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Sunday, May 16, 2004

Five principles for thinking about politics 

Via Brock, Mark Kleiman's list of five principles for thinking about politics, which I reproduce in their entirety here:
1. Being aware of your own tendency, and those of your allies, to demonize the opposition.

2. Being more skeptical of news that tends to confirm your presuppositions, and more credulous of news that tends to challenge them, than is comfortable.

3. Trying to imagine how the people whose actions you dislike can see those actions as justified.

4. Discounting somewhat, in figuring out how far you're justified in going to make sure your side wins, your subjective certainty that you're right. Given that means and procedures are immediate and easy to see, while outcomes are hard to see, this means giving more weight to means and procedures, and less to outcomes, than a simple decision analysis based on your current beliefs would justify.

5. And still, in spite of your carefully-cultivated doubts, fighting hard for what you believe in, because if the people capable of irony allow irony to demobilize them, the fanatics will win.

The last point is particularly essential: there are very few people in the world capable of seeing things and thinking about problems from different angles. Those privileged few must not let their capacity for perspective and irony diminish their capacity to fight for what they believe.

1 Comments:

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