WJM often provides quite refreshing insights. Here, in the challenge of criticism thread, he responds to CR (and to Origenes), and in so doing, addresses Popper:
WJM, 8: >>
Popper’s answer is: We can hope to detect and eliminate error if we set up traditions of criticism—substantive criticism, directed at the content of ideas, not their sources, and directed at whether they solve the problems that they purport to solve.
Who decides what a problem is? Who decides what constitutes an “error”? Who decides what form criticism should take? Who decides what it means for a criticism to be considered valid? Without self-evident truths to draw from, everything CR says is nothing but word salad that could be interpreted and criticized infinitely.
Most of the time I don’t even bother reading CR’s nonsense.
Our systems of checks and balances are steeped in traditions—such as freedom of speech and of the press, elections, and parliamentary procedures, the values behind concepts of contract and of tort—that survive not because they are deferred to but precisely because they are not: They themselves are continually criticized, and either survive criticism (which allows them to be adopted without deference) or are improved (for example, when the franchise is extended, or slavery abolished).
This is just so wrong I don’t even know where to start. Criticism of an idea without a self-evident truth to draw from could be applied in any way – for more slavery or less, to abolish it or reinstate it. Where does one’s criticism begin? What form does it take? What is it trying to accomplish? Without a necessary direction, it can be used to accomplish and argue anything.
Democracy, in this conception, is not a system for enforcing obedience to the authority of the majority. In the bigger picture, it is a mechanism for promoting the creation of consent, by creating objectively better ideas, by eliminating errors from existing ones.
Look at the assumed direction of the criticism; Popper is relying on the recognition of self-evident truths in order to plead his case, even though it could equally be pled in the opposite direction. “Better” ideas? According to whom? “Errors”? According to what system of evaluation? Why shouldn’t Democracy be a mechanism for forcing the will of the majority upon the minority?
These people spout this kind of nonsense because they know few people have the critical reasoning skills to recognize that they are relying on that which they dismiss to support their case.
If they can get people to dismiss the idea that they have unalienable rights, then they can convince them it’s a good idea for them to give them up by “criticizing” the “effects” of “allowing” them to have those rights.
Thus free speech and the right to bear arms and own property are eroded, all because of nothing is self-evident, a natural right, or necessarily true. That’s exactly what oppressive worldviews want – a populace you can convince of anything with word salad based on rhetoric and emotional pleading – emotional pleading that taps into our internal recognition of truth and the moral good, but twists it for other purposes.>>