”. How would have thought Kellyann Conway was a follower of George Orwell?
Wow, I used to believe that Terry Gilliam’s “Brazil” was Orwellian, and while it has plot and characters based on 1984 (Sam Lowry is Winston, Jill is Julia, Jack is O’Brien), it’s a movie that has a more kafkawesque message, the troubles the protagonist goes through in the film aren’t caused by the fact he’s in love, it’s because of all the fucking bureaucracy that gets in the way, it’s not really about thought control, language or authority (Sam’s boss is an idiot who constantly needs his help like a shitty student) I’d say John Carpenter’s “They Live” and “Equilibrium” are more Orwellian than “Brazil” now that I learned all this. Amazing video.
That moron Palin needs to watch this video.
2:30 Considering the video is about distortion of the meaning of words, I want to point out that “cognitive dissonance” is misused here, as is often the case. Cognitive dissonance, as the term itself obviously conveys, is a state of discomfort due to struggling with several ideas that contradict / compete with each other. There are strategies of the mind to resolve such (e.h. outright denial, thus avoiding the dissonance in the most blunt way); Those remove the cognitive dissonance.
3:09 Better: Realize that the borders between authoritarian regime and democracy are fluid. The alternative viewpoint is that maybe such actually only can occur in an authoritarian regime and that what we call a democracy has long ago become one and the democracy part is just wishful thinking; an illusion. After all, one system can turn into the other.
One does not just pop into existence out of nothing. BTW our language is also under assault regarding other logical capacities, which is dangerous because language shapes thought and thought shapes language. Saying stuff like “three times bigger” while meaning “three times as big” are the little but widespread feet in the door. Here language destroys capacity for understanding mathematical logic. (Even worse: “three times smaller”.) Also things like “steep learning curve”. Many people just aren’t interested in correctness, but then wonder why the world turns to shit. (Because people allow themselves to be deceived easily.)
The regressive left is definitely Orwellian. Political correctness, micro aggressions, trigger warnings, banned words on campuses. This is all thought policing crafted for the purpose of eliminating dissent or questioning the power at play. Dis-inviting and silencing conservative speakers is Orwellian. Taking away the second amendment, or the fourth can be considered authoritarian, but taking away first amendment rights is Orwellian because it is taking away freedom of expression and ideas.
basically, “alternative facts”
It’s doubleTHINK not doubleSPEAK
“extraordinary renditions”
Operation Iraq’s Freedom anyone? War is piece Lol.
Ah, the author behind the concept of “memory holes”! And the concept of1984 reminds me a lot of “Brazil,” which sets an Orwellian society in the information age, and a daydreamer’s rebellion against it.
More relevant than ever these days where we experience “fake news” and “alternative facts”.
A contemporary example of the power of language can be seen in the word ‘advertising’, which was actually coined in the 1950s by Edward Bernays (Freud’s nephew), the father of consumer capitalism, to replace the word ‘propaganda’, thus eliminating the obviously negative association attached to ‘propaganda’. It’s rather ironic, therefore, that we tend to view ‘advertising’ as something good or neutral, and yet condemn any use of ‘propaganda’. They are the exact same thing.
I can’t take it when someone labels fascism as a “rightwing ideology.” It is not rightwing. It is leftwing and can be tied back to Marxist influence. Nazis were nationalist socialists and Italian fascism is thanks to Giovanni Gentile who was a fan of Karl Marx’s socialism.
No, wrong.  It was not rightwing. It was very leftwing actually.  This is exactly what I’m talking about – clueless buffoons who have no idea what they’re talking about. Authoritarianism is the antithesis to liberty which is what the right is all about.  You can’t just throw it in with the right because they were a military power.  Military has nothing to do with ideology.  Communist regimes, which are the most left of leftwing ideologies, were also military powers.   Rightwing = liberty, free markets, individualism Leftwing = equality, central planning, collectivism Nazis Germany was a socialist worker’s party that transcended into the Italian fascist realm of a nationalist fixed and controlled economy that relied on capitalism as a means to an end.  
The government controlled the market in order to better the state’s goals such as their military endeavors.  Hitler hated capitalism and communism equally though.  He just understood in order to fund his conquest he needed German’s economy to fund it.  He still nationalized plenty of businesses nonetheless.
The closest thing to fascism today is progressivism in which the state regulates the market and taxes production in order to fulfill the state’s plans.  You even have candidates like Bernie Sanders who are mixing progressivism with their own brand of nationalism. (  Doesn’t matter.  The left still eat this shit up all the same. “Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.” Get lost +marianushn, you clueless sheepish clown.
Noah Tavlin missed the irony of his own video. He presents us with a modern interpretation that is very safe in liberal academic circles, totally ignoring how the setting for “1984” is a left-wing, socialist government. Modern leftists are Orwellian.
Fun Fact: “Eric Arthur Blair (25 June 1903 – 21 January 1950), who used the pen name George Orwell, was an English novelist, essayist, journalist, and critic. His work is marked by lucid prose, awareness of social injustice, opposition to totalitarianism, and outspoken support of democratic socialism.”
lovecraftian animations to describe orwellian notions. Perfect!
Have you read 1984? Ingsoc manipulates language to the point that they have a full monopoly on the way reality is communicated. This means conditioning the populace to forget their preconceived notions of what is true by numbing language with oxymorons and inventing blatantly contradictory history – “ignorance is strength,” “black is white,” “we are at war with Eurasia and have always been at war with Eurasia” – so that what is “true” is always in the interests of the state. It’s the politicized reconstruction of how events actually transpired, not the cultural mindset regarding individuals in society.
In 1984, it’s willingly believing the impossiblilities peddled by the state so that you aren’t dragged away to be tortured back into submission by the ministry of Love. In modern America, it’s a group of assholes who confuse the issue with blanket terms. Different shit.
Social Justice is one of the premiere examples of Owellian Doublethink. Justice is inherently blind. The concept is that when deciding a case, the just verdict doesn’t concern itself with who the actors are, merely the situation and events.
A poor man can rob a rich man, and as long as the facts of the case prove this, then the fact that one is rich and one is poor makes no difference.
The blindness of justice is critical to the concept of justice.
Social Justice is about – in the most generous sense – considering the original states of the actors. In social justice you must attempt to weigh who they are with the actions that take place. In this case, the fact that the poor man is poor must be weighed against how rich the man he robbed was. His poverty is a consideration in what is right, and therefore his penalty may be lessened as a result.
This means you are adding sight to justice, as to be socially just you MUST consider the nature of the actors prior to whatever the incident may be. This utterly destroys the original concept of justice. In general, any time someone adds an adjective to a moral or ethical value word, be VERY wary. There’s an agenda. Look at the “People’s Republic” of China, in which the republic part of that phrasing is highly dubious, but justified by the (in this case) adjective use of “People’s” which can mean anything, really.
Social Justice is one of the premiere examples of Owellian Doublethink. Justice is inherently blind. The concept is that when deciding a case, the just verdict doesn’t concern itself with who the actors are, merely the situation and events. A poor man can rob a rich man, and as long as the facts of the case prove this, then the fact that one is rich and one is poor makes no difference. The blindness of justice is critical to the concept of justice. Social Justice is about – in the most generous sense – considering the original states of the actors.
In social justice you must attempt to weigh who they are with the actions that take place.
In this case, the fact that the poor man is poor must be weighed against how rich the man he robbed was. His poverty is a consideration in what is right, and therefore his penalty may be lessened as a result.
This means you are adding sight to justice, as to be socially just you MUST consider the nature of the actors prior to whatever the incident may be. This utterly destroys the original concept of justice. In general, any time someone adds an adjective to a moral or ethical value word, be VERY wary. There’s an agenda.
Look at the “People’s Republic” of China, in which the republic part of that phrasing is highly dubious, but justified by the (in this case) adjective use of “People’s” which can mean anything, really.
I´m opposed to trojan horse ideologies yes