Monday, September 17, 2018

A Sexual Fantasy

I would like:

All of the online game people who get excited about Lamentations of the Flame Princess and the other DIY RPG work it inspired with all its weirdness and body horror and transgression and also get excited about the work of creators from other game scenes including storygames and the indie RPG scene and the critical voices from that scene to have a frank conversation about what is and isn't acceptable representation of sexuality in games. (I would say include the mainstream RPG scene but they ignore such things).

I would like this discussion to be in-depth, so that clear lines are understood and real consensus is reached (these conversations are possible: it is not so long ago pieces of simple philosophical principles like "only design a game you want to play" was obscure, and conversation clarified it) or, if not, the basic assumptions about human nature that underlie these divergent beliefs that make consensus impossible are laid bare.

I have no problem being left entirely out of this conversation so long as it is actually honest and in-depth and more thorough than before.

And, most importantly and above all---when it is done, I would like everyone who has what this conversation then understands as a morally restrictive and puritanical view of sex to be treated with the same righteous, joyous, constantly-advertised call-them-out-on-sight contempt as we more-or-less have consensus-agreed to treat any other toxic right-wing voice and anyone who supports them. I would like the puritan to be treated same as we might treat an open anti-semite (speaking as a Jew).

I would, in short, like it such views were treated as if they are harmful and a sign of being basically evil, because they are, rather than to be continued to be treated as some quaint anachronism you can just ignore.

Failing that, I'd like to know why it seems impossible to do that or have that conversation. And, quite likely, I suspect all the sex workers who have come to this table and played here over the years would like to know too.

-Z
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142 comments:

Saker Tarsos said...

Must... overcome... shyness... and throw in my two cents! I don't think I have a concrete answer (nor do I think there is a concrete answer) but I can throw in some stuff to start things off.

Couple baseline assumptions:
-Representation of sexuality in games is not inherently unhealthy (though puritanical viewpoint may believe that it is).
-Even if you stifle representations of sexuality in games, it does not make sexuality just go away, since sexuality is an inherently important aspect of human psychology and culture.
-Stifled sexuality may reappear in indirect but creepy/unhealthy ways.

Important questions to ask:
Is the representation of sexuality within (game) healthy?
-'Healthy' is an extremely subjective term, everyone has their own definition. What does 'healthy' mean for me in this instance? My definition would be that of psychological health: the person being represented sexually is being empowered by the depiction, they were depicted in this way with their permission, depictions of BDSM are safe consensual and sane and reflect well on the BDSM community.

If the answer to the above question is 'no', then we open up a whole new can of worms.
-This is where things get dicey. I would argue (subjectively) that depictions of unhealthy sexuality (such as sexual abuse, nonconsensual sex) should not be stifled just on principle, but depictions can have serious unintended social consequences. (ex. a piece of art that examines the monstrous act of rape and the damage it causes could be valuable to a critical community that wants to seriously discuss the impact and prevention of sexual trauma and abuse, but could trigger people who have witnessed that trauma in their past, and people who do not engage critically with the piece may become offended.) This warrants a larger discussion, but, unfortunately, is a very difficult thing to discuss.


Zak Sabbath said...

@saker tarsos

"My definition would be that of psychological health: the person being represented sexually is being empowered by the depiction, "

This is so vague. What person is being "represented" by a statuette of a goatmonster with 7 boobs?

Is "empower" a word you can use in a wholly fictional context: can a person get more power or lose concrete power in a game or are you just talking about making them feel good or bad about themselves?

"but depictions can have serious unintended social consequences"

Triggers can happen with literally anything and can be avoided with a content warning and x cards etc, so aren't really important in a discussion of "acceptable depiction". That's a discussion fo which depictions should be flagged.

Outside that: can you name and prove any of these social consequences resulting specifically from extant RPGs?

Saker Tarsos said...

-I think that statuette would fall under a completely different topic, my point there was concerned with the sexual depictions of people, or, well, fictional representations of people. Though the goatmonster statuette could be seen as a fictional representation of a fictional representation of a goat monster person, and if goatmonster politics/social issues were an important feature in said game world...

-Within the game-as-a-world concrete power would mean power over other fictional elements in the world, so yes one could gain or lose it.
For the definition of empowerment, I suppose a better criterion for what I'm trying to get at would be: 'is the depiction a positive thing for the person depicted?' So more of the good/bad about themselves bit.

-Agree on trigger warnings.

-I don't have specific cases or citable proof on hand for the situations I've described. Though it would be a useful project to go hunting for some to analyze and debate over so I may do this when I have more time.

Zak Sabbath said...

@Saker Tarsos

-If all the people depicted are fictional (as in all games) who cares?

-"I don't have specific cases or citable proof on hand for the situations I've described."

Then why would you made that claim?

I might as well say I think that since your name is "Tarsos" you're a tarsier.

Max Cantor said...

Tarsier's are cool!

Anyway, I think this whole Socratic Dialogue thing you're doing with Saker is all well and good, and in an abstract sense I get how this is a productive way of breaking down the logic of an argument and coming to some conclusion, but I think at best this only works to the extent that people are engaging with it, which gets to your main point (in the post) about doing this as a community.

The more people you're trying to coordinate with, the more vectors for "error" you have. Whether that error is miscommunication, or people not willing to engage, or going into the conversation in bad faith, or genuinely, fundamentally disagreeing in a way that is not reconcilable but also not necessarily unreasonable. Maybe you and Saker and others and I come out of it with a deeper understanding of the issue, but I think this kind of discussion ends up being inefficient and breaks down at a certain point.

It's like asking to define "Political Correctness". PC is itself a misnomer- there is no law, there was no tribunal that decided what was PC and what wasn't. It's not a bad goal, we should strive to talk about complex issues civilly and come to meaningful conclusions, but I don't think it's realistic to expect it to work, because these things happen organically. Maybe another example is like memes; there are people who engage in various degrees of social engineering and marketing to deliberately create memes, but often times it's just this emergent property of complex social systems that we can somewhat model and predict conceptually or statistically, and then sloths (or tarsiers, one day 0.o) become a thing and nobody knows why or could have predicted it.

Anonymous said...

"Triggers can happen with literally anything and can be avoided with a content warning and x cards etc, so aren't really important in a discussion of "acceptable depiction". That's a discussion of which depictions should be flagged."

One problem I've always had with the idea of X-cards is that as the Dungeon Master running the adventure, there is content that "I" don't want to run. Players get X-cards to flag stuff in my game that they don't like, but where is the mechanism for the DM to tell the adventure creator "Hey, this makes me uncomfortable and I don't want to run this adventure". If the module does a good job flagging/previewing its content then I know its not for me, but I've been surprised before and ended up buying products that I don't feel comfortable running.

The use of X-cards, as well as conversations beforehand, deal with uncomfortable players, but when it comes to adventure content, my personal opinion is we need to talk about the uncomfortable DMs. I think trigger warnings (for the DMs buying the adventure) are still relevant to this conversation, and the goal should be to communicate to the DM purchasing the product just what they're getting.

Zak Sabbath said...

@Max Cantor

Bluntly: you're totally wrong and it's lie you can't read.

As I pointed out last blog entry, LOTS of pieces of information and norms penetrate the RPG sphere all the time.

There _is_ a norm of response to, say, antisemitism. These things are the result of discussion. All I am asking is that these discussions happen in the case of this specific topic.

@Anonymous

I don't think that's a very controversial opinion.

Wanting a content warning is easy to understand: it's a personal issue.

Wanting to form a moral judgment about a person for having created it at all (or refusing to change it): this is an issue which is much more dangerous.

Samuli Suominen said...

Oh boy, this line of conversation takes me back to when I was a teenager and thinking about movie rating. I observed that age of consent is 16 and sex is acceptable, even positive, from that age onward. But explicit sex makes a movie banned for anyone under 18.

By contrast, I observed bloody violence and murder is acceptable pretty much never and generally viewed negatively. But explicit violence in movies is fine for age 15 and above.

It seemed ridiculous to me then and still seems so now. If sex is more okay than bloody murder in reality, it shouldn't suddenly become less okay in fiction, or in this case, games. By extension, if something higher up the totem pole of wrongness is fine for a game, then lesser wrongs should get an automatic pass.

That is, if I'm running Death Love Doom which has player character mercy killing mutilated babies, anything to do with sex and romance which is less awfull than killing mutilated babies is fine.

Setting the initial bar boils down to some form of golden rule: "play in a way you would like to see others play". Set the example by what you bring to the table and others either give as they get or opt out. Round and round it goes.

I find that anything else about the subject matter revolves around two questions: "But does this representation cause harm?" and "does this representation hint that the person who brought it to the table is fucked up?"

In both cases, the answer is "I dunno, how about you do some research to see which way it goes?"

Video games taught me that the amount of violence on the screen rarely tells anything deep about the players or the makers. I'm not inclined to assume the amount of sex in RPGs tells much more, absent of other proof.

Max Cantor said...

In case there has been some misunderstanding, let me clarify that I'm not saying these conversations can't facilitate change or that we shouldn't have them. That being said, if you're seriously suggesting that you think a single conversation is going to somehow resolve this complex moral and social question once and for all, that's pretty ridiculous and naive. Social systems are complicated. Ethics are complicated. The ethical merits of sex or other provocative materials extends well beyond tabletop as I know you know, and has existed for basically as long as culture has been a thing. I would like to be wrong here, that would be fucking incredible if a single conversation did in fact solve this issue, to do so even within the realm of tabletop alone would be an incredible feat. I just don't see it shaking out that way.

Anyway, I think it would be more productive to have the talk than talk about whether the talk will succeed, just having the talk is a good idea. For whatever it's worth, as a white-passing heterosexual cis-gender male (I'm also Jewish, to me that means white-passing, but I recognize that in most cases I get white privilege, this is all sort of besides the point), I try to be mindful that when it comes to sexually provocative material, even as someone who tries to be mindful and aware of social issues, there are certain things that are going to be less salient to me. I like to test those lines of appropriateness, I like reading or looking at materials that test those lines, but generally I will acquiesce to those who I think are more likely to experience those things personally or suffer the potential consequences of them. That's not to say I don't have opinions (clearly) or don't argue those opinions (clearly), it's not about copping-out, but I want to consider the most relevant points of view first, ideally before my own.

Zak Sabbath said...

@Max Cantor

Whether anything is "a" conversation or a series of conversations is a rather academic distinction.

The point is: it needs to be discussed harder than it is currently being discussed. And, hopefully, by people other than me.

Many norms are established in tabletop game conversation, at least for people who read and respond regularly in these circles. I don't see any reason we can't do that here as well.

Max Cantor said...

I don't know how much the "a" vs "a series" changes my point, but in any case I agree more than disagree with what you're saying and as I said it's not worth dwelling on that point. You are correct that this is a conversation / series of conversations worth having that I hope extends beyond this thread and contributes to progress.

Kyle Traylor said...

"I'd like to know why it seems impossible to do that or have that conversation. And, quite likely, I suspect all the sex workers who have come to this table and played here over the years would like to know too."

Because many of the people with the puritanical view you are describing seem, based on anecdotal experience, far more comfortable with sexuality as an identity and a political affiliation than as an act. Seems to tie back to your article about Lovecraft and Ick.

What have they said when you've asked them?

Anonymous said...

How do you define puritanical in this context?

Is this something that aims at PG-rating and 'fades to black' each time sex is happening, or something like vilifying sexual workers, or something else? In anti-semitism Holocaust denial would be a clear indicator but what is clear indicator of punishable 'puritanical' here?

Zak Sabbath said...

@Kyle Traylor

They, of course, do not answer and flee the conversation

@anonymous

Any of the many conservative reactions to sexuality in games over the years:
Filamena Young claiming that the D&D w/Porn Stars crew appearing in Maxim was bad for women
Anna Kreider saying Hyung Tae Kim should be punished for his art
Fred Hicks' "think of the children" attack on Kingdom Death

Max Cantor said...

Superskull podcast, the podcast for Vault of Midnight, Ann Arbor's premier comic book store (I love and miss that place, always like to represent them ;) ), talked about Kingdom Death a while back, which is where I first learned about it. This actually is relevant to this conversation.

They're a pretty liberal and open-minded bunch, but one thing they did discuss about the game was feeling uncomfortable with the sexualization in the art and felt it was objectifying and would alienate certain people (particularly women). They made a point of not making a judgment claim about it, they weren't saying it was fundamentally wrong or anything like that, the focus was just on their own personal feelings and their concern that the art would limit the audience for the game.

I think this is something worth considering; certain people might find sexualized art or provocative materials personally disturbing or triggering, fairly or unfairly, but that doesn't automatically make them puritanical or conservative or imply that they want to impose those values on others. I don't think anyone is explicitly suggesting this, but often times people otherize those they disagree with in subtle ways without realizing it, so I wanted to share a perspective of some people who I disagree with in this case but who I still respect.

I think if they saw this conversation, they would likely be open-minded and considerate of "our" perspective (assuming we're all mostly on the same page), but I would like to hear what somebody with their perspective would have to say about all of this.

Spidder said...

Whatever the people sitting around the game table decide is acceptable.

Zak Sabbath said...

@Max Cantor

Several problems there:

1) The fact they just say it on a podcast (in, according to you, a very stupid way: all choices limit a product's audience) rather than engaged someone (especially, for example, women who find the game more appealing because of the sexualization) is the problem.

A podcast where someone announces a work makes them uncomfortable of "feel it is objectifying" (which is simply using the word "feel" to soften what is actually a fact claim--they believe that it is) but unless they actually talk to another person, they're part of the problem.

2) Blurring reaction and fact-claim is a problem--triggering is a reaction, claiming a thing "is objectifying" is a fact claim.

3) The whole "I believe x (not just feel it) but don't want to impose it on others" is no defense at all and no-one should ever use it. The person is still going around making microdecisions in their daily life based on the belief even if they don't want others to share it. So if you believe Jews are inferior "but don;t want to impose it on anyone else" you may still be making life harder for people you believe are Jewish (in how you judge them at work, for instance) despite your nondesire to spread the disease.

A puritan is still a puritan even if they're not expansionist about it.


@Spidder

That's not a helpful answer here for a few reasons:

1. I didn't ask what anyone's personal beliefs were (a frivolous question here). I asked why it is so difficult to have a conversation where these beliefs are juxtaposed. That requires a lot more thought than "What does Spidder think is ok?"

2. That isn't an answer that approaches the thorny issue of the question because we're not just talking about "what can appear in a game" we're also talking about what is acceptable to publish and mass-produce in a book (as games tend to be spread via book).

Max Cantor said...

It's been too long since I listened to the particular episode where they discuss this, so while that was my memory/impression of what they said, I don't want to go too much further into what they said specifically, since it's possible I'm misremembering or misrepresenting them. One of the semi-regular members on the show is female and I forget if she was on that episode and had any opinion on it from her perspective, not that she would be speaking for all women or anything but at least it would be an additional perspective.

Moving away from them specifically, since they're not here to defend themselves and also as I said I don't want to misrepresent them, and just discussing the issues you bring up:

1. Sure, any choice could limit the audience of a product, but that doesn't mean all decisions limit the same potential audience equally. Seems a bit "stupid" to think it's so binary >.>. And while I think we as a society are becoming more open to sexually provocative material, and I am with you in that I hope we continue to become more so like that, there are people, whether because they are puritanical or because it triggers negative personal experiences, or whatever the case, who aren't comfortable with that yet, and unless in fact they are counterproductively or maliciously puritanical, I'd rather not villainize them categorically.

2. I think the distinction between triggering as an emotion/reaction and objectification as a claim of fact is reasonable. That being said, if we're going to discuss why these two groups of RPers in particular have such different views towards sexually provocative material and come to some kind of "solution", I think a discussion of emotional responses, why they exist, whether or not they are warranted, how to deal with them if they are unwarranted, etc., would be a valuable thing to do in addition to the "objective ethics" of it.

3. Principally I agree with you, actually strongly so. That being said, reality is messy. I know that sounds corny or even condescending, but I can't believe you apply this degree of absolutism in your life, nor am I sure it would be a good thing if you did. Anyway, going back to the emotional vs. fact-claim thing from above, since maybe that's a better direction to take this point, I don't think it's unreasonable to say "this thing makes me uncomfortable, but I don't care if other people do it". Like, I'm straight, I was talking to a couple gay guys the other day and they propositioned me, and I rejected the offer because that's not what I'm into, but that is not a reflection of my values towards sexuality.

Zak Sabbath said...

@Max Cantor

The conversation still should happen.

Their view of Kingdom Death either is or isn't the same as Fred Hicks' and those morally-meaningful lines need to be understood, not blurred.

Max Cantor said...

I agree they should be understood, but I think it is a dangerous thing to ignore the genuine complexity of ethics, human thought, human emotion, and the interactions between them, or conflate these factors with intentional obfuscation. If this shit were simple we wouldn't need to have this conversation, but it's not. If you're going to create this false dichotomy and call everyone who disagrees with you a nazi (literally or figuratively), you dilute the meaning of the word.

Some people find sexually provocative material provoking because of a patriarchal culture where sexually provocative material has legitimately been used for objectification, or because they have been objectified in some way and those materials trigger them. Maybe they don't understand why it affects them but it just does. Maybe they do see this as a moral truth, in which case I disagree with them, but I can recognize the underlying values, that women shouldn't be objectified and materials which objectify women are bad, and now we can talk about how sex work or kink or burlesque or sexual imagery can actually be empowering and how suppressing sexually provocative materials or female sexuality is itself a perpetuation of the problem. Or maybe it's something else. Maybe they really are just puritanical shitheads, in which case fuck 'em.

There are a lot of nazis out there, let's not lump well meaning people who may not agree with you, or may not have considered the full philosophical or moral complexity of a problem to the extent you have, with nazis.

Zak Sabbath said...

@Max Cantor

"Maybe they don't understand why it affects them but it just does. Maybe they do see this as a moral truth..."

Then they are objectively wrong and no better than Nazis and should be treated as such.

The fact they have been or seen victims does not excuse bad behavior or beliefs--and if it did all a Nazi would have to do is point to a Jewish criminal who hurt them.

Motives don't excuse willful stupidity. The Nazis aren't just the people driven by conscious hate. They include ALL the people who voted for them because they _thought_ Oh this'll be good for all the Germans.

Max Cantor said...

You can continue to call them nazis, but if the point of this conversation was to bring about a dialogue and bridge the gap between two cultures of tabletop RPers and that is your approach, you're going to accomplish fuck all.

You can say they should know better, but they don't. You can continue to call them nazis and fail to reach them, or you can bring some empathy and forgiveness to the conversation, try to reach a genuine understanding, and maybe accomplish something.

I realize in a post-Trump world that is a hard fucking thing to do, I'd be lying if I said I don't hold every ignorant but well-meaning shithead who voted for him accountable, but I take that as a personal failing and something I should strive to rise above.

If you don't see how there is a non-trivial difference between someone who is well-meaning but coming from a place of ignorance or incorrect assumptions, and people who are genuinely malicious and not acting in good faith, if you've already decided everyone who disagrees with you is an irredeemable nazi, then I don't know what you're expecting to happen here...

Zak Sabbath said...

@Max Cantor

1. In your first paragraph you switch from defending your position as a _moral_ reality_ and shifted to defending it _as public relations_ . Only the first thing matters here. Defend your position morally.

2. Paragraphs 2 and 3: there should be consequences for bad behavior. Antisemitism has consequences, why not this?

3. Most bigots are people who "well-meaning but coming from a place of ignorance or incorrect assumptions" . Like Nazi believed racial science was real and that inherited traits did more than they actually do. The fucking Inquisition thought there were witches undermining the church (there weren't)

4. I am expecting for people like you to explain why you'd enact consequences on an anti-semite but not a prude. What is the moral difference to you? "Good intentions" covers even Darth Vader ("bring order to the universe")

Spidder said...

@Zak Sabbath
1. It doesn't matter what *I* think is apropriate, at someone else's table. Maybe that's why it's so difficult to have this conversation. Because all it would be is a juxtaposition of beliefs, that in the end matter little when each group in a session of play has their own standards, regardless of what people on the internet have decided is the "true" answer.

2. "What can appear in a game" and "what can be published" are different questions.
What can be published, in my opinion? Everything. Whatever the writer wanted to put in his work. There should be no censorship.
That's one of the reasons I'm into LotfP. James Raggi doesn't shy away from publishing anything. If something makes me or my players iffy, I always have the option to omit it from my game. The writer should however have the right to place it in his book without having to conform to my, or anyone else's, standards.

Zak Sabbath said...

@Spidder

Again, missing the point:

1. Real conversation is NEVER merely the juxtaposition of different opinions.

Real conversation requires drilling past that bs to the assumptions beneath by asking questions:
http://dndwithpornstars.blogspot.com/2018/09/philosophy-branding-activism-progress.html

2. You're not paying attention.

I am not asking "What can be published?" I am asking what _it is fair to morally attacked_ .

For example: someone *can* publish Mein Kampf with a glowing introduction. But it can and should be _morally attacked_ because its a book full of inaccurate gibberish.

The "do you believe in censorship" debate is not interesting or important. What's important is what people feel is moral and immoral to say or believe or create-because that has far greater implications.

Max Cantor said...

1. In regards to morals vs. "public relations", if you are claiming you want to start a dialogue between people with moral values, but are not willing to acknowledge the interactions between ethics, cognitions/behaviors, and emotions, it will neither be effective as a dialogue, nor as a meaningful discussion of ethics. In statistics, main effects are often not all that interesting or meaningful, it's the interactions that actually tell you something meaningful about the data. Otherwise, you come to overly reductive and generalized interpretations of the data...

2. This idea of punishment for the sake of punishment is foolish, and empirically does not work. The criminal justice system is a perfect example of this. I'm hardly the first person to talk about how fucked our criminal justice system is, I'm sure you're already aware of what I mean, but here are some references that discuss it in greater detail just in case:

(https://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/08/opinion/lessons-from-european-prisons.html)

Subramanian, R., & Shames, A. (2013). Sentencing and prison practices in Germany and The Netherlands. Center on Sentencing and Corrections. Vera Institute of Justice.

This is a good example of how treating ethics as a main effect rather than an interaction is overly reductive. Sure, there are some people who are just complete sociopaths, but the factors and interactions between those factors that contribute to someones personal ethics, cognitions, or behaviors are really complicated and the one-size-fits-all solution of beating down anyone with bad ethics is basically just fascism. Punishment for a behavior with no regard to the antecedent is like diagnosing an illness by its symptoms, like stomach-ache disorder. There are a million things that can cause a stomach ache but if the stomach ache itself is as deep as you're going to look to identify the problem then you're never going to solve anything.

3. I try to avoid making these kinds of statements because they come off provocative, but I genuinely don't understand what you are saying with this point. Anyway, if we're going to talk about people taking harsh action against others based on unfounded certainty in their own perspective...

4. Continued in a second post momentarily...

Max Cantor said...

4. I think this is a good question, although I think it's one that can break down into pedantry really quickly and I think is secondary to the real issue, which I'll get to after this attempt at answering your question. Here is one plausible account but by all means please poke holes in it: In the case of a nazi, their entire philosophy pivots on hate towards other people, it is unambiguously hateful. I generally agree that prudishness is rooted in a patriarchal worldview, but as I've already explained, there can be any number of reasons for why someone is prudish that aren't about a philosophy or about hate, and the sentiment is not necessarily targeted at a person but at an act or object depicting an act. Of course there are prudish people who do target people and not the act per se, to which I would agree with you that they are basically the same as nazis, fuck those people.

This gets to the second part, that I think really ties into the greater discussion, which is that I'm less concerned with the belief per se, and more interested in its etiology, or more specifically, understanding its etiology for the purpose of solving the problem in a systematic way. If somebody is, in fact, an irredeemable nazi, then ya I'm not going to waste time on them. But, this idea that somebody who has not considered the full philosophical implications of their worldview (yet) is equivalent to an irredeemable nazi is so lacking in basic theory of mind, is so obviously a fundamental attribution error, that it breaks down under any amount of scrutiny.

Has your worldview never changed? Have you never held a belief as Objective Truth, only to realize later it was either insufficient or outright wrong? Were you an irredeemable nazi that should have been culled from society, or just somebody with a particular perspective coming from a particular set of circumstances who hadn't learned everything yet? If you genuinely think you know the Objective Truth of something as complicated as ethics and that anyone who violates that Objective Truth is inherently evil, that doesn't leave a lot of room for rational skepticism or personal reflection. Do you know who else holds their perspective about complex ethical issues as the One Objective Truth and treats those who disagree with them as innately problematic, and acts against them harshly and uniformly...

GRIM said...

It's fantasy, there's no reason to exclude (or include) anything other than that being down to the tastes at your table. What is peculiar, what is strange, what is unnerving is that the puritanism today doesn't come from the right, but from this 'pseudo-left'.

On content warnings, they're a rather different animal to X-cards (disruptive) or trigger warnings (impossible to implement effectively). Some people come to the table wanting to be grossed out, horrified or to experience other strong emotions as one would on a rollercoaster. Responsibility needs to be placed more on the person with the issue, rather than everyone else at the table I think.

Zak Sabbath said...

@GRIM

You're not answering the questions I asked about public discourse, you're just doing a trivial and simple thing: giving your personal take on acceptable content.

See my responses to Spidder above to see why your answers aren't pushing the conversation forward.

Zak Sabbath said...

@Max Cantor

1. Again, this is an answer about PR. Please stop talking about PR. It isn't interesting. Of COURSE bad people are more likely to talk if you agree with them, that's not worth pointing out.

2. Punishment works on Nazis

3. The idea that someone's ultimate goals are (to them) positive is NOT a reason to go easy on them--and that is the only reason you've given to go easy on puritans. Any shitty POV you can name is driven by a desire for a good outcome.

4. " there can be any number of reasons for why someone is prudish that aren't about a philosophy or about hate, and the sentiment is not necessarily targeted at a person but at an act or object depicting an act. "

You can easily say the same of a random anti-semite. It's not that they voted for Hitler because they hate Jews, it's just that they hate the act of performing Jewish rituals. They could just convert to christianity, right?

Read Viktor Klemperer's Language of the Third Reich to see lots of examples of people who voted for Hitler who didn't see "hate " as their own motivation and would be hard to describe that way. They just believe Hitler's rhetoric about a brighter future and had a smilingly monstrous disregard for the consequences on Jews of their own decisions and beliefs. (He was a Jew, they knew it and were his friends, but voted for Hitler anyway, and supported the Reich.)

And your "theory of mind" gibberish could, again, equally well apply to anti-semites: they could easily be "somebody who has not considered the full philosophical implications of their worldview".

I've given them the opportunity to reconsider their wordlview: they can respond when engaged in conversation. They refuse to do that and instead flee. So: they've been given the opportunity to change their views and see evidence to make them reconsider and they've refused it. Just like anit-semites.

"Has your worldview never changed? "

Yes, because I did what anti-semites and RPG puritans refused to do: engage.

That's the line between evil-ignorant and reformable-ignorant. The reformable engage. These people don't. Over the years they've become very comfortable in an echo chamber. It is not the responsibility of good people to pry them from their evil position--and if it isn't: you still haven't explained why we don't have the same responsibility with anti-semites.

You're just using regurgitating words like "hate" and "good intentions" to try to draw a line between these 2 forms of evil and ignorance that doesn't exist.

Max Cantor said...

I have genuinely enjoyed this conversation, but I feel like whether it's you or me or both of us, we're reaching an impasse where clearly neither of us is reaching the other and it's yielding diminishing returns. I feel like critical aspects of my arguments are being ignored or disregarded and it appears that you feel likewise, and that's frustrating and unproductive. So with that said, I'm going to respectfully disengage, but I look forward to future discussions.

Zak Sabbath said...

@Max Cantor

You're not allowed to do that here.

We don't do half-conversations on this blog.

That's a thing Nazis do: refuse to back up their arguments with fact.

If you feel like "critical aspects of my arguments are being ignored or disregarded " then you need to state what those are, now, in your next comment, AFTER addressing every point I made in my last comment.

That's how you have a conversation: you address the points. I feel I addressed all your points, if you disagree you must say so and be explicit.

Otherwise you will be banned.

Max Cantor said...

Come off it man, I did state my arguments, I did back them up, or at least that is my perception of the situation, but there has clearly been a critical breakdown in communication if you don't see that, so it's just not going to be productive to continue. Do you want me to send you some mathematical models of my arguments? Because I could maybe do that over the weekend, but that's about as objective as it's going to get. I recognize that you feel you have addressed my points, but if you have, I am not seeing it, and going back to theory of mind, if you can't appreciate how two people can have different perceptions and how that can and often does lead to critical breakdowns in communication, then so be it.

I'd like to discuss this and other issues with you in the future, but the context needs to change, the system needs to be rebooted, or something, because clearly this isn't working. I'm not trying to be dodgy, I'm just reading the room and this doesn't look like it's going to go anywhere because somewhere along the way we lost each other, or if you aren't willing to admit any degree of fallibility or fault then I will at least take responsibility for myself and say I have lost your thread and you may as well be speaking German for all the good it'll do me.

Zak Sabbath said...

@Max Cantor

It will not productive if you flee as soon as you feel you are not being "understood"

It will be productive if you state clearly your objections EVEN IF you think you are repeating yourself.

"I recognize that you feel you have addressed my points, but if you have, I am not seeing it,"

Then what you do, if you're a grown up is ASK QUESTIONS. Then you will see it. That is how learning works.

The only way to "lose each other" is to do the terrible, totally indefensible thing you are trying to do: leave the conversation.

I will recap for you:

You've been asked how an anti-semite morally differs from a puritan.

The only substantive answers you gave were that the anti-semite's views are "based on hate" for a person not an act, that they don't have good intentions and aren't reformable.

I responded that the first two of those are simply a commonplace shorthand expressions: most villains believe they have good intentions, including anti-semites. So those aren't valid reasons. And then I pointed out the anti-semite and prude were about equally non-reformable as they have the same basic flaw (like you, apparently): a need to flee conversations where their views are questioned.

As for things I "skipped" i don't know what these could be. I clearly addressed every issue you raised, but if you disagree your job now in the conversation is to type what things I have not addressed.

You may either continue the conversation you began or be banned. Again:

We

don't

do

half-conversations

here

You finish what you start, otherwise there was no point voicing your ideas to begin with as there's no evidence they have any rational basis unless you provide it.

Max Cantor said...

"Grown ups" know when to cut their losses. "Grown ups" recognize the inherent complexities of the world and don't assume everyone who disagrees with them is an irredeemable nazi or believes they've found the One Objective Truth (I think those are what we call "teenagers"). "Grown ups" learn not just through observation or interaction, but through self-criticism.

A half conversation is one in which one or both parties are unwilling to think outside themselves or their own perspective, or recognize the interactions between the argument, and the thoughts and emotions of the arguer, and how that can critically affect discourse.

We've both stated our arguments, tried to refute each other's arguments many times over, it's about as full an argument as one can expect as far as I'm concerned. The problem isn't the argument, but the arguer.

I don't think you're arguing in good faith, I don't think you have made an effort to consider any viewpoint besides the one you already believe and you are clearly unwilling to challenge it or acknowledge your own biases (which is to say, the inherent biases all humans have because cognition is messy but that's a whole other conversation), you just want to beat your One Objective Truth into the ground. I still consider this a positive experience, I look forward to more conversations, but for now I'm done here because I think this is starting to reflect poorly on both of us and I would rather cool off.

We can talk about this or other things in the future when the context has changed and perhaps it can be more productive, or if I'm now on your blacklist, that would genuinely suck but so be it (I don't think you understand how much power you wield in every interaction with anybody in this community, or maybe you do and don't care, but that's also another conversation).

Zak Sabbath said...

@max cantor

"We've both stated our arguments, tried to refute each other's arguments many times over, it's about as full an argument as one can expect as far as I'm concerned. "

This is totally inaccurate.

A full argument means that if you find a refuyation invalid, you quote it and explain the problem with it.

You've barely scratched the surface. As soon as obvious objections were raised you are threatening to flee (spending more time trying to justify fleeing than it would take to simply explain yourself)


"I don't think you're arguing in good faith"

Then say why and make an argument for that egregious accusation.

Disagreeing with you and being more willing than you to articulate why doesn't constitute bad faith.

I am CLEARLY willing to consider your viewpoint because I am repeatedly asking you to type it out (which you are refusing to do)

"you just want to beat your One Objective Truth into the ground"

Of course not--that gains me nothing.

As with any intelligent person my goal is to see if my view has any holes in it by asking. You seem to be refusing to articulate th holes you think it has except in very vague terms and very eager to invent bizarre theories about why your invalid arguments are being described as such.

As for "reflecting poorly"--that's silly. The internet OF COURSE hates attempts at rational conversation: the answer is to do it anyway.

Now:

Re-read the conversation and state your objections to my last comment on the actual topic clearly. Write them in the box and press "publish your comment"

Max Cantor said...

I'm not going to lie, I both strongly disagree and resent you suggesting that I did not address your arguments and am just running away, and I still don't believe you are arguing in good faith, or seriously considering what I have to say, and I still don't think this is going to be productive, but I also think you may genuinely believe you are arguing in good faith and think this can be productive, and may reasonably resent me for misunderstanding your intentions just as I believe you are misunderstanding mine.

I actually legitimately will likely not be able to respond for a while because I'm about two have 6 and a half hours of meetings and workshops, but I will try to come back to this tomorrow or the weekend and see if we can give it another go.

Zak Sabbath said...

@Max Cantor

If you answer (whenever, so long as it is during your next recreational internet engagement): you are not running away.

If you don't answer: you are, 100% objectively, running away. That isn't a statement about your intent, it's a description of your observable behavior. I have no idea what your intent is and have no hypothesis and don't need one.

Everyone including me has to follow the same rules: arguments get addressed, questions get answered.

The way you have a difficult conversation is (rule # 1) to not run away. So: see you here sometime soon, hopefully.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Zak Sabbath said...

@anonymous

You left the same useless comment that Spidder and GRIM did, see the first response to Spidder for why that's not helpful

Kyle Traylor said...

After some reading, I'm not sure which components of that last question - why is it so difficult to have this conversation - are ones to which you don't already have an answer; as you said, the people making the claims go silent and flee the conversation.

Is it a question of motivation? Because you've written numerous subjects about that before, and as I recall your past conclusion was because the people who are fleeing the conversation are a support group first and a hobby community second. Has that changed recently? If not, is a matter of wanting confirmation from these people rather than only being able to theorize?

Zak Sabbath said...

@Kyle Traylor

" is a matter of wanting confirmation from these people rather than only being able to theorize?"

1. Yes, and

2. the personnel changes over time, so things might change and

3. There are (and this is a concept i didn't much address before) many people who are on the fence (like apparently Max Cantor above) who are aware that puritanism is bad, but for some reason don't believe in treating the puritan like they'd treat any other right wing asshole. That's a lot of people and a slightly separate group.

The question of how, year after year, one can:
- lay out the case for a more open view of sexual content in games,
-be agreed with vigorously,
-be surrounded by a community that buys product built around those values
...and yet still not see most people inflict the same consequences on puritans as they do on all the other assholes online is strange.

It's like people tell you they're hungry, they want food, they go to a restaurant, they have money, yet year after year they don't order anything.

WrongOnTheInternet said...

A conversation can be had with (some) people, but (real or imagined) bad manners or belligerence ruins many conversations that could have otherwise been productive. Plenty of people are capable of having of a rational conversation when calm, but get riled up by tone fairly easily. Given the kind of shouty activism common on the internet, this probably has a lot to with why people won't engage.

Your stated position is wanting others to condemn sexual puritans as nazis, so naturally that's going raise people's hackles, since they (and I) don't see these groups as morally equivalent.

Since I'm here: The picture of sexual puritans I have in my head doesn't involve them (intentionally) condemning a class of people to be second-class citizens or killing them.

People who do condemn a class of people intentionally like this are morally equivalent to nazis.

People who have the belief that sex work is morally tainted, but don't believe that sex workers should be treated as second class citizens, are possibly redeemable.

Zak Sabbath said...

@WrongOnTheInternet

If someone is "riled up" by tone (ie. they avoid a conversation about something existentially important to every human being on earth because of tone) they aren't intelligent and they're the kind of harassers that need to be reformed or pushed out of the conversation--like any anti-semite.

"Since I'm here: The picture of sexual puritans I have in my head doesn't involve them (intentionally) condemning a class of people to be second-class citizens or killing them."

That's just the difference between a ("mere") anti-semite and a nazi.

We still all openly and repeatedly and gleefully jump up and down on someone if they're an anti-semite (or otherwise ethnically prejudiced)

WrongOnTheInternet said...

Getting emotional about an existentially important conversation is... normal. It's the default state, even. It takes time and energy to be in a conversation you find difficult, which is limited in supply. This doesn't excuse any sort of bad behavior (lying, avoiding questions), but it does at least explain why someone might never bother to have a difficult conversation. The people I'm talking about here aren't trolls who need to be pushed out of the conversation, it's the people who never engage at all because they feel attacked.

The anti-semite vs. the moral puritan: I think I agree that they are morally equivalent. We just differ in how we think they should be treated. A (separate) conversation, or education, needs to happen with these people, involving patience and diplomacy. They're stupid now, but they may eventually not be. This is back to the activism thing though, so they can be safely excluded from intelligent conversation.

Zak Sabbath said...

@WrongOnTheInternet

It doesn't matter whether or not it's normal. Lots of bad things are normal, in fact maybe _most_ of them. If that means people need to do better than average to be worth listening to: fine.

"People who never engage bc they _feel_ attacked" (even if, objectively, they're not) are doing something common and, also, totally evil. They should stop even if there are lots of them or its a "normal" thing to do.

As for the second question:

1. So while this re-education is happening to internet game assholes (which never has happened ever in the better part of a decade but lets say it's possible) -- what do you do about all the massive damage they're causing while they're still being "re educated"?

2. And, also, who is doing it? Bc right now (again, after the better part of a decade) I don't see anyone doing that.

Zak Sabbath said...

(@WrongOnTheInternt
And, I hope not, but JUST in case you were going to come back with the tired "but everyone haz feelz!!!" yes, but not so much feelz that they allow feelings to distort facts. Otherwise your computer wouldn't work.)

WrongOnTheInternet said...

1. I don't have a good answer for this. These people will do damage regardless of whether there's an attempt at communication or not, it'll just take different forms. Mitigate it by banning genuine trolls.

2. No one that I know of, at least in the tiny sphere of tabletop gaming. There's a lot of precedent for it in the world, though. Lots of failed attempts, too.

The thing about people feeling attacked, is that they believe they have valid points (even though they don't). In this case, you are attacking them by comparing them to anti-semites. They'll never state what points they thing are valid (and have them proven wrong), because they've just been compared to anti-semites (code: nazi). Come to the table with someone you think will argue calmly with you, and you might accept their points, change your mind. That won't happen with someone they think is attacking them.

You seem to have an assumption that someone who doesn't understand how to argue fairly isn't worth teaching how to argue fairly, and is not worth having a conversation with. Is what I'm seeing correct?

Zak Sabbath said...

@WrongOnTheInternet

1. Why not ban them both? It's not like we're cutting off their access to food and water, I'm saying "these ppl suck at talking about games on the internet and make ppl's lives worse, get them away from the good people"

2. So why did you recommend it?

"The thing about people feeling attacked, is that they believe..."

As for the rest: yes, we went over that. This belief they have is what makes them bad people who should be excluded.

"You seem to have an assumption that someone who doesn't understand how to argue fairly isn't worth teaching how to argue fairly, and is not worth having a conversation with. Is what I'm seeing correct?"

No.

I think you do the following: Tell them how to argue fairly. I do that a lot.

If they are intelligent, then they will then accept this and become better and smarter. If they aren't, they won't.

At that point, you are then being asked to do MORE than meet someone halfway and do your duty as an interlocutor. Your'e being asked to invest in them.

So you have the same 2 choices with any evil person from Hitler to the guy who just kicked your dog:

A-Devote effort to making them good. In the field of RPGs online, lots of ppl claim that this is the good option but none of them do it. They claim this (I think) bc they are basically middle of the road people and decisive action/activism to improve things scares them and has consequencess so they prefer this option bc it matches their essential quietism. And they aren't the victims so they kinda don't care if these folks go on hurting ppl.

B-Devote energy to getting them away from the good people so that they do less damage.

B works and has worked in the past. A -theoretically- could but never has in 8 years. That's 8 years of more damage this supposedly rehabilitatable person did while we waited for someone to step up and do whatever charming assuaging thing you do to bad people to make them good.

There is a place for mercy and altruistic energy. Spending it on asshole rando puritans on the internet instead of, like, flood victims or childrens literacy programs seems like a task _no-one_ has taken up or wants to.
.

If you're going to be the first, be my guest. Go find a major RPG puritan and get to work on them. Until you succeed and there's a proof of concept, I see no reason not to just eject them asap before they fuck someone else up.

Max Cantor said...

NOTE: This is super long and will probably require several posts. When it’s done, I’ll say DONE at the end. Also, I tried formatting as best as I could but blogger is a pain in the ass.

I said before that I believe we were encountering a critical communication error and that given the direction the conversation was going, continuing was going to be pointless, so I’m going to attempt to discuss this in a fundamentally different way. Importantly, this approach is one that is by its nature systematic, and it’s something we can actually test, meaning it can actually be impactful in a real way and not just a pointless internet argument. I have no idea what if any background you have in statistics, so I’m going to try to explain this at a fairly basic level, but if you have a stronger background than I’m aware of we can get more into the weeds, or if you do not have that background and there are things that need further clarification, please ask and I’ll do my best to clarify those things. If you have legitimate questions or criticisms about the model that’s cool, but if you do that and also make no effort to resolve the issue or propose a different test or model or whatever, then as far as I’m concerned, you’re the one half-arguing, and I’m walking away. If you don’t have the background to articulate a proposal for a different test or model, we can talk it through constructively and try to come to a conclusion together.

If anyone else is reading this and has a background in data analysis or research design and you have suggestions or catch any major mistakes in the models or interpretations, feel free to chime in.

Here is the fundamental question as I see it, based on our conversation up to this point: Which is more important, outcomes or motivations? My understanding of what you mean when you say that puritans == Nazis or that ignorance is not an excuse, is that you believe that outcomes are all that matter, regardless of motivations (which we will properly operationalize, but I’m coursely defining as whether someone is malicious or is coming from a place of ignorance but is well-meaning, just so you have at least some idea of what I’m talking about), and I think it’s plausible that you think I am taking the stance that motivations are important as well. I do think motivations are important, but actually I think this is part of the communication breakdown, and one which will hopefully be elucidated by the models. I think this question as we’ve discussed it up to now is framed poorly. Here is how we can frame the question in a way that I think is better structured, better represents our positions, and is something we can actually test.

Is a model that predicts outcomes from ideology and motivation statistically significantly more predictive than a model which only predicts outcomes from ideology? In other words, does Motivation actually tell us something about Outcome above and beyond just Ideology.

Max Cantor said...

H0: Model A: Outcome ~ Beta0 + BetaIX1 + BetaMX2 + epsilon ==
Model C: Outcome ~ Beta0 + BetaIX1 + 0 + epsilon

So here is our Null Hypothesis, the thing we are attempting to inferentially falsify. We have two models, Model A (augmented) and Model C (compact). Outcome is whatever variables we decide to use as our Outcome measure(s), which I will coarsely define as the bad things that we suspect Nazis or puritans may be doing, but we should properly operationalize this and decide on some measures down the line. The tilda (~) denotes a probability distribution, so we’re saying that the Outcome is being predicted by the probabilistic model. The betas are the slopes, or the increase in Outcome for each unit increase in the corresponding predictor variable (literally the product of the slope and the predictor value for a given observation). Beta0 is the intercept, which isn’t really important for what we’re testing so I’m not going to go into detail on it for now. The I in BetaI is Ideology, I’m using this as a stand-in for however we measure puritanical ideology, which will depend on our operational definition of puritan. X1 is any possible observation of I given our measure. The M in BetaM is Motivation and X2 is any possible observation of Motivation, and as with I, this will depend on how we measure and operationalize Motivation. Epsilon is error, and as with Beta0 it’s not too important for me to go into it.

So H0, our null hypothesis, is that there is no statistically significant difference between these two models, or in other words, that a model that includes both Ideology and Motivation as predictors of Outcome (Model A) is not more predictive than a model with just Ideology as a predictor (Model C).

H1: Model A: Outcome ~ Beta0 + BetaIX1 + BetaMX2 + epsilon >
Model C: Outcome ~ Beta0 + BetaIX1 + 0 + epsilon

In that case, our alternative hypothesis is that Model A, which only differs from Model C in that it includes Motivation as a predictor, is more predictive of Outcome than Model C above significance threshold.

Max Cantor said...

Before you ask, it is mathematically impossible for Model C to be more predictive than Model A. Unless you would rather talk about statistics, for our purposes it’s not important why but it has to do with falsifiability. If we fail to reject the null hypothesis, we technically cannot say this means we found a “null effect” per se (usually when someone says “null effect”, they just mean they failed to find a significant effect), but it would suggest that the amount of variance explained by Motivation is not enough to differentiate it from what is already being explained by Ideology in our model comparison.

So to reiterate one more time, I am interpreting a failure to reject the null hypothesis as approximately supporting what I interpret to be your position, which is that Ideology is all that matters and Motivation does not affect Outcome. On the other hand, if we do reject the null hypothesis, if Model A statistically significantly predicts Outcome better than Model C, this suggests that Motivation is explaining variance in Outcome not captured by Ideology alone, which is my stance. Also, this doesn’t have to be adversarial. If, after reading this, you understand me better and agree, we could still do this anyway.

There are actually a whole bunch of other variables I think we should be measuring, and important things we would want to test, and if we’re going to go forward with this we will need to decide if we want to plan those comparisons or treat this as an exploratory study, but I’d rather we settle on this first because this was time consuming to write and if you’re just going to shrug it off I don’t want to waste more time than I have to.

Max Cantor said...

So, I think if we’re actually going to do this, we should use one or more empirically validated measures. I don’t know of any good ones off hand since I study cognitive neuroscience of language and not any relevant sub-field of social psychology, but I bet we could find something on psytoolkit or google scholar. For the sake of explanation, I’ll give you a hypothetical measure just to give you a sense of what this would entail, because while there are a lot of considerations we need to make, it’s actually not that complicated once we’ve decided on what we’re going to do.

In order to test Ideology and Motivation, we’ll use the Nazi Ideology and Puritanical Leanings Scale (NIPLS). NIPLS is a 20-item inventory, asking a series of questions about people’s behaviors and beliefs using Likert scales (scales from 1 to 7). Half the NIPLS items concern Ideology, and half the NIPLS items concern Motivation. So the Ideology score for each subject is the average of the 10 NIPLS items corresponding to Ideology, and Motivation is calculated likewise. We’ll say for simplicity that NIPLS has been empirically validated, and we tested for internal reliability of the items within each measure using something like Cronbach’s Alpha, so we’re all good. We create the survey on Google Forms (like the *survey I'm linking below which I just put out for my blog, which I’m self-promoting and you can deal with it), we distribute it wherever we can, we collect various other demographic data or other measures which we can discuss if we go forward with this, and we do a power analysis or in some other way decide on how much data we want to collect before we test any of it. Then we test these models.

*My survey for my blog: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSc0dAGX2g7-rqoGP3qZBmxz_kTAP1DVgyrC-wJBP91F-RfQ1g/viewform?usp=sf_link

DONE

Zak Sabbath said...

@Max Cantor

“Is a model that predicts outcomes from ideology and motivation statistically significantly more predictive than a model which only predicts outcomes from ideology? In other words, does Motivation actually tell us something about Outcome above and beyond just Ideology.”

You framed the question in the wrong way. That means all the work you did after doesn’t matter to the question.

The framing is wrong for 2 reasons.

1. Reason 1:

You mistakenly form 2 groups with 2 different descriptions:

Puritans (good motivation, but ignorant)

Nazis (bad motivation)

You’re missing the point that both could as easily be described as ‘having a good motivation but ignorant;

The puritan wants life to be better (pure motive) but is ignorant of the fact that their actions (criticizing sexuality) won’t help.

The nazi (or at least many people who voted for them) wants life to be better (pure motive) and just is ignorant about how the fact their methods (killing jews or simply voting for hitler) won’t help.


2. I didn’t argue the ignorant person did _more_ damage than the evil person. Only that they also do damage.

-----

So, to

have

a

conversation

What you must do now is _address the words I just typed_.

It will probably help if you _quote_ the part you disagree with.

You have real tendency to resist directly responding to the other person's words and instead try to attack from a different angle. That isn't the way to get to information: you need to take what _I_ said and _address_ it. Not just go "Man I'm not being understood I'll say a new thing!"

If it helps I can form this as a question:

1. Do you understand that the model "Desires good outcomes but is ignorant or not significantly aware of the cost of the methods they chose" is basically a description of nearly all bad people?

Zak Sabbath said...

( @max cantor
and, of course, you take action against bad actors not when they do more harm than some arbitrary other bad actor, but when they do harm period.)

Anyway: you must address these things.

WrongOnTheInternet said...

1. Depends on what they're saying and how. Banning someone for a shitty opinion alone isn't great, but banning someone for a shitty opinion that can't be corrected is fine.

2. Because (and I phrased this poorly), it has a mixed track record. There have been dramatic real-world successes, as well.

"As for the rest: yes, we went over that. This belief they have is what makes them bad people who should be excluded."

You've misrepresented me here. They won't engage because they actually are being attacked, in this case. If I were to read "people who want socialized healthcare are like anti-semites", I'd dismiss them completely. Refute their points instead, if you're asking for a discussion that gets us somewhere.

Telling people how to argue: that's probably the best way to handle it. Someone who can't follow simple instructions won't learn anything, so banning them is fine.

If we want this discussion to be anything but an echo chamber though, we need to allow in some of these puritans that can be trusted to argue fairly.

Zak Sabbath said...

@Max Cantor

1. How much effort do you go to for how long to "correct" the opinion and who is going to do that?

2. It has a track record of 100% failure in the RPG sphere.

"You've misrepresented me here. They won't engage because they actually are being attacked, in this case."

Either way: it's not valid to claim a thing is important (like sexual representation) and refuse to engage. It doesn't even matter if they ARE being attacked.

" If I were to read "people who want socialized healthcare are like anti-semites", I'd dismiss them completely"

Not parallel because the person saying that isn't just attacking you, they are saying something _provably_ invalid. The person who claims a puritan is like an antisemite is not saying something provably invalid. It doesn't matter how the person feels, it matters what the facts are.


"If we want this discussion to be anything but an echo chamber though, we need to allow in some of these puritans that can be trusted to argue fairly."

Everyone is allowed here if they can do that. However: The MOST IMPORTANT part of believing a stupid thing, the total 100% root of believing stupid things, is finding an excuse to flee from debate. Then you can avoid thinking enough to keep believing the stupid thing.

So in the beginning puritans used to engage here. Then they got asked questions they couldn't answer and found excuses to flee.

So it's a bit of a contradiction to ask for a puritan who can engage--they got that way by NOT engaging.

Anna Kreider can't engage--she cites mental health, claims she's being harassed by being asked a question and leaves.

Fred Hicks can't engage--he does the same.

The Gauntlet can't engage--they cut off communications and then subtweet straw arguments for Likes to their fans.

Cam Banks does the same thing.

Rob Donoghue simply avoids commenting on contradictions as long as possible. He remains silent and then, when his abilities give out, he goes the Gauntlet route.

Kira MaGrann can't engage--she just uses any conversation as an attempt to say what she said at the beginning, changes the subject and then, eventually, flees and does the subtweet thing.

Filamena Young, Bruce Baugh and the other former Onyx Path people do the same

RPGnet mods and Something Awful trolls (lotta overlap) don't even get that far. They leave one snarky comment then, again, run back to their audience and subtweet for each other's likes, like one of those open-mike nights where everyone plays for everyone else's tips.

The same pattern occurs over and over. If they engage, I'm happy to have them. But they leave, that's how they got that way: when asked difficult questions, they leave. They aren't smart enough to do otherwise.

WrongOnTheInternet said...

1. "Can't be corrected" just means bad faith argument. Otherwise, in perpetuity sounds like a good answer.

2. I'm going to take this as "The track record is not great" and save us both some trouble.

"Either way: it's not valid to claim a thing is important (like sexual representation) and refuse to engage. It doesn't even matter if they ARE being attacked."

Yes it does, at least in engaging with whoever is attacking them. They have to engage someone, but they don't have to engage someone directly hostile.

I'm on the same page with the rest of what you wrote.

Zak Sabbath said...

@WrongOnTheInternet

1. Then what do you do about the damage that antisemite or prude is doing while entities unknown struggle to "correct" them?

2. Why don't they have to engage someone directly hostile? Making personal attacks? Sure: they can avoid that bc namecalling doesn't give information. But you literally _cannot_ state the difference of opinion you have with a puritan (or most people) without saying something that, by extension, they can interpret as hostile.

Even if 2 people just disgree about what a good armor class for an ork is, the implication can always be drawn that party A thinks party B is "hostile" bc the clear implication is A knows better than (and is therefore smarter than) B.

There is no way to have a conversation (especially an important one) if vague words like "attacked" and "hostile" are Get Out Of theConversation Free cards.

WrongOnTheInternet said...

1. What damage are you talking about in this case, with a supposed good faith arguer with a bad opinion?

2. There's a major difference between saying someone beliefs are directly harmful (and giving examples), and comparing them to anti-semites. The first can be addressed, the second is reasonably interpreted to mean "This person thinks I'm a nazi, no good will come from arguing with them".

Zak Sabbath said...

@WrongOnTheInternet

1 I don't, say....a 5 year harassment campaign? Constant vituperation against fellow creators? Toeing the line on smear campaigns against new editions of Vampire RPGs bc they come from trusted sources? Behind the scenes shenanigans to get ppl thrown off projects? Like literally all the things that puritans have done over the years bc they earnestly believed these were honest activst measures? Like I;m amazed I have to point this out

2 No-one agrees upon where that line is though, and I have NEVER seen 2 people agree on what it is if they don't agree on the issue they're discussing. So saying "don't talk if you're "attacked" " is as good as saying "don't talk".

And since there is no actual material downside to talking _even if you are attacked_ it's not a rational reason not to engage anyway. Some claims transmit no information ("asshole" etc) so are fair to ignore, but saying someone is like a NAzi transmits information (ie thats making a claim you should be able to defend)

WrongOnTheInternet said...

1. Then were talking about two different groups, in different situations. All of what you mentioned is worth throwing someone out for. Where are we throwing them out of, and where do they go, then? It seems like they'll do their harm no matter where they're banned from, so long as they have their group.

2. Sure there's a material downside; you need to spend time and energy on something that doesn't seem like it will be productive. There's definitely people who will interpret any attack on their position as an attack on them, but that's a continuum, not a binary. Unfortunately, tone does matter in getting people to engage.

Zak Sabbath said...

@WrongOnTheInternet

1. They do less harm if they're further away from power centers. For example: Filamena and her spouse no longer have pull at Onyx Path.

These people ALL fit your previous definition of people we should attempt to try to correct in perpetuity. They believe, in good faith, that their complaints about better people are justified. There are no RPG puritan I can think of who HAVEN't dogpiled onto these harassment campaigns. So I don't know who "Group #2" would even be.

2. Yes but _ever person whose mind is changed by tone is by definition a bad actor already_

So even though you can change your tone to get more people to listen, those new people will by definition be irrational bad people (who, weeks,months or years later could just as easily be swayed to a new stupid idea by tone)

"you need to spend time and energy on something that doesn't seem like it will be productive"

"seem" doesn't matter: as soon as you make a public claim, you're morally obliged to make sure it's true. Your comfort is secondary to the responsibility to tell the truth and make sure you do your due dilligence.

You seem to be talking about _how to make total shitheads feel comfortable having a conversation_ not _what morally obliges you to have one_ .

Feeling attacked makes people feel uncomfortable. Too bad: they say puritanical or antisemite shit, they will get attacked and they created a moral necessity to back up what they say or else apologize and rescind it.

WrongOnTheInternet said...

1. Ah, so we're talking about harassers, then. I wouldn't call them people willing to ARGUE in good faith. If there's a group that a) argues in good faith and b) harrasses others, I'd lump them in with group #1, but I'm not sure they exist.

2. Tone serves as a passable heuristic for whether or not a person will argue in good faith, particularly if someone has very little information about the speaker. If tone changes someone's mind about their beliefs, they're dumb. If tone influences someone's decision to argue with someone, that's just deciding what to spend time and energy on given imperfect information.

Having a belligerent tone can help your audience self-select to only people who agree with you pretty easily.

The two previous paragraphs above relate to people not making a public claim yet; but for people who hold those beliefs and deciding who to have a conversation with.

As for defending your claims: yeah, people need to defend their claims when they make them, or adjust them, or retract them.

Kyle Traylor said...

Retract question above, didn't see your response to WrongOnTheInternet earlier. Apologies.

Zak Sabbath said...

@WrongOnTheInternet

1. this is getting circular. They never argue in good faith because they make a sniping comment and run away. and then harass.

You've explicitly said that we're supposed to try forever to engage people even if they run away. Like: i can't imagine what scenario you're picturing

2. I EVERY case we're talking about people making public claims.

You seem to be saying we should be nice to Puritans--except those that flee discussion, which is everyone under discussion

...and they can avoid discussion if they are "attacked"--unless they made a public statement , which, again, is everyone.

You're carving out exceptions for people who don't exist.

Max Cantor said...

You: "You mistakenly form 2 groups with 2 different descriptions:

Puritans (good motivation, but ignorant)

Nazis (bad motivation)

You’re missing the point that both could as easily be described as ‘having a good motivation but ignorant;

The puritan wants life to be better (pure motive) but is ignorant of the fact that their actions (criticizing sexuality) won’t help.

The nazi (or at least many people who voted for them) wants life to be better (pure motive) and just is ignorant about how the fact their methods (killing jews or simply voting for hitler) won’t help."

This is a fundamental misunderstanding of the model, which you clearly made no effort to understand. As I said in the post, we can discuss whatever operational definitions or whatever measures we want, the model would stay the same. If you actually have a criticism of the model itself, we can discuss other ways to model the hypothesis in a testable way. Or if you're critiquing the hypothesis, we can talk about how to frame it in a way that I can design a model to test it.

"2. I didn’t argue the ignorant person did _more_ damage than the evil person. Only that they also do damage."

First of all, whether or not they do damage at all is an empirical question that we can easily test using this model or a similar approach, and I'm inclined to agree that we would find a main effect. Second, understanding which predictors explain more variance in the Outcome ("do more damage") is one of the main reasons why we started using inferential statistics in science. There is a reason why we prefer continuous measures over categorical and especially binary measures in statistics, because it gives us more statistical power and a better understanding of our data, and by extension a better understanding of how the world works and how to make predictions about outcomes. This is a non-trivial point that is fundamental to basically all of modern science that cannot be tested deductively, which is to say most of science.

ME: "If you have legitimate questions or criticisms about the model that’s cool, but if you do that and also make no effort to resolve the issue or propose a different test or model or whatever, then as far as I’m concerned, you’re the one half-arguing, and I’m walking away. If you don’t have the background to articulate a proposal for a different test or model, we can talk it through constructively and try to come to a conclusion together."

For all your talk, I'm suggesting we actually do something. You're clearly more interested in being "right", whatever the fuck that means, than doing something and risk being shown that you are wrong, or even being willing to admit you don't understand something in the first place. You are a coward and a hypocrite, and I think I'm done with you. If you decide you want to get serious, you know how to find me. Thank you for breaking this foolish idolization I had for you, I'm glad that I can now move on with my life.

WrongOnTheInternet said...

1. "You've explicitly said that we're supposed to try forever to engage people even if they run away."

I never said such a thing. I particularly did not say anything like that explicitly. "In perpetuity" means as long as that person sticks around and plays by the rules. Someone who makes a claim and runs away is acting bad faith, by my own definition.

2. If I'm carving out exceptions for unicorns, that's fine. Definitely everyone who's built a public personality around this kind of puritanism is (almost without exception) in the bad faith category.

"...and they can avoid discussion if they are "attacked"--unless they made a public statement"

If someone is calling you a nazi, do you feel obligated to respond to that person? I wouldn't. If someone insults you while making a counterpoint to your argument, are you required to respond? (The standard for this is less clear)

Zak Sabbath said...

@Max Cantor

"First of all, whether or not they do damage at all is an empirical question that we can easily test using this model or a similar approach, and I'm inclined to agree that we would find a main effect"

But you don't even NEED to use a model to do that. It's already an objective fact.

You can just say: Oh look, there's an example of one person who lost money or got a rape threat due to these people (this is easy, after, say, the recent Vampire 5e debacle).

So, you need to address that: you are talking a lot about using a statistical model to prove/disprove a thing we already know occurred, objectively, in the real world.

You need to address this.

Zak Sabbath said...

@WrongOnTheInternet

1. Ok?

2. I already addressed this, there's a simple, clean metric:

Specifically profane personal attack language ("asshole" etc) that clearly isn't carrying information: you can ignore this person since they said something inflammatory _that carries no information_ and only a bad actor would waste peoples' time with a first strike personal attack that carried no information beyond "I don't like x". That person can be dismissed.

Calling me a "nazi" however (as hundreds of people did after the vampire 5e thing) : that's an attack carrying a specific piece of information (according to that claim I allegedly resemble members of Hitler's regime, politically). I must and did respond to this:I must fact check, like anyone else and point out I'm Jewish and lefty, etc.

And if I didn't, that'd be because I was a bad person using the tone excuse not to engage.

Again: if you carve out an exception for someone who "is attacked" and don't define "attacked" strictly then you excuse everyone from these conversations since EVERYONE on all sides has been described unflatteringly--that's the point of controversies, they feature two sides where everyone on at least one of the sides _must_ be acting like a jerk (and pointing that out is always an attack, even if its justified).

And then if you UNexcuse those who have made a public statement then, again, that's everyone.

So: which is it?

a) You don't have to respond if you are "attacked" or you do as soon as you've made a public statement even if you've been "attacked" ?

b) If being "attacked" is an excuse (even if you've made a public statement) then where's the EXACT LINE between "attacked and not attacked" without one your claim has no moral weight and isn't useful in any way, since it can excuse anything

WrongOnTheInternet said...

1. You misstated me, most likely because you misunderstood me. Please don't misstate me.

2.

b) That's what I'm asking. I think there is a line, but I'm not sure what it is.

You also don't need to respond to someone calling you a nazi over something completely unrelated; why would that make you (or someone who refuses to respond) a bad person? Not engaging on someone has nothing better to say is fine.

The specific question I'm asking is when someone pairs an argument with insults, are you obligated to respond? I think there's reasonable argument to be made either way, with more nuance for specific examples.

Zak Sabbath said...

@WrongOnTheinternet

1. what did I misstate?

2. Ok, you're not sure what the line is and I am and I drew it above

" calling you a nazi over something completely unrelated; why would that make you (or someone who refuses to respond) a bad person?"

In the rare cases "Nazi" is not being used as a description of totalitarian-like political views, ("you have a bad nose-job you nazi") and simply as invective, you're free to ignore it. But I would err on the side of fact-checking. This has btw, never happened ever on the RPG internet that I've seen (tho it could). The point is: Fact claims need to be addressed.

If someone pairs an actual argument with _explicit, no-room--for-interpretation_ insults "you're an dickhead" etc. then you are not obliged to respond to _them _ (the person) but you ARE obliged to address their _argument_ (via a statement that reaches the same audience) or a t least someone is.

That is:

The imperative to fact-check bullshit is more important than the imperative to not engage jerks, but there are ways of fact-checking bullshit (or "having the conversation" which is what fact checking is) without directly engaging that specific human. You can put your counterargument where the same audience can see it (and then the jerk should respond or capitulate,though being a jerk, they usually won't).

If you don't address a topic when questions are raised then you can't argue that topic is important.

Like, for example, if someone raises an invalid point while namecalling here on the blog I will often refute the argument and delete their comment rather than leave their comment, since namecalling signals they no longer get to comment. (Thoughm as with Max Cantor above, I make sure if there's a conversation to be had, I do everything I can to have it before resorting to that measure.)

WrongOnTheInternet said...

1) "You've explicitly said that we're supposed to try forever to engage people even if they run away." I can understand where the inference may have come from, but I didn't intend to imply, nor did I explicitly state such a thing.

2) I think that's a fair standard.

Zak Sabbath said...

@WrongOnTheInternet

1) Ok. I feel like when there's miscommunication between people actually trying to understand and who can agree in the end there's rarely a point to distinguishing between "You were unclear" and "you interpreted me wrong". We now know what you meant and there is no question in my mind that you are claiming this honestly, so I'm happy to leave it

2) Ok, cool

Thanks for hanging in there

Canyon said...

Yikes things are heated here

Zak, you said: "The nazi (or at least many people who voted for them) wants life to be better (pure motive) and just is ignorant about how the fact their methods (killing jews or simply voting for hitler) won’t help."

There's no clear distinction between motive and method. A trivial example: say I'm walking upstairs to get my camera. My action can be multiply described. "I'm getting my camera", "I'm walking upstairs", "I'm walking upstairs because I want to get my camera", "I'm walking upstairs so that I can get my camera", and so on. "Getting my camera" is the reason I'm walking upstairs, but my action itself can also be rightfully described as "Getting my camera".

(See GEM Anscombe, Intention, for more.)

Now killing Jews is itself wrong. Voting for someone who's promising to hurt people is itself wrong (there may be exceptions but I don't want to talk about that rn). And these actions, in that context, are characteristic of antisemitism.

If antisemites are like prudes, some part of the prudes' characteristic action should be bad in itself. But what characteristic action do they have? It doesn't seem likely that "harassing people online" is characteristic of prudishness, because there are (probably) very many prudes, and not so many people who harass online. (Though there are still a great number of harassers.)

Also, please note that harassing people is bad in itself and is a characteristic action of a harasser, so harassers are not qualitatively different from antisemites.

Which part is that?

Zak Sabbath said...

@Canyon

"Now killing Jews is itself wrong. Voting for someone who's promising to hurt people is itself wrong (there may be exceptions but I don't want to talk about that rn). And these actions, in that context, are characteristic of antisemitism. If antisemites are like prudes, some part of the prudes' characteristic action should be bad in itself. But what characteristic action do they have?"

Making false negative claims about the origin and social effects of various forms of sexual content. For a great example of the consequences of this, read up on how the economics of the "offensive lyrics" warning on albums after Tipper Gore hurt musicians--especially those lowest on the totem pole.

Honestly, it's bizarre to me anyone who reads this blog would even ask that question, the topic's been addressed so many times before.

Canyon said...

You seem to misunderstand "bad in itself".

I doubt many prudes act under the description "Making false negative claims". If they know the claims they are making are false, then they are lying, and lying is bad in itself. But if that is not a description under which their action is intentional, it is incidental to the action. Of course an action can of course be made bad by incidentals and circumstance---this happens all the time---but then the action isn't bad in itself.

(For instance if there's a burning building and I run in to save a painting, and I ignore the plight of a family trapped in the building, I have of course acted wrongly. But the family's plight has nothing to do with my task. Contrast this with the case where I have set out to trap the family in the burning building. Both actions have the same effect: the family burns to death. The difference is badness is qualitative. Setting out to do evil is wrong in a unique way.)

So while I have no doubt that prudery has caused its fair share of misery, I still haven't been given an action that is bad in itself. That's what it would take for prudes to be in the same species of badness as Nazis.

Zak Sabbath said...

@Canyon

" I still haven't been given an action that is bad in itself. "

You have, you just made a mistake and didn't realize it:

"If they know the claims they are making are false, then they are lying, and lying is bad in itself."

Yes.

"But if that is not a description under which their action is intentional, it is incidental to the action. "

No, because if they DON'T know the claim is false, then they _didn't do the research_ which means they made an accusation without doing the research, violating the principle "innocent until proven guilty" (for any public claim that might have negative consequences for the accused) and that, exactly like lying, is bad in itself.

So you have 100% been given an action that's bad in itself.

Canyon said...

1. Where do you think "innocent until proven guilty" has application? Why?

2. What do you mean by public? What are your criteria for a claim's publicity?

Zak Sabbath said...

@Canyon

1. Any place where the accusation might have negative consequences for the accused. Like: the ideal journalistic standard of integrity is newspapers don't print things unless they can confirm them BECAUSE there might be consequences to people believing someone did something they didn't do.

2.In this case: a space where any citizen with unestricted internet can read it.

3. And if there's any objection to any of that: what is the _benefit_ of false public information framed as if it were a fact claim? If a thing has some risk and zero benefit, why be ok with it?

Canyon said...

3. Is it only the people who make the accusations that are bad? What of the people who "only" listen to and agree with the accusers? (At a guess this is most of them. It's hard to say they have a public voice. But I'll wait for your answer to (2) before saying more about that.)

Btw I think that if you can show that "innocent until proven guilty" has application here, then you are almost certainly right about the accusers, though there is still a conversation to be had about what constitutes evidence, how to weigh that evidence, and what the burden of proof is.

Zak Sabbath said...

@canyon

3. "Is it only the people who make the accusations that are bad? What of the people who "only" listen to and agree with the accusers? "

They are also evil. They believed without solid evidence, when such evidence was gettable.

As for the rest: already answered.

4. Evidence in this case would be the same standard as the rest of social science: prove that for example there's some metrics we agree are desirable by which That Exalted Cover did more social harm than good.

Canyon said...

1. "Any place where the accusation might have negative consequences for the accused." Why?

2. As you please.

3 (yours). Of course there's no benefit to publicly making false claims. I never said I was ok with it. But there might be a benefit to publicly making claims I'm not entirely sure of. If those claims turn out to be false, then that was bad. But it wasn't necessarily morally bad.

Zak Sabbath said...

@Canyon

1. Hurting people who don't deserve it is a bad outcome.

2. ok

3. What is that benefit? Keep in mind: these are claims _framed as fact_ not as "I don't knwo if this is true but" rather framed as "X leads to y"

Canyon said...

1. No, you didn't. You gave me a general rule and an example of its application. I am asking you to give me a reason to follow that general rule.

3 (mine). When you say the evidence was gettable, what evidence in specific are you talking about?

4. Social science is quite a broad field employing a number of different methodologies and standards of evidence. This includes anything from participant response to formal models. Please specify further.

Canyon said...

Sorry, misunderstood your comment about having already addressed my point, ignore my (1), response to follow

Zak Sabbath said...

3-4. Differing parties discuss until they can agree on what event ("Men hit girls more for no reason" etc) would constitute a bad outcome and what kinds of events would constitute a good outcome ("People are more able to achieve desirable sexual outcomes by expressing their desires" etc). Then, for example: Groups otherwise similar who have and have not been exposed to the media in question are studied (questionnaires, stress levels, cameras, etc) to see if the bad outcome is noticeably more prevalent in the exposed group and the same with the good outcome.

Canyon said...

1a. Say I act in a particular way and because of my action someone who didn't deserve it is hurt. Knowing only that much, can we condemn my action?
1b. Is the rule "Don't cause pain for people who don't deserve it" supposed to be a universal, admitting no exceptions?

3. Have these studies been done? If so, how would the average person find out about them? How easy are they to access?

4. Why this particular methodology?

Zak Sabbath said...

@canyon
1,1b not hurting innocent people is a priority and like all priorities you weigh it against any possible benefit from prioritizing some other thing case by case. so if you have to step on some innocent persons toe to save 2million people then you can let it slide.

3. no.

4. i said “for example”

Canyon said...

"
3. "Is it only the people who make the accusations that are bad? What of the people who "only" listen to and agree with the accusers? "

They are also evil. They believed without solid evidence, when such evidence was gettable.

...

3 (mine). When you say the evidence was gettable, what evidence in specific are you talking about?

...

3-4. Differing parties discuss until they can agree on what event ("Men hit girls more for no reason" etc) would constitute a bad outcome and what kinds of events would constitute a good outcome ("People are more able to achieve desirable sexual outcomes by expressing their desires" etc). Then, for example: Groups otherwise similar who have and have not been exposed to the media in question are studied (questionnaires, stress levels, cameras, etc) to see if the bad outcome is noticeably more prevalent in the exposed group and the same with the good outcome.

...

3. Have these studies been done? If so, how would the average person find out about them? How easy are they to access?

...

3. no.
"

Then how can you blame the prudish followers of people who make accusations?

Zak Sabbath said...

@canyon

they are making a claim for which there is no conclusive evidence.
they could go do a study—they didnt.

itd be like me saying you are a child molester.

did i check? did i investigate? no

Canyon said...

1. On your account, not hurting innocent people is a priority, not a universal rule. So in some instances it is outweighed by other concerns. Are there instances in which "innocent until guilty" is outweighed by other concerns? How is this determined?

3. "they are making a claim"
No, they're not. I'm talking about "the prudish followers of people who make accusations[/claims]", the people who believe the claims, not the accusers. I have made this quite clear. Moreover it is surely not open to most people to run a real scientific study. In the absence of a scientific study, how are people to make judgements on this matter?

Zak Sabbath said...

@Canyon

1. Like a literal gun to your head? But absolutely no circumstance I've even heard of being cited as a defense of a puritan claim, so it's a moot point in every case I'm aware of.

2. The believers make the claim to each other and are probably acting on it.

If it's not open to people to make a study and they can't find one then they should -not render a judgment either way-.

Just like, lacking any means of investigation, I wouldn't say you're a child molester.

Canyon said...

1. Fair enough

2a. "If it's not open to people to make a study and they can't find one then they should -not render a judgment either way-."
Haven't you made a judgment in this case?

2b. Why is a formal study the only evidence you accept on this matter?

Zak Sabbath said...

@Canyon

2. a. Yes, and its that we don't have evidence to the contrary and so must consider the works in question innocent. As in all logical debate: Burden of proof is on the accuser, and as in the US legal system: innocent until proven guilty, etc.

b. Because it's a claim about a sociological effect. And since burden of proof is on the accuser there isn't any other way to prove a sociological effect besides a study of _some_ kind. If there's another way to prove a sociological effect: do that.

Again, the alternative is a standard where I can go "Canyon having internet access causes locust attacks".

Canyon said...

2a. To be clear: we should make judgments in the absence of evidence, in accord with the rule "innocent until proven guilty"? I don't have a problem with that.

2b. It's not as if our only two options are restricting evidence to formal studies and allowing any kind of claim whatsoever. We do have other options. For instance anthropologists routinely make conclusions on the basis of participant responses. And it seems to me that the prudes are doing something similar. If this does not qualify as evidence, why not?

5. "I would like this discussion to be in-depth, so that clear lines are understood and real consensus is reached... or, if not, the basic assumptions about human nature that underlie these divergent beliefs that make consensus impossible are laid bare...
And... when it is done, I would like everyone who has what this conversation then understands as a morally restrictive and puritanical view of sex to be treated..."
Can "this conversation" as a whole understand anything if consensus is impossible? Aren't the people who we want to call morally-restrictive puritans the exact same people we are unable to reach consensus with?

Zak Sabbath said...

@Canyon

2a. Only if the judgement is "I assume innocence (as guilt hasn't been proven)" or "More study would need to be made before I state a conclusion as a fact"

2b. That wouldn't be evidence in the case of prude claims since for every respondent going "X leads to y bc I assume it does" there are also respondents (as easy to find) who fit the same sociological profile who'd say the opposite. If an anthropologist made a claim "All people raised in Ithaca do x" and ignored all the people who didn't they'd be doing their work wrong.

Acceptable evidence depends on the nature of the claim. In the case of puritan claims about art, the claim is that a given stimulus leads to a broad sociological change. Cherry-picking a few people who agree does not prove that.

5. "Can "this conversation" as a whole understand anything if consensus is impossible? Aren't the people who we want to call morally-restrictive puritans the exact same people we are unable to reach consensus with?"

No. because there are lots of people who _have agreed, essentially, to treat antisemites as totally unacceptable public pariahs_ who don't do that with puritans.

Even if you can't sway the puritans, you can at least involve the people who say "Ok I disagree with them and benefit greatly from things they think are bad, but I'm not going to DO anything about it".

Like: the Gauntlet podcast features both Anna Kreider and work whose authors Anna Kreider has harassed with false claims. The audience for the Gauntlet includes many people who have made exactly zero complaints to the podcast about their support for harassment.

Canyon said...

2a. Fair enough

2b. What exactly do you take the prude to be claiming when they say something is objectifying or bad for women? I haven't interacted with enough rpg prudes to know the specifics of their argument.

5. Fair enough

Zak Sabbath said...

@Canyon

2b. "Bad for women" cannot mean anything other than: the net result of an object existing in its current form does women as a whole more harm than good. Otherwise the word "bad" ceases to have meaning. So if a piece of RPG art killed one woman and did nothing to all the others, that's a net loss, for example.

The kinds of harm caused are variously assessed, but literally never proven. A simple example would be "Oh this character's costume is bad for women" accompanied by an argument that the costume promotes an unrealistic body standard or signals to women that they are unwelcome in games. The obvious counterevidence for such things is the number of women who love that costume and want to participate in games more bc said costume is there and exists (for example: cosplay).

When presented with that paradox, they literally never know what to do and have never ever given an answer. That is an insoluble problem from the puritan pov. I suspect bc they want to say "Well lesbians and bi girls and cosplayers and sex-positive people or at least THAT kind of lesbian, bi girl, cosplayer or sex-positive person have a false consciousness and don't Count as women" but they can't bc that's starting a fight with marginalized people.

Essentially the question is:

"Why does *alleged* harm to female Audience A have to be taken into account but not the *provable* appeal to female Audience B?"



And the answer is inevitably silence or, in some cases, an outright conspiracy-theory denial that the women in question exist:

https://forums.somethingawful.com/showthread.php?threadid=3849301&userid=0&perpage=40&pagenumber=56#post486102923

Canyon said...

I think the idea of summing up the total effect of an object is a mistaken one. Remember when Scarlett Johansson starred in Ghost in the Shell? This was super distressing for Asian-Americans, but not remarkable at all to the Japanese (to paint with an absurdly large brush). Now: was it good or bad to cast her as the lead?

My take is: it's complicated. It was bad for some people, it was fine for some people, and it was good for some people, including the director of the anime. The idea that we can figure out once and for all just by summing up the people on each side is absurd.

Maybe the prudes you deal with are act utilitarians; I don't know. If they are, then they're dumb, and I'll stop asking questions because at this point I agree with you. But if they take an even slightly more nuanced view then they have a solid case. For instance I can know women who really were made uncomfortable and alienated by sexual content in rpgs, and I know women who really do feel empowered by the exact same content. And in the cases I have first-hand experience with, both responses seemed reasonable.

Zak Sabbath said...

@canyon

"I think the idea of summing up the total effect of an object is a mistaken one."

Then you are totally mistaken.

When there's a legitimate complaint about an object there are only a limited number of responses:

-Do nothing (in which case there was no point in complaining in the first place and the complaint was a waste of time)

-Change that object or future objects so that they don't have that problem --which only make sense if the EXACT SAME CHARACTERISTIC that gives an object the "bug" is not also a "feature" for another audience.

As all morality is about what you actually _do_ then the matter needs to get addressed.

-

your Ghost In the Shell question totally misses the point bc "utterly unremarkable" is not "Totally desirable" which is the paradigm I am here descibing.

This isn't:

Feminist Women A "We are mad bc of the stimulus"

Feminist women B "We don't care about the stimulus"

This is:

Feminist Women A "We are mad about the stimulus

Feminist Women B "We are benefitting from the stimulus"

-
" both responses seemed reasonable"

And if (big if) they make a claim that their response has a social importance, they must have a conversation--and the ones who refuse to are objectively wrong.


We went over this at the top: anyone can say an object "makes them uncomfortable" thats not a claim of social harm.

It's once you go "the object is bad for people" that you have taken on responsibility.

Please try not to backslide into issues already addressed, it wastes time.

Canyon said...

1. Why do you think arithmetical utilitarianism is a true doctrine?

2. You missed the part where the casting was good for some people, including the director of the two prior movies. He was actively excited about the choice and actively displeased by the controversy. But as far as I know we don't have any statistical data about how many people were pleased, displeased, etc.

3a. I found your previous responses on the subject utterly unconvincing but I can only ask so many questions at once.

3b. How are you drawing the line between effecting an individual or affecting a number of individuals and affecting a society?

Zak Sabbath said...

@canyon

1. I don't necessarily, but I don't see any alternative way to evaluate the social claim "bad for women".

2. "Excitement" and "displeasure" and "discomfort" are not at all relevant.

Only benefit vs harm.

Not liking something or liking it is not benefit or harm.

3a. Then you still need to address every single one of them since I have only said true things.

3b.Again: "Excitement" and "displeasure" and "discomfort" are not at all relevant. Only benefit vs harm.

i know someone triggered by buses. This is because of a personal experience having to do with a bus. the problem, objectively, is not the bus. Likewise if you're allergic to strawberries that isn't the strawberry's fault. It is an illness.

I can be put in an undesirable place by any number of things, but this is only meaningful a social critique if the problem is _in the thing_ rather than _due to some pathological reaction I have_ (and, further, that this outweighs its benefit. Busses are good, really.)

The point of complaining about an object is to find out what to _do_ about it, which means we need to assess whether a piece of harm was that object's _fault_ .

So to say "I am made uncomfortable by this" is the same as saying "I am allergic to strawberries". Its not a claim of a social problem other than: we need to find ways to limit _your_ interaction with strawberries, but strawberries aren't bad in themselves.

Canyon said...

2 (and really 1 also, or at least tied up in it). What are benefit and harm?

3a. I'm sure you think they are true, because you said them. But in general saying "X is true" tells the audience no more than saying "X" does, except being more grating.

3b. You didn't answer my question.

4. Of course nobody will say that strawberries or peanut butter are evil. But we do think they can be dangerous, so we have all sorts of warnings and limitations on peanut butter. And we should.
But the analogy falls flat because bad reactions to strawberries come from efficient causation while bad reactions to content can come from reasons intrinsic to the content.

5. On your account, how can we say anything good or bad is intrinsic to the work if the test of its goodness or badness is just a test of its consequences in the world?

Zak Sabbath said...

@Canyon

2. A person materially loses or gains something of value in pursuing their quality of life.

3a. To you, I guess. Either way this seems to be the end of 3b's relevance.

3b. I did but perhaps it was buried: a claim of "social harm" as opposed to a claim of an individual allergy is a claim that the source of pain is in the object, not the recipient;s own illness or other problem.

If seeing 2 boys kissing makes you sad, the problem is you, not them.

4. " bad reactions to content can come from reasons intrinsic to the content."

No reaction is no special "intrinsic to the content" of a work of art. The strawberry causes a chemical reaction of allergy, the picture causes a triggering reaction. There is no difference, or, if you think there is: you're not describing in any detail what that is.

5. We can't. That's what evaluating art is: taste. Pizza is only "good" or "bad" relative to a given taster.

6. Now, we can go beyond that in evaluating art's effect and origin. If you need a refresher course in that one:

http://dndwithpornstars.blogspot.com/2015/12/the-nazi-games.html

Zak Sabbath said...

@canyon

(important asterisk on 2, so we don't have to go through it: once that's established, we can then ask whether that person matters enough morally for their happiness to be important. Like if a Nazi likes burning Jews and most people turn out to be Nazis, it doesn't matter: a Nazi's happiness isn't important since the Nazi themself isn't. Their beliefs make them (and thus their happiness) morally irrelevant. )

Anonymous said...

https://i.imgur.com/bgpDr1o.gif

Canyon said...

2. What's quality of life, if not (at least in part) happiness? Happiness is of course affected by pleasure, displeasure, discomfort, etc.

3a. I think it's at least a little important, though we shouldn't address it in any more detail here, because you seem to alienate reasonable people with your tone.

3b. Given your statement in (4), that no reaction is ever to something intrinsic to an object itself, if social harm is only ever caused by things intrinsic to the object itself, then is social harm even possible?

4. While there are many puzzles associated with the interpretation of art it's not an object qua work of art that prudes have a problem with. They would (or should, if they're consistent) take issue with sexy talk everywhere outside the bedroom. And the meaning of normal speech does not lie in the reactions of its audience. It is in the speech itself.
For instance if I say "You're really lame" and you get angry because I have insulted you, you are reacting based on reasons, to the content of my speech. This is not the same as being triggered. I agree that being triggered is closer to an allergic reaction.

6. I can't do much with the linked page because it pretty much only tells me what several people are inclined to say about various hypothetical cases. Only rarely are their reactions unified by principle and even then the principles are controversial and unproven. If you have a recommendation for a more focused study on morality and art that you find persuasive I would gladly read it.

PS My responses are about to get really spotty because my workload is about to amp up. I'll be tired enough that I won't be responding to this conversation every recreational internet visit. I might even go on this blog without responding. Hopefully that doesn't mean I'm banned.

Zak Sabbath said...

@Canyon

2. If the bar is as low as "Like"/"Dislike" then all phenomena and all lack of phenomena are harmful (since everyone likes and dislikes different things) and there's no point in pointing it out in any specific case.

"Harm" needs to refer to a level of good and bad experience that supercedes the noise on the graph to be expected from any random object and the random segment of the population that gives a fuck about it.

Bread with unexpected ergotism in it causes "harm" far above the random updown updown of a regular piece of bread, which some people will like and some won't.

Otherwise all complaints are just arbitrarily picking on something for no special reason.

3a. It's impossible to alienate a reasonable person with tone in an RPG discussion. A person responding to tone instead of only substance in an RPG discussion is by definition wasting time and so by definition not reasonable and a terrible person.

3b. Sure: for example millions of tons of cyanide in the atmosphere causes social harm. Its not that people are allergic to cyanide, it's that cyanide would be dangerous to everyone.

4. This example is imperfect a explanation because "you're really lame" is an attempt at a nonfiction statement (ie a description of reality). It can be said to have a specific message ("A part of the real world (you) is this way (lame)"). RPG puritans are upset at _fictions_ which by definition do not directly make any statement about reality. A picture of a girl in a chainmail bikini can be _assumed_ to be making some statement, but it doesn't actually posit anything about what is going on in the real world.

So I'll need an explanation of what you mean in the realm of _fiction_ since in the RPG sphere we are only really discussing protests against fictions .

6. The post was not there for you to read and agree or disagree with, it is a series of questions I suggest *you should ask yourself* so that you are clear in your mind about what you consider art's effects and responsibilities to be. Since they seem scattered at the moment.

Zak Sabbath said...

@canyon

*2. (Ergot, not ergotism)

Zak Sabbath said...

@canyon

addendum 3b. And I hope you were't but in case you were going to give the standard defense of tone policing "Tone communicates important things..." etc. that all goes back to Innocent Until Proven Guilty. If your'e judging tone negatively you're making a guess about someone being guilty of some bad faith or other badness without proof and no good person does that.

And, yes: people regularly judge each other in online RPG conversations on perceived tone. They shouldn't. There are no good reasons to do that in an RPG discussion, as there's no downside to simply ignoring tone and having the discussion. And the upside is you learn things and finish the conversation.

Canyon said...

2. "Otherwise all complaints are just arbitrarily picking on something for no special reason." The lack of a hard boundary does not mean a distinction does not exist, or is unimportant. We can of course still order objects on a continuum.

3a. What is a reasonable person?
Also, I don't think your tone communicates anything important about your argument, which is why I criticized it in the way that I did. It just makes interacting with you needlessly unpleasant at times. Since there are infinite conversations to be had, and sexual content in rpgs is really a very small one, it's quite reasonable for people to disengage simply to avoid an unpleasant interaction. Or not engage in the first place. And that's the last I'll say on this topic for now.

3b. If someone were immune to cyanide poisoning would you still distinguish it from an allergy? What if it were 5% of the world? 10%? Etc. The ontological status of disease/disability is a hotly contested issue. But this avenue of investigation is not promising for our purposes.

4. It has the form of a proposition but its role is not to describe the world. Its role is to express a sentiment (even if it's a sentiment I do not actually have, and even if I'm not trying to deceive you).

6. In fact I am not scattered but you could not know this either way since I have not laid out my theory of art in its relationship to morality. I'm not here trying to create my own view. Instead I am investigating the views of others, which is why I am mostly asking questions

Nexist Xenda'ths said...

Why do you feel compelled to force your morality on others? The hedonist and the ascetic have their own issues and difficulties. Whether they are "good" or "evil" depends entirely on which set of values you are using -- and they depend on the goals held up as desirable.

Add to that, this is a battle that has already been mostly won. You are acting like it is still the 1950s.

Zak Sabbath said...

@Canyon

2. A hard boundary is needed in any case where someone might _take action_ . That's the only way to say whether the action was justified and thus prevent unnecessary harm. We're not judging morality for fun, we're doing it to take practical steps to protect the innocent.

3a. A reasonable person in an RPG discussion is someone who is typing to strangers on the internet about RPGs and related things in order to learn information that will either help them or someone else improve a game experience. Tone policing doesn't do that. Everyone's tone is perceived as "needlessly unpleasant" sometimes, the most practical way to deal with that is to just stop giving a shit about tone. Nothing of importance is lost.

" it's quite reasonable for people to disengage simply to avoid an unpleasant interaction"

It objectively is not: that allows a backdoor for basically any insane accusation, which (for example) all the puritans have used many times. There are some topics which are so important that its nearly impossible to have a conversation where one party or the other can't claim they don't like the "tone", Mr Kavanaugh. These are _precisely the ones that need to happen most_.

3b. The questions then would be how to restrict the interaction of the vulnerable with cyanide, not the morality of it existing. Puritans are not arguing just "restrict my access to seeing boobs" they are arguing seeing boobs cause social harm even to those who like them and perceive no personal harm.

4. A "sentiment" is a statement about the world "X actually person feels Y way about Z real thing".

"You are a upsetting me" is (in this example) a nonfiction statement about real people, "Bilbo was upset by Gandalf" is a fiction.

The first one implies action in the real world could be taken immediately to address it. The second doesn't.

6. Then it's not important right now.

Zak Sabbath said...

@Nexist Xenda'ths


"Why do you feel compelled to force your morality on others?"

The same reason any reasonable person does: to prevent harm.

" Whether they are "good" or "evil" depends entirely on which set of values you are using -- and they depend on the goals held up as desirable."

Yes and some of those values and goals hurt people unnecessarily and some don't. The ones that hurt people unnecessarily should cease to exist.

"Add to that, this is a battle that has already been mostly won. You are acting like it is still the 1950s."

If that were true, nobody would promote the Gauntlet and SESTA/FOSTA wouldn't have passed and porn stars would be able to use PayPal.

Canyon said...

2. "A hard boundary is needed in any case where someone might _take action_ . That's the only way to say whether the action was justified and thus prevent unnecessary harm." But I can quite easily follow a vague rule, even though someone following the same rule may sometimes act differently from me. Why are you so sure every issue is decidable?

3b. Do you give any credence to the notion of moral harm/harm to one's character?

5. While a sentiment can only be expressed honestly given certain facts about the world, some of those facts always have the expression of a sentiment as a defeasible non-inductive criterion. For instance, if I'm shouting and swearing at people without planning to, I'm angry, even if I have no particular thoughts, angry or otherwise, in my mind. (The defeasibility comes in because I might be just pretending, and because I can be angry without saying anything.) And you don't have to infer my anger from my actions: you hear it directly expressed in my voice. The same is true of sexism. And this expression can be in a variety of media. So for instance if I can only write short stories entirely about women being tortured to death, with nothing further to say at all---or the further message merely tacked on, not included out of any sense of aesthetic necessity---then already we can say a lot about my character, because my character consists (in part) in these actions. And the same for my readers.

6. Exactly.

I saw a post somewhere about a gauntlet kickstarter today but that's the first I've ever heard of them. What bad stuff do they do?

Zak Sabbath said...

@Canyon

2. Because if people decide a moral issue wrong then, for example. 6 million Jews get killed. The potential for action is the only reason to bring up a moral issue int he first place, so if it is worth bringing up, it is worth deciding which side is the good one and doing something about it.

3a. You need to address this. Say "You're right, I was wrong. I apologize" or make a case that you were right.

3b. That's "vIrtue ethics" rather than consequences-based ethics and that's strictly for religious people or folks clinging unconsciously to religious ideas, there's no rational argument for it. A morality divorced from weighing consequences isn't meaningful.

5. "For instance, if I'm shouting and swearing at people without planning to, I'm angry," No, you could easily be acting or singing or rapping or just playing a role in order to achieve a given effect. And the defeasible non-inductive criterion means it opens the door to the Innocent Until Proven Guilty principe which you already agreed was a real thing.

The whole point of "fiction" is to announce that what's to follow are *not* statements, also the whole point of movies and books going "this is a work of fiction, any relationship between..." etc. If a sign on the wall says "No smoking" that means someone expressly does not want you to smoke. If the cover of a novel does, that's just a phrase that could be evoked for any number of reasons.

Basically interpreting fiction as instructions re-opens the door that "innocent until proven guilty" closes

6. The Gauntlet's network (ie the network they control) had an episode with Anna Kreider on it. They haven't apologized, taken down the episode, or in any way attempted to undo the damage done by promoting her.

Canyon said...

2. I didn't ask if the Holocaust was decidable, I asked if every single issue was decidable. You have given no argument whatsoever for the nonexistence of moral dilemmas.

3a. If you insist, but I'll do it later, in a separate post.

3b. "that's strictly for religious people or folks clinging unconsciously to religious ideas, there's no rational argument for it." If you are to make this claim, in accord with "innocent until proven guilty", you need to address every single argument for secular virtue ethics ever made.
"A morality divorced from weighting consequences isn't meaningful." I think you have no understanding of virtue ethics if you think it entails a lack of consideration for consequences. But even if it did this point needs arguing for. All you have done is assert that everything other than some kind of consequence-based ethics is false. You have made no steps to prove it.

5a. Me: "The defeasibility comes in because I might be just pretending..." If I'm acting I'm pretending, if I'm making music it could go either way. (Eg Kanye on New Slaves is absolutely angry but the same need not be true of a rapper in a rap battle who is insulting someone.) So your "counterexamples" are worthless.

5b. "And the defeasible non-inductive criterion means it opens the door to the Innocent Until Proven Guilty principe which you already agreed was a real thing." "Innocent until proven guilty" applies to the attribution of moral blame for a specific act. It makes no sense as a general principle of judgment.
The point of the defeasible non-inductive criterion (besides that it is true, see for instance Wittgenstein, Remarks on the Philosophy of Psychology, but I can do some summing up if need be) is that it is proof. If I see someone standing on the street, screaming obscenities at the sky, face red, mouth foaming, I need not investigate any further to say with certainty that they are angry. Now for all that they could still be acting. (Just about any judgment I make could be false.) But if they are not acting I am right, and I am not only right by coincidence---my rightness stems from the truth of the matter, and it was perfectly reasonable for me to judge as I did.

5c. Do you think there is no connection whatsoever between who an artist is and the sort of art they make? Do you think there is no connection whatsoever between who a consumer is and the sort of art they consume? (Note: I'm not saying it's reasonable to believe that every artist who makes violent art secretly harbors violent urges! Any prude who says this is laughably incorrect. But the moderate prudish claim is that in some cases, we can tell.)

5d. Nobody said fiction is instructional. If you were paying attention that is the exact opposite of what I'm claiming. I'm claiming that artistic creation is an expression of an attitude, not an order to act a certain way. And the consumption of art is similarly an expression of an attitude.

Zak Sabbath said...

@Canyon

2. If something is brought up, there's no point in bringing it up unless it's _potentially_ decidable. And therefore must be discussable.

3a. All points must be answered. We don't do half-discussions here.

3b. "you need to address every single argument for secular virtue ethics ever made."
Only if you're contending the opposite.

5a. "Either way" means you cannot prove guilt therefore it violates innocent until proven guilty

5b. It's not enough information to lock them up. That is: practically take action that fucks up their life.

5c. No _provable_ connection except, yknow, actual proof.

5d. "I'm claiming that artistic creation is an expression of an attitude" you can't prove that it's the attitude you think it is (short of information from OUTSIDE the fiction product). So: violation of innocent until proven guilty.

Zak Sabbath said...

@canyon
2. (addendum) and of course the point is there’s absolutely no justification for making a claim before you’ve done everything you can to investigate whether it’s true . So even if it wasn’t decidable it’s totally unacceptable to simply make the claim as if it were true rather than undecidable

Canyon said...

2. Of course. But you were the one who brought this up. I'm the one who's not sure it's decidable, which is what I am to figure out, in part through my conversation with you.

2a. Is your standard then much higher than "beyond a reasonable doubt"? For "doing everything you can" entails investigating unreasonable views as well.

3a. Ok, I'll write my answer before I do anything else on your site. But I need to know a bit more on your attitude towards tone in conversation. What is your reaction to Patrick Stuart's criticism of you?

3b. I contend the opposite. The ball is now in your court to prove 1. that there are no good arguments for virtue ethics whatsoever and 2. one could only believe in virtue ethics if they subconsciously ascribed to ideas gained from (presumably abrahamic) religion or were themselves religious. For bonus points: 3. The only relevant ethical category is the consequence of an action. (You will also have to deal with deontologists, particularists, existentialists, etc to do this, so I don't recommend it.)

5a. Of course. We'd need to discuss particular works to decide either way.

5b. What is enough information to fuck up a life x degrees?

5c. What would count as proof towards this claim?

5d. This is one of the core points at issue: what counts as evidence.

Zak Sabbath said...

@canyon
2. either way: the person making the claim of sexy art=harm is wrong

2a. However id describe my standard, a MInimum part would be: be able to at least answer objections. They dont ecen reach that VERY liw standard

3a. its full of inaccurate information he didnt do the work to check.. BUT i feel like patricks got a lot to deal with and i dont want to heap trouble on him so to the degree you could depersonalize that inquiry itd be appreciated.

3b. From what reasonable source would a set of non-utilitarian AND non-religious virtues derive? If you lay aside results, what’s to choose between value a and value b?

5a. and that way is, at a minimum. get all available info. thus: 2a

5b. a trial is equal or less than enough information so they gotta at least do what a trial does. thus: 2a

5c. a confession, real life acts outside the fiction that arent otherwise explicable

5d. thus: 2a


The point is no matter what counts as evidence or what would count as a full and fair examination , even a minimum examination would be being able to explain why you believe a given saying in the face of specific objections — and they can’t even do that .

so you can disagree about how far Florida is from New York but you can’t disagree that the first thing to do is head south if you want to get there fast


Zak Sabbath said...

Canyon

3a. To further depersonalize: the ultimate solution people in these kinds of conflicts recommend (and that he recommended) is quietism. That is: do nothing. Let people in the spaces we use to talk games on the internet be assholes, let them tone police, let them refuse to answer questions etc. And the problem with that is: you get things the way they were 8 years ago: a shitty RPG scene where nothing good gets done thats basically indistinguishable from 4chan. If you do the opposite and hold people to the same standards you would in irl discussion you get this awesome DIY RPG scene we have and the only people put out by it are massive dickheads anyway. So no harm done.

Canyon said...

Sorry for the long delay.

2. I'm aware that's your claim.

2a. This is promising. But on your account, which objections must be answered? Also, respond to objections, or respond to objections in a way that satisfies someone? If so, who? (We cannot here use a "reasonable person" standard, because the issue in question *is*, "What is reasonable?".)

3a. I was going somewhere different with the example than I think you thought I was going. I brought it up because I think it would be really helpful to have concrete cases to refer to. But on second thought I think it's too fucked up for me, a stranger to both of you, to bring it up in this way, now, without any regard for Patrick. So I'll get back to you soon with a different tack on the matter of tone.

3b. Human nature, practical reason, transcendental subjectivity, the basic practices that allow for the consideration of morals at all, and ordinary use, to name a few. We should never just lay aside results, and nobody will ever suggest that. (This is only Kant's view on a truly terrible reading of the Groundwork, which moreover ignores everything else he wrote on the subject.) But we can further differentiate based on the values instantiated in the action, the intentions with which the action is carried out, the quality of the actor's reasoning from principles to action, and so on.

5a. But there's no piece of information at the end saying "You've got all the info you can get". What you need to specify is how hard we have to try to get information. Please do so. (And it can't be "As hard as possible" because my entire life cannot be organized around this investigation.)

5b. A criminal or civil trial? There are two different burdens of proof there.
And you need to specify what "fucking up a life" means in more detail, and whether it can come in degrees, and whether we have the same burden of proof of desert at every degree. For instance it's not at all obvious that organizing a boycott of someone's work is on par with sending them to prison.

5c. Yes, I don't think you can claim anything else based on what you've said so far. And we've already established that I disagree. But I can walk you through the path I took to my view, and see what you make of it. But this is long enough that I'm moving it to a separate number.

6a. Do you agree that actions can instantiate values?

6b. Why does an artist choose to make a particular piece of art and not something different?

Canyon said...

7. I read your post about the history of the osr, and then I remembered more about the other stuff you've posted about harassers, and now I want to be clear about the people I'm arguing for here, and the people I'm not arguing for.

If memory serves, people on the internet have said some pretty crazy stuff.
People say you are transphobic. That's insane.
People say you personally hate women. That's insane.
People say character evidence from your friends is not valid because they're just your puppets. That's insane.
Some guy called you a pus goblin. That's insane.
People say the representation of sex work in a positive light is bad. That's insane.
All the people who send you threatening tweets or messages or whatever are insane, all the people who try to legally ban sexy works of art are insane, people who say that sexy art is necessarily the product of a diseased mind are insane.

You deal with these people a lot. They come at you. These people are bad and should be treated accordingly. But I'm not arguing on their behalf.

You say things like "The believers make the claim to each other and are probably acting on it." But in my experience with prudes (and I know few rpg prudes, but I know many normal prudes. They are inescapable, unless maybe you're living in the LA art/porn scene) this is only the case in a narrow, trivial sense. They don't for instance convince new people of the claim, so it's hard to see how their repetition of the claim does any harm. And the actions they take in accord with the claim are tiny. They simply don't buy a particular product.

I would be very surprised if the majority of rpgs prudes did not fit this profile. Only, it's hard to see, because they are precisely the people who do not show up. But maybe this is unfalsifiable, and carries no weight with you.

Zak Sabbath said...

@canyons

2.If you disagree you should say so now.

2a. All objections raised by the interlocutor. The interloctor must be satisfied, and the judge if they are “reasonable” is they follow the same rules: the interlocutor answers questions, does not name-call etc

3a. ok

3b. “Human nature,” Nothing inherently morally good about the variety of proven social fallacies humans fall into so that would eventually lead to a variety of regressive social practices. A bad choice obviously.
“ practical reason, transcendental subjectivity, the basic practices that allow for the consideration of morals at all,” These are all vague and arguable: it's hard to find 2 people who could define them the same way in specific cases, so its simply pushing arguments about What To Do back a few days, at best. Like saying the best food to eat is “What someone thinks is the best food to eat next Thursday” .

3c. “instantiated” vague word here

3d. “the intentions with which the action is carried out,” intention-judging is ultimately a results test unless the subjects is on their deathbed. If a person tries to do a racist thing and fails we still know they are racist and may do racist things later so we can make a judgment on the basis of worry about results.

3e. “the quality of the actor's reasoning from principles to action” same as 3d. Stupid is as dangerous as ill-intentioned for judging future results.

5a. “But there's no piece of information at the end saying "You've got all the info you can get”” No, so instead we have the point at which an interlocutor ceases to raise objections requiring more info. This is the basis of the whole idea of debate.

5b. “A criminal or civil trial? “ Whichever one has the lower bar at any given moment because the bar is “even a tiny piece of undeserved material damage”. So: if your statement costs a person 50 cents of possible income because someone believed a lie about them its morally wrong and not caring is morally fucked up,just like kicking a dog for no reason even if the dog recovers immediately.

5c. Then do that

6c. “instantiate: is a vague word here

6b. Depends on the artist. A common one is: they think about the subject a lot. A jewel thief and their victim might both think about the same crime a lot. Also someone interested int the drama of jewels being stolen.

7. Majorities are usually bad. Most adults either voted for Trump or didn’t vote.

Zak Sabbath said...

(in the US)

Zak Sabbath said...

@canyons

2a addendum -- (also obviously the embargo on personal attacks/name-calling has to only apply to first-strikes. You can't be expected to not call someone a jerk if the whole point of the discussion is that they called you a jerk and you think that's unfair. The content of the conversation is whether that's deserved in that case.)

Canyon said...

I'll address the other stuff later but for now:

2. Anyone who says "sexy art is bad" straight off the bat, without any sort of qualification, is not just wrong but laughably so, and I question their intelligence and/or motives. But that's not the view I'm defending.

3a. I forgot to apologize for bringing it up, by the way: I'm sorry. Not sure if it's a sore subject, and I hope I haven't caused offense or crossed boundaries.

3b. If you think "the variety of proven social fallacies humans fall into" is both part of and valorized by the conception of "human nature" employed in modern virtue ethics all I can say is that you know nothing about contemporary virtue ethics. The same criticism applies to your comments about the other possible foundations of ethics. There are no specific cases where the definitions of "transcendental subjectivity", "practical reason", or "the basic practices that allow for the consideration of morals at all" could change. The first two terms are technical, so the problem is not to figure out what they mean but how much they can explain. And the third term means exactly what it sounds like, so the problems are "What are these conditions?", which is strictly empirical, and "Can forms of life ground knowledge?". But nowhere do we find vagueness. That they are arguable, however, is the entire point. There's argument! Real, rational argument! These are open questions, which you seem to have dismissed out of hand.

Look, you've accused 1/3 of moral philosophers in the past 70 years of being irrational. The burden is on you to prove it, but you have offered no evidence for your claim. Moreover you don't seem informed about the issue at all. Unfortunately this is not a good place to teach you. If you like, I can recommend you some books and articles by leading philosophers who exemplify the views I have listed above. But unless you can 1) argue on extremely general grounds that consideration of moral character is only and always the result of irrational religious biases, or 2), engage with the leading virtue ethicists directly and show how their arguments arise from these biases, you don't appear to have anything valuable to say on this matter at all.

For sake of completion:

3c. I'm not certain what you don't understand here. What, if anything, can you make of my sentence?

3d. "we can make a judgment on the basis of worry about results" A judgment about what to do, sure. But the prior judgment about the character of the person is based on what they tried to do, not the actual outcome of the events.
"intention-judging is ultimately a results test unless the subjects is on their deathbed" Plainly false. In almost any situation I can give you descriptions under which someone is acting intentionally irrespective of the actual results of their action, success or failure.

3e. Stupidity may have the same effects as ill-intentions but saying they are therefore the same is question-begging, since this is precisely what is at issue.

Zak Sabbath said...

@canyon

2. Then say what the view you ARE defending is

3a. You are free to bring things up and if you disagree with me you must bring them up. You would have to apologize if you disagreed with me and DIDN'T bring it up.

3b. You are falsely claiming that if you took a pair of people claiming their ethics derived from "human nature" (etc) would agree in all cases given the same data. This is inaccurate. These are therefore vague and so useless measures.

"you've accused 1/3 of moral philosophers in the past 70 years of being irrational."

Sure. The nature of philosophy is that philosophers disagree which means, when they do, at maximum one can be correct.

Simply yelling at me and claiming I am is not an argument. You will be banned unless you can make your own case and answer questions like an adult, like everyone else is expected to.

If I give a results-based ethicist 2 sets of outcomes a way to judge which outcome they think is best. if I give a religious one 2 religious texts to go by, these can be used to say which course its the text. If I say "use human nature" that doesn't give an answer. Address that now.

3c. "instantiate" means to represent or be an example of. If one subscribes to results-based morality than it's easy to see how an act that saves many lives might "instantiate" bravery, but outside results. "You saving the children from the burning bus instantiates bravery" but you are involved in defending NON-results based moralities, so I dunno what instantiate means to you. Define the word and give an example outside results-based morality.

3d. "A judgment about what to do, sure. But the prior judgment about the character of the person is based on what they tried to do, not the actual outcome of the events."

Yes but we are judging not just how to punish PREVIOUS damage but prevent FUTURE damage. So if a person is obviously stupid or ill-intentioned we must take action to prevent FUTURE harm.

"In almost any situation I can give you descriptions under which someone is acting intentionally irrespective of the actual results of their action, success or failure."

But the only reason to bother is TO PREVENT FUTURE HARM

3e. It's news to me that you are (behind all this) defending the well-intentioned stupid.

Why? They voted the Nazis in. They need to got the fuck away from us as much as the ill-intentioned. And for the same reasons: to prevent harm.

Zak Sabbath said...

@canyon

typos:

3b If I give a results-based ethicist 2 sets of outcomes they have some way to judge which action is best based on which outcome matches agreed on values. if I give a religious one 2 religious texts to go by, these can be used to say which course fits the text. If I say "use human nature" that doesn't give an answer as to which course of action to follow. Address that now., don't just pass the job of arguing off to offscreen authority (who would only be worth passing off to if they agreed with all other authorities, which they don't)

Canyon said...

More on the rest later, maybe.

2. That it's reasonable to be worried about the morality of art.

3b. Where did I say that? It's hard to see how you're engaging with my arguments here, and if you do not start doing so more clearly, you don't need to ban me: I'll leave.

You said: All Xs are Y. I said: No, some Xs are not-Y. I did not say: No Xs are Y. Now, the onus is on you to show that All Xs are Y, and to disprove you (which as of yet I do not have to do, because innocent until guilty applies) all I have to do is show some X or Xs that are not-Y. This is no simple matter either way because we are talking about the analysis of thousands of pages of argumentation. That is what I am asking for from you; that is what is required of you to prove your claim. And that is why I have been referring you to external sources. Because you have no evidence either way, and I'm trying to help you find some.

Do you think that there is in every case only one good argument? That there are no good arguments which are incorrect? If so, I think I'm again done here, because this is so obviously false a view that its assertion is a reductio in my book.

3e. I'm certainly defending some of them from your accusation that they are all as bad as Nazis. That's not news; it's what it means to attack your view to the contrary.

Zak Sabbath said...

@Canyon

0. "Maybe" is not an option here: you either have the conversations you start until they're done or are banned.

2. Say under what conditions

3b. It appears you're proposing a set of guides to morality which provide no clear metrics can be used as, well, guides to morality. Saying (for example) "human nature" is our guide only leads to a new argument about whether, for example homophobia is human nature. To which that vague phrase has no answer.

I can see only 2 concrete guides: revealed arbitrary rules (ie religion and things psychologically derived from the religious impulse, that is: a wish the arbitrary wasn't arbitrary) or concrete results (ie consequentialism). Everything else seems like a mask for those 2 things

I am patiently and in good faith asking you how something as vague as "human nature" decides any thorny moral question for us.

If you can answer: please do. It will help us make this conversation useful.

"Do you think that there is in every case only one good argument?" That there are no good arguments which are incorrect? "

We must make every effort to do our best before even worrying about these questions. We need to know whether there is even the possibility of a door before arguing how many keys it has.

If you can, indulge me: give an example of a moral question that can be resolved by consulting "human nature"

3e. Why do you choose this position? Why do you believe in tolerating the stupid in an RPG discussion? Why is this a good thing to do?

Canyon said...

0. I say maybe because I am considering leaving, depending on your actions. Once I'm gone, ban away. And if you ban me because I am considering leaving, and I am only considering leaving because you are not responding to my arguments in a form I find acceptable, when I have clearly given you the sort of argument I would find acceptable, you are running away.

2. When the creation of the work is an instantiation of bad values.

3c (taking it out of order so you can see what I mean). Instantiate also means to embody or exemplify. For instance trying to save children from a burning bus instantiates bravery, even if you fail. To instantiate a value is to live out that value, make the value of the value manifest in your behavior, act as if the value is truly desirable, to be a characteristic activity of someone with that value to the extent that they hold that value, and similar.

3b. For instance: humans are animals, and animals have bodies. The good of a human being is the good of an animal, and it must make reference to our embodied nature. Here are two substantial consequences of that claim, with their arguments:
What is embodied is temporal; what is temporal is temporary. So the good is not just the good of eternal things. So Augustine's argument, that true value is only found in the transcendental, fails, because it does not take account of the true value found in the immanent.
What is embodied is in a particular state, good or bad. A good state of the body is good as such, not merely conditionally good. So the Kantian claim that good as such is only to be found in the good will is false.

This truly is an indulgence, because the onus is on you to refute virtue ethics, not on me to establish it. Your inability to see does not qualify as an objection.

Anyway, I cannot do in one or even a series of comments what Philippa Foot does over the course of 100 pages. The situation, and your refusal to engage with the actual philosophers we are arguing over, is like if I said, "Art can be morally bad, and I can prove it to you just by showing you this one artwork, without further commentary," and you said, "Yeah but stop being lazy by citing external authorities and argue for the position on your own", entirely missing the fact that this demonstration constitutes an argument, if only you would look.

You still have not addressed my point about what your argument against virtue ethics has to look like. If you do not do so now, this conversation is over.

But you have already given your answer, and stated it firmly. Since your view is true, any view to the contrary is unreasonable/irrational/stupid. This is what you have said about virtue ethics, and this is what you have said about prudishness. To your credit, you have at least made an attempt to engage with views to the contrary. But few of us have the time of day to engage with someone who says "I disagree with you so your view is false and you are irrational" right off the bat. This is not the mark of a productive conversation, which is what you say you want.

3e. I do not believe they are stupid, just that they are wrong.

Zak Sabbath said...

@Canyon

0. The rule is you answer all questions and address all points. Period.

2. Back to the vague word.

3c. In this particular case it seems like you just "are motivated by". ie you're just referrinf to intent. Which is fine. We can judge someone once we know their intent.

Do you disagree you mean "intent"?

3b. That isn't an example that explains anything. Take a real concrete moral dilemma that might happen and explain how "human nature" tells us which way to vote.

Like "Let's say im walking down the street, and..." etc

"You still have not addressed my point about what your argument against virtue ethics has to look like. "

Can you rephrase or paste the question so I can address it. I am sorry I missed it.

3e. If you claim they're wrong about something then that means you're claiming you know something they don't which means, at the least, they're dumber than you. So: relatively dumb. Same difference. They know less than they should.

Canyon said...

3c. I'm answering no further questions until you respond to my point, because if you cannot respond, there is no reason for me to talk to you any further. I do not see how you could have missed it, but here it is, restated:

"You said: All Xs are Y. I said: No, some Xs are not-Y. I did not say: No Xs are Y. Now, the onus is on you to show that All Xs are Y, and to disprove you (which as of yet I do not have to do, because innocent until guilty applies) all I have to do is show some X or Xs that are not-Y. This is no simple matter either way because we are talking about the analysis of thousands of pages of argumentation. That is what I am asking for from you; that is what is required of you to prove your claim. And that is why I have been referring you to external sources. Because you have no evidence either way, and I'm trying to help you find some."

So, you either have to 1) give me evidence that you've engage with the virtue ethics tradition, in depth, and can show me how, for any notable virtue ethicist I care to name, that virtue ethicist has no reasonable argument for their position, or 2) apologize and say you were full of shit because you don't know nearly enough about virtue ethics to make that claim.

Canyon said...

I didn't connect the quotation with the actual question enough. "All Xs are Y" was "All virtue ethicists are irrational", which you can prove by proving how every single virtue ethicist was/is irrational.

Zak Sabbath said...

@Canyon

I am engaging. If you can't describe even ONE way a non-results, non-religious source of virtue rules can be used to decide something then virtue ethics can't possibly be rational
Again:
"That isn't an example that explains anything. Take a real concrete moral dilemma that might happen and explain how "human nature" (or any of these other farcical sources) tells us which way to vote."

Canyon said...

If you can't see how metaethical results can influence the application of ethics, if you can't see how saying "Well I just don't see it" doesn't fly as an objection, if you can't see how much evidence you need to claim "All Xs are Y", then there is truly no use talking to you whatsoever. Best of luck to you and yours. Goodbye.

Zak Sabbath said...

@canyon

You can't think of even one example so you're hurling a thesaurus at the screen and fleeing the argument.

cyril faust said...

Hmmm. I am very open about sexuality, and I think restricting it hurts more than anything else. The problem with representation of sexuality I see is when it targets people who get the wrong idea how people have to look or behave, like young teen girls targeted by media telling them that they have to be this thin and look like this and like that. I am not sure if RPGs have the scope to inflict such damage, so I wouldn't think that people have to adhere to any moral.
Maybe something targetting "basement dwellers" that propagates misogynistic incel-ideologies could be too much. But I am not sure, I think even these topics could be used satirical.
So I think we have to consider the targets of a product.

Zak Sabbath said...

@cyril faust


fictions *by definition* don't tell people how to behave.

if someone's so lacking in media literacy that they take lessons away from a fiction, they're already fucked long before the fiction shows up. the problem is their credulity not the fiction