Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Episode #51 - Moen on the Unabomber's Ethics

ole martin moen

In this episode I talk to Ole Martin Moen. Ole Martin is a Research Fellow in Philosophy at the University of Oslo. He works on how to think straight about thorny issues in applied ethics. He is the Principal Investigator of “What should not be bought and sold?”, a $1 million research project funded by the Research Council of Norway. In the past, he has written articles about the ethics of prostitution, the desirability of cryonics, the problem of wild animal suffering and the case for philosophical hedonism. Along with his collaborator, Aksel Braanen Sterri, he runs a podcast, Moralistene (in Norwegian), and he regularly discusses moral issues behind the news on Norwegian national radio. We talk about a potentially controversial topic: the anti-tech philosophy of the Unabomber, Ted Kaczysnki, and what's wrong with it.

You can download the episode here or listen below. You can also subscribe via iTunes or Stitcher (the RSS feed is here).

Show Notes

  • 0:00 - Introduction
  • 2:05 - Should we even be talking about Ted Kaczynski's ethics? Does it not lend legitimacy to his views?
  • 6:32 - Are we unnecessarily anti-rational when it comes to discussing dangerous ideas?
  • 8:32 - The Evolutionary Mismatch Argument
  • 12:43 - The Surrogate Activities Argument
  • 20:20 - The Helplessness/Complexity Argument
  • 23:08 - The Unstoppability Argument
  • 26:45 - The Domesticated Animals Argument
  • 30:45 - Why does Ole Martin overlook Kaczynski's criticisms of 'leftists' in his analysis?
  • 34:03 - What's original in Kaczynski's arguments?
  • 36:31 - Are philosophers who write about Kaczynski engaging in a motte and bailey fallacy?
  • 38:36 - Ole Martin's main critique of Kaczynski: the evaluative double standard
  • 42:20 - How this double standard works in practice
  • 47:27 - Why not just drop out of industrial society instead of trying to overthrow it?
  • 55:04 - Is Kaczynski a revolutionary nihilist?
  • 58:59 - Similarities and differences between Kaczynski's argument and the work of Nick Bostrom, Ingmar Persson and Julian Savulescu
  • 1:04:21 - Where should we go from here? Should there be more papers on this topic?


Relevant Links

  • Ted Kaczynski on Wikipedia (includes links to relevant writings)
  • "The Unabomber's Penpal" - article about the philosopher David Skrbina who has corresponded with Kaczynski for some time


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