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>>You can make arguments trying to justify such statements but you can only do so by appealing to other subjective desires and motivations.Okay, well here's what I'm motivated to say; if you take away the need for justification for holding opinions, then democracy is impossible because debate is impossible, it simply becomes a matter of who can shout about their desires the loudest. In all honesty, that's the system we are drifting toward, and away from democracy, thanks to rampant polarization.
>> you are ignoring that humans have continuity with their ancestorsAnd one of the things our ancestors did is expand the definitions of social and personal justice. One society we have continuity with is humanistic rationalist enlightenment democracy. According to that tradition, it is sensible to expand the definition of equality to include some types of outcome (at least under this version of the thinking) and since past expansions of the definition of justice have resulted in good things, we also have reason to believe that this will also be good for us as a whole. Now, you will say that you have reasons to think it won't work and shouldn't be, based on different aspects of past societies and different valuations of what is 'good.' This is why appealing to past societies' values and what worked for them won't help us.
>>how either a code or an appeal to authority "justifies" a moral opinionWell, here we are abutting the problem of 'you can't derive an ought from an is' but the short answer is that we use appeals to authority (usually, to the history of scientific discovery) or a code (usually, either the system of rational empiricism or other related enlightenment institutions like reasoned debate and public discourse) all the time to justify courses of action, and we generally frown upon doing things that have no justification at all. We are 'justified' in having a space program/industry because it correlates both with past things we can prove we know about the world and jives theoretically with how we model the world. Ultimately all beliefs about the world break down along similar lines of justification until we dig all the way back down to cogito ergo sum. Sure, at the lowest level, the *primary* reason we prefer life to death, pleasure to pain, freedom to subjugation, etc. are emotional reasons (we don't want to be subjected to these things ourselves) we can nonetheless deduce other justifications for them based on our past knowledge and theoretical models of reality (life is good for abstract reasons, for example, such as that if life didn't exist, the possibility of choosing between life and death wouldn't exist. Even if we were to assume that death might be preferable, we cannot get to that realization without having been alive in the first place. There are other technical and highly nuanced arguments for why primitive intuitions are or must be the way they are, but that leads us in a useless direction. For our purposes it is sufficient to know that when you propose a course of action, people will always inquire as to a chain of justifications upon which it is based, and how quickly one is reduced to saying 'it's just simply how I want it to be!' will bear heavily on how convinced they will be that they should adopt your justifications, which must be your point in arguing for something?)
>> It's not arbitrary at all, it's corresponds perfectly to our behavior and decisions.It's not arbitrary in the sense that it is random. We know exactly how it is that, for example, it ended up being the case that the government paid $500 for a hammer. It's based on a confluence of factors we can measure and understand. However it is nonetheless arbitrary in the real sense of the world, meaning determined through arbitration. Now, the physical components it took to create the hammer is known. We can measure it in joules, we can measure it in raw materials, we can measure it in human lifetime expended. However, those costs are pretty much the same for the $3 hammer sold at the hardware store and the one the military buys. So how is the difference in value possible? Because the value is arbitrary -- it has been determined through contracts and bureaucracy that the government will pay that much for the hammer, and so that's the 'value' it has -- but that value doesn't correspond to anything natural, like joules or grams or seconds, only an arbitrated human system.
>>not a slave to it anymore than you're a slave to reality for not letting you breathe underwaterA human being didn't invent human lungs and their lack of ability to breathe water. A human being did invent money, did invent markets, did invent global financial systems designed to keep the majority yoked to engines to extract the planet's resources so a handful of people can live like kings.
>> You don't get to tell other people how to value goods and services with your utilitarian ethicsThere are both left and right wing flavors of utilitarianism so don't pretend like there's not. And honestly, you're just reiterating my point. You don't get to determine the value of your own life under capitalism, you are subjugated to the value it is ascribed to you by the system, 99% of which is due to factors outside of your control. Everyone else is in the same situation, because none of them individually have control over the mechanisms that determine value. However, we do *collectively* have control over those mechanisms, because value is something we determine. We don't determine joules, grams or seconds, but how they are organized is entirely up to us. The people who control 99% of the paper wealth actually contribute a very small percentage of the work energy that makes up the planet's wealth, they are just in such a position that they can pull the strings and orchestrate the energy of the rest to benefit mainly themselves. And they force this reality upon everyone who is born into this world, who have no ability to establish their own system (and if they do, the entire global governmental apparatus will orchestrate against them, as was seen during the Cold War.) This is what people mean by capitalism is unjust and there is no freedom, even though you are deluded into thinking you have absolute freedom. It is a carefully crafted illusion, and you have shifted from being a victim to an apologist for it.
>>as lying politicians go, that is all the more reason why the capitalist conservative-republican system is superiorRepublicanism is at fault. As soon as you start focusing on individuals -- politicians -- you stop paying attention to what the people want. Republicanism has, since the time of Plato, been a means for the ruling class to masquerade their way back into the throne room whenever the people wake up and realize they are being manipulated and demand their power back. Direct democracy is our future and our only hope.
>> Wealth is not zero sum Wealth need not be zero sum, it's true, but I think you're applying the concept of zero sum a little too literally and specifically. Yes, the actual numerical value of wealth has skyrocketed. This is not what a 'zero sum game' means from a game theory perspective. That's a reference to your earlier suggestion that in order for someone to have more (+1) you must take away from someone else (-1) and thus reach 0. What I'm asserting is that the configuration of society can be such that everyone can have a +1, leaving us with a positive sum. This isn't contingent on the number values of how money is circulated, but the real values that lead to production (joules, grams, and time are essentially all they can be.)