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Re: [ontolog-forum] Self Interest Ontology going offline

To: "'[ontolog-forum] '" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "Rich Cooper" <rich@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Mon, 15 Aug 2011 11:27:37 -0700
Message-id: <116C65FCC9AB42BB8AF60BB3187BDEFF@Gateway>

Hi Ali,


Thanks for your post; comments below,




Rich Cooper


Rich AT EnglishLogicKernel DOT com

9 4 9 \ 5 2 5 - 5 7 1 2

From: ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Ali Hashemi
Sent: Monday, August 15, 2011 10:46 AM
To: [ontolog-forum]
Subject: Re: [ontolog-forum] Self Interest Ontology going offline


Hi Rich,


I have two comments. One, a meta-observation about keeping the discussion on topic, and the other about your request about how to move forward.


You have previously suggested that some on the list object to the discussion of politics, I can only speak for myself... I don't mind the use of examples from politics to motivate or ground discussions, what I find irritating are snippets like what's quoted below:


On Sun, Aug 14, 2011 at 11:01 PM, Rich Cooper <rich@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:

The Democrat justifications are legendary.  Look at the Keynesian policies, which have not worked.  Look at QE1, QE2, the possible QE3 to come, and the onerous taxes on businesses that are so high, they won't bring home money made in other countries due to the high tax rates? 


Opinions such as this are peppered in your contributions which are, imo, laden with value judgments that are not related to the matter at hand. I fail to see how these paragraphs offer anything in terms of working towards a self-interest ontology. Rather, I see someone asserting unfounded opinion as fact. Sometimes, when this is becomes rather egregious, someone might chime in with a correction. To wit, see this piece written by a high-profile, wealthy individual that directly contradicts your previous opinions masquerading as fact re income tax ( http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/15/opinion/stop-coddling-the-super-rich.html?_r=2 ).


You could be right about this; I haven’t exactly gotten the list to see eye-to-eye, and I do agree that what I have posted are definitely my own opinions, as other posts to “correct” them have been the opinions of the “correcting” posters.  But “unfounded”?  I disagree on that adjective, and believe that my opinion is well shared by economists who have NOT bought into the Keynesian theories, or who have realized that Keynes was only a theoretician without grounding. 


Economists who have no background in actually practicing the theories, of course, disagree with the others.  Paul Krugman, for example, continues to preach Keynesian doctrine, while Art Laffer, a far better analyst IMHO, seems convinced by the Hayek viewpoint, and by the experienced view of other more practitioners who aren’t as enamored of theory as to lose sight of actual data. 


So, as far as I go, I'm not averse to using political examples for ontology-related purposed -- I do tire of seeing a particular individual's political opinions (in my opinion, demonstrably false, and in fact, adding to a larger environment of misinformation) fill the list, especially when the relation to ontology is tenuous. What makes it particularly frustrating is that for someone else to come in and correct these statements means that the discussion veers further away from ontology. Do you see why some people would object to such emails and hence the pleading to exercise more judgment before sending a note?


Yes, and I think you have a point.  My attempt to relate these issues to the self interest ontology hasn’t succeeded, and may only have opened up more nonessential, nonproductive discussions.  Would you like to contribute a post that you see as more directed to the issue, perhaps using Maslow’s ideas as a basis?


As to your query:


[RC] Does anyone have a suggestion on how to proceed in

light of our differences?


Comments, suggestions, constructive ontolog

fragments will be appreciated.


I can see why you, based in a Randian outlook,


Whoa, I am not a Randian, having not found her belief system all that appealing.  She grounds her theories solely in selfishness, not in enlightened self interest.  I wouldn’t want to live in her world.  I believe in more beneficence in political measures, not solely in selfishness, which she elevated beyond all other considerations. 


Instead, I believe that the Richard’s, Avril’s and Azamat’s emergence ideas are more appropriate to operating a country of diverse self interests, and that those measures will nearly always work to the benefit of all citizens – but not always.  I subscribe to the libertarian view that government only concentrates power in those who seek it, for whatever reason, and that the wisdom of the crowd is much more potent and effective than the wisdom of some “representative” government.  You may remember many posts back, that I was suggesting the use of a wider participation in choosing how money is spent, and how regulations are drawn, by enlisting the internet as a method for providing government direction instead of a very small elite elected group.  300 million people are wiser than 435+100+2, in my opinion. 


would begin with self-interest. You might want to consider refocusing on the broader idea of "motivations", whereby self-interest is just one of many types of motivations that drive human (or organism) action. 


I shared two sources which imo are a good grounding points and I'll add a third. 


The updated Maslow based hierarchy provides a good starting point for individual human motivations [1]. It also explicitly takes into account how people have differing motivations depending on their physical, social and life-stage context. 


Maslow does list motivations I consider major contributions to self interest. 


Jonathan Haidt and others work on the origins and variations of morality, provide another useful avenue into how various values and value-systems come to drive motivations, especially at the social-group setting[2]. 


I find “moral” statements to be just as much personal opinions as the ones I and others have posted here.  Morality, IMHO, is in the mind of the moralizer, and doesn’t translate well into facts and rules for OTHERS to follow.  The study of morality is useful for those of us who want to determine our own morality, but should not be used as a basis for law, other than stopping catastrophically immoral actions, such as violent ones and imposing value judgments into law. 


Neither posits an explicitly political stance, and the vocabulary deployed in each, can be used to describe what you see as conflicting political opinions.


George Lakoff, in his book Moral Politics [3] also provides an interesting perspective for how the community or social organizations can be viewed. According to Avril and Richard's language, it is at a slightly higher level of description than an immediate ontology of self-interest or motivation.


Thanks, I’ll take a look at the Lakoff reference you posted below.


However, he does provide quite explicit mappings for common (American) political stances, which are derived from a "Nation as Family" metaphor.  For example, in that book he posits that "Conservatives" often employ the "Strict Father Metaphor" for how a society should function, whereas "Liberals" prefer a "Nurturant Parent" metaphor. While both perspectives draw on the same set of metaphors regarding morality and growth, they order them differently, leading to conflicting policy prescriptions. So that too might be another avenue to reconcile the apparent differences you note.


Thanks for the references; I am still waiting to view the videos you recommended, and looking forward to more targeted discussions that could lead to the self interest ontology, and perhaps to its use in a widely based form of managing government than the existing ones, which were formed in an age of difficult geographic barriers, now not significant obstacles to widespread participation. 


[1] Douglas T. Kenrick, Vladas Griskevicius, Steven L. Neuberg and Mark Schaller. Renovating the Pyramid of Needs : Contemporary Extensions Built Upon Ancient Foundation. Perspectives on Psychological Science 2010 5: 292 - http://www.csom.umn.edu/assets/144040.pdf


[2] Haidt, J., & Kesebir, S. (2010). Morality.  In S. Fiske, D. Gilbert, & G. Lindzey (Eds.) Handbook of Social Psychology, 5th Edition. Hobeken, NJ: Wiley. Pp. 797-832. 

    You can request a copy here: http://people.virginia.edu/~jdh6n/


[3] George Lakoff. Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think. University of Chicago Press, 2002. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moral_Politics_(book)





Many thanks,



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