the truth will set you free…
Is it true? Whatever “it” is, can we be certain “it” represents truth? How do we know? When we act in the world, when we make choices and, perhaps most important, when we establish relationships between ourselves and others, are we sure that “truth” we use as a basis of that relationship is trustworthy? “There’s a sucker born every minute.” While American showperson P.T. Barnum might not have made such a statement as is often assumed, he certainly could have. In her book, The Death of Truth, Michiko Kakutani describes Mr. Barnum and his orientation to manipulation this way:
…a self-proclaimed ‘prince of humbugs’ whose ‘great discovery was not how easy it was to deceive the public but rather how much the public enjoyed being deceived’ as long as it was being entertained.’ And as verisimilitude replaced truth as a measurement, ‘the socially rewarded art’ became that of making things seem true’; no wonder that the new masters of the universe in the early 1960s were the Mad Men of Madison Avenue. (p.83)
How do we ever know if we are proceeding through EveryDayLife based on genuine truth or when we, like puppets, are being controlled by the serendipity of others? Where is the anchor point from which we leverage our understanding of the world?
Multiple times in the since mid-2017, this blog have made reference or presented ideas relative to Moral Foundations Theory (MFT). While we do not wholly agree with all of the proposals of the theory, while we have found the “universality” of its proposals somewhat wanting and while we have questioned the motivations of its founder, Jonathan Haidt, we do believe the framework presents a worthwhile configuration of morality categories, if only for its heuristic value. Apparently, a blogger who writes under the moniker “Moral Navigator” shares an interest in this set of ideas. Check out one of his recent posts called “Which Moral Foundations Do You Value?”
The seekingGood blog addresses a wide range of topics. Out of deference to a known portion of our readers, often, we fall short of the depth we might prefer as well as the academic rigor with which we are more comfortable (the language of which we must actively—sometimes unsuccessfully—resist). Moral Navigator’s blog appears to reflect no such limitations, focusing on morality topics written in a learned yet very readable style (complete with multiple references). Take a look at his blog. You might find a new home.
Economic Inequality: Part 3
In June of 2015, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, and Barclays, among other Libor-rigging giants, pleaded guilty to felony charges related to the [Libor] conspiracy and greed to pay more than $2.5 billion in criminal fines to U.S. regulators.
(AP Photo / Edouard H.R. Gluck)
Representing only a single instance of a commonplace practice played out the world over, this corporate criminality instigated the outage of Craig Brandt, an attorney from Oakland, California. He set out to enact an audacious plan. With other individuals, Mr. Brandt endeavored to have the Oakland City Council “take radical action to combat plutocracy, inequality and financial dislocation”. Mr. Brandt wanted to create a city-owned “public bank”.
Recent posts on this blog have explored economic inequality and its ramifications. The post this week continues this series, beginning to focus on potential solutions to what some see as a looming economic catastrophe. As Part 3 our Economic Inequality series, consider this article by Jimmy Tobias: “What if People Owned the Banks Instead of Wall Street?”
Economic Inequality: Part 2
Have you ever heard of a “GINI score”? This “score” is a statistical coefficient used in economics (don’t run away, this gets better). A GINI score measures wealth distribution in a designated area (like a country). Cutting to the chase, the score has been used to predict revolutions. Apples and oranges? Not really. The theory goes like this: the greater the GINI score operative in any given society (that is, the higher the measure of inequality), the greater the likelihood of a violent revolution occurring in that society. The United States has one of the highest GINI scores in the history of the world!
“We are living through the most dangerous challenge
to the free government of the United States
that anyone alive has encountered.”
Juxtapositions, oxymorons and other somewhat paradoxical encounters can presents useful intrigue, piquing our interest considerably more than more mundane occurrences. David Frum and his new book Trumpocracy, might present just such an experience for you. (more…)
This blog is all about “morality”. To seek Good is to aspire for the attainment of some standard of thought and behavior defined as positive in some manner. As such, a construction such as Moral Foundations Theory represents a paramount interest of this blog (and, presumably those who read it). Likewise, the trustworthiness of such a construction becomes crucial regarding its usefulness. So how useful is this theory—Jonathan Haidt’s MFT, a theoretical, research-based notion about rubrics of our moral perspective?
“A democratic society becomes very fragile
when [Truth] the central common good is assailed…
directly and repeatedly”
~ Robert Reich
What are the most fundamental components of any democracy? Robert Reich, speaking on the theme of his book The Common Good, suggests that “truth” (which he defines as a “common good”) represents one of the most significant foundations of any democratic endeavor. Regardless of sociopolitical persuasion, preservation of high standards for truth should be paramount in our thinking. Democratic governance depends on such a perspective. However, according to Mr. Reich and many others, the manner in which certain government officials portray the concept of truth represents a clear and present danger to the very foundations of democratic institutions.
In this 40 minute video, Mr. Reich presents his case around three general categories: (1) how did “this” happen (2) the central problem we face and (3) what are we going to do?