• Pfhorrest
    3.9k
    In response to another thread, I thought I'd start an actual poll on the forum's political biases. I know the structure of a political spectrum itself is a topic of contention, but I'm going to go with the axes that I think are most salient, and try to avoid using any words that might trigger knee-jerk tribal affiliation instead of an honest self-reflective answer.
    1. On the scale of liberty to authority, which do you favor? (39 votes)
        Maximal liberty
        18%
        Somewhat limited liberty
        49%
        An equal balance of liberty and authority
        21%
        Somewhat limited authority
        8%
        Maximal authority
          5%
    2. On the scale or equality to hierarchy, which do you favor? (39 votes)
        Maximal equality
        28%
        Somewhat limited equality
        36%
        An equal balance of equality and hierarchy
        21%
        Somewhat limited hierarchy
        8%
        Maximal hierarchy
        8%
    3. On the scale of change to stasis (maintaining the status quo), which do you prefer? (39 votes)
        Maximal change
        18%
        Somewhat limited change
        31%
        An equal balance of change and stasis
        36%
        Somewhat limited stasis
        10%
        Maximal stasis
          5%
    4. Do you consider your political position "left" or "right"? (39 votes)
        Left
        56%
        Right
        13%
        Both
        8%
        Neither
        23%
  • Pfhorrest
    3.9k
    Please also share your thoughts on the relationship between these different axes.

    Are liberty and equality (so likewise authority and hierarchy) two sides of the same coin, where you can't have one without the other? Or is each a threat to the other, where one must choose which is more important to them?

    Is the status quo one of liberty or authority, equality or hierarchy?

    Which of these values belong to the "left", and which belong to the "right"?
  • khaled
    2k
    I think all of these axes are way too vague.
  • Wayfarer
    10.9k
    I think the other thread you're referring to was started by a poster unhappy about comments being made in the Trump thread, in my opinion.
  • Tzeentch
    900
    The scale of equality and heirarchy struck me as odd, as it implies that equal societies do not favor strong heirarchical structures. I think this is not the case. After all, use of authority is required to enforce equality, as it will not arise naturally.

    Also the scale between change and stasis did not make sense to me, as these things are, in my opinion, not goals in themselves and whether I would favor one or the other is entirely dependent on circumstances.

    An option that says "no opinion", or something like this, would be great.
  • Echarmion
    1.9k
    Are liberty and equality (so likewise authority and hierarchy) two sides of the same coin, where you can't have one without the other? Or is each a threat to the other, where one must choose which is more important to them?Pfhorrest

    I always have a problem with the liberty vs. authority angle. In my mind, authority can preserve liberty as much as endanger it. Authority is a tool, not a form of leadership. I'd say the opposite of liberty would be something like teleology. There is either a pre-determined goal for the society, or the goal is to allow everyone to pursue their own goals.

    As to authority and hierarchy, they're obviously connected in practice. In theory, it's possible to imagine authority without hierarchy. That's essentially the theory behind representative democracy. The representatives have authority, but there is no hierarchy between them and the voters.

    Liberty and equality, on the other hand, seem more intrinsically linked. Hierarchies make you more or less unfree by definition. Which may be a further argument in favour of replacing authority with something that has a similar relation to hierarchy as equality has to freedom.

    Is the status quo one of liberty or authority, equality or hierarchy?Pfhorrest

    Tough to say without any reference point.

    Which of these values belong to the "left", and which belong to the "right"?Pfhorrest

    Both left and right are a bit split, but I associate authority and hierarchy with the right, and equality with the left. Both sides will claim liberty, though with very different definitions.
  • Pfhorrest
    3.9k
    I think all of these axes are way too vague.khaled

    Broad or general, yes, that is the point.

    I think the other thread you're referring to was started by a poster unhappy about comments being made in the Trump thread, in my opinion.Wayfarer

    I think so too.

    The scale of equality and heirarchy struck me as odd, as it implies that equal societies do not favor strong heirarchical structures.Tzeentch

    They definitionally do not. If everyone is on the same level, nobody is above of below anyone else.

    After all, use of authority is required to enforce equality, as it will not arise naturally.Tzeentch

    That is your opinion that you're free to have (I did ask for people's opinions on that after all), but be aware that it's not an uncontroversial one (which is why I asked for opinions on it). There are plenty of people who think that equality is the natural way of things in a free society, and inequality only arises through the exercise of authority.

    Also the scale between change and stasis did not make sense to me, as these things are, in my opinion, not goals in themselves and whether I would favor one or the other is entirely dependent on circumstances.Tzeentch

    The idea there is whether you favor one or the other, in general, in our present circumstances. This is my way of asking about certain senses of "progressive" and "conservative" without using those words, as they literally mean for or against change, but often have other connotations as well.

    I always have a problem with the liberty vs. authority angle. In my mind, authority can preserve liberty as much as endanger it. Authority is a tool, not a form of leadership. I'd say the opposite of liberty would be something like teleology. There is either a pre-determined goal for the society, or the goal is to allow everyone to pursue their own goals.Echarmion

    I think I agree that there is a complex issue regarding sometimes using force to stop other people from using force in order to maximize liberty, e.g. that "excessive liberty" can become self-defeating in a way and actually be less free than "restrained liberty" (e.g. the freedom to punch other people in the face is also the power to limit others' freedom by threatening to punch them in the face if they disobey you, so limiting that freedom increases freedom in a way). But that's not what I mean by "authority" here, and using "authority" to mean that sounds strange to my ear.

    I mean something much more like what you're calling "teleology". Liberty is people getting to pursue their own goals, authority is some people getting to impose their goals on others. In loose language, doing what you want to do vs being told what to do.

    Tough to say [whether the status quo one of liberty or authority, equality or hierarchy] without any reference point.Echarmion

    Within the reference frame of the political spectrum as you see it, please.

    Both left and right are a bit split, but I associate authority and hierarchy with the right, and equality with the left. Both sides will claim liberty, though with very different definitions.Echarmion

    Which side do you think has the correct definition of liberty?
  • Tzeentch
    900
    There are plenty of people who think that equality is the natural way of things in a free society, and inequality only arises through the exercise of authority.Pfhorrest

    The great paradox at the heart of all of this type of thinking, is the idea that then through the use of authority should individuals be forced to be equal.

    Their definition of a free society is similarly paradoxical. Freedom unavoidably leads to unequality, so when there is mention of a "free" society in this context, it isn't in fact free. A government is needed to tell individuals exactly how free they are allowed to be.

    Thereby these ideas supports the greatest and most inescapable heirarchy; that between governments and their citizens. With every law that is passed to further this idea of equality, more force and more authority is exercised, and a stronger heirarchy established.
  • Outlander
    864
    To put it briefly or vaguely, many concepts you can't have one without the other. They sometimes do more than simply complement or contrast each other, rather are essential for each other. These terms and concepts, specifically what they truly are or mean have been debated since the dawn of man. Both in the courts and on the battlefield.

    Liberty to do what? To live as I please? To take either directly or indirectly that of another for my own jollies? Liberty to be authority or authority to have liberty? Etc.

    Hierarchy based on merit? Or natural hierarchy (ie. I'm bigger/there's more of me than you so tough nuts. Unless you invent something that can level the playing field)

    Status quo? Depends. Where am I at on it. :lol:

    Etc, etc...
  • khaled
    2k
    Broad or general, yes, that is the point.Pfhorrest

    Not when they're so general they're meaningless.
  • Pfhorrest
    3.9k
    You're arguing against a strawman there. You're free to think that equality is impossible without authority, but you're not accurately describing the people who disagree with that, who I referenced earlier. You're describing people who agree with you about that dichotomy existing, and disagree with you on which side of it to choose. I was pointing out that there's people who disagree that there is any such dichotomy at all. You can think they're wrong, but they exist.
  • Saphsin
    263
    I answered Maximal to all of them, because that's what I am considered to the rest of the spectrum. Among those on the furthest left, there's another spectrum where you will find people who think I'm incrementalist or sympathetic to authoritarianism. Depending on what your stance is on things, people are going to define these parameters differently.
  • Echarmion
    1.9k
    But that's not what I mean by "authority" here, and using "authority" to mean that sounds strange to my ear.Pfhorrest

    But it is what authority does, right? Make the laws, enforce them etc.

    I mean something much more like what you're calling "teleology". Liberty is people getting to pursue their own goals, authority is some people getting to impose their goals on others. In loose language, doing what you want to do vs being told what to do.Pfhorrest

    I think it's important here to distinguish between instrumental goals and ultimate goals. The authority that limits instrumental goals is very different from the one setting the ultimate goals. The latter is, for lack of a better word, a kind of divine authority.

    Within the reference frame of the political spectrum as you see it, please.Pfhorrest

    I think we still have some of the most equal and liberal societies in History, but many old caste hierarchies have simply been supplanted by economic hierarchies, which are getting worse in many places. And this leads to increasing authority of the bad kind.

    Which side do you think has the correct definition of liberty?Pfhorrest

    Neither, though I think especially in economic terms, the left / anarchist thinkers are a lot closer. The right wing seems, at best, stuck with classical liberalism, which is about 200 years behind.
  • magritte
    190

    I'm a maximal constitutional conservative thus long-time rabid anti-trampist, ejected from the ongoing political continuum and the republican party. Which means maximal opportunity for free innovative capitalism to allow society to adapt and advance, and maximal stasis of the Constitution but not of social progress within constitutional limits.
    How are my votes reflective?
  • Kenosha Kid
    1.9k
    Please also share your thoughts on the relationship between these different axes.

    Are liberty and equality (so likewise authority and hierarchy) two sides of the same coin, where you can't have one without the other? Or is each a threat to the other, where one must choose which is more important to them?

    Is the status quo one of liberty or authority, equality or hierarchy?

    Which of these values belong to the "left", and which belong to the "right"?
    Pfhorrest

    Economic liberty is generally counted within the right wing, personal liberty within the left. I voted 'somewhat limited liberty in this', by which I mean that granted by the principle of egalitarianism and that which does not harm, disadvantage, or reduce the liberty of others. I think this can be applied as well to economic institutions in a pluralistic economy, however I do not extend human rights to institutions, only to the persons working for them. I think the protections afforded companies should be much the same form as the constraints that stop them doing harm: pragmatic laws agreed on and refined over time.

    The status quo is whatever the current power structure is, which can be assessed at various different scales. Equality of marriage rights does not affect our place in the national power structure where I live, which massively privileges a tiny minority of people from birth and yields a large, powerless and poor underclass whose potential progression up that power structure has a vanishingly small likelihood. An egalitarian revolution in my country would likely leave us persona non grata, a less power player, internationally where power structures are more malleable but even more bizarre.

    Conservatives nominally favour the status quo. Regressives, like Trump supporters, the KKK, and neo-nazis, favour a return to outdated power structures, but ones that can be seen as a logical conclusion of a defense of the status quo, i.e. a transfer of further power from the people to an ever smaller elite. In a capitalist democracy, power means wealth, manifest in a reduction in taxation for the wealthiest and a corresponding reduction in investment in that which benefits the most rather than the privileged, and particularly that which benefits the poorest and most vulnerable over the wealthiest and most powerful. As such, there is a distinction to be made between conservatives and regressives, but also a uniting principle. 'More of what we have now,' if that makes sense. Thus conservatives and regressives are natural compatriots within the right wing.

    Progressives, like regressives, seek to move away from the status quo but in the opposite direction: redistribution of wealth away from the few to the many, transfer of power to the majority, egalitarianism, social investment and conscientiousness. It is generally characterised by a long-term view, and is typically more espoused by the left wing.

    Egalitarianism is the key theme here: it increases liberty by opposing oppression, and it progresses us from the status quo, as well as being an end to itself. Which makes it curious that there exists nominally within the left a faction with more than its fair share of power (similar to that historically enjoyed by the church) which seeks to reduce liberty. For the above reasons, I believe that any ideology that prefers and seeks to empower one demographic over others is regressive as well as anti-egalitarian and anti-libertarian. Yet it is apparently left wing, which distinguishes the left wing from the other axes.
  • Pfhorrest
    3.9k
    I answered Maximal to all of them, because that's what I am considered to the rest of the spectrum. Among those on the furthest left, there's another spectrum where you will find people who think I'm incrementalist or sympathetic to authoritarianism. Depending on what your stance is on things, people are going to define these parameters differently.Saphsin

    I intend for people to answer based on the framework that they themselves think in, but I must confess that I put “somewhat” libertarian and egalitarian and progressive for my answers because, even though I’m a moderate centrist in the way that I think of the political spectrum, I’m aware that most people are in the authoritarian-hierarchy quadrant of my spectrum, and so from their perspective I’m a radical libertarian socialist.

    But it is what authority does, right? Make the laws, enforce them etc.Echarmion

    I suppose that’s true, and now that I think about this in juxtaposition with my response just above, it reminds me that that’s exactly why I’m not for maximal liberty in the spectrum as I construct it, even though I’m radically liberal from a conventional perspective. Because on my spectrum there are possible views that advocate for so much liberty, i.e. so little authority, that the preservation of liberty becomes unstable, e.g. when people have the liberty to hurt others and so to establish de facto authority over them.

    I have a similar line of reasoning regarding equality, such that if everything belongs equally to everyone, nothing really belongs to anyone, e.g. if I can’t claim my toothbrush as mine and mine alone then I don’t really have a toothbrush at all, even if I nominally have as equal claim to it as anybody else.

    But those possibilities are so radically libertarian and egalitarian that they’re obviously absurd and nobody ever even considers that there is that side of the spectrum, and the “extreme” libertarian / egalitarian positions are moderate in comparison.

    Are you asking me which poll answers would reflect your opinion as described here?

    Mostly just :up: to you.
  • Philosophim
    528


    I think this sends the wrong message. We are here to think. We are here to listen to other's points and arguments, and logically think through them. It is not about being conservative, liberal, or political in any way. Such things often get in the way of free thought, and become arguments of ego and ideology.

    I do not think things like this should be encouraged.
  • Pfhorrest
    3.9k
    I do not think things like this should be encouraged.Philosophim

    What, polls?

    Someone else accused the forum of having a bias. I didn’t think that looked true, but I though, “let’s just check” and did a poll to see.
  • Kenosha Kid
    1.9k
    I think this sends the wrong message. We are here to think. We are here to listen to other's points and arguments, and logically think through them. It is not about being conservative, liberal, or political in any way. Such things often get in the way of free thought, and become arguments of ego and ideology.Philosophim

    You know that political philosophy is a thing, right? We cannot "listen to other's points and arguments, and logically think through them " about politics and at the same time be prohibited from using its terminology. Makes no sense.
  • fdrake
    4.5k
    Hard to make contrastive questions out of empty signifiers. "change", "justice", "liberty", "maximal", "limited". "right", "left", "authority", "stasis". What those mean depends on where you would belong on any candidate set of political coordinates.
  • Philosophim
    528
    Someone else accused the forum of having a bias.Pfhorrest

    The answer to them should be that philosophy is about trying to remove bias. That sounds like he was trying to troll, or an excuse as to why everyone seemed to disagree with him. I think a better approach, is to see if he was genuine and ask him why he felt that way. What specifically was liberal, conservative, or whatever he thought the forum was. Examining why he thought an idea was political would do better then falling into a trap of thinking that we have to view each other as "political entities".



    We can listen to people's opinions without labeling them.
    You know that political philosophy is a thing, right? We cannot "listen to other's points and arguments, and logically think through them " about politics and at the same time be prohibited from using its terminology. Makes no sense.Kenosha Kid

    Yes, but this can be discussed without attempting to label the forum goers as being a particular political nature. When people come to this forum it should be about philosophy. Not, I'm a political X, and that shapes how I view philosophy. The first is freedom of thought, the second is constrained.

    There are many people who want to politicize things to use as a weapon, whether true or not. An attempt to defend or show the political nature of people here, only plays into that hand. The way to ensure this does not happen, is to remember what we are. Thinkers who are not bound by ideology, but seek to answer questions of a logical nature as free from bias as we can.
  • Hippyhead
    1.1k
    The answer to them should be that philosophy is about trying to remove biasPhilosophim

    One way of removing the primary source of bias on philosophy forums, male ego, would be to remove all the screen names so that nobody can tell who said what.
  • Philosophim
    528
    One way of removing the primary source of bias on philosophy forums, male ego, would be to remove all the screen names so that nobody can tell who said what.Hippyhead

    Ha ha! You know woman can have bias about people too Hippy? The problem of course with removing names would be the difficulty in tracking the conversation. There is an interesting idea though that whenever you entered into a thread, you were assigned a random name for that post. It would allow each thread to be a "fresh start". I try to do this in every thread I'm in. Who you are in one thread, does not necessitate who you are in another.

    Also, when publishing philosophy, there are certain journals that are "blind" to the name. This is to allow the very thing you propose. As this is a forum, we are not at such a professional level however, and I'm not sure it would sit well with people.

    So why remove political bias then? Because it is honestly a danger to free thought. Politics can get people to dig into issues, and feel threatened if they are challenged. Instead of thinking about them, they get emotional and put their own predictions straw men in the argument. I've seen it with religion too. I rarely tell people whether I'm religious or an atheist, because it seems to evoke the same biases thought process. People will ignore the argument, and put their own spin or opinion on something that isn't there.
  • Kenosha Kid
    1.9k
    We can listen to people's opinions without labeling them.Philosophim

    Are we also not to use words like monist, dualist, physicist, materialist, realist, pragmatist, etc?
  • Hippyhead
    1.1k
    The problem of course with removing names would be the difficulty in tracking the conversation.Philosophim

    If the conversation is perceived as being between people, then removing screen names is obviously going to generate confusion, agreed. But if the conversation is perceived as being between ideas, then it doesn't matter who typed what, and screen names become unnecessary.

    However, to argue against, in the real world philosophy forums are primarily about ego, so removing screen names would likely cause the forum to collapse in about two weeks, and so there would then be neither egos or ideas, game over.

    and I'm not sure it would sit well with people.Philosophim

    I'm sure that it wouldn't sit well, agreed. But then, this is a philosophy forum and the job of a philosopher is to be inconvenient and unpopular. :-)

    I've been living in forum land for 20 years now, and it's amazing to me what an absolutely fixed rigid idea we have about forums. All forums on the Internet, every last one, absolutely have to be pretty much exactly the same in format, or everyone starts totally freaking out, yelling about crimes against humanity and so on. :-)
  • Athena
    1.1k
    Please also share your thoughts on the relationship between these different axes.

    Are liberty and equality (so likewise authority and hierarchy) two sides of the same coin, where you can't have one without the other? Or is each a threat to the other, where one must choose which is more important to them?

    Is the status quo one of liberty or authority, equality or hierarchy?

    Which of these values belong to the "left", and which belong to the "right"?
    a day ago
    Reply
    Options
    Pfhorrest

    Only highly moral people can have liberty and only well-educated people can be highly moral. So how well educated is the population? Our Statue of Liberty holds a book for literacy and a torch for the enlightenment of literate people. Unfortunately, the masses in the US are no longer educated to understand what literacy and good moral judgment have to do with liberty and democracy. Since 1958 they have been prepared to be products for industry and to rely on authority. Their dependence on authority justifying the need for authority over the people and this gave us Trump as our great leader. Big mistake! The mistake beginning with the change in education in 1958.

    Hum checking what others have said, it appears I misunderstood the purpose of the discussion. This may not help but I believe we should live by 3 rules because they eliminate most social problems.

    We respect all people because we are respectful. This is totally about who we are not who the other person is.

    We protect the dignity of others.

    We do everything with integrity.
  • Athena
    1.1k
    The scale of equality and heirarchy struck me as odd, as it implies that equal societies do not favor strong heirarchical structures. I think this is not the case. After all, use of authority is required to enforce equality, as it will not arise naturally.Tzeentch

    For sure liberal education makes each person his/her own authority. And it is with this authority that we vote for the best leaders and gladly follow those leaders, while we stand ready to take their place of leadership if need be.

    I was a Toastmistress for many years and at first, thought being the club president would be the best position to have. :rofl: The other members prepared me for taking on that responsibility as everyone who joined the club was prepared to do. Then my day came to take increasingly greater responsibility, as the treasurer, then as the secretary, and finally as the president. The greatest service is required of the president. It is not a role to envy but a duty to fulfill and to pass on to the next person as soon as possible. Like George Washington.

    Our democracy came out of the enlightenment and like the democratic model for industry is suppose to be about helping everyone be the best s/he can be so s/he can make her/his contribution to society. Democracy is about all of us working together. It is a shifting hierarchy, not a static one.
  • Philosophim
    528
    If the conversation is perceived as being between people, then removing screen names is obviously going to generate confusion, agreed. But if the conversation is perceived as being between ideas, then it doesn't matter who typed what, and screen names become unnecessary.Hippyhead

    I thought about this when you first mentioned it, but having an identity within a thread is needed beyond ego. Sometimes there are a few conversations between people within a thread, and knowing that a particular person understands the conversation is important. Further, this prevents duplicity, in which a malicious person can pretend to be the owner of a previous thought, when they are not. Imagine a person lying that was they previously posted was now wrong. Although I do like the idea of random names being assigned for you in every different thread you visit.

    But then, this is a philosophy forum and the job of a philosopher is to be inconvenient and unpopular. :-)Hippyhead

    Ha ha! I don't think that's really our job, though I get the joke. Sometimes good logic and thought makes us convenient and popular.

    I've been living in forum land for 20 years now, and it's amazing to me what an absolutely fixed rigid idea we have about forums. All forums on the Internet, every last one, absolutely have to be pretty much exactly the same in format, or everyone starts totally freaking out, yelling about crimes against humanity and so on.Hippyhead

    Yes, people adapt slowly to change. It also greatly simplifies implementation when you simply copy what has gone before. Very few people want to spend tons of work implementing something new, and find that they have to fight tooth and nail to get people to even try it.
  • Hippyhead
    1.1k
    Further, this prevents duplicity, in which a malicious person can pretend to be the owner of a previous thought, when they are not. Imagine a person lying that was they previously posted was now wrong.Philosophim

    If a discussion is about ideas instead of people, who cares who is being duplicitous? And anyway, none of us are the owner of any of these ideas.

    However, all that said, I do agree that removing the screen names would probably kill the forum. It's a fun idea, but not too realistic. And the reason it's not realistic is that most of us most of the time are here in service of emotional agendas more than intellectual ones. It's the human condition. Once we have enough food to eat and a place to sleep out of the rain, ego agendas tend to become our primary concern.
  • Brett
    3k


    I think the problems this forum is facing can be solved pretty easily.

    First of all it’s a philosophy forum, not a social justice forum. So any subject should be able to be raised and discussed without rabid, sanctimonious pushback.

    On the Trump OP I once asked Michael why the aggressive and accusatory attitudes of so many were accepted in posts and he said that a political OP was a different sort of OP than others. Well look what it’s led to. A lot of those attitudes have flooded over as standard into other OPs. So I think the mods have let everyone down. Just look at my OP on leftist domination. The posts have gone way off topic and there’s no comment from the mods.

    People like StreetlightX should be given a number of warnings about personal attacks then they’re suspended for a time. In fact StreetlightX should not be a mod. He’s intelligent but he regularly resorts to personal attacks and derails conversations. There’s a few others who do the same. They have to be managed.

    A lot of the OPs have become pretty lame and yet they’re allowed. So standards aren’t being set.

    My OP about leftist domination was not that they disagreed with me but how they went about it, and they responded to my OP in the same way again and were ignored by the mods.

    Ironically, in light of the poll, it appears we cannot have total freedom without some sort of regulation. Otherwise we get anarchy, which is where we’re going now.
  • Brett
    3k


    When I look back at the OPs I’ve put up in the past I can see genuine debate going on. There was still the push back on occasions but it wasn't so vituperative as it is now. Also, Biden would occasionally chip in with some comment to straighten out poor philosophy. Poor OPs were often moved to the lounge and posters were reminded of the quality in writing an OP that was expected. There was more personal input and management from Baden.
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