Morning Ed: Politics {2017.10.04.W}


Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

Related Post Roulette

77 Responses

  1. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    Po1: I suppose this is more of a problem in liberal think tanks where we are supposed to critique the economic power of the ultra-wealthy but also need money. It must be nice to be on the right and be able to say “Money yay!!!!!'”

    Po5: If someone has bigoted views than it is rational for them to vote for bigoted Cheeto Benito. Does that make the naysayers happy? Why am I supposed to give moral creedeance to a worldview I despise?

    Po6: I suspect that 4-8 years of Trump is going to increase the partisan divide. Despite my comment above I do worry about this becoming an issue of reflexive tribalism and mandatory performative politics in the lockstep two-step.
    Now part of this is because no one really knows where Jews fit in the lock step two-step.

    Lee is right that Jews are increasingly trapped in the middle between two idiot armies. On the right, you have Richard Spencer and the Nazi lovers/Nazis. On the left, you have people who declare that Zionism is White Supremacy without any knowledge or care that Jews were not seen as white for most of European history.

    People need to learn the nuances of history.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq says:

      Or that Jews were considered second-class citizens at best in the Muslim countries of the MENA. The nascent Arab and Iranian nationalist movements looked no friendlier on their Jewish populations than the Muslim ones.Report

    • Avatar Stillwater says:

      Lee is right that Jews are increasingly trapped in the middle between two idiot armies.

      Not to diminish the very real anti-semitism that Jewish folk are currently increasingly being subject to, but I think your complaint here applies, to a lesser extent, to just about every group out there. It’s a function of the divide-and-conquer times we currently live in.Report

  2. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    Let’s look at what Trump did yesterday, he dismissed Maria as a disaster because only 16 people died. He also threw out paper towels as “aide.”

    What are we to make of these actions? Is Trump trolling and mocking the Puerto Rican’s? The answer would seem to be yes. So what should I make of people who still support Trump despite these constantly stupid actions? Why do the right-wingers constantly get the benefit of the doubt and absolution from agency and the consequences of their decisions?Report

    • Avatar Will Truman says:

      You are getting tied up in questions of virtue
      Rationality isn’t a question of virtue. Investigating rationality isn’t investigating virtue. It’s not a question of “benefit of the doubt” here.

      If anything, rationality is among the bleaker prospects in terms of where we go from here. Report

      • Avatar pillsy says:

        @saul-degraw may be getting tangled up in questionably relevant questions of virtue, but Stanovich’s argument depends heavily on the benefit of the doubt: arguing over and over that a certain piece of evidence against Trump voter rationality is not sufficient, so they’re not irrational.

        That, however, is not a crippling problem with the piece. It may not even be a flaw at all, it’s just a disagreement over the existence or application of the evidence. Indeed, Stanovich may be right and Saul may be wrong.

        Well, I’d believe that if Stanovich didn’t make the same mistake that pretty much everybody makes when they offer up defenses of Trump voters: Trump didn’t just win the general election, he also won the primary. So when Stanovich presents Democrats, hypothetical or otherwise, with a choice between the clearly unfit Al Sharpton and the much more fit Ted Cruz, it’s a completely false double standard. Lots of Trump voters chose Trump over Cruz! Maybe voting Sharpton over Cruz would be rational (though I personally couldn’t do it), but a more proper analogy would be voting Sharpton over Elizabeth Warren. I wouldn’t flinch for a second before calling a Democrat who did that “irrational”.

        I’m pretty sure he isn’t arguing that against the position Trump voters uniformly irrational, which would not only be something of a straw man, but would also be totally at odds with the statistical nature of his comparisons between Clinton and Trump voters.

        There are other problems with his piece—not only is anti-vaxx not a position with a clear partisan bias, Trump himself is an anti-vaxxer! But his complete failure to engage with the, ahem, elephant in the room of the GOP primary is a glaring oversight that, IMO, renders his analysis basically useless.Report

        • Avatar trumwill says:

          There are, to my mind, three rational arguments for Trump in the primary. I disagree with each for different reasons, but they are:

          1) Immigration – I wrote that post on it, and I think it holds up to a degree. If you believe that immigration is an existential issue, then Trump probably was their best best. It’s a hail mary throw, but as of right now it’s one that has paid off. We’ll see if that holds, but either way I can understand the logic.

          2) Likelihood of victory – They believed Trump could win while others would have lost. I know non-Trump people who believe that everybody but Trump would have lost because of the electoral college. I think it depends on the candidate, but we know clearly that Trump could win and we don’t know for sure anyone else would have because counterfactuals are always speculative.

          3) Burn the party down – This one ties in with #1, and also has its own logic. The idea here was that even if Trump lost, the existing party hierarchy needed to be destroyed and Trump was the way to make that happen. It also ties in with #2 in that many of them believed that if Trump couldn’t win than nobody could win and if you are going to lose you can at least set the party up to be better in the future.

          I find all of these rationales lacking (obviously, since I opposed him uniformly throughout the primaries), but I think a case can be made. I don’t know what percentage of Trump primary supporters genuinely believed one or more of the above. I suspect less than half, but I think that percentage (of voters who are thinking rationally and coherently) is always lower than we think to begin with.Report

          • Avatar pillsy says:

            Some people, like you, have made arguments that address the primary, so it’s not impossible.

            Still, it’s a striking, and strikingly common, omission, and one which makes me rather more sympathetic to @saul-degraw ‘s complaints.Report

        • Avatar Pinky says:

          You’ve fallen into a regressive argument here. Stanovich is saying that rationality/irrationality is not the right framework for identifying a weakness in a side’s justification for its voting habits. If that’s true for a general election, it’s also true for a primary.Report

          • Avatar pillsy says:

            But he’s making specific arguments that refute the claim for the general election that fail to apply to the primary. Without refuting the claim that Trump supporters were irrational for supporting a clearly unfit candidate in the primary, his defense falls apart, and without that defense, his claims about the inapplicability of rationality as a criterion also fail.

            This isn’t the only place his article does this, though, since time and blurs the line between “Republican” and “Trump supporter” in ways that only apply at all to the general election, not the primary election.Report

        • Avatar Stillwater says:

          But his complete failure to engage with the, ahem, elephant in the room of the GOP primary is a glaring oversight that, IMO, renders his analysis basically useless.

          Tangential to the main argument here, but I just wanted to note that any account of “what happened?” which fails to position the GOP primary at the *center* is necessarily going to be incomplete if not wrong.Report

    • Avatar Damon says:

      Saul, you need to “let it go“.

      I “let it go” after Obama told me that I get bitter and “cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”Report

      • Avatar InMD says:

        That was a gaffe for sure but look up the rest of the quote. The point being made was that there are parts of the country that have been left behind by globalization and that they’ve been consistently failed by the government. To me his mistake was wrapping it up in culture war signifyers like guns and religion but I don’t think the substance of what he was saying was incorrect. It’s a gaffe that I think shows Obama understood his opponents (or at least who he had to convince) in a way Hilary’s deplorables comment illustrated her tone deafness.Report

        • Avatar InMD says:

          Here it is for reference:

          You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not.

          And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.


          • Avatar Damon says:

            I get where O was trying to go, but it’s frankly, just bad. What he’s saying is that because globalization/policies left them with the short end of the stick, they get xenophobic, don’t want immigration, and cling to guns and god for their salvation or what have you.

            The assumption is that privation leads to being a gun nut or anti immigration, etc. I don’t think that’s an accurate statement.Report

            • Avatar Stillwater says:

              The assumption is that privation leads to being a gun nut or anti immigration, etc.

              Fair enough, but given the quotation InMD posted I think you’re being willfully uncharitable since it’s clear Obama meant pretty much the exact opposite of what you initially claimed.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq says:

      I think Will has it in the rights. Trump voters might lack virtue and might hold beliefs that can be defined as problematic at best but they aren’t being irrational from a self-interest perspective. They wanted a candidate that would be down on liberal coastal elites and people of color and got one. Trump’s actions in Puerto Rico demonstrate that. The actually immorality and evil of those actions do not make them irrational from their cosmological perspective.

      Another way to put it is why do Evangelicals vote for the really un- or even anti-Christian Trump. They say because they will get the judges they want. That is a perfectly rational choice. They want to undo liberal progress in things like abortion or LGBT rights and correctly identified the federal judiciary as the best way to achieve these ends. Voting for a President who will get the judges they want in the Courts is an entirely rational decision even if Trump lives an immoral life and is proud of it.

      When Trump won the 2016 Presidential election, Slate had an article on what would Democratic voters do if a liberal whack-a-do, there example was Sean Penn rather than Al Sharpton, got the Democratic Presidential node. Many Democratic nobly said they would not vote for a liberal whack-a-do but the more honest ones would say getting liberal policies passed and liberal judges and officials appointed would be worth the antics and embarrassment caused by a liberal whack-a-do President. They were making a rational choice.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      You’re probably too young to remember Hurricane Andrew hitting Florida back in 1992.

      President George Herbert Walker Bush flew down to Florida and they put him on a helicopter and had him see all of the damage and devastation for himself. The news media played this as Bush being above it all, dispassionately touring the wreckage in a helicopter rather than getting down into it and seeing it up close… close enough to smell it. It was yet another piece of evidence that Bush was out of touch and that he just didn’t “get it”.

      1992 was a long time ago, I guess.Report

      • Avatar Troublesome Frog says:

        Hot take: Presidents shouldn’t go to disaster areas because nobody needs an older gentleman in a dress shirt and baseball cap to lift one cardboard box in front of a giant camera crew that just gets in the way of real aid operations. Presidents should stay in the Oval Office and do president stuff instead.

        We don’t send them to war zones to pick up an M16 and pop off one round in the general direction of the front line. But you can rest assured that as soon as the first one does it, all future presidents will be called unpatriotic if they don’t.

        We’re 99% of the way to full on politician role playing as a full time thing.Report

        • Avatar pillsy says:

          It’s not just that. It may not make a lot of sense from a practical standpoint, but a lot of voters clearly still want to see it. I think it’s the sort of thing that’s too heavily linked to the President’s ceremonial role as head of state to easily dispense with.Report

          • Avatar LeeEsq says:

            King George V didn’t need to visit the trenches during World War I for any strategic reason. He certainly wasn’t making any important decisions and was probably a big security nuisance. As King it really helped boast the moral of his soldiers that the King was there and saw them.

            Presidents visiting disaster zones or war zones are also big security nuisances and probably don’t make anything better. The President is viewed as a pseudo-monarch by many Americans though, especially if they voted for him. Going out and looking at the wreckage and providing some comfort is part of the President’s ceremonial role as head of state whether we like it or not. Trump failed at that and did so in a particularly vicious manner.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird says:

          Presidents shouldn’t go to disaster areas because nobody needs an older gentleman in a dress shirt and baseball cap to lift one cardboard box in front of a giant camera crew that just gets in the way of real aid operations. Presidents should stay in the Oval Office and do president stuff instead.

          On an intellectual level, I agree with you 100%.

          On a populist level, I know that had this happened, this would turn into attacks on Trump that defenses like “Presidents should be presidential” would be insufficient against.

          Remember Hurricane Harvey in Texas?

          Here’s what Newsweek had to say:

          President Donald Trump visited Texas to offer his support after Hurricane Harvey, but he didn’t meet with a single victim of the storm, according to Politico.

          There you go.

          This time he went to Puerto Rico. He got in the fray. He *PERSONALLY* handed out paper towels.Report

        • Avatar Will Truman says:

          I will totally defend any president who says “I’m not going/landing because I’d be in the way.”

          However, if you’re going to Texas and not going to Puerto Rico (Trump did do both) then that reasoning doesn’t hold up.Report

        • Avatar Kolohe says:

          The timing of Trump’s visits to various disasters and such has actually been spot on.

          It’s the conduct before, during and after that’s been a gigantic consistent fatberg.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

        Dude, I am not complaining that he went but he clearly went to troll. What is with your Trump defense? Is the contrarian need that strong in you? He was throwing out paper towels like it was a sports promotional or freebies at a concert.Report

  3. Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

    PO7: Interesting, although I wonder how the “extra territory” thing would work in practice.Report

    • Avatar PD Shaw says:

      In practice, it would probably look like a gerrymandered district. I think people advocating such changes need to come up with their own terminology for what they are seeking, something like “consumer preference.” When people vote, they want actual choices at the ballot box and they want elected officials to feel the incentives of a real risk of not being re-elected. The simplest way to do this is to draw the boundaries to achieve this outcome, i.e. gerrymander the district to maximize a preferred outcome.

      BTW/ “wasted” votes is not poll tested to appeal to Justices. Maybe refurbish “marketplace of ideas.”Report

      • Avatar dragonfrog says:

        It would at least look like a number of different gerrymandered district maps, depending on which representative you want to contact – if you want to address your Democrat rep, you’d be looking at one map; if you want to address your Republican rep, you’d be looking at another. If you want to address a minor third party rep – Greens or Libertarians or Shouting Puritanical Christians or whatever – the map might just be the whole state.Report

  4. Avatar KarelEtc says:

    the link in PO8 doesn’t workReport

  5. Avatar aaron david says:

    7- The only way to get rid of Gerrymandering is to A)find a nonpartisan, already drawn line as a base and 2) get rid of all ‘mandering- and yes minority-majority areas also count as ‘mandering. For the first, I recommed county lines, as they are already there, don’t move and the setting of them is past being partisan. Yes, it might result in numerical issues, but that is just how it is going to go, maybe combine some of the smaller ones to get better numbers. For the second, well, you see why we will never get rid of ‘manding.

    5- Trump voters are every bit as rational as any other voter. They simply have different concerns than you and I. Calling them irrational only shows the name caller to be unable to put them selves in others shoes, not a good trait in my eyes.

    6- Here is a very sweet picture of the librarian dressed as The Cat. The internet is forever folks.Report

    • Avatar pillsy says:

      Trump voters are every bit as rational as any other voter. They simply have different concerns than you and I. Calling them irrational only shows the name caller to be unable to put them selves in others shoes, not a good trait in my eyes.

      I would be a lot more receptive to this line of criticism if I saw it applied to the right 10% as often as it’s applied to the left.

      Well, that and it basically boils down to insisting that any decision is inherently rational, leeching the term of all meaning.Report

      • Avatar Troublesome Frog says:

        Stabbing your neighbor to death is completely rational if you really believe it when the voice in your head says that he’s a lizard person out to steal the chocolate eggs that keep you alive.Report

        • Avatar Pinky says:

          That passes Stanovic’s standard for instrumental rationality (a thing being consistent with one’s preferences) but not his standard for epistemic rationality (a thing being consistent with reality).Report

          • Avatar Troublesome Frog says:

            Substitute “stabbing my neighbor will protect my chocolate eggs and allow me to live forever” for “slashing the top marginal income tax rate will reduce the deficit” and I think we have the same problem.Report

      • Avatar aaron david says:

        Trying to claim any and all political opposition as “irrational” is silly*. Just because you don’t like a candidate doesn’t make the supporters irrational. Again, they simply value different things. If you want them to value the same things as you, you need some sort of moral suasion to move them in that direction. Starting off with the idea they are irrational is pretty much the worst foot to start on, well, other than calling them deplorable.

        As far as the right 10%, they look just as silly as the left 10%, because Sturgeons Law. Its basically what you said about the two vocal sides of the Gun Control debate yesterday. And yes, it gets mentioned, just go the Democrat Underground or Salon or…

        *And yes, the right did this with Obama and also looked silly, until they didn’t look silly anymore and started winning elections.Report

        • Avatar pillsy says:

          If I thought getting Trump supporters to stop supporting Trump was key to beating Trump, I’d agree that my approach is terrible. However, since I don’t believe that, and in fact think such an approach is likely to be counterproductive, I prefer to call it as I see it in the hopes of heading off a dangerous set of mistakes.

          As for the necessity of understanding the other guy’s point of view, that is roughly the opposite of the approach taken by the GOP since Obama was elected, and I can’t really say it hasn’t worked, you know?Report

          • Avatar aaron david says:

            So, you are basically saying “get out the vote” is more important, correct? But not “you got to change you evil ways” and rid society of the “evil?”Report

            • Avatar pillsy says:


              Of course, if you do think persuasion is key, I wouldn’t be too hasty to dismiss the idea that Trump supporters are taking actions that don’t advance their desired ends whatever those ends may be.Report

        • Avatar Will Truman says:

          I assign rationality and irrationality based on numerous factors, but big among them is whether or not their actions line up with their apparent and stated aims. So if someone is serving the Anti-Lizard-Person Voice, then the actions he takes in service to the Anti-Lizard-Person Voice can be rational. Listening to the Lizard Voice in the first place? Errr, well, I’d probably need to know more.

          And, to be clear, it doesn’t line up with general morality at all. Taking up arms to defend slavery was rational and evil. Going to war to seize Iraqi oil fields would have a stronger rational basis than going there to spread freedom and democracy.Report

          • Avatar aaron david says:

            I agree with all of that @will-truman with one proviso. It is truly impossible to suss out the level of stated/unstated levels of preference. IE, Hillary might have hit everyone of the stated desires of the populus, but simply saying Deplorable, or falling down or any number of other things, might have pushed people to make a wholly rational decision to vote some where else. Because, they may have a strong, unstated, desire to have someone who appears healthy, or doesn’t hate them, or any other thing that you or I might discount.

            Like in sports betting, if someone says they are going with a certain team due to to color of the jersey, which has no rational basis, then I would consider THAT to be irrational. But, if they say that due to having a bad feeling about something they can’t put into words, and are only using the color of a jersey to articulate a bad feeling somewhere else (they may have watched practice and seen to many wobbly players) then they aren’t being really irrational, they are simply caught by talking to someone with a different grasp on the sports dialog.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq says:

      We could also go the proportional representation route and decouple representation and geography.Report

      • Avatar dragonfrog says:

        The electoral system described in Po7 is a proportional representation system – it’s just not an entirely at-large PR system, for reasons described in the link (including that it would theoretically be implementable without changing laws or constitutional requirements for single-member constituencies, and that it would theoretically be possible to win over those with the current decision making power to implement it, as it doesn’t overly threaten their re-election chances).Report

        • Avatar Will Truman says:

          FTR, we have no constitutional requirement* for single-member districts. There is a federal law, but based on the wording it seems more likely than not this would require changing that law (as opposed to this working around it).

          * – A lot of the historical multi-member districts are or would be unconstitutional, though. That’s primarily because they use a method other than proportional representation. Proportional representation would alleviate the civil rights problem that FPTP MMD’s can cause.Report

        • Avatar Alan Scott says:

          And yet it’s a non-intuitive system that can result in a candidate that gets the most votes in a district losing to a candidate that had less within-district support. No way anyone’s ever going to be okay with that in the US.

          If we’re going to create a hybrid voting system that includes representational districts and proportional voting, then the New Zealand system is the way to go (it would involve a constitutional amendment, but realistically any national change to improve voting fairness would.)Report

    • Avatar Stillwater says:

      Trump voters are every bit as rational as any other voter. They simply have different concerns than you and I.

      This is puzzling. If the definition of “rationality” is “expressing your concerns by voting” then the whole concept of rationality is basically vacuous. On the other hand, merely “having concerns” doesn’t make them rational (they’re just data points) nor does the content of a concern become rational merely by having it.

      Calling them irrational only shows the name caller to be unable to put them selves in others shoes, not a good trait in my eyes.

      In one sense that’s true: if I put myself in Paddock’s shoes I too would view what he did in Las Vegas as rational according to the “put yourself in another person’s shoes” meaning of that term. But merely understanding why someone holds the beliefs they do doesn’t make the content of those beliefs rational, tho, right? Unless merely holding a belief is what constitutes rationality. Is that what you’re arguing here?Report

      • Avatar aaron david says:

        OK, you have a point re; rationality. But my bigger point, who is to say what is/isn’t rational still stands. All of us have a definition of what we feel is rational, political choices being a key part of that. The most common use of something like irrational is simply saying “why do they do what I don’t like” which is itself irrational. Or that is rational if it is used as a coping/healing stratagem.

        My point being that what works for, is important to, etc. is different from one person to the next. Values of any number of variables can change in a heartbeat.Report

        • Avatar Stillwater says:

          But my bigger point, who is to say what is/isn’t rational still stands.

          That’s what I thought you were getting at. Basically (as I understand it) that the reactionary right (at least) is rebelling against the entire concept of rationality in part, perhaps, because rampant rationality has, from their pov, made them worse off. . IOW, they believe that their personal interests are advanced by rejecting rationality as a constraint on “acceptable” thought.

          If that’s what you mean, I agree. That’s why rational debates with these folks won’t get anywhere. They’re basically just asserting stuff, and the response to criticism from the “rational” crowd is to shout it down by asserting it more loudly.

          {{Ironically, I remember a discussion with TVD a very long time ago when he was trying to defend conservative policies/principles etc – and doing a very bad job of it – and I said something to the effect of “my advice to conservatives would be to reject even participating in the debate: assert your beliefs without trying to justify them and just stick to ’em.” And, for better or worse, I was right! So I got that going for me.}}Report

          • Avatar aaron david says:

            I will agree with you except on part. Its your definition of “rational” that is subjective. What may be “rational’ to you isn’t necessarily “rational” to others.

            {But spot on mentioning that to TvanD.}Report

            • Avatar Stillwater says:

              That’s your post modernism coming thru. 🙂 In order to not violate the the Law of Noncontradiction Derrida had to strike-thru a whole treatise on the topic. Even he realized that language can’t define reality. That reality – including concepts like rationality – is actually the constraint language operates in. So I disagree.

              Another counterexample: instrumental rationality is something everyone, even the most backwardsass Trump voter, accepts. The debate isn’t about the existence of these concepts but their scope of application, seems to me.Report

              • Avatar aaron david says:

                Well, Derrida! (spits)

                But seriously, what is “rational” is very subjective. Anytime there is a weighing of facts for importance, opinions in fact, there is the problem of what is rational. My rationality is completely different that your rationality. The problem being that “rational” isn’t a fact, its “based on or in accordance with reason or logic.” If someone follows logic that is different than your logic, they aren’t being illogical. Because who defines what is the correct logic? outside of math.

                Its kinda like science. No matter how much consensus there is about something, if someone who dissents is right, they are right.
                ETA forget to put in that life is not science, not when it comes to politics and morals.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                But seriously, what is “rational” is very subjective. Anytime there is a weighing of facts for importance, opinions in fact, there is the problem of what is rational.

                Disagree again. Your claim that selection bias exists only makes sense given an objective concept of rationality, one which everyone agrees with (even folks who cherry pick data). Even more so, motivated reasoning itself is an objective property in the world which people express all the time. Just because they do so doesn’t mean rationality is subjective.

                Or more to the point: the fact that people use evidence (cherry-picked or not) to justify their views implies that they’re trying to make a rational argument. That they’re exhibiting rationality. Disagreements aren’t about what the concept of rationality is, whether it’s subjective or not, but what constitutes relevant evidence and what follows from it.Report

              • Avatar aaron david says:

                Well, I disagree, rationally.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                {{You forgot the strike-thru.}}Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                SlateStarCodex has a nice essay up that includes in its conclusion this lovely line by Marcus Aurelius:

                When you wake up in the morning, tell yourself: the people I deal with today will be meddling, ungrateful, arrogant, dishonest, jealous and surly. They are like this because they cannot tell good from evil.

                Maybe it’s just something as simple as conservatives being unable to tell good from evil.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Interesting. I didn’t know Marcus Aurelius was a partisan liberal.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                “Liberal”, in this case, is used in its positional sense of the term. Don’t forget: he was surrounded by reactionaries who unironically wanted to return to the glory days of Rome.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                More fascinating facts. Not sure how they inform whether rationality is merely subjective, tho.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Well, perhaps there’s the other option that matters of taste are being confused for matters of morality and people are then disagreeing over something where a mistake is compounded by another mistake.

                Or worse.

                One side’s matter of taste is the other side’s matter of morality (and vice-versa) and they’re both pursuing “The Good” while, at the same time, disagreeing about what “The Good” is while, at the same time, not even seeing that the other side doesn’t agree on “The Good” but, instead, only intuiting that the other side must be evil at worst or merely ignorant at best.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Yes, that’s a fair description of a part of our current politics. Not really sure how that adds to the discussion I was having with Aaron, tho.

                That is: it doesn’t follow from people’s disagreement that rationality is subjective.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Rationality in service to The Good (sub 1) might look very, very different in practice to Rationality in service to The Good (sub 2).

                And assumptions that Rationality is Rationality is Rationality are not, themselves, necessarily sound.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Still not seeing that as evidence that rationality is subjective. Conclusions are different things than the reasoning by which a person arrives at them.

                I tend to think that what Aaron means is that people insist, based on their subjective experiences, that their conclusions (ie., some of the important beliefs they hold) are rational. But that just gets us back to the first comment I made in this subthread, seems to me. Beliefs are just data points.Report

              • Avatar aaron david says:

                @jaybird is hitting it on the head. What is moral is being confused with what is taste, and they are both being confused with fact.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Maybe, but that’s not what I’m talking about. We’ve got types of reasoning described by different concepts and those are objective properties in the world. If a person is committed to A, and acts according to a commitment to that belief, they’re acting rationally (insofar as their actions follow from A) but the belief in A itself is, without further argument, neither rational or irrational. It just hangs out there in subjective space, so to speak.

                To the extent that A cannot be justified, or the folks who believe it simply refuse to even try to justify it, they just assert it. (Hence my earlier comment on that topic.) But it doesn’t follow from their commitment to A that A is a rational belief. And even moreso, it doesn’t mean that rationality is subjectively determined. All it means, in this case, is that certain core beliefs aren’t rational.

                More charitably, I think folks can and do justify these beliefs to themselves, so in that sense they meet one of the criteria of rationality, and the fact that people disagree about them isn’t because rationality is subjective but because people disagree about what constitutes sufficient (or even necessary!) evidence to justify them, especially in light of competing commitments.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                and they are both being confused with fact.

                Types of rationality are basic processes we all employ and are facts of the world. The implementation of reasoning doesn’t entail any facts, tho, since it’s just a mental process people go thru. Input, output stuff.Report

              • Avatar aaron david says:

                I am totally with you on this, from a philosophical direction. Outside that direction, though, is where thinks get sticky. Elsewhere in the thread, people are reacting to others opinion as if they were a RONG fact. Hence calling them irrational. That is what I was digging into. Especially where the perceived actions are counter to the perceived words. Now, take those words at a remove, not talking to someone but reading an interview with them, and one can easily get an incomplete view of someone stated preferences, with the added bonus of not having any opportunity to clarify with further questions. At this point it is quite easy to come up with ideas such as this.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Ahh. Two types of claims can be made here. One is that the folks who criticize Trump voters as being irrational are wrong because they actually are rational according to X, Y and Z; and another is that folks who criticize Trump voters as being irrational are wrong because rationality is subjective.

                I’m very very willing to go with the former. Not so keen on the latter. Personally, I think many Trump voters cast their ballot for what amounts to irrational reasons: the reflexive belief that any GOP candidate was better than a Democrat. For those folks, the vote wasn’t rational in my view. Likewise, of course, many Democrats voted for Hillary for precisely the same reversed reasons.

                Really, I think the key to understanding Trump voters electoral choices has to take place at the level of the primary.Report

        • Avatar pillsy says:

          Not really.

          For instance, if someone really, really wanted to see taxes cut on high earners, than voting for Trump is plausibly rational—Trump is a good deal more likely to do that than Clinton would have been. Stanovich citing Supreme Court picks, which are a huge concern to some voters, is also legit.

          But if someone really, really wanted to see taxes increased on higher earners, voting for Trump is much less likely to be rational.

          Whether raising taxes on high earners is moral, or tasteful, or whatever, doesn’t come into it.Report

      • Avatar Pinky says:

        This is puzzling. If the definition of ‘rationality’ is ‘expressing your concerns by voting’ then the whole concept of rationality is basically vacuous.”

        That’s not the definition the article uses. It uses a fairly specific definition from cognitive science.Report