Showing posts from 2013

The Rhetoric of Exploitation

This essay is about the concept of exploitation, how it is used in political argument, and its relation to philosophical critiques of knowledge and agency. Exploitation is an unfair exchange due to coercion or deception. So what are coercion and deception? Coercion is when an exchange is based on a threat of punishment. A robber putting a gun to your head is coercing you. You willingly exchange your money for your life, so the exchange is voluntary but unfair. Our laws and customs prohibit the use of violence or threats of violence, except when sanctioned by society for the purposes of law enforcement or warfare. A coercive exchange involves trading something good for the absence of something bad, and thus it is not a cooperative exchange. Deception is when an exchange is based on deliberate falsehood. A car dealer who knowingly sells you a car with a cracked engine block, while telling you it is in perfect condition, is deceiving you into making an exchange you would not otherwise

Traditionalism is the Future

Am I a traditionalist? Apparently I am. I have been labeled as such. What does this label mean? Well, in my case, it means that I believe in evolutionary theory and its implications for human nature. It means that I believe that human existence depends on men and women having sex and cooperating to raise children. It means that I believe that men and women are different, and that asymmetry in male-female relations is a natural and efficient form of cooperation, not oppression or exploitation of one sex by another. I use the term “sexual contract” to refer to the exchange of production for reproduction between a man and a woman. This contract is encoded in our genes, mediated by our emotions, and reinforced by laws and customs. Men and women are different because we evolved to be different, not so we could fight over who is superior, but so we could fit together into a functional unit and reproduce our genes. It takes a lot to make a human being: 10 minutes of sex, 9 months of pregn

Caterpillars and Philosophy

If you put a caterpillar on the rim of a bowl, it will walk around and around in a circle. The rim of the bowl stimulates its nervous system in the same way that a branch does, so it responds as if it were on a branch, by walking along it until it reaches a leaf to feed on, or another branch. Placed on the sidewalk, the caterpillar will wander aimlessly. Its instincts only generate adaptive behavior when it is in its natural environment. This experiment demonstrates that: Caterpillars are not very smart. Instincts have to match the environment or they don’t work. A behavior that solves small problems might not solve bigger problems. In other words, scale matters. The caterpillar is very good at walking along the rim of the bowl, but it can’t solve the bigger problem of getting somewhere. Humans can find themselves in similar predicaments. For example, consider a heroin addict. Each day he is focused on getting his next fix. Once he gets it, he relaxes and enjo