Sunday, February 13, 2005

Blog Review: Positive Liberty

Today's target for review is Positive Liberty. To quote the blog's description:
Jason Kuznicki is a history graduate student in a same-sex marriage. He blogs on culture and politics from a classical liberal perspective; frequent topics include pluralism, gay issues, history, and religion. He also writes short fiction.

Jason's one year bloggiversary was just a couple of days ago, and he marked the occasion with some interesting reflections on blogging and the personas we create in doing so. Other recent posts have discussed religious tolerance, the origin of existence, the efforts of a democracy-loving nation (with a clever twist), and the soft midsection of gay politics.

Delving deeper into the archives, Evil Robots would have to be one of my favourite blog posts of all time. I'll quote Jason's own introduction:
I wanted to come up with a good working explanation of compatibilism, the idea that free will exists, complete with meaningful moral judgment, even in a deterministic universe. [...] I had hoped to create a description... that would make compatibilism respectable as a workingman's philosophy, just like fatalism and theism have been for centuries.

He goes on to describe how we could plausibly hold a deterministic robot to be morally responsible. I found it very compelling, though I may be biased since I already shared his conclusion. Still, whenever I come across an incompatibilist, I make sure to point this post out to them!

My favourite historical post contrasted the Reformation and Enlightenment - I've quoted it previously.

A particularly novel* feature of Jason's blog is the fiction. He wrote The Asan Heresy last November - start from the bottom of the archive page and work your way up. [Psst, Jason, what happened to the contents page?] My favourite sections are excerpted here. To repeat one particularly good bit:
"Philosophy is not the greatest pursuit, but the vainest."

"But philosophers teach people how to think," I replied. "They challenge preconceived notions and help build up knowledge on a sounder, more rational footing."

"Nonsense. Scientists advance human thought; philosophers argue about figments of their own imaginations. Admit it: You too have experienced that guilty rush of pleasure that comes when you consider that the philosopher is the king of all thinkers. It's damn near the only thing that all philosophies agree upon: 'Philosophy is the best.' If shoemakers went prattling about like that, we'd lock them up, and with good reason. Can you imagine anything more transparently self-serving?"

Ha, guilty as charged...

* = please excuse the awful pun, I couldn't help myself.

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