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Brad DeLong's Grasping Reality 2019-12-06 18:21:18

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John Holbo: Vavilovian Philosophical Mimicry http://crookedtimber.org/2019/12/03/vavilovian-philosophical-mimicry/: 'Today I propose a new term in political theory. Vavilovian philosophical mimicry! It denotes a type of relation between ideal and non-ideal theories. It posits that the former evolves as protective concealment for the latter.... Weeds evolve, under selective pressure, to resemble crops.... Let’s take the white supremacy-libertarianism case.... You are proposing doing something that would keep African-Americans down. Why are you doing that? Because that’s what you want. But you can’t say that. But: you can plausibly pretend it’s a (merely temporarily uncomfortable) stage on the way to some sort of ideal libertarian night watchman end-state. The advantage of ideal theory

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John Holbo: Vavilovian Philosophical Mimicry http://crookedtimber.org/2019/12/03/vavilovian-philosophical-mimicry/: 'Today I propose a new term in political theory. Vavilovian philosophical mimicry! It denotes a type of relation between ideal and non-ideal theories. It posits that the former evolves as protective concealment for the latter.... Weeds evolve, under selective pressure, to resemble crops.... Let’s take the white supremacy-libertarianism case.... You are proposing doing something that would keep African-Americans down. Why are you doing that? Because that’s what you want. But you can’t say that. But: you can plausibly pretend it’s a (merely temporarily uncomfortable) stage on the way to some sort of ideal libertarian night watchman end-state. The advantage of ideal theory is that it’s–well, not real. Yet. So it’s low commitment, in practical terms. Nominal commitment to some distant, ideally liberal end-state covers a variety of present, anti-liberal sins. So philosophical conservatism should be theorized in terms of the following four factors: 1) an element of aristocratic anti-liberalism (animus against the agency of the subordinate classes.) Cf. Robin. 2) an element of Vavilovian, pseudo-liberal mimicry. Anti-liberalisms that survive in a liberal environment will tend to look like each other because they are all, as it were, trying to look enough like liberalism to not get weeded out as too anti-liberal. But these resemblances, because they are protective mimicry, are actually misleading. At least superficial. 3) considerable liberal democratic DNA. It’s rare to run into a real, dyed-in-the-wool Joseph de Maistre-type. 4) 2 may result in 3, over time, via ‘fake it until you make it’, if you see what I mean...

Bradford DeLong
J. Bradford DeLong is Professor of Economics at the University of California at Berkeley and a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. He was Deputy Assistant US Treasury Secretary during the Clinton Administration, where he was heavily involved in budget and trade negotiations. His role in designing the bailout of Mexico during the 1994 peso crisis placed him at the forefront of Latin America’s transformation into a region of open economies, and cemented his stature as a leading voice in economic-policy debates.

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