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Semiformalishmaybe

Revised position on Google privacy

I have been doing some thinking about Google's name policy, and have revised my position a bit (it still might make some people angry):

My basic perspective remains the same:

  • It is unjust to demand onto people that any policies/terms they enact/use maximally benefit one's group, fit one's social norms, make anyone comfortable, etc. All one may demand is that they not be malicious (and even that has a few exceptions). One may ask or nudge or dissociate if one doesn't get the policies or terms one wants
  • Names, Privacy and gender issues are potential areas (among a great many others) where people might not get what they want in social situations, and any particular needs they have might not be met by some people/groups.
I don't think, for any person A, A is entitled to require other people to make A comfortable with the terms they use, where require includes attempts that are pushy to the same level that people should be pushy to deal with actual injustices. To require that others sign on to your cause/world-of-terms or accomodate it is (with some exceptions and considerable nuance I'm not going to plumb here right now) a mark of bad character and/or brokenness.

However, and this is where my revision is placed, Google is not a person. It is not entitled to the same notion of philosophical sanctity of perspective (freedom of conscience, etc) that a person is. A person who might hold an event where real names are required is doing fine, and anyone who demands that change is simply broken/with-bad-character. A company is not necessarily entitled to that; I am open to the perspective that we might socially hold companies to a different standard, PROVIDED that we do not let that attitude carry over into interpersonal dealings. Freedom-of-perspective must generally be respected for people (with the provison of no malice, as well as a moderate amount of nuance), meaning how people speak and think should generally not be subject to the strongest social pressures, and beyond that people should try to have a live-and-let-live attitude in accepting that terms and frameworks of thought will naturally differ a lot between people. So, a blanket willingness to be too pushy with how others define their terms or what they call people or what philosophical/political framework they use, or similar remains a mark of bad character/brokenness, but if someone is willing to limit that pushiness to corporations, it is potentially acceptable.

Other individuals may, of course, disagree on whatever topics come up.

I remain neutral on the actual topic of real names on Google and still think either allowing or disallowing pseudonyms is acceptable, but I am less grumbly at those who are willing to raise a huge fuss on the topic (provided the way they go about it is reasonable; the "check your privilege" thing still seems like a disqualification pseudoargument, and the person I criticised earlier still, IMO, merits strong criticism). Google does not have the perspective-perogative that a person would have.

Having revised this, I am unsure whether I am willing to consider extending this reasoning to government in the same way I extend to corporation, and I have certainly have not done so yet. I'll keep thinking about that. The perogatives of the state are necessarily more important than those of any business, and the state also has other means by which it acts as an expression of the needs and perspectives of a society; it also has a kind of static neutrality to excessively specific demands of people. The state may not have the same privilege of conscience that people have, but it also may have what amounts, for purposes of resistance to pressures of perspective, to a similar privilege. For example, I don't believe we should feel sympathy for those who make demands of the state to respect their particular culturally-inspired desires (e.g. wearing a burkha in a photo-id); they may request it (and ideally their request would be refused or at least be treated identically to people who just, out of a personal quirk, decide they don't want their photo taken; religious perspective merits no privilege over personal/secular perspective), but demanding it would be a mark of bad character/brokenness.

Comments

Is anyone really claiming the ability to *require* such changes of institutions or other individuals? I'm not sure you're saying anything particularly productive in that regard; the options are pretty much always going to be working for change as hard as seems appropriate, and then succeeding, compromising, giving up, or leaving.

I know in your framework of values (or whatever it's called) you distinguish between different levels on the basis of how universally a person wishes to see the idea adopted and how far that person is willing to go in enforcing that position.

In your first paragraph (beginning with "I don't think"), you condemn individuals who would treat some of these matters as seriously as you would consider it appropriate to treat injustices.

I recognize that disagreements over the relative importance of different issues are legitimate and can be a very fundamental kind of disagreement, but I find your dismissal of others' attempt to better align a tool with their desired means of using that tool is excessively heavy handed nonetheless.

Would it be just of you to require others to adopt your value framework?
I don't think you're at the point of *requiring*. How far would you consider it reasonable to go?

How do you apply your standards for freedom of perspective in this case?
In general, do you have a merge system for conflicts where there is not only a difference of opinion on a matter but also a difference in the importance people give the matter?

Google has also explicitly solicited feedback from users, particularly during its initial phases, so while some people may make poor or offensive arguments, pushing for change is not an action worthy of such disapproval, even if you apply the standards you would use were Google an individual.
I think outrage is inappropriate for this kind of thing (except insofar as Google being a corporation might make it not merit the perogative of freedom-of-perspective that I would otherwise grant), and pushing for change as hard as possible is not always appropriate. There's a difference between asking for feedback and inviting a crusade against oneself. Still, google not being a person makes a big difference.

In my value-framework, universality is a trait of the strongest three kinds of value and is only not present in the last (preferences). The difference between the strongest three kinds of values is the degree of pressure appropriate. I strongly feel that nym-policy should never amount to anything more than a pragma; weak social pressure at most may be appropriate.

I neither could nor desire others to adopt my value-framework; I may strongly prefer that my moral values are enacted in law, significantly because the force inherent in rule of law would lift on me the requirement/urge to generally need to use my own force to enact my morals. Fortunately, my morals are not significantly different than those of most other people, on the large scale. The other value-conclusions matter less, and I am both incapable of nor interested in using force to push others towards them; as is implied by how I define morals, ethics, pragmas, and preferences, I would match the type of value-conclusions to the means I would use to promote/protect them.

I think it can be a solid perspective to, within the context of a moral framework, mark something as disqualified from being a moral matter and to attempt to block others from enacting things that one thinks are not properly considered moral matters. If someone does make something I consider a value-miscategorisation, I expect I might either consider them being highly-pushy with an unimportant value or being highly uncaring about something I think is pretty important. That kind of dialogue, and how successful that framing/discussion goes, might cause people to lean one way or the other on the relevant issues.

I hope people keep thinking about these things on a philosophical level, building consistent/coherent ideas that are solid over many issues. I sometimes worry that some thinkers just see some group of people they've labeled as "the good/disadvantaged guys" and jump right to whatever conclusions maximally please/empower that group, nevermind whatever other philosophical issues are in play.
Here's another way to present my concern.

It has sounded like you have been making this argument:
"I don't think the real-name issue on Google is an important issue.
People are broken, flawed in character, or flat out wrong to be so [invested in/active about/vehement about] changing something that isn't important."

But the "isn't important" evaluation in the end is based on your scale of importance.

If you are dismissing the behaviour as inherently wrong-headed, I have a problem. If you would accept the behaviour as appropriate for individuals who consider the issue to be of high importance, that's fine. It still makes sense that you could have an argument about the level of importance, and reasons for or against the relative import of the issue.