Thinking about values.. Construction of value systems serves the pragmatic purpose of making it easier to know what one should do in a number of common situations in life, the should being precomputed/prethought in the system - one may choose to ignore one's conclusion if the prethought answer no longer reflects one's current values (as values tend to drift over time and one's value system is presumably always slightly outdated), if the prethought answer neglects some specifics of the current situation, or if one didn't understand one's values well enough initially (e.g. if one had a metavalue that one would like to weigh certain values more strongly and was striving to do so, but that failed to become actual, or alternatively if one made a simple mistake as to the weight/nature of one's values). Another time we may choose not to go with the intuitions of one of our sets of values would be a conflict between one's inward-looking and outward-looking values - the former are the type that directly define what one wants, the latter being tied to one's ideals of society. The latter depend on a metavalue to exist - something like Kant's categorical imperative (act as if by your will you are creating a universal) or a golden rule - that metavalue would have us not give ourselves an exemption to any system we might use to judge others, and would further suggest that we do attempt to construct a universal (as in pertaining to all, not as in we believe it to be derived from the nature of things) notion of the good which we allow to inject us with values which we are willing to allow to compete with our inward-looking values. Allowing these values to act within us is the basis of civil society - society as we know it depends on the trust that people, whether consciously or not, have inner taboos/disinclinations/scruples (depending on their level of mental development) that prevent them from directly and solely advancing their self-interest. Allowing them to compete is not to give oneself completely to those notions/intuitions of the common good - one's individual needs must be met, and just as one's inward-looking values compete with each other, we expect them to compete (without full privilege either way) with the outward-looking values. When one's needs are being poorly met in life, one might see systematic shifts towards inward-looking values - these values are distinct in that outward-looking values have the possibility of realienation as a category in some circumstances. To maintain a functioning society then, it would be prudent to attempt to minimise the frequency of occurences that would cause withdrawl towards inward-facing perspectives (such as destitution or sustained poverty) and aim to reign in cases where individual or group-oriented ego leads in this same direction (see exceptionalism and manifest destiny).
The Manischewitz is finally gone... the hard way (last night). My stomach is not happy.
- A very bad interview by a Monsters and Critics person with Daniel Dennett. Dennett kept the interview from being a disaster, but the interviewer seemed to mistake it for an opportunity to talk about himself.
- The current (far right-wing) coalition that forms the present Polish government is falling apart, which hopefully will lead to a more moderate coalition taking power - the twins who currently hold position of PM and President have made Poland a pariah state in the EU with their reactionist positions on societal progress.
- Study: Young Children prefer the taste of branded fast foods. How can this be a good thing, for children or adults?
- I was initially interested to read that efforts were in motion to fully ban Scientology in Germany and France, although unfortunately it doesn't look like they're going to go through with it (at least in Germany).
- More on the societal/legal difficulties Australia is having dealing with Aborigine communities.
- It's strange that unions would submit when a court decides to block their strike action - the point of a strike is defiance. I suppose defiance against the company and the state might be different things though..
- Democratic party presidential candidates appear at a forum on gay rights. I'm disappointed (but not surprised) that none of the frontrunners seem interested in moving things beyond "separate but equal".
- BushJr insists that a conflict between at least three interests/groups is simpler than it is (in the Iran-Iraq situation).
- A Jirga was held in the tribal regions near the Pakistani/Afghani border, with Musharraf and Karzai both present. It's going to be interesting seeing what effect this will have in the long-term on Afghan-Pakistani relations and on religious militancy in the area.
- Google reminds us how helpful it can be to have full control over one's data by taking away videos that people bought via Google Video. This is one of the downsides of centralisation, and one of the reasons people should be wary of any similar service (e.g. downloadable games on the Wii) - time-locked-licenses and server-resident data is bad for consumers (either due to companies eventually cutting things they've decided are obsolescent or lawsuits). People should give Google a very hard time about this.
- Companies that are mostly harmful - add ReputationDefender to the list. Schmucks.