Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Me On PhilosophyTV

Here's me doing a video philosophy discussion with political philosopher Jason Brennan. It went pretty well, except that I was trying to compensate for tiredness with caffeine and it made me say "um" and "you know" every fifth word.

The first 35 minutes or so are on Jason's argument that the right to vote and the right to hold office don't usually benefit the individuals who have them. It actually strikes me as a pretty reasonable position once you get clear on exactly what Jason is saying. Since your vote is really unlikely to be decisive in winning the election and generating more policies that help you personally, it doesn't do a lot to improve your life. However, Jason is willing to say that others in your (racial, gender, religious, etc.) group having the vote helps you, because that's really what protects your interests. The point is just that the incremental addition to your personal welfare from your personally having the vote ends up being really small. The right to hold office, meanwhile, is a big thing for a few people who actually are professional politicians, but it doesn't play a big role in the rest of our lives. I think he's thought through a lot of these issues clearly, and as long as his conclusions don't get blown up into something bigger than his arguments can support, they're right.

The second half is my big defense of hedonism about value (the view that pleasure is the only good, which is part of my hedonic utilitarianism). Jason's basically interviewing me about my paper on that. There's also something funny that I'm doing every now and then during the second half of the video, but I'll let you discover that for yourself. Thanks to the nice people at PhilosophyTV for thinking it was amusing.

More philosophy content coming soon -- I'm on a philosophy podcast tomorrow night and the guy has written up some nice questions (including one involving Possible Girls).

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