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Old 09-10-2013, 02:00 PM
 
Location: South Portland, ME
889 posts, read 1,016,218 times
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This article (Libertarianism as Moral Overlearning, Bryan Caplan | EconLog | Library of Economics and Liberty) is framed as an explanation about libertarians, but without using political labels, I do think there is something to be said for "overlearning" morality and applying it to all situations, instead of just situations that you are told to apply it.

Quote:
claim: The fundamental difference between libertarians and non-libertarians is that libertarians have overlearned common-sense morality. Non-libertarians only reliably apply basic morality when society encourages them to do so. Libertarians, in contrast, deeply internalize basic morality. As a result, they apply it automatically in the absence of social pressure - and even when society discourages common decency.
The article mentions some specific examples: how can you say that a woman has a "right to her own body" to support abortion but at the same time say "prostitution should be illegal"? How can you say that someone has the "right to work anywhere" but accept "immigration laws"?

I guess that makes me a libertarian because I agree - there shouldn't be immigration laws, prostitution should be legal. But that's not the point. The point is: why are there so many people out there who DON'T understand this?

Why do you think that so many people fail to overlearn morality? It is something that affects us every day, so it seems like it is something that should be grasped by way more people than it currently is.
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Old 09-10-2013, 07:52 PM
 
Location: 'greater' Buffalo, NY
3,067 posts, read 2,111,078 times
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Libertarians "overlearn morality" (for the sake of argument, although I hardly think is true across the board (perhaps not even in the majority of cases...but in the cases where utilitarianism and libertarianism overlap, I'll recognize and respect those cases)) at the expense of underlearning (or unlearning, i.e. undoing their learning of) pragmatism. "There shouldn't be immigration laws"--agree in principle, disagree in practice. Several facts of real life would have to change before I could then say in reality "ok, now we're equipped not to have any immigration laws whatsoever"...and the odds that such required changes are made are essentially nil.

Morality is ultimately subjective, so to say "why are there so many people that DON'T understand [morality]" is to make a meaningless plea (rhetorically; I realize the question was a genuine one, but it was a lament as well as a question).
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Old 09-30-2013, 08:49 PM
 
3,062 posts, read 1,569,796 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JoulesMSU View Post
This article (Libertarianism as Moral Overlearning, Bryan Caplan | EconLog | Library of Economics and Liberty) is framed as an explanation about libertarians, but without using political labels, I do think there is something to be said for "overlearning" morality and applying it to all situations, instead of just situations that you are told to apply it.



The article mentions some specific examples: how can you say that a woman has a "right to her own body" to support abortion but at the same time say "prostitution should be illegal"? How can you say that someone has the "right to work anywhere" but accept "immigration laws"?

I guess that makes me a libertarian because I agree - there shouldn't be immigration laws, prostitution should be legal. But that's not the point. The point is: why are there so many people out there who DON'T understand this?

Why do you think that so many people fail to overlearn morality? It is something that affects us every day, so it seems like it is something that should be grasped by way more people than it currently is.
The examples the author uses to explain overlearning are quite simple, e.g. remembering algebra or learning to drive a new car. That impacts the person directly. One problem at a time.

The author then applies it to morality that involves not just one person but society. You have people who are looking out for their own interest, sometimes their livelihood. You have people who have an agenda based on their own "truths." You have to deal with many different people.
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Old 10-04-2013, 07:52 AM
 
Location: Jamestown, NY
7,841 posts, read 7,338,037 times
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I think the article is nonsense because "morality" is not a generally/universally accepted set of related skills to accomplish a task like mastering algebra or learning to drive a car, so it cannot be "overlearned". Morality is a complex value-system that varies from individual to individual based on that individual's culture, personality, and experience. In other words, everyone has his/her own "morality".

Furthermore, "morality" cannot be reduced to a simplistic black/white dichotomy as the author proposes. While there are some acts that are clearly good and some that are clearly bad, those are two ends of the spectrum with a lot of gray areas in between. How "moral" is it to allow terrorists or criminals into the country along with honest immigrants in the name of the libertarian idea of not having immigration laws? How "moral" is it to allow anybody to kill anybody else that he/she feels like killing -- or to kill anybody who kills somebody else?

Libertarianism is not a philosophy for the real world. It's an ideology for an ignorant, self-indulgent minority that refuses to acknowledge the negative consequences of their proposals, even when those are regularly and frequently demonstrated throughout the world. This article is a good example of that.
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