Monday, January 11, 2010

Apparent Irony and Conservatism

If conservative ideas have merit, it is largely because of evolution by natural selection. If progressive ideas have merit, it is largely because of intelligent design.

Societies have conservative impulses, so even if ideas are introduced into them randomly the ideas' survival is evidence of their value.

Progressive ideas like Stalinism and Maoism are prone to more spectacular failure than reactionary ones, because they were created from whole cloth.

Of course, the origin of most conservative ideas was probably not random chance, but intelligent design, whether reactionary or progressive.

Insofar as the biological evolution debate is concerned, reactionaries believe in intelligent design because of at least two philosophical errors: false exclusionary disjunct and argument from incredulity. They falsely say that if evolution does not explain biological facts, it must be that an outsider created everything inexplicable, ignoring other possibilities. They further say that since they don't understand how evolution could work, it does not and could not. In contrast, progressives are not guilty of a logical fallacy, while evolution best explains biology, they are free to admit some ideas are intelligently designed. Because of this, the irony is only apparent, and the joke is on the Creationists.

My main point is to recognize that evolution can work on ideas in societies, and to be slightly conservative when judging ideas, i.e. value a record of success. The point that radically progressive ideas may have a worse worst case scenario than marginally progressive ones is important considering the diminishing marginal utility of societal benefit and increasing relative risk of radical change. This is separate from the related point that the cost of positive change may be greater than the benefit of that change.

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