2013-05-05

Technical Discussions on Ethics: Impossibru!

I enjoy discussing things at the highest level of technical precision that I am capable of at the time of the discussion. I enjoy detailed understanding, and this is the main thing that matters to me. This is strictly a personal preference.

In the run up to election, it's been quite amusing to try and engage folks in discussions on the ethics of good citizenship. But usually I sense that folks get somewhat agitated before they reach a non-trivial level of precision in their arguments about what counts as "the right thing to do," or "one of the equally right things to do."

For some reason, all the hemming and hawing brought the term virtue ethics to mind, even though most people arguing for a higher voter turnout this season are pressing buttons of consequentialism and deontology, I think, without thinking about it too carefully. (Whoops.)

In any event, it was fun to go back and skim readings on normative ethics in general, even though it's hardly possible to engage most folks in my ecosystem in a detailed dispassionate conversation about things.

It's been one of those months where I wish I had more options to derive comfort from conversations with people, but mostly, I have only been able to find enjoyment in the reception and delivery of other products and services.



Most arguments for voter turnout are in favour of a two-party equilibrium. Which means there's only one party that they can vote for until that happens. Of course, if democratic infrastructure was ensured, then campaigns should be about policy. But policy-oriented campaigning is correctly secondary in the situation where you have a veiled dictatorship. Because the dictatorship will always squish other voices via totalitarian behaviour.

From my point of view, and this is not a new view, it is the "right" thing to do, to try and unseat the dictatorship, but voting is the not the only way that can get us there. And that, is generally where I run out of interest in conversation from counterparties. No time to discuss the economics of pandering to fake democratic institutions, versus that of violent protest. No time to discuss anything else. Usually, I just zip it at that. But I wish there was more to be said. Maybe I am missing something...

To people who keep telling me to vote, I have said, I'm eating breakfast, and working on code - fixing things I know how to fix. I don't believe that voting (at least, this time) fixes the country. Feel free to disagree. Note, I don't disbelieve it either - but I've been really limited in my success to engage folks in arguments for choosing it (voting) as a medium of activism, over other mediums, such as violent war.

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