Philosophy & Living

Immanuel Kant and the Roots of Critical Race Theory

Princeton University professor Allen C. Guelzo, comments on the foundations of CRT in an AEI podcast: as a “reaction against the Enlightenment and against the confidence that scientific reason could discover the answers to things”:

….Kant was appalled at the irreligious conclusions to which reason had driven the Enlightenment. He was determined to find a way around Enlightenment religious lack of faith. So he says, what can we know for certain? Well, if we rely strictly on reason, we discover that reason only works on what our physical senses tell us, and that’s not much. Reason can’t penetrate into the essence of things. Some other tool was needed to reach what he called the thing in itself. So, to brush back the influence of reason, Kant develops a critique of reason, a critical theory, if you will.

….when you see how little reason can penetrate to the real lessons of things and you awake to a new reality. And that reality is that reason has blinded you. That is critical theory…

… critical theory set off a chain reaction of romantic investigations for non-rational explanations of reality.

….some of those non-rational explanations took a form of nationalism. That’s what you find in the philosophy of Georg Hegel. Some of them took the form of out-and-out racism. … Above all, you find non-rational explanations of reality based on economic class, and that is Karl Marx.

…And you might think that economics functions as what Adam Smith called a natural instinct to truck and barter. But in reality, it’s governed by the oppressive relations of class. Especially in the hands of Marx, critical theory uncovers the activity, not of employers and employees, but of an oppressor class and an oppressed class.

And the payoff?

…it promises an emotional burst of revelation and indignation. It allows you not so much to understand because remember, understanding is a function of reason, it allows you to denounce. It allows you to replace the question, is what I know true with a different question, whose interests does this question serve?

…. If the only purpose of questions is to serve the interests of a dominant or oppressive class, then no question that you ask about the truth of a situation or the truth of an event or the truth of a proposition, none of that kind of questioning about truth has any meaning. And any answer you come up with, which doesn’t speak in terms of some hidden structure of oppression, can simply be dismissed as part of the structure of oppression.

Read the rest.

Marc A. Thiessen writes in the Washington Post on “The danger of critical race theory”:

Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic, authors of “Critical Race Theory: An Introduction,” state that “critical race theory questions the very foundations of the liberal order, including equality theory, legal reasoning, Enlightenment rationalism, and neutral principles of constitutional law.”

….Ibram X. Kendi, one of CRT’s leading advocates, openly declares: “The only remedy to racist discrimination is antiracist discrimination. The only remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination. The only remedy to present discrimination is future discrimination.”

This is the opposite of what the civil rights movement stood for. The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. did not argue that America was systemically racist; he argued that racism was un-American.

By dispensing with the reason the only solution is violence:

“… If your critical race theory is impervious to questioning and evidence, then fine: I will retreat into my critical race theory and it too will be impervious to evidence and the questioning. At which point then the only solution becomes violence.”

The Philosophic Basis of Capitalism by Leonard Peikoff

What explains the rise of statism in America, a nation founded on laissez-faire capitalist principles? Leonard Peikoff takes up this question in this 1980 lecture to a group of businessmen. After considering popular yet insufficient explanations, Peikoff identifies the ideas dominating Western philosophy as the crucial determinant.

Lying To The Public For Their Own “Good”: “Noble Lies” and COVID-19

Kerrington Powell and Vinay Prasad make some important points on Fauci and the government’s “Noble Lies” surrounding COVID-19:

“When experts or agencies deliver information to the public that they consider possibly or definitively false to further a larger, often well-meaning agenda, they are telling what is called a noble lie. Although the teller’s intentions may be pure—for example, a feeling of urgency that behavioral change is needed among the lay public—the consequences can undermine not only those intentions but also public trust in experts and science.”

[…]

“Experts on infectious diseases are not necessarily experts on social behavior. Even if we accept Fauci’s claim that he downplayed the importance of wearing masks because he didn’t want to unleash a run on masks, we might wonder how he knew that his noble lie would be more effective than simply being honest and explaining to people why it was important to assure an adequate supply of masks for medical workers.”

[…]

“We worry that vaccine policy among supporters of vaccines is increasingly anchored to the irrational views of those who oppose them—by always pursuing the opposite. Exaggerating the risk of the virus in the moment and failing to explore middle ground positions appear to be the antithesis of the anti-vax movement, which is an extremist effort to refuse vaccination. This seems a reflexive attempt to vaccinate at all costs—by creating fear in the public (despite falling adolescent rates) and pushing the notion that two doses of mRNA at the current dose level or nothing at all are the only two choices—a logical error called the fallacy of the excluded middle.”

[…]

“Public health messaging is predicated on trust, which overcomes the enormous complexity of the scientific literature, creating an opportunity to communicate initiatives effectively. Still, violation of this trust renders the communication unreliable. When trust is shattered, messaging is no longer clear and straightforward, and instead results in the audience trying to reverse-engineer the statement based on their view of the speaker’s intent. Simply put, noble lies can rob confidence from the public, leading to confusion, a loss of credibility, conspiracy theories, and obfuscated policy.” [The Noble Lies of COVID-19Slate, July 28, 2021.]

Such lies, no matter the motive for them, always come back to bite you, as reality is a whole. “All facts are interconnected.” To cover up one lie, one must create another, or reveal the truth one should have made in the first place.

Debate 1984 | Socialism or Capitalism: Which Is the Moral System?

From the Ayn Rand Institute:

In the legendary 1984 debate against socialists Jill Vickers and Gerald Caplan, the team of Leonard Peikoff and John Ridpath defended capitalism against their opponents’ criticisms and roundly refuted the socialists. ARI is delighted to showcase this illuminating debate on YouTube and to bring it to the attention of a new generation of viewers. The remastered video will be premiered this Friday and hosted on ARI’s YouTube channel by permission of the copyright holder, Sandra Shaw.

Bayer and Ghate: Why Sam Harris Is Wrong about the Existence of Free Will

Philosophers Ben Bayer Ph.D. and Onkar Ghate Ph.D. discuss Sam Harris’s argument against the existence of free will.

The dynamic duo discusses: “Harris’s Humean argument equating causality with causation by prior events; Why free will doesn’t mean self-creation out of nothing; Harris’s argument for why we have no introspective experience of free will; How Harris’s thought experiment involves superficial attention to our experience of freedom; Why Harris can’t explain why his argument isn’t self-refuting; Rand’s view of why man is a being of self-made soul; Whether individuals with certain psychiatric conditions have volition; The issue of soft determinism (compatibilism).”

A fantastic discussion on an important topic.

New Ideal: Storming of the U.S. Capitol

On Jan. 6 a mob stormed the U.S. Capitol Building because they were upset with the results of the presidential election. How did this happen — in America? What, fundamentally, enabled this shameful event? What philosophic ideas and trends brought us here? And, what do they portend for the future of freedom? Join Onkar Ghate and Elan Journo as they analyze the moral meaning, the implications and the consequences of the attack.

Free Market Alternatives to Social Media “Spying” and “Censorship”

Here are a few alternatives to Goole Search, Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp Messenger with less filtering restrictions and/or more privacy.

 

Duck Duck Go: Pro-Privacy Alternative to Google Search

Duck Duck Go makes use of google search results but without tracking you and it seems to not have the filtering problems associated with the mysterious google “algorithm.”

 

MeWe: The No Ad, No SpyWare Alternative to Facebook

MeWe does not data mine or sell your private data. No ads either. Your feed has nothing but content from those you follow.

 

Parler: “Free-Speech” Alternative to Twitter

Parler is a popular “free-speech” alternative to Twitter.

 

Signal: Alternative to WhatsApp & Facebook Messenger

Signal is the messaging app for people worried about their privacy. It’s end-to-end encrypted, free, and available on all major mobile platforms. Used by Ed Snowden and the U.S. military.

 

Have a recommendation? Let us know.

 

 

 

Ghate: A Pro-Freedom Approach to Infectious Disease

A Pro-Freedom Approach to Infectious Disease: Planning for the Next Pandemic” is the Ayn Rand Institute’s white paper on America’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, authored by the Institute’s chief philosophy officer, Onkar Ghate. You can read it online or download a PDF.

Some key points made by Ghate include:

  • We must not commit the error of assuming the only form of effective action is coercive, governmental action. That assumption is un-American: it is prejudiced against freedom.
  • Instead of admitting that their lockdowns were panicked reactions to months of inaction, our elected officials continued to order us around as though the economy and the entire country were the government’s property.
  • In a free society the government’s public health goal is and must be different from minimizing at all costs the number of deaths from an infectious disease.
  • America is the land of self-responsibility. We each must think how health is best achieved and disease best avoided in our individual circumstances.
  • There is no such thing as “our” health or “our” wealth. There is only the specific health and wealth — the specific lives and livelihoods — of separate individuals. To ask government to “balance” these two is a euphemism for asking it to decide who will be sacrificed to whom.
  • “Flatten the curve” graphs assume that the supply of healthcare is projected to remain stagnant. Why? If providers could profit from meeting the increase in demand, no one would think of healthcare capacity as a flat line.
  • Government-controlled healthcare means rationed healthcare. It is our government’s responsibility to explain clearly how healthcare will be rationed in a pandemic.
  • We must have the freedom to think and act for ourselves. If the law focuses government on the task of testing, isolating and tracking carriers and removes government’s power to order statewide lockdowns, we will have that freedom.
  • Government must specify when an infectious disease rises to a level severe enough to warrant coercive intervention. And when the threat from an infectious disease is severe enough, government must act to end the threat posed by carriers.
  • Government’s powers must be highly circumscribed. It certainly should not possess anything resembling the power to order coercive statewide lockdowns. The guiding principle is that when government lacks specific evidence about a threat, it cannot act.
  • Most people will take voluntary countermeasures if they are given reason to do so.
  • Had the government been forced to adopt a more surgical approach because the use of the blunt instrument of statewide lockdowns was prohibited, its actions would have been both less destructive and more effective.
  • What we need and what is realistically achievable is an approach to infectious disease that codifies into law the best aspects of what Taiwan, South Korea and Sweden have implemented.
  • Voluntary countermeasures, not coercive statewide lockdowns, are what the 2017 CDC guidelines for an influenza pandemic as severe as that of 1918 recommend.
  • Vital to South Korea’s success is that it appreciates the need to test widely but does not assume this means government must control all aspects of testing.
  • Only when we have codified into law the government’s goal — to neutralize active carriers of sufficiently threatening diseases — and its delimited powers — to test, isolate and track — will we get an American response to an infectious disease pandemic.
  • The government of a free society has the responsibility to monitor the threat from infectious diseases, to be actively on the lookout for new ones like Ebola or Zika or COVID-19.
  • The basic issue is to define when coercive action against the carrier of an infectious disease is warranted because the threat he poses to others is severe enough.

He concludes with the following:

  • On the positive side, we need the law to focus government with laser-like precision on its proper goal: to remove the active threat posed by carriers of severe infectious diseases.
  • Second, on the negative side, the law must strip federal and state governments of the power to lock down entire states or even just cities in the name of public health.
  • What we need and what is realistically achievable is an approach to infectious disease that codifies into law the best aspects of what Taiwan, South Korea, and Sweden have implemented.
  • Write to your representatives in state and federal governments. And then keep contacting your representatives until they make the necessary legislative changes.

A Pro-Freedom Approach to Infectious Disease: Planning for the Next Pandemic” is a must-read.

***

Benjamin Bayer has a summary “We can maintain a free society while effectively addressing pandemic” published in the OC Register.

 

#MeSometimes: Tara Reade, Joe Biden and Justice Kavanaugh

In this Analysis (download) of the Christine Blasey Ford Allegations, a 25-year prosecutor of sex-crimes shows that in a criminal court of law, Dr. Ford’s accusations against Justice Kavanaugh would be found baseless.

Or in her the Prosecutor’s words,

“In the legal context, here is my bottom line: A “he said, she said” case is incredibly difficult to prove. But this case is even weaker than that. Dr. Ford identified other witnesses to the event, and those witnesses either refuted her allegations or failed to corroborate them. For the reasons discussed below, I do not think that a reasonable prosecutor would bring this case based on the evidence before the Committee. Nor do I believe that this evidence is sufficient to satisfy the preponderance-of-the-evidence standard.”

Some of the reasons for this include:

“Dr. Ford has not offered a consistent account of when the alleged assault happened.”

“Dr. Ford has struggled to identify Judge Kavanaugh as the assailant by name.”

“When speaking with her husband, Dr. Ford changed her description of the incident to become less specific.”

“Dr. Ford has no memory of key details of the night in question—details that could help corroborate her account.”

“Dr. Ford’s account of the alleged assault has not been corroborated by anyone she identified as having attended—including her lifelong friend.”

“Dr. Ford has not offered a consistent account of the alleged assault.”

“Her account of who was at the party has been inconsistent.”

Such is not the case with the account given by Tara Reade of her 1993 encounter with Biden.

The response — or rather the non-response and silence — of the Democrats and their media allies, to Tara Reade’s allegations against Joe Biden, is ominous.

It demonstrates that to the Democrats and their media allies, the #MeToo movement to “Believe Women” was nothing more than a weapon to smear their political enemies, such as Republican Supreme Court nominee, Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

It is a vivid demonstration of the moral hypocrisy of the Democratic Party and its supporters.

***

Well, not all of them.

Rose McGowan, the actress from the popular series Charmed, also a victim of convicted rapist Harvey Weinstein, slammed her co-star Alyssa Milano — a Biden supporter — on Twitter, saying:

You are a fraud. This is about holding the media accountable. You go after Trump & Kavanaugh saying Believe Victims, you are a lie. You have always been a lie. The corrupt DNC is in on the smear job of Tara Reade, so are you. SHAME https://t.co/B7NHK4k09K
— rose mcgowan (@rosemcgowan) April 6, 2020

Furthermore, according to McGowan, the Washington Post’s “report” on the Reade allegations was nothing more than “victim shaming”:

“This is not journalism, this is an agenda. This is a hit piece. You’ve sunk to a new low in slanted journalism and victim shaming @WashingtonPost …

“As a survivor, the way you launched into this woman’s assault is truly vile …. Your motto is ‘Democracy Dies in Darkness’ well I guess it’s dead because you are dark. Evil lives and it loves the DNC.”

Whether you agree with McGowan or not, at least she is consistent.

***

Of course, Biden should be held with the presumption of innocence by any objective standard.

Yet, where was this presumption in the Kavanaugh House Witch Hunt Hearings?

But the presumption of innocence — a legal application of the ethical principle of justice — is not the professed standard of the Democratic Party and the Anti-Capitalist “Progressive” New Left.

To the Democrats and their media allies, “justice” is only necessary when it can be used as a political weapon to advance their lust for power, and like the Communist call for freedom of speech, can be dispensed with when it no longer serves their unjust purpose: the destruction of the American Capitalist Republic.

***

Update: Cathy Young over at the Quilette on “Tara Reade’s Dubious Claims and Shifting Stories Show the Limits of #BelieveWomen” (March 14, 2020) examines Tara’s Reade’s allegations and does not find her top be a “credible complainant.” Writes Young:

Last week, this theater of the absurd got slightly more surreal when a prominent feminist wrote in the New York Times that she thinks Biden is a rapist, but will vote for him anyway. Linda Hirshman, a retired professor of women’s studies and philosophy, and a prolific author (most recently of Reckoning: The Epic Battle Against Sexual Abuse and Harassment), explained to Times readers that she believes Reade, but also believes that “the cost of dismissing Tara Reade—and, worse, weakening the voices of future survivors” is justified on purely utilitarian grounds, since (as she sees it) Trump is the greater evil. Hirshman argued that the Democrats’ current strategy of defending Biden’s innocence is both cowardly (since it avoids the “hard work of moral analysis”) and harmful, since it means “casting a reasonably credible complainant as a liar.”

[…]

By casting the Democratic leadership as dishonest and cynical, Hirshman is kneecapping the party she says she supports.

And she is doing it quite needlessly, because the totality of evidence suggests that Reade is in no way a “credible complainant.” Her credibility is further undermined by court documents that contradict her account of an entirely separate 1996 episode involving her ex-husband. In an ironic twist, these documents, part of Reade’s 1996–1997 California divorce files, were uncovered not through a dirt-digging expedition, but by researchers seeking evidence corroborating her allegations against Biden.

After much analysis of Reade’s complaints, she ends that whatever the outcome the Democrats have played into Trump’s hands:

Biden will probably ride out this scandal: As Hirshman candidly notes, there’s simply too much at stake in the election for Democrats to follow their #MeToo conscience. But if Reade’s claims really do sink Biden in November, the Democrats will merely be reaping what their moral panic has sowed. Hamstrung by slogans that depict half of the human population as inveterate truth-tellers incapable of dishonesty, the party has backed itself into a corner. Democrats must either stipulate that the church of #MeToo shall provide Biden with a one-off indulgence—or else urge Americans to vote for a presumed rapist. It’s hard to say which narrative would make Trump happier.