RLDG Discussion 13 - Overview, Moralities, Answering Student Questions and Complex Problem

12 November 2021

[AB hosted this discussion recorded it and then transcribed it, inserting links, notes and comments. When making comments and notes, AB adopted the role of editor separately from contributor, sometimes even criticising AB as contributor, and hence should be treated as a separate personage.]

# Present: AH, JC, NB, TB, AB (host); CA later
# Note: 3 pm UK time is 10 am Eastern Time and 9 am
# This time, try to get through in an hour.



--- AB's Presentation [zd02]

# AB: Overview of Christian Rethink of economics. Shared text of:
# Sections: [zd30]

# Chat: 00:15:06 AH: on moral economics: Please review the first video at http://www.kateraworth.com/animations/ when you have a chance

# AB: The Christian perspective might be seen as a bolt-on. We could stop before the Christian perspective. [zd31]
# The rest could be seen as a new paradigm for economics - although I would want economics people to say whether it is. [zd32]
# Christian perspective give a bit of life to it. A new paradigm is boring. [Actually spelled out elements of Christian perspective here rather than above.]

# [TB arrived]

# AB: That's what I've been doing over the last month, getting this into shape. There is a long one.

--- Aspects Serving Others [zd03]

# Chat: 00:20:29 AH: AB: I'm unfamiliar with 1 aspect "serving" another. That's not how I understand the WdW. It sounds reductionist to me
# AH: I'm not familiar with the idea of one aspect serving others.

# AB: The idea was epitomised for me by Egbert Schuurman, who in his book Technology and the Future, 1980, looking at technology from a Dooyeweerdian perspective, after bringing in Ellul, Heidegger, and other philosophers of technology at the time. He made the point that the technical aspect should serve all the others rather than expect to be serve by them. [AB: Actually, that the technical / formative aspect should be guided by the norms of other aspects, not just its own norm.] [zd33]
# NB: That is true of all aspects, that each aspect is there to serve all the others, rather than / [zoom missed a bit] # AB: Yes exactly.
# AH: I think that some of the previous material you shared, AB, might be looked at again. At one point you say that the economic aspect should not be served by the others. Well, I think it should be, based on what you said. In fact, it goes both ways, it goes in all directions. [zd34] ***
# AB: I didn't say it shouldn't be served by the others, I said it shouldn't expect to be served by the others. That it should serve others, and then others will serve it.
# AH: Ah well, not to get too tied down on these now. Look at it later.

[AB: Added material: In a subsequent phone call, Stephen M told AB that he disagrees with the idea of aspects serving others, because that puts too much emphasis on the juridical and ethical aspects. After a lengthy discussion, the idea was clarified, but it seems the word "serve" might be unhelpful. SM suggested "each aspect functions in all the others" but that too seemed not quite sufficient. It is to do with inter-aspect antecipations and retrocipations. AB then reflected and decided to defend the idea of each aspect serving others, in an email: "Yes, the economic aspect should serve others.

"And it *does* serve others because that is the way God designed the laws of all the aspects."

Neither SM not AH were convinced by that, however. It seems the word "serve" triggers some negative reactions. AH challenged AB to define what "serve" means. The discussion must continue.


--- Repentance Economics? [zd04]

# JC: Interject an insight: You have provided a remarkable overview for what we have tackled over the last 10 months. What you just said is something I've been trying to fish around and articulate very cleanly. Thank you for providing the text to support it in the more complicated way. Because I think that what you've explained is exactly what we've done. And it would take your perspective on titrating all this stuff down, so that we can articulate it well. Thank you for that. [zd35]

# JC: One thing I want to mention, is that when you mentioned that Last part: it seems like you're saying, basically, Repentance Economics.
# So, the foundational form of repentance is rethinking. [zd36]
# And so what you're providing is a model of economics in which you're actually causing people to rethink beyond the narrow single aspectual perspective, and trying to look across aspects, to provide a different way to think and widen the things that should be encompassed.
# So you could even add - I know repentance is a religious term today, but it's a basic term of rethinking. [zd37]
# So "Repentance Economics" could be a label for that sixth point of Christian perspective. [zd38] ***
# Just want to kind of throw that out there as a little note.
# AB: That's very helpful; thank you very much.

[AB: Comment: It's more than just more aspects; it's that some of the characteristics of aspects that Dooyeweerd discussed actually help facilitate various things that recent thinkers have been calling for, such as the coherence of aspects (Embedded), the goodness of aspects (Value), the possibility of aspectual dysfunction (Moral), the idea that things are qualified by aspects (Levels), and that aspects are normative for how to live (Responsible). But the idea of repentance economics is interesting. ]

# NB: Repentance is not only a matter of rethinking but a matter of action. Don't write into the term is a turning away from. So if rethinking doesn't result in new direction then it's not really rethinking. [zd39] ***

--- Belief and action [zd05]

# AH: I understand that our Western way of thinking divorces actions from beliefs too much. It wasn't that way in Biblical times, in Jesus' time.
# So, when you say "All you need to do is believe" - yes, that's true if taken in the times of Jesus and the Old Testament too. Somehow we think it's OK to believe something but not act on it. [AB: I think that AH had in mind to add a "But", i.e. that faith and action go together.] [zd40]
# JC: An Arminian would say that, wouldn't they. [Laughter]
# TB: It would still be contradicting James on faith and deeds. [zd41]

--- Way Ahead with this [zd06]

# JC: AB, what would you want to accomplish by going / I mean do you need detailed notes, or do you want us to pick through things or /
# What would be helpful for you in this matter at this point? [zd42]
# AB: Just about anything.
# But I'm feeling that it's time to get it out to others. So the first question is, is it yet in a state where it is suitable to go to others? [zd43]

# NB: I think that, in terms of convincing others, of selling this idea to others, what's going to be needed is more concrete examples. [zd44] ***
# That, if come and say "Hey, here's this new way of thinking, where we're not being narrow, we're looking at the multiple different layers at which the economic analysis can take place, where we're widening the sense of responsibility, and economists might say "PK, That sounds great but I don't see how it's going to actually make it diferent." [zd45]
# So to have a handful of fairly concrete examples were we can show that taking the wider view - an integrated widening of all the economics - results in different insights than what economics currently does, would be a helpful part of making this palatable. [zd46] ***
# AB: Thank you very much.

# AB: In the longer version I think there's quite a lot of examples. I assume you haven't read the longer version - because of its length and nobody's not busy! And so, we probably want to look through and see the quality of examples that are there already. They've been drawn from our discussions, they've been drawn from various other things. [zd47]
# What I've started doing is, there's usually the word "example" would get them, but I've tried to put them in slight smaller font, so that the visual - as you look at it you can see a smaller font and see "Ah, that's an example" Sometimes they are inline in sentences; sometimes they are in block paragraphs.
# The page should be now usable, in that this morning I put the contents right.
# So, could you have a look at examples and also supply some new ones, better ones?
# JC: Those examples are Section 3.2? # AB: Well, every section [has examples] / Section 3 is about the need to widen, Section 2 is about recent thinkers and our response. Section 3 is about how to widen, and so why we're saying this, and looking at the widening in each case - and that's got lots of examples.

[AB: Actually many of the examples are of what recent thinkers say, so it 'speaks' to the academic discourse, rather than actual concrete examples from real-life economics. ]


[Continues below and later]

# chat: 00:29:41 AH: I must depart in about 4 minutes. I'll email you all what I was going to say, related to the paper I forwarded you on "moral foundations."
# AB: invited AH to say something.


# AH: I'm not sure it fits into the natural flow of our discussion.
# AB: But give it four minutes because I thought it was very important. [AH had to leave soon]
# AH: Maybe I can say something in abbreviated form.
# Maybe some of you have heard of Jonathan Haidt. He developed 5 so-called foundations of morality. They are around the highlighted portions of the paper I sent. [see paper] [zd48]
# chat: 00:30:50 TB:: Found him: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonathan_Haidt
# The five foundations [of morality] are: Respect for authority, Fairness and Equality, Harm versus Care, In-group Loyalty, Purity. [zd49]
# So that paper [which AH sent] applies those to attitudes about the environment, and it has something to say about how conservatives v liberals stress different parts of those. [zd50]
# Haidt said originally that those are objectives we seek to meet when we make moral choices. But more recently, I think it was the past three years or so, some people have turned that around, to say these foundations are actually justifications for what we want to do. [zd51]

[AB: Comment: Norms are both objectives to seek and justifications - because by nature of being norms.]

# For instance, if we feel like spending more money on organic carrots, we justify that choice by saying that organic carrots promote purity. And of course purity is one thing we want to achieve.
# That's a very simple view.
# So I think that might be going on with the statements 1c and 1d [see below]
# And what AB sent us, namely that we want to do something, and we use those principles to justify the actions we want to take anyway.
# So I'll leave it there. Much more to say about this fascinating topic, and give insights into the human psychology about why those problems arise.
# AB: Thank you very much. I found it very interesting that there are certain moral principles that conservatives respond to and that liberals respond to.
# AH: Hope to continue the conversation.
[--- AH left ]

[AB: AH returned later; see below]


# JC: Have to leave at 11 am for a meeting. So 30 minutes to be useful.


# AB: You asked what I want from this.
# I said, first thing is, Is it ready to go out, to interest other people, and NB said "Let's have some examples."
# The 2nd thing that I think is needed, but this is probably longer term, is to get the argument right, in the longer version, to have it / [zd52]
# The third one is to get work going. No, maybe a third one is to publish and that will ...
# ... [4.] attract people to use it.
# And in theory and in practice.

# JC: [summarising with list] In the three state is,

--- How to Distribute Information and Awareness of our Work? [zd09]

# Another thing is: How should it be distributed. [zd53]
# Publication is one avenue.
# And figuring out a way in which the accumulation of work[ed] examples, and tangible solutions that are provided, and the ongoing work of/that the group can do, is an example of a way to distribute the information as well. [i.e. Another way to distribute information, not just publication] [zd54]
# So we both have the publication platform from the traditional economic and traditional academic model.
# But also to be open to pursue opportunities to solve problems, as a stand-alone entity, is also another avenue of activity, that I think we should consider. [zd55] ***

[AB: See re. Institute below.]


# AB: In fact, the invlvement with the SNA is possibly one of those. # JC: Yes.
# JC: I think that's where, if this is something that we can provide life to others, it's the work we would do. [zd56]
# To your point earlier, everyone is busy, but I think everyone on these calls throughout the last year, sees the unique value in this [work] and wants to be a part of somehow, some way, of just getting a clear vision of how to accumulate the ability / the capable time from each person in an efficient way. In the efficient work that they could provide their skillsets to the work. [zd57]
# So it's figuring out that, the administrative and the logic framework of the activity itself. So it's the idea of publication and pursuance and the administrative publication and pursuance. There's another idea / another aspect. [zd58]


[AB: Four questions from CA had been sent round the RLDG. At the time of this discussion we did not know it, but it turned out later that these are questions typical of those that first-year undergraduates bring up. Each question heads a section below, in which we discuss them and how to respond. Along with each is a response by AH sent by email.

--- Krugman and Choice [zd11]

# CA email: 1a. "Paul Krugman said that people like choices and Multinational Enterprises can cater their products overseas not only earning economic of scale but also benefiting from trading unique products. (Which explains why we have so many different type of oil in the supermarket.)" [zd59]

# AH email: "we are not capturing environmental damage" in the economics here. [zd60]

# NB: In some sense, Krugman is talking about, underneath /
# NB: I think he's making an observation rather then moral claim ... [zd61]
# ... that a free market (admittedly imprecise language), a market that caters to what peple want, will be dysfunctional, because what people want is dysfunctional. [zd62] ***
# And so, to address Krugman's point, that companies cater to what people want in order to sell more product - and that often ends up giving us something that we actually either don't want or shouldn't / I don't know where I was going at the end of that sentence, other than that [to say that] the very political topic of how free markets ought to be is unavoidable in responding to him there. [zd63]

# AB: Could NB repeat: did not quite understand. [AB: AB was trying to type and did not quite catch that. It actually seems clear above, but the following is a useful restatement of NB's important point.]
# NB: I think his observation is that some of the dysfunction we see in markets - yknow the fast food example that CA brought up or some of the Carbon emissions that are happening because of international trade - that comes about just as the natural outworking of the free market, catering to people's desires. [zd64]
# I was about to say "natural desires", but that's not quite right.
# But human psychology is what it is and people want choice. And so the suprmarket that has 362 different types of olive oil on the shelf does that for a reason, because they are convinced that they can make more money that way. [zd65]
# And so there's this fundamental difficulty in anything we are going to talk about, [is that] we are battling uphill against some pretty fundemental human psychology of what humans want, which is choice. Even when it's not good for us. [zd66]

# AB: Choice is good, and a thing to seek, for those with little choice; but for those with lots of choice it's not a good thing. A bit like food; it we're starving, food is good but for the obese, food is not good. [zd67]
# NB: Psychological research makes it very very clear, that if you give someone a choice of four different breakfast cereals, they pick one, and then you ask them how happy they are later, and they are delighted with their choice. If you give them a choice of 358 different breakfast cereals, it takes a lot longer to pick one and they are less happy with their choice, once they have made it.
# And so the idea that the economy gives us what we think we want, rather than what is good for us, is a problem with the economy. [zd68]
# AB: Do you know any papers on that psychology of choice. # NB: Not off the top of my head; I could send some through. # AB: If you could that would be great.
# JC: Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely is probably the best cornerstone of the last 15 years on the oddness of choices. I wouldn't say from a purely academic, but he is a PhD, he is head of Whatever. Dan Ariely, he might be at Duke, or Durham, North Carolina. A great tome on that. [zd69]
# Chat: 00:41:47, NB: "Predictably Irrational" by Ariely
# Chat: 00:48:02: NB: "https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Paradox_of_Choice" is a good summary of how too much choice impedes happiness. "https://www.ted.com/talks/barry_schwartz_the_paradox_of_choice" is a TED talk on that topic by the author. [zd70]

--- Friedman. [zd12]

# CA email: 1b. "Also Milton Friedman said that if people wanted to give their money to charity they should have done so already but instead they brought their money to company to invest. So the goal of the company should be maximising profit. Not CSR projects." [zd71]

# AH email: "really surprised that MF would say this. ... does not follow. faulty reasoning. e.g. I could invest in environmental companies. ... still seek returns ..." [zd72]

# AB: [read the above] I don't know whether this is what Friedman said or CA's summary of him. AH sent a negative response.

# AB: I thought: What we decide to give our money to is not as simple as that. [zd73]
# NB: What Friedman is doing here is just classic reductionism. Saying that "What you do with your money has to be all one thing or all another thing; it cannot be two things at the same time." [zd74]
# I would like to invest in something that makes me money and makes the world a better place simultaneously - of course that's what I want to do. [zd75]
# TB: Yes. And even what you invest in, yes, can indirectly be giving in that way, can't it. # JC: Yes.

# NB: For example, I have part of my retirement fund in a mutual fund that invests primarily in solar panels, wind energy and energy storage technologies. And over the last decade, that stock portfolio has done just fine. I've made money on that as well as in any of my other holdings. But I specifically chose that area of investment because I think there is good to be done there. [laughter] [zd76]
# NB: It also, of course, impedes my own judgment. Because I'm invested there now I probably have a sunnier view of renewable energy than I ought to. The temptation to think that technology is going to solve all our problems is that much more tempting because I'll make money if it does. [laughter] [zd77]

# TB: I guess it's more a case of where the authority over their money lies. [zd78]
# AB: How do you mean?
# TB: Of course, we look at it in terms of a Christian response is tithing or whatever, or surrendering our wealth. [zd79]
# It's greed that is the wrong bit, now wealth [as such]. I guess it's: "How does that go in worldly terms?" I suppose that's it. It's what / It's whether Friedman is suggesting greed is inherent, and identified how that could be resisted. [zd80]

-- Motivation to altruism [zd13]

# AB: How that should be resisted: any ideas?
# TB: Good question. Hard one that. What does motivate somebody, without any religious affiliation, to be motivated to give? And of course that shows that certainly shows that those with faith and religion do have a greater desire to give, and the proportions they give is certainly higher than those who are not. [zd81]
# But, not to say that those who don't, don't give much.

[AB: Comment. I see motivation not as a uniquely Christian thing, as such, but rather than it is part of 'way Creation works' so that every human being has some idea of it. As the next point makes clear. However, (some) Christians are more free to actualize it because they know that Christ gave Himself for them. ("Some" because some Christians, including myself, sadly have a calculating meanness.) ]

# AB: Well, I think the pandemic shows that people are motivated, can be motivated by altruistic xxx. In Britain - I don't know about the States - but here, everyone worked together. It was almost like the spirit my mother used to say we had during the Second World War. [zd82]
# TB: And then that's a real problem affecting everyone. [zd83]
# And, of course, you could say that pre-pandemic, cancer charities do raise significant amounts of money. [zd84]
# So, maybe that is it, isn't it: It's the mode and the communiction and the drive or mood that actually does influence the desire for altruism.
# And other things like biodiversity and world hunger and may not even be on the radar, because they don't see it. [zd85]

# JC: I think something that should be considered, especially when we're analysing on the philanthropic side of things and giving is, I think it's Russell James. He's starting, emerging as the chief understander of philathropic modes. And to those individuals that are part of a community of transcendence and those that are not. So any worshipper or if you are none. There's a ton of work from him. [zd86]
# And so, as we move into that space if we're analysing, yknow, philanthropic motivations and philanthropic activities, James would be a great touchpoint for us to revisit. A very informed person.
# Chat: [sent at 39:35 below] 00:49:46 JC: "https://www.researchgate.net/scientific-contributions/Russell-N-James-2002456437"

# AB: I would expect ordinary people, not just religious people [AB: why should not ordinary be religious too?!? ;-)] to love philamthropic work and so on, even though [we all are] they're [maybe] selfish, because I see it as part of / one of the aspects that is woven into the fabric of Creation. There, it's the sort of / it's the inner nature of Creation to / it's a kind of Good that - what's the word - that kind of portrays itself, that recommends itself in our hearts. Even the sinful heart. Partly because they get a good glow, but that's not the reason they do it; there' a kind of / I think it's part of Creation. [zd87]
# So I'm not surprised. And I think that if / I mean I found this out from Dooyeweerd's aspects [that the ethical aspect of self-giving love is ...], a fundamental part of Creation. That strengthened me to think like that. But if it is, then we shouldn't be surprised, and we could kind of rely on it, in some ways, even though we've got to realise that people are selfish. Which is the dysfunction in the ethical aspect. [zd88]
# [JC sent the Russell James link]

--- Assessment of CEOs by Capitalization of Companies [zd14]

# CA email: 1c. "CEOs of companies are assessed on market capitalization of company. In other words growth. So the idea is to grow as big as possible." [zd89]

# AH email: "same kind of faulty reasoning as 1b. we should be assessed not only on short term profits. e.g. long term growth. environmental responsibility. what if there was a way to assess the 50-year prospect of that company." [zd90]

# NB: Market capitalization is the total value of all the stocks.
# NB: Again, what we're talking about here is reductionism. That we / If I'm a CEO watch the stock price goes up we say they did a good job and if the stock price goes down they did a bad job. And it's so tempting and nice to have one number that you can use to measure someone's fitness for a particular office. And I think CA was saying here that, of course, dysfunction's going to happen when you pick one number to be the measurement for how good you are at what you do. [zd91]
# JC: I don't think this is an accurate assessment at all, frankly. The changing environment of the for-profit world is now under [the auspices of] the GSR commands and equitable hiring practice demands. They are one and the same now. There are companies, very large banks, at least US-based banks, where they have commands to drive on GSR goals as well as on hiring practices demand equitable goals as well. It's no longer the prime [measure is only] shareholder value. There are things moving in to affect the perception of shareholder value. [zd92] ***
# That's part of our suite; that's frankly where we are as a collection trying to move into. That: how do we affect something beyond the dollar shareholder value?
# AB: GSR? # JC: Green Sustainable Remedial things [Remediation]; those goals as well as / any of the worldwide branding of equitable hiring practices and equitable investment goals. The green and equity accounts that have augmented the valuation of things beyond the dollar for CEOs, and hiring managers and division heads.

[AB: Note: GSR stands for "Green and Sustainable Remediation" in the USA: "https://itrcweb.org/GuidanceDocuments/GSR-1.pdf". In the UK GSR stands for "Government Social Research"! ]


# AB: There seems to be two things we have brought up.


--- Aspiring to Western Materialistic Lifestyle [zd15]

# CA email: 1d. "A lot of people in the world today want to live a western lifestyle, (which is why there is a lot of Mc Donalds, KFC and Burger King around)." [zd95]

# AH email: "that's our perspections of the market but somebody has to be the judge." "we don't really have the right to [these things] ... western lifestyle is not heaven. McD KFC BKing - don't produce wholeness and health." [zd96]

# AB: This one might be quite interesting. A lot of people in the world today want to live a Western lifestyle. Which is why there's a lot of McDonalds, KFC, Burger King around. This wanting a Western lifestyle. How do we solve that one? [zd97]

# NB: We can start by not wanting a western lifestyle ourselves. # JC: Yes, thank you, NB. [zd98]
# NB: Except that we kind-of do. I cannot look down on someone in the global south wanting to live the way I do, because I want to live that way. [zd99]

[AB: But there's two things here: us wanting, and the economic and media and government systems encouraging us wanting. ]

-- Reasons for aspiring to Western lifestyles [zd16]

# TB: Not all of them eat McDonalds.
# NB: Right. Even eating at McDonalds wont get you to a Western lifestyle.
# TB: I think there's such a broad meaning to that [Western lifestyle]. [zda0] ***
# I think actually everyone wants a Western lifestyle maybe for the comfort, the creature comfort, that it might offer. [zda1]

[AB: Take the example of Coca Cola, who boasted that Coca Cola is available in every country of the world. Now, let us pick that apart. 1. They are proud of it (pistic aspect). 2. They probably had that as a top-level policy/strategy (commitment, vision: pistic aspect). 3. That vision inspired them to overcome all obstacles to that, e.g. being willing to make a loss in some places. The first two are functioning in the pistic aspect. The third is pistic retrocipatory impact on functioning in earlier aspects, such as ethical aspect of giving, lingual aspect of marketing and persuading - including the ethical dysfunction of persuading people to get into debt to fund this, formative aspect of planning and achieving, etc.) ] [zda2]

-- Debt-fuelled lifestyles: Multi-aspectual [zd17]

# JC: Well, that's just leveraging debt. No-one should really be captivated by the idea of leveraging debt to accrue more things. Frankly, that is the financial lifestyle of the West. I'll be reductionist there. [zda3]
# [AH rejoined]
# AH: Especially in the US, where we can print all the money we want. [zda4]
# NB: Debt means yknow there's financial debt but we're also accruing environmental debt, and perhaps even social, psychological debt in the way we lead our lifestyles, and that bill will come to eventually. [zda5] [AB: Multi-aspectual debt, or rather, harm.] ***

-- Measuring this Multi-aspectual Debt: Earth Overshoot Day [zd18]

# JC: NB, that's brilliant: is there a way we can assess environmental debt? Or what you said, psychological / Move truly into that space. Shine some light in saying "What is that environmental debt?" Is there a way to do that?
# AH: Well, the science of overshoot is very well developed, where we are using X times the amount of resources that the planet can sustain. So, right now, worldwide, the factor is 1.8, meaning it would take 1.8 Earths to sustainably provide what humanity is using. [zda6] ***
# Of course, that's going be much higher in the West, to the tune of maybe 4-5, versus in developing countries, it could be down towards 1.2. [zda7]
# Almost everybody is using more than the Earth can produce. But in the West it's much much higher.
# AB: It's actually - it depends how you measure it but - the values [numbers] that I've been going on, which is called Ecological Footprint and so on, in terms of the number of Earths. In the US it's somewhere between 2.5 and 3 Earths, and rising. I don't think it's 4 - but if you have figures that show it's 4, let's have them, because it's how we measure them.
# AH: My resource has primarily been Earth Overshoot Day, maybe .org or maybe .com. [zda8]
# NB: The day in the year where we've used up one year's worth of resources.
# And it happens in April or March. # AH: In the US.
# JC: I never knew that; thank you, AH.

# Chat: 01:00:13 AH: "https://www.overshootday.org/"
# [AB: USA is 14th March 2021 - 3.5 Earths]

# JC: Hey guys, I've gotta run in 5-6 minutes. So I'd like to run through some things.
# NB: I have to run now; look forward to listening to the recording of this; but I've got class I gotta teach. # AB: Thanks, NB. # TB: Enjoy the class.
# [NB left]

[Continues below]


# JC: Brielfly, guys, the idea for the Institute or Redemptive Measures [mentioned last time], I've shared it with some other folks that are in my sphere around here.
# And one perspective of pure branding. A gentleman I really admire, he says, "You see this as a ministry, correct?" I said, "Yeah, I do. I think a lot of us do, actually. We're trying to pursue this as a Christian perspective, being honouring to God, Creation and others." He goes, "And this is primarily with people over in Europe or at least have a European vibe?" I said, "Yeah." He goes "So shouldn't it be called the Minstry of Redemptive Measures?" I'm like, "I love it!" [zda9]
# So I'm going to always think of how it can be packaged and taken, so that people can accept whatever it is that the group shares. So I want to at least throw that out: There is a functional arm of this work, to receive more complex problems to solve. [zdb0]
# And that's the purpose of this ... and so the Ministry of Redemptive Measures.
# JC: I'll follow it up with a little writing. So, think about it; whatever.
# Any initial thoughts, first of all?

# AH: There are many aspects to Shalom and to salvation. Redemptive, to me, refers to the economic, primarily, where Christ paid for our sins. Of course. there's also the social aspect of reconciliation to God. There's so many. So maybe there's another adjective that would be more global and multi-aspectual. That's something to consider. # JC: Thank you. [zdb1]
# TB: Who is involved? Is it to address the church internally? Yes, "Ministry" will obviously make sense there. I suppose yes the word "ministry" does get used outside the church, I'm thinking of the Ministry of Sounds, a night-club here in London. But that's not quite the same thing. Ministry of Defence. Yeah. Maybe "Institution" is maybe / could sound too strong. # JC: Thank you very much. # AB: Yes, I'd wondered about that as well. [zdb2]
# Any more thoughts?

# AB: Yes, "a functional arm of this work, to receive more complex problems to solve." I was thinking of the how, the practical, "How do we go about this?" It's a new thing. In business terms, it needs to create its own market, as it were: people don't know that they need it, yet - sort of thing.
# So, maybe the thing to do is to actually get going on tackling a complex problem. [zdb3]
# JC: And there is all your feeds from the UN in the National Accounts, AB. That's continued work? [AB: See Broader Comments by RLDG on Bringing Wellbeing and Sustainability into National Accounts.]

--- Proposed Project: City invaded by Dirst Bikes! [zd21]

# JC: One little off-hand piece of information I found from some guy in the government for DC, the City Municipality of Washington DC - strange thing - he said,

"Listen, JC, all of these four-wheelers - yknow when you see people riding four-wheelers in the back country - like this is a very practical problem; I did not think it existed. Four-wheelers and dirt bikes, that have no license plates, all running wild in cities. They're going just flying round cities. And there's no way to stop them, because the City cannot pursue them, because if they get hurt, the city is liable for the injury. So, I was driving around in DC, getting uber around different appointments, and these ATVs were flying around like Mad Max style. Just down town during the day in Wshington DC. It's a major problem in almost every American city." [zdb4]

# And I looked at him and said, "Would you consider this to be an intractable problem?" And he says "Yes. We have no solutions." He looked at me very / [zoom missed a bit] / "There's no-one figuring out how to possibly solve this."
# And I said, "Hey, I have some folks I'm talking with. Do you mind if we take a stab at this, over time?" And he goes, "Please. Any recommendations would be welcomed by every major municipality in the North East."
# So, I just throw that out. That's a complex problem, that no-one knows how to figure out. I was like, "I got some smart folks, who can think about things differently. Let's see what we can do." [zdb5]
# That's an example - needle through it.

# But finally, I do have to go.

# JC: An insight from Van Til, Cornelius Van Til, a critiquer of Dooyeweerd, his nephew is the guy that kind-of got me started on all this.
# And L. John - L. John wants to know all the people that are involved in this. He asked for some bios on everybody. So this is the statement:
# "If I can get bios of everyone truncated down and then I want to put them up on some sort of page so that we can provide that information to people like this, people that would be interested in supporting and understanding this work forward." [zdb6] ***
# JC: So that's a practical step next. Biographies of just everyone involved. I'm not looking for a membership or patrol or anything like that; I'm just saying "Here are the people involved; these are the type of things we're trying to do" so that I can provide it to the people who would be interested in understanding more and supporting and driving this forward."
# AB: OK, so you want us to send you bios? Right? # JC: Yes.

ACTION, All who participate: to send bios.

# AB: Probably 100 words I would guess?
# AB: You said how do we tackle this. Well, why don't we start. We need to think about it. JC, why not you be the project leader? ACTION JC: And think about how actually you go about this, and put some ideas together on how we work together on this. [zdb7]
# I mean, in Britain, the two / three of us in Britain (if CA was here), we don't know much about this. We don't have this problem. So you'll need describe /
# Maybe what we do is we set up one of these meetings specifically to thrash out this issue.

# JC: It's something. Yes, I'll be project leader on this.
# JC: I gotta run. I'll follow up with everybody. God bless you all. Thank you so much. # AB: OK, Thank you, JC.
[JC left]
[sounds of typing notes on the above!]


--- Foundations of Morality, continued [zd23]

[Continuing from Foundations of Morality ]

# AB: AH, thank you very much for coming back. You missed some of the comments /
# It seemed to work, having limited time. We went through CA's four problems, and I thought we might only get through one in the time available. We actually got a couple of comments on each of the four, which I think is probably more useful than just going round the houses. [zdb8]

# AB: TB, did you manage to read the paper that AH sent though? # TB: not yet. # AB: paper.
# AH: [Paper] by Feinberg et al. TB, if you are pressed for time, maybe you just want to look at the highlighted portions (I believe it's on page 2) to understand what are those five so-called foundations of morality. [zdb9]
# We could talk at some point about their later work, in which many thinkers believe that those are more justifications for the way we want to act, rather than guidance for how we act. Reversal of cause and effect. # TB: Aye. Yes, I see you've highlighted them. [zdc0]

[AH sent through this, which appeared in his Facebook feed: "I want to add that this argument can be used not only as a reason for a particular action, but as a justification for what we want to do anyway. As an example of the latter: Some people justify their opposition to masking or vaccinations against coronaviruses by appealing to personal choice as an inherent, inviolable moral necessity." ]

# AB: I didn't mean that paper. I meant your other email. I don't think I sent it through to the others because it arrived when I was doing other things.
# Would you like to go through /
# AB: TB, do you have to leave now? # TB: Probably in about 10 minutes.

[Continueds below.]


----- FOUR CHALLENGING QUESTIONS, continued [zd24]

# AB: AH, would you like to go through your comments on CA's four things, because I found them very helpful?

# AH: Opening that up. I did not have that handy on my computer, so / Did you have any particular questions? # AB: No, I just remember reading them late last night and thinking, "Hey [these are useful]" It could go to CA and so on. But it would be useful to have it on the recording and have TB's response.

# AH: Concerning 1a, I wasn't sure how this could be rephrased as a question.
# Of course, we're talking here about the environmental and other impacts of international trade. [zdc1]
# I don't know how many people have heard about Carbon Fee - I think the UK has a carbon fee system, don't they? # AB: You mean carbon pricing? # AH: Yes, right. Not to be confused with Cap and Trade.
# AH: One reason these internationally-shipped products seem so inexpensive is because we are not capturing environmental damage. Really, another kind of externalities that kind of trade entails. [zdc2]
# So if we put in place carbon fee, where the fee is assessed to fossil fuel as it comes out of the ground, or enters the economy in another way, then we would start to see better decisions being made about where to purchase our goods, and how much of those goods is shipped over long distances.
# I'm actually a volunteer with Citizens Climate Lobby, and that's exactly the kind of legislation in the US that we are promoting - Carbon Fee. And I could talk about some of the details of that, but maybe for another day.

# So, 1b. I'm really surprised that Friedman would say this, because this type of argument is so easily refuted. I'd like to see the context in which he said it, maybe. [AB: Actually, it turned out later that these four were typical of questions that first-year economics students raise with the lecturere]. # AB: Can you show how it's so easily refuted? # AH: His argument here is that if people wanted any other objective to be met with their investments, compared to maximizing profit, then they would have donated to charity. But that is definitely not true. It does not follow. It's faulty reasoning. # AB: Why does it not follow? # AH: For instance, I could choose to invest my money in ethically-responsible or maybe even environmentally-responsible companies. e.g. Maybe I believe in solar energy, so I'm gonna seek out mutual funds that have a lot of solar energy companies. That's not charity. That's not - I still seek returns on that but my objectives are more broad than just maximizing my own profit. [zdc3]
# AB: Well, in fact, NB gave the example; he says he's actually invested some years ago in solar retirement investment, and they're giving good returns.
# AH: So, that's an example of where Milton Friedman's claim doesn't seem to hold.

# AH: 1c. I think that this items falls into the same bucket, with the same kind of faulty reasoning as 1b was.
# I just want to add that we should assess CEOs using different measures than just short term profit. Maybe if we looked at long-term profit or long-term growth, things would be more aligned with sustainability and long-term benefits or environmental responsibility and so forth. What if there was a way to assess the say 50-year prospect of that company, or even of the society in which the company operates? Then we would have a different measure. [zdc4]
# AB: Government bonds are like that, aren't they? # AH: Yes, that's based on the perspections of the market, whether the market believes that sustainability is really being met. Somebody has to be the judge. of course. [zdc5]

# AH: 1d seems to be the item you were talking about when I rejoined the call. So, I feel that we don't really have the right here, in Western Europe and the United States, to demand that others would not seek that type of lifestyle. [zdc6]
# On the other hand, I also want to say that not everything about our lifestyle is good, even in the short term. [zdc7]
# And here we might get into differences between the EU versus the US. I believe the US has some short-term problems, such as high crime, of guns in the streets, lack of public transportation, and also / difficulty of personal transportation such as walking or riding bicycles. Some things might be worse in the US compared to the EU. [zdc8]
# Somehow, the point needs to be made with these developing countries quickly, that the Western lifestyle is not heaven. [zdc9] ***

# AH: Of course, we mentioned McDonalds, KFC and Burder King. Well, even in the fairly short term, of course, those restaurant chains don't produce wholeness and health. [zdd0]
# TB: Yeah, better. I hope they don't [laughter]

--- Foundations of Morality, continued

# TB: Interesting on one little thing. I did have a look at the 5 points in the paper [Feinberg et al.], and it's this one final one on purity and sanctity. They say it's often characterized by a disgust reaction - which seems a bit of an odd thing. I'm reading that in isolation probably the rest of the paper extrapolates that a bit better. # AB: Yeah, I wondered about that. [zdd1]
# AH: They've actually performed studies on how conservatives versus liberals react to those in different ways. I don't know if you've read that part of the paper. # TB: Oh, that's what he meant. AH: But the conservatives have much more repulsion to these types of gross things. Anything dirty, from a moral or biological sense. [zdd2]
# AB: But I thought it's dubious to try and measure the purity-sanctity [dimension] by a disgust reaction, because there might be other reactions, even negative reactions, there might be positive reactions and so on. Yknow who has established that purity-sactity go absolutely with a disgust reaction as its negative. They quote somebody but I've forgotten. # AH: I cannot speak to that, sorry. But it you look up Jonathan Haidt, the one that I cited before, there are so many papers, and even TED talks, presentations a lot of material into this, several books written as well. It's easy to find material to give you more information. [zdd3]

[AB: But are they all quoting the same single source, or has the effect been independently established by others? Is it not true that nearly half of psychological theories or ideas cannot be replicated, and hence must be questionable? ] [zdd4]


--- Overview of Rethink of Economics, continued [zd25]

# AB: AH, were you here when we dealt with the Rethink? # AH: Not really, no.
# AB: The first thing was to get some concrete examples; that was NB's idea. [AB: See above ]
# TB: I guess I'll rush off now. # AB: Thanks, TB. [TB left]
# AB: I asked NB to look through the longer one [Towards a Rethink ... Fuller version], to see what the examples were and supply some more. [zdd5]
# AH: Those are examples of measures that would reflect health and wellbeing? # AB: No, I think more generally. Section 3 [in Rethink], for example, argues that we need, for example, an Embedded Economy rather than a Detached Economy - [correction:] Economics, not Economy - that we need to take in lots of different values. Well, Mark Carney's kind of argued that, although / That we need to take harm into account as well as good. And so on. There have been examples to, if you like, support those requirements. So, they are not necessarily measures; they are examples of things going wrong in the economy, or examples of things that have gone right, when we've done the right, and so on. [zdd6]
# AH: You might have seen in the chat that I put in the website of this economist. I believe she's at Oxford, but she's done a lot of thinking about that. Kate Raworth.
# chat: 00:15:06 AH: on moral economics: Please review the first video at http://www.kateraworth.com/animations/ when you have a chance. [zdd7]

[AB: They are great! Watch them. Most are less than two minutes, covering each of Kate Raworth's seven ideas, ending in an eighth ideas, Planetary Economics. Inspiring! But not entirely complete in thinking; for example, they do NOT include morality, except as implied by the "they're wrong; we must ..."; that is why we have our Rethink.] [zdd8]

# AB: Oh, Raworth. Doughnut Ecomomics? There's a lot in there about her [See comments on Doughnut Economics].
# AH: You could draw from her ideas. # AB: Yeah, exactly. And I think - I've got her book here. I've been drawing on that. I haven't actually read [all of; AB has read quite a lot of bits throughout] it; I'm not a very good reader.
# But what we want is examples, not from theory [as Raworth gives] but from everyday life. [zdd9]

# AB: Now, the 2nd thing is this: "Get the argument right" - this is what we need. I mean, that goes hand in hand with examples, I think. But we need to get the argument right. Now, I've rewritten the longer version about four times, gradually getting the argument better and better. [zde0]

[AB: I think that what AB was meaning, in the back of his mind, was: ensure there is nothing obviously stupid in there, which would put people off. But we also need to get the argument right - though that could perhaps be refined with discussion once it is out there.]

# AB: As I see it - but that's only as I see it. So we need somebody like you and others to go through and say "so on and so forth". Not to do the wording; that's a later stage. [AB: AH later did some of this; thank you.]

# Third one, I think we need to publish it. And yknow, we have actually talked about papers and so on, and how to publish it, and in what forms and so on. Dissemination. And somebody said, "Well, there's more ways of dissemination than publishing." ISee above [zde1]

# AB: Fourth one is that we need to attract people to use it. i.e. to take the challenge of understanding it, of applying it, of finding what's wrong, making mistakes, criticising it, refining it, and helping to push it forward. # AH: yh. [zde2]
# Both in theory and in practice. [zde3]

# AH: That's maybe where we need to adopt some of the explanations of Kuyper and Dooyeweerd of course after him. esp. from the juridical sphere. To see the types of ways he has explained things. I believe that the WdW is still very abstract for most people, to the extent that we base our findings on that philosophy, we need to be very careful to make it succinct and relevant. [zde4] ***

[AB: Is AH expressing concern there about how the discussions take place or the Rethink is written? If so, do we need to take note and maybe improve the explanation of its foundation in Dooyeweerd's philosophy and maybe even Kuyper's thought? ]

# AB: [Please] look section 4 [on Philosophical Framework: Dooyeweerd's Philosophy] of the long one and see if it is succinct enough. # AH: OK. # AB: It needs to be redone a bit, but I've tried to.

----- ENDING [zd26]

# AH: I do need to attend to some other things now. ... It's great to meet these other thinkers on the call.
# AB: It's a wonderful group, isn't it. # AH: Yeah, it really it.
# AH: So, you'll summarise these in a email, right? # AB: What I'll do it write out a whole transcript of what we've said, and annotate it. This is for the record, so that it's there in future and so on. But that will take me maybe a couple of weeks.
# AB: So, bye-bye; thank you for coming.
# AH: Enjoyed it; bye-bye.
# [AH left]
# [Recording stopped. but kept line open for CA if she wanted to join at 16:35]

Created 2 December 2021.