Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Jerry Gaus killing off True Morality.

Jerry Gaus, author of 'The Order of Public Reason' (OPR) has developed a functionalist theory of 'Social Morality' as coordinating diverse 'Normative Demands'.

He believes that- 'For a social morality to exist there must be coordination on what can be normatively demanded of one, and how one’s claims against others will be resolved.'

If 'morality' is non-Kantian, or non-cognitivist, this is trivially achieved.

Successful Thymotic Societies have a 'Social Morality' such that things like 'untouchability' and Droit du Seigneur  gain convergent normativity in the sense of being a Schelling focal solution to a Co-ordination problem for all members of Society not currently being disembowelled or having their heads lopped off.
Diverse 'Normative Demands' are easily accommodated by some Eschatological or Ontologically dysphoric supplementary hypothesis- e.g. the virgin currently being raped by the Baron gets her revenge- like Amba upon Bhishma- in her next incarnation- or else the one becomes a Saint in Heaven while the other is sodomized by Belial.

As Plato pointed out in the Sophist, if the supplementary hypothesis serves any function- i.e. if if it has any power to affect anything- then it is as real as anything else.
Thus any arbitrary Thymotic dispensation is the solution to a co-ordination problem involving diverse 'Normative demands' provided there is no constraint on 'Social Morality' being coupled with a more or less dysphoric, i.e. supernatural, Ontology.

Gaus, not being a lunatic, presumably wants a non-status dependent Morality (i.e. correlated asymmetry obtains in every permissible transaction) with a maximally alethic ontology.

Thus it is reasonable to believe that, for him, 'Social Morality' must be independent of Thymotic status- the Baron doesn't get to rape all the virgins in his demesne just because he is a Baron- and furthermore must be reconcilable to a Naturalistic ontology regulated by Scientific Method.

One way to do this is by assuming that no Thymotic or Hysteresis based Paretian 'residues and derivatives' pollute agents' conceptualization of 'Social Morality' as the solution to the coordination problem of Normative Pluralism.

Gaus formalizes this by writing-
'Because of the functional requirement, a social morality thus has an existence requirement: only if the rules of a social morality, M in society S, are sufficiently widely shared among members of S (they have the relevant shared beliefs, intentions, attitudes and behaviors), and it is sufficiently widely known that they share these, can M be the social morality of S. A social morality is partly constituted by the coordinated beliefs, intentions, and attitudes of the members of society. It is social not simply in the sense that it pertains to social matters (any morality can have social matters as its content), but it is also social in its constitutive conditions. Thus, OPR maintains that M’s normative status depends on a social fact: if M satisfies the existence requirement it is what I call the “positive morality” of S, and only if M is a positive morality of S, can it be a normatively justified social morality in S. Of course we can work to bring about a better positive morality, but until the normative and empirical expectations are actually in place it is only a proposal, as of yet incapable of performing social morality’s coordination functions.'

The problem here is that both coordination and discoordination games are a feature of life and prevail through purely mimetic, not conceptual, drivers because the latter are more cognitively costly. More generally, regret minimization under Knightian Uncertainty militates for stochastic participation in both.

Gaus is aware that there is a problem with his approach-  he writes
'...if our aim is a world in which human rights claims get real traction and uptake in different cultures (and are not viewed as alien western impositions), this easy route (i.e. stipulating that somethings are universally right or wrong) is not terribly satisfying. My question is: can human rights claims be grounded in social morality, which is inherently a shared, socially recognized, enterprise? 
His answer is in two parts
1) there may be an implicit acknowledgment at odds with the explicit public signal- e.g. kitty is as much a member of my family as my daughter- that fat lump- and should definitely get a vote in the Brexit referendum coz not only is Viktor Orban a cat but Nigel Farage definitely has swallowed a canary.  Gaus is' calling attention to a status that the owners are committed to but are not truly honoring,' in other words us middle aged cat-owners- who recognise that kitty is much more intelligent and deserving of a vote in the Referendum than our misshapen and over-educated progeny- ought to STAND UP AND BE COUNTED.  Drown your kids in the bath-tub if they say they are going to vote 'Remain' and marry kitty so she can get Citizenship in a post-Brexit Britain ruled by Feline Farage.
If we we fail to act now, Americans like Gaus, will hold us responsible for failing to explicitly recognize these rights kitty undoubtedly has.

2) if all agent's are Kant autonomous there is a transcendental argument lurking somewhere.

Sorry Gaus, there aint no such thing,  unless Kant was empirically right about 'incongruent counterparts'- i.e. we have to quit a Relationist Space and, by some Transcendental means, get to a Substantivist Universe where one's left hand would know if it was prior to one's right.

Now, it may be that Kantian 'intuition' is mimetic in some Relationist sense and what we call 'Concepts' are merely intuitions with a low Time Complexity algorithmic description. However, the fact is, Kantian intuitions are misleading. He commented chirality as a critique of Relationism whereas we know, from the Wu experiment, that he was wrong. There was no purely conceptual way to establish this brute fact about the world. In other words, purely Conceptual Schelling focal solutions (besides being computationally intractable) are not robust to small changes in the inter-subjective Information set and thus can have no functional or explanatory power for 'Social Morality' as opposed to some essentially voluntarist arrangement of a mutable kind.

There is a subtle counter-argument viz- since cognitive resources are scarce, perhaps we should  treat concepts as costly signals in Public Justification?

If so, the use of a Concept in Discourse ought to give rise to a separating equilibrium as there is an uncorrelated asymmetry based on the agent's knowledge of whether of not she emitted a costly signal.

However, if there is a superior intuition whose algorithmic definition has high Time complexity, then 'Social Morality' & 'Public Justification' etc loses Alethic status. The separating equilibrium now distinguishes worthless gobshittery merely and is confined to a class of ill-paid pundits, pedagogues and pimps arbitraging the resultant discoordination game.

What if, there is a concept of 'public morality' which requires us to posit a correlated asymmetry as normative? An example is Harsanyi's notion that moral questions should be analysed as if no agent knew what 'type' they are as if behind Rawls's 'veil of ignorance'.

In this case, some argue that we'd get a 'pooling equilibrium'- e.g. everybody gets paid the same regardless of their contribution- and that might be what God wants.

This argument fails unless we live in an instantaneous 'kshanikavada' world.

The menu on offer, to be feasible, must be incentive compatible. If it isn't, it would be allocatively inefficient and so potential for subsequent Welfare improving private trading would arise and hence 'social morality' would be merely a veil covering private hypocrisy.

For allocative efficiency to arise out of a public mechanism, every agent's bid and offer price for every good or service would need to be Common Knowledge. Here, each agent's 'spread' would reintroduce uncorrelated asymmetry and a separating equilibrium without, however, any need for 'costly signals'. But that's only because we assumed the mechanism had costless information acquisition and processing. In other words, it's a pile of shite.

This raises the question, why is it gobshites we always have with us? Why is Discourse dominated by shite Concepts when, as outlined above, there is an alethic algorithmic process to show Concepts, as applied to any complex matter, are ab ovo shite?

The answer, obviously, is that maintaining an army of blathershites is itself a costly signal. Since such signals give rise to aposematism- i.e cheap talk mimicry- an initial uncorrelated asymmetry just found a way to reinforce itself dynamically.

In other words, we have a Justice system which can be gamed by means of 'costly signals' disguising themselves as 'cheap talk' Social Morality.

Thus Gaus's thesis cashes out as- 'Social Morality is the Justice System which continually changes the goal posts because it can be gamed and that's actually a good thing guys because noise is a driver for liquidity and capacitance diversity!' In other words, instead of using the folk theorem of repeated games to de-Kant Ethics, like Binmore, Gaus is relying on an obsolete reading of Thomas Schelling to repeat Kant's sick joke.

He writes- (my comments are in bold) For a social morality to exist there must be coordination on what can be normatively demanded of one, and how one’s claims against others will be resolved. In other words there must be some Judicial forum such that Rights have Remedies. We now must distinguish two very different senses in which a person can share a normative expectation with others. In one case, which characterizes a strictly positive morality, there is wide agreement on what people believe is normatively expected of one, and indeed one may advance against others “oughts” based on this. Here there is no need for a Judicial forum, or indeed even a notion of 'Social Morality'. If the parties to a transaction share normative expectations then each admits that all agents with the same normative expectations share a culpa levis in concreto duty to point out and remedy any act of omission or commission that arises in that connection.  In other words, there is a Ceremonious as opposed to Judicial focal point for the co-ordination game. Not a Judge, but an arbiter on Ceremonial procedure has salience. 

But this does not imply that anyone truly endorses the requirements and demands as normative. 
True enough. Rugby players know it is ceremonially right and proper to kick their opponent'-s head in on the pitch but normative to buy him a pint and fondle him affectionately once maudlin drunk.
Given the moral and other evaluational beliefs of any member of the society, she might see the social morality, M, as making unreasonable and immoral demands, yet all may continue to act on M, and demand that others do so too, perhaps fearing social disapproval and other punishment. 
Quite false. If x sees M as 'unreasonable and immoral' there is a countervailing dis-coordination game and thus a different dynamics.
Contrast this to a case in which each, drawing on her own normative perspective, endorses the positive morality as truly normative. Following Kurt Baier, I call such a system of social morality a “true morality.” However, such 'true morality' would not be a 'Social Morality' any more than it would be a 'Mammalian Morality'. This is because the acceptations of 'Social' and 'Mammalian', in this context, are not robust to entry or exit at the margin.

 Such a system is characterized by convergent normativity, and so has three great virtues.
(i) It is a stable basis for social morality, for each sees that it is endorsed by her (controversial) vision of moral truth. 
Nonsense. It is not robust to small changes in the inter-subjective Information Set. If agents are heterogenous in their Reception of such changes, no 'stable basis' obtains.
When, under conditions of reasonable disagreement, convergent normativity does not obtain, many are apt to cynically view their social morality. It claims to determine the correct adjudication of claims, yet when some think through these matters, they find it is simply the customary code, or the view of the powerful to which they must conform. This is certainly apt to weaken their commitment; as moral agents they do not see why they should internalize its rules, feel guilt when they violate them, and so on. In turn, this is almost certainly corrosive of the shared normative and empirical expectations upon which, I have argued, human social life depends. 
Why have you argued such a silly thing? You know very well that we evolved on a highly uncertain fitness landscape. Evolution can give rise to 'Zahavi handicaps'- i.e. costly signals- but they are never Mission Critical at the group selective level. 

'Shared normative and empirical expectations' simply aint robust enough for anything other than, not coordination, but discoordination games- such that Life Chances are traded off against Reproductive Success, or something of that sort- till an Evolutionarily Stable State is reached. Arbitrage opportunities, or the possibility of a De Finetti 'Dutch book',  are evidence that Dis-coordination games exist. If a moral entrepreneur espousing a theory of 'Social Morality' can make a living then there must already be a separating equilibrium. But then, this Morality is Thymotic not status-independent. In other words, even if all agents have Aumann agreement and the mechanism is Baumol super-fair, still- since uncorrelated asymmetry obtains- no 'True Morality'exists save by a non-Kantian, non-cognitivist, genuinely 'Spiritual', process.

(ii) As Rawls observes, if convergent normativity obtains, if anyone has the truth about morality, then our social morality is itself in conformity with such truth.
Not so. Think of the Sanhedrin's rule against unanimity or the notion of a 'halachah vein morin kein'. The truth possessed by one may forbid unanimity re. that very truth to Society. Moreover, the truth may be one which it is forbidden to teach or act on iff known.
There is also the Schmittian argument re. 'the state of Exception' and a Girardian argument re. mimetic desire and so on. 
 I am aware that some are not especially concerned about their own fallibility in these matters, and do not seek the confirmation of other perspectives. However, to those who are convinced there is an ultimate truth about morality but are impressed by how difficult it is to reason well about these matters, a social morality characterized by convergent normativity is a great good.
Like Santa Claus is a great good coz  he saves us from having to buy pressies for the kiddies. 
If it is genuinely difficult to 'reason well' about something, normative convergence is likely to be lowest common denominator fucked in the head.
Krishna tells us that 'Dharma' is difficult to reason about. The Pundits decide that since this is now 'Kali Yuga' normative convergence must be on Hobbesian lines. But this is pure Ontological dysphoria. Society agrees to be as beastly as possible so everyone has an incentive to withdraw from the world, even while going through the motions, and bet everything on a release from the bondage of rebirth.
 (iii) Most importantly, OPR argues that, on the most plausible account of the reactive attitudes, what I have been calling a “true morality” allows each of us to suppose that violators appropriately experience guilt, and that those treated wrongly in social morality appropriately feel resentment. 
Nonsense! Where 'true morality' obtains I gain great joy when you point out some act of ommission or commission on my part. Metanoia and Reparative Acts are part of a Joyful Theosis such that the 'Dark Night of the Soul' is sublated. By contrast, being universally venerated, is likely to breed an 'accidie' or Spiritual aridity by reason of the lack of any spur to guilt and remorse and cathartic public humiliation. Thus Mother Theresa complained of losing her Faith precisely because she attained Universal Acclaim and this is accounted by the Vatican as a proof of Election.

Gaus, however, is committed to the notion that 'Social Morality', divorced from a Voluntarism of the Spirit, somehow grants Rights and Remedies so as to eventually coalesce with the Judicial solution to Society's underlying co-ordination problem.
He writes-
 It is typically the case, given the account I have offered, that controversial judgments of wrongness do not support moral responsibility judgments. When we interrogate the other person’s point of view, we see that even given diligent good reasoning, she cannot see the force of our claim. Now in the case of social morality, to divorce judgments of wrongness from judgments of responsibility would undermine it as an effective tool. Social morality is critically a practice of responsibility.
The Sage Ninomiya showed how Spiritual Voluntarism can deal with problems arising in Sonnnenshien, Mandel, Debreu, and elaborated by Kirman,  such that a General Equilibrium has its own way of discriminating between 'incongruous counterparts'- i.e. ceases to be 'any thing goes'. 

Essentially, Ninomiya acted as the Moral 'Reserve Bank' for the Community repairing deficits experienced by agents by using a surplus generated by the superior application of Technology and Mechanism Design. This created a virtuous circle because Ninomiya made communally dischargable the duty to 'reward virtue' which itself consisted in foregoing consumption in order to raise up the poorest. 

In other words, 'hedging effects' (which include 'Wealth effects' and are a discoordination game giving rise to an arbitrageur who can profitably run a Dutch book or Parrando's game) get internalized in a Coasian manner because there is a Vickrey-Clark mechanism whose currency is purely Spiritual, not material at all.

This is the opposite of an Inquisition which wastes resources and throws away information. 'Interrogating people' is stupid. Doing good in an incentive compatible manner and reinforcing mimetic processes with 'Knowledge effects'- Ninomiya is also the patron Saint of popular Education- is what is called for- under the rubric of culpa levis in concreto- of any person engaged in worldly transactions who yet is attached to a 'true morality'.
 As I have emphasized, it requires shared normative and empirical expectations; maintaining a true social morality requires maintaining these expectations — rebuking people who do not act on the shared justified rules (their actions undermine empirical expectations) and those who make mistakes about what the rules require (and so undermine shared normative expectations). 
Rebuking people will get your head kicked in- unless that's already your shtick in which all you are doing is coercing compliance. This has nothing to do with 'true morality'. 
So, while the very idea of a judgment of wrongness does not entail the practice of responsibility, in social morality these are intimately linked. Every complexity is not a fallacy or conflation.
Oh fuck! The guy is gonna start blathering about complex adaptive systems like Sanjeev Sanyal!
Good to know that 'True Morality' can be killed off as easily as 'Hinduism' by pretending that Society isn't a a a rent-seeking Tiebout Model whose virtue is that it is robust to changes in Voice and Loyalty but not, ultimately, Hirschman Exit.


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