A Test of Virtue

How can we prove to ourselves and others what values we truly hold?
The Ernests pick up the conversation about how to test whether we are living up to our values by focusing on Bruce's recent tweet about Trump. Bruce mentioned that while he tries to love everyone, he has no love for haters, and hates Trump.  Prabhakar pointed out this makes him a hater, which implies he doesn't love himself!

More generally, this raises an issue Prabhakar has been wrestling with on his other podcast: the tension between wanting our viewpoint to be validating and serving a higher purpose.  In particular, we humans have evolved sophisticated (if imperfect) heuristics to identify whether people are truly willing to sacrifice their personal desires for the welfare of the group.

When Bruce proclaimed he would never want to be part of a society that forbade rape victims from getting abortions, Prabhakar warned him that he had to choose what kind of world he was seeking:
  1. Universalist, where all cultures in a society abided by the same rules
  2. Atomist, where every subculture was free to set their own rules (a la The Diamond Age)
  3. Something New, which would then become the hard problem he had to solve
Bruce admitted he desires the ability to pursue large-scale collective action.  But Prabhakar cut him off before he went any further, so we can save that topic for next week.

© 2020 Ernest Prabhakar & Ernest Bruce