Politics and philosophy

I generally do not write much about politics on my blog. The first reason is that science and programming are more interesting than writing about politics. The second reason is that I generally want to avoid mixing basic science and politics because it gives opponents an easy target: Oh look, he found X because it fits with this policy recommendation R. He probably made up the result to fit his politics. This is not to say that I don’t want science in my politics, I emphatically want that (evidence-based policy), but science is my primary interest and I don’t want politics in my science. With that said, on this page I will write some things about science and my philosophical outlook. This is mainly so that people don’t accuse me of holding some totalitarian view V which I don’t hold to.

On a practical level, I have very little political power, so spending lots of time on finding good policies is not very rational if the goal is to change policies.

Against ideologies

I do not consider myself a fan of any major political ideology, like conservatism, socialism, libertarianism, nationalism, neo-reactionism or communism. Political ideologies have their origin in pre-scientific times, so it would be an extraordinary coincidence if any of them happened to get things just right. Identifying with a particular ideology also has the tendency to encourage in-group confirmation bias/identity politics, which I want to avoid.

Meta-ethics

I have read a couple of books on the realism question in meta-ethics but I still haven’t been able to make up my mind. In my opinion the best work on this question is Joshua Greene’s dissertation The terrible, horrible, no good, very bad truth about morality and what to do about it. The very short version is that ethical claims imply that there are moral properties out there, but since there are no such properties, all such claims (first-order) happen to be false. However, utilitarianism is special because it is rational, it is cost benefit analysis in moral terms. Still, we should probably avoid using moral language in general because it tends to inflame things and not help find mutually agreeable solutions. Worse, moralizing gets people stuck in counter-productive nonsense like natural rights.

Briefly put, non-moralistic consequentialism is my view, with an anti-realist bent.

Some political opinions and principles

Since I’m Danish and live in Denmark, my ideas about politics are naturally centered on Denmark. Some of the following may not work well outside of Scandinavia. I sometimes write about politics in the Danish context for the party I founded: The Technology Party, which is a transhumanist, grey tribe party/think tank. We are not trying to get political power because there are too few voters who prefer our odd combination of policies.

Below is an unordered list of policies. It is not sorted by anything in particular. Some supportive evidence is given.

  • We should have strong freedom of speech, freedom of association. Sometimes I think we should just get rid of libel laws too because they sometimes result in stuff like this. Hate speech laws should generally be abolished.
  • The legality of government spying should be severely limited. This includes police surveillance and national security stuff.
  • Intellectual monopoly laws need a large reform.
    • Copyright. Non-commercial copyright infringement should be legal, the protection time should be strongly reduced to 10-20 years, and there should be stronger fair use and sampling rights, including for commercial use.
    • Patents. Patents should be immediately abolished for vague areas like software. Patents are undesirable for medicine too, but until a better system is in place, they should not just be immediately abolished. It is an open scientific question of how exactly this should be done, but prizes are a good idea.
    • Trademarks. They must go back to their original purpose, namely to avoid consumers being misled by faux companies (think fake iPhones). However, currently the laws are often used to harass competitors in dubious cases.
  • Open science. All science must go towards an open access, open data, open code, (approximately) free to publish model. For experimental studies, pre-registration is a good idea too. Funding should be contingent on data and code being published.
  • Immigration to welfare states should be tightly controlled, including by cognitive ability tests, language tests and ability to find work. It should also be limited in scope, so as to avoid the formation of parallel societies. Given these policies, I don’t see the reason to have race discrimination in immigration policies. Recent immigrants that strongly under-perform (very crime-prone, living off benefits for decades and the like) should be sent home. If it is ethically questionable to send them home (e.g. >1 generation), then they should be offered money to go somewhere else/home. It is cheaper to pay them a small sum up front than paying in the long term for them and their descendants.
  • Almost all psychoactive drugs should be legalized and regulated. The (quasi-)bans on their use in science should be lifted. Prisoners can be released immediately for related crimes (possession, distribution).
  • Voluntary euthanasia should be legal.
  • There should be no affirmative action for any groups, including racial and sex groups. Lobby organizations for these groups should not receive public funding.
  • Legal marriage should be for whatever gender identity and for any reasonable number of persons, if they so wish. Alternatively, it could be abolished as a legal system. One could instead have child/mutual benefit contracts that regulate conflicts of interest related to children/money.
  • Sex work should be legalized and done properly without harassment of sex workers or related workers (e.g. drivers, phone girls).
  • The government should aggressively fund research into genetic engineering, human and non-human alike. They should not fund bad science ideas like ‘organic’ food.
  • The governing form should be some kind of democracy that maximizes the ability of the more smarter, more knowledgeable and more rational voters. Interesting ideas include weighted votes and liquid democracy. Forms that give rise to emergent (bottom-up or process based) meritocratic effects should be used over those that force meritocracy.
  • Government should be as local as practically possible to enable regional experimentation with policy differences.
  • Public policies should by default be the form of experimental studies so that we may find out what works (as argued in this book).
  • Freedom of religion should be strong. No religious messages on coins or the like. No state funding of religious organizations and definitely no theocratic states, like Denmark currently (technically) is.
  • Economic foreign aid does not work and should be stopped. To improve the conditions of poor countries, one should focus on making technological advances cheaply available to the less bright countries; free of intellectual monopolies. Probably some of the lowest hanging fruit are disease extermination programs.
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