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Anarchist Ethics: A Utilitarian Approach

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Although anarchists do not usually like to define their beliefs in terms of ethics, the anarchist emphasis on the need to maximize individual freedom can be seen as fundamentally rooted in utilitarian ethics. If one is interested in minimizing global suffering or maximizing global happiness or maximizing the number of individuals who achieve self-actualization and creative fulfillment, as utilitarians are, it seems clear that one must first seek to maximize individual freedom.

Anarchist Ethics: A Utilitarian Approach


Although anarchists do not usually like to define their beliefs in terms of ethics, the anarchist emphasis on the need to maximize individual freedom can be seen as fundamentally rooted in utilitarian ethics. If one is interested in minimizing global suffering or maximizing global happiness or maximizing the number of individuals who achieve self-actualization and creative fulfillment, as utilitarians are, it seems clear that one must first seek to maximize individual freedom. No one is better equipped, at any given time, to take action to reduce an individual’s suffering, increase an individual’s pleasure, or increase an individual’s feelings of self-actualization than the individual himself, because no one else can completely know the individual’s intimate desires or psychology. Anarchists take it to be an empirical fact that people who exercise the greatest control over their own affairs are the happiest and most fulfilled, and that community life is richer, more meaningful, and more pleasurable when everyone individual is autonomous. Anarchists believe that man’s greatest good—be it pleasure or fulfillment—can only be realistically achieved by individual autonomous action, and so, the pursuit of individual freedom must be the central concern of any ethical community which wants to increase global aggregate happiness and reduce global aggregate suffering.

The need to maximize individual liberty and global happiness informs all anarchist thought about political, economic, and social issues.

Anarchists oppose the state (defined as an organization with a monopoly on the legitimate use of physical force in a given country) because the state exists for the sole purpose of limiting human freedom and imposing the will of a certain group of people (usually a tiny minority) on the rest of a nation’s citizens. Because of the state, millions of people are incarcerated—mostly for nonviolent and “victimless” offenses—and forced to live in totalitarian conditions in which they have absolutely no control over their own situations. Because of the state, untold multitudes are forced to alter their behavior for fear of enduring punishment and incarceration if they act autonomously. Because of the state, millions of people die in wars and genocides, and millions of others are forced to live under foreign occupation in which their liberty is severely restricted. It is obvious that, so long as the state exists, human beings can never attain maximum freedom or maximum happiness, and so, utilitarians and anarchists should oppose the state. While autonomous individuals certainly have conflicts of interest, these conflicts can be dealt with through compromise and consensus, rather than through institutionalized violence. In extreme cases, an antagonistic individual ought to be banished from a community, rather than incarcerated and deprived of his autonomy.

Anarchists also oppose the existing economic situation, which they see as presenting another major barrier to the maximization of individual freedom and global happiness. In the existing system of industrial capitalist production, most laborers are treated as tools and are expected to follow orders at all times, and are prevented from engaging in any sort of autonomous decision-making. For as long as they are at work, they are owned by their employer, and nearly every aspect of their life is controlled: what they wear, what they do, and what they say. Some employers even attempt to control the personal lives of their employees: witness drug-testing at workplaces. Employers show no regard whatsoever for the dignity and autonomy of their employees, but because of the extremely centralized control of property in capitalist society, most workers are forced either to endure the pain of wage-slavery or the pains of crushing poverty.

In a just economy, workers would be completely self-managed and self-employed. All workers would participate in decision-making at their workplace, and all workers would have the freedom to work in different sectors of the economy at different times and to split time between intellectual and physical labor. Productive property would have to be collectively owned, for if it was privately owned, the owner would inevitably place conditions on the right of workers to use the productive property, limiting worker freedom and autonomy. An autonomous worker, freed from the humiliating constraints of wage-slavery and completely in control of his own work experience, would reap all the fulfillment and enjoyment from growing food or building a house or making clothes that the poet reaps from writing a poem and the scientist reaps from discovering a new principle.

The anarchist project to maximize freedom and global happiness extends to nonhuman animals as well. At present, billions upon billions of animals are forced to live lives of unceasing torture in factory farms, fur farms, and laboratories to produce nonessential consumer products. Nonhuman animals clearly have the capacity to feel pain—this much is scientific fact—and there is no reason to believe that the benefit a human derives from having the freedom to live as he chooses is any more profound than the benefit an animal derives from having the freedom to live as it chooses, so the liberation of animals from the cruel exploitation of the factory farm, the fur farm, and the laboratory must be an integral part of the anarchist project. Animals have as much a right to live autonomously and pleasurably as any human being does, so the enslavement of animals for nonessential purposes must be viewed as completely illegitimate, as it significantly reduces aggregate global happiness.

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Anarchist Ethics: A Utilitarian Approach | 21 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Anarchist Ethics: A Utilitarian Approach
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, December 17 2006 @ 09:48 PM CST
The link between individual and the aggregate in terms of "freedom and happiness" cannot be effectively measured by any unit, much less one that is not explicitly defined by the individual in question. Anarchism is a broad yet fundamental approach to a problem (the problem of authority, and hierarchy) whose possibilities of occurrence are nearly limitless. The signifiers of anarchy, the words that can conceptualize the experiences we consider liberating, are inadequate to codify the intensely personal histories of rejection and resistance. We speak the language of the oppressor when we state,

"Animals have as much a right to live autonomously and pleasurably as any human being does, so the enslavement of animals for nonessential purposes must be viewed as completely illegitimate, as it significantly reduces aggregate global happiness."

While the sentiment here is inherently (and etymologically) anarchistic, the idea of "legitimacy" is absolutely contingent upon the decomposing structures of capital. It may seem like a practical expedient to formulate the quaint syllogisms propping this essay up in the eyes of the self-described intellectual, but the coldness of the equation was never more apparent than in the factories, the prisons, the schools, the housing complexes, the state-commissioned "cultural" institutions, on the screens of the televisions. Though the author (who apparently speaks for all anarchists) concedes we are indeed talking about "the individual", he still tells us, in a clear, sane voice, that "the need to maximize individual liberty and global happiness informs all anarchist thought about political, economic, and social issues".
Liberty and happiness are what most of us want, the reason we fight on in the face of police and government repression, poverty, patriarchy, the regimes of rapists and embezzlers and murderers and exploiters, and the smug condemnations of determined, safe exurbanites and their sympathetic newspaper columnists and manicured anchor-friends. That "most of us", however, don't ever fucking talk about "maximization", because the word still echoes in the profit margins of the great polluters, the great destroyers, the great "producers" of throwaway slave labor goods. "Maximization" still sounds to us like the mantra of our information society in which information ceases to have any meaning, though even if it did the mass media apparatus would still be dominated by corporate interests. "Maximization" and "aggregate" and "illegitimate" may seem like they can adequately define "our" struggle, but they are still the words of the old guard anarchists (the armchair elite) at best, and the managers and executives at worst. Just because the struggle against imperialism, authority, hierarchy, sexism, heterosexism, and racism can functionally coincide with this Thomas More-style rhetorical engineering does not mean it is defined by such antiquated, inhuman terms. The word "anarchy" implies that animals should live autonomously, that all people should be free, and that all authority should be rejected and dismantled, but to define it in the context of "global aggregate happiness" and other, more distancing terms is to also define it on the plane of global capital.

We should talk about how it feels to be autonomous, to be free, to be an active resister, and how to extend such feelings to everyone and, in the process, awaken the desire for liberation that many of us believe is present in every human individual. We cannot quantify our passions, and should not feel forced to explain and diversify our struggles using the calculated terminology of a world already half-dead, already saturated with too many combinatory systems, already distorted and driven insane by its journey towards "clearness and sanity", already drowning in the waste of failed utopias.
Anarchist Ethics: A Utilitarian Approach
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, December 18 2006 @ 12:24 AM CST
Well, one of the most frequent criticisms of anarchism that I hear is that it is essentially amoral, or that it has failed to present a coherent moral argument. I think it's wonderful that some people intuitively understand and approve of anarchism, but there are others who do not, and perhaps by framing the anarchist position in terms of ethical theory, we can reach people who might otherwise ignore anarchism.

As to the use of the term legitimate, I was speaking of moral legitimacy, not legal legitimacy, although I know that the term does have some negative connotations.
Anarchist Ethics: A Utilitarian Approach
Authored by: Admin on Monday, December 18 2006 @ 12:45 AM CST
My main problem with "morality" and "moralism" is their ties with religion. If we could define a take on moralism which rejects its basis on the supernatural and imaginary, I might be a bit less amoral. ;-)

Anarchist Ethics: A Utilitarian Approach
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, December 18 2006 @ 05:25 PM CST
I'm an atheist as well, and am skeptical of any sort of authoritarian moral scheme, as any anarchist should be. In fact, I've written pretty an extensive critique of authoritarian morality called
Anarchist Ethics: A Utilitarian Approach
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, December 28 2006 @ 08:24 PM CST
Right! Some of my favorite immoralist aphorisms:

From Oscar Wilde:

"Morality is simply the attitude we adopt towards individuals whom we personally dislike."

"It is better to be beautiful than to be good, but better to be good than to be ugly."

"Wickedness is a myth invented by good people to account for the curious attractiveness of others."

From Mae West:

"When I'm good I'm very good, but when I'm bad I'm better."

(to one who exclaimed "Oh, my goodness!" at her diamond necklace): "Goodness had nothing to do with it, dearie."

From Nietzsche:

"Whether we immoralists do virtue any harm? -- As little as anarchists do princes. Only since they have been shot at do they again sit firmly on their thrones. Moral: one must shoot at morals."

(Nietzsche did not like anarchists. His writings are full of snotty remarks against anarchists. The late John Moore, though, said Nietzsche was a psychological anarchist in spite of these snotty remarks.)
Anarchist Ethics: A Utilitarian Approach
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, December 18 2006 @ 11:54 AM CST

some anarchists do explicitly reject 'morality' as a term (though most people would say they still live what is considered fairly moral lives). alot of anarchist writings tend to be propogandistic so that when it suits the writer, they will reject terms like morality (which might turn off some types) while in other contexts they will argue anarchism is more moral. (back issues of anarchy mag display this feature).
one day you burn churches, the next you go to mass, depending on what seems most likely to sell. (of course this is common to all ideological systems---one day you have a crusade, the next an interdenominational service. see who shows up, and then count your loot.)

it can be mentioned that Kropotkin's last book was called 'ethics', and in that book he discusses both religious and utilitarian approaches to ethics. he (like Chomsky) believed in some 'instinct for freedom' which is essentially hardwired so he was an 'evolutionary' ethicist and rejects the earlier systems as 'first approximations' to this 'The Truth' which he had.
'eureka!' the lambs lay with the lions, and practice mutual aid. in an anarchist world, the first thing done is to tear down the walls between cages in zoos because they really want to share experiences.

(Perhaps some good money can be made by trying to find where in the DNA code rests the 'a-gene' (just as others look for the 'language gene') and then finding appropriate genetic therapy for those who either possess or lack it. I can see a whole line of designer drugs to be sold to those parents who can afford them to make their children more competetive in the social darwinian struggle . "does your child disrespect authority?" we have the cure, so that s/he may one day become an authority!!!)

while kropotkin's evolutionary ethics was pretty simplistic his basic point i agree with, which is that all the systems boil down to what is called among intellectuals the 'golden rule' (i won't try to explain it since its fairly deep, just trust me that its the solution). it can be phrased both in subjective terms and 'objective' terms such as utilitarian ones and so can solve the conflict between both of these approaches as well as the conflict between individual pleasure and aggregate happiness.

applying it however is difficult, since the devil is in the details. 'if i was a hungry lion wouldn't the lamb want me to eat it?'

(these difficulties are similar to the problem of applying quantum mechanics, which was developed to study the hydrogen atom, to the whole human body or world, which it theoretically applies to as well. the calculations get tough. it turns out its easier if you apply it to the whole universe though, )which then becomes like a single atom again.

this may be why the 'golden rule' has primarily found a more explicit objective interpretation as a way of generating income for economic philosophers (eg 'justice' is about 'justus') (and preachers too). then there are silver rules, copper rules, a-k rules, silver bullets, golden parachutes, golden showers etc.

Anarchist Ethics: A Utilitarian Approach
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, December 18 2006 @ 08:57 PM CST
Interesting points, but I would add that no serious scientist believes that there is a single gene for language or for the will to freedom or whatever. These properties are the result of the complex interactions of innumerable genes.

I think that the golden rule-- do unto others as you'd have them do unto you--is certainly compatible with most ethical theories, and with anarchism. Not only good advice from an ethical standpoint, good advice from a pragmatic standpoint as well. And admitting this does not mean accepting religion--this principle has been "discovered" independently repeatedly throughout history.
Anarchist Ethics: A Utilitarian Approach
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, December 17 2006 @ 11:32 PM CST
I dunno, myself, about utilitarianism. I tend to be suspicious of attempts to treat subjective, personal feelings like pleasure as some objective factor that can be calculated.
Anarchist Ethics: A Utilitarian Approach
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, December 18 2006 @ 12:19 AM CST
I can see how you might feel that way, but people need a practical way of understanding pleasure and pain if they want to act morally, and I think utilitarianism provides the best practical framework for this sort of calculation.

Of course, neuroscientists would say that pleasure and pain can literally be measured by looking at an individual's brain functioning, so theoretically, the calculations that utilitarians make about aggregate happiness and aggregate suffering could be made exact and scientific. Not very practical or likely to happen, so for now, its best just to use common sense and do the best you can.
Anarchist Ethics: A Utilitarian Approach
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, December 18 2006 @ 12:58 AM CST
<i>Although anarchists do not usually like to define their beliefs in terms of ethics,</i>

What's this about? Anarchism in my experience tends to be couched almost entirely in ethics, with the occasional work that points out that it works and other systems don't being in the minority.
Anarchist Ethics: A Utilitarian Approach
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, December 18 2006 @ 07:46 AM CST
Utilitarian eithics assume you can weigh one person's pleasure against another
person's pain. So enough people's pleasure will always outweight one person's

Suppose three or four extreme sadists abduct someone, torture their victim,
and kill their victim. They film this and they send copies to a million similarly-
minded people around the world.

If we accept utilitarian ethics, wouldn't the million viewers' pleasure outweight
the one victim's pain?

Or do you speak of undefined 'happiness' and undefined 'suffering' so that
nobody can pin the definitions down and nobody can offer counterexamples?
Anarchist Ethics: A Utilitarian Approach
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, December 18 2006 @ 09:32 AM CST
The question of whether utilitarianism is compatible with anarchism is a very interesting one. Bentham's version is certainly incompatible with anarchism. Bentham thought people do whatever gives them the most pleasure and least pain, and that they are indifferent to the general welfare, so that the State must have a system of punishments so that what maximizes individual welfare is the same as what maximizes general welfare. Bentham called this the "artificial identification of interests."

William Godwin, however, was both a utilitarian and an anarchist. His great work, Political Justice (1793) is the first thorough treatment of anarchist philosophy.
In fact, anarchism can solve some of the philosophical dilemmas that have plagued non-anarchist utilitarian philosophers. This is especially the case with regard to whether maximizing collective happiness is compatible with equality.

Philosophers of the utilitarian school have generally had great difficulty reconciling utility with equality. Consider two situations: In the first, there are 100 units of pleasure and 100 individuals, each of whom gets one unit of pleasure. In the second, there are 200 units of pleasure and 100 individuals, but one individual gets 199 units of pleasure while each of the other 99 individuals gets only 1/99th of a unit of pleasure. If all one cares about is maximizing utility, defined as a sum of pleasures minus pains, one will choose the second alternative. But if one cares about equality and distributive justive, one will prefer the first alternative.
It was on account of difficulties like this that John Rawls proposed, in his book A Theory of Justice (1972), that, in making such a choice, one should imagine that one is going to be one of the 100 people, but that which individual one will be is hidden behind a "veil of ignorance." Most utilitarians have rejected Rawls's theory and continue to assert that "inequality can be justified if it produces a sufficient gain in the sum total of benefits" (Parfit 1984, p. 339).
A resolution of this problem is possible on the basis of an evolutionary understanding of the origin of justice, as in Kropotkin's Mutual Aid, for example. Could the second situation, in which one individual has arrogated 199 units of pleasure and left the other 99 with only a single unit between them, exist in a group of 100 nonhuman primates? If one monkey tried to keep 199 bananas for himself, leaving the other 99 monkeys with only 1 banana between them, would the 99 deprived monkeys let the greedy monkey alone with his 199 bananas? Of course not. The 99 monkeys would simply take the 199 bananas away from him (and probably beat him up in the process), add it to their 1, and divide the 200 so each monkey had 2 bananas.
In human societies, we do find cases of extreme social injustice, in which one percent of the population owns 99% of the land, leaving 99% of the population with one percent of the land. Some South American countries with conservative, authoritarian governments are like that. The reason the 99% of the people cannot take the land away from the upper class is that this inequality is protected by law, that is, by the State with its police and army.
John Stuart Mill stated that, when injustice has occurred in a condition without any State authority, the introduction of laws merely recognizes the pre-State property relations and sanctions them:

"Laws and systems of polity always begin by recognizing the relations they find already existing between individuals. They convert what was a mere physical fact into a legal right, give it the sanction of society, and principally aim at the substitution of public and organized means of asserting and promoting these rights, instead of the irregular and lawless conflict of physical strength." (Mill, "The Subjection of Women," On Liberty and Other Essays, Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 1991, p. 475.)

What Marx called "primitive accumulation" refers to the original seizure of land and natural resources from their rightful possessors - aboriginal and other pre-industrial communities. This occurred with the enclosures and clearances in England, as described in Vol. I of Marx's Capital, but even more in the seizure of the two vast continents of the New World by the Europeans beginning in 1492 and continuing to the present day. As Noam Chomsky says, the conquest continues - in the Amazon jungle, in Papua New Guinea, in the Arctic, in Pacific Islands used for nuclear tests, and in U.S. Indian reservations used for uranium mining and radioactive waste disposal. Once wealth had been stolen from the Native Americans, by methods involving blatant, obvious, extreme injustice and cruelty - as every reader of Bartolome' de las Cases can testify - laws were introduced to protect the thieves in their ill-gotten gains.
The problem of the supposed incompatibility of the Principle of Utility with the Principle of Equality can be solved by considering the question of who makes the decision. In the classical utilitarian position of maximizing utility even at the cost of inequality, the decision is made by one who will be unaffected by the results, like a benevolent despot. In Rawls's theory of the veil of ignorance, the decision is made as if by a president of a republic, who will, after exercising supreme power, become one of the people again, like Cincinnatus returning to his farm. In the case in which there is no State, as with animals or primitive people, the decision is made by all the individuals affected by it; that is, the "party whose interest is in question" and the party making the decision are the same. When this is the case, utility and justice - in its non-legal sense of equity - are the same.
The only utilitarian philosopher who equated justice with utility was William Godwin, who was an anarchist as well as a utilitarian. All the other major utilitarian thinkers - Bentham, Mill, Sidgwick, Hare, Singer, and Parfit - have seen an incompatibility. But all these philosophers have assumed the existence of the State, which creates the incompatibility between justice and utility. The reason Godwin saw no incompatibility is that he, like Kropotkin, made no such assumption. In situations in which the State does not exist, as is the case with animals or primitive tribal societies, the happiness of a group can be maximized without any inequality or injustice.
The difference between the two senses of justice - equity and law - corresponds to the difference between a free association, in which members may join or leave whenever they like, and a non-free association. Members of a free association have something in common, which is the basis of equality. They can have asymmetrical relations (like "parent" as opposed to "sibling"), which are the basis of difference. Equality and difference together constitute equity and are complementary. In contrast, law involves equal rights, equal duties (one size fits all), differential rights (private property), and differential duties (division of labor). The word "equity" means a corrective to the harm resulting from the abstract universality of law. It was coined by Aristotle (Nicomachean Ethics, Book V, Chapter 10). Theodor W. Adorno called the concept "Aristotle's imperishable glory." (1973, p. 311.) The Latin phrase summum ius, summa iniuria means: Law without equity is the greatest harm. But, conversely, equity without law is the greatest benefit.
Godwin wrote: "Justice is a principle which proposes to itself the production of the greatest sum of pleasure or happiness. Justice requires that I should put myself in the place of an impartial spectator of human concerns, and divest myself of retrospect to my own predilections." (Godwin 1793, p. 76.)
Anarchist Ethics: A Utilitarian Approach
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, December 19 2006 @ 06:59 AM CST
Well, I'm somwhat risk-averse. But the Rawlsian argument means one thing
(increase equality!) for risk-averse agents and another thing (increase inequality!)
for risk-loving agents. And does Godwin demonstrate that social equality creates
maximum happiness or only assert that it does?

Are these anything more than ad-hoc adjustments to an impractical theory? There
are many other ethical theories which avoid the weaknesses of Utilitarianism.
Anarchist Ethics: A Utilitarian Approach
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, December 19 2006 @ 08:54 AM CST
I think that it's quite obvious that inequality causes more suffering than equality. Studies and polls have shown that people who live in relatively egalitarian countries (Scandanavia, Cuba, etc.) are much happier on average than people who live in relatively inegalitarian countries (the United States), even when the people in the egalitarian countries are all much poorer, in absolute terms, than the citizens of the inegalitarian countries. There is something about feeling socially inferior because of economic inequality that causes people to endure suffering, and I don't think that there is any question that this suffering is worse than the happiness of the few on the top. After all, a person with plenty gains very little pleasure from added luxury (a new car, for example, means little to a person who already owns 10 others).
Anarchist Ethics: A Utilitarian Approach
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, December 19 2006 @ 05:07 PM CST
The question of what type of society one would prefer if one is or is not risk-averse is not really about equality vs. inequality, as with Rawls's philosophy, but about greater or lesser degrees of social order, which is more a matter of the question of the size of the society. There is a dilemma in game theory called the Stag Hunt Dilemma (from a passage in Rousseau's "Discourse on Inequality"): a group of hunters are collectively hunting a stag, but as they do so, one of them sees a rabbit and runs off after it, leaving the party. The hunting of large prey is necessarily a collective endeavor, with greater rewards and greater risk of failure or injury. The hunting of small prey, like a rabbit, involves smaller groups, or even individuals, and has lesser rewards and risks. The issue is taking greater risks for greater rewards; it is not a question of inequality. The stag hunters will share the game if they kill the stag, but they have greater risks. Brian Skyrms discusses this in Evolution of the Social Contract, Humans, in forming societies larger than band societies (tribes, chiefdoms, etc.) can get greater rewards from the collective actions, though they run greater risks. Inequality is not the issue here. The question of whether larger units of the size of nation-states can exist without a government and without inequality is the key question of anarchism. I believe such societies can exist, although this has not yet happened in history, and that the greater risks of such a gamble will make it worth trying for it. Anarchists have always held that the principles of decentralization, federalism, and free association can make cooperation on a large scale possible without the State. The potential benefits are so enormous that anarchist revolution is a risk well worth taking.

Godwin certainly did not merely assert that equality leads to maximum happiness, he tried to prove it. Godwin was very much a philosopher of the Enlightenment (he was the last and greatest of the philosophes), and he based his argument for anarchism on reason. See especially Political Justice, Book VIII, Chapter III, "Benefits Attendant on a System of Equality." Godwin's summary of this chapter is as follows: "Contrasted with the mischiefs of the present system--1. a sense of dependence. 2. the perpetual spectacle of injustice, leading men astray in their desires--and perverting the integrity of their judgements. -- The rich are the true pensioners. -- 3. the discouragement of intellectual attainments. -- 4. the multiplication of vice--generating the crimes of the poor--the passions of the rich--and the misfortunes of war.--5. depopulation."

To the second writer, who stated that it is "obvious" that equality maximizes happiness and pointed to Cuba and the Scandinavian countries, I respond as follows: (1) I agree with the conclusion that equality maximizes happiness, but this is not self-evident ("evident to oneself and nobody else"--Ambrose Bierce). It is a thesis to be proved. The issue is not trivial. (2) The word "average" can mean arithmetical average or median. Classical utilitarianism, as in the felicific calculus, uses the arithmetical average: sum up the numbers measuring the pleasures, subtract the numbers measuring the pains, for "the party whose interest is in question" (e.g., the society or nation, or all sentient beings), and divide by the total number of individuals. In Rawslian theories, which are not utilitarian, something more like a median is thought of: half the people are better off, and half are worse off. The difficulties of utility being incompatible with equality relate to the arithmetical average theory. (3) The incompatibility between the Principle of Utility and the Principle of Equality can vanish only if the party making the decision and the party whose interest is in question are the same. Since that identification implies unanimity, the decision-making units are necessarily small communities; and an anarchist society would be a free federation of small, autonomous communities. Representative governments, such as Sweden, and Communist dictatorships, such as Cuba and the old Soviet Union, involve centralization and top-down authority. I would argue that Sweden and Cuba are socialist only in a Pickwickian sense, and so they cannot be used as valid counterexamples. The events on 1989 in Eastern Europe show pretty clearly that the people of the Soviet satellites did not think of themselves as happier than their brothers and sisters in Western Europe. Soviet Communism was overthrown in Poland, Hungary, etc., by a popular uprising, a revolution in the proper sense of that term.

Is utilitarian ethics compatible with anarchism? I would answer Yes, citing Godwin as an example. Is utilitarian ethics the best philosophy for anarchism? That depends. There a number of varieties of utilitarianism: act-utilitarianism, rule-utilitarianism, hedonistic utilitarianism, preference utilitarianism, etc. One difficulty with all of them is that utilitarians generally object to basing ethics on nature. John Stuart Mill, in his essay "Nature," claimed that nature is amoral, and so ethics cannot be based on nature. Nowadays, green anarchists often accept theories such as deep ecology, which are difficult to reconcile with utilitarianism. If only happiness, contrued as a sum of pleasures, has intrinsic value, then nature, or life, or an ecosystem, cannot have intrinsic value, since nature, or life, or an ecosystem, is not the same as happiness. The problem with denying intrinsic value to, say, a forest is that if it does not have intrinsic value (an end in itself) then it can only have instrumental value (a means to an end), i.e., use-value. But, in capitalist society, use-value = exchange value, and so the forest is perceived as "timber" and down it goes.

That is one difficulty with utilitarianism, at least of the classic variety. Another is that the words "happiness" and "pleasure" are not defined by the utilitarians. They are regarded as simply given directly by immediate experience. How can you maximize something if you don't know what it is?

All the schools of ancient Greek philosophy were "eudaemonistic" in that they agreed that happiness (eudaimonia in Greek) is the End. They differed in their definitions of happiness, and ancient historians of philosophy such as Diogenes Laertius usually classified the schools by their theory of what happiness is.

If utilitarianism is construed as a consequentialist ethics aimed at happiness, then I am indeed a utilitarian; but I differ from all the other utilitarians in insisting that we must understand the nature of happiness.

The ancient Greek philosophy most compatible with anarchism is Cynicism, the philosophy of Diogenes of Sinope, who lived ca. 413-323 B.C. The emperor Julian stated "the happy life is regarded as the goal and final aim in the philosophy of the Cynics (Or. VI)." Cynicism is therefore consequentialist or utilitarian if those terms are very broadly construed. Diogenes was the ultimate iconoclast. He aimed at "defacing the currency," i.e., the accepted values of society.

Following are 12 propositions summarizing the Cynical philosophy, from L. E. Navia, Diogenes of Sinope: The Man in the Tub, Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1998, pp. 113-127:

The Twelve Building-Blocks of Cynicism

1. The one and only object of philosophy is human existence, and any other object can only be a source of distraction and an inconsequential way to satisfy the unhealthy sense of curiosity that afflicts human beings.

2. In our endeavor to make sense of human existence, we must direct our attention exclusively to this physical world in which we live. Other worlds and other dimensions may or may not exist.

3. Live each moment as if it were the only moment of life.

4. Happiness cannot be achieved as long as we fail to understand its nature, for this failure makes us look for it where it does not reside.

5. Happiness, understood in its Greek sense of eudaimonia (that is, well-being) cannot be defined in terms of possessions, pleasures, comfort, power, fame, erudition, a long life, and other similar things that, in the opinion of ordinary people, are its essential components.

6. Happiness is living in accordance with nature (kata physin).

7. Reason, that is, clarity of mind, is that which determines what is and what is not in accordance with human nature.

8. The possibility of a return to nature, understood, of course, as a return to true humanity, exists for every human being, no matter how distant he or she may be from living in accordance with nature.

9. Through discipline, expressed in his language as askesis (from which we derive our word "ascetic"), we cleanse the mind of confusion and obfuscation, and the body of detrimental substances and unnatural habits, and succeed in strengthening the will.

10. If a happy, natural, and virtuous life is what we must pursue ... it is imperative that we aim at developing in us an imperturbable and total state of self-sufficiency (autarkeia).

11. The world belongs equally to all its inhabitants, human or otherwise, and we, as human beings, to the world.

12. We should, therefore, paracharattein to nomisma, "deface the currency," i.e., the "customs, institutions, laws, usages, and accepted values by which people structure their lives," because these customs, institutions, etc., alienate us from living according to nature and attaining happiness.

[end of quote]

An even bigger issue regarding whether utilitarianism and anarchism are compatible is the issue of egoism vs. altruism. Many anarchists follow Stirner's philosophy of egoism, but most utilitarians, especially in recent times, have followed the late Victorian utilitarian Henry Sidgwick, who claimed that self-interest and ethics are incompatible. All the Greek philosophers, including the Cynics, thought they were compatible. So if one is serious about combining utilitarian ethics with anarchism, one would need to tackle Sidgwick's objections, as set forth in his book The Methods of Ethics. In other words, one would have to prove, against Sidgwick, that self-interest and ethics are not incompatible. Even Peter Singer, who devoted his master's thesis to this question, and later treated it more thoroughly in How Are We To Live?, was unable to bring self-interest and ethics into a complete harmony, though he achieved a partial reconciliation.

The question of whether self-interest and ethics are compatible is the other side of the coin to what Bob Black has called "the central conundrum of Western political philosophy," namely whether the eternal conflict between the individual and society is necessarily unresolvable.

The ethical issue, which Sidgwick called "the profoundest problem of ethics," can only be solved through solving the political issue, i.e., by showing that the conflict between individual and society is not eternal, not necessary, not universal, not inevitable. In other words, anarchism is really the solution, not only to the central conundrum of political philosophy, but also to the main question of ethical philosophy. If anarchism is true, Sidgwick's dilemma is solvable; if anarchism is false, Sidgwick's dilemma is forever insoluble.
Anarchist Ethics: A Utilitarian Approach
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, December 19 2006 @ 05:30 PM CST

i wonder what these are. i tend to think there are only 2 theories (of everything), one which starts with the conclusions and the other which starts with operations (or 'laws') , which yield the conclusions.
( my influential and homemade 'blog' axiomsandchoices.blogspot.com suggests this idea).

the 2 approaches seem to be what T Nagel sees as the difference between the moral/ethical philosophy of rawls and m sandel. (a similar idea is discussed by m lance on his web page when discussing anarchist 'consensus' process, though a bit imperfectly to be charitable .)
if you take the 2 and look at them sideways, then it turns out there are 2 more, or 2 ways of discussing the original 2.

it could be there are even more ways of looking at the issue, though i tend to dought it. many seem to be new bottles for old wine.
Anarchist Ethics: A Utilitarian Approach
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, December 19 2006 @ 07:18 PM CST
(added): the 'wonder' was directed to the previous comment about systems of ethics which are different from and better than utilitarianism. i was skeptical so i wondered what these are. jesus? rama?

also, the 'cynical' philosophy is pretty interesting, though more complex than the golden rule (which has only one or two points). if i recall the 'sophists' also were pretty interesting. they had a practice of being skeptical of authority which seemed 'situationistic'.
perhaps a cynic is an armchair sophist. 'those who can, do. those who can't, are cynical couchpotatoes.'

as for sedgwick's dillema about the conflict between personal self-interest and ethics, the biologists (along the lines of Skyrm's game theory approach (which I have)) have 'solved' the problem by invoking something called 'time'. (i neither have any nor know what it is, though i may search for it on ebay or google.) current selves may give up their interests (a la 911, if you believe the hype) to serve ethical ideals which serve future interests. this is also called 'group selection' which is a form of 'sexual selection'. (the physicist Smolin thinks the universe does it too, a sign of a dirty mind projecting itself elsewhere.)
Perhaps sidegewick was confused because he hadn't heard of sex, due to lack of acess to the internet in those savage times, or to his own sloth for not running to the store, or inferior victorian education. how tragic.

so their is no real conflict, just an apparent one. its all in your head. future generations are you!!! 'feeling groovy'. 'i am me and you are we so come together...'
we are all made from the same genes, quarks, and strings, and 'ethics' really are just another form of interest, which can be earned over time. in sum, its doesn't matter, its only matter. lifetime income (to remember old miltie friedman) always totals infinity (which is zero or one). (or negative, transfinite, imaginary, or hypercomplex...)
so dry your eyes....

(indeed my current research project deals with resolving the conflict between self and society (or some abstract ethical version of it) by trying to preserve the right to life of the unborn. this is so that future generations will have the right to choose, an abortion-----which, based on the sacrifices of their parents, hopefully they will use. its the right thing to do if you really value life.
at the same time, i defend the right to choose, so that future generations have their rights to life preserved.
(while this is a noncommutative system, so is the whole world, which even violates parity, so the conflict is imaginary; science has shown that while you may think what you see when looking in the mirror is yourself, actually the self in the mirror is looking at you. Currently this is called the 'mirror neuron' approach to consiousness...by Searle and Dennet).
hopefully, the right to be homeless, poverty stricken, incarcerated, and miserable will also be formally recognized as goods to be preserved, with associated 'opportunity costs' related by a cardinal metric for uitility .
i think this right is called abstinence in the scientific litterture. just dont do it is the slogan.
abstinence is the 'dual' to an action (the integral of the lagrangian) so anything you do, you are still abstaining (complaining, procrastinating...) from something else. if you do or dont, you will or wont.)

one can add that Skyrms earned a major F mark from me because he signed off on Debsmki's Intelligent Design book which gave Debski another 'credential'. In my school, an F if i recall gets you 20 years to life. (an A gets you a living wage and IWW card for starbucks union!!!) Maybe Skyrms should give me his job. One day maybe there will be some accountability in academic 'ethics' which permits such crap to be supported. Of course the book is impressive, being handsomely bound, filled with equations, an Oxford pedigree, correct grammar and spelling, etc. I wonder if Skyrms likes drinking mercury too? it looks pretty.
if i recall Syrm is also at UCLA which seems to be fairly racially discriminatory so one can ask what value that is. I guess, from a pure utilitarian view, just as 100 mionkees with 200 apples might each want 2, they may prefer 99 having none, and 1 having 200, so they can enjoy admiring the well endowed, who in turn gets to feel superior to and contemtuous of the other 99. who is to say there is anything wrong with, or unethical about these preferences. is S@M any worse than anything else?
Hopefully, Judge Alito and Clarebnce Thomas will let us know their decision.
It can be mentioned T Nagel, discussing inequality said while it was bad and he was agin it at the same time we shouldnt get rid of all of it because we all love superstars and their lifestyles. that seems like a fairly reasonable idea, similar to Jefferson's view of slavery (its a neccesary abomination). Get over it.

are preferences hard wired? are they universal? are the risk averse duals to the risk preferring?
according to some people they are actually related, as old people some believe to be versions of young people phase-shifted through time.
one day, you are a slut, next day a nun, after treatment.
(the view of aging is controversial of course since J Barbour suggests with Einstein that time is an illusion, likely created by the mainstream media to sell new products since we believe old ones are outdated when the actuial truth is all the dates on the packages are lies.
do you know what time it is? )
if noone sat on a couch, how would anyone be able to document the lives of the active, and in such a case how would we know if they exist? how would we know if there were any risks, if everyone took them? whole fields like Risk Analyses would dissapear, causing mass unemployment, social upheaval, anomie, and suicide. Opinion polls and studies show this is worse than having a few risk averse individuals in society. Do the math. (of course, some disagree with polls or brain imaging studies which claim to represent the true state of affairs. I prefer to trust the issue to my congressman, duly elected by me the people to make the wise choice concerning public opinion regarding what the people really feel: coke or pepsi? or, Pepsi or coke?
cept i aint got one, oh woe is me. maybe santa claus will bring me a congressman or womyn. heard cynthia mckinney is out of a job, so what a match. or one of my angels could do the 'page thing' and be reincarnated as a congressman.)

the answer about preferences again comes from biologists who updated Kropotkin to disprove sedwick's paradox. they suggest that like garter snakes and M@M's, , humans come in a variety of flavors, so when the universe is out snacking, it will miss some, or leave some to survive, since it is stupid and prejudiiced, and favors only a few kinds of M$Ms at a time (as pointed out by G Miller, who co-wrote with Chomsky in the 60's). this way, it survives to snack another day, because if there were no humans, or garter snakes, the universe would not exist, because noone would imagine it or create the shit that floats on water which itself is on the earth surface which itself is on top of turtles forever. imagine that. (this of course assumes the Copenhagen version of Quantum theory...)
Unfortunately this suggests that to survive, anarchists need the state since they are duals. You can't have both, because of noncommutativity and Heisenberg, its either anarchists or anarchy. But i guess one could get over anarchists and the states they create (starting more than 10,000 years ago---talk about trying to kick a habit!) if one develioped new interests, beyond the individual self or aggregate society.

Mathematically,there are numbers to study between 0 and infinity it has been shown by scientists---proven or duiscovered deopending on your views of constructionism versus platonism . (I note for example that Dennis Fox (?) with a link to infoshop has on his web page about 'anarchist psychology' that 150 is a number of intererst to small groups... Miller, mentiooned above likes 7 plus or minus. there's the continuum, all the numbers between 0 and one. )

i wonder what kropotkin wrote about sedgewick in his book on ethics. here it is : p. 314 note. he discusses the debate between Herbert Spencer (founder of libertarianism and even anarcho-capitalism and misrepresented by folks like the Cato instittue) and sidgwick over hedonism and social conflict .
Anarchist Ethics: A Utilitarian Approach
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, December 20 2006 @ 01:57 AM CST
The previous post raises some interesting issues. I must, however, object to the equating of group selection with sexual selection. Group selection pertains to natural selection and is the idea that groups, as well as individuals, can be vehicles. This is controversial among evolutionary biologists; Dawkins denies it, but Sober and Wilson affirm it. Sexual selection, however, is not controversial; it is accepted by all evolutionary biologists and is quite different from group selection. I am in favor of group selection, in fact, and, though 30 years ago it was rejected by most biologists, it has recently been making something of a comeback. That is a welcome development, since it can be regarded as a modernization of Kropotkin's approach to evolution.

The previous post contains other ideas with which I agree. I must, however, strongly protest the statement that anarchism and the State mutually imply each other. The author is apparently taking the position that anarchism is nothing but the "dialectical" negation of the State, in the sense in which that term is used in Hegel's philosophy. Similarly, some scholars have claimed that Cynicism is in a dialectical relation with civilization and is meaningless without it.

I think the author of the previous post is confusing two things: the idea of contradiction in formal logic, and the concept of duality in mathematics. I first encountered the concept of duality in a course on projective geometry, but it is quite general. It is not, however, the same as contradiction. If one wishes to interpret Hegel's philosophy so as to make it something other than pure nonsense, one has got to distinguish his use of the term "negation" from the meaning of this in formal logic. If Hegel denied the Principle of Non-Contradiction, he was an idiot. Most interpreters of Hegel describe his concept as "determinate negation"; i.e., given a class A, the determinate negation of A is not the class of everything other than A (an indefinite class) but something determinate. The notion of duality is a better interpretation of determinate negation than logical contradiction.

If a contradiction is true, anything is true, and you are dealing with a one-valued logic: everything is true, and at the same time false. Aristotle said that anybody who rejects the law of non-contradiction is no better than a vegetable. One can no more carry on a rational discussion with such a person than with a carrot or a turnip!

Furthermore, if anarchism is nothing but the "negation" of the state, in a dialectical sense of "negation," than the two mutually imply each other. That would mean that all opposition to the State is necessarily recuperated: the more one revolts against the State, the stronger the State becomes, or, as Jacques Ellul expressed it, "the supreme triumph of the society of technical necessity is the luxury of useless revolt and of an acquiescent smile." Such a view is utterly pessimistic, and, fortunately, utterly false!

Anarchism is not in a dialectical relationship with the State. Stateless societies long antedated States, and the people living in those societies knew that they were free and equal. Even now, primitive stateless societies show what anthropologists call "assertive egalitarianism." If a tribe member shows signs of wanting to become a "big man" by being extra-generous, for example, others will subject him to ridicule. Why? Because they know they are free, and they want to stay that way. Our ancestors, prior to 3200 B.C., when the State was invented in Sumeria, were anarchists, and consciously so. Anarchism did not come into being with the State, and it is not dependent on it in a dialectical sense. Likewise, Cynicism, in the general sense of opposition to civilization, is not dialectically dependent on civilization. Primitive people can object to the division of labor (i.e., to civilization) even if it does not yet exist. One can be a Cynic or a Taoist even if there is no State and no division of labor.

The ancient Greek Cynics, in fact, rejected the possibility of contradiction. Antisthenes of Athens was the founder of Cynicism. He was first a Sophist and follower of Gorgias of Leontini. In the second phase of his life, he was a friend of Socrates. After the death of Socrates, he founded Cynicism. There was an interesting article "Antisthenes, the Absolute Dog," in the Summer 2005 issue of Green Anarchy. The succession goes: Socrates, Antisthenes, Diogenes, Crates, Zeno, Cleanthes, Chrysippus. Antisthenes, Diogenes, and Crates were Cynics, and Zeno, Cleanthes, and Chrysippus were Stoics.

L.E. Navia wrote a very interesting book Antisthenes of Athens: Setting the World Aright , which unfortunately is priced at about $100. (Try to get it through interlibrary loan, though--it's well worth the effort.) Antisthenes was the quintessential anti-Plato. He was also a logician of considerable merit. Only fragments of his logical works have been preserved, but we know his principal doctrines were: (1) predication is impossible, (2) contradiction is impossible, and (3) the only acceptable definition is ostensive definition. These three propositions are the logical basis of Cynicism.

To prove (1): If the predicate is different from the subject, one is ascribing to the subject what it is not. If it is the same as the subject, one is saying nothing at all. Therefore, predication is impossible. Q.E.D. Stirner expressed a similar idea when he wrote: "No concept expresses me."

To prove (2): If contradiction were possible, there would be two propositions, one of which is true and the other false. But this is impossible, because everything is true. Proof: If one is saying something true, one is saying "what is." If one is saying something false, one is saying "what is not." But "what is not" is synonymous with "nothing." Therefore, if one is saying something false, one is saying nothing, i.e., not saying anything, just uttering meaningless noises like the chattering of monkeys or the rustling of wind in the trees. Therefore, everything is true and contradiction is impossible. Q.E.D. This doctrine of Antisthenes was ridiculed by Plato and dismissed by Aristotle, but it profoundly correct. The function of language is to communicate truth, and if it is perverted to any other purpose, it is not language at all.

This attitude toward language was expressed by Swift (himself a sort of Cynic) in Gulliver's Travels in the story of the houyhnhms - intelligent horses who were unable to say "the thing which is not." When Gulliver casually mentioned lying and false representation to a houyhnhm, "it was with much difficulty that he comprehended what I meant, although he had otherwise a most acute judgement. For he argued thus: that the use of speech was to make us understand one another, and to receive information of facts; now if any one said the thing which was not, these ends were defeated; and I am so far from receiving information, that he leaves me worse than in ignorance, for I am led to believe that a thing black when it is white, and short when it is long. And these were all the notions he had concerning the faculty of lying, so perfectly well understood, and so universally practiced among human creatures." (Jonathan Swift, Gulliver's Travels, New York, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1966, p. 232.)

Regarding (3), the rejection of any definition but ostensive definition (defining by pointing) is a rejection of Plato's hypostatized abstractions, and an affirmation of reality as concrete and individual. There is a story that once Plato was discoursing on this theory of forms, using such words as "tableness" and "cupness." Diogenes interrupted and said, "I can see a table and a cup, but nowhere do I see tableness or cupness." Plato replied: "That, Diogenes, is because you have eyes, by which tables and cups are perceived, but you have not intellect, by which tableness and cupness are seen."

My opinion? It was Diogenes, rejecting Plato's imaginary world of abstractions, who was exercising real intelligence, and not Plato, who taught that the universal is real and heavenly, but the individual is unreal and earthly. Cynicism's prioritizing of individuals over universals, and the concrete over the abstract, is yet another way it is compatible with anarchism.
Anarchist Ethics: A Utilitarian Approach
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, December 20 2006 @ 07:31 AM CST
1. i realized after writing that when i said group selection is a form of sexual selection, actually i meant the reverse, and really to be precise that sex is the most basic form of group selection (ie it requires a group of 2, unless you are a slime (mold).) once you get sex, then it gets complex with sexual selection, the fashion industry, anorexia, etc. (to complete the circle, then you get group selection again).
bet you hate that?

this 'heretical' idea was developed by J M Smith (who first applied game theory to biology in 'the logic of animal conflict') JMS was very skeptical of group selection (in fact against it mostly) but he did develop an interpretation of sex as a group selection example. DS Wilson has discussed many such examples if i recall, among others. (I think this is like Kierkegard, a Christian, being one of the best expositators of the reason to be an atheist. Or reading P Samuelson, a liberal/moderate economist, on why socialism is feasible, capitalism exploitive, and the marxian labor theory of value correct. These people challenge their own prejudices, unlike many.)
There are equally 'individualistic' theories of sex, of which Fisher's is the most famous (and the standard one).

These argum,ents also are what i call 'duals', meaning you can rephrase the same argument two ways which are 'isomorphic'. DS Wilson and Sober point this out for group selection (as did Dawkins, though he refuses to admit it) , which can be phrased either as individualistic or group.

on dualism:
Dual does have many meanings. One could also use the word 'representation'.

Or even better 'complemnents' like the Yin/Yang picture. This also has a representation as the dialectice iof thesis, antithesis, synthesis. (be careful tripping over the terms or you'll also get a prosthesis).

It partly comes down to questionable debates over vocabulary.
(as noted, actually they are not 'questionable' but of great value to the small number of people who can get cash money stretching them out into lucrative careers; dont question authority, just develop it further into a career. 'classifying angels on pinheads into ideological clusters using PDP algorithms'... ).

are the poor exploited, or of low value? is it a freedom fighter, or a terrorist? is right really wrong? is a 6 a 9? supposed we eliminate racial opppression by renaming whites blacks.
Of course this leads to Sapir-Whorf controversies----if I use Linux rather than Windows, am i really communicating the same thing? I am agnostic. (nothing commutes).
I do like 'nominalism', empricism, and bishop Berkeley's ideas about constructionism. (interestingly Berkely's idea about mind creating matter/reality was given a strict quantum mechanical formulation by a Polish physicist who is now one of those right wing nationalistic/catholic/fascist politicians. its a beautfiful world.)
But these are dual to materialist theories.

another dualism is if one relabels the US map by having east turn west, north go south, etc. and you get a dual. Yiou can take a map and turn it into a network... In math one sometimes takes a 'fourier transform'. In quantum theory you can think of particles, or waves. Same difference. (except in the latter cases its much more complex than a map). there is 'electro/magnetism'. 'effective fioeld theory'...micro/macro...

I agree there are very different math 'dualities' so one can be confused. (many are the same however. matrices have nice examples).
point of fact, i forgwet the exact details of many of them. (thats why there is wikipedia. or matybe we can outsource these technical questions to india and china, where people who have a lot of free time because they are of low value can deal with them unlike Americans. )

As for 'dialectics', this is related. There are 'true', 'false' but also 'undecidable' propiositions. My point is that the dual is not exactly the inverse because there is some 'noise'. So, there is evolutionary hope because the eternal return of Nzetche, the hindus, and cycle universes (big crunchers) are approximations which forget there is noise. (i think the dot in yin/yang symbol means this.)

Also, Kant's critical realism is another formalism. Its neiother empricism nor materialism/positivism, but a comvbination. 'theory and exoperiment'.

However, given that i wrote 'group selection is a form of sexual selection' i realized that too can be made true. J Roughgarden for example recently proposed in a widely criticized (with good reason, since s/he left out mentions of very old related work such as by R. Trivers (who is also a dedicated anti-group selectionist who wrote a paper promoting it in one case)) that one can re-interpret group norms as being created to further sexual evolution through cooperation (what may be called colloquially 'group sex').
JR wouldn't phrase it this way but its valid i'd assert.


2. So cynicism started with sophism. what happenned? fell off the wagon? like Bush, stopped taking the medicine and moved up from drunken driving to dioing real serious damage ? Maybe its like that street fighting man, J Fischer of Germany, who ended up a big politician and now probably an overpaid and shallow ivy league professor, like Rawls. (Rawls i think should have spent a little more time analyzing the socio-economics of his university as opposed to turning really basic, common sense ideas of justice into what is called 'rigor mortis'. )

3. Regarding ancient philosophy, what i find most intertesting is the geneology---how current debates were pretty much anticipated by previous ancient ones. I do think they need a 'windows' version---something that boils them down to be useful to anyone. (Bertrand Russell's principa math, which in thousands of pages proves things like 1+1=2, similarily is not the best text to teach arithmatic with, surporisingly).

just clarifying group selection and 'duality'.
Anarchist Ethics: A Utilitarian Approach
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, December 23 2006 @ 01:33 PM CST
I would like to add another instance of utilitarianism combined with anarchism, besides Godwin: Nicholas Chernyshevsky, who is usually called a Nihilist. Many anarchists have been getting interested in Nihilism recently. Aragorn!, an editor of AJODA, has written several essays on the topic.

How many people know that Chernyshevsky translated John Stuart Mill's essay Utilitarianism? I kid you not. He also expressed utilitarian ideas in his novel What Is To Be Done?.

The character Bazarov in Turgenev's Fathers and Sons was a nihilist. Following is an extract from that book:

Pavel Petrovich twitched his moustaches. "Well, and what precisely is Mr. Bazarov himself?" he asked, deliberately.

Arkady smiled. "Would you like me, uncle, to tell you what he really is?"

"If you will be so good, nephew."

"He's a nihilist."

"How?" inquire Nicolai Petrovich, while Pavel Petrovich lifted a knife in the air with a small piece of butter on its tip, and remained motionless.

"He's a nihilist," repeated Arkady.

"A nihilist," said Nikolai Petrovich. "That's from the Latin, nihil, nothing, as far as I can judge; the word must mean a man who . . . who accepts nothing?"

"Say, 'who respects nothing,'" put in Pavel Petrovich, and he set to work on the butter again.

"Who regards everything from the critical point of view," observed Arkady.

"Isn't that the same thing?" inquired Pavel Petrovich.

"No, it's not the same thing. A nihilist is a man who does not bow down before any authority, who does not take any principle on faith, whatever reverence that principle may be enshrined in."

"Well, and is that good?" inquired Pavel Petrovich.

"That depends, uncle. Some people it will do good to, but some people might suffer for it."

"Indeed. Well, I see it's not in our line. We are old-fashioned people; we imagine that without principes (Pavel Petrovich pronounced the word softly, in the French way; Arkady, on the other hand, pronounced it harshly, "pryntsip," emphasizing the first syllable), without principes taken as you say on faith, there's no taking a step, no breathing. Vous avez chang

Anarchist Ethics: A Utilitarian Approach
Authored by: Admin on Saturday, December 23 2006 @ 06:05 PM CST
The new biography of Bakunin clearly points out the liberalism of Herzen and others like Isiah Berlin.

Liberals and leftists have been spreading disinformation about the Russian anarchists and similar radicals for the past century. It looks like their gig is up as a a larger and more outspoken anarchist movement grows around the globe.