Song for Stephen Metcalf

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Will

Will writes from Washington, D.C. (well, Arlington, Virginia). You can reach him at willblogcorrespondence at gmail dot com.

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39 Responses

  1. I am, for the moment, speechless.Report

  2. Avatar jfxgillis says:

    MarK;

    Well, I don’t know what “reason to believe” you had that Metcalf was answering “What Nozick Meant” rather than “What does ‘What Nozick Meant’ mean for public policy,” but the reason I have now for believing the latter is that he just said so.

    On a related topic that I didn’t mention earlier because I wasn’t familiar enough with the actual textual issues, even when I read Brad DeLong’s “fact check” I thought “trivial” and “pedantic” looked too mild a description of DeLong’s complaint. I suspected Metcalf had transcribed an anecdote from a usually authoritative secondary source (a Keynes biography or something like that) or some other similar, minor error. Since the quote was in fact provably accurate in exact wording, attribution and substantive context, what was the point of DeLong’s temper tantrum’? Scholars make errors like that all the time. When they’re discovered you acknowledge the error, fix it, and move on.Report

    • Actually, he just said “both:”

      More crucially: Is it possible to a) construe the example, as I have, as a somewhat willful, even sinister muddle of a historical reality (of the plight of the black athlete) with an abstract argument about justice, interference, and coercion and b) extrapolate from that muddle to the current state of political debate, influenced now as it never has been by self-proclaimed libertarians?

      Except that the prerequisite for even addressing “b” is that “a” be answered in the affirmative. As both Sanchez and I (amongst others) explained, the answer to “a” is “absolutely not.”

      His attempt to salvage his answer in the affirmative to “a” here is preposterous. First, in an attempt to show that Nozick was acting outside the realm of philosophy with the Chamberlain argument, he asks what he intends to be a rhetorical question: “But if my thought experiment begins, “Imagine a robber baron, glutted on Christmas-day turkey, while little Tiny Tim attenuates, hungry in the corner …” am I still doing philosophy?” Unfortunately for him, I’d wager that the answer to this rhetorical question isn’t what he thinks it is.

      He then utterly misrepresents my own argument, saying that I was attempting to address “b” (I thought it was pretty obvious that I was saying it is impossible to read the Chamberlain argument as having the meaning Metcalf was claiming it to have) and even hinting that I think the Chamberlain argument is flawed (I don’t – I think Nozick’s overall argument is flawed, but for the limited purpose it is intended, the Chamberlain argument is indisputably valid). This misrepresentation is important since he acknowledges that my argument was “strictly merited.” In other words, he’s acknowledging that the Chamberlain argument does not stand for the proposition he suggests it stands.

      In order to dismiss my argument, then, he needs to categorize it as being an attempt to dispute “b.”

      Moreover, his complaints about people pointing out the myriad factual errors are especially silly, since these factual errors undermine his case for “b” even if he is correct about “a.” The error DeLong points out is important since RTS actually is an influential book, whereas the book in which the inscription was actually written was not. The issue of whether Hayek owed all of his positions and success to corporate support is important because of Hayek’s undeniable influence on libertarian thought – this false allegation links libertarianism and corporatism. The issue of whether Nozick led to the Hayek and Friedman Nobel prizes is important because it is an attempt to transitively link Nozick to the now-purportedly corporatist Hayek and Friedman and eventually to Thatcherism and Reaganism.* And so on.

      Those errors are critical to his finding a way to blame a small movement for all of the bad and none of the good of the last 40 years.

      *I do not deny that libertarianism, Hayek, and Friedman were influences on Thatcher and Reagan, and I certainly don’t deny that libertarianism is gaining in popularity at the moment.Report

      • Mark:

        “His attempt to salvage his answer in the affirmative to “a” here is preposterous.”

        Actually, with one exception, I’m going to mostly agree with you on that, or at least, any disagreement I might have is too minimal to bother with. As I hinted earlier, my totally speculative suspicions as to Nozick’s subjective motives for choosing Wilt are different than Metcalf’s totally speculative suspicions. I don’t think Nozick’s choice was either willful or sinister (except to a few Celtics fans).

        It WAS, however, a muddle.

        And it’s the muddle that matters to b). I could have written Metcalf’s exact same essay showing that Nozick, presumably a Warriors/76ers fan from his time at Princeton, had wittily gotten a zinger in on Celtics fan Rawls without changing the substantive critique of the moral emptiness of the political economy implied by the Wilt Chamberlin argument.

        “He then utterly misrepresents my own argument, saying that I was attempting to address ‘b’ …”

        Er. Ah. Well. Um. Hmmmm. How to be tactful about this without drawing E.D. in to slap me down (again). Let me put it this way. Those of us with long, in some cases, decades-long, experience of objecting to or attempting to refute radical individualist/libertarian/Objectivist/lassiez faire/classical liberal arguments have learned the hard way that allowing you to retreat from “b” arguments to the relative safety of “a” arguments simply allows you to avoid the consequences of “b” arguments.

        At which point, “b” actors (i.e., people like Thatcher, Reagan, Phil Gramm, Dick Armey, Bill Frist and Jack Kemp) advance “b” public policy on the basis of “a” and then all you “a” people get to run for the hills when the public policy turns out to be a total failure. No no NO!! You cry and protest, we didn’t mean “b,” we meant “a,” and besides, “b” isn’t really a reflection of “a” anyways because those “b” people betrayed our elegant little abstractions we came up with while smoking dope in our dorm rooms!! Don’t blame us!!

        Yeah. We DO blame you.

        I don’t want to speak for Metcalf (though I suspect I do) when I say, we don’t give a shit about “a” arguments. That’s why Metcalf readily conceded your argument was “strictly merited.” If you folks wanna waste your time in dorm-room bullshit sessions about quarters being rendered to seven-foot tall priapists, knock yourself out. I could concede every element of your “a” arguments without altering a single element of my “b” arguments.

        “…finding a way to blame a small movement for all of the bad and none of the good of the last 40 years”

        I find that line of argument intriguing, and saw it elsewhere, including on the LoOG threads and I don’t really have a rejoinder to it that you will accept. Where you see a “small movement” that included things like “voting for Ed Clark for President in 1980,” I see things like “over thirty years of neoliberal corrosion of the Social Democratic consensus that prevailed from the end of World War II.”

        In other words, you think of yourself as “small” and I think of you as “big,” which is rather an odd reversal for usual political disputation. Whether your “small movement” wants to take credit for Reagan and Bush 43’s supply-side horseshit, I think it’s to blame. Whether you believe Greenspan’s refusal to safely deflate the housing bubble was a result of his commitment to your “small movement,” I believe it was.

        Whether you want your “small movement” to have had it’s arguments expropriated to advance policies that served corporatism, that is indeed what your “small movement” wrought.

        Perhaps you should come to realize that maybe your “small movement’s” ideas don’t work in the real world, however elegant they may may seem in dorm-room bullshit sessions?Report

        • 1. If you don’t care about demonstrating that the answer to the “a” question is yes, then you never even reach the “b” question at all. Metcalf himself concedes this in phrasing “b” as “can we extrapolate from” the affirmative answer to “a.”

          2. In showing “b” facts matter. You need to show that “b” in fact equals “a”, even if you are just making “a” up. You need to show someone in the accused group actually saying “a” or believing “a” and then show that person’s influence. It also means that when contravening evidence is presented, you have to address it. So, for instance, when you point to a particular piece of legislation as proof of the evil influence of libertarians, and it turns out that the only two arguably libertarian republicans in congress voted against it, you acknowledge that you were wrong about that proof and try to find another one. This of course assumes you are interested in trying to persuade and/or actual facts.

          3. I do not give a crap who you blame for what. Though I think I should introduce you to Koz. You two have a lot in common in terms of who you blame. Though what you each blame that group for might surprise you.Report

          • Mark:

            1. “If you don’t care about demonstrating that the answer to the “a” question is yes, then you never even reach the “b” question at all.”

            Don’t be silly. The “a” question boils down to the distinction between “just” and “not unjust,” which you argued are not synonymous, a “far cry,” you said. Metcalf agreed that was a “strictly merited” proposition and I said I would accept it if arguing “formalisiticly.” Dispensing with the “a” question, which Metcalf and I both did by YIELDING it, is necessary to get to the “b” question.

            2. “In showing ‘b’ facts matter.”

            PRECISELY. In A. J. Ayer’s formulation, “a” is an analytic question, “b” is a synthetic question. And the “b” question shows that the crucial distinction is not, as you and Julian and others claim, the distinction between “just” and “not unjust,” but the distinction between either “just” or “not unjust” and “random outcomes.” Because now we can empirically observe whether a public policy that distinguishes between “just” and “not unjust” and allows random outcomes to rule wealth distribution leads to an increase in human welfare.

            Metcalf isn’t even necessarily arguing that it does not (although I assume that’s his position), he just wants that discussion to occur.

            “You need to show someone in the accused group actually saying “a” or believing “a” and then show that person’s influence.”

            Stop it. Just stop. If you want to pretend that one of the two major parties in the USA, and one that has wielded all the levers of power at times in the last thirty years, has not advanced the principle of non-redistributive-justice, through argument, electoral advantage and policy proscription, go ahead and keep pretending it. There are not arguably “only two” libertarians in Congress and it doesn’t matter anyway because when a majority in Congress proceeds on the basis of “libertarian” principle, then it’s the principle that’s implicated, not the person who might be most pure..

            But since you insist, here’s what Dick Armey said on the Floor of the House with respect to health care on July 13, 1994:

            “•But more important than the dollar figures is the very real pain that will be felt by sick people who will be denied medical care . Price controls invariably produce scarcity, and scarcity produces rationing. When you make it illegal to sell a product at its natural market price, producers respond by reducing the quantity and quality of the product until supply and demand meet at the new, lower, Government-imposed price. This is a law of economics, which no parchment law can repeal.”Report

            • 1. Odd, then, that Metcalf specifically and solely classified my argument as a “b” argument.

              2. Now you’re moving the goalposts. I’ve never claimed that libertarians or Republicans support the concept of distributive justice, at least as that term is typically understood (I believe I even acknowledged in my original post that this holds true with respect to Nozick as well). I will even stipulate that libertarian thinkers have been influential in that regard. Clearly you think this is a bad and even disastrous thing (I may even agree with you to a significant extent). This, however, tells us nothing about why or how libertarian thinkers have been influential in this regard, much less why libertarians, republicans, centrists, whatever, have reached the conclusion that distributive justice is bad. Knowing the answers to those questions is more than a little important, and Metcalf’s piece purportedly sets out to do just that. It’s just that he then proceeds to get those answers completely and preposterously wrong.

              As for the Dick Armey quote….are we talking morals or economics? I thought we were talking morals. But if we are talking economics, well, the idea that price controls reduce supply and increase demand is as basic an economic concept as exists. We can talk about the size of those changes, sure; maybe they will be of a size where the benefits under a particular rubric of values outweigh these effects as an economic matter. But that the economic downsides would be mentioned by an opponent should hardly be surprising.Report

              • Mark:

                “1. Odd, then, that Metcalf specifically and solely classified my argument as a “b” argument.”

                Except he didn’t. He specifically categorized your “a” case as “strictly merited, but trivial.” Then he proceeded to the “b” question because it’s the “b” question that matters.

                “2. … I’ve never claimed that libertarians or Republicans support the concept of distributive justice.”

                I think you may have mis-read me, although I was possibly unclear. Or maybe I have a typo or unintentional double negative. Or maybe you do.

                My claim is that libertarians or Republicans support the concept of NON-distributive justice, or, possibly, distributive INjustice [more below]. Metcalf’s claim about that claim is that it can be traced, in it’s contemporary iteration in the civil discourse, to Nozick’s “Anarchy, State & Utopia,” and in particular to the very famous Wilt argument.

                “This, however, tells us nothing about why or how libertarian thinkers have been influential in this regard”

                Huh? Read any of the right-wing/libertarian/Republican/conservative hogwash belched about the estate tax over the last twenty years if you want an example of how or why Nozick’s principle of non-distributive justice has been influential. I’m pretty much done providing examples.

                “As for the Dick Armey quote….are we talking morals or economics? I thought we were talking morals.”

                Tee hee. And you accuse me of moving goalposts. Nope, we’ve hardly talked about morals at all, and I’ve done my best to avoid it, at least explicitly (I’ll admit you do seem to have picked up on my implicit moral stand).

                In fact, last I remember I denied that “justice” or “injustice,” that is, morals, had anything at all to do with all those quarters Wilt collected since he collected them as a result of a random combination in his DNA.

                But I’ll talk about morals now, if you like.

                Nozick’s claim is that since Wilt’s collection of voluntarily offered quarters is “not unjust,” any coercive claim by a third party on those quarters is by definition unjust by virtue of the coersion.

                Here’s the weakness in Nozick’s moral position. True, the collection of quarters is “not unjust.” It’s also not “not unjust.” And it’s not “just.” The collection of quarters isn’t a function of moral operation at all. It’s a result of random chance. And to imbue the operation of random chance with moral worth negates the very concept of moral action utterly and altogether.

                Ayn Rand, to her credit, got out of that bind by dispensing with the idea of morality as operating in economic life, insisting that the market was “amoral.” That made for a consistent ideology (Yay!) but it also led to a psychopathic social order (Boo!) because, it turns out, for whatever reason (God, sociobiology, sex, collective unconscious, pick your favorite) people need morals and those morals need to be ordered, not random.

                So. To the brass tacks. If Wilt’s collection of quarters is “not unjust,” not “not unjust,” and not “just,” but rather the result of random chance, then that means he acquired his wealth by random chance. He got lucky. (A lot, in more ways than one). But if wealth can be acquired by luck, it can also be denied by luck. That’s what “random outcome” is all about.

                So. Some people are wealthy by luck, others are not by luck. Is that moral? No. It’s luck. So the question then becomes, Should society attenuate the operation of random outcomes in the interests of advancing human welfare?

                I say Yes. And I’m not going to argue it. I’m proposing it as a Major Premise.

                I think it’s shitty that some people have to live shitty lives because of shitty luck and I think we should take some of the nice stuff from the people who live nice lives because they had nice luck and give to the people who have shitty lives so their lives won’t be so shitty anymore.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to jfxgillis says:

                I even think we should take it from people who, hypothetically, earned it fair and square with no or minimal luck involved. Call it the “alleviate the shittiness of really shitty lives at the expense of people with much nicer lives” principle.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Michael Drew says:

                Totally fine if that makes me a pity-charity person, btw. I also think we should attempt to manage our economy so as to try to minimize (not at all costs!) the incidence of really shitty lives in the first place, including giving people ample means and incentives to avert or lift themselves out of shittiness on their own (hopefully that makes me slightly more liked by the Freddie DeBoers of the world — and also, if it makes me a communist, socialist, statist, or central planner, that is all fine with me as well). But we are more or less guaranteed to only have very limited success with that, and it isn’t even sensible to expect that effort to have much success in the short run, so as an interim approach, I continue to espouse the “alleviate shittiness” principle, and what’s more for my preferred method for applying the principle I embrace an approach best described as follows: “give money to poor people.” I’d like to dub this idea, “The Yglesias Maxim.” We should do it. And we should give them real U.S. currency — as much as we can; through the government, via taxation, mind you, cuz it’s not gonna happen to scale or with consistency otherwise — not special “Paternalism-Dollars” (aka vouchers), good only to cover particular socially- or state-sanctioned needs.

                Enough with the bullshit already.Report

              • Avatar Murali in reply to jfxgillis says:

                If Wilt’s collection of quarters is “not unjust,” not “not unjust,” and not “just,” but rather the result of random chance, then that means he acquired his wealth by random chance.

                Of course some of Wilt’s wealth can be attributed to luck. But surely Wilt worked hard and practiced basket ball harder than anyone else just so that he could be so good.

                Surely that part is not attributable to luck right?Report

              • Avatar jfxgillis in reply to Murali says:

                Murali:

                Wilt? I’d really rather not get too far outside the actual parameters of Nozick’s argument, since he was trying to construct an analytic argument, not a synthetic one, but No, Wilt didn’t work very hard at all, except at partying.

                Bill Russell, on the other hand, was famously prohibited from practice by Red Auerbach because he worked too hard. He was the anti-Alan Iverson.

                In any event, no matter how hard Wilt worked, no spectator would voluntarily render him a quarter were it not for the random chance of his being seven-feet tall.Report

              • Avatar Murali in reply to jfxgillis says:

                In any event, no matter how hard Wilt worked, no spectator would voluntarily render him a quarter were it not for the random chance of his being seven-feet tall.

                Look, there are a multitude of economically beneficial talents and while it through luck that they have the raw potential that they have, it is a lot more than luck that goes into developing those talents. Often you need discipline to the point of being almost obsessive to work at it until you are good at it. Micheal Jordan is a case in point. The point is this. While luck in hitting the genetic lottery was a necessary ingredient, it was definitely not sufficient. Moreover, the mere fact that luck was a necessary ingredient does not therefore show that his success was attributable entirely to luck. Even if, say Wilt was anomalous in never even having to work at it, for almost everyone else who is successful in their fields, they have worked hard at it, much harder than anyone else in the same field.Report

              • Avatar jfxgillis in reply to jfxgillis says:

                Murali:

                See? Now you’re getting away from the analytic argument Nozick made and wandering into the synthetic argument wanted Metcalf made.

                Those points you made, those empirically-determinable points about the interplay of random chance and willful effort (and, I might add, the “rules of basketball,” but let’s not go there yet), are EXACTLY what Metcalf said was why Nozick’s Wilt argument failed. I hope he’s reading this thread.

                But to return to the more analytic question, it’s not that all of it is luck, but that any of it is luck because Nozick’s claim was that the taking of any of it was unjust.

                To repeat. Since Nozick rejected the idea that anyone except Wilt had a right to ANY of those quarters, to whatever extent luck was responsible, he’s imbuing random chance with moral worth to that extent.

                And that, I say, is the fatal contradiction in the Wilt argument because it requires people to accept random chance as moral order.Report

              • Avatar Murali in reply to jfxgillis says:

                its ok, wasn’t making too big a point, just trying to sound out exactly what your point was. I’ll return to the substantive point later. (have to pick up my sister’s cake)Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to jfxgillis says:

                Since Nozick rejected the idea that anyone except Wilt had a right to ANY of those quarters, to whatever extent luck was responsible, he’s imbuing random chance with moral worth to that extent.

                No, what Nozick claimed was only that even if you are a supporter of patterned theories of justice (to each according to…), you will always find yourself returning to historical theories (if there is justice in all the particular acquisitions and exchanges, then the overall system is just).

                The reason for this is very simple — ownership of wealth implies the ability to use it, to transfer it, and to exchange it. A pattern distribution of wealth that doesn’t permit these acts is not really a distribution of wealth, because its purported owners wouldn’t own it. Not to the extent that they can’t control its destination, at least.

                Now, you may say that this is a fairly narrow point. And it is. It really is.Report

              • Avatar Koz in reply to jfxgillis says:

                That’s a good point, and it brings to mind a similar point about Rand vis a vis liberalism.

                From the perspective of how ever many decades later, the topical value of Rand is her literary imagination of the failure of left-liberalism. We don’t have to follow her theories of objectivism or her quirky personal life. The left criticisms of Rand (like these recent threads at the League) ring hollow even if they were substantially true. Whatever bad that can be laid at the feet of Rand (or Nozick) doesn’t help the positive case for leftism at all. And for that matter, doesn’t even take out the Rand/Nozick indictment of liberalism.

                In particular, the Rand heroes (Rearden, Galt, Roark, etc.) are substantially animated by animus toward liberalism whereas in real life such is rarely the case. Unless, as is now, liberals have screwed up things so badly that the subject is unavoidable.Report

              • Avatar Murali in reply to Murali says:

                even if you are a supporter of patterned theories of justice (to each according to…),

                in that case the difference principle doesnt really sound like a patterned principle. There is no way to formulate it into “to each according to…”. Also, there is theoretically no upper limit to the inequalities that can be justified as long as the worst off are doing as well as they possibly can while complying with a stable set of rules.

                if there is justice in all the particular acquisitions and exchanges, then the overall system is just

                This is true. Even Rawls admits so when he talks about pure procedural justice.

                (He does make an exception. He thinks that too large disparities in wealth can negate the worth of political freedoms. We can disregard this for the moment as it has nothing to do with the difference principle)

                We can also go further and say that the overall system is just even if not all the original acquisitions were justly carried out.

                The problem with a true historical principle is that historically a lot of property was acquired by war and conquest etc etc. There is little property that is currently owned that does not have a tainted history.

                Rather, we maintain the notion of acquisition, transfer and rectification, but not justify it through an entirely historical method. Rather we try to see how we can justify and define the right types of acquisition, transfer and rectidication rules. It is justifying those rules which is the task of political philosophy. My answer would be Rawls’s principles of justice. I’m not going to show you the legwork now, but I’m working on an essay to do this now.Report

              • Avatar jfxgillis in reply to Murali says:

                Jason:

                “The reason for this is very simple — ownership of wealth implies the ability to use it, to transfer it, and to exchange it. A pattern distribution of wealth that doesn’t permit these acts is not really a distribution of wealth, because its purported owners wouldn’t own it. Not to the extent that they can’t control its destination, at least.”

                I don’t see any practical distinction between my reading of what Nozick said and your reading of what Nozick said. To put it another way, I’ll accept your paraphrase above as accurate, although I like mine better because I have very high self-esteem.

                Where I presume we’d disagree is that I would continue that Wilt doesn’t really have ownership of the wealth he acquired by random chance. IOW, I’m perfectly fine with a system that doesn’t permit those acts of use, transfer and exchange–at least to the extent that the wealth is the product of random chance.Report

        • Avatar Koz in reply to jfxgillis says:

          “Yeah. We DO blame you.”

          I’ve stayed out of this so far but I’m glad you’ve brought this up because whatever the particulars of Wilt, Nozick, Rawls, Hayek, whatever the resolution is pretty easy.

          The cause of the problem is liberals. Get rid of the liberals, get rid of problem.

          As this applies to Nozick, we can concede Nozick’s attack on liberalism. But it’s not necessary. We don’t need Nozick to discredit liberalism, the newspaper works just as well. And, just because we accept Nozick’s critique of liberalism doesn’t mean that we have to accept his positive formulation of libertarianism (and I in particular have problems with it as I’ve written elsewhere at the League).

          If we disentangle the critique of liberalism from the positive defense of libertarianism, things get quite a bit simpler.Report

          • Avatar RTod in reply to Koz says:

            “The cause of the problem is liberals. Get rid of the liberals, get rid of the problem.”

            The cause of what problem – or are they the cause of all problems? How should we get rid of them? I assume permanent solutions are too extreme… would it work to simply allow one party to vote?Report

            • Avatar Koz in reply to RTod says:

              “How should we get rid of them?”

              Liberals are for the most part good people. Once they are allowed to see that they are the cause of the problem (not every problem of course, but most of them related to public policy) they’ll find other things to do. So I hope.Report

  3. Avatar Simon K says:

    So, that’s a very longwinded way of saying that he doesn’t really care whether what he wrote has anything to do with the actual substance of the Wilt Chamberlain argument, and he was just trying to make his run-of-the-mill aren’t-libertarians-horrid article look serious.Report

    • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to Simon K says:

      I wish it were that simple.Report

      • Avatar Simon K in reply to Mark Thompson says:

        It really actually is that simple. He said absolutely nothing related to the actual argument. He (and Jack) want to talk about how the real world isn’t like that. That’s fine, but nothing to do with the argument, and he doesn’t actually say anything very interesting about it except that y’all are bad people ‘coz, y’know, Reagan, n’stuff. Its just dressing a stupid non-argument up in fancy intellectual clothes. I understand his actual point. In fact I think I made it right here on this very site several times, and FWIW Jack, EC and Murali have all made it much better than he did, but its nothing to do with the actual argument he’s pretending to discuss.Report

        • Avatar jfxgillis in reply to Simon K says:

          Simon:

          Thanks.

          “Its just dressing a stupid non-argument up in fancy intellectual clothes. ”

          I swear, the first thought I had when I got to end of the piece was, “God damn it, I wish I could’ve edited that.” From my own experience, I think what Metcalf did was forget to apply one of the Good Doctor’s cardinal rules: When you think you have written something especially brilliant, strike it out.

          (Methinks me not the only one around here to have violated it.)

          :^{)>Report

    • Avatar jfxgillis in reply to Simon K says:

      Simon:

      “the actual substance of the Wilt Chamberlain argument”

      The Wilt argument has no substance.

      Mark:

      I just noticed that this line in Metcalf’s surrebuttal is specifically directed to you:

      “To understand why this criticism is strictly merited but ultimately trivial,”

      He grants you your point. But he also, I think carries my point in that he suggests he’s trying to engage in “enlightened discussion about the market and whether it conduces to just or merely random outcomes.”

      Whether he used the term “random outcomes” in the original piece I do not remember, but I sure as hell know I did in defending it on the LoOG threads.Report

  4. Avatar Will says:

    Goddamnit, I can’t believe no one has mentioned how appropriate this song is.Report

  5. Avatar Michael Drew says:

    Well, he insults Brad Delong, so that should win him at least a few points around here…Report

  6. Avatar Jakecollins says:

    Looks like the libertarians need to call a Whaaaaambulence. In all seriousness, most of the critiques of Metcalf misconstrue his argument in a fashion that parallels the way the accuse Metcalf of misconstruing Nozick.
    It ain’t that complicated.
    Metcalf is disturbed by the way that libertarianism uses abstract thought experiments to deduce proper politics. Even though Nozick did not disavow right wing politics, he did grow ambivalent about the deductive political technique of ASU.
    Metcalf didn’t claim to have refuted your precious ideology… The WC example is just meant to demonstrate the limits of such thought experiments. Since libertarians tend to draw a strong connection between political philosophy and liberty, it’s highly disengenuous to say “it’s only a thought experiment!”Report

    • Avatar Murali in reply to Jakecollins says:

      So what, now Metcalf is trying to question the utility of political philosophy in the first place?Report

    • Avatar Gary Gunnels in reply to Jakecollins says:

      “Metcalf is disturbed by the way that libertarianism uses abstract thought experiments to deduce proper politics.”

      Then he must be absolutely freaked out by the last couple of thousand years of political philosophy then. If that is really his argument, then it applies across the board to any and all political philosophies.Report

  7. Metcalf comes across as a whiny bitch. If this continues to escalate, I’m predicting the greatest inundation of gliberals since the failed LoOG/Balloon Juice pararomance.Report

  8. Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

    Just listened to the song. My nightmare is to be like the man on the screen.Report

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