They Got Soul

Check out Friend of The Fly Bottle Robert Campbell's review of Owen Flanagan's The Problem of the Soul in the latest edition of Navigator. Compare and contrast with review of the same by Friend of the Fly Bottle Julian Sanchez in the January Reason.

  • John V

    Also, maybe some of my Austrian-leaning readers can help out the BHTV commenters in their discussion of economic planning.

    Come on, man. YOU do it. 😉

    Frankly, Will, I think we should be past this. Hayek was never refuted on these matters….just ignored. Why that doesn’t matter is beyond me.

  • josh

    Will, you should be a bit more deferential to your guests and not interrupt them.

  • Jay J

    John V,

    It seems like one of the virtues of the blogosphere is that people can exchange their understandings of the merits and demerits of ideas. Cass Sunstien has worried that the internet is creating a political echo chamber, rather than making political discourse more deliberative.

    One the things I like about Bloggingheads is it’s ecumenical list of guests and diverse discussion topics. For a person who considers myself non-ideological, this makes it s good place to learn.

    I don’t have the knowledge you do about Hayek, apparently, so I would like it if Austrian-leaning readers here would come over and add to the discussion. The BH.tv comment section can sometimes (though infrequently) get acrimonious, like just about any comment section, but the discussion underway seems pretty open and civil.

    For example, a commenter has recently said that the success the Soviet system experienced in terms of rapid industrialization seems to not square with the Hayekian critique of central planning. In response I asked if it was all that important that the Soviet system experienced *any* growth or was its ultimate failure more important. Another commenter responded that central planning had nothing to do with Soviet industrialization. We haven’t gotten any further than that.

  • John V

    Jay J,

    I have often seen that discussing Hayek with people are inclined to find him “inconvenient” doesn’t yield much. Even when the poster is mature, patient and good natured (as I try to be), in the end, the ultimate response always seems to be something along the lines of:

    “Well, OK, Hayek’s right…but so what? It’s so basic. We can’t just limit ourselves there. There’s got to be more.”

    Well, I say that if Hayek is right on a most fundamental level, then and you admit it then you need to re-assess your biases and let go…like I did. Hayek was one of the people that turned me from a wishy-washy sorta-market-friendly liberal into a true classical liberal.

    But getting back to discussing the merits of Hayek’s views, I simply don’t see how trying to work around Hayek…as many do…while acknowledging that is right yields any good.

    The thing about the USSR is hard to do in blog posts and you really need a mastery of Hayek to explain it properly. I won’t try. Perhaps Will could. I can say one thing though, short-run pushes of growth don’t mean anything. Keep in mind that post-war economies of any kind all had a “boom” of sorts. This falls right in line with what I have read about how these economies shifted back to normal economies and rode a wave of reconstruction and pent-up demand. Part of it was a mirage, part of was circumstances. But long, sustainable economies don’t work this way. It takes time for the Fatal Conceit in any degree to rear its head.

  • John V

    Moreover, Jay J,

    Take Brad DeLong. He seems somewhat knowledgeable about Hayek and gives him his due. But even he when feeling the need to break the chains of Hayek’s points never seems to really disprove him. He seems to wander and poke strange critques that give the impression of making a point to a charitable audience but he never really, truly does. It’s weak.

  • Will- have you read John Gray’s book on Hayek? I liked it a lot but would be interested to know what you thought. (I must say I’m sympathetic to many of the criticisms Gray adds in the later editions though not where he then takes them.)

  • Greg N.

    Will,

    Don’t change a thing about your “Free Will” show, which is the only BH show I can stomach. The conversational style, as opposed to a more traditional question and answer format, is one reason the show is awesome (the topics and guests don’t hurt, either). And since, much of the time, you have as much insight as your guest (It’s impressive that you can sit still and appear enthralled while your guest explains how, say, money is the product of human action, not design), I say keep on talking, brother.

    Guest requests: Steven Pinker, Leda Cosmides, PZ Myers (he’s hostile toward libertarianism, but obviously right about evolution).

    • nicole

      I don’t know about PZ, though it might be interesting. But I’d say he goes beyond hostile. I read Pharyngula for years but had to quit after a particularly nasty sequence of posts and comments starting with something about Patri Friedman’s seasteading project. Made me really depressed in fact about how much Democrats, who I had been sympathetic to, will turn against an anti-statist.

  • Greg N.

    Nicole,

    A jab at seasteading is probably something I’d actually appreciate, but you’re right, he does go beyond hostile (which is why I think he’d make a good guest on Will’s show).

    • nicole

      In fact, I think you are probably right. I think it would be interesting for Will to find out why so much of the atheist/freethinker community (at least, from my vantage point) assumes progressivism as the “rational” or “rationalist” norm. I find this all over the web and don’t completely get it. Of course, there are alternative views, e.g., Overcoming Bias, but this could potentially be a good topic.

      • Greg N.

        If nothing else, Will – who probably knows about as much about the implications of evolution and human nature on markets as any libertarian around – could correct some of PZ’s misconceptions about libertarianism (particularly because Will is a reasonable libertarian with a soft spot for Rawls, and not a flaming radical anarchist who wants to live on the high seas).

        I’d love to see PZ’s take on the parallels between the spontaneous orders found in nature, and those found in human societies (and what the role of government should be vis-a-vis those orders), as well as his opinion on group selection at the cultural level. Finally, I’d like to see exactly what beef PZ – who represents as well as anyone the leftist atheist – has with libertarianism (beyond what a snarky paragraph or two in a blog post could tell us).

        Will and PZ Myers would be the biggest and best BHTV episode of all time. So Will: Get Bob Wright on the horn, or do whatever it is you do to get these great guests, and let’s make this happen!