A social process has freedom to the extent that it refrains from interfering with the choices of individuals-whether or not the circumstances of those individuals provide them with many options or few. A social process has justice to the extent that its rules are just, regardless of the variety of outcomes resulting from the application of those rules. Power is exerted in social processes ... to the extent that someone's existing set of options is reduced - but it is not an exertion of power to offer a quid pro quo that adds to his existing options. Equality as a process characteristic means application of the same rules to all ...[pg. 247]
But, this now highlights how those with that vision are viewed by the unconstrained:
In the unconstrained vision, in which man can master social complexities sufficiently to apply directly the logic and morality of the common good, the presence of highly educated and intelligent people diametrically opposed to policies aimed at the common good is either an intellectual puzzle or a moral outrage, or both. Implications of bad faith, venality, for other moral or intellectual deficiencies have been much more common in the unconstrained vision's criticism of the constrained vision than vice versa. [pg. 248]
... Historic evasions of evidence are a warning, not a model. Too often the more fact that someone is known to disagree widely on other issues is considered sufficient reason not to take him seriously on the issue at hand ("how can you believe someone who has said?") In short, the fact than an opposing vision has much consistency across a range of issues as one's own is used as a reason to reject it out of hand. [pg. 253]
Enough already. This concludes my 6 weeks of quotes from Sowell.
It is precisely the correctness or incorrectness of particular beliefs about social causation that requires scrutiny - a scrutiny arbitrarily barred by the phrase "value premises." ("Value premises" are, ironically, a sort of property right in conclusions, not to be trespassed on by evidence or logic.) [pg. 238]
So cool: "a property right in conclusions". Too common though: isn't this really what the OWS supporters were claiming when they boycotted Greg Mankiw's class without even listening to what he had to say?
... In short, ideas originating in one vision may be adapted to another. But, for the Malthusian population theory to last long enough for this to happen, it first had to survive more than a century of contradictory evidence. Its success in doing so suggests that evasions and tautological formulations may protect a theory against evidence as effectively as outright falsification. [pg. 229]
... Theories may persist because the difficult task of bringing them to confrontation with evidence has simply not been performed with sufficient skill and care. This may be especially so when the person testing the theory has a different vision of his own, and reads the opposing vision in his terms, rather than in its own terms. [pg. 229-230]
A recent example of this phenomenon has been the oft-repeated assertion that higher rates of broken homes and teenage pregnancy among black Americans are a "legacy of slavery." Only after decades of widespread repetition of this assertion was a comprehensive factual study done-revealing that broken homes and teenage pregnancy were far less common among blacks under slavery and in the generations following emancipation than they are today. Again, the point is not that a particular conclusion was mistaken but that a sweeping and unsupported assertion went unchallenged for many years because if fit a particular vision. The ability to sustain assertions without any evidence is another sign of the strength and persistence of visions. [pg. 232]
The contemporary example of this is anthropogenic global warming: evidence that warming has stopped, and that supporters were in a panic about how to cover that up, hasn't changed the viewpoint of many ... because it fits into an unconstrained vision that only the best and the brightest can save us from ourselves. Poppcock!
Hayek treats much of the rhetoric of social justice as a confused evasion of harsh realities inherent in the processes required to move toward such goals. To Hayek, those things commonly modified by the adjective "social"-justice, conscience, democracy - are by their very nature inherently social, so that this adjective is meaningless by reason of redundancy, if the word is used in an honest and straightforward way. It is "incredibly empty of meaning," according to Hayek, so that "to employ it was either thoughtless or fraudulent."
Although Hayek found the concept of "social justice" to be devoid of specific meaning, he found it fraught with insinuations which he considered both erroneous and dangerous. Many "who habitually employ the phrase do not know themselves what they mean by it," he said but others who have used it were not simply engaging in "sloppy thinking" but "intellectual dishonesty." According to Hayek, "the phrase 'social justice' is not, as most people feel, an innocent expression of good will towards the less fortunate," but has become in practice "a dishonest insinuation that one ought to agree to a demand of some special interest which can give no real reason for it." The dangerous aspect, in Hayek's view, is that "the concept of 'social justice'�has been the Trojan Horse through which totalitarianism has entered". Nazi Germany being just one example. [pg 212-3]
Just last month, Dan Henninger pointed out that < a href="http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204603004577267632224945836.html?KEYWORDS=santorum">people were putting up with Rick Santorum's weirder beliefs because he kept hammering this position, and it was working.
38. While Hayek regarded some advocates of social justice as cynically aware that they were really engaged in a concentration of power, the greater danger he saw in those sincerely promoting the concept with a zeal which unconsciously prepares the way for others - totalitarians - to step in after the undermining of ideological, political, and legal barriers to government power makes their task easier. [pg. 215]
According to Tribe, if the government refuses to pay for abortions by indigent women, then it causes "coerced childbirth," acting in effect to conscript women (at least poor women) as "involuntary incubators," thereby "denying women power over both their bodies and their futures." This is consistent with the general logic of defining power in terms of the ability to change someone else's behavior, though inconsistent with the definition of power as the reduction of [others'] pre-existing options. [pg. 180]
Note that Tribe is concered with the "ability to change". This is not saying that someone else's behavior does change, just that you can influence the choice. To Tribe, this is power. In the constrained vision, this is not power because people still have options; and it is only in reducing options that one is powerful.
The market system delivers the goods people want, but those who make it work cannot readily explain why it is so. The socialist or communist system does not deliver the goods, but those who operate it can readily explain away its failure. (46) [pg. 169-170]
In the unconstrained vision, individualism refers to (1) the right of ordinary individuals to participate in the articulated decisions of collective entities, and (2) of those with the requisite wisdom and virtue to have some exemption from either systemic or organized social constraints.
Among contemporary followers of the unconstrained vision, individualism likewise centers on exemption of moral and intellectual pioneers from social pressures or even, in some cases, from laws. For example, conscientious objections to military service, or military advocacy of violence in the face of perceived social injustice, are among the exemptions Ronald Dworkin justifies, while denying that racial segregationists have any corresponding rights to violate civil rights laws. [pg. 165]
In short, this is do as I say, not as I do. Kind of a hallmark of stuff like global warming conferences and school lunch programs, wouldn't you say?
Given the horrors of war, and the frequent outcome in which there are no real winners, those with the unconstrained vision tend to explain the existence and recurrence of this man-made catastrophe in terms of either misunderstandings, in an intellectual sense, or of hostile or paranoid emotions raised to such a pitch as to override rationality. In short, war results from a failure of understanding, whether caused by lack of forethought, lack of communication, or emotions overriding judgment. Steps for a peace-seeking nation to take to reduce the probability of war therefore include (1) more influence for the intellectually or morally more advanced portions of the population, (2) better communications between potential enemies, (3) a muting of militant rhetoric, (4) a restraint on armament production or military alliances, either of which might produce escalating counter-measures, (5) a de-emphasis of nationalism or patriotism, and (6) negotiating outstanding differences with potential adversaries as a means of reducing possible causes of war. [pg. 153]
Unfortunately, just like the Clinton administration with cruise missiles, Obama's pursuit of this agenda is helped quite a bit by frequent use of drones.
It is only when estimating the potential intelligence of human beings that those with the unconstrained vision have a higher estimate than those with the constrained vision. When estimating the current intelligence of human beings, those with the unconstrained vision tend to estimate a lower mean and a greater variance. [pg. 147]
Here's where it gets bizarre: wasn't Larry Summers chased out of Harvard's top job for saying something like this to a bunch of holders of the unconstrained vision?
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