That tone may allow some actual philosophizing to occur, so that maybe we’ll all learn something. One rarely philosophizes from a complete blank slate, though, so it’s worth briefly noting, in the interests of full disclosure, some of the beliefs — not mere prejudices, mind you, since they are the conclusions of years of prior logical analysis (nor mere assumptions or axioms, since I’d happily revise each or all in the face of new evidence) — that I already bring to bear and which are likely to be reflected in future posts:
•Claims should not be made without good empirical evidence, so it is intellectually irresponsible, indeed immoral, to claim that God or other supernatural phenomena (ghosts, psychic powers, astrology, etc.) exist.
•The only rational, non-mystical basis for ethics is rule utilitarianism (that is, behaving in accord with the rules most likely to foster the greatest long-term happiness among all morally-relevant agents — I avoid saying “people” to sidestep for now the question of the moral significance of animal welfare), and moral thinking should pervade all of our decisions, leaving no rooms for lying, cheating, cruelty, infidelity, taking credit for others’ work, or even the lackadaisical sort of callous irresponsibility (as on the dating scene) that seems to characterize much of the thinking of many young adults these days.
•Property rights are the most important manifestation of ethics and law and the often unappreciated basis of civilization, the alternative to which is violence and poverty, as socialist governments have made abundantly clear; capitalism, in short, is not only good but is humanity’s greatest accomplishment.
•Government should be abolished, or at least minimized (it is likely, though harder to demonstrate empirically, that law itself could be turned over to decentralized private courts somewhat in the fashion of old common law courts and modern arbitration firms, and that the military could be far more rationally directed on a subscription basis by capital-intense insurance firms, but at the very least all unbiased observers can agree that we should end most Cabinet agencies, government-run schools, regulation, public sector unions, and welfare/social security programs in favor of allowing an unfettered economy to make everyone far richer — and freer — faster); limiting government has been the key to America’s greatness, though it has strayed far from that founding ideal, one now largely forgotten by both left and right, though not, fortunately, by libertarians.
•Because science is easily distorted by the media and other forces, most health scares are overblown, as is the threat of global warming, for the purpose of attracting attention to research or to pro-regulation political causes (and a pro-regulation bias is likely to exist in government-funded or -directed research).
•Evolution is the best and most powerful explanation for the workings of life and, contrary to politically-motivated claims of intelligent design theorists and the like, is confirmed by mountains of evidence from the fossil records of the past to the continual arms race against bacterial development and adaptation in our own day.
•Feminism is bunk, based in virtually all its formulations on the irrational, radically anti-empirical, a priori assumption of equal mental or rational capacities (in essentially all areas of human endeavor) in the two demonstrably different sexes (as unwarranted as assuming that two similar species, say, elk and moose, must prove to be “equal” by some empirical or, failing that, metaphysical measure); while belief in God may be the most erroneous commonly held view and belief in government the most socially destructive, feminism is perhaps the most manifestly false commonly held view in our culture, refuted as it is by virtually every daily interaction experienced by virtually all people, sustained only by the kind of borderline-schizophrenic, compartmentalized thinking that enables someone to claim men and women are mentally the same one moment and then bicker over whether to see a “guy movie” or a “chick flick” the next, without noticing the contradiction.
•The masses are by and large cretins (keep in mind that the average IQ is roughly 100), and all political factions of which I am aware, from Marxism to fascism to libertarianism, are guilty of flattering the masses (appealing to the “good sense of the average person,” etc.) in the vain and demagogic hope of receiving popular affirmation for their own agendas, which most people will never grasp, let alone endorse; similarly, intellectuals must, despite the great temptation, beware taking too indulgent an “ironic” interest in the mind-rotting trash that generally passes for popular culture, tending as it does to contribute to the masses’ impulse-driven lack of self-discipline, forethought, or morals — and must instead pause from time to time to appreciate the storehouse of wisdom and aesthetic achievements we inherit from tradition, which tends to dwarf the accomplishments and sophistication of any one mind.
•Biotech and cybernetics offer the best long-term hope of improving the human race, particularly making humans more rational (anyone who complains that people are “too rational” already is likely insane or highly intellectually irresponsible) and sooner or later making us immortal.
•Until biotech and cybernetics make fundamental improvements in the human mind, voluntary (as opposed to government-run or otherwise coercive) eugenics is something all honest, sober-minded people should endorse — not in the irrational, crude, ethnicity-based form that the Nazis promulgated but in the common-sense form of politely discouraging stupid, violent people from passing on their ways or inclinations to any more offspring (or indeed non-relative members of their social circles) than necessary; people who claim to oppose eugenics in this milder, decentralized form unwittingly demonstrate their hypocrisy every time they engage in mate selection and pick better rather than worse mates.
Those are just a few simple ground rules that I think we can all agree upon for starters — the sort of nearly-self-evident things I can’t be bothered to go back and re-prove in every single entry but which, if kept in the back of your mind, will help smooth your reading experience and make more sense of the many other ideas to come.
The logical outcome of the ideals described above, should enough of you come to share them (perhaps as a result of regularly reading this blog), is a world of highly intelligent, anarchist-atheist yet property-respecting and moralistic, pro-American cyborgs (likely of multiple subspecies and possibly diversely transgendered) who are immortal, have an appreciation for high art, show an almost Amish respect for certain elements of tradition, and are kind to animals. I don’t expect to see this almost-perfect world within my lifetime, but all of us who work to bring it a bit closer to realization can at least sleep with clear consciences at night. Every little bit helps: registering Republican instead of Democrat (if the Republican Party returns to its limited-government principles), listening to synthesizer-based New Wave music, discouraging acquaintances from respecting the Bible, or discussing robotics in a frank and open way with your friends and family. Little by little, each of us can make a difference and set a good example — and remember, you are not alone.
UPDATE 1/15/08: I admit this list was dashed off quickly and that I may have erred by giving feminism such short shrift, for instance, or by lightly invoking the term “eugenics” when I might have said merely “biotech and picking a smart mate” — but this entry on utilitarianism may be a better way of explaining my underlying principles.