Articles with Great Beginnings

July 27, 2010

(but which I won’t pay $30 to read)

Loren Lomasky’s “Libertarianism As If (the other 99 percent of) People Mattered”:

In this essay I wish to consider the implications for theory and practice of the following two propositions, either or both of which may be controversial, but which will be assumed here for the sake of argument:

(L) Libertarianism is the correct framework for political morality

(M) The vast majority of citizens disbelieve (L).

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5 Responses to “Articles with Great Beginnings”

  1. Rrrobert! Says:

    That is in fact an excellent way to start an article, and one that libertarians would do well to think about. In particular, does (M) invalidate (L)?


  2. I know, it’s a great question! But since I won’t pay $30 to find out the answer, I am left wondering.

  3. Rrrobert! Says:

    The market for forcing people to question their opinions is small. Perhaps you have access to a library that’ll get it for you?


  4. The market for forcing people to question their opinions is small

    That’s true.

    Everyone hates Fox News because they are successful by telling their target audience what they want to hear. I think an interesting comparison would be to look at how often the New York Times publishes opinions and news that its readers find extremely unsympathetic.

    No, Fox News and the NYT are not the same. But I wonder if the NYT would publish articles its readers hate out of a sense of journalistic rightness. Or are liberals just lucky that the right thing and the profitable thing happen to coincide for them?

    I may eventually check out that book from the library, but I already know that Lomasky (a libertarian) is going to conclude that you can reasonably have (L) and (M) together.

  5. Rrrobert! Says:

    I think it’s safe to assume the Times wouldn’t continuously publish articles most of its readers hated. But the Times’ readership isn’t homogeneous. The Times’ popularity is in part due to the demand by consumers of all political stripes for an “official” version of the news, one that aspires to objectivity and, in particular, determines the baseline for national issue-based conversations. You get the “facts” from the paper, which seem to be easily separated from ideology, and then you apply your own ideological screen in interpreting those facts.

    Part of that deal is that the paper has to avoid having an overt ideological bent that endangers its position as the paper of record. And I think what people are angry about with Fox News is their refusal to play in that space. Rather than competing with other outlets over the speed and delivery of the same news, Fox is actually in the business of creating a special reality for conservatives, one where different facts are asserted, different issues are marked as important, and suddenly the national conversation is full of ships passing in the night. And boy, that makes people mad. Particularly when the facts they present are demonstrably divergent from reality.

    In some ways, I don’t blame Fox for this approach. As you point out, it’s just selling people something they want to buy, and Fox can hardly be blamed if people are so fucking dumb that they let their desire for self-reinforcing opinions get in the way of their demand for, well, facts.

    Further, it’s hard for me to mourn the death of the unassailable press, who have always been cavalier to the point of negligence about the relationship between the reality they report and, you know, actual reality.

    Still, the explicitly mercenary press strikes me as extremely dangerous to the functions of American democracy. Part of it might just be nervousness, but Fox seems to me to undercut the deliberative nature of democracy. Right? The way it’s supposed to work, each side presents its own facts, and supports them with evidence, and draws their conclusions, on the same stage, and everyone listens to the same conversation to figure out who’s right. In the new model, it doesn’t seem like anyone actually compares apples to apples.

    Arguably, Fox is just a new way for conservatives to present their facts and evidence, and liberals are free to compete on the same basis. Also arguably, Fox is just conservatism breaking free of the frame liberals have used to constrain conservative legitimacy. But I don’t think either of those arguments are a good reason to abandon entirely our investment in a mutually-agreed-upon reality.


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