What is Morality version 2.0?
Morality version 2.0 (www.morality2.com) is a personal website/blog that I have been running for almost ten years now (though, initially under a different name). I have been posting mainly reviews of non-fiction books on a variety of topics that are all in one way or another related to morality or politics.
I now intend to take Morality version 2.0 to the next level by expanding it to Steemit, primarily in order to make it more interactive and to be able to engage with more people on these and other topics. I explain below why I was attracted to Steemit in particular.
Who am I and what motivates me?
I did my PhD in Philosophy, but I believe that if you want to understand the world you need to examine it from more than one perspective. Therefore, I try to read books on psychology, biology, economics, history, and anything else that might throw some new light on an issue.
This is motivated by the principle of consilience, that evidence from different, independent sources can "converge" to support a conclusion - a principle essential to science. But it is also a result of pure intellectual curiosity on my part; I really want to understand how the world works, taking a particular interest in the workings of the social world.
Aiming for truth, following arguments, looking for evidence
Insofar as truth is your aim; insofar as you want to find out how things really are, you must be prepared to follow wherever the best arguments and the strongest evidence are leading you, even when that means that you are being led to endorse views that are unpopular or that most people don't even take seriously.
Some of the views that I have ended up with are considered “extreme” by most people (I’m not going to tell you about these views now; that will have to wait till future posts). But I do not hold any of my views because they are extreme, but because I think that they have the best arguments and the strongest evidence behind them.
The mere fact that most people don’t agree with a standpoint is never in itself a good reason to reject it (and neither is it ever in itself a good reason for accepting it – being contrarian for the sake of it is not likely to bring you closer to the truth).
Holding views that go against those that are held by almost everyone else is not always comfortable. I still recommend swallowing the red pill, but don’t say that I didn’t warn you!
I might be wrong, of course!
When I say that a standpoint is supported by the best arguments and the strongest evidence, what I have in mind are the best arguments and the strongest evidence that I am aware of at this time. According to fallibilism, which I endorse, one must always be open to changing one’s mind in the light of new arguments or evidence.
Beliefs should be held only “provisionally” – that is, for the time being - and one should be prepared to re-evaluate any position one holds and to revise it whenever the new information warrants it.
I think it is sad that it is often considered a bad thing to change one’s mind and shameful to have to admit that you were wrong. This attitude is harmful and contrary to the spirit of science and philosophy. There should be absolutely no shame in admitting that you were wrong. What is shameful is maintaining your mistaken belief in the face of new compelling arguments that you are wrong. Changing your mind as a result of a good argument should be celebrated as it means that you are probably now less wrong than you were before (closer to the truth). At any rate, you should always expect to have to change your mind as it is extremely unlikely that you got everything right from the start.
Why am I here?
Let me offer three reasons:
(1) Getting at the truth requires free and open inquiry and debate; censorship kills the spirit of philosophy and science!
Censorship is in direct opposition to free and open inquiry and debate. Because Steem is a decentralised network, spread over many jurisdictions around the world, "there is no single entity that can censor content that is valued by STEEM holders" (quoting the Steem whitepaper). Even though "individual websites such as steemit.com may censor content on their particular site . . . content published on the blockchain is inherently broadcast traffic and mirrors all around the world may continue to make it available".
I consider this a highly desirable feature. And, just like the creators of Steem, I too am committed to "enabling free speech and building a free society".
(2) Creators of content can get rewarded, which will benefit everyone!
I also share the idea with the Steem team that the users who generate quality content should be rewarded. While social media companies, such as Facebook, makes a lot of money from user-generated content, none of that money is going to the actual creators of the content. Steem, by contrast, "aims to support social media and online communities by returning much of its value to the people who provide valuable contributions by rewarding them with cryptocurrency".
This promises to raise the quality of the content for everyone’s benefit, and I am hoping to "gain Steem" in this new marketplace of ideas.
(3) Supporting a technology with potentially huge social and political implications!
While philosophy and science are about understanding the world, technology is about using that understanding to improve the world. Science and technology are two sides of the same coin. Blockchain technology in particular is one of the most interesting technologies around, and cryptocurrencies are on the rise. This promises to have huge social and political effects. But only if people adopt it. Like the creators of Steem, I also experience that there is an "onboarding problem" with cryptocurreny. Steemit promises to be a useful gateway for people to earn cryptocurrency without even having to have a bank account or credit card.
I wish to take part in supporting the technology of the future.
What I will bring to Steemit
Posting: I believe that you should say something only if it is worth saying, and that silence is better than rushing it. When it comes to writing, quality is always more important than quantity, because everyone’s time is limited (sadly!). Posting every day is therefore not something that you can expect from me. I will post only when I think I have a message that seems important enough to put across.
Here's a question for the Steemit community: Is there an optimal frequency of posts?
Commenting: When commenting on other people’s posts and engaging in discussions, my goal is always to be constructive. The aim of a constructive debate is not to “win”, and being proved wrong is not to “lose”. Changing one’s mind is not admitting defeat; it is making progress. Discussion is not war; it is a collaborative effort to get closer to the truth, to get to the bottom of things.
Even if nobody ends up changing their minds (which, let’s face it, is an occurrence all too rare), the debate can still be constructive in that you might learn something about your “opponent” (we seriously need to stop these war metaphors!). It is always a good thing to understand how other people think and why they hold the views that they do.
One should never suppose that the people who hold views different from one’s own are stupid, evil, or corrupted. (That may sometimes be the case, but it should never be assumed.) I always try to apply the principle of charity, making the most reasonable interpretation of what the other is saying.