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Liberal Massimo Pigliucci on libertarians:

Now I have acquired yet another reason to dislike [Larry] Summers, while reading Debra Satz’s Why Some Things Should not Be for Sale: The Moral Limits of Markets, which I highly recommend to my libertarian friends, as much as I realize of course that it will be entirely wasted on them.

Libertarian John Goodman on liberals (in a post David Henderson describes as a home  run):

I generally try to avoid ethical discussions with my friends on the left for two reasons. First, with respect to actual legislation they seem incapable of distinguishing what really happened from their ideal vision of what should have happened. More fundamentally, I find that people on the left seem incapable of thinking rationally about the ethics of public policy.

I find these comments fascinating, firstly because they’re basically equal and opposite, and secondly because they’re entirely self-defeating.  Both read, essentially, as: “My intellectual opponents are idiots.  Why won’t they listen to me?”  The answer to the question comes from the preceding statement, but not in the way the authors suppose.  It’s trivial to show that neither libertarians nor liberals are, exclusively, idiots.  It’s also trivial to show that libertarians and liberals generally don’t like to be called idiots, and don’t listen to people who treat them as such.

Pigliucci, Goodman and Henderson have a choice to make.  They can continue to insult each other, toe their party lines, and reinforce the boundaries between themselves.  Or they can recognize that complicated systems can be understood in multiple ways, respect each other, try to better understand where the other side is coming from, and work to bridge the gap.


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  1. […] fundamentally difficult to confront one’s own emotional intuitions, and if you surround yourself with like-minded thinkers (or include only the most extreme and moronic opponents) you never have to do so, because […]

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