Autonomy Respecting Relationships

Disclaimer: Autonomy Respecting Relationships (ARR) has a lot of bad ideas. Its founders, David Deutsch and Sarah Fitz-Claridge, are bad, dangerous people. Stay away. I still agree with Popperian epistemology and some flaws in romance, but I think polyamory is broadly a bad idea and I recommend against reading their ARR articles. I think my own ARR articles have some good parts but also flaws, and I haven’t revised them, so please read critically and skeptically. Don’t try to follow any ideas you aren’t fully comfortable with and fully persuaded of (meaning your conscious logical/intellectual analysis and intuition/emotions/subconscious both agree with no doubts/hesitations).

Relationships normally infringe on autonomy. Romantic/love/sexual/intimate relationships in particular routinely hurt people.

Broken hearts hurt. A lot. This is not something to gloss over or accept. The end of a lengthy relationship can be especially awful; think of bitter, messy divorces.

Everyone knows that breakups are common. But they also say, "Not me! My relationship is special! It's different."

People also bring up love. "We're in love, and love conquers all, so that will solve our problems and prevent a breakup."

Since most relationships are deemed special, different or loving, none of those claims actually make one's relationship different. They've been tried and don't work effectively.

Anyone getting into a romantic relationship, without some good explanation of what they will do differently, is setting themselves up for immense suffering. A good explanation of how one will avoid suffering will have to be something that hasn't been tried a thousand times without solving the problem or else we can't really expect it to work. It will also have to be exposed to critical evaluation and pass.

There's room for improvement here because people have no answer to this, but go ahead anyway, and commonly delude themselves into thinking they are different. So they're acting irrationally and consequently suffering.

Once in relationships, people have expectations of each other. Certain actions are deemed "betraying the relationship" -- for example having sex with someone else, or "not making an effort" consisting of doing things one doesn't want to. These expectations infringe on autonomy. They reduce one's ability to control his own life however he considers best.

Autonomy is a good thing. Any losses should be minimized or avoided. They shouldn't be accepted of a matter of course, or casually assumed to be necessary without a specific and compelling reason that each instance is needed.

Non-romantic relationships also routinely infringe on autonomy. People say things like, "You should have told me because I'm your friend." Or, "You have to come in on Saturday because I'm your boss." Or, "You have to take out the trash and do your homework because I'm your parent." In each of those cases there are rules one is expected to follow about what he does and doesn't do.

There are different sorts of rules in life. One set of rules is the laws of physics. You can't violate those. They don't infringe on your autonomy. There are other rules we might call *artificial*. They add extra restrictions that aren't necessary but could be avoided. Those are the ones that harm autonomy.

Correct moral rules do not reduce autonomy. It's not a loss of autonomy or liberty or freedom that one isn't permitted to be a mass murderer. Morality makes one's life better by one's own standards and violating that is hurting oneself (and others), so that is off limits.

The restrictions that come with relationships in our culture are largely parochial, cultural customs. They should be questioned and people should seek ways to solve the problems they cause such as loss of autonomy and heartbreak.

Our culture presents of a model of a romantic relationship which virtually everyone follows in important ways if not every detail. The model involves dating and monogamous marriage, with accompanying life roles. This model is not the only possibility and is not something to take for granted as beyond questioning. Especially because it's not working: it hurts people, a lot, frequently.

It's not just the breakups that hurt. It is generally believed that if one only fights with one's spouse a "small" amount then that's good and above average. So some amount of ongoing suffering is taken for granted in what is considered a successful relationship.

Non-romantic relationships also have well known models like "friendship", "family", or "boss". And these also have well known flaws like peer pressure, unwanted visiting relatives, and unfair and unreasonable boss decisions.

How come people keep doing these things even though it hurts them? The traditions also hurt them for not participating. For example, it makes non-participants feel lonely, there's social stigma, it's hard to have a satisfactory role in life and society when one doesn't obey the cultural rules.

Underlying these persistent problems, mistakes and blindnesses people have is irrationality caused by static memes (see the book _The Beginning of Infinity_ by David Deutsch for an explanation of memes). Our culture's sexual traditions especially are not "human nature" but static memes -- old and bad traditions.

Autonomy Respecting Relationships (ARR) is a philosophy which applies good philosophical ideas to these problems. It has a particular focus on ideas from Taking Children Seriously, as well as Karl Popper (especially for epistemology), and a certain conception of (classical) liberalism. Understanding relationships from the perspective of this worldview is the purpose of ARR.

ARR has room for refinement and advancement but has also reached a number of conclusions and figured some things out.

For example, monogamy is not rationally defensible. Nor is love. Nor the way people approach sex, and sexual relationships. These things are mistakes as well as static memes, and they have been refuted by ARR's criticism.

ARR also has some things which may seem like its own conclusions, but which are really conclusions of TCS or the general worldview behind ARR. For example, it rejects compromise and sacrifice, and insists that conflicts should be resolved in a rational, truth-seeking way. It says human interaction should be non-coercive and people should seek common preferences. It says problems are soluble and not a part of life to simply accept, and that people can change and improve their preferences.

Applying epistemology can quickly reach notable conclusions. For example, sex is not inherently super pleasurable as everyone claims. Rather, the enjoyment is an interpretation according to people's ideas. This follows directly from a Popperian understanding.

People will object that this is contradicted by experience, even though it literally isn't since it explains their experience. Further, a keen observer will see that experience contradicts the conventional perspective on this matter. People put effort into making themselves enjoy sex. People regard insufficient desire for sex as a problem which they try to fix. They are under pressure to like sex, so they do their best to make themselves like it. The evidence is readily available and the reason people miss it is because they misinterpret it.

From a sophisticated rational perspective, criticisms of so much of people's lives are not very hard to come by. Join us and move beyond the stage of clinging to these mistakes. The real project is reforming the traditions and finding non-Utopian replacements. This requires critical discussion.

For example promises are irrational (because either the promise turns out to coincide with morality, in which case it serves no purpose, or it does not, in which case it is a promise to do wrong). And one can refrain from ever saying, "Promise you'll never leave me" or demanding promises from friends or family or employees. But this creates problems. Promising served a purpose and without it you'll have to find a new way to communicate that the issue is important. But more than that, you'll need a new perspective which takes more personal responsibility instead of trying to shift responsibility onto others as promises do. This is the bigger issue than simply pointing out that promises are irrational.

Promises are just one issue. There's bigger things. We can recognize that the unpleasant nervousness people feel when asking someone out on a first date is bad. But there's no straightforward solution. Just don't feel nervous? How? People have already put a lot of effort into figuring that out that without success. Just don't ask people on dates? Well, then how will you get to know people? Some kind of replacement is needed, and it needs to work with conventional people who aren't yet aware of the new way of life.

The unexamined life is not worth living. Join us and think these things through instead of mindlessly conforming to conventional, cultural rules, and rationalizing them in accordance with one's static memes. Help solve these important problems instead of wasting your life suffering through another non-ARR relationship. Participate in progress.

You should join the ARR discussion group here:

Update: ARR discussion has moved to the Fallible Ideas group.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

MacRuby and the Mac App Store

I wrote a MacRuby platformer game called Gruesomely Hard Platformer and it is now for sale in the Mac App Store. I made the graphics myself. I'm not an artist :) But I think it's fun. I wrote the physics and gameplay and everything from scratch, it doesn't use any game making framework or engine.

Click here to see screenshots or buy it.

Click here to see a demo video on youtube.

I wanted to record some tips and tricks for how to get a MacRuby app to work. There's a few problems that are not user friendly at all. I had to find solutions in a bunch of different places. Hopefully this compilation will be helpful to some. This is what worked for me October 2011 with Xcode 4.1 and OS X 10.7.

- MacRuby version 0.10 (the latest stable) will give you an error about symbolic links when you try to validate for app store submission. Download and install the latest nightly version.

- You need three certificates for code signing. In the Certificate Utility, download the WWDR certificate from the Overview section. Then go to Certificates and create two distribution certificates. Do not select both checkboxes. Choose Distribution then only check the first box. Then create a certificate following the instructions. Then do the same thing again using the same CSR (Certificate Signing Request) file, but with only the second checkbox checked. Double click the certificates after you download to add to your keychain.

- You need an app ID. You do not need a provisioning profile unless you're using specific features like Push Notifications or iCloud.

- In Xcode, add your app as a build target to the deployment scheme.

- In Xcode build settings, remove the i386 architecture.

- In Xcode build settings, add 3rd Party Mac Developer Application as the code signing entity.

- For testing your app, use the scheme named after your app and click Run.

- Use NSBundle.mainBundle.resourcePath.fileSystemRepresentation instead of File.dirname(__FILE__)

- To test the standalone app you will submit to the app store, change to the Deployment scheme and choose Archive from the Product menu. Then choose to share and the Application radio button and you can save it to disk.

- For submitting to the app store, first get your app in the "Waiting For Upload" state not preparing for upload. You have to click a button in iTunes connect that sounds like you're going to upload it now, even though you aren't actually going to upload via your browser. Then go back to Xcode and do Archive, then deal with code signing (see next item), then choose Validate followed by Submit. You cannot validate it before getting to the ready to upload state in iTunes connect.

- Xcode will code sign your app, and it will pass validation, but it doesn't work. You need to manually sign it. Right click the archive and pick Show in Finder. Then type "cd " (with the space) into a terminal window and drag the archive in, then enter. That gets you to the archive folder. Then I did this:
cd Products/Applications/; codesign -f -s "3rd Party Mac Developer Application: Elliot Temple" Gruesomely\ Hard\
- If Apple automatically detects problems with your app submission, such as code signing issues, they will email you with the errors. But in Apple Mail the email may appear blank (it did for me with my Google Apps email). If so, read it in webmail.

I still got a bunch of code signing warnings emailed from iTunes. They were for files inside the app, but not the main bundle. I don't know how to fix them, but Apple accepted my app anyway, so they can be safely ignored. Hopefully a future version of MacRuby or Xcode will fix it.

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How to Disable VLC Crash Reporting

VLC crashes pretty often. For me it usually crashes jumping forward or back, like with the skip ahead 60 seconds command. Then when it reopens, it brings up a crash dialog that you have to dismiss. It's annoying. I looked through the many preferences, and googled, and couldn't find any known way to disable it.

I tried solving this myself and found a simple solution that works!

On Mac, open /Users/YOU/Library/Preferences/org.videolan.vlc.plist

Find the field LatestCrashReportYear and change it to the future like 2020. Save. You're done.

Presumably there's something equivalent on Windows.

I don't know exactly why this works, I assume it's trying not to send out of date crash reports, only a new one.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (7)

The Beginning of Infinity

_The Beginning of Infinity_ by David Deutsch is out. It is the best book ever written.

I have made a website with information about it such as an excerpt, a review, and an interview with the author.

At least read the excerpt from the book and my interview. And when you're very impressed, then read the whole book.

I have also made a discussion group for it. My good writing mostly goes there. Join!

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Rolling Back Technology

[I]t ought to be possible to establish a coordinated global program to accomplish the strategic goal of completely eliminating the internal combustion engine over, say, a twenty-five-year period.
Al Gore in his book Earth in the Balance: Ecology and the Human Spirit, pp 325-326.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Message (1)

Bible Stories Passage

This is a section from the preface of Bible Stories by William Godwin, 1802. It is a rare book. I typed this in from microfiche.
3. These modern improvers have left out of their system that most essential branch of human nature, the imagination. Our youth, according to the most approved recent systems of education, will be excellent geographers, natural historians and mechanics; they will be able to tell you from what part of the globe you receive every article of your furniture; and will explain the process in manufacturing a carpet, converting metals into the utensils of life, and clay into the cups of your tea-table, and the ornaments of your chimney: in a word, they are exactly informed about all those things, which if a man or woman were to live and die without knowing, neither man nor woman would be an atom the worse. Everything is studied and attended to, except those things which open the heart, which insensibly initiate the learner in the relations and generous offices of society, and enable him to put himself in imagination into the place of his neighbour, to feel his feelings, and to wish his wishes.

Imagination is the ground-plot upon which the edifice of a sound morality must be erected. Without imagination we may have a certain cold and arid circle of principles, but we cannot have sentiments: we may learn by rote a catalogue of rules, and repeat our lessons with the exactness of a parrot, or play over our tricks with the docility of a monkey; but we can neither ourselves love, nor be fitted to excite the love of others.

Imagination is the characteristic of man. The dexterities of logic or of mathematical deduction belong rather to a well regulated machine: they do not contain in them the living principle of our nature. It is the heart which most deserves to be cultivated: not the rules which may serve us in the nature of a compass to steer through the difficulties of life; but the pulses which beat with sympathy, and qualify us for the habits of charity, reverence and attachment. The intellectual faculty in the mind of youth is fully entitled to the attention of parents and instructors; but parents and instructors will perform their offices amiss, if they assign the first place to that which is only entitled to the second.

Many arguments can scarcely be necessary to recommend the object of the particular selection which is here submitted to the judgment of parents. The following narrations surpass in interest and simplicity any specimens of narration which can be found in the world. Scenes of pastoral life and patriarchal plainness are the fittest that can be imagined to form the first impressions which are to be made upon the memories of children. There is a style now in fashion, and which more or less infects every book for children which has been written for the last hundred years, stamped with the ultimate refinements of a high civilization, and full of abstract terms and universal propositions. Why should we debauch the taste of our children by presenting this as the first object of their attention and admiration? Why should we confuse their little intellects and vex their little hearts with words and phrases, and paragraphs, and chapters, which they cannot comprehend?

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Hayek and Socialism

Advocating liberty while having the wrong philosophical ideas -- as Hayek did -- has serious consequences. Philosophy matters. Some people say the liberty movement should have a "big tent". That is fine as long as we recognize when the people we let in are mistaken and do not let those mistaken ideas speak for us. We must recognize the difference between principled advocates of liberty like Ayn Rand or Ludwig von Mises and socialist sympathizers like Hayek who make concessions the liberty movement should repudiate.

Here are quotes of Hayek followed by commentary.

from chapter 8: Socialist Calculation II: The State of the Debate
the same must be said of the hope that such a socialist system would avoid crises and unemployment. A centrally planned system, although it could not avoid making even more serious mistakes of the sort which lead to crises under capitalism, would at least have the advantage that it would be possible to share the loss equally between all its members. It would be superior in this respect in that it would be possible to reduce wages by decree when it was found that this was necessary in order to correct the mistakes. But there is no reason why a competitive socialist system should be in a better position to avoid crises and unemployment than competitive capitalism.
But at least the decision cannot be made before the alternatives are known, before it is at least approximately realized what the price is that has to be paid. That there exists still so much confusion in this field and that people still refuse to admit that it is impossible to have the best of both worlds is due mainly to the fact that most socialists have little idea of what the system they advocate is really to be like, whether it is to be a planned or a competitive system.
No pretense is made that the conclusions reached here in the examination of the alternative socialist constructions must necessarily be final. ... No one would want to exclude every possibility that a solution may yet be found [a solution to how to implement socialism without destroying the economy too much]. But in our present state of knowledge serious doubt must remain whether such a solution can be found.
From Hayek on Hayek: An Autobiographical Dialogue by F. A. Hayek, edited by Stephen Kresge and Leif Wenar (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994)
I have always said that I am in favor of a minimum income for every person in the country.
And Hayek in a 1978 interview:
At first we all felt he [Mises] was frightfully exaggerating and even offensive in tone [in his 1920 economic calculation paper and 1922 Socialism book]. You see, he hurt all our deepest feelings, but gradually he won us around
Mises’s was a book with which I struggled for years and years, because I came to the conclusion that his conclusions were almost invariably right, but I wasn’t always satisfied by his arguments.
Hayek got some other stuff right, but here is where I disagree:

I do not think it is right to "share loss equally" -- men must take responsibility and gain profits or losses on the merits of the ideas/projects they pursue. When another man makes a mistake, I should not share the loss with him. Sharing loss equally is morally wrong and also economically harmful because it is incompatible with capitalism.

I do not think that the possibility of the Government reducing wages by decree is a good thing.

Hayek speaks of the "best of both worlds". He sees the economic consequences of capitalism as ideal, but the morality (or ethos) of socialism as ideal. He is conceding that socialism is the best world in one way. What way does he have in mind? He doesn't fully specify here but I think he has in mind standard stuff about capitalism being too mean and selfish and unfair. Hayek wants to accept capitalism anyway. But that is different from Ayn Rand who does not want to accept capitalism *despite some disadvantage* but whole heartedly. Capitalism is the most moral *and* economical system, not a consolation prize because socialism has a fatal flaw.

When Hayek says "no one would want to exclude" the possibility of finding a way to make socialism work, he is denying the existence of e.g. Ayn Rand. He's in opposition to people with *thoroughly* capitalist values. He must think there is something wrong with capitalism, that there's some kind of valid grievance -- but there is none. He thinks that trying to reform socialism is a reasonable project to pursue, but it is a philosophical dead end.

From the minimum income position we can learn something about why Hayek liked about socialism. He liked the idea of providing for everyone, regardless of their merit, and regardless of his ability to persuade the men he takes the money from to give it as voluntary charity.

The interview touches on another subject which is that Hayek's economic arguments made concessions to socialism too. Mises in 1920 (correctly) argued that socialism makes rational economic calculation *impossible*. Hayek later made *weaker* arguments. Why? Because he thought Mises' criticisms of socialism were "exaggerations". But they were not; Hayek was overestimating socialism. The difference is on the one hand Hayek deemed socialism *inefficient* (a matter of degree) while Mises said that when the State owns the means of production then there is no way to rationally plan economic activity. It's not just inefficient but impossible and attempts will lead to the destruction of society into chaos or syndicalism. (See: )

Hayek did accomplish some good but he also told a lot of people that socialism has various merits it does not have. That is dangerous; it slows the spread of correct, principled and fully capitalist ideas like Rand and Mises put forward. He made an effort to understand these matters and did better than most people, and contributed some good ideas. But his positions have flaws including sympathy with the ethics behind socialism, and I think the liberty movement should be careful about who it chooses to represent it. Considerable harm can come from telling people stuff like that socialism with a non-broken economy would be the ideal if it were possible -- as long as people are yearning for *that* we are going to have a hard time persuading them to implement thoroughly capitalist policies.

Because Hayek is seen as a champion of capitalism, but is actually mixed, he's in the dangerous position of giving capitalism a bad name. He misrepresents what capitalism is really like. He lets people say, "even arch-capitalist Hayek would concede that..." And Hayek is no innocent in this reputation. He could have said, "Guys, I'm a moderate with mixed views. Mises is a serious representative of capitalism, I'm just a guy trying to figure things out." If he'd said that, he'd be an OK guy, better than many. But he didn't, so he ended up doing large harm. (And Hayek also did things like claim Mises' economic calculation criticism of socialism was flawed, and that he knew better.)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (2)