Month: April 2017

Improper applications of sociological concepts

Generally speaking, good sociologists understand that sociological concepts are abstract approximations, not definitive absolutes. Unfortunately, in popular discussions, including sometimes political discussions, these concepts are frequently used in improper manners.

The best example of this is, perhaps, privilege. There are a few ways in which this concept is misunderstood or misused. The first is that privilege is a sort of an average. When speaking of a group’s privilege, it is often forgotten that each group carries certain general advantages and disadvantages, and it is disingenuous to pretend that we can simply average these out. Often, the advantages and disadvantages are highly situational. There are ways in which being a woman is disadvantageous, for example, but there are situations in which it is an advantage: women are not (or at least were not historically) conscripted in most countries where men are, for example.

Another way in which privilege is misunderstood is that many forms of privilege will only benefit a certain subset of the group. Often, these advantages may be quite irrelevant. Take the racially biased stop-and-frisk practice in NYC. This practice disproportionally targeted non-whites, hence, this became a part of white privilege. On the other hand, this privilege did not benefit a white person unless they happened to be in NYC. In addition, while there was racism involved in the application overall, it would not be proper to assume that any given case of stop-and-frisk was racially motivated. Some of them could have been legitimately done at random, or done because there was some cause for suspicion.

By a similar token, when talking about people who die at the hands of the police, this disproportionately happens to black people (though it does also happen to white people). However, we cannot conclude from this that a given instance where a black person dies during an arrest attempt is the result of racism. More information is needed before any kind of conclusion like this could be made.

Additionally, it is often forgotten, or overlooked, that privilege refers to how easy or hard a time groups have it on average, which says next to nothing about a specific person. That ‘white privilege’ is higher in America than ‘black privilege’ is probably quite accurate, but this says nothing about how easy or difficult a time a given white person will have compared to a given black person. Black people often have a harder time with police than white people. However, a white person living in a town with a black sheriff who is bigoted against white people might have a much harder time dealing with the authorities than the black people in that town.

Another problem is that ‘privilege’ is often not a good word for what is going on. Let us take the male/female wage gap. This gap is largely explained by the types of jobs and experience in which males vs. females are employed. Now, the question becomes, why are they in these jobs? Is there really some pro-male bias going on in employment, or is this the natural result of the choices which males and females make, on average? In other words, is there an actual advantage to being male, or do males just tend to prioritize higher pay more than women (we know the latter is the case from studies). If the latter explains the entire difference in employment, then there’s no widespread bias, and hence ‘privilege’ is a rather silly word for describing the situation. Of course, even if there is no widespread bias, there can certainly be some individual employers that are biased (both towards women and men; consider that the Huffington Post posted a picture of their editorial room, bragging about how it had no men in it – it also had only white women). But is ‘privilege’ really an appropriate term if the gap is explained entirely by voluntary choices?

Now, related to the above points about how certain types of privilege often fail to affect more than a subset of the group, it is frequently the case that discussions of ‘groups’ include groups that are far too large, in the sense that many sociological aspects of the group really only apply to certain subsets. This is the case not merely with regard to privilege, but any sociological concept. ‘White American’ is an incredibly broad group. The cultures and experiences of most white software engineers in Portland are not very comparable to a poor white Appalachian coal miner, or a Texan farmer. ‘Black America’ is likewise extremely broad. So, for many sociological applications, ‘black’ and ‘white’ are not necessarily very good divisions.

To put all this into perspective, we can make an analogy to tracking the weather in a given city. We could ask, what is the average temperature during the month of June? Perhaps it comes out to be 25 degrees Celsius. However, it is likely to be radically different from that on many days: it might be 15 degrees one day, 30 another. Trying to apply broad sociological concepts to make statements about individual instances (e.g. claiming every black person who dies during an arrest attempt died because they were black) would be like claiming that the temperature must have always equaled the average for the entire month. In addition, when asking questions of average temperature, some numbers are more meaningful than others. Asking what the average temperature was over the entire year, for example, does not provide us with much useful information if we are trying to figure out what the weather is like at a particular time of year. Similarly, for many questions, in sociology, it is important to break up the groups by divisions which are meaningful for answering the questions which are under current investigation.

Good sociologists understand this, of course. They understand the limitations of sociology, and how to properly interpret data. But popular debate needs to become more educated on this topic.

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Individualism vs. Popper’s paradox

Karl Popper, a philosopher, wrote about a ‘paradox of tolerance.’

‘Less well known is the paradox of tolerance: Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them.’

But in fact, this is only a paradox if we understand tolerance to extend beyond the tolerance of individualism. In other words, if we tolerate those who do not merely wish to pursue their own individual paths, but wish to pursue their own paths for society as an whole.

The person who is tolerant of individuals says, ‘Anyone must be tolerated when they pursue their own path for themselves, provided that they do not try to force anyone else to follow their path.’ This is individualism, and it is the foundation of freedom. The ‘regressive’ tolerant person (today’s ‘regressive left’ or ‘SJW), who results in the paradox to which Popper referred, is the one who says ‘We must tolerate everyone, even if they are attempting to be tyrants.’

Of course, this is to some extent an oversimplification. We cannot stop tolerating until someone goes beyond mere words, and violates the harm principle of JS Mill. However, the point remains: individualism resolves Popper’s paradox of tolerance.

What this really amounts to is that we should tolerate a person doing what they want with themselves, but not tolerate one individual trying to force another individual to comply with their goals.

Critical theory admits it is full of shit

An article in the NYT was recently put up, arguing that Trump has stolen the techniques of critical theory (although the article wrongly considers critical theory to be a valid part of philosophy). https://www.nytimes.com/subscriptions/Multiproduct/lp89F48.html

The point I want to focus upon is the following quote.

critical theory trump

This requires little commentary. A critical theorist is admitting that the point of critical theory is to ‘dress up useful lies… stir up confusion about the veracity of settled knowledge and, through sheer assertion, elevate belief to the status of truth.’

I could not agree more. Critical theory is bullshitting, promoted to the status of an academic subject.

Rejecting science, dissonance, and why IdPol is so appealing

The Center For Inquiry recently put up an article, Why We Believe Long After We Shouldn’t, discussing the reasons for why people hold beliefs in the face of strong evidence to the contrary, and linking this to cognitive dissonance. One example they gave is the rejection of science, in terms of climate change. They report that an article in Psychological Science written by Stephan Lewandowsky and Klaus Oberauer found that people who identify more on the left politically have a positive correlation between scientific literacy and belief in global warming: in other words, leftists who know more about science are more likely to believe in global warming. Paradoxically, for people who identify more on the right, there was a negative correlation between scientific literacy and belief in global warming. To quote the article:

‘At present, the researchers found, public rejection of scientific findings is more prevalent on the political right than the left, yet, they added, “the cognitive mechanisms driving rejection of science are found regardless of political orientation.” Meaning: It depends what scientific finding it is. Whether your worldview comes from the left or right, you will be tempted to sacrifice skepticism even when your side is promoting some cockamamie belief without evidence. ‘

The article goes on to give a discussion of how a student who feels that cheating is wrong, but not the worst thing, could change into believing that cheating is horrific and anyone who does it should be expelled: if that student chooses to not cheat and take a lower grade, they will feel compelled to justify their decision to themselves. As such, they will redefine how they think about cheating, to emphasize it as an horrible act, far worse than getting a lower GPA.

The article also notes that another way in which people can deal with this dissonance is, essentially, changing the goal posts: they quote an example given by Allport, of how someone who believes ‘Jews are evil’ might change the exact nature of their complaint, from ‘Jews are stingy,’ to ‘Jews try to suck up to everyone,’ when given evidence that Jewish people are not, on average, stingy (the example continues through more iterations, as each new claim about Jews is disproved with evidence).

Denial of science examples are easy to find on the right, with evolutionary science and climate science being prime examples. However, denials of biological and medical science can also be found on the left, such as among liberal anti-vaxxers and those who go from ‘the pharmaceutical industry often engages in fairly unethical behavior,’ to ‘Western science as an whole is worthless.’ But I think, as others have also written, that the worst instance of denial of science and evidence among the left can be seen in the social sciences, particularly as they relate to bigotry. Here, a large group on the left are so committed to the ideas of sexism as a problem against women and racism as a problem against blacks and hispanics, that they will go to any length to protect those beliefs from cognitive dissonance, including denying evidence and changing goal posts/definitions, to preserve those beliefs.

To take an example from sexism, there is a belief that women make only 77% of what men make. But ample evidence exists that on average, men and women make almost exactly the same amount when doing the same job with the same amount of experience. The 77% is only correct when comparing all working women to all working men. And the difference in which types of jobs women take is largely explained by the different values men and women have, on average, when choosing a job (for example, women care more about liking their job than men do, while men care more about the job being high-paying). Not only this, but equal wages are already mandated by federal law. So if a woman did find herself in the position of being underpaid compared to men, she could sue. No company wants to risk getting sued like this and having to face that sort of bad publicity (for further discussion of the wage gap myth, see this video by Christina Hoff Summers).

However, to a person on the left, who has identified the wage gap as emblematic of sexism in our time, it can be very hard to admit that this is not the case. So they will change the definition: sure, men and women in the same jobs make the same amount, but women don’t have the opportunity to take higher-paying jobs! When it is pointed out that male vs. female preferences when looking for jobs explains this, they might change to argue that ‘society needs to value the jobs that women prefer as just as valuable as the jobs men prefer,’ a claim that one wage gap proponent actually made to me when I presented her with the above refutations.

It seems that most people would say that the value of a job should be based on how much that job contributes to society, rather than upon who prefers to do that job, but here, in order to avoid the dissonance that the wage gap doesn’t really exist, we have a leftist who is actually willing to redefine the worth of a job in order to maintain their belief in the wage gap as a result of sexism.

And of course, those who claim that the wage gap is an example of sexism tend to also think sexism can only have negative consequences for women. They disregard the fact that throughout history, men have typically had a much higher chance of taking dangerous jobs, or being sent to war (both of which I would consider as positive things for society, because men are much more expendable than women). Even today, men are much more likely to die in the workplace than women.

Another example is racism. The United States has had terrible problems with racism against blacks and other non-whites in the past. However, today, our laws are equitable (although they are sometimes implemented by people with biases, resulting in some bigoted applications of these laws). But to a person committed to belief in the United States as a ‘white supremacist’ society, it is necessary to make changes to definitions, etc., in order to preserve this belief. For example, claiming that ‘it’s only racism when it happens to minorities,’ to explain why, when whites receive lower priority than blacks, it is not racism (e.g. at the University of Texas, in their admissions). Or that ‘racism’ is distinct from ‘racial bigotry.’ Or claiming that it is racist to believe in a meritocratic system or that ‘the best person for the job should be hired,’ (these were two of the original ‘microaggressions,’ believe it or not). Or that, even where a white person demonstrates no biased opinions, that they still must have ‘internalized racism.’ In addition, every interaction will be analyzed to find ways to read it as racist, regardless of whether such an interpretation would be reasonable or not. For example, when a black person is killed by the police, people jump to immediately assume that this was the result of racism. Now, sometimes it is, but white people are also sometimes killed by police, and black people are frequently arrested without harm; we cannot conclude, just from the fact that a black person was killed by police, that it was the result of racism (particularly when the officer involved was also black).

The examples of racism, in other words, show a continual moving of goal posts and redefining of terms, in order to perpetuate a belief that whites are racists and blacks are victims, in the face of evidence that this is no longer generally the case (it is sometimes the case, of course, just as it is sometimes, though probably more rarely, the case that whites can be victimized by racial bigotry). On the right, problems of evidence also exist when it comes to race, of course, such as refusal to countenance non-race-based hypotheses for the higher rate of incarceration for black people. However, because I am much more interested in improving the left than the right, I tend to focus my criticisms on the left.

In a sense, identity politics and critical theory are appealing precisely because they make it so easy to avoid cognitive dissonance: by denying legitimate methods of scientific inquiry as invalid (‘Eurocentric, patriarchal, colonialist’), and by elevating the personal experience and narrative, it makes for an easy way to dismiss any evidence that conflicts with a person’s preferred narrative. Indeed, identity politics is built precisely on the notion that, when evidence conflicts with narrative, it is the evidence which must be disregarded. Of course, proponents of identity politics will not usually phrase it this way, but it amounts to precisely this. In this way, identity politics and critical theory are also no different than religion, in which, when dogma and evidence conflict, it is presumed that there is something wrong with the evidence (such as how, when geology shows how old the earth is, young earth creationists simply refuse to accept the results as valid science).

Another example of bias might be in biology: a refusal to accept that our biology has a great deal of influence on our behavior, so that many of the differences in male and female behavior can be explained by our sexual dimorphism. Or the refusal to grasp that, biologically, sex is determined by gamete production, and is a binary (or at most quartenary: male, female, hermaphrodite, sterile) thing, and not a continuum. I maintain that we do no service to supporting trans people by denying this biological fact, and yet, even such seemingly clear-thinking a person as Bill Nye has now denied it.

Before ending, it should be noted that this is not just a problem for the far left and for the right. It is also a problem for centrists. The classic example of this can be seen in the 2016 election and its aftermath. Poll after poll showed Sanders was more popular than Trump by a much wider margin than Hillary (who was frequently shown as being approximately tied with Trump), yet many Clinton supporters dismissed these polls as irrelevant for one reason or another (a common one being ‘Sanders has not been “vetted,”‘ or ‘When Trump calls him a socialist, everyone will hate him,’ despite the fact that Sanders openly called himself a democratic socialist from the beginning). After the election, Clinton-style democrats continue to bash Sanders as being unpopular with blacks and women, despite the fact that his highest approval ratings come from, well, blacks and women (his worst approval ratings are ironically among whites and men). In the face of this evidence, these Clinton center-right democrats continue to maintain that Sanders is only able to appeal to white males. Despite Sanders having the highest approval rating of any politician in America, they continue to maintain he is unappealing. They also continue to deny that Hillary’s primary victory was at least in part the result of collusion, voter purging, and cheating on the part of the DNC, despite the Podesta emails showing that this definitively happened, as well as exit poll discrepancies showing a 1 in 77 billion chance that the primary elections accurately counted votes (it is less clear whether Bernie would have won or not without this cheating and collusion, but the fact that it happened is very well established).

So, rejection of evidence is prevalent across all parts of the political spectrum, and across all sorts of issues. If we want to improve the state of the left, as I wish, then we need to acknowledge this and deal with it.

Where there’s smoke, there must be fire, right? Revisiting “The Bell Curve”

April Harding

I read Richard Herrnstein’s & Charles Murray’s The Bell Curve in 1994 along with other members of my book club. The main point, that cognitive ability was coming to play an ever greater role in our society was well-substantiated, and thought-provoking, and led to many stimulating conversations. These cognitive elites appeared to be separating physically and culturally from the rest of American society. What might this mean? Where Herrnstein and Murray discussed what this trend might mean, they reviewed the literature on whether intelligence is more influenced by nature or nurture; as I recall, they said something to the effect of: it’s likely to be a bit of both.

Over the years, I’ve encountered many references to the book which are at odds with what I remember. And the opprobrium has only escalated. I started to ponder my recollection. Could it have been a deeply racist, white nationalist diatribe –…

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We must defend free speech

In an incredibly disturbing article, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/24/opinion/what-liberal-snowflakes-get-right-about-free-speech.html, the author makes the claim that ‘The idea of freedom of speech does not mean a blanket permission to say anything anybody thinks.’

Of course, that is precisely what freedom of speech means. But the point we should remember here is not what free speech means. The point we should remember is that just because we currently have a right, does not mean it is safe from attack. This article is an attempt to get rid of the right to free speech, not by attacking free speech directly, but by the intellectually dishonest tactic of redefining it. But we must defend free speech against all forms of attack. We must defend all our rights against attacks. ‘Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.’

Liberal economics and master/slave morality

As an admirer of Nietzsche, particularly his analyses of human morality and his notion of advancing humanity (sadly, his word for this, der Übermensch, was co-opted by the Nazis and now carries unfortunate connotations), it remains the case that I strongly disagree with some aspects of his thought, such as his views on women, and his economics. Herein, I wish to discuss how liberal economics can fit into Nietzschean moral frameworks, as well as briefly why I support liberal economics, even though I also support Nietzsche’s goal of advancing humanity. Indeed, I maintain that the former is in fact quite beneficial to the latter.

Preliminaries

It is often thought that liberal economics (e.g. universal health care, or a universal basic income) are indicative of slave morality. This is to a large degree understandable, since they seem to indicate that we wish to focus upon pity for the unfortunate. However, I would argue that this is a misconception. Rather, although liberal economics can be a consequence of slave morality, they can also be a consequence of certain forms of  master morality. I would also argue that there are moralities which are neither slave nor master.

First, a brief introduction to master and slave morality. According to Nietzsche’s theory (with which I do not entirely agree, or at least, I do not think it is in any way proved), there are two origins for morality. ‘Good’ and ‘bad’ originated among the strong masters as a description meaning the same as ‘strong’ and ‘weak;’ they considered ‘the good (i.e ‘the respectable’)’ to mean ‘Those who like us, are strong, whom we must respect, because they could seriously oppose us or be valuable allies,’ and ‘the bad’ to mean ‘those who are of no consequence, the despicable.’ The ‘slaves,’ on the other hand, respected other slaves, and those who pitied the slaves; they took this word ‘good’ and applied it to such people. Meanwhile, they applied the idea of ‘despicable’ to the ‘exploiting masters,’ and called them ‘evil.’ For a further discussion, see Nietzsche’s ‘Genealogy of Morals,’ Zur Genealogie der Moral. It is a book with many good points, but whether it is accurate regarding how human morality developed, I do not wish to comment here.

Now, I would argue that this concept of master and slave moralities might explain the origination of some moral value systems, but that today, many people have moral systems which are not fully described by master morality or slave morality. I think even Nietzsche acknowledged this: consider his description of selfishness in Also Sprach Zarathustra, von der schenkenden Tugend, where Zarathustra contrasts a selfishness which seeks things in order to transform them into better things to benefit humankind (‘the gift-giving virtue’), versus the kind of selfishness which seeks things to help the selfish person without regard to bettering humankind. But more on this in another place, should I write more about the difference between positive and negative selfishness.

In Morgenröte, S. 78, Nietzsche talks about how the Greeks had a word for ‘disgust at the misfortune of another,’ which he called ‘the more manly brother of pity [in German, Mitlied, meaning with-suffering or with-sadness].’ I do not speak Greek, so I do not know of what word he spoke. But the point is that pity can be empathetic, like the German concept of Mitlied, but it can also be anger at the unfairness of a situation. Nietzsche noted that a language dominated by christianity (such as German or English) had no cause for such a word, because christianity does not acknowledge the concept of undeserved misfortune (if everyone is an horrible sinner deserving hell, every misfortune is deserved). But a master morality can acknowledge an undeserved misfortune, like the Greeks did, with their ‘manly version of pity.’

The notion of master vs. slave morality is quite limited. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that moral values can come from strength vs. weakness, positive gift-giving selfishness vs. degenerate selfishness, and ‘manly pity’ vs. ‘Mitleid.’

Liberal economics and types of moralities

I claim that liberal economics are compatible with master morality. More generally, I claim that liberal economics is compatible with a moral value system which comes from strength, from gift-giving selfishness, and from ‘manly pity.’

It is easy to see how they could be the consequence of slave morality. Pity for everyone would lead to liberal economics, like universal health care and universal basic income, yes, but such policies can come from a very different source as well.

Recall that ‘manly pity’ (for lack of a better term) is, essentially, anger at unfairness. Or even perhaps anger at there being unhappiness. Now, anger at unfairness can go both in the direction of ‘This person has seen undeserved misfortune, and that angers me,’ as well as ‘This person has received undeserved benefits, which would not anger me, except that they have come at the expense of everyone else.’ In the former case, we ‘liberals with master morality’ might place the case of someone who was very intelligent and excelled at school, but who, because their family was poor and needed them to bring in income, was unable to go to college, because they had to get a job. In this case, we are angered not only because this is unfair to that person’s individual development, but also because of the resultant loss to society, of an educated person who could truly advance humanity. We desire individual development; we also desire the development of individuals to their full potential, because such individuals contribute best to the future of humanity. There are countless other examples: a person who is intelligent and got a degree, but could not find a research job because of demographics (both pro-white and anti-white racism, for example, or both pro-male and anti-male sexism), for just one.

The thing is, there are selfish master moralities and selfish slave moralities, but there are also unselfish master moralities and unselfish slave moralities. However, because slave moralities are generally built around pity, they all tend to appear unselfish. Although, as Nietzsche elsewhere pointed out (if I recall, in Die Fröhliche Wissenschaft, I do not remember which S.), this unselfishness is a bit odd, since it encourages others to be unselfish, which is ultimately a self-benefit.

However, a gift-giving master morality seeks to promote the future of humanity and the building-up of every individual. As such, it might sometimes crush others, but ordinarily, it will seek to alleviate the problems of misfortune or to force those upon whom fortune has been overly generous to share. And that is why I support liberal economics. There are those who fail even though they do not deserve to; there are those who succeed far beyond their desserts. And even if a person deserves to fail, why should we not allow this ‘manly pity’ to be angered at their bad situation as well?

To put this into the terms discussed in Morgenröte S. 78, and other aspects of Nietzsche’s philosophy, liberal economics acknowledges three points:

First, when a person fails, it could be because of a tiny error, that does not deserve such massive punishment. The Greek Tragedy is all about people who made little errors, but suffered horrible for the rest of their lives as a result, according to Nietzsche’s statements in Morgenröte – liberal economics seeks to rectify such problems, but it also acknowledges that some people have made no mistakes, and yet suffer, and these people also need help.

Second, liberal economics acknowledges that there are also people who are the opposite of a Greek tragedy: people who did some things right, perhaps, but who have success far out of proportion to their desserts. Liberal economics demands that such people be taxed heavily, to help those whose case falls in the previous paragraph.

Third, liberal economics acknowledges that humanity as an whole requires individual innovators, who can innovate even if they cannot accumulate a massive amount of individual wealth. In this way, liberal economics acknowledges that wealth can be beneficial for both the individual and the future of humanity, but also acknowledges that there are limits on how much wealth can really be a good thing. In a sense, it can be the application of ‘the gift-giving virtue:’ redistribution of wealth prevents those with an hoarding, ‘degenerate’ selfishness from harming humanity as much as they otherwise would

In this way, liberal economics is not merely an economical theory based upon ‘pity’ in the form of ‘Mitleid.’ It is an economics which can be favoured by someone desiring that unfairness be opposed (by the ‘manlier version of pity’), that unhealthy selfishness be opposed, and that every person who can contribute should have the chance to do so – these are desires which are fully compatible with master morality.

Would free bread ruin its recipients?

Now, we should acknowledge that Nietzsche attacked the notion of giving people ‘free bread,’ in Also Sprach Zarathustra. ‘If those got free bread, alas!’ he said. His argument was that if we gave people sustenance for free, they would stop having to strive at all, which would decrease their humanity. I would agree that letting people become lazy decreases their humanity, but there are two points: first, Nietzsche’s suggestion that ordinary people receiving free bread would make them ‘stop striving,’ seems wrong in practice. Perhaps I will write at a later time about how test studies with Universal Basic Income show how people who receive it choose to continue to work or to use their new resources to start up businesses, but for now, consider the motivations that humans have, based on Maslov’s hierarchy of needs: (Maslow, A.H. (1943). “A theory of human motivation”. Psychological Review. 50 (4): 370–96) as well as Maslow, A (1954), Motivation and personality. New York, NY: Harper. ISBN 0-06-041987-3). Second, squandering is important for advancing humanity. To the first point: once people’s base needs are met, they are motivated by things from the higher levels in Maslov’s hierarchy. Those who are currently motivated to contribute to society solely because of the need to eat would very likely be motivated to so by other things once that need was fulfilled, contrary to what Nietzsche suggests. The reason that they do not currently show such motivations is explained by Maslov’s theory, which states that people focus on the base needs first. The reason many people are motivated to work only to eat is not because they are incapable of higher forms of motivation, but because they lack the opportunity to focus on those higher forms of motivation on Maslov’s scale. On the second point: Nietzsche himself agreed that squandering was a useful thing, and that nature squandered quite numerous quantities of individuals in order to gain progress. Why should we, as master liberals, not also be willing to squander any person who chooses to take the resources given out by a liberal economic policy, and to contribute nothing? Is it not better that these lazy individuals be ruined, than that the industrious and genius (in the etymological sense of ‘productive’ or ‘capable of being productive’) individuals should lack the resources to fulfill their potential to contribute to the betterment of humanity?

Perhaps we could come up with other means for giving incentives, which would be motivating: we could, for example, penalize those who have children if they cannot show that they are contributory to society. Though this might be to some degree enforced naturally, by the laws of attraction: it seems likely that people would be attracted to those who contribute, and would want to reproduce with them, rather than with the ‘moochers.’ ‘Moochers’ have always been an issue, in any social setting, and have always been reproductively unappealing. So, humans already have a drive to look like they contribute to society, simply in order to appeal to the opposite sex.

Thus, Nietzsche’s problem with ‘free bread’ appears rather weak, because people are unlikely to be ‘ruined’ by it, and are much more likely to be lifted up into the higher end of the hierarchy of needs. In any case, liberal economy, even one as liberal as to include Universal Basic Income, could easily be a part of a master morality, or least a morality which is definitively not a slave morality.

In any case, the advancement of humanity is, I posit, best served by ensuring that every individual who is capable of making a contribution, also has the resources to make such a contribution. If giving free bread to the incapable ruins them, I would far rather squander these incapable ones by letting them be ruined, than to squander the capable ones, whose circumstances might otherwise prevent them from contributing to humanity’s betterment.

 

PS It is also worth considering how there are some moralities which are not entirely master moralities and not entirely slave moralities. I would consider myself to have a morality which is not fully a ‘master morality,’ but not really at all a ‘slave morality,’ even though it has taken some influences historically from slave moralities.