CLoM » Compact tiers

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Compact tiers

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“Meism”, being serious now, is my take on moral skepticism. Maybe I should have called it something else, especially considering the fact that the old Mei memes are getting pretty overexposed these days. I barely even say “Mei is useful” myself, and I still get random people being annoyed at me because of it. I always assumed I would be ruler of the world before that became a serious problem. I need to get in touch with whoever does Barack Obama’s memes.

(Seriously, call me. I am not a crank.)

Plus right now is probably not the best time to write a manifesto of my core beliefs. It’s not like my core beliefs are particularly settled. I tend to veer between extreme political viewpoints at the drop of a hat. And right now is even worse than usual, because I am wired on coffee and liable to make listening to The Perfect Kiss by New Order a central feature of my manifesto. Seriously, give me a reason and I'll do it.

My starting point is the idea that nothing can be ultimately proved. You’ve heard this a thousand times before, I guess, and I’d be really surprised if you didn’t already know what you think about it, but it bears repeating in this context. This principle is based primarily on the lack of an objective standard of proof, but also on the subjectivity of evidence. The next step is key - rather than leave the field of “accepted facts” empty, we can expand it in an experimental fashion by relaxing the standards of proof. That probably sounds bad, but you already do it so don't complain.

In the privacy of your own home, you can accept any standard you like, but it is important to keep in mind that the standard of evidential reasoning behind each fact we accept basically dictates its value. Proof by logic is better than proof by experiment. Proof by experiment is better than proof by criminal investigation. Proof by criminal investigation is better than proof by fortune telling. In theory.

The “evidential category” decides whether you can reasonably expect anyone to agree with you. This is more interesting and influential, in a practical sense, than whether or not you can agree with the fact yourself. You can believe anything you like, because you're only deceiving yourself, but asking another person to agree with something means you should actually earn it. To act on an irrational belief only implies that your standard of proof is lowered. To act on a belief on behalf of someone else implies that their standards should fit yours. It assumes responsibility for another person's beliefs. For this reason this type of action is qualitatively different from an action that affects only yourself. It is self-evidently insupportable.

At the risk of turning into Ayn Rand, I think this line of argument gives us a moral principle which is as near to objective as we can possibly get. This is possible because it makes a judgement on the validity & justification of certain types of argument. It does not make a statement requiring proof, it only cites the lack of proof for a particular category of statement.

Hence, the central feature of Meism (it's a joke, don't growl at me) is a assertion of individual rights that does not imply a departure from basic scepticism. I quite like it.

--Mei (talk) 09:33, 23 April 2010 (UTC)

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