John Holbo: Ersatz Better Angels? http://crookedtimber.org/2019/12/04/ersatz-better-angels/: 'We tend to think of the relationship between ideal and non-ideal theory as aspirational and/or clarificatory. Ideal theory represents either 1) a distant point towards which you ought to move; 2) a pristine expression of your real values, unblemished by extraneous, pragmatic considerations. You could sort of roll 1) and 2) up together and say: ideal theory should be a polestar. A clear, fixed point by which you can steer somewhere better than where you are. But, in these Vavilovian/Steelwool cases... the point of dragging in ideal theory is, in effect, to footdrag, extenuate and obfuscate.... You are bad (see above), so pretending to be GOOD-good is hard. But you might be able to pull off semi-not-bad, from a middle-distance. So you invent a semi-not-bad aspirational self. Angel of my less-bad nature! But, really, this aspirational self is just there to provide plausible deniability. This ersatz angel lets you stay bad, rather than making you have to be even a little better...


#noted #2019-12-06

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