If you’re a Conservative, I’m not your friend

By Rebecca Roache

Follow Rebecca on Twitter here

 

One of the first things I did after seeing the depressing election news this morning was check to see which of my Facebook friends ‘like’ the pages of the Conservatives or David Cameron, and unfriend them. (Thankfully, none of my friends ‘like’ the UKIP page.) Life is too short, I thought, to hang out with people who hold abhorrent political views, even if it’s just online.

This marked a change of heart for me. Usually, I try to remain engaged with such people in the hope that I might be able to change their views through debate. (Admittedly, I don’t always engage constructively with them. Sometimes, late at night, when my brain is too tired to do anything fancy and I spot an offensive tweet by a UKIP supporter, the urge to murder them in 140 characters is too difficult to resist.) Did I do the wrong thing? Should I have kept my Conservative friends?

I’m not so sure. I am attracted by the view that we should all keep the debate open, discuss our political views, take other people’s views into account, and revise and improve our own as we all benefit from this dialogue. I’m attracted by the view that there is such a thing as progress in politics. But—depressingly—I’m far more sceptical than I was yesterday about how much of a difference we can make with political debate. There are several reasons for this.

One is that, in much of British culture, people are uncomfortable with debate about politics. It would, in some circles, be rude to raise the topic of politics over dinner, and to try to change someone’s mind about their political views—well, that’s frankly out of order. We’re much more comfortable talking about the weather, who might win the X Factor, or Kim Kardashian’s arse. The British unwillingness to discuss politics was illustrated today by the sway of the ‘shy Tories’: the people who voted Conservative, but who kept quiet about it in the run-up to the election, and certainly didn’t tell the opinion polls.

Another reason is that the voice of the Murdoch-owned, pro-Tory press is much louder than the voice of reason. Sure, social media can be a powerful and unregulated force for good, and we can all share our views through Facebook and Twitter—but, given that people tend to follow those who roughly share their views, we’re preaching to the converted. My Facebook feed today is full of posts and debates by compassionate, liberal people. The rest of the country isn’t.

Then there is the fact that ‘engaging in political debate’ and ‘revising one’s political views in the light of rational argument’ are themselves hallmarks of liberal thinking, but not of conservative thinking. Conservatives, traditionally, base much of their politics on gut feelings or intuitions—what Edmund Burke in the 18th century called ‘prejudice’, and what Leon Kass has more recently termed the ‘wisdom of repugnance’. Far from viewing it as desirable to subject their political beliefs to reasoned evaluation and criticism, many conservatives view reason as a corrupting influence. (I’m generalising: political views exist on a spectrum, and some moderate conservatives are open to debate.) So, the hope—expressed by some liberals—that political change can happen by keeping debate open is somewhat optimistic, and perhaps even deluded. We hand-wringing, bleeding-heart lefties need to change tack.

So, unfriending. Is it okay? Well, the view that I have arrived at today is that openly supporting a political party that—in the name of austerity—withdraws support from the poor, the sick, the foreign, and the unemployed while rewarding those in society who are least in need of reward, that sells off our profitable public goods to private companies while keeping the loss-making ones in the public domain, that boasts about cleaning up the economy while creating more new debt than every Labour government combined, that wants to scrap the Human Rights Act and (via the TTIP) hand sovereignty over some of our most important public institutions to big business—to express one’s support for a political party that does these things is as objectionable as expressing racist, sexist, or homophobic views. Racism, sexism, and homophobia are not simply misguided views like any other; views that we can hope to change through reasoned debate (although we can try to do that). They are offensive views. They are views that lose you friends and respect—and the fact that they are socially unacceptable views helps discourage people from holding (or at least expressing) them, even where reasoned debate fails. Sometimes the stick is more effective than the carrot.

For these reasons, I’m tired of reasoned debate about politics—at least for a day or two. I don’t want to be friends with racists, sexists, or homophobes. And I don’t want to be friends with Conservatives either.

 

(Image from https://twitter.com/SummerRay)

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit

318 Responses to If you’re a Conservative, I’m not your friend

  • Jim AC Everett says:

    I’m genuinely shocked at how utterly ill-thought and stupid out this post is.

    First, you claim that Conservatives are “racist, sexist, and homophobic”. This is the same party, you’ll remember, that had the first – and only – woman PM; that fielded more BME candidates in the 2015 election than the others; that the Conservatives introduced Gay Marriage and since the last general election had more LGBT MPs than the other parties. Indeed, from what I recall, in 2010 the Conservatives had more LGBT MPS than all the others put together. Claiming that they are racist, sexist, and homophobic is simply untrue – unless you mean that some Conservatives are, but then so are some Labour members. Recall that George Galloway (the anti-semite who says that rape is just bad sexual etiquette) was a Labour politician.

    No wonder there is such a problem of political diversity in academia, when you have people like you spouting such intolerance. Readers might be interested in this forthcoming article in Behavioural and Brain Science on political diversity as well as my forthcoming commentary on it (second paragraph here: http://www.jimaceverett.com/publications/). It is posts like this, and people like you, that are to blame for this.

    I’m just so shocked that you can so easily insult both the intelligence and morality of vast swathes of the population – including your colleagues – without a care.

    Yours,

    A Gay, Disabled, Working Class, Conservative.

    • Rebecca Roache says:

      Jim, I don’t claim that Conservatives are racist, sexist, and homophobic – I claim that supporting their policies is as objectionable as holding racist, sexist, or homophobic views. Nothing that you say in your comment has persuaded me that finding the policies described in my penultimate paragraph morally abhorrent is ‘stupid’, or that such moral abhorrence is objectionably intolerant.

      • Paul says:

        While Jim’s outrage is largely a red-herring (regarding his misunderstanding about your use of the ‘racist, sexist, and homophobic’ example) I am torn on this one.

        I do see his point on intolerance etc. especially with regard to academia.

        However, that is not to say that Conservative policy does not lead to the outcomes you have listed and as such it could be deemed morally corrupt to support such policies. The thing is, I don’t believe most Conservatives believe such outcomes are ‘real’. They often put it down to spin and exaggeration etc. and may even hold others responsible outside of Tory policy.

        With that in mind I do think debate is essential. Unfriending people will solve nothing. I think what would be more helpful would be to revolutionise how the conversation is held. For example, regular public debates between leaders and advocates (as we already have) but with the inclusion of real time fact and context checking would be a start. The technology exists to fact check within seconds/minutes of claims being made. This would certainly shine a light on dishonest rhetoric and proclamations which in turn may actually sway people one way or the other. It’s hard to hide behind a mask when it’s being pulled from your face.

        I have a few friends who are Conservative and at times their partisanship bugs me but so does that of others. I think we need unmuddy the conversation before we begin taking steps where we lose friends.

      • Kieran E says:

        I don’t claim that Conservatives are racist, sexist, and homophobic – I claim that supporting their policies is as objectionable as holding racist, sexist, or homophobic views.

        I didn’t vote Conservative, but that is clearly nonsense. You are saying that no reasonable person could therefore vote Conservative, just as we would say no reasonable person would be racist, sexist or homophobic. Therefore, millions of people who are decent, reasonable, non-racist, non-sexist, non-homophobic people, are deemed just as bad as racists, sexists and homophobes because they hold a divergent political opinion to yourself.

        • Kieran E says:

          It also therefore belittles and insults those millions of voters, casting them as either idiots or malicious, which shows a very low opinion of vast numbers of this country purely because they hold a different political view than you (and me as it happens).

      • Peter Risdon says:

        Yes, that was a misunderstanding of your argument. What is more peculiar about it is that the only places you’ll find active racism, sexism and homophobia today are on the left, thanks to a toxic mixture of identity politics and cultural relativism. It was Labour politicians, not Conservative ones, organising segregated audiences for meetings, Labour canvassers who made an issue of a gay Conservative’s sexuality (after a Tory-led coalition brought us gay marriage), Labour politicians who permitted large-scale child rape because their racial prejudices made them dismiss girls of a particular class and colour as worthless. And, of course, it’s among the left that anti-Semitism has again become fashionable.

        In the list of policies you object to, every single one was expressed – at best – tendentiously. The peculiar collection of social and economic fallacies that dominate the thinking of the far-left in the academy is not a reliable guide to political morality. In many ways, the viewpoint you’ve expressed is far to the right of the Conservatives, and in the hate-saturated intolerance it displays we see a reminder of how iot is that the hard left killed 150 million of its own subjects if you exclude the casualties of wars. To engage in murder on that scale, you first have to dehumanise large sections of the population.

        Just as you have done in this post.

        • TJBaxter says:

          All very true, lots of good points there.

          Another question that now needs to be asked of this academic is how can she be trusted by any of her Tory voting students? How can they know that she will give them equal treatment knowing that she finds them abhorrent? Her employers surely need to look to see if she is fit to lecture.

          • Geisha Bobatoo says:

            She is not fit to be in any position that allows her power or influence over others. The idea that somebody as nasty, bigoted and stupid as this lady has control over the education of the young is simply terrifying.

            • TJBaxter says:

              Exactly. Happily I saw yesterday evening on twitter that someone who was due to attend a meeting this week with some of her colleagues was going to raise this issue with them. We can only hope that her close minded attitude is as offensive to them as it appears to have been found by many.

        • SusieB says:

          “the only places you’ll find active racism, sexism and homophobia today are on the left”.

          I invite you to look at the policies and statements of the DUP and UKIP, and the voting record (They Work For You is an easy source for this) of many Conservative MPs. You’ll find you’re very much mistaken.

          For example it may have been a Conservative-led coalition that introduced the vote on equal marriage, but it was a free vote. As parties, the DUP, UKIP and BNP all officially opposed it. Greens, LibDems, Labour and Plaid Cymru officially supported it. The Conservatives didn’t take a party line but more than half the Conservative MPs voted against it.

        • Tim Wilkinson says:

          “Labour politicians who permitted large-scale child rape because their racial prejudices made them dismiss girls of a particular class and colour as worthless”

          One things that disgusted me about that campaign was the Tories’ willingness to run with that line. It started as a minor strand of Muslim News Bingo, more typical of the Mail than he pre-Murdoch Times. Then it got traction because conservatives sought a distraction from the Thatcherite child rape clique which came perilously close to being exposed for a while there.

          All the stuff about PC is based on a couple of insignificant remarks, but is of course valuable as a version of the idea that the left are traitors to their country, race, common sense etc. And marauding swarthy infidels raping white children is guaranteed to push the Conservative button. They love that stuff.

          And so it was that Pickles, having just abolished the audit commission, had a free hand to pick Casey, well-known serial political hack who has her own team of loyal staff. She knew what her brief was – go in & nail the council for being full of negligent, lazy peple who look down on the working classes and are so PC that hey prefer to cover up mass rape than offend a paki. And Pickles had also empowered himself to disband the elected council and appoint people of his own choosing to run it instead.
          But the problem with this was that it let the actul criminals off Scot free, for the Conservatives’ own, electoral convenience and need to distract from the top-level institutional child-abuse that formed part of the milieu in which Thatcherism originated and was promoted. The narrative pushed by the Tories aand their press baron mates had no meaningful relation to the facts of what happened in Rotherham.

          Anyone who has read the reports and thus, unlike this Risdon character, knows what they are talking about, could find out that the problem lay primarily with a crime family (worse: pakistanis, not cockneys) and with those in South Yorks Police who were protecting them. One young SYP officer who was under investigation for tenuously related matters and whom may have been suspected of being willing to talk to investigators, was run over while crossing the road and died days later in hospital. Victims, witnesses and investigators, including from the council, were warned off with threats of violence. The Home Office had knowledge of the events. A mystery group of persons gained access to council offices and removed crucial files. This is a big cover-up of police corruption, and knows who else was involved, for example as ‘client’ of the young girls pimped out.

          The problem had been receiving ongoing attention from the council, who weren’t however in a position to directly tackle street crime. Reports written primarily for the police had established that the problem of underage prostitution was directly intertwined with organised crime, one family in particular, and with drug-dealing.

          Sound familiar? It should; it’s the same story of underage prostitutes that has been around since time immemorial, in which race or nominal religion is beside the point. Ony very recently was the term ‘grooming’ introduced to make the business sound a bit neater and avoid triggering the Littlejohn/Clarkson conservative attitude to prostitutes. But none of the scumbags on the Tory party has shown any interest in following up the real issue, with its reaal and important ramifications. Instead they are happy to go along with what at least some of them are well aware is a piece of pure propaganda – the rest don’t care or would rather not check.

          And the fact that this only further feeds into the Tory Media World story in which Islam is the great foreign enemy to replace the Reds under the Bed is of course a bonus.

      • TJBaxter says:

        Do you tell your students that you loathe them on a one by one basis or just stand up and announce your prejudices proudly? How can any Tory voting students trust you? How can your employers be sure that you are fit to lecture with such a close minded attitude? I thought academia was a place where people carried out full and free exchanges of ideas to further understanding not just an echo chamber.

        I don’t expect a response, I’ll leave this quote from Frank Herbert as I think it sums up your position quite well; “If you put away those who report accurately, you’ll keep only those who know what you want to hear. I can think of nothing more poisonous than to rot in the stink of your own reflections.”

      • David taylor says:

        Given your simplistic and wholly immature opinion of people who hold genuine conservative views, I’m appalled that you are allowed to publish your thoughts under the banner of a great educational establishment of Oxford University. If these are your truly held beliefs then no wonder younger voters are confused by what is democratic and acceptable – a majority socialist government elected under first past the post no doubt – though not democratic if that government is conservative. Please do us all a favour, grow up and support the democratic process.

    • Joe Bloggs says:

      With this kind of attitude I’d be surprised if you have many friends at all.

    • Simon says:

      Jim are you on Facebook? if so send me a message. Simon Taylor. Picture of Ali.

    • Keith says:

      Jim, a lot of what you said was reasonably opined, then you destroyed your credibility with your ridiculous assertion that George Galloway is an “anti-semite”, thus revealing your true ignorance

    • Mike says:

      There’s an exchange of letters I read once that I keep trying to look up internet but I can’t find it. It dates from the English Civil War and is between two generals on either side who’d been friends. One general tells the other that he hopes they’ll be able to remain so. The other replies, with the deepest regret, that it’s not possible when they may have to go into battle against each other but that he’ll always have the deepest respect for his former friend.

      We think of that time as one of bigotry and intolerance compared to ours but these two men could treat each other with courtesy and understand each other’s positions when the stakes were so much higher.

      I’m sorry, Rebecca but your post is small minded and unimaginative.

  • I’m genuinely shocked at how utterly ill-thought and stupid out this post is.

    First, you claim that Conservatives are “racist, sexist, and homophobic”. This is the same party, you’ll remember, that had the first – and only – woman PM; that fielded more BME candidates in the 2015 election than the others; that the Conservatives introduced Gay Marriage and since the last general election had more LGBT MPs than the other parties. Indeed, from what I recall, in 2010 the Conservatives had more LGBT MPS than all the others put together. Claiming that they are racist, sexist, and homophobic is simply untrue – unless you mean that some Conservatives are, but then so are some Labour members. Recall that George Galloway (the anti-semite who says that rape is just bad sexual etiquette) was a Labour politician.

    No wonder there is such a problem of political diversity in academia, when you have people like you spouting such intolerance. Readers might be interested in this forthcoming article in Behavioural and Brain Science on political diversity as well as my forthcoming commentary on it (second paragraph here: http://www.jimaceverett.com/publications/). It is posts like this, and people like you, that are to blame for this.

    I’m just so shocked that you can so easily insult both the intelligence and morality of vast swathes of the population – including your colleagues – without a care.

    Yours,

    A Gay, Disabled, Working Class, Conservative.

  • Matheus De Pietro says:

    I completely get your point and have been there myself a couple of times, but maybe you are asking the wrong question. Facebook and Twitter aren’t platforms fit or intended for debate: in Facebook you have fewer options to express disagreement than you do to agree with something (Zuckerberg already said he doesn’t want users to have the choice of “disliking” or publicly disagreeing with others; you don’t even get a notification when you are unfriended), and, honestly, what kind of debate can be carried out in a 140-character post? (although, to be fair, there is the story of this user who wrote an entire monograph in Twitter). I recall reading articles on how those platforms actually increase extremism and narrow-mindedness among its users.

    So, is unfriending ok? Maybe it is as wrong as removing Gotham from your Netflix. You are not avoiding debate, but rather a news feed of sorts. In my opinion, your point of keeping the debate open does not apply to Facebook and Twitter. Especially because I have yet to see anyone change their political convictions over something they read on their timeline.

  • Andy says:

    I’m reminded of J S Mill’s claim that “not all conservatives are stupid, but most stupid people are conservatives”. Given that, as you say, Murdoch’s controlled dissemination of information seems to influence voting behaviour more than reasonable debate, there is perhaps a huge difference between being a conservative of the ruling class and being a conservative of the voting class. The former, we could say, are positively nasty, but perhaps a sizable portion of the latter are merely duped. Some might consider this a highly patronising thing to say, but if true it doesn’t become any less so simply on that account. And if it is true, then question becomes: is it OK to unfriend someone merely for being an idiot? Yes, would be my answer to that one.

    • Paul says:

      Andy’s comment typifies the hubris of the left; “but perhaps a sizable portion of the latter are merely duped”. The arrogance is staggering, to assume people vote other than for a left party are somehow intellectual lightweights is intellectual snobbery and conceit, and quite possibly a misguided sense of intellectual superiority. That people on the left can’t see merit or worth in anything espoused by ‘the right’ suggests the intellectual deficit is theirs.

  • It appears that I did misunderstand your claim about conservatives being sexist, racist, and homophobic. I see now that you’re not saying that because I voted Conservative I am racist, sexist, and homophobic, but merely that I’m just as bad as that. Well, that’s OK then.

    I would like to clarify that my dismay is not based on you unfriending people who are conservative. What you do in your own social circle is your choice, and of course you should not be required to be friends with people who disagree with. But what I do take objection to is you then using the format of the Uehiro Blog to insult your colleagues publicly, claiming that they are both morally and intellectually deficient because they voted conservative. This seems like the kind of thing that you should post on your own FB page, rather than to a blog that reaches 10,000 people a day. I’m probably just being stupid (I am a Conservative, after all), but that just seems needlessly offensive. As far as I can discern, there is barely even an argument here. Again, I might just be missing it because I’m so stupid, but this post reads more like a justification of why you are OK to hate Tories, rather than an actual philosophical discussion about the limits of friendship.

    Even aside from just being needlessly rude about your colleagues, you directly contribute to the problem of political diversity in academia. Of course students of a non-liberal persuasion are going to be put off from pursuing careers in academia when they read vitriolic posts like this from a philosophy lecturer about how evil they are.

    • Airin says:

      I’m sorry, but if you are conservative then you are morally and intellectually deficient. Your post(s) just seem to back up this point.

      • David Johnson says:

        Hmm, your post appears to brand you as an intolerant bigot.

      • Remiel says:

        I’m a centrist. Just wanna say that if this was the prevailing attitude of the left, then I’d vote conservative too. Fortunately, I’m not a bigot, and don’t presume prevalence of opinion based on one example at the extreme end of the spectrum, so I can continue voting according to the demonstrable merits of policies with a clear conscience, as opposed to some ideological ’cause’ from either the left or right, extreme or otherwise.

      • V. Uil says:

        What immediately struck me reading your post was how lightweight and cliche ridden your opinions must be. A sure sign of a bigot.

        And yet I have no doubt that you’d be handy with the bigot slur at the drop of a hat. Ready to insult all and anyone who strayed from your narrow view of what is right and wrong.

        At the large scale your intolerance, for that is what it is, is a sure path to tyranny. Fortunately you are a minnow floundering in a sea of confusion and will simply washed away.

      • Richard Dale says:

        Expand please. I have explained below why socialism is evil (although pointing out that this does not make socialists so). What is the basis for your claim that supporters of conservative politics are “…morally and intellectually deficient”?

        Note that I am not a conservative but a libertarian. On that basis I supported the Conservative Party despite the policies with which I disagree, given that apart from UKIP all the remaining parties were both socialist and deeply authoritarian (at risk of repeating myself).

      • Richard Dale says:

        Expand please. I have explained below why socialism is evil (although pointing out that this does not make socialists so). What is the basis for your claim that supporters of conservative politics are “…morally and intellectually deficient”? Please do not use straw men or century-old arguments, please use actual conservative views, positions and economic ideas from the last few years.

        Note that I am not a conservative but a libertarian. On that basis I supported the Conservative Party despite the policies with which I disagree, given that apart from UKIP all the remaining parties were both socialist and deeply authoritarian (at risk of repeating myself).

  • Dominic says:

    Two things I am missing from this post:

    1. Being friends with conservatives has some value apart from the opportunity to change their mind (i.e. friendship).

    2. Epistemic humility about getting it right. I myself just can’t be sufficiently certain of my own moral beliefs (and of others’ bad intentions in holding differing beliefs) to use this as a basis for unfriending those who disagree with me.

    • John Hall says:

      Bravo. It’s the absolute certainty that I find so chilling in the OP.

    • JR says:

      As I understand it, the argument of the OP is of the form (a) Conservatives hold actively offensive views; (b) one cannot easily change those views, at least not over facebook. Unfriending seems to quite naturally follow.

    • Maria says:

      Exactly that is the issue with the left – they think they have a monopoly on moral and truth. And that is why, dear writer of this pathetic article, you may just have done your Tory FB friends a favour by sparing them your moralistic arrogance.

  • Person says:

    The obvious – and huge – flaw with this post is that it assumes that the author’s views can’t possibly be incorrect.

    “I try to remain engaged with such people in the hope that I might be able to change their views through debate” – presumably it’s impossible that your own views might be changed? If so, what does that say about how rational your views are?

    The more subtle flaw in the post is the implicit view that conservatives support the policies they support because they are evil and want to hurt the poor, the sick, the disabled and so on. (Hence the comparison with racists, who assign less value to minorities, etc.) A much less arrogant position would at least assume that the author and conservatives want the same things (i.e. no extreme poverty, human health, happiness, prosperity and so on) but disagree about the means to do so.

    For example – a key Labour policy is rent controls. The intention with rent controls is to benefit the poor, who suffer disproportionately from expensive housing. But a decent person might oppose rent controls (and thus prefer the conservatives) not because they dislike the poor, but because rent controls often harm the people they are trying to help – in other words, you might oppose rent controls for altruistic reasons.

    The fallacy the author makes is therefore to assume that anybody who opposes Labour (or left-leaning) policies does so because they don’t care about the sick, the poor and so on. That seems obviously wrong to me.

    • Airin says:

      It’s funny that, almost every conservative policy seems to disproportionately effect and hurt the middle and lower class while befitting the upper classes. One would think that if they were truly looking at issues from a different vantage, as you surmise, then they’d see a way to benefit all classes equally. But no, they keep implementing these policies, and the lower classes keep getting hurt by them — you’d almost think that conservatives didn’t have their best interests at heart.

      • David Jones says:

        The most effective way of alleviating poverty is through employment. We currently have the highest rate of employment since records began being collected by the ONS in 1971. There’s a moral dimension to the economic policies that foster such an economy.

        But more than that obvious point – though not obvious to you – is the broader argument that there is a moral dimension to Conservatism itself, especially perhaps to the old one-nation Toryism. It’s an argument you might disagree with on careful reflection but it isn’t one that instantly dismisses everyone who finds it more convincing than you as the moral equivalents of racists, sexists and homophobes.

        And finally perhaps you and Roache might like to read up on Haidt’s work on how moral intuitions come prior to our moral reasoning and tend to drive later reasoning. It’s interesting work – but work that wouldn’t have occurred to you, you being so right.

        • Brasso says:

          FWIW, the thing that seems to be in diminishing supply in today’s Conservative party is the old, one-nation Toryism. Go back a generation, and people like Heseltine, Clarke and their like had a natural home in the Tory party; and while one may not have agreed with them, it would have been hard to deny that they were sane and/ or decent. (Go back somewhat further, and Thackeray strikes me as having been the fons et origio of that tradition.) It’s much harder to ascribe basic decency to an increasingly large proportion of the current crop. If you want a picture of inquiring, tolerant, altogether jovial Toryism, I don’t think that Grayling, Dorries, or Duncan Smith are the names that’ll spring to mind…

        • Grim Conservatives says:

          Conservatives bang on about employment but for many people with disabilities or serious diseases – this simply isn’t an option. What job would you have forced Ivan Cameron into out of interest?

          Conservative policies have forthrightly targeted people with disabilities – labelling them as scroungers – while removing their benefits.

          Due to this issue, as far as I am concerned – the Conservatives are Nazis-lite.

          The Conservatives use propaganda against the disabled (like the Nazis).

          The Conservatives promulgate false stories in the right-wing media about the disabled, labelling them as benefit scroungers (like the Nazis – see the T4 advertisements).

          The Conservatives target the disabled (like the Nazis) blaming them for all the problems in the economy (rather than their banker friends).

          David Cameron uses his dead, disabled son as a human shield to deflect any criticism of his atrocious handling of disability provision or NHS provision. How low can the man possibly sink?

          Therefore like the author, I no longer wish to associate with Conservative voters.

          Oh and for the record, the first time I ever voted, I voted Conservative. Why? Because I grew up in a true-blue area, my parents voted Conservative, my friends’ parents voted Conservative. I didn’t know any better. I was ignorant.

          It’s only by educating myself and remaining skeptical about the Tory propaganda in the majority right-wing press, that I came to realise the error of my ways. I think a lot of Conservative voters aren’t interested in educating themselves as they fall so easily for all of the propaganda they are fed by the likes of IDS and Cameron and Gove. More fool them!

          • Grim Conservatives says:

            Oh and to pre-empt the shouts of Godwin, please educate yourselves about the T4 campaing and how it started with propaganda, telling the average person how much the “disabled” were costing them. Then compare that to the weekly Tory press releases shaming and labelling disabled benefits claimants.

            The Tories are grim. And they don’t care how many weak or vulnerable people their policies kill.

            • Dan says:

              @Grim Conservatives, I hate to descend to your level, but the only people who have actually advanced plans to kill the disabled, historically, have been the eugenecists – most of whom were and remain on the left.

              I am a Conservative of working class background.

              I don’t hate the disabled, or the unemployed, and I don’t know *anyone* who does.

              I don’t think anyone with similar disabilities to those endured by Ivan Cameron should be forced to work, and I don’t know *anyone* who does.

              What I (and many others, including an awful lot of disgruntled, working class Labour voters) *do* think is that people who *can* work should do so.

              The difficulty, as ever, remains in assessing who is fit to work and who isn’t.

              We all have anecdotes – mine include seeing my dad go out to work in his small shotblasting and painting business every day of his life, to the point where it eventually wrecked his health, while people in our small Warwickshire mining village didn’t work a single day of their lives (because they had ‘bad backs’). Didn’t stop them playing golf, or digging their allotments, or working on the side for cash in hand.

              He also had great difficulty in finding and retaining workers – able-bodied young blokes would turn up for work as a ‘potman’, full of talk about how they were grafters (very Ricky Tomlinson, a lot of them) and then jack it in after a day or sometimes two.

              It wasn’t that my dad was a bad boss – he’s a very nice bloke who paid his men very well. It was because they were lazy and because they were allowed to be by the State.

              But, anyway, please do keep building these straw men, because it will ensure an even bigger Tory victory in 2020.

              Here’s what you don’t get, even after what has just happened: people can see through them.

              • GR says:

                All of this. I’m not a Conservative voter, I’m a manifesto voter (in fact, I’m not a voter at all right now, since I live in Eire) but if I had been voting, I would likely have voted conservative.

                It seems to me to be terribly easy to take pity on people “branded scroungers” when you grew up “true blue”. It’s not so easy when you grew up decidedly working class, surrounded by people using and abusing welfare as though it existed solely for their personal gain, who seemed to believe that their money came from “the government” rather than the pay packets of those who went out and worked hard. When you have watched the system being “gamed” from up close, when you have lived in a community where workers are seen (by the majority) as chumps taking a pass on “free” money, that sympathy becomes harder to muster – especially when you realise the effect it has on those truly in need.

          • Richard Dale says:

            The Nazis were socialists – like Labour, the SNP, the Lib Dems, the Green Party etc.

            On the other hand the Tories did none of the things you claim to connect them with the Nazis. So in ending our wait for Godwin, you also failed to make a coherent argument.

      • Richard Dale says:

        It would be funny if it was true. It’s not.

        Policies that improve the economy disproportionately affect (not “effect”) the people who most need more money, in particular those who had no job but gain one. Policies that make it easier to employ people disproportionately affect the unemployed and those on low pay. Policies that increase the availability of cheap goods and services which make good profit to the seller disproportionately affect those that cannot afford to pay for government red tape and taxes. They cannot afford the protectionism of the left, either the exclusion from jobs or the expense of services. Policies that allow people to more easily start their own businesses disproportionately affect the poor, because they cannot afford accountants and solicitors, and can get employment from new firms.

        The rich are fine either way, and often prosper under excessive government of Labour (they can avoid taxes or just leave; they can afford to deal with regulation to start or sustain businesses). The middle class are fine with the evils of socialism, they will manage. It is the poor that need liberal economic policy and small government.

  • Richard Yetter Chappell says:

    It’s worth distinguishing moral vs economic disagreements here. As I argue here – http://www.philosophyetc.net/2014/12/questioning-political-dogmas.html – there are certainly various moral/political positions (even ones that are popularly held) that are indeed beyond the pale. But it does seem rather hasty to assume that anyone who supports the Tories must do so for morally abhorrent reasons (e.g. callous disregard for the interests of the poor, foreigners, etc.). As Person notes above, some simply think that free market policies are a more effective means to bringing about better results for all. Perhaps they’re factually mistaken, but such a bare factual mistake doesn’t necessarily imply bad values or any other kind of moral blameworthiness. So a little more argumentative support really would seem to be needed here…

    • Richard Dale says:

      “…there are certainly various moral/political positions (even ones that are popularly held) that are indeed beyond the pale”

      There are of course.

      “(even ones that are popularly held)”

      Please name a few.

  • Rob Wiblin says:

    Social and epistemic closure is not going to help.

  • Shunned says:

    I think this needs to distinguish between moral and empirical disagreements, and explain why to privilege a particular red line for shunning.

    For example, you could draw a red line based on Peter Singer’s expanding moral circle, and the inclusion of all citizens, humans, or animals as meriting equal moral concern. That would be quite in line with anti-racism and the inclusion of all ethnicities into our moral calculus, and is a question clearly within subject matter of philosophy.

    But in that case your condemnation will have a broader application.

    Most of the UK parties, including Labour, propose to continue border controls that refuse virtually all potential immigrants from low-income countries, participating in what has been plausibly described as a system of global apartheid (http://www.amazon.com/Homelands-Case-Immigration-Kindle-Single-ebook/dp/B00M4FHQLU) , differing only at the margins of how complete the restrictions are. The Green Party proposes open borders for rich countries, including the UK (http://policy.greenparty.org.uk/mg.html), but the SNP has only suggested some increase in immigration, not opening the borders.

    All of the parties propose to continue to permit animal agriculture. Only the Green Party is even nominally committed to long-term abolition, and it envisages only much more modest immediate reforms ( http://policy.greenparty.org.uk/ar.html ).

    Should anyone who voted for any party other than the Greens therefore be shunned?

    All the parties, including the Greens, propose that almost all government spending, about 45% of GDP, on residents of the UK who are rich by global standards. The Greens propose spending only 1% of GDP on foreign aid, while other parties commit less. Thus they fail to “support…the poor, the sick, the foreign and the unemployed while rewarding those in [global] society who are least in need of reward.”

    So should we shun everyone who votes? Presumably not, since this would achieve little and forgo access to many fruitful contributions from and opportunities to cooperate with people who vote. But one can ask the same questions about a narrower group, e.g. conservatives or religious people.

    For example, there are members of Giving What We Can, who donate 10% or more of their income to best help the true global poor, who have voted for all major parties. There are people with strong religious views with whom I would disagree strongly. But shunning and successfully excluding everyone with conservative views would result in the deaths of hundreds of innocent children. I think that would be terrible.

    More broadly, religious people and conservatives privately give more to charity, and to specifically foreign aid charities, than their complements. Shunning these people, e.g. refusing their donations as charities might refuse donations from known racists, would directly lead to many deaths.

    Both David Cameron and George W. Bush, while pursuing objectionable policies in many other areas, expended substantial political capital on foreign aid to the world’s poorest, with extensive contact and cooperation from academics, aid professionals, and celebrities like Bono. Had those interlocutors instead engaged in shunning, they could have lead to at least hundreds of thousands of deaths.

    Shunning all commercial and scientific interactions with those who disagree would likewise mean lower standards of living (for shunners and shunned), slower economic growth, slower technological progress, and large humanitarian consequences. Moreover, a shift from cooperative to antagonistic equilibria may provoke backlash. By and large in survey research the public underestimates the degree of ideological distance between itself and areas such as academia, and there is substantial public respect for science as a neutral source of truth which can receive bipartisan support. Perceptions of hostile partisanship and ideological discrimination can further weaken that trust and the security of public support (and finding) for research. Legitimation of ideological discrimination may also empower similar discrimination in business and the military where conservatives of one kind or another are in the majority.

    It is possible that an easy victory where shunning by academics leads to the rapid conversion of the opposition would greatly outweigh such costs, rather than continued separated polarization, but that is a complex empirical question of political science, strategy, economics, psychology. Philosophy alone seems inadequate to justify such a specific practice of shunning (while letting off others for endorsing harms of similar magnitude), though it might support a broad deontological shunning.

    The role of empirical social science relative to philosophy also comes up with respect to the particulars of selecting small proportional adjustments to the scope of the welfare state and state ownership of industry as grounds for shunning. For example, it is clearly possible to have a public sector and effective tax rates that are too large for aggregate welfare, as well as ones that are too small. Tens of millions starved to death in China and the Soviet Union due to high effective tax rates on farmers in collectivized agriculture, and billions were kept in poverty in China and India under communism and socialism respectively. Conversely, market reforms in those two countries have contributed a large share of the poverty reduction of the last century (with most of the rest going to technological improvements from science and business).

    Debates in rich countries are far from the extremes of Maoist China or the license raj in India, but they concern small proportional changes in a background context of social spending and redistribution that makes up a large share of a very high per capita GDP, with social safety nets that are very large. Whether spending is 11,000 pounds per British resident or 12,000 pounds per British resident, state services for British citizens will be extensive. At that margin the economics are not so obviously in favour of more or less aggregate spending with the current mix, although particular sorts can be identified as clearly too high or too low.

    Similarly, in the context of government funding, the difference between giving recipients cash or vouchers to use in the market, as with food or automobiles, and providing both the funds and a state-owned enterprise to produce the product, is fairly marginal. In the private charitable context, GiveDirectly is seen as having an advantage in allowing recipients among the global poor flexibility in the use of the redistributed resources. Many developed countries allow recipients of government support to purchase from private providers in industries where Britain does not and vice versa, sometimes with negative results and sometimes with positive ones. I would not want to adopt a principle of shunning that would frequently be put me in conflict with the expertise of economics.

    “(I’m generalising: political views exist on a spectrum, and some moderate conservatives are open to debate.)”

    It also seems worth noting in that vein that while higher education and cognitive ability are both correlated with more progressive views on social issues and ‘moral circle’ issues (atheism, contraception, anti-racism, marriage equality, etc) with respect to economic issues they are associated with many more traditionally political ‘right’ views, e.g. on state vs private administration of industry, price controls, industrial policy, minimum wages, trade. This also puts them more in line with economists (who develop these views through their training, and remain overwhelming liberal on social and cosmopolitanism issues).

    The 1-dimensional spectrum analogy fails here, as the 2D structure (social and economic issues) is crucial:

    http://journals.cambridge.org/images/fileUpload/documents/Duarte-Haidt_BBS-D-14-00108_preprint.pdf

    “the observed relationship between intelligence and conservatism largely depends
    on how conservatism is operationalized. Social conservatism correlates with lower cognitive
    ability test scores, but economic conservatism correlates with higher scores (Iyer, Koleva,
    Graham, Ditto, & Haidt, 2012; Kemmelmeier 2008). Similarly, Feldman and Johnston (2014)
    find in multiple nationally representative samples that social conservatism negatively predicted
    educational attainment, whereas economic conservatism positively predicted educational
    attainment. Together, these results likely explain why both Heaven et al. (2011) and Hodson and
    Busseri (2012) found a negative correlation between IQ and conservatism—because
    “conservatism” was operationalized as Right-Wing Authoritarianism, which is more strongly
    related to social than economic conservatism (van Hiel et al., 2004). In fact, Carl (2014) found
    that Republicans have higher mean verbal intelligence (up to 5.48 IQ points equivalent, when
    covariates are excluded), and this effect is driven by economic conservatism (which, as a
    European, he called economic liberalism, because of its emphasis on free markets). Carl suggests
    that libertarian Republicans overpower the negative correlation between social conservatism and
    verbal intelligence, to yield the aggregate mean advantage for Republicans. Moreover, the largest
    political effect in Kemmelmeier’s (2008) study was the positive correlation between antiregulation
    views and SAT-V scores, where β = .117, p < .001

  • Daniel Burs says:

    And if I were a student known to have “Conservative” or “conservative” views, why would I believe that I could trust you to grade me fairly now?

  • Philosophy student says:

    This post confuses and concerns me. I’m someone who hasn’t voted Conservative, but certainly considered it, and have been made to feel embarrassed for doing so by noting the attitude most philosophers take to conservative views: people who pride themselves on producing cogent arguments. Instead I’ve seen and heard comments to the effect that Tory voters (and people who consider voting Tory) are immoral and ignorant. I’ve heard patently false assertions that the Tories want to dismantle the NHS (however much you’d like to believe it, that isn’t true; we’ve had 40 years plus Tory government since the War and it is still here, and the Conservatives are committed to it still being around).

    Essentially I see in this article that the author disagrees with Tory policies and principles. Fair enough. But the claim that Tory views have the moral standing of racist or sexist ones confuses me. Let me stress this: I am not a Conservative, I disagree with much of what they stand for. Here are some things I disagree with: euroscepticism, rampant capitalism, austerity. Do I think these stances are worthy of moral rebuke to the same extent as racism? No. And frankly I think it is simply provocative rhetoric to say otherwise.

    Here’s why: these positions, though I disagree, have good arguments in their favour. Sexist and racist ones are prejudiced, they do not have good (any?) arguments in their favour. I can be a eurosceptic because I believe that democracy works best when its devolved to smaller communities. I can believe in free market economics because I believe it’s the best way to generate wealth and that this is best for the technological advancements that improve everyone’s quality of life. I can believe in austerity not only because I think it’s economically responsible but also because it means reducing the state and like a good honest LIBERAL I believe the state needs scaling back. These are not repugnant views. They are views that have much in their favour.

    There is much that is wrong with the Tories. I would perhaps understand this article more if it targeted Tory policy-makers who are responsible for some very suspect policies indeed. But this is targeted at voters. I would not call a Labour voter immoral because the party stood for an illegal war that devastated the lives of millions. Or for a party that facilitated an unregulated banking industry that heightened the impact of a crisis that reduced thousands of this country to poverty. I am not unreasonable. I wouldn’t even characterise Labour as an entire party as immoral because of those things. I realise there were individuals (in particular circumstances) who are responsible beyond an organisation which has a rich history that allies itself with certain values.

    My values may not be conservative. But the values that do guide some of the broad brush strokes of the Tory agenda are not immoral either. They too have a rich tradition influenced by traditional conservatives like Burke, One-Nationists like Disraeli, and Thatcher’s neo-liberalism which took much from classical liberal theory. None of these influences are anything like racism or homophobia. They are political narratives that deserve reasoned attention. And though many voters probably do hold some repugnant views and perhaps MPs as well, the same is true of all parties and I do not think it is responsible or well-reasoned to paint all Tories, and an amalgamation of political and philosophical traditions as abhorrent.

    • JR says:

      “Essentially I see in this article that the author disagrees with Tory policies and principles. Fair enough. But the claim that Tory views have the moral standing of racist or sexist ones confuses me. Let me stress this: I am not a Conservative, I disagree with much of what they stand for. Here are some things I disagree with: euroscepticism, rampant capitalism, austerity. Do I think these stances are worthy of moral rebuke to the same extent as racism? No. And frankly I think it is simply provocative rhetoric to say otherwise.

      Here’s why: these positions, though I disagree, have good arguments in their favour. Sexist and racist ones are prejudiced, they do not have good (any?) arguments in their favour. I can be a eurosceptic because I believe that democracy works best when its devolved to smaller communities. I can believe in free market economics because I believe it’s the best way to generate wealth and that this is best for the technological advancements that improve everyone’s quality of life. I can believe in austerity not only because I think it’s economically responsible but also because it means reducing the state and like a good honest LIBERAL I believe the state needs scaling back. These are not repugnant views. They are views that have much in their favour.”

      I don’t agree with the title post, namely, that one’s political views are rationally tractable. Most political disagreements are a function of emotional dispositions realised in particular historical and linguistic contexts. I’m not sure how valorising power and hierarchy – that which is quintessential to conservatives – can be morally ‘wrong’.

      That said, I personally find Conservatism to be as objectionable as homophobia or sexism. Probably for two main reasons: (a) that I don’t think the concept of ‘desert’ which implicitly or explicitly underwrites much Conservatism, that is, that one ought to accrue benefits or disadvantages relative to the market value of one’s actions, is internally coherent. Firstly, one does not have control over most of the biological and social determinants of that potential market value, and thus the individual hardly seems entitled to reward or disadvantage for as much. X does Y ergo is entitled to Z simply falters when it is not X that is doing the work for Y. That is my premise for racial inequality inasmuch it is material inequality. Also, on that same distributive level, market value clearly is not commensurate with even that concept of desert, and has so many egregiously distorting characteristics; (b) it is the archetypical instance of a particular configuration of power historically reproducing itself: the powerful using their relative power to entrench that power. As was the case throughout the history of slavery, patriarchy, imperialism, and so on and so forth.

      • Jonathan MS Pearce says:

        This is the most sensible comment on this thread. I think more needs to be done to illustrate and emphasise some of the fundamental philosophy which undergirds the many political views held. In short, people need to do more philosophy to understand their own politics, or to drive them on to more rational politics.

  • Shunning says:

    “Another reason is that the voice of the Murdoch-owned, pro-Tory press is much louder than the voice of reason. Sure, social media can be a powerful and unregulated force for good, and we can all share our views through Facebook and Twitter—but, given that people tend to follow those who roughly share their views, we’re preaching to the converted. My Facebook feed today is full of posts and debates by compassionate, liberal people. The rest of the country isn’t.”

    Isn’t that in direct contradiction to the argument of the post?

  • Dave Frame says:

    Much as I like and respect most of Rebecca’s work, this is the single worst post I have seen on this blog. Your post diminishes you.

    (1) As a liberal I think you’re completely entitled to friend/defriend whoever you like on facebook, via whatever bizarre or bigoted algorithm you choose. Entirely your call. Don’t like Zoroastrians, Zambians, Libertarians, or dog fanciers? None of my business.

    (2) As an academic, though, you have a responsibility to your community. You’re treating a large number of them with contempt, and arguing against tolerance, respect and diversity. These are exactly the virtues that arguments against homophobia, racism and sexism turn on.

    (3) In matters of policy, reasonable minds may differ. Fiscal discipline has real benefits to countries over the long-term, and austerity now may (or may not) lead to improvements in overall welfare in the future. The best way to lift overall living standards over time is very probably different from the best way to ensure equity today. Free trade deals, ceteris paribus, should lead to mutual gains and closer interdependence, which increases the costs of conflict. (There are open questions about the ceteris paribus bit.) None of these issues is open and closed; and the Conservative party’s position is not “abhorrent” on any of these. You may disagree with it, but many people who know at least as much about policy as you do (senior civil servants, policy experts, etc) find them at least worth contemplating. To claim that supporting the Conservatives is abhorrent is ignorant and unjustified, as well as disrespectful and intolerant.

  • Neil Levy says:

    There is lots and lots of evidence that everything proposition you entertain (where “to entertain a proposition” is simply to engage in sufficient cognitive processing to understand its content) has an effect on your overall belief structure. The only way effectively to combat this is to engage in really deep processing, which is not simply thinking about it for a while, but devoting many many hours to it, reading deeply, and so on. So there are good grounds for avoiding views you have good antecedent grounds for rejecting unless you have time and expertise for proper engagement. No one has time and expertise for proper engagement on a broad range of topics, so either you specialise or resign yourself to mental contamination.

    Though I haven’t seen direct data to support this (I am aware of indirect data, on group level cognitive dissonance and the effects of identification on cognition) I would strongly suspect that to the extent you are engaged in friendly exchange with someone, the effects of mental contamination are stronger. So I think I’m going to be the lone dissenting voice from the chorus of condemnation: you did the right thing. Unfortunately, most people accept the Millian view about the marketplace of ideas, which simply has false psychological assumptions about debate.

    • Shunning says:

      Neil,

      a) Isn’t the basic argument symmetric? Subconscious influence will go both ways…
      b) If this is blocked by deep processing and good reasons, then your and your interlocutors’ views will be contaminated least when they are more reasonably held, and most when they less reasonably held. This will favor the truth.

      The sum of neutral and truth-favoring effects seems positive.

      • Neil Levy says:

        Absolutely its symmetric. Good reasons has nothing to do with it; depth of processing has everything to do with it, and that requires time. Lots and lots of time. Nothing new here:

        A little learning is a dangerous thing;
        Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring.

        • Robert Wiblin says:

          If you think political views are formed more by length of exposure than strength of argument, how can you be confident left-wing views are correct? They could just be Rebecca’s views due to familiarity.

  • Shunned says:

    [Duplicate comment, removed links to clear the spam filter]

    I think this needs to distinguish between moral and empirical disagreements, and explain why to privilege a particular red line for shunning.

    For example, you could draw a red line based on Peter Singer’s expanding moral circle, and the inclusion of all citizens, humans, or animals as meriting equal moral concern. That would be quite in line with anti-racism and the inclusion of all ethnicities into our moral calculus, and is a question clearly within subject matter of philosophy.

    But in that case your condemnation will have a broader application.

    Most of the UK parties, including Labour, propose to continue border controls that refuse virtually all potential immigrants from low-income countries, participating in what has been plausibly described as a system of global apartheid (see the book Homelands by Stephan Faris), differing only at the margins of how complete the restrictions are. The Green Party proposes open borders for rich countries, including the UK, but the SNP has only suggested some increase in immigration, not opening the borders.

    All of the parties propose to continue to permit animal agriculture. Only the Green Party is even nominally committed to long-term abolition, and it envisages only much more modest immediate reforms.

    Should anyone who voted for any party other than the Greens therefore be shunned?

    All the parties, including the Greens, propose that almost all government spending, about 45% of GDP, on residents of the UK who are rich by global standards. The Greens propose spending only 1% of GDP on foreign aid, while other parties commit less. Thus they fail to “support…the poor, the sick, the foreign and the unemployed while rewarding those in [global] society who are least in need of reward.”

    So should we shun everyone who votes? Presumably not, since this would achieve little and forgo access to many fruitful contributions from and opportunities to cooperate with people who vote. But one can ask the same questions about a narrower group, e.g. conservatives or religious people.

    For example, there are members of Giving What We Can, who donate 10% or more of their income to best help the true global poor, who have voted for all major parties. There are people with strong religious views with whom I would disagree strongly. But shunning and successfully excluding everyone with conservative views would result in the deaths of hundreds of innocent children. I think that would be terrible.

    More broadly, religious people and conservatives privately give more to charity, and to specifically foreign aid charities, than their complements. Shunning these people, e.g. refusing their donations as charities might refuse donations from known racists, would directly lead to many deaths.

    Both David Cameron and George W. Bush, while pursuing objectionable policies in many other areas, expended substantial political capital on foreign aid to the world’s poorest, with extensive contact and cooperation from academics, aid professionals, and celebrities like Bono. Had those interlocutors instead engaged in shunning, they could have lead to at least hundreds of thousands of deaths.

    Shunning all commercial and scientific interactions with those who disagree would likewise mean lower standards of living (for shunners and shunned), slower economic growth, slower technological progress, and large humanitarian consequences. Moreover, a shift from cooperative to antagonistic equilibria may provoke backlash. By and large in survey research the public underestimates the degree of ideological distance between itself and areas such as academia, and there is substantial public respect for science as a neutral source of truth which can receive bipartisan support. Perceptions of hostile partisanship and ideological discrimination can further weaken that trust and the security of public support (and finding) for research. Legitimation of ideological discrimination may also empower similar discrimination in business and the military where conservatives of one kind or another are in the majority.

    It is possible that an easy victory where shunning by academics leads to the rapid conversion of the opposition would greatly outweigh such costs, rather than continued separated polarization, but that is a complex empirical question of political science, strategy, economics, psychology. Philosophy alone seems inadequate to justify such a specific practice of shunning (while letting off others for endorsing harms of similar magnitude), though it might support a broad deontological shunning.

    The role of empirical social science relative to philosophy also comes up with respect to the particulars of selecting small proportional adjustments to the scope of the welfare state and state ownership of industry as grounds for shunning. For example, it is clearly possible to have a public sector and effective tax rates that are too large for aggregate welfare, as well as ones that are too small. Tens of millions starved to death in China and the Soviet Union due to high effective tax rates on farmers in collectivized agriculture, and billions were kept in poverty in China and India under communism and socialism respectively. Conversely, market reforms in those two countries have contributed a large share of the poverty reduction of the last century (with most of the rest going to technological improvements from science and business).

    Debates in rich countries are far from the extremes of Maoist China or the license raj in India, but they concern small proportional changes in a background context of social spending and redistribution that makes up a large share of a very high per capita GDP, with social safety nets that are very large. Whether spending is 11,000 pounds per British resident or 12,000 pounds per British resident, state services for British citizens will be extensive. At that margin the economics are not so obviously in favour of more or less aggregate spending with the current mix, although particular sorts can be identified as clearly too high or too low.

    Similarly, in the context of government funding, the difference between giving recipients cash or vouchers to use in the market, as with food or automobiles, and providing both the funds and a state-owned enterprise to produce the product, is fairly marginal. In the private charitable context, GiveDirectly is seen as having an advantage in allowing recipients among the global poor flexibility in the use of the redistributed resources. Many developed countries allow recipients of government support to purchase from private providers in industries where Britain does not and vice versa, sometimes with negative results and sometimes with positive ones. I would not want to adopt a principle of shunning that would frequently be put me in conflict with the expertise of economics.

    “(I’m generalising: political views exist on a spectrum, and some moderate conservatives are open to debate.)”

    It also seems worth noting in that vein that while higher education and cognitive ability are both correlated with more progressive views on social issues and ‘moral circle’ issues (atheism, contraception, anti-racism, marriage equality, etc) with respect to economic issues they are associated with many more traditionally political ‘right’ views, e.g. on state vs private administration of industry, price controls, industrial policy, minimum wages, trade. This also puts them more in line with economists (who develop these views through their training, and remain overwhelming liberal on social and cosmopolitanism issues).

    The 1-dimensional spectrum analogy fails here, as the 2D structure (social and economic issues) is crucial (Duarte et al., 2014):

    “the observed relationship between intelligence and conservatism largely depends
    on how conservatism is operationalized. Social conservatism correlates with lower cognitive
    ability test scores, but economic conservatism correlates with higher scores (Iyer, Koleva,
    Graham, Ditto, & Haidt, 2012; Kemmelmeier 2008). Similarly, Feldman and Johnston (2014)
    find in multiple nationally representative samples that social conservatism negatively predicted
    educational attainment, whereas economic conservatism positively predicted educational
    attainment. Together, these results likely explain why both Heaven et al. (2011) and Hodson and
    Busseri (2012) found a negative correlation between IQ and conservatism—because
    “conservatism” was operationalized as Right-Wing Authoritarianism, which is more strongly
    related to social than economic conservatism (van Hiel et al., 2004). In fact, Carl (2014) found
    that Republicans have higher mean verbal intelligence (up to 5.48 IQ points equivalent, when
    covariates are excluded), and this effect is driven by economic conservatism (which, as a
    European, he called economic liberalism, because of its emphasis on free markets). Carl suggests
    that libertarian Republicans overpower the negative correlation between social conservatism and
    verbal intelligence, to yield the aggregate mean advantage for Republicans. Moreover, the largest
    political effect in Kemmelmeier’s (2008) study was the positive correlation between antiregulation
    views and SAT-V scores, where β = .117, p < .001

  • Gareth Jones says:

    Yet further evidence to demonstrate just how detached and culturally elitist academia has become.

    So, just to clarify:

    1. You are justifying intolerant behaviours (‘unfriending’ people) and denouncing contrary viewpoints because you are a tolerant person?

    2. You question why the 11 million people who voted Tory, and the 4 million people who voted UKIP, don’t speak or debate politics. Could it have something to do with the cultural elitism on display here? To express their opinion leads to the implication they should be subjected to social re-engineering or behavioural modification. That’s the problem with modern progressivism – it’s culturally elitist. It’s anti-tabloid, it’s ruthlessly pro-EU and multiculturalism, it’s anti-English, it holds the working classes in contempt, and a lot more besides.

    Any contrary view on any of aforementioned topics like multiculturalism, an ism which has been politicised beyond all comprehension over the last three decades but is seemingly too sensitive to be criticised within political spheres, is met by the exploitation, on the part of progressives, of any number of social narratives (see racism, xenophobia, and every other method of exploitation to make people conform to groupthink of the sort you seemingly engage in). If they fail to conform, then they must face social exile.

    Crazy.

    • Matt Sharp says:

      I’m not sure you should it’s wise to brand academia as ‘detached and culturally elitist’ on this basis of this post, given that I would imagine that many academics within the world of philosophy no doubt think this is a pretty stupid and inappropriate post. But even if all philosophers did somehow agree with it, that would still leave the rest of non-philosophy academia, such as the biological and physical sciences, psychology, economics, engineering, history etc..!

      I’m struggling to see why it was posted on the Practical Ethics blog at all. The blog is often used to post provocative claims and ideas, in order to draw attention to factors that people may have never considered. But this is just…nothing, other than a fairly empty rant.

      • Gareth Jones says:

        Hi Matt,

        I don’t make that claim on the basis of this post (I also used the words ‘yet further evidence’).

        I make that claim on the basis that only 11% of University staff supports the Conservatives while 46% supports Labour and 22% supports the Greens (as far as the latter goes, that’s well above the national popular vote). http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/news/almost-half-of-sector-to-back-labour-the-election-poll-suggests/2019944.article

        I make that claim on the basis of the ‘Stepford Students’ post on the Spectator, a truly insightful post – and one of the most popular and linked to blog posts of last year in political circles (http://www.spectator.co.uk/features/9376232/free-speech-is-so-last-century-todays-students-want-the-right-to-be-comfortable/) – highlighting a systemic bias towards progessive cultural elitism and modern progressive’s complete disdain for free speech, when it happens to express a contrary viewpoint. In the last year, I’ve lost track of the number of University debates which have been banned or blocked by progressives. As far as many progressives within University circles are concerned, free speech is only an entitlement to be advocated in favour of when they happen to agree with it (and the poster wonders why conservative voters don’t want to debate?).

        Douglas Carswell, a man I don’t have much time for, was blocked from debating at the UEA because it was deemed his views may upset student’s delicate sensibilities. The NUS Women’s Conference proposed ‘jazz hands’ rather than clapping at conference, for fear clapping may provoke anxiety – they also stipulated gay men should ‘stop co-opting black female culture.’ Or the debate involving Tim Stanley at this very University – he was blocked from speaking about abortion by a gang of hundreds of gender feminists – not equity feminists – because he lacked a uterus. Or what about the University of Dundee banning the society for the protection of unborn children on the same grounds? What about gender feminists getting their way on University campuses when they ban ‘blurred lines’ – a no. 1 single in the UK – and the Sun newspaper – the nation’s most popular tabloid – from campuses?

        It really does go on and on – I could cite hundreds of examples over the past year. It spells out, very clearly, that UK university campuses are infested by progressive groupthink. It’s all cultural elitism and a prevailing sense of moral superiority. To make a claim which infringes the moral superiority of the left it to be subjected to vitriol, a tirade of abuse, or calls for the infringement of your fundamental rights, with the implication you should undergo some form of behavioural modification.

        I think what I find galling is the inability on Rebecca’s part to engage in critical analysis. She will exploit social narratives like racism, sexism, misogyny, etc., and perhaps she’s one of the growing list of supporters of notions like ‘white privilege’ or ‘male privilege’, see this post on the Independent which states ‘white men should never hold elected positions in British Universities again’ (https://archive.is/uGal8), or the UCL offering a degree programme in ‘white power’ (http://www.dtmh.ucl.ac.uk/ma-critical-white-studies/). Needless to say, this is merely the reversal of age-old prejudices – the ‘racism’ narrative is falling short these days and invariably, can’t be exploited as successfully as in past years – so they find another avenue.

        She further can’t analyse the sheer mass of racism, xenophobia, sexism and child molestation within the Labour, and other ‘progressive’, parties.

        The Labour Party held a gender segregated rally just the other day, largely to appeal to Muslim voters – Harriet Harman proclaimed it would be rude to interfere with this.
        Jack Dromey, Labour MP, called a Royal Mail worker a ‘pikey.’
        Diane Abbott, Labour MP, stated ‘white people love to play divide and rule.’
        A Labour candidate up North proclaimed ‘Israel is evil’, Hitler was a ‘Zionist God’ and Islamic State should attack Israel.
        Another Labour councillor up North is the former head of a neo-Nazi movement.
        There are two Labour councillors in Heywood who are former BNP members.
        8 Labour councillors resigned from Harrow council under accusations of racism.
        A Labour candidate sent 33 homophobic text messages to his opponent after losing to him at the last election.

        It just goes on and on and on and on. There’s a mass of it. All in all, I could list 291 examples of the aforementioned crimes occurring since January 1st of this year.

        However, owing to the fact it’s not publicised on the BBC – an organisation which, according to a former Director General, and Andrew Marr, and a host of former BBC employees, has a ‘deep, liberal bias’, and has received thousands of complaints about its seeming bias by omission and progressive bias over the last decade – with anything like as much veracity as other parties receive, particularly UKIP, the synthetic narrative remains in place.

        I think what particularly gets me, however, is that in her cultural elitism, she fails to realise just how much damage exploiting racism narratives and using them against people in the most synthetic manner possible, has done to society. To hammer in this point, I’d refer you to the numerous constituencies in the UK – particularly Rotherham – where thousands of children, the most vulnerable people in our society, have been sexually molested over decades while public officials stood with no inclination to bring the perpetrators to justice, through a fear they may be accused of synthetic racism.

        The exploitative narratives on display here are nauseating.

        Thanks,

        Gareth

        • Gemma Rees says:

          That was a great post, Gareth. Thank you.

          What you said here…

          “You question why the 11 million people who voted Tory, and the 4 million people who voted UKIP, don’t speak or debate politics. Could it have something to do with the cultural elitism on display here? To express their opinion leads to the implication they should be subjected to social re-engineering or behavioural modification.”

          is certainly true for me, though I didn’t vote this time (because I don’t currently live in the UK). I err more toward classic liberal or libertarian (small L), so I don’t really ‘fit’ well, politically, with Labour or Conservative as a general rule. Come election time, it’s a decision based on manifesto rather than party loyalty (as I believe it should be). That said, if there’s a debate going on in some obscure corner of the internet, or on social media, I am FAR more likely to join in with someone who doesn’t make themselves instantly recognisable as a progressive; those “debates” descend far too quickly into ad hominem and identity politics, and if we’re supposed to be discussing the pros and cons of (eg.) austerity measures within the welfare system, I don’t want to have to wade through accusations of being “as bad as bigots” every time I say something said progressive finds even slightly disagreeable. I’ve heard “and I bet you also believe that…” too many times, now, and as Rebecca (unintentionally?) pointed out, these progressives are utterly convinced that they’re right in the most stubborn way possible – the only aim in the debate that I can see from their perspective is convert-or-shame. It’s not so much politics as ideology, and I’m not masochist enough for it any more.

          • Gareth Jones says:

            Hi Gemma,

            I can certainly empathise with your point about debating with progressives and you’re right, it’s all entrenched ideology – much like the incessant banning culture prevailing across student unions up and down the UK, it resembles more 1960’s social conservatism – i.e., the calls for the banning of dungeons and dragons or monty python films for being ‘too sexually provocative’ – than ‘progressive’ thinking. ‘Shaming’ is the primary tactic they utilise to disarm you, to try and make your conform to their subjective version of morality and adopt the progressive model of groupthink.

            I think a large part of the problem orientates around identity. A large portion of the electorate has been taught to think within the confines of identity, not policy. ‘It’s who you are, or who I’m taught to perceive you to be, not what you say, that’s important.’

            This is personified by the debates around Scottish independence, where even the Scottish Government has, in March 2015, released figures which point to a very significant deficit for the Scottish economy, and the IFS has set the deficit at £7.6 billion owing to the fall in oil price (from $100 to $60) and reduced output. The deficit is predicted to rise to £20 billion by 2020 (which is roughly 8% of GDP and would require huge tax increases, or reductions in public spending, were Scotland independent) however, as far as the identity ideologues – the nationalists – are concerned, it’s all irrelevant. As a Scot I can empathise with their sentiment, however I can’t support economic suicide on the pretext of identity. Full fiscal autonomy is the poison chalice the UK has to offer Scotland to make the identity ideologues back off – it will be the demise of Scotland.

            I think there’s a defining book which needs to be written – ‘the narrative.’ It would be based around the intensely manipulative nature of modern narrative-driven identity ideologues who exploit, with the utmost temerity, social narratives like ‘racism’, ‘rape culture’, ‘misogyny’, ‘war on women’, ‘xenophobia’, etc., for their own political gain (I would never deny these attitudes or issues exist, of course they do, however they are also exploited on a systemic scale to make people conform to a narrative which is aiding movement towards the narrowly defined and self-interested political end goals of the few). Society has been divided up into component chunks largely by a series of isms and narratives, notably gender feminism – NOT equity feminism – and multiculturalism, but also subsets of these isms, notably ‘white privilege’, ‘male privilege’, ‘the bankers’, ‘the female vote’ (do all women vote alike?), ‘the black community’ (do all black people think alike?) etc., many of which, like the increasingly popular notion of ‘white privilege’, are merely the reversal of age-old prejudices.

            It only takes a simple reversal to see through it. A journalist at the Telegraph declared Jeremy Clarkson’s wife to be his dog handler, yesterday the Guardian stated ‘there are still too many white men in Parliament’, every Jessica Valenti article on the Guardian invokes ‘white men’ in pejorative context, the BBC will deride a male-only golf club for days on end yet fail to denounce the plethora of women-only networking groups, gyms, taxi firms, political party conferences, business conferences, employee awards, University grants, etc. (none of which ever gets derided as ‘sexist’), etc. Even around sexual objectification the narrative has been set – the objectification of women on Page 3 is, according to the NoMorePage3 campaign (and the BBC), ‘degrading and humiliating.’

            However, this narrative never extends to the mass of sexual objectification by women against men, like the LuLu app, an app downloaded by 3 million women to rate men on a scale of 1-10 based on their sexual performance in bed, or ‘hot guys reading’, an instagram page subscribed to by hundreds of thousands of women to rate and objectify pictures taken of unsuspecting men on the subway (of course, prior to this, the BBC spent three days pouring over a Facebook page set-up by a man who took pictures of women eating on the tube, without their permission; with regards to ‘hot guys reading’, not only is it acceptable it is, according to the Huffington Post – a website which derided the male Facebook page – ‘the best instragram page ever.’).

            I know sexual objectification is very low down the list of state priorities, as is male and female spaces, however I hope you understand these are merely examples or symptoms of the disease. The list is endless.

            It’s ironic, considering all the efforts the identity ideologues go to in order to convince us these features of our identity – sexuality, gender, ethnicity, etc. – are entirely arbitrary (a statement most would agree with), while it’s all they can do to emphasise them and invoke them when it comes to campaigning for votes (Hariett Harman and her pink bus? What about ‘the women won the debates’, etc.). It’s basic divide and rule. Pit one side of the population off against the other and pick them off. Residents vs. migrants, men vs. women, rich vs. poor, old vs. young, Christians vs. all other religions, etc. (I’m agnostic, for what it’s worth).

            The vast majority of apathy stirred up in the political process I put down to this incessant divide and rule (alongside a desire for electoral reform, I don’t believe AV vs. FPTP was a valid choice in 2011), and most, near all, of it is manufactured by left-wing politics. Perhaps what’s most concerning is the majority of ‘narrative control’ espoused by progressives emanated from the gender feminist movement of the 60’s – ‘the personal is political.’ Even Betty Friedan, the Mother of the modern feminist movement, was a communist, and that’s a snippet from history which is very rarely discussed (that said, she also had a great deal to say about the direction of the National Organisation for Women, back in the 1960’s, when she declared it needed to stave away from ‘man-hating sex/class warfare’).

            n.b. please excuse the utter lack of structure throughout the above rant.

            Thanks,

            Gareth

            • Gemma Rees says:

              Gareth,

              I’m responding just to thank you for the time you took to respond. I’d go on, but you’re preaching to the choir on almost every point. If we met in a pub we’d probably argue only over which single malt was better – but I’m Welsh, so obviously it’s Penderyn.

              Take care.

        • JR says:

          Hi Gareth,

          As I understand it, you argue that academia is ‘detached and culturally elite’ because (A) appreciably more university staff self-affiliate with nominally left-wing than right-wing electoral parties; (B) a minority of students have increasingly denied a platform to certain speakers; (C) a number of Students Unions have terminated the sale of the Sun and the playing of ‘blurred lines’.

          A seems to presuppose the same partisanship that you criticise in this post, or at least that a political affiliation is itself a sufficient condition of detachment and cultural elitism. B concerns a relatively marginal subculture among university student bodies, achieving neither widespread nor especial *academic* currency. That is not to deny its influence, but I doubt you would find much support for as wide a denial of platform as is practiced among the student body within academia. Although inevitably, people tend to highlight the more questionable cases. I actually mostly agree with C, and believe that most arguments from freedom of speech to the contrary are seriously confused. In any case, it is a rhetorical flourish, and certainly moves ahead of your reasons to claim that A, B or C signal ‘detachment and cultural elitism’. Maybe you could elaborate?

        • Charles Crawford says:

          I think that this magnificent contribution says all that needs to be said on the subject.

        • Tim Wilkinson says:

          “I’d refer you to the numerous constituencies in the UK – particularly Rotherham – where thousands of children, the most vulnerable people in our society, have been sexually molested over decades while public officials stood with no inclination to bring the perpetrators to justice, through a fear they may be accused of synthetic racism.’

          No, that’s a fabricated political narrative. I suspect you’re in the habit of relying on those – the print media do after all churn them out daily for the specific purpose of being uncritically adopted to bolster conservative views. The victim narrative you invoke is a favourite.

          • Gareth Jones says:

            Have you even read the report produced by Professor Jay, Tim? The subtext in your comment is basically: ‘wow, look at the ignorance on display here – I’m going to undermine him as a person without saying anything to disprove any of the points he’s put forward and you’re going to believe it, RIGHT GUYS?’

            For your benefit, here’s a direct quote from Professor Jay:

            “By far the majority of perpetrators were described as ‘Asian’ by victims, yet throughout the entire period, councillors did not engage directly with the Pakistani-heritage community to discuss how best they could jointly address the issue. Some councillors seemed to think it was a one-off problem, which they hoped would go away. Several staff described their nervousness about identifying the ethnic origins of perpetrators for fear of being thought racist; others remembered clear direction from their managers not to do so.”

            There are many, many more like it, all throughout the report. Or is she ‘fabricating a narrative’, too?

      • Gareth Jones says:

        *This is a duplicate comment. I removed links to get past the spam filter.*

        Hi Matt,

        I don’t make that claim on the basis of this post (I also used the words ‘yet further evidence’).

        I make that claim on the basis that only 11% of University staff supports the Conservatives while 46% supports Labour and 22% supports the Greens (as far as the latter goes, that’s well above the national popular vote). (timeshighereducation.co.uk/news/almost-half-of-sector-to-back-labour-the-election-poll-suggests/2019944.article)

        I make that claim on the basis of the ‘Stepford Students’ post on the Spectator, a truly insightful post – and one of the most popular and linked to blog posts of last year in political circles (spectator.co.uk/features/9376232/free-speech-is-so-last-century-todays-students-want-the-right-to-be-comfortable/) – highlighting a systemic bias towards progessive cultural elitism and modern progressive’s complete disdain for free speech, when it happens to express a contrary viewpoint. In the last year, I’ve lost track of the number of University debates which have been banned or blocked by progressives. As far as many progressives within University circles are concerned, free speech is only an entitlement to be advocated in favour of when they happen to agree with it (and the poster wonders why conservative voters don’t want to debate?).

        Douglas Carswell, a man I don’t have much time for, was blocked from debating at the UEA because it was deemed his views may upset student’s delicate sensibilities. The NUS Women’s Conference proposed ‘jazz hands’ rather than clapping at conference, for fear clapping may provoke anxiety – they also stipulated gay men should ‘stop co-opting black female culture.’ Or the debate involving Tim Stanley at this very University – he was blocked from speaking about abortion by a gang of hundreds of gender feminists – not equity feminists – because he lacked a uterus. Or what about the University of Dundee banning the society for the protection of unborn children on the same grounds? What about gender feminists getting their way on University campuses when they ban ‘blurred lines’ – a no. 1 single in the UK – and the Sun newspaper – the nation’s most popular tabloid – from campuses?

        It really does go on and on – I could cite hundreds of examples over the past year. It spells out, very clearly, that UK university campuses are infested by progressive groupthink. It’s all cultural elitism and a prevailing sense of moral superiority. To make a claim which infringes the moral superiority of the left it to be subjected to vitriol, a tirade of abuse, or calls for the infringement of your fundamental rights, with the implication you should undergo some form of behavioural modification.

        I think what I find galling is the inability on Rebecca’s part to engage in critical analysis. She will exploit social narratives like racism, sexism, misogyny, etc., and perhaps she’s one of the growing list of supporters of notions like ‘white privilege’ or ‘male privilege’, see this post on the Independent which states ‘white men should never hold elected positions in British Universities again’ (archive.is/uGal8), or the UCL offering a degree programme in ‘white power’ (dtmh.ucl.ac.uk/ma-critical-white-studies). Needless to say, this is merely the reversal of age-old prejudices – the ‘racism’ narrative is falling short these days and invariably, can’t be exploited as successfully as in past years – so they find another avenue.

        She further can’t analyse the sheer mass of racism, xenophobia, sexism and child molestation within the Labour, and other ‘progressive’, parties.

        The Labour Party held a gender segregated rally just the other day, largely to appeal to Muslim voters – Harriet Harman proclaimed it would be rude to interfere with this.
        Jack Dromey, Labour MP, called a Royal Mail worker a ‘pikey.’
        Diane Abbott, Labour MP, stated ‘white people love to play divide and rule.’
        A Labour candidate up North proclaimed ‘Israel is evil’, Hitler was a ‘Zionist God’ and Islamic State should attack Israel.
        Another Labour councillor up North is the former head of a neo-Nazi movement.
        There are two Labour councillors in Heywood who are former BNP members.
        8 Labour councillors resigned from Harrow council under accusations of racism.
        A Labour candidate sent 33 homophobic text messages to his opponent after losing to him at the last election.

        It just goes on and on and on and on. There’s a mass of it. All in all, I could list 291 examples of the aforementioned crimes occurring since January 1st of this year.

        However, owing to the fact it’s not publicised on the BBC – an organisation which, according to a former Director General, and Andrew Marr, and a host of former BBC employees, has a ‘deep, liberal bias’, and has received thousands of complaints about its seeming bias by omission and progressive bias over the last decade – with anything like as much veracity as other parties receive, particularly UKIP, the synthetic narrative remains in place.

        I think what particularly gets me, however, is that in her cultural elitism, she fails to realise just how much damage exploiting racism narratives and using them against people in the most synthetic manner possible, has done to society. To hammer in this point, I’d refer you to the numerous constituencies in the UK – particularly Rotherham – where thousands of children, the most vulnerable people in our society, have been sexually molested over decades while public officials stood with no inclination to bring the perpetrators to justice, through a fear they may be accused of synthetic racism.

        The exploitative narratives on display here are nauseating.

        Thanks,

        Gareth

    • Matthew Newton says:

      “That’s the problem with modern progressivism – it’s culturally elitist. It’s anti-tabloid, it’s ruthlessly pro-EU and multiculturalism, it’s anti-English, it holds the working classes in contempt, and a lot more besides.”

      I think this generalisation might have some questionable aspects to it. Firstly I am not sure why being ‘anti-tabloid’ is a problem. Surely anyone who believes in serious debate and facing up to social problems in a reasonable way should be ‘anti-tabloid’. (I’m not saying it’s reasonable to call for them to be banned, but at least their excessive influence should be lamented.) They over-simplify debates, exaggerate certain phenomena (such as by implying that benefit fraud is comparable to tax avoidance in scale when far more is lost through the latter), often promote sexism and frequently attack immigrants and oversimplify issues relating to the effects of immigration. They also ceaselessly promote the views and interests of their owners, most of whom are tax-dodging plutocrats whose priorities may be questionable (and they do so in a more simplistic manner, on average, than the equally right-wing broadsheets which make up most of the remainder of the British press.)

      Secondly, I am not sure that modern progressivism is particularly ruthlessly pro-EU nor sure that this is such a huge problem even if it is the case. (Of course, there are arguments to be made against the EU just as there are arguments to be made for it.) It may be pro-EU in general but I am not convinced that it is ruthlessly so.

      Thirdly I am not sure why being in favour of multiculturalism is so bad or serious. Surely it is reasonable to expect both academics and progressives in general to be in favour of tolerance towards other cultures and perhaps an understanding that some of Britain’s wealth may have been accumulated through imperialism and thus perhaps implies a duty to be open to those from abroad and other cultures? (Not to mention aware of the benefits, in a globalised world, of being open to and decent towards people (the vast majority of the human race) of non-British origin.)

      I think you might need to go into more detail on what being ‘anti-English’ means exactly and why you think modern progressivism / left-wing academia demonstrates it. Surely it is reasonable to suggest that since many progressives would favour policies–such as a strong NHS, increased social justice, a higher minimum wage and investment in education–that could plausibly be suggested to *benefit* the majority of English (and Scottish, Welsh etc.) people they could be said to be in many ways ‘pro-English’ (pro-Scottish, Welsh etc.)?

      Lastlyl, I am not sure why modern progressivism ‘holds the working classes in contempt’. Perhaps some progressives might think some working class voters to be mistaken in their political views and reasoning but they still want, surely, to put in place policies that are designed to promote their interests.

  • Sarah says:

    Of course you are entitled to be friends with whomsoever you choose. However, the underlying argument of this post (certain views are hateful, the people who hold them are therefore hateful and should be denied a platform for their views) has I think been extended recently beyond fascists, racists and so on where it is reasonable, and to a whole host of legal, and fairly reasonable views. Ultimately I think this undermines freedom of speech and academic freedom.

    This has been noted in academia in particular where policies originally planned to prevent people from being subject to racist, homophobic or other extremist views are being used to deny a platform for people who have legal, non-extremist views that others disagree with (there are some examples of this in Shulewitz in NYT on this recently). In and out of academia, people are just shouted down- social media is a good place to do this, for example, A miss world contestant who said she would encourage other women to join her in learning self defence was shouted down as being victim blaming in a string of social media. Academics have been sacked for expressing their (legal, mainstream) political views on social media.

    Jon Ronson has written about the public shaming that has risen in social media and what you propose seems to be a part of that. Whilst it is your right to do so, I don’t think it is a positive move for society.

    Ultimately, people have views that are irrational, come from fear, insecurity, misinformation or lazy thinking. Others hold views that come from a desire to signal their status or superiority. I know that though I try and think rationally, I have all of those kind of views, and I expect you do too. It is hard to recognise them in oneself.

    One reason I dislike much of the UKIP mockery (at the same time as disliking UKIP themselves) is that many UKIP voters are less educated and less articulate and less financially well off than those who are humiliating them. To mock Nigel Farage, fine. But to use your education and comparative power in the world not to understand what is behind their dissatisfaction (eg you might, like me find their racist views abhorrent. However, I would have thought if they felt that they had job security, fulfilled lives and good services a lot of it would go away- what a surprise that following prolonged economic hardship this party has sprung up) but instead to humiliate them and shut them up.

    Finally, I am not sure there is any political party that one could vote for with a clean conscience. Take Labour: what, you want to support a Government who lied and plagiarised to start an illegal war? Who eroded rights with their “anti terror” legislation” including indefinite detention without trial? Or, in the US. What, Obama? The President who authorised drone strikes on a country he is not at war with, killing unarmed civilians, in what Amnesty International has called war crimes?

    Personally, I could not find any party that earned my vote.

  • Derka Derka says:

    You really think the Murdoch owned press can influence vast swathes of the British population?Firstly, Murdoch is loathed by the majority of the population (including most Conservatives), and secondly the Left controls Channel 4 News, many if not most Newspapers; the overwhelming majority of movies, television, literature, actors, comedians etc, the vast majority of social media, and almost all academic institutions. It seems to me it is right, not the left, has a much harder time getting its message across. Also, you can hardly call the BBC ‘right-wing’. And I say all this as someone who was politically neutral in this election.

    You say that ‘engaging in political debate’ is a hallmark of the left, yet it seems to me that – far from being willing to ‘engage’ – it’s the left that is most obsessed with shutting down opposing views. Just look at the recent phenomenons in Universities of ‘no-platforming’, ‘safe-spaces’, ‘trigger-warnings and mass protesting of ‘small – c’ conservative voices – all of these are tools to shut down debate and dissenting opinion and to maintain an uncorrupted leftist echo-chamber.It is the right, who are more open-minded to alternative views. It’s been said before that the left embraces all forms of diversity, except for diversity of opinion.

    Look, I don’t agree with a lot of traditionally conservative views, but to label the MAJORITY of the population as being akin to homophobes, racists, etc, suggests a bigotry on your part. Can it not be possible to be a perfectly decent human-being, and to have a civil disagreement with you? If you don’t think that, then this just displays a superciliousness, smugness and (ironically) intolerance on your part.

    • JR says:

      “the Left controls Channel 4 News, many if not most Newspapers; the overwhelming majority of movies, television, literature, actors, comedians etc, the vast majority of social media, and almost all academic institutions”

      Please do explain.

      • Tyler Durden says:

        I personally would say the right owns most newspapers with exception of the Guardian and the Mirror, the Independent is very slightly left leaning, so much so I’d class it as central in my own opinion. BBC News is left wing, senior executives have admitted there is a clear left wing bias.

        When it comes to movies and television, I’d say it entirely depends on the film, or the context of the scene given that most films have elements of left and right in both. I’d say the Godfather is both right and left wing, while accumulation of wealth through business enterprise (although illegally) and elimination of competition is right wing, Don Corleone doing favours, and as seen in Part II, helping pull Little Italy out of the strangle-hold of the Black Hand, bettering Italian-Americans as a whole – is left wing. While the whole film is very authoritarian, however that doesn’t imply left or right wing.

        So generally I disagree with Derka Derka.

        • Gareth Jones says:

          The Independent is a lot more than ‘slightly’ left leaning. ‘White men should never hold elected positions in British Universities again’, is an article recently published by the Independent (and since removed, the link to the archived version of this post is above). ‘White privilege’, an ethos underpinned by extreme left-wing thinking, laid the groundwork for that post – ‘racism is a social construct and white men hold all the power. Therefore, it’s impossible to be racist towards a white person.’ That’s the opinion of the author of that post.

          ‘Slightly’ left-leaning? Not a chance.

        • Gareth Jones says:

          The Independent is a lot more than ‘slightly’ left leaning. ‘White men should never hold elected positions in British Universities again’, is an article recently published by the Independent (and since removed, the link to the archived version of this post is above). ‘White privilege’, an ethos underpinned by extreme left-wing thinking, laid the groundwork for that post – ‘racism is a social construct and white men hold all the power. Therefore, it’s impossible to be racist towards a white person.’ That’s the opinion of the author of that post.

          ‘Slightly’ left-leaning? Not a chance.

          As for modern drama, beyond question the BBC and most other British broadcasters lean to the left. You’ll frequently watch as homophobia and sexism are tackled on episodes of, say, Eastenders, but how often do they tackle the issue of a trader losing his or her market stall because of a burdensome EU directive? How likely would that be to happen? Not a chance.

        • Grim Conservatives says:

          Prior to the election, the Independent came out in favour of the ConDem coalition so I’d hardly call it “left-leaning”.

  • Derka Derka says:

    You really think the Murdoch owned press can influence vast swathes of the British population? Firstly, Murdoch is loathed by the majority of the population (including most Conservatives), and secondly the Left controls Channel 4 News, many if not most Newspapers; the overwhelming majority of movies, television, literature, actors, comedians etc, the vast majority of social media, and almost all academic institutions. It seems to me it is right, not the left, has a much harder time getting its message across. Also, you can hardly call the BBC ‘right-wing’. And I say all this as someone who was politically neutral in this election.

    You say that ‘engaging in political debate’ is a hallmark of the left, yet it seems to me that – far from being willing to ‘engage’ – it’s the left that is most obsessed with shutting down opposing views. Just look at the recent phenomenons in Universities of ‘no-platforming’, ‘safe-spaces’, ‘trigger-warnings’ and mass protesting of ‘small – c’ conservative voices – all of these are tools to shut down dissenting opinion and to maintain an uncorrupted leftist echo-chamber. It is the right, who are more open-minded to alternative views. It’s been said before that the left embraces all forms of diversity, except for diversity of opinion.

    Look, I don’t agree with a lot of traditionally conservative views, but to label the MAJORITY of the population as being akin to homophobes, racists, etc, ironically suggests a bigotry in itself. Can it not be possible to be a perfectly decent human-being, and to have a civil disagreement with you? If you don’t think that, then this just displays a superciliousness, smugness and (ironically) intolerance on your part.

    • Henry says:

      “You say that ‘engaging in political debate’ is a hallmark of the left, yet it seems to me that – far from being willing to ‘engage’ – it’s the left that is most obsessed with shutting down opposing views”

      Exactly right. And this article seems part of the same trend – arguing by social exclusion rather than logic & evidence.

      The obvious retort to the main point of the piece is that obviously Tories & conservative voters (like most people) don’t think they are evil, they think they are doing the right thing. It’s childish to pretend otherwise.

      They think their policies are not a simple matter of mistreating the poor, but essential measures to maintain the economy. They probably believe (rightly or wrongly) that the debt & deficit are big problems, and need to be remedied by austerity, not by parties who make random promises to borrow and spend more and more – who instead of addressing serious economic problems adequately, play the game of vacuously calling everyone else “racist” in a contemptuous, superior tone.

      Finally, seeing the BBC described as right-wing is stunning. To quote a blogger I like:

      “When a Labour election victory results in Broadcasting House being littered with champagne bottles, when the BBC’s own staff admit that the newsroom was adorned with “BushHitler” posters, and when the organisation’s own Director General admits to a “massive” left-of-centre bias, I’m not sure much more needs to be said. A vast publicly-funded media organisation will tend to favour the party that favours public subsidy for vast media organisations”

      Also look up Peter Sissons & Rod Liddle on the subject of attitudes in the BBC. There’s a whole website filled with 1000s upon 1000s of complaints about BBC bias to the left. Lots of examples – no doubt some of them arguable. I see no such evidence of any rightwing/establishment bias.

      There’s so much else to say, but will leave it there unless asked to expand.

    • Matthew Newton says:

      “the Left controls Channel 4 News, many if not most Newspapers; the overwhelming majority of movies, television, literature, actors, comedians etc, the vast majority of social media, and almost all academic institutions. It seems to me it is right, not the left, has a much harder time getting its message across. Also, you can hardly call the BBC ‘right-wing’. And I say all this as someone who was politically neutral in this election.”

      Most of this is very odd indeed. Firstly, how exactly does the left ‘control’ literature, actors and comedians? Can right-wing people not publish books in Britain any more? Must all novels include references to evil tycoons and scenes in which people pray to statues of Marx or something? Do comedians have to get their jokes vetted in case they might be too right wing? Surely a more plausible explanation might be that many writers, actors etc. are simply genuinely left-leaning rather than being ‘controlled’ in some way. (Of course, others are right-leaning – Julian Fellowes of Downton Abbey fame etc.)

      Secondly, how can social media be controlled? People can post whatever political views they like on social media can’t they? (At least with the exception of China where social media is controlled through censorship and intimidation of those that cause trouble for the Party.)

      Thirdly, your claim with regard to newspapers is complete nonsense. Exactly how many newspapers endorsed the Labour Party or the Greens in the last election?? As far as I am aware, of the major national newspapers, only two, the Mirror and the Guardian. And please don’t forget that very few people read the Guardian! The Times, Telegraph, Mail, Sun, Express and even the Independent supported the Conservatives (or the Con-Lib Dem coalition in the case of the Independent). Ed Miliband faced constant demonisation from the press and the Telegraph was found to have published a ‘business letter’ they sourced directly from Conservative Party Headquarters. Daily Mail writers regularly accused Labour of peddling Marxism’ despite this being patent nonsense, etc.

      • Henry says:

        “Most of this is very odd indeed. Firstly, how exactly does the left ‘control’ literature, actors and comedians?”

        Left-wingers are in denial about this. The BBC, for example, contains a very strong left of centre bias*. This can easily influence what is commissioned and broadcast: they choose material and writers who they find to have the correct ideological position.

        So not odd at all – but very real, and very damaging to the BBC’s creative output. For when politics gets involved with art & literature, as with science, it screws up the quality of the work.

        * see, for example:

        – the number of Guardian writers and editors that the BBC employs, or seems to have on speed-dial?
        – Or the fact that they advertise in that newspaper for jobs & QT audience members
        – Or Peter Sissons asking for a brief on stories and being handed the Graun with the words “it’s all in there”.
        – am I right in thinking Stephanie Flanders was rather friendly with Ed Balls and Red Ed himself? Not so much with Tories, I wonder why
        – Andrew Marr: “an innate liberal bias inside the BBC”
        – Mark Thompson, former BBC DG: “a massive bias to the left”
        – “I do remember… the corridors of Broadcasting House were strewn with empty champagne bottles. I’ll always remember that” Jane Garvey on 1997 Blair victory
        – “We need to foster peculiarity, idiosyncrasy, stubborn-mindedness, left-of-centre thinking.” Ben Stephenson, BBC controller of drama commissioning
        – “I argued the case for Thatcherism but was massively outgunned” Robin Aitken
        – “Pity they missed the bitch,” a BBC employee confided to Aitken after IRA bombing of Tory conference at Brighton
        – ‘my boss asked what we would do if Labour formed the next government. John Birt replied: “Let’s hope the fuck they do”‘ Aitken again
        – BBC newsroom was adorned with “BushHitler” posters

        Those are a few bits of evidence of BBC leftwing bias. If you want more I’ll provide another list of equal length, though frankly how anyone can be so stupid as to think BBC bias is to the right is beyond me.

  • Henry says:

    I have to say this post makes me wonder how people get positions in the philosophy faculty these days.

    I met many Oxford philosophers of previous generations including Dummett & AJ Ayer. These were men of outstanding intellectual ability. Just watching them debate taught me a great deal. Some of them also knew amounts about literature, science, mathematics, art and music that has set a standard for me that I’ve rarely seen equalled.

    And now I come to this piece – where the author infers without checking, apparently based on a “like” on facebook, that a person’s views must be as abhorrent as racism, sexism, etc.

    Futhermore I think a philosopher ought to know that the definitions of words like “racism” & particularly “sexism” are so numerous, and have changed so much and so often that you can’t assume everyone is talking about the same thing. Instead we have the lazy, very political supposition that these are bad things, with no qualification.

    I think philosophers should be able to use logic, and should question the assumptions people hold dear, or at least provide strong arguments, not parrot lazy Guardian-reader assumptions – or else there is no use for philosophers. We don’t need students to be taught what to think but how to think, and this writer ought to know this.

  • Jeremy Cave says:

    There is so much – too much – to disagree with here.

    After reading this post I linked it to a small group of friends I have – more real than Facebook. We often meet up with each other and have long discussions on issues we think are of importance: politics, philosophy, ethics, law, art. Come the election our debates became more entrenched and naturally sides were taken. We all voted differently and we all probably left the ballot box slightly upset with the others’ choice. What was most noticeable and regrettable though was that as the election day got closer the dissenting Conservative voice got quieter, and the bravado of those of us on the left got louder. Louder, probably, in the confidence that we would only be judged – at our worst – as economically incompetent. The same luxury was not afforded to the rest of the group. They unfortunately face the ire and hate displayed here. So reading this, and knowing that some of them would have fallen foul of your friendship test, I felt compelled to remind them that first and foremost I appreciate them for their thoughtfulness and their sincerity, regardless or where this may direct their political views. I also reminded them that I thought it is not through agreement that our friendship is strengthened, but mutual respect and humour in disagreement. I enjoy our group, I call them friends, and believe in our friendship because I think it runs deeper than the toxins of politics.

    This blog also reminded me of a BBC article I read a while ago: Roger Scruton spoke thoughtfully and compassionately about what he thought democracy is, and what keeps it together. In one episode – which I have linked below – he likened democracy to family. Part of being a family he says is having a common purpose and identity and accepting that whether we agree or disagree with one another we have to coexist: we have to agree to disagree. Whether you agree or disagree with his thoughts, I think questions he answers are about precisely the things this blog and its comments has (perhaps) failed to understand or overlook. People can argue all day on here about the Conservatives and their policies, but the fault to this blog is its deeper misconception of what we are all here for, and what kind of political sentiments we should hold towards one another.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-23895920

  • Michael Ezra says:

    I am quite shocked that a post such as this was posted to this blog. I appreciate there is a disclaimer on the “About page” that “All posts and comments on the Practical Ethics blog are solely the opinions of their respective authors, and do not represent the position of either the University of Oxford, or the Oxford-based institutes listed above.” Nevertheless, this blog does come with the benefit of an Oxford University logo and an an association with academic institutions. Based on that, I think it an outrage that someone is so overtly biased against a mainstream political party on this blog. If the author wishes to express such views, I do not think it appropriate that she uses this blog to do so. Utilising the link from her Twitter account that is provided above, it seems that she has her own website and her own blog. I think there would be a far more suitable place to publish such a post than here.

  • Rob says:

    The Efficient Outrage Hypothesis: if you’re hearing about it, it’s probably already a dogpile. Return on marginal outrage low or negligible.

    Presumably Rebecca now regrets posting this in the heat of the moment. There’s probably no need to pile on further.

    • Jim A.C. Everett says:

      She could – of course – apologise if she wanted the outrage to stop. At this point she has ignored 40+ comments.

      • Rob says:

        At this point backing off is more likely to give her the space to concede what is troublesome about her attitude.

    • Dominic Roser says:

      I am still wondering whether this post is secretly some kind of sociological experiment where they deliberately put out some kind of offending claims and observe the reaction and then write a paper about it 🙂

      The only thing I admire about this post is her courage to say what many only think — even though I disagree deeply with what she thinks.

      Beyond outrage, I think there is an issue whether this is an appropriate attitude for someone who teaches philosophy students (I just looked at some of the stated values of her employer and in my eyes she has other goals). I have always appreciated that many colleagues from philosophy departments (in contrast to some colleagues from other departments) *genuinely* lived up to the clichee of being open-minded. This post is an outlier.

    • JR says:

      Sage advice

  • John Halstead says:

    This pretty much sums up the problem with political debate in Britain. “Everyone who disagrees with me is evil.”

    • Calano says:

      This blog post is liberal lunacy in a nutshell. Day by Day these people make me ashamed of identifying as a liberal. Only libertarian websites seem to represent my cultural views atm. Sadly not economically.

  • John Halstead says:

    This pretty much sums up the problem with political debate in Britain. “Everyone who disagrees with me is evil.” Note: a lot of expert opinion on economics leans more to the right (economically liberal) on many matters than you probably do. Are all these experts wrong/evil? Also, how has this got on the blog? It’s a pretty poorly thought-out and ignorant argument.

  • Mark says:

    Many of the commentators have already pointed out various problems with the argument here and the very troubling implications it entails for philosophical debate in academia. I am extremely surprised/disappointed that it is written by an academic philosopher.

    To focus on just one aspect of the post. The author argues that supporting Conservative policies such as austerity is as bad as holding “objectively offensive views like racism”. Let us grant that holding racist views is wrong and beyond the pall of legitimate debate/society (really this has to be argued for but let us grant it for the sake of the argument). However, we can consider two individuals A and B. A cares about poor people and thinks that welfare cuts are harmful and ultimately hurt poor people in both the long run. B cares about poor people as much as A does. However, he is persuaded by social science research that some elements of the welfare state harm poor people in the long-run. Therefore B is persuaded on balance that welfare cuts will benefit poor in the long-run. B therefore supports a party that cuts welfare.

    Of course B could be wrong. The research he read that persuaded him could be bogus. Perhaps his concern for the poor could be judged paternalistic and problematic on those grounds (but A’s concern for the poor might be similarly paternalistic so from this perspectively they are morally equal). Nevertheless, from a point of view of judging moral values A and B are identical yet one will support conservative policies and one leftwing policies. We simply can’t infer from B’s choice of party whether or not he cares about poor people or hates them (or that A cares about them for that matter).

    It is not clear that B should be morally condemned. Should A defriend or disengage with B? Given the difference between them is empirical it seems especially important they both be open to debate and to studying the evidence.

    Anyone committed to liberal values should extremely worried about creating political silos in which left and right do not engage in discussion with one another.

    • JR says:

      “However, we can consider two individuals A and B. A cares about poor people and thinks that welfare cuts are harmful and ultimately hurt poor people in both the long run. B cares about poor people as much as A does. However, he is persuaded by social science research that some elements of the welfare state harm poor people in the long-run. Therefore B is persuaded on balance that welfare cuts will benefit poor in the long-run. B therefore supports a party that cuts welfare.”

      Does this actually correlate to reality? It doesn’t to my experience, in which most conservatives presume welfare beyond that minimal to living would be to disadvantage meritorious citizens for the sake of those who have failed qua independently responsible citizens. Most of these arguments seem to turn on a rather sloppy concept of ‘desert’. Obviously most excludes many, and some of those many articulate a position as or more enlightened than my own. I don’t believe that all conservatives are disingenuous or somehow intellectually deficient. More pointedly, I don’t really think the foundational value-judgements from which most disagreement stems are rationally tractable. I do, however, think Conservatives *don’t* give as much weight to the welfare of the least off as do those to their left. It’s simply not salient to their political lexicon. All that being so, I disagree that we can reduce these political conflicts to disagreements as to empirical fact, rather than underlying values.

      • Mark says:

        That is right. Most political disagreement is not based on empirical evidence. Jonathan Haidt’s work shows this:

        http://people.stern.nyu.edu/jhaidt/

        My point was simply that one cannot morally judge some one on the basis of the party they vote for (certainly within the range of mainstream democratic political parties). Excluding someone on the basis of voting Tory is categorically different and much more problematic than excluding them because they express racist views. My comment was a specific response to the sloppiness of the original argument.

        I agree conservatives and social democrats have different notions of “desert” but the role of philosophy is to probe these not to prejudge the “conservatives”. (Conservatives often hold sloppy views about deserts. But most non-philosophers do not find the Rawlsian or Dworkian view of desert persuasive either. David Schmidtz’s work on this topic is pretty interesting http://www.davidschmidtz.com/david-schmidtz/books/elements)

        • Rob says:

          The issue may be that different political groups use different language to discuss very similar concerns. They may be using dessert as a linguistic stand-in for concerns that excessive redistribution will lead to laziness and lower incomes overall.

          Many ‘conservative’ concepts can be partially justified on consequentialist grounds.

          • JR says:

            I’m a little incredulous as to this suggestion, partly because it conflicts with my personal experience, but more pointedly because it expresses the kind of linguistic textualism which plagued so much hermeneutics until the Cambridge School. The illocutionary force in the use of a given concept is not some incidental factor, but the determinative factor. We should take people to mean exactly what they took themselves to mean, to do otherwise is simply an invitation to read into utterances what is amenable to ourselves. Are you, for example, a consequentialist? That is not to deny that the language of desert and consequentialism can’t and has not arisen from similar concerns, but I heavily doubt that their uses are coterminous.

            • Rob says:

              I think you’re making this more complicated than it is.

              A conservative says: “It’s unjust for people who don’t work to get all of this money for nothing.”
              A liberal says: “It’s bad if people are discouraged from working because they are eligible for welfare when they could easily get a job.”

              Some conservatives will regardless the badness of this ‘unfairness’ as fundamental. But many of them will regard an unfair arrangement as undesirable only, or mostly, because it leads to harmful behaviour – namely it discourages people from working when they could.

              My personal experience is that most conservatives will give practical justifications of this kind if pressed.

              And yes I am a consequentialist.

        • JR says:

          I will certainly check out Schmidtz, thanks (although I’m no Rawlsian/Dworkian, I just think the concept of desert nearly always fails on its own terms). I’m unsure as to what you take to be unacceptable when you both say ‘one cannot morally judge some one on the basis of the party they vote for’ and ‘excluding someone on the basis of voting Tory is categorically different and much more problematic than excluding them because they express racist views’. The former seems to draw a much too sharp line. If someone votes for a party which abrogates the basic tenets of your value-orientation, and we can reduce that vote to an affirmation of those aspects of the party, then how would one not draw a moral judgement about that person? I think that the depth of welfare cuts authored by the Coalition government are too severe; I know some people who quite explicitly disagree, and voted for the Conservatives on the basis of, among other things, that disagreement; I find that morally objectionable. I am open to suggestions otherwise, but I don’t think I’m being somehow unreasonable or, for that matter, unusual in passing through those motions. The latter is potentially weaker claim, depending upon what you mean by ‘exclude’. Obviously I don’t think we should exclude Conservatives from the political process. I also have a fair number of friends – although it probably doesn’t help the friendship – who are Conservatives, so I wouldn’t want to exclude them in that way either.

          • Mark says:

            I can’t do full justice to Schmidtz’s argument here. Suffice to say he outlines an argument whereby it can make sense to say that someone may deserve (i.e have some moral claim to) what he earns as a result of talent and that this argument avoids the objections simple notions of desert fall victim to.

            I don’t know what suffices for an individual to be beyond the pale . . . but I can imagine people whose views are sufficiently nasty that I don’t want to associate with them (perhaps advocates of child abuse for example). This category is permeable and will vary from person to person.

            My point is that whatever rule or argument one uses to exclude those individuals one cannot stretch it to include people bracketed “conservative” or people who vote conservative.

            • JR says:

              Does that mean that Schmidtz has succeeded where Nozick failed and formulated a compelling theory of initial acquisition? As I said, I’ll certainly check it out. It would be quite some achievement were he able to salvage the concept.

              So by ‘exclude’ you don’t mean merely to pass moral judgement on the voting behaviour of another, but to on that basis disassociate with the person? If that is indeed the case, I don’t really disagree with you, and certainly agree that any such judgement should be contextual.

  • Sean says:

    What an odious person you are Rebecca, you have done your “friends” a favor by depriving them of your malevolent presence. Its a shame that you don’t similar improve the lives of your students. You certainly are not enhancing their education or the reputation of the Oxford degree.

    • anoan says:

      Her degrees were from Leeds and Cambridge, not Oxford: http://www.philosophy.ox.ac.uk/members/archive/rebecca_roache

      • James says:

        PhD in 2002? Incredible. I thought she was about 16 based on this post. Had to double-check I was actually on Oxford’s Practical Ethics blog. The author makes the classic – and predictable – mistake of ‘the left’ in thinking that people with differing views are evil, racist, sexist, xenophobic and so on. The type of weak thinking I’d expect to see from a twitter hashtag, not here.

        • Bob says:

          The mistake you claim the author makes is actually not what the author writes. As already pointed out in the comments above.

        • Bob says:

          The mistake you claim the author makes is actually not what the author writes. As already pointed out in the comments above..

          • Shaun Pilkington says:

            But ‘four legs good’, Bob.

            Four legs good.

            • Bob says:

              Thanks for your intellectual effort, Shaun!

              • Shaun Pilkington says:

                Well I didn’t want to go beyond the level of the original post, Bob.

                Still, Orwell saw people like Rebecca for what they were.

                • Bob says:

                  I’m glad that you admire the terrific writer and SOCIALIST George Orwell, who unlike common misconception was as fierce critic of capitalism and capitalist privilege of the kind the Tories stand for today as he was a critic of dictatorial state socialism (i.e. not the Labor kind). As one commentator put it:

                  “A common view held by the political right-wing is that Orwell exposed the horrors of “socialism” by predicting what would happen under a regime of the Stalinist model which the right-wing claims to be representative of all socialist ideals, conveniently ignoring the fact that he was writing about state capitalism represented as socialism and that the book was intended to be satire and not prediction. Also conveniently ignored are his other writings depicting the evils of imperialism, the inherent unfairness of privilege and the inefficiency and self-interest of capitalism.”

                  • Shaun Pilkington says:

                    Sure but this is pure Animal Farm rather than 1984. If you see what I mean.

                    Oink oink!

                    • Bob says:

                      Actually that is a seriously weird, to say the least, attempt to bring Animal farm into the topic here. Animal Farm is a parable over specifics in the russian revolution and the subsequent events. Are you saying that the killing of humans in russian gulags is morally on par with unfriending a few people on Facebook?

  • Tyler Durden says:

    Rebecca,

    Ukip member, I feel I have to respond to this, because while my colleagues in the blue corner got a nice little speech from your ill-informed and surprisingly one sided for one claiming absolute moral high ground. So let me pick apart this post in hopes your mind may open just a little, and examine why we have a Conservative minority government over all the other choices there were. Is it because the voters are stupid? Is it because they have no compassion or apathy? Is it because they’re all rich? I think not.

    Let’s start by taking a look at all of the policies of every single party, on their own without taking into account the state of the nation, just policy.

    Well, the Green party, now that’s some pretty good policy. Social welfare for all, increase in humanitarian aid, minimum wage massively increased, renationalise all of our services, tax on the super rich & corporations, environmentally sustainable energy and development and enough houses built for everyone… Well based on this policy how could you not vote for them? It’s the best one out of them all, everyone will be living a very high standard of life under the Green party.

    So why didn’t people vote for the Green party? With that manifesto we should have 650 Green MP’s right now… Well, because the electorate isn’t that dimwitted, you’re given something too good to be true so some questions were asked.

    Where is the money coming from to pay for this, even a 60% tax increase cannot pay for this manifesto?
    Wouldn’t the rich leave the country like they did in France if this tax hike was attempted?
    How are we going to pay back the extra £170billion a year we would need to borrow in order to enact such policy?
    What if the private utilities and transport companies refuse to sell, are we going to take them off them, what about when we’re then sued for £1trillions in international courts?
    Won’t these welfare reforms drastically increase immigration?
    Where will all the incoming migrants live?

    Just a few questions, which if you’re able to answer in order to appease the electorate, may have persuaded them to have voted green. Unfortunately there are answers to those questions, and none of them are good. So the electorate didn’t vote for them, not out of ignorance or malice. But because voting for a party which ensures economic stability makes a lot more sense after going through a massive economic crash, knowing with a deficit our economy is not prepared to take that kind of hit. In the long term this will improve welfare, in the short term it won’t, you’re right but if you have an alternative you should be running as an MP.

    People did not get up on the 7th, march down to the polling station, while thinking to themselves “I can’t wait to vote Tory, I hope lots of poor people starve and pensioners freeze to death” rubbing their hand with glee at the prospect. It just does not happen, this isn’t how anyone thinks. On the 7th they got up, they went to their polling station and voted for the greater good, for the policies that made most sense to them and to their vision of the future. There was no abhorrence, no heartlessness, just a way of thinking you’re not familiar with… Which as someone with two degrees, one at masters, can tell you is the symptom of being in academia all of your life, with limited exposure to the outside world, and the reality that 90% of the population actually face.

    On May 7th there was a democratic, fair election that had been covered extensively in the news, there were debates from all parties, never seen before and the electorate was very informed. On May 7th they voted, fairly and freely and the Conservatives won. Under the same electoral system we had in 1997 when Labour won.

    I purposefully added my Ukip membership to the first line, to see just how closed minded and ignorant you are, if I get a response “Ukip member, not reading anything you have to say” then you’ll be shown to the world outside of your little social circle what a bigot you in fact are. But my hope is you will read this, it may even open your mind a little and you will look at your post and think “this post was very ignorant of me”.

    • JR says:

      The Green Manifesto is impractical thus we cannot make any more concessions to welfare than the Conservatives without jeopardising our long-term economy is not an outstanding argument, to say the very least. Obviously that putative economic necessity cannot be exhaustive reason for voting behaviour, as you suggest, in that presumably that fact stays constant whereas elections are highly variable, not least north of Hadrian’s Wall on this occasion. No doubt that was a popular perception, but then we are no further in explaining away voting for the Conservatives.

      • Tyler Durden says:

        It’s not an outstanding argument at all, and no one can really say why people vote the way they do. What my reply goes to show, is just because left wing parties such as the Greens and Labour weren’t elected who advocate socialism, doesn’t mean the voters who voted for Conservatives and indeed Ukip are on the same level of apathy as bigots of all kinds. OP seems to think, just because you vote for a party which is less inclined to support welfare, then they’re antipathetic to people who rely on this system, which isn’t the case as Labour also intended to cut the deficit, the difference was Ed Miliband seemed to be unwilling to tell us how he was going to cut the deficit, a mansion tax wouldn’t have paid for it, nor would increase the upper tax bracket back to 50%. What it shows in my opinion, and this is just my theory, that Labour weren’t being specific on their policy, and weren’t answering these questions. The Conservatives were pretty clear they’re going to cut spending from welfare. What you then have is Labour saying they’re going to make cuts, but won’t tell you where or how. Then the Conservatives being open about which fiscal budget they’re going to cut, of course there were no details of where specifically in welfare these £12bn in cuts are going to be, not that it matters, where ever it is, it’s going to be bad for some people.

        I guess I should then ask, why would a Labour government on the morning of 8th of May have been a better result? When Ed Miliband had said there were going to be cuts somewhere?

        Just generally in regards to OPs post, you don’t win hearts and minds of people by telling them their opinion is wrong, without any facts, calling them abhorrent and akin to racists, if anything it will push people away from the left.

      • Tyler Durden says:

        It’s not an outstanding argument at all, and no one can really say why people vote the way they do. What my reply goes to show, is just because left wing parties such as the Greens and Labour weren’t elected who advocate socialism, doesn’t mean the voters who voted for Conservatives and indeed Ukip are on the same level of apathy as bigots of all kinds. OP seems to think, just because you vote for a party which is less inclined to support welfare, then they’re antipathetic to people who rely on this system, which isn’t the case as Labour also intended to cut the deficit, the difference was Ed Miliband seemed to be unwilling to tell us how he was going to cut the deficit, a mansion tax wouldn’t have paid for it, nor would increase the upper tax bracket back to 50%. What it shows in my opinion, and this is just my theory, that Labour weren’t being specific on their policy, and weren’t answering these questions. The Conservatives were pretty clear they’re going to cut spending from welfare. What you then have is Labour saying they’re going to make cuts, but won’t tell you where or how. Then the Conservatives being open about which fiscal budget they’re going to cut, of course there were no details of where specifically in welfare these £12bn in cuts are going to be, not that it matters, where ever it is, it’s going to be bad for some people.

        I guess I should then ask, why would a Labour government on the morning of 8th of May have been a better result? When Ed Miliband had said there were going to be cuts somewhere? A lot of us remember the failings of the last Labour government, to ignore these mistakes and hold them epitome of politics is incredulous. If you can’t be subjective enough to see the good and bad of both parties, I have to be honest, philosophy probably isn’t the subject OP should specialising in.

        Just generally in regards to OPs post, you don’t win hearts and minds of people by telling them their opinion is wrong, without any facts, calling them abhorrent and akin to racists, if anything it will push people away from the left.

    • Matthew Newton says:

      “On the 7th they got up, they went to their polling station and voted for the greater good, for the policies that made most sense to them and to their vision of the future.”

      Is that really a plausible claim (assuming you’re saying this is true of everyone)? Surely it is quite plausible to suggest that many (not of course all, nor even necessarily a majority of) people voted not for the greater good of society as they saw it but for their own good and the good of their family? (Not necessarily all right-wing voters of course, as there can be plenty of selfish reasons to vote for a left-wing party in some cases.)

      • Jonathan MS Pearce says:

        This is a really valid point. I have spoken, anecdotally of course, to a number of Con voters (and this is, as you say, not exclusive) and the open admission is that the vote was in their own best interest. One of the big ones was tax reduction supposedly meaning more money in their pockets.

        This is human nature and is nothing, in and of itself, surprising.

        But it is not really what I would want from an electorate. This shows a deep=seated individualism which defines voting; I will vote for what is best for me even if it is not better for society as a whole (or ignoring calculations of what is best for society as a whole).

        I think what defines the left/right paradigm is the collectivist/individualist paradigm, but in a sense of that voting decision. This is not particularly striking, but it does hit home when people admit this openly. When you have parties wishing to get rid of Inheritance Tax, which proportionally affects the richer more and more, and reduce top end taxes etc etc (and see who funds the respective party and for what reasons), then it is clear that the Cons and UKIP are in this game to benefit the richer in society. The problem is that, often, these things, like IHT, sustain privilege. I have lots of money (whether through hard work or privilege) and I leave it to my children, my children are not doing the hard work to get that. It is an accident of birth.

        As a previous commenter quite rightly pointed out, there is also a real issue with the problematic notion of praiseworthiness and blameworthiness in a philosophical context. Part of this, for the record, stretches to the Victorian myth of blaming the poor’s poverty on laziness or some similar notions (eg http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/poverty-matters/2012/aug/03/poor-people-want-to-be-poor or http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/lazy-drunk-benefit-cheats-myth-6388197)

        According to the report while over 80% of the UK population believe that “large numbers falsely claim benefits”, fraudulent claims have in fact decreased to historically low levels “that the tax system can only dream of.”

        Figures show that less than 0.9% of the welfare budget is lost to fraud.

        Addressing the myth that claimants “have an easy life” the report found that benefits “do not meet minimum income standards” and “have halved in value relative to average incomes over the last 30 years.”

        The report also found that fewer than 4% of benefit claimants report any form of addiction, while the majority of children in poverty are from working households.

        Figures also show that the proportion of our tax bills spent on welfare has remained stable for the last 20 years.

        The accident of birth problem is what the left seek to change, but the right seek to sustain. This is obvious, and disheartening, and what I think the OP rather emotionally seeks to tap into.

        Speaking to Green voters, I saw the complete opposite to this. Whether their policies are workable or not, is another questions, but the intent is really quite clear: the benefit of a wider “us” over a narrower “me”, stretching across, even, species.

        There are lots of variables at work, but my impressions is that voting for Cons, for example (I live in a totally Cons area, including most all of my family, many colleagues etc), is a mix of social identity theory (us and them), tradition, and perceptions on economy, all within a context of benefiting the individual voter at the heart.

        There is a lot of intuitive desires post hoc rationalised, too.

        It’a all quite depressing! (and I won’t start on the wildly incorrect views of the many [family and colleague] UKIP voters I have spoke to. The above problems distilled and crystallised…)

      • Tyler Durden says:

        While of course it’s not true of everyone, it’s a majority opinion more so, than they went out and voted to cause harm to poor and old people.

  • Stephen says:

    So, you’ve decided not to be friends with 1 in 3 people in the UK? Purely based on the fact that they do not agree with your personal political views? How very liberal of you!

  • Guy says:

    I fully agree with Comrade Stalin! Death to all enemies of the people! Denounce all spies and traitors!

  • Angela says:

    What I’m shocked about is how no one has pointed out yet that “liking” a facebook page means absolutely zilch. “Liking” a page allows you to get updates from that page. That is why I “like” the pages of all parties running in any election – simply to get their news in my newsfeed.

    Any ‘friends’ of mine who are daft enough to judge me based on nothing but my liked FB pages are welcome – nay, encouraged – to unfriend me.

  • Ross says:

    How petty and pathetic. It sounds like those facebook friends of yours aren’t losing much.

  • Matheus De Pietro says:

    There is some irony in this board in that some people are making very good points, but most posts are being left uncommented and uncriticized because posters seem to be more interested in venting their anger or confirming their opinions than in actually debating. The really interesting point is that the majority of the replies make use of the same generalization and value judgment they criticize in the author’s text.

    Now how amazing a plot twist would it be if Rebecca reveals this was all but a social experiment intended to yield the result it did?

  • Wombat says:

    Oh my God. What have we done? Please, Rebecca. We didn’t realise your friendship was on the line. You’re so wonderful and perfect. How could we go on without you? If we only knew the consequences we might have thought our actions through. Don’t leave us! We beg of you! We can change!

    Baaahahahahahaha!

  • Rebecca Roache says:

    Thanks for all the comments. I had planned to respond to them individually, but since there are now so many I’ll try to address the main points in a single comment. If I’ve overlooked something, feel free to let me know.

    Liberals and Conservatives likely view Conservative policies differently: liberals see them as evil, whereas to Conservatives, they are permissible means of achieving certain ends, which may even be similar ends to those that liberals want to achieve. So, Conservatives may be well-intentioned, and not as bad as you portray them. (Note that my focus here is Conservatives with a capital ‘C’, i.e. supporters of the current government. I don’t plan to disengage from conservatives with a small ‘c’, although I do not share their approach to politics.) I can see how this explanation might seem plausible when evaluating people’s support for some individual policies. And there is the odd Conservative policy where it’s possible to interpret the motivations of those who support it fairly charitably. But it stretches the limits of credibility to suppose that—taken as a whole—the policies of the Conservative party are something that one could vote for out of consideration not only for oneself, but out of consideration for others, including the vulnerable, the exploited, and the poor. The party consistently rewards the rich and penalises the poor. It justifies its policies with reference to a conception of desert that ignores the fact that people’s situation in life is, in addition to desert, partially determined by factors outside their control and in no way related to desert (exploitation, poverty, illness, inherited wealth, (not) knowing the right people, etc.). Of course, it’s possible to support the Conservatives in ignorance of all of this, and in one way that is less worrisome than those who vote Conservative while knowing but not caring that their policies are unjust. But, on the other hand, it is concerning that we (as a society) are relatively accepting of people voting from a position of ignorance—that it’s not particularly shocking to hear people express views like ‘I won’t decide how to vote until I get to the polling booth’. People in this country typically reach voting age without ever having been educated about politics, how the economy works, and other topics relevant to choosing between political parties, unless they have opted to learn about it as part of the qualifications for which they study at school. This is concerning, given how important it is to get the government of the country right. People tend not to be so slapdash about other important life decisions, such as which school to send their children or whether to study for a particular qualification. (I imagine that the fact that the outcome of a general election cannot depend on how any particular individual voted is what leads many people to vote without trying to understand what they’re voting for.) In addition, in other areas of life, we are generally not entirely forgiving of people who hold offensive views through ignorance or thoughtlessness—casual racists, for example. So, I am inclined to be less forgiving of casual Conservatives than some commenters on this post.

    You shouldn’t use this blog to write an anti-Tory rant. It’s certainly an anti-Tory blog post, but it’s not a rant. My main concern is to consider the question whether, as a liberal who wants more people to be liberal (and I will come to the issue of epistemic humility below), it is—as many of my liberal friends believe—more constructive to remain engaged in debate with Conservatives than to disengage. As I say in the post, I fear that liberals are at risk of overestimating the extent to which changes in people’s political views arise as a result of debate. Since Conservatives (with a big ‘C’) tend also to be conservatives (small ‘c’), and since conservative political thought tends to be shaped by intuition to a much larger extent than that of liberals (which isn’t, by the way, a prejudice of mine—it is something that has been noted and discussed many times, including by conservatives such as Edmund Burke, John Kekes, and Roger Scruton), liberals who want to influence Conservatives need to find a way to engage with Conservatives’ intuitions. Disengaging from them might be a way to do that. As such, I’m interested in the possibility of disengaging as a way of continuing the political argument, rather than as a way of ending it. I might be wrong about whether that’s effective, but that is something that must be determined empirically.

    You are a bigot. A bigot, I take it, is someone who is universally (or, at least, widely) intolerant of those who hold opposing opinions, which doesn’t describe me at all. I am generally happy to have a debate with people who disagree with me (as I’m doing here), and often modify my own views as a result. There are, though, a few morally abhorrent views that I cannot conceive of ever adopting, regardless of how much effort someone makes to persuade me of them. I gave some examples of these in the post: the views that some people are superior to others on account of their race, their sex, or their sexual orientation. I am inclined to count certain views that are central to the Conservative party philosophy among these abhorrent views.

    What makes you so sure your views are the right ones? Where’s your epistemic humility? I am not certain at all that my views are the right ones. As I say in my post, ‘I am attracted by the view that we should all keep the debate open, discuss our political views, take other people’s views into account, and revise and improve our own as we all benefit from this dialogue’. This dialogue is ongoing; nevertheless, I am as certain as I can be that the views that lie at the heart of Conservative ideology are mistaken. That is compatible with continuing to question and revise my own views.

    Given your views about Conservatives, your Conservative students are at an unfair disadvantage when it comes to grading their work. My job, and my obligations to my students, is not to try to get them to believe one thing rather than another, but to help them become better philosophers. My students can express whatever crazy views they like in their work, provided that they argue for them: they are graded on their argument, not on the content of the views for which they are arguing. Having said that, it behoves anyone who grades student work to remain aware of the risk of being biased in favour of students whose views match one’s own. There are various strategies one can use to try to correct for this, some of which are institutionalised (e.g. marking by more than one person, external examining, anonymising student submissions).

    You need to read Jonathan Haidt’s work about political disagreement. I am aware of his work; in fact, it is partly through thinking of his work that I wrote this post. He first introduced me to the idea that people’s political and moral views are not shaped by reason (alone), and it is because of that idea that I considered the possibility of trying to change people’s mind about their political views by not debating with them, rather than by debating with them. I have, with Steve Clarke, co-authored three papers about how conservatives can be reconciled with certain liberal views, two of which can be found here and here. Both of those discuss Haidt’s work.

    Labour are just as bad as the Conservatives, or nearly as bad. I think that Labour are somewhat less bad than the Conservatives, but sadly I agree that they have a great many flaws, many of which are shared by the Conservatives.

    • Rob says:

      It seems that your critical mind has been killed off by your participation in political advocacy. The effects of Conservative party policy, while not great, are just not harmful enough relative to Labour’s to warrant this kind of opprobrium. I don’t see you taking seriously the strongest arguments you might find in favour of the Conservatives (e.g. that the welfare payments you like, and the taxes required to fund them discourage people from getting jobs when they could); instead you are picking off weak arguments to make people who disagree with you seem like bad people.

      Like you, I think desert is not terminally valuable, but to condemn half of the population for expressing an intuition about deserving that is deeply rooted in human biological and cultural evolution, and serves some very useful instrumental purposes, suggests you are expecting too much from you fellow apes, most of whom haven’t enjoyed the privileged education in philosophy that you received.

      But as I’m sure you are aware having read Haidt among others, tribal political instincts reducing the quality of our analysis is a health hazard we all face when we get involved in politics. So I will not judge you too harshly for your mistakes, as I don’t judge Conservatives too harshly for theirs. You can still be my friend.

      • Bob says:

        “… the strongest arguments you might find in favour of the Conservatives (e.g. that the welfare payments you like, and the taxes required to fund them discourage people from getting jobs when they could)”
        That argument is actually empirically very weak. But spreading it is in line with conservatives hierarchical invested interests.

        “Like you, I think desert is not terminally valuable, but to condemn half of the population for expressing an intuition about deserving that is deeply rooted in human biological and cultural evolution, and serves some very useful instrumental purposes …”
        What is the evidence of it serving useful instrumental purposes? It sure serves harmful instrumental purposes: discord, hatred and negative attitudes against “undeserving poor” have harmful consequences.

        • Rob says:

          “That argument is actually empirically very weak.”

          It may well be false, but a) it’s a tricky empirical question to figure out, and will depend a lot of details of the EMTR that welfare recipients are paying, b) people who believed or made that argument wouldn’t necessary care less about the welfare of the poor, they might just be wrong about a difficult question to answer.

          “What is the evidence of it serving useful instrumental purposes?”

          It encourages people to contribute to their groups (whether their family, work team, or country) and not shirk. The reason this concept of ‘deserving’ evolved biologically or culturally was that it was useful to reward hard-workers with praise and reprimand moochers – that way more people were motivated to pitch in and the group as a whole thrived. Its persistence through all of human history and across all societies is a testament to its usefulness.

          I’m genuinely surprised that this is not obvious.

          • Bob says:

            “people who believed or made that argument wouldn’t necessary care less about the welfare of the poor, they might just be wrong about a difficult question to answer.”
            But the actual psychology work in the reverse: there is a preference for hierarchy and status quo power and then that is backfilled with whatever rationalization is at hand that on surface has some resemblance of an argument. If that argument was shown to be empirically faulty most conservatives would promptly grasp for some other figleaf argument to cover up the underlying hierarchical emotion.

            Furthermore, you are likely surprised because your missed a very crucial step in your own argument. The fact that an attitude was adaptive in our formative evolutionary stages doesn’t prove that it is useful in todays complex society, especially not the version of “desert” claims conservatives make. Their use of the concept takes current power and wealth distributions as a given. The son of a billionaire can mooch away all they like without sanction or reprimand. The status quo distribution is simply assumed justified. That version of the concept also assigns individuals full responsibility for outcomes that largely are caused by systemic effects that no individual can control. When the supply of job is much smaller than the unemployed workforce then it is no good to blame the individual unemployed for not having a job. In that situation – the situation where we are right now – “unemployed” is a social position that must be filled by someone. If there was an abundance of job vacancies then things would be different, but there aren’t. The conservative desert arguments today only serve to dress up a crude preference for power and hierarchy and to serve as an excuse to engage in hierarchy emotions like scorn against their “lesser” unemployed peers. That preference and those emotions likely also have evolutionary roots. But much of human progress has consisted in constraining and reforming them.

            • Tim Wilkinson says:

              Yes. The poor arguments and attempted arguments posted on this thread by angrily defensive conservatives appear to support the (already well-confirmed) thesis of your first paragraph.

    • Henry S. says:

      ‘I am generally happy to have a debate with people who disagree with me’ – unless, of course, they’ve committed the crime of ‘liking’ a single Tory-related page on Facebook, in which case you will completely disengage with them.

      And yet, despite comparing Conservative supporters to racists, sexists and homophobes, you admit that Labour are only ‘somewhat less bad than the Conservatives’. So I suppose that makes Labour supporters only ‘somewhat less bad’ than racists, sexists and homophobes…?

      Politics truly is a ‘mind-killer’.

      • Gareth Jones says:

        The ironic part in all of this is the Labour Party, despite not receiving the same level of condemnation reserved for the likes of UKIP via the mainstream media, retains a strong element of racism (as I’ve indicated in my comment above). Their immigration policies of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, often invoked racial sentiments. They weren’t just opposed to mass immigration – UKIP policy – they were opposed to immigration and wanted to place stricter controls on all forms.

        I think the argument forwarded by Rebecca is rooted in collectivism vs. individualism (well, really, it’s her condemnation reserved for anyone with a contrary opinion which is the real problem, but I digress). In reality, everyone is self-interested. Nobody turns up to work on Monday morning to further the interests of their employer. I often find the most self-interested people of all are those operating under the guise of collective sentiment. They have their own agenda to fulfil their own self-interested aims – they simply go about it a different way (typically through the exploitation of social narratives for their own political gain). Rather than believing in the ability of the individual, they’d rather pursue state paternalism. Resources are infinite in collectivist land.

        It reminds me of a quote from Jeff Randall, former BBC business editor, of what it’s like to work at the BBC:

        “It’s a bit like walking into a Sunday meeting of the Flat Earth Society. As they discuss great issues of the day, they discuss them from the point of view that the earth is flat.

        “If someone says, ‘No, no, no, the earth is round!’, they think this person is an extremist. That’s what it’s like for someone with my right-of-centre views working inside the BBC.”

        • Rick Nobinson says:

          Nick Robinson, Political Editor of the BBC and perhaps the most influential journalist in UK politics, was President of both the Oxford University Conservative Association and Conservative Party Youth Group.

          • Sterling says:

            Newsnight is perhaps the most influential TV programme in UK politics. It’s broadcast on the BBC, which controls 39.3% of our news consumption (compared to 22% for Sky and News Corp). The editor of Newsnight, Ian Katz, was deputy editor of the Guardian until 2013. The political editor of Newsnight, Allegra Stratton, has been a political correspondent at the Independent, the New Statesman, and the Guardian. The economics editor of Newsnight, Duncan Weldon, came to them from being the TUC’s senior economist; he was previously a Labour Party staffer as well as a Labour candidate in Crouch End in 2010. His predecessor, Stephanie Flanders, dated both Ed Balls and Ed Miliband: the former in the mid-1990s, the latter in 2004, while he was at the Treasury and she was Newsnight’s economics correspondent.

            I guarantee you’ll run out of these before I do.

            • Katie Beswick says:

              According to available viewing/readership statistics, Newsnight has an average viewership of between 600,000 and 700,000. The Daily Mail has a print circulation in the UK of over three million, and the website receives over 9 million daily viewers. The Sun still has around a daily print circulation of between 1.5 and 2 million.

              Your point might be that the BBC is left-biased, but the fact remains that the print and online newspaper press have a far more influential role in UK politics that a programme like Newsnight, watched by less than 2% of the population.

              • Gareth Jones says:

                Your point presupposes quantity of readers or viewers qualifies ‘influence.’

                I think we only need look at the electoral system to prove the contrary. At this present moment in time, our Parliament should be ‘influenced’ by 83 UKIP MPs. It’s not always that simple.

              • Sterling says:

                You’re right: my point was that the BBC was left-biased, and I was using one of their flagship politics programmes as a demonstration of it. However, you’ll notice that I also stated that the BBC controls 39.3% of British news consumption. Had you bothered to research this figure (look for Dan Sabbagh’s article ‘Murdoch media to control over a fifth of UK news consumption’ in the Guardian) you would have found that it already included print and online media. As I said, Sky and News Corp together contribute 22%, and when you add the 10.5% of DMGT you find that your “far more influential” organisations actually have less influence when combined than the BBC does on its own. This should hardly be surprising, when you consider how the BBC dominates coverage of politics on radio as well as TV. Today has 6.6 million weekly listeners, and PM 3.75 million-in other words, even the smaller of the BBC’s radio programmes has more reach than the largest print newspaper. And while the Daily Mail has c. 189m unique monthly browsers (60-70% of whom are not from the UK), BBC Online has c.101m (60-70% of whom are from the UK).

                Of course, none of this has any relevance to the point about the BBC’s left-wing bias, and you don’t seem to wish to challenge that argument. However, I thought it best to correct your impression about the nature of media plurality in the UK so you don’t get caught out on the topic in future.

    • Dave Frame says:

      Rebecca:
      (1) You haven’t explained why it’s ok to show intolerance and disrespect for people on the basis of their views on policy, when it is not ok to show similar levels of intolerance and disrespect in other areas (such as sex, sexuality, and race).
      (2) You seem to associate voting Conservative with policy ignorance and with moral illiberalism. Neither of these associations is fair. People who have far more policy expertise than you – The Economist’s and the Independent’s editors, for instance, or a host of senior political journalists, former civil servants, etc – seem to find enough to admire (however grudgingly) that they support the Conservatives in this election, while still maintaining the values of liberalism.
      (3) Policy is about trade-offs. Reasonable minds disagree about priorities and how those trade-offs ought to be made (both of which are normative matters). Tories aren’t actually obliged to share your list of priorities for society, and your list has (in our sort of society) no special status.
      (4) Neither are people obliged to agree with you about how best to achieve a good outcome, even given the same goal. Everyone wants a better education system, with smart, happy, well-adjusted kids. (Even Tories!) But people – reasonably – disagree about how best to get there.

    • Jim A.C. Everett says:

      It is interesting that despite your blog post lamenting the inferior reasoning skills of Conservatives compared to you, you have failed to even acknowledge the overwhelming criticisms that have been posted here. I mean, 80+ comments, nearly all of them overwhelmingly negative, is the worst I’ve seen here. I would imagine that someone as eminently rational and intellectually inferior might recognise that and concede that perhaps they are not right after all. Instead, you’ve shown yourself to be as ideologically blinkered, intolerant, unwilling to debate, and as unresponsive to criticism as the ‘evil Tories’ that you ranted about in the original post.

      • Michael Ezra says:

        I suspect that part of the reason for the blog post is that the author arrogantly assumed that the vast majority of readers and commentators would agree with her and they would all come to her defence in the event someone had a differing opinion. I also suspect that she is reading every comment here. It takes a lot for someone to admit they are a bigot. I doubt Dr. Roache is prepared to do so.

      • Bob says:

        I’m not particularly convinced by Roache’s initial arguments, but seeing you and some other first try to argue back so very weakly and now in a bizarre move declaring victory on the basis of those weak ass arguments of your, well that makes me start to think Roache may have had a point after all. If the conservatives in my social network behaved like you then I’d unfriend them too.

    • Keith Tayler says:

      RR said – ‘[Jonathan Haidt] first introduced me to the idea that people’s political and moral views are not shaped by reason (alone), and it is because of that idea that I considered the possibility of trying to change people’s mind about their political views by not debating with them, rather than by debating with them.’

      First introduced you? Surely you cannot be making this as a serious claim. What on earth did you do in your undergrad and postgrad years?

      • Tyler Durden says:

        And the internet once again exposes BS.

      • Bob says:

        A charitable interpretation is that Haidt’s research introduced Roache to the systematic empirical evidence based examination of such shaping processes. Because Haidt did pioneer that research. Sure there was other evidence and plenty of anecdotes and armchair material out there before. But it is not controversial to say that Haidt and some contemporaries has taken that topic to a new level.

        TL;DR your derping scores no points, Keith Taylor.

        • Keith Tayler says:

          Taking to a ‘new’ level was not what RR said. I was questioning her claim she was ’first introduced’ to the ’idea’. The idea is as old as philosophy, but it was raised to a level that shaped western civilisation by the Scottish Enlightenment and Marx. Since then it has in one form or another been a hot topic in philosophy, not least in Cambridge. Haidt’s work is interesting and he takes the psychology in a different direction. However, not sure we should get too excited about that and then decide not to debate with people.

          • Bob says:

            ” was not what RR said”
            Thus my “charitable interpretation”. It seems likely that what she meant was something like what I described since it is well known that notions of motivated reasoning in some form or other have been around for a long time. But I understand that you angrily want to hack at anything you can and therefore won’t entertain a charitable interpretation.

    • David Kenneth Ellis says:

      “This dialogue is ongoing; nevertheless, I am as certain as I can be that the views that lie at the heart of Conservative ideology are mistaken. That is compatible with continuing to question and revise my own views.”

      What you mean to say is that your certainty is compatible with the revision of your views in an ideological vacuum. If these personal political convictions are incapable of withstanding so much as a Facebook “like” from a ‘friend’ or colleague, their foundation is suspect.

      • Bob says:

        ” If these personal political convictions are incapable of withstanding so much as a Facebook “like” from a ‘friend’ or colleague, their foundation is suspect.”

        Straw man, since Roache didn’t make any “incapable of withstanding” claim in her argument. You misread the argument.

    • Mark says:

      I am not sure this conversation is worth continuing but I will end on a few points.

      There is an irony when you claim that Conservatism is based on intuitive thinking rather than reason (and that certainly is a tradition in conservative thought but it is not the only one) but then assert a litany of charges against conservative policy without providing actual evidence for them.

      Furthermore you seem to have an very strong implicit moral theory about how individuals should vote i.e. to perhaps to maximize welfare of the worst off. This theory seems to give you the presumption to condemn those who trade-0ff this concern against other goals.

      For example, consider a small business owner is worried about economic uncertainty under say Labor. Therefore they vote Conservative. However, this may not necessarily mean they care less about the poor than you do. Perhaps they donate more to charity but in the ballet box he places greater weight on macroeconomic stability than you do as an academic whose income is largely insured from business cycle fluctuations.

      Finally, a related point is that you neglect the fact that as voters we choose bundles. We don’t get to pick individualized polices. All the party platforms are problematic. Politicians of all parties make elementary mistakes in economics when they discuss economic policy. But that is democracy. Therefore one may dislike a Conservative policy or many of them but still vote Conservative if one see them as the least worst party.

      It is extremely sad that an academic philosopher shares the crude political prejudice that I’ve seen across social media in the wake of the election. This willingness to condemn the majority of voters in the country without argument is Leninist in spirit.

      • Bob says:

        Mark, you yourself “without providing actual evidence for them” make claims about “macroeconomic stability”. In fact, the conservatives has pursued austerity policies and related austerity propaganda that economical research has now come heavily out against.

        http://mainlymacro.blogspot.se/search/label/austerity
        http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financialcrisis/11209593/IMFs-push-for-austerity-was-wrong-says-funds-internal-auditor.html
        http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-02-13/one-hundred-years-of-austerity

        • Mark says:

          Bob, you miss the point. I am not the one claiming that people who vote :abor are bad people who I don’t wish to be friend with! I accept these debates are murky and hence do not defriend people with differing opinions. Moreover my claim about macroeconomic stability was about a voter who believed that Conservative policies would bring about great macroeconomic stability. This is a perfectly defensible belief given the evidence we have (it doesn’t have to be a correct belief).

          The evidence for austerity is obviously contested. I am actually an economist! (though not a macroeconomist). I am not impressed with how either parties including the Conservatives discuss economic policy (they fall into the fallacy of treating the economy as if it were analogous to a household). That said, despite the impression certain bloggers like to give there is no consensus among academic economists on this issue (I don’t have space to go into my own views here).

    • Sarah says:

      “Labour are just as bad as the Conservatives, or nearly as bad. I think that Labour are somewhat less bad than the Conservatives, but sadly I agree that they have a great many flaws, many of which are shared by the Conservatives.”

      This seems to me to undermine your whole argument. To go back to your original comparison, it would be a bit like proudly announcing that you are not friends with racists, sexists, or homophobes, and then, when someone points out that your BFF Billy is a Neo-Nazi, saying “oh yes I know, but he is not as big a Neo – Nazi as Bob!”

      I suspect that you have a strong emotional dislike of the Conservatives, and you also disagree with many of their past actions and policies . You also disagree with many (maybe fewer)Labour actions and policies, but you don’t have a strong emotional dislike of them. That’s fine, but it does not support an academic argument, and as others have said, is probably an inappropriate use of the platform you have here.

      Incidentally, I find it hard to conceive of any government action that is worse than lying to go to a war that has resulted in huge innocent deaths and destabilisation of an entire region.

  • Faraday says:

    Here’s an old story:

    Two old men who met during the war have a reunion in Paris every year. They sit in a cafe, drink wine, catch-up about their families, talk about literature, arts, politics, etc.

    During one of these meetings, after a lull in the conversation, one of the men turned to the other and asked “Do you like Germans?”

    “No” responded his friend.

    “What about Jews?”

    “No” said his friend again.

    Emboldened, his pressed on. “How about socialists? Do you like them?”

    Again, his friend said “no”.

    This goes on for some time, until the man turns to his friend and, bewildered, asks “Well, just who the hell do you like?”

    He responds, “I like my friends”.

  • Nikolas Schaffer says:

    “We hand-wringing, bleeding-heart lefties…”

    These days, there are actually quite a few people who regard themselves as progressive liberals, without aligning themselves with either the Left or the Right, since both of those traditional “sides” of politics tend to be burdened with ideological obligations that render some of their positions contradictory or hypocritical. For example, there’s a lot of tension between the Left’s commitment to “multiculturalism” and its commitment to Western liberal principles such as sexual equality and gay rights. I’d imagine more than a few gay people would have voted Conservative in this election in response to the Left’s growing ambivalence on this issue, particularly after Miliband’s promise to “ban Islamophobia”.

    • Tyler Durden says:

      Left Wing and Right Wing are separate entities to Liberalism and Authoritarianism, both the left and right can have elements of authoritarianism and liberalism, that’s why we in the 40’s we had two major authoritarianism governments, one far left and one far right.

    • Gareth Jones says:

      Despite this blatant contradiction which was emphasised more recently by Harman when she condoned a segregated Labour event to appeal to Muslim voters, there’s only ever one wing which people are shamed into voting against: the right.

      Take the BBC’s use of the term ‘far-right’, which is basically a euphemism for ‘everything we disagree with.’ It uses it frequently to refer to Front National, a party which advocates in favour of protectionism and the nationalisation of industry. Even opposition to immigration has traditionally been a left-wing issue (protecting the working classes against wage deflation).

  • Charles says:

    I am amazed this person has got anywhere in academia. I was under the impression that scholars had inquiring minds, and were able to deal with views contrary to their own. Clearly this lady is a poor scholar. It is a sad indictment on Academia that such people hold jobs in our Universities, a comment I make as a phd student myself with academic aspirations. In short, if this is the level of thought required to obtain an academic position, one might suggest that there is little to worry about in terms of the competition.

    • Wombat says:

      Thirty years ago you may have been right.

      Currently you will be sadly disappointed to find that holding views such as RR’s are a quick and easy way to get your tickets punched and land a cushy, highly paid job for life in the public “service”.

  • DavidUK84 says:

    Good! Please do unfriend me, the last thing I want to do is associate with an extremist bigot such as you.

  • Tom says:

    So you can’t support gay rights etc. without holding a left wing view of how the economy should work? I have an ideology far from being in line with the Conservative party, but it meant I voted conservative (despite being working class – how can this be?!). I nearly voted for labour but their authoritarian and over-regulating history was too much. Don’t assume that you’re right about everything because you take a view of “the state should help.” That belief is not always right IMO and your attitude is borderline soviet. They weren’t keen on democracy either. Don’t say I’m exaggerating after what nonsense you wrote. This comes down to your conviction that everyone else is wrong and you are right and anyone who disagrees is evil. Disgusting.

  • anti-conservative says:

    Most current policies hurt everyone but seem to hurt the rich. Therefore, it is difficult to make the country better without seeming to help the rich most.

    Anyway, the more certain you are of your opinions, the more likely you make it more difficult to you and others to find the truth.

  • Nadia Hossain says:

    I think the author makes a good point that we should learn to hate people who think differently to us.

    We should especially hate economists because they are clearly part of an anti-poor conspiracy to try and decrease growth and employment so that they can continue building poverty. If you think back 200 years before the evils of economic rationalism you can see that people were much happier and now we have been corrupted and made poor and the modern world is much worse because of the neo-liberal economic conspiracy being pushed by conservatives and people like them.

    Conservatives should not be allowed to vote.

    • Tyler Durden says:

      A higher percentage of people 200 years ago were in extreme poverty. The welfare system is a 20th century creation. Perhaps you should research the facts before making such statements, in my opinion idiots like you shouldn’t be allowed to vote.

    • Bob says:

      In fact austerity politics has very little and weak support from contemporary economic research. Right wing political ideology cling to it though and right wing ideology always pretend to have economic research on its side. Feels better than admitting that it is crude hierarchy and power that really motivates the right wing mind.

  • SteveH says:

    I think this post is in the right spirit.

    The Tory voters have to man up to what they voted for, i.e. the destruction of the NHS, the spivs, the rip off utility bosses and the millionaires. And the fact that they have consigned more and more people to destitution.

    I would go further than unfriending them, I would say if you see a Tory doing charity work verbally abuse their hypocrisy. So rather then not engaging with Tories tell them why you hate them and why are they uncaring scum.

    • Michael Ezra says:

      Perhaps all Tories, as running pig-dogs of Imperialism, should be sent to the Gulag for re-education?

      • SteveH says:

        I wouldn’t send Tories to gulags, the Palestinians have enough problems without having to share small spaces with the Tories. or did you have some other Gulag in mind?

        For the record I oppose gulags, or prisons where people are tortured. Your friends know all about that don’t they Erza.

        But nothing in my comment would suggest I do support Gulags, Erza made this grand leap because in his mind Gulags are a perfectly real solution, after all he is a steadfast supporter of people who impose such solutions.

        But don’t tar us all with your own brush please.

    • DavidUK84 says:

      You embody the true spirit of Stalinism.

      • SteveH says:

        DavidUK84,

        You embody the true spirit of Goebbels what with your false propaganda and all.

        • Johnnydub says:

          IF you ever wonder how collectivism killed over 100 million people in the 20th Century read this post. Demonisation of the other, and utter intolerance are just a short journey from the death camps of Mao or Stalin.

          But of course, you’re progressive and they’re evil so that’s all right then???

    • Dungeekin says:

      I have to take issue here with the tired soundbite ‘the destruction of the NHS’.

      No, no, NO. This weary phrase has been trotted out by Labour in some or other form at every single General Election and in every single Labour Party Manifesto since 1955 (source: Political Science Resources). Since then we have had many more years of Conservative Government than Labour, and yet the NHS still stands today. It’s as meaningful a claim as the latest DFS Sale and about as honest.

      The PFI initiatives brought in by the Labour Party have also caused an estimated £229bn of debt against a capital value of approximately £56bn (source: C4 Fact Check) and the oft-repeated claim of ‘Tory privatisation’ of the NHS has been similarly debunked (source: King’s Trust).

      There are many other legitimate reasons to challenge the Conservative Party if you wish, but to claim the destruction of the NHS as one of them is simply crying wolf.

    • DaveS says:

      You’ll grow up one day.

  • Jonathan says:

    How terrible is wisdom when it brings no profit to the wise…

    But then again

    Get over yourself.

  • handandmouse says:

    My response to this post is here. TLDR: you’re wrong.

  • handandmouse says:

    My response to this post is at my blog: http://handandmouse.blogspot.co.uk/2015/05/antithesis.html.

    TLDR: you’re wrong.

  • Tom says:

    As a graduate of the university you teach at I am horrified by the narrow-minded attitude you display in this post. There are two things in particular which are deeply troubling.

    First, you wilfully caricature Conservative thought – do you really believe that 50% of the electorate were conned into voting for a party intent on killing the vulnerable? The truth is that Conservatives sincerely believe in helping people, but by means other than those you espouse. Do you really lack the generosity of spirit to credit us with this sincerity?

    Second, should an academic at Oxford, particularly one teaching your subject, really be suggesting that she won’t even countenance views contrary to her own? Students should be hearing exactly the opposite message from their tutors: let’s discuss why we disagree. That you can’t even appreciate that such conversations are the lifeblood of a great university is extremely worrying.

    • Shaun Pilkington says:

      “do you really believe that 50% of the electorate were conned into voting for a party intent on killing the vulnerable?’

      Nah, just 37%. Unlike the 30.4% who voted for heaven on earth, free owls and magic money and kittens for everyone.

    • Bob says:

      “suggesting that she won’t even countenance views contrary to her own”
      RR did not do that. Try reading the blog post again.

  • Sir Graphus says:

    It seems we’ll never meet, because I’ve decided to be a shy Tory no more. I’m so fed up with people such as this writer talking of me as if we are bad people, simply because we value economic competence and not wasting our children’s money above a Labour party who’s economic policy was guaranteed to bankrupt us all.

    I am fed up with feeling nervous if a conversation with someone I didn’t know well turned to politics, and I’d try to gauge how left wing the person is before expressing my opinion. If the person was left wing, I could guarantee they’d turn aggressive if I expressed an opinion that the deficit was too high, or that an ever expanding state was not necessarily a good thing. Good job I didn’t ever say that immigration was bad for the country’s existing working class residents.

    The left cannot bully the population into agreeing with them. This election has made that obvious, and bloody hurrah for that.

  • Matt says:

    What an absolutely abhorrent article. Nobody should be judged like that based on your idea of what makes a good political party. I voted conservative, I’m a student at Sheffield University and I am damn proud that I did. I have a lot of friends who express (very) left-wing views and you know what, we get on like a house on fire. Politics of course has serious implications, but not being friends with someone because they hold a politically different opinion to you reeks of bitterness and immaturity. I can’t believe that a lecturer at Royal Holloway University has even contemplated writing this. You argue that we don’t care about poor or disabled people. Well Rebecca, my sister is 18 years old now, has serious mental disabilities and will never be able to get a job. She will rely on her family and the state to get her through life. And yes, I voted conservative. Why? Because you can’t expect to throw money at the welfare system and magically expect all the issues to go away – you have to have a strong economy first and then we can put earned money in to the welfare system, not borrowed money.

    You are a person of great responsibility, with a fantastic job at one of the UK’s most up-and-coming universities. I actually applied to Royal Holloway to study 5 years ago, but on the basis of your views, thank goodness I got my first choice university of Sheffield. Imagine how you would feel that your right-wing leaning teacher absolutely dismantled your essay because you expressed left-wing views in it. You have been pathetic enough to state to the United Kingdom that you will refuse to be friends with at least 14 million people, so Christ knows what you would do to an anonymous essay written by someone who just had slightly different views to you.

  • Julian Snowdon says:

    We already know that intellectuals can be capable of great stupidity. Good to be reminded that they can be thoroughly nasty, as well.

  • David says:

    I note that the University of Oxford is named at the top of this blog. Can you please tell me it and your association with the University? My comments about this disgusting piece I think would be better addressed to someone there than on here or to you.

  • Ian R says:

    I think the reason why RR is so mad is that she knows the time is up for the likes of her and her other similarly narrow-minded bigoted friends.

  • Jake Haye says:

    Sinecured left-wing academics support left-wing parties from a sense of altruism? Who knew!

  • Brigid Crawford says:

    Would you vote for a politician who had racist friends and some sympathy with racism, and who would be happy to perpetuate racist policies? If not, and you voted Labour, I have a shock for you: almost every labour politician has tory friends, and gives balanced consideration to many tory policies. A labour government would not have repealed a single major thing the last government enacted, except, weirdly, a top tax rate and NHS reforms which were both a continuation of previous labour policy. If you didn’t vote labour yourself, I think you should unfriend your labour-voting colleagues asap.

    You may be pretty lonely in academia then though, where if you do vote conservative it’s hardly safe to admit it. This is a shame, because it would be helpful to have a wide-ranging discussion of the possible solutions to complex problems such as wage depression, welfare dependancy and tax-take. It may be that many moral/political convictions are based on intuitions rather than reasoning, but I’d be surprised if the policy issues that separate the two main parties…whether to balance only current or current + capital budget, over three or five years…fall into that category. I know life as a philosopher might be more exciting in a country riven by the struggle between good and evil, or at least between genuinely contradictory ideologies, but you might need to move to Narnia, or maybe North Korea.

    Here the main division between parties is a matter of tribal loyalty. Born into a pedigree Labour family, I spent many years bonding with friends over a shared hatred of tories as barely human sociopaths – scum. But since the fall of communism and not being 12 any more, this attitude has seemed at best silly and at worst the sort of thinking that lead to the French Terror and the Russian Gulags. Quite like racism, really.

    Whether your conservative friends are tories because they are indifferent to the suffering of the poor and disabled is an empirical question. I can point you towards a lot of hard evidence that many conservatives aren’t – if you are really interested in the argument, rather than just enjoying a bit of virtue signalling that is…

  • Niel Oxley says:

    This post seems to have been written by someone who has not yet completely grown up. Throwing a tantrum just because your team didn’t win, is hardly the work of a mature and well balanced human being.

  • Recce says:

    The “shy Tories” you refer too were actually going to vote UKIP, and at the last moment wavered and went Tory instead. If you compare Northern marginals actual results against Lord Ashcroft’s polls, you will see that UKIP have been over estimated and the Tories underestimated. But ask yourself were all the ZlibDem support were in these seats, because I can’t believe it went to UKIP and the increase in Labour votes doesn’t account for it either. What you see as you go further north is Labour losing their voters to UKIP over immigration, but the loss being taken up by ex-LibDem.

    When it came to the day, “blue” UKIP returned to Tory, but “red” UKIP were so annoyed at being called racist for worrying about immigration that they didn’t switch back to Labour.

    If you want to blame people, blame Labour for failing to listen to their voters concerns over immigration and not answering their concerns. Or blame the ex-LibDem voters who were so outraged over tuition fees that they deserted the party and have removed the liberal part of the coalition to give the Tories free reign. But for the Tories, they only increased their national vote share by 0.8%. The Right didn’t win this election, the Left threw it away.

  • roGER says:

    I suspect this is a highly emotional post made by someone who is very upset and angry by the result of the election.

    If you’re deeply committed to any sort of cause, then a defeat to that cause can have the same emotional effect as bereavement. If you’re a supporter of the Labour party the election was particularly upsetting, as it was so unexpected.

    Grieving people are not themselves – hence perhaps this rather extreme post.

  • Alex Fisher says:

    This is the most moronic thing I’ve read from someone pretending to be serious for some time, and it points to a larger problem. The world of academia is overflowing with the sort of people who:
    i) have never had, or even sought, a job outside of academic institutions
    ii) are surrounded permanently by people who either agree with them, or are too concerned about their own grades or jobs to challenge them.

    It concerns me a great deal that the same person who wrote this piece has been appointed by a respected university to lecture to students, and presumably to judge their work. This is problematic on two counts:
    i) Somebody so utterly bigoted and hateful towards those who disagree with them cannot possibly be objective when engaging with students’ ideas.
    ii) Somebody whose reasoning is so flawed and childish appears ill-suited to teach others, especially in an academic discipline like philosophy, which depends on civil disagreement to move forward.

    The university is either an intellectually combative home to critical thinking, or it is a tired echo chamber that adds nothing to mainstream discourse except sanctimonious preaching. It is the second approach that sadly dominates today, and if this trend continues the relevance of higher education to our wider intellectual culture will diminish still further.

  • DSPritchett says:

    Is this really the sort of thing that should be posted on a university blog with a .ox.ac.uk address, which could suggest that it is opinion of the university or faculty, as opposed to just the narrow opinion of an individual?

    Furthermore, despite being a Liberal/Labour supporter, I find Labour supporters far more angry and ‘shouty’ and ignorant on FB than Conservatives. Labour voters will post something, rant about the right, and refuse to be reasoned, blocking any debate by claiming you’re racist/classist/elitist/whateverisconvenient-ist, and if really desperate, pull the ‘you’re invading my safe space, back off or I will delete’ – fyi safe spaces are for actual minorities that face discrimination, not the sorry state of a large minority that Labour supporters are. Conservative friends I generally find to enjoy a debate and an argument over politics, and those debates have enabled me to develop my own political thinkings, and whilst realising firmly I do not agree with Conservativism, they enable me to appreciate those people as politically active and engaged friends. I would always always rather have a politically astute friend who disagrees with me than a sheep that doesn’t know why they agree with me.

  • Rhombus Jones says:

    How can someone who thinks for a living be so bad at it?

  • David O'Mahony says:

    Perhaps a brief read through the debt time-bomb that Labour mismanagement of the British economy has necessitated will give you some sense of why cuts and “austerity” are required by an economically literate government.

    http://www.debtbombshell.com/uk-national-debt.htm

    Regards,

    David O’Mahony.

  • David Colquhoun says:

    I’m happy to talk to almost anyone, but I have quite often unfollowed, muted or blocked people on twitter because of their politics. If you say anything about guns you are likely to get far right sniping from US gun nuts whom you’ve never heard of and will never convert. They get blocked. There are too many interesting people to talk to for it to make sense to me to spend time on such people.

    Personally, I have great difficulty in imagining how anyone can vote Conservative. Ever since Thatcher spread the gospel of “greed is good”, Conservatism seems to me to be morally tainted. Neither was it good economics -it was surely the cause of the banking crisis (along with Reagan’s similar views). Perhaps, at the time. Thatcher over-estimated the honesty of bankers: she didn’t realise that her deregulation would lead to so much dishonest and fraudulent behavior. The present Conservative party has no such excuse.

  • John Moss says:

    You know what, I feel exactly the same sometimes when I debate screaming lefties who think that the state is the font of all things good and individual actions and beliefs can only ever be evil. You know the type, the ones who yesterday sprayed the “FUCK TORY SCUM” graffito on the monument to all the women who served in our various wars.

    It’s no good explaining that ALL the money to pay for public services has to come from the taxes paid by private sector businesses and its employees. No good explaining that those employed by the state make no net contribution to taxes. No good suggesting that if you sell a home to the people living in it, you can use the cash to build a new one for a new household to occupy. Rational debate does seem pointless sometimes in those circumstances, but not always. Sometimes I learn new things from my friends of a leftish persuasion, sometimes they learn something from me – usually the one about how Thatcher’s governments raised spending on the NHS by 3.9%pa above inflation on average through her 11 years in power.

    By all means go off an live in a cosy, insulated, zone of self-reinforcing left-wing belief – I think it’s called Venezuela – but do remember to take a good supply of toilet roll and never speak out against the Government for fear of the death squads knocking in the depth of night.

  • Jack B says:

    It’s because of these type of views, so prevalent on social media, that I couldn’t bring myself to vote Labour this time. Much of what is wrong with the Left neatly encapsulated in your post. Peace and tolerance x

  • Shaun Pilkington says:

    It wouldn’t occur to the left, ofc, that this sort of narrow manichean world view is one of the things people found very unattractive about Labour and their vocal, sometimes violently disappointed, supporters.

  • Al says:

    It’s posts like this that make me ashamed to be a labour/lib-dem voter.

    People don’t talk politics exactly because of behaviour like yours, no better way of falling out with people. And I’m no fan of the conservatives because of their approach to the unemployed, Europe and foxhunting, and until they change their minds, they won’t get my vote, because these issues are important to me.

    Having said that, I regard them as a mere annoyance rather than a living demon, because we need opposing views for a democracy to work. And the suggestion of using the ‘stick’ rather than debate in politics says a lot about you. I voted labour in a tory heartland but even I didn’t respond in this way.

    Keep at it! Drive more floating voters into the arms of the tories, see where it gets us.

  • AnneJGP says:

    Thank you, Rebecca, both for your OP and for all the informative comments it generated. I found the link on politicalbetting.com.

    As it happens I have just posted a comment about left-wing hate-behaviour on Labour-Uncut. People who indulge in expressing hate and teaching hate are not, in my view, suitable people to be trusted with anything very much.

    The prevalence of hate on the left is, in my view, a very real problem for the Labour party. Ordinary people don’t like it.

    FYI, my own education finished at A level.

  • Yellowhammer says:

    Do you know who Dennis Skinner’s best friend in the Commons is? Nicholas Soames. Can you think of two people more different and less likely to agree on anything? No. Nor can I. Which is probably why they’re such good friends. That, and the fact that they are self-evidently grown-ups – unlike you, who boasts of unfriending anyone of Tory persuasion.

    Other posters have dealt with the numerous untruths in your post, so I shan’t repeat them here. But to describe an administration which introduces gay marriage as homophobic is beyond satire.

    I presume you have long vacations, being an academic and all. Why don’t you spend the next one travelling round the UK, meeting people of all persuasions, seeing how they live and how they think? I would imagine you’ll find that most of them are far more tolerant of you than you seem to be of them.

  • Conrad says:

    Rebecca,

    In your response to the concern that students with Conservative views are put at a disadvantage in your class you write:

    “My students can express whatever crazy views they like in their work, provided that they argue for them: they are graded on their argument, not on the content of the views for which they are arguing.”

    I take this to mean that to mean that you grade students on the basis of the quality of their arguments. At the same time you seem to be saying that there can be no good arguments for supporting Conservative policies “out of consideration, not only for oneself, but out of consideration for others, including the vulnerable, the exploited, and the poor.”

    So that seems to imply that any student who argues that Conservative policies will be better for the vulnerable, the exploited and the poor than the policies proposed/implemented by e.g. Labor or the Greens, cannot expect to earn a good grade in your class. Is this a fair conclusion?

  • Michael E says:

    Perhaps Rebecca Roache would get on with Simon Elmer who posted the below to a Facebook group entitled “F*CK THE TORY GOVERNMENT – NO TO ALL CUTS – YES TO REAL DEMOCRACY .” As links are disabled I can’t post the link but it was posted at 11.05am on May 9, 2015 and mentioned on the website versanews.co.uk. According to versanews. the event that was advertised was being attended by “many Oxford students.”

    “ANTI-TORY MANIFESTO 2015

    1. If you see a Tory, pin a rosette on them so we know who to kick in the street.
    2. Never shake hands with a Tory.
    3. Never buy or accept a drink from a Tory.
    4. If one of your friends is a Tory, de-friend them and encourage your other friends to do the same.
    5. If you meet a Tory in public, name and shame them.
    6. If you know a Tory at work, start a campaign to get them fired from their job.
    7. If your boss or teacher is a Tory, expose them to your colleagues and demand they leave their post on the grounds of moral incompetence.
    8. Refuse to work for a Tory or, if that jeopardises your livelihood, sabotage the benefits they gain from your work (piss in their soup, overcharge them at the checkout, pour sugar in their petrol tank, sow salt on their garden, saw through supporting structures, etc.)
    9. Never ever show respect for the property of a Tory . . .
    10. Don’t engage with Tory trolls on social media. If they don’t understand the fundamental obscenity of their beliefs you’re wasting your time.
    11. Stop reading or watching Tory-backed media and entertainment that depicts the working classes as competing monkeys obsessed with celebrity and fame.
    12. The 24% of the electorate that voted Tory are our Enemy. They support a minority government that is waging a violent economic and ideological War against us, and we must fight back!
    13. The wealthiest 20% of our population is 10 times richer than the poorest 20%. It is they, along with the class traitors (cops, city boys, estate agents, etc), that make up the Tory electorate.
    14. Exacerbate, at every opportunity, the opposition between Them and Us.
    15. Scratch a Liberal and they’ll bleed Tory (see the comments below).
    16. This is Civil War.”

  • Eccles says:

    Me, I can’t stand logical positivists. If you’re a logical positivist, you’re not my friend. I shall giggle hysterically if anything nasty happens to you, or your grandmother, or your hamster. As a trained philosopher, I know that one should never consider that other people might have a different point of view from me. I hate you all, logical positivists. Be warned.

  • John Jones says:

    It’s striking that an academic daring to quote 18th-century authorities like Burke is so deaf to the characteristic 18th-century fear of fanaticism.

    Many influential voices in that era, looking back at the extremism and intolerance of the 17th century which had caused so much bloodshed and instability across Britain, came to the view that religious and political fundamentalism were dangerous and needed at all costs to be avoided. One manifestation of this resolve was the widespread distaste for “enthusiasm”, meaning zealous religious convictions based on the claim that one is correct in one’s own beliefs and one’s opponents necessarily wrong. Another pronounced feature of the period was a constant criticism of factionalism and mutal hatred in the political sphere which led key authorities like Addison and Hume to denounce what they called “the rage of party” which prevented people from speaking civilly to one another and threatened to entrench worrying divisions and antipathies within society.

    The author of this unconvincing piece, which is all the more disturing coming from someone who presumably has a professional responsibility to employ their critical faculties actively (including, crucially, to her own views), falls straight into the trap that those writers identified. Believing that one has exclusive access to the Truth and that one’s opponents must be both morally and intellectually inferior is not merely philosophically incoherent onthe most obvious epistemological grounds that Hume in particular famously demonstrated. Placing one’s opponents beyond the pale is also dangerous and reprehensible because of the kind of politics (as we saw all too often outside Britain in the 20th century) to which it can lead.

  • John Jones says:

    It’s striking that an academic daring to quote 18th-century authorities like Burke is so deaf to the characteristic 18th-century fear of fanaticism.

    Many influential voices in that era, looking back at the extremism and intolerance of the 17th century which had caused so much bloodshed and instability across Britain, came to the view that religious and political fundamentalism were dangerous and needed at all costs to be avoided. One manifestation of this resolve was the widespread distaste for “enthusiasm”, meaning zealous religious convictions based on the claim that one is correct in one’s own beliefs and one’s opponents necessarily wrong. Another pronounced feature of the period was a constant criticism of factionalism and mutal hatred in the political sphere which led key authorities like Addison and Hume to denounce what they called “the rage of party” which prevented people from speaking civilly to one another and threatened to entrench worrying divisions and antipathies within society.

    The author of this unconvincing piece, which is all the more disturing coming from someone who presumably has a professional responsibility to employ their critical faculties actively (including, crucially, to her own views), falls straight into the trap that those writers identified. Believing that one has exclusive access to the Truth and that one’s opponents must be both morally and intellectually inferior is not merely philosophically incoherent on the most obvious epistemological grounds that Hume in particular famously demonstrated. Placing one’s opponents beyond the pale is also dangerous and reprehensible because of the kind of politics (as we saw all too often outside Britain in the 20th century) to which it can lead.

  • Roddy Campbell says:

    It’s just an astounding post. A lecturer in philosophy (no less), a teacher of philosophy and PPE, finds 11.3m of her fellow British citizens so repugnant she does not want to be associated with them. 11.3m (and let’s not forget the x million who voted UKIP) voters in one of the freest democracies in the world, not voting for a new party of right-wing lunatics, but a traditional long-established party. 11.3m who are held to have views as repulsive as racists, sexists, or homophobes.

    And this diatribe is published on an Oxford University practical ethics blog?

    And this person teaches philosophy and practical ethics, and supervises PPE dissertations?

    What will happen (as happened frequently and very usefully to me when at Oxford) when a student of hers in a politics or philosophy setting expresses an argument she doesn’t like? I find it hard to believe that a balanced discussion will ensue from the sheer violence and attachment expressed here.

    Gosh is about as strong a word as I dare express.

  • King Post says:

    According to this blog’s own “About” page, this is where one can “find daily ethical analysis of news events from researchers in four centres based at the Philosophy Faculty, University of Oxford.” Dr. Roache, one of the blog authors among an otherwise august company of philosophers — which includes the White’s Professor of Moral Philosophy — writes: “I claim that supporting their [the Tory’s] policies is as objectionable as holding racist, sexist, or homophobic views.” Since supporting Tory policies presumably makes one a Tory, being a Tory, according to Dr. Roache, is presumably just as objectionable as being a racist. So, it would seem that, in her eyes, the Prime Minister David Cameron is no better than a racist — and the majority of the country who voted Tory are no better than racists, and so by God will find no friend in Dr. Roache. Her statement is a callous insult to those who have actually suffered under racist regimes and who die trying to gain entry to the “racist” UK. Does she provide any argument or evidence at all for her ludicrous and offensive claim? No, not a shred. Tory policies are simply dogmatically derogated without argument as “abhorrent” and no better than racism. The dangerous self-righteousness and fetid pc-sanctimoniousness of her un-argued-for opinions is truly stunning, given that she is (apparently) a philosopher. Not to worry, however, she assures us, “A bigot, I take it, is someone who is universally (or, at least, widely) intolerant of those who hold opposing opinions, which doesn’t describe me at all.” That’s right, she is just the opposite of intolerant, as she makes clear: “One of the first things I did after seeing the depressing election news this morning was check to see which of my Facebook friends ‘like’ the pages of the Conservatives or David Cameron, and unfriend them. (Thankfully, none of my friends ‘like’ the UKIP page.) Life is too short, I thought, to hang out with people who hold abhorrent political views, even if it’s just online. This marked a change of heart for me. Usually, I try to remain engaged with such people in the hope that I might be able to change their views through debate.” The very essence of liberal Millian toleration! And a truly penetrating “ethical analysis” from the Philosophy Faculty at Oxford, to boot! What a load of adolescent drivel (the other blog authors must be cringing). Dr. Roache is apparently arrogant and self-centreed enough to think that the readers of an Oxford Philosophy blog devoted to ethical analysis are interested in her autobiography, in particular about her de-frriending activity on Facebook. One could be forgiven for expecting some philosophically interesting analysis or discussion of the nature friendship and its relation to politics and morality. But no, instead we get trite anti-Tory rhetoric mixed with Facebook. The only thing missing is the Labour shibboleth that Tory’s are “evil”. Is Dr. Roache philosophically capable of providing an argument for her claim that Tory policies are no better than racism? Stay tuned (but don’t hold your breath …).

  • infovoy says:

    They don’t like it up ’em!

  • Tim says:

    Basically as I read it Rebecca Roache, you are saying that you think your views are more tolerant, decent and better than those held by a conservative voter. Therefore by extension , in your mind, you are a better more decent person than those who vote conservative.

    I totally disagree with you. If you are to judge someone, then judge them by their intelligence, sense of humour, compassion, kindness, abilities and so on not simply their political views. You can have no consideration, respect, kindness towards others in a personal capacity and be left leaning politically.

    You define a bigot as: “A bigot, I take it, is someone who is universally (or, at least, widely) intolerant of those who hold opposing opinions, which doesn’t describe me at all”. But surely by being so unpleasant about anyone being a conservative and unfriending them on facebook you are showing the very intolerance you say you so detest. But I suppose being a left wing academic being ghastly to conservative voters does n’t count as intolerant in your eyes. Do you not see the irony, hypocrasy and dare it say lack of intellectual consistency in that argument!

    I find the intellectual arrogance in your writing staggering. I hope your dealings with students and your marking of their work is a lot more thoughtful, considered and open minded than your contributions here. If they are not then frankly I don’t think you are a suitable person for your position.

  • ralph says:

    I’m an academic and this post appals me. It also exemplifies why the left lost in England. Attitudes such as these disgust me. I know decent people of all political persuasions, including UKIP voters. I’m a Labour voter by the way and have never voted Conservative. The association of left politics with an exclusive claim to moral purity is ludicrous and patently untrue.

  • Mick Thurston says:

    Thank goodness we are still able to express our political preferences in private through the ballot box. Our private decisions, based on informed, studied and considered judgement should be a right afforded all voters, without let or hindrance, not the domain of a so called “leftist intelligentsia” who claim to hold some kind of higher moral ground. That is plainly patronising nonsense. To suggest – even in jest – that one should “un-friend” or disassociate those who hold an alternative view from us (in this case a conservative one), is reactionary and elitist. And to suggest that they care less than those on the left is insulting to millions who exercised their democratic RIGHT. I ask you, do you think that Tory voters (shy or otherwise), are largely more racist, jingoist, anti Europe, misogynist and inward looking than say previous Labour voters now voting UKIP up and down the country? Or is it just because you need to fill a blog. You don’t hold the monopoly on making or taking moral positions any more than any other faction once the maths is done, believe me.

  • Gary Collard says:

    Rebecca is open and honest about her intolerance, however you feel about such narrow-mindedness you have to appreciate the honesty.

  • The Don says:

    ” My Facebook feed today is full of posts and debates by compassionate, liberal people.”

    That’s funny, because mine was full of ignorant, insulting turds like you.

  • mico says:

    Apparently the author of this post has a PhD from Cambridge and particular research interests in apparent human irrationality.

    Fascinating. I should write a paper.

  • Gary Collard says:

    Rebecca is open and honest about her narrow-minded intolerance, however you feel about such things you have to appreciate the honesty.

  • Sterling says:

    Just wanted to say thank you for this article. Though it’s been many years since I matriculated, I’m still in regular contact with several of my tutorial partners, all of whom vote Conservative and all of whom make regular donations to the University. Clearly you consider our money tainted- if you don’t want to be friends with us, you certainly won’t want to take money from us. And if the Conservatives truly are withdrawing support from the poor, the sick, the foreign, and the unemployed in the way you claim, undoubtedly there will be many potential recipients of our charity far more deserving than the University of Oxford over the next few years.

  • Alex W says:

    Wow, for an author who claims to be involved in philosophy this post ha some incredible flaws.
    Ms Roache takes the view that her opinions are inherently right and not worth revision in the face of new facts (for instance better data on the Laffer Curve to help with a judgement on Optimal Taxation levels, etc…).
    Socrates wrote: “The unexamined life is not worth living” .. how can a proponent of his field of thought be so hubristically closed-mined as to invest hours of their time to methodically research whether her acquaintances disagree with her, and then minimise further discourse with them.

    A final piece of philosophy Ms Roache: “A man should never be ashamed to own that he has been in the wrong, which is but saying in other words that he is wiser today than he was yesterday.” (Jonathan Swift). If you’re never willing to be proved wrong by others, you will never be wiser. [my personal opinion is that no amount of wisdom is enough, but each to their own…]

  • Alex W says:

    Wow, for an author who claims to be involved in philosophy this post has some incredible flaws.
    Ms Roache takes the view that her opinions are inherently right and not worth revision in the face of new facts (for instance better data on the Laffer Curve to help with a judgement on Optimal Taxation levels, etc…).
    Socrates wrote: “The unexamined life is not worth living” .. how can a proponent of his field of thought be so hubristically closed-mined as to invest hours of their time to methodically research whether her acquaintances disagree with her, and then minimise further discourse with them.

    A final piece of philosophy Ms Roache: “A man should never be ashamed to own that he has been in the wrong, which is but saying in other words that he is wiser today than he was yesterday.” (Jonathan Swift). If you’re never willing to be proved wrong by others, you will never be wiser. [my personal opinion is that no amount of wisdom is ‘enough’, but clearly you fell you’re all done on that front]

  • torq says:

    Riddle: They are low, shallow, cramped, sectarian, narrow-minded, and totalitarian. What do they call themselves?

  • Rebecca Roache says:

    I’m afraid I’ve received far more tweets and blog comments than I can hope to respond to fully (or even read properly), but I’ll try to engage with some of them here. Some of the comments raise issues to which I already responded in the comment I posted last night (which is here: http://blog.practicalethics.ox.ac.uk/2015/05/if-youre-a-conservative-im-not-your-friend/#comment-161127). Some of the commenters, by launching personal attacks or by saying that they wouldn’t want to be friends with me anyway, unwittingly support my point in questioning the constructiveness of reasoned debate in certain circumstances.

    Some commenters here have given me pause, causing me in particular to reflect on the comparison I draw between racism/sexism/homophobia and endorsement of Conservative ideology. For example, Conrad commented:

    In your response to the concern that students with Conservative views are put at a disadvantage in your class you write:
    “My students can express whatever crazy views they like in their work, provided that they argue for them: they are graded on their argument, not on the content of the views for which they are arguing.”
    I take this to mean that to mean that you grade students on the basis of the quality of their arguments. At the same time you seem to be saying that there can be no good arguments for supporting Conservative policies “out of consideration, not only for oneself, but out of consideration for others, including the vulnerable, the exploited, and the poor.”
    So that seems to imply that any student who argues that Conservative policies will be better for the vulnerable, the exploited and the poor than the policies proposed/implemented by e.g. Labor or the Greens, cannot expect to earn a good grade in your class. Is this a fair conclusion?

    In answer to the question at the end of this, I don’t think it would be impossible for such a student to earn a good grade. Let’s imagine a student writing an essay that argued for wholesale endorsement of Conservative policies (rather than just a particular policy, which, as I said in my previous reply, is easier to justify charitably than wholesale endorsement). Could such a student get a good grade if I were marking their essay? My answer is yes, if their argument is cogent. The argument would depend on premises that I radically disagree with—but that doesn’t matter, philosophers are allowed to build arguments on unargued-for premises that their audience may disagree with. I would mark such an essay the same way I would mark any other essay that argued for a conclusion I disagree with: the student gets a good grade if they argue well.

    So—to put pressure on my comparison between Conservatism (by which I mean endorsement of the current Conservative party and its policies) and other views that offend me, such as racism—how about a student who argues for the conclusion that some people are superior to others on account of their race (let’s ignore the issue of whether dividing people up according to race is ultimately coherent)? Could such a student get a good mark? It’s possible to conceive of them arguing cogently for their conclusion. They would have to start from premises that I find wildly implausible, but then so would a student who argued for Conservatism. I think that, in such a case, I would have trouble contemplating awarding a high mark to the essay. That’s not to say I would simply give it a low grade—I expect that, in these circumstances, I would declare a bias and have my department find someone else to mark it, or at the very least take advice from my colleagues.

    What does this disparity tell me about my comparison between Conservatism and racism? I need to think more about this, and am not sure of my answer yet. One possibility—which many commenters here would no doubt endorse—is that Conservatism is not as bad as racism. Another possibility is that the two are as bad, but that Conservatism is a far more socially acceptable view to hold than racism, so it is easier to stomach. A third possibility is that—as Dave Frame observes above—liberal people with far more policy expertise than me find things to admire in Conservatism. On the other hand, nobody whose views I respect supports racism. My hunch—before giving the matter more serious thought—is that, currently, the third possibility is most likely to influence my willingness to give a high grade to a well-argued student essay supportive of Conservatism but my unwillingness to mark a well-argued essay supportive of racism. Giving weight to the opinions of experts in this way implicitly leaves me open to the possibility of re-evaluating my view that Conservatism is not as bad as racism. I will need to give further thought to the issue of why people in general are more tolerant of intolerance of some views (e.g. racism) than of other views (e.g., as demonstrated by the comments here, Conservatism). Perhaps there is some fundamental difference between the views, or perhaps it is just that some views are, for whatever reason, more socially acceptable than others.

    Several people have pointed to the fact that their lives are enriched by their friendships and debates with people who disagree with them, even when these disagreements run very deep (Sophie Hannah, in a tweet, mentions being close friends with someone who supports capital punishment, whilst she opposes it). Some people who make this point apparently assume that the views I express in this post entail that I am friends only with people who agree with me, which is not true: for example, most of my friends eat meat, whereas I have been vegetarian for 25 years, and during that time I have had plenty of constructive debates about vegetarianism with good friends—although none of them have changed my views. I think the issue of whether two friends’ divergent moral views enhance or destroy a friendship is more complicated than what those views are. It depends also on how the people involved relate to each other, and also on whatever factors determine why some offensive views are easier to tolerate than others (which raises again the issue I discussed in the previous paragraph).

    Many people have accused me of being petulant, having a tantrum, throwing my toys out of the pram (etc.) by unfriending Facebook friends whose views I find abhorrent. Absolutely! I was having a hissy fit about the election results, and moaning about it to anyone who would listen. My aim in the blog post was not to argue that this unfriending was a grand moral gesture, or that other people ought to follow suit. It was to defend it against the criticism (voiced by some liberals, although not in response to me) that disengaging from Conservatives in this way is unconstructive. As I argued in my blog post and in my previous reply, I fear that the assumption that it is always best to remain engaged if one wants political progress (if there is such a thing) is based on a liberal bias, and that disengaging might actually be constructive.

    Sorry not to be able to reply to more issues here: the attention generated by this post has got to the stage where I simply don’t have the time to discuss it further (as illustrated by the hour at which I’m posting this). I welcome the discussion despite most of the attention being negative.

    • Matheus De Pietro says:

      Well, I stand by what I said. On the one hand, the reactions to this article have been incredibly ironic and the posters have being doing the exact same thing they criticize: generalizing statements and value judgments (“that’s the problem with Oxford philosophers”; “Liberals are always so arrogant”; “philosophers should behave in this and that way”) and not engaging in debate proper, since most are either ranting, repeating a point that was already made by someone else, or simply not responding to questions directed to themselves.

      On the other hand, neither Facebook nor Twitter are platforms designed for debate, which , in my opinion, means that one of the main issues of this whole story isn’t even a problem – whether one unfriends people or not, that doesn’t mean he is avoiding debate. After all, philosophers can only truly avoid debate if they change careers.

    • Sterling says:

      What does this disparity tell me about my comparison between Conservatism and racism? I need to think more about this, and am not sure of my answer yet. One possibility—which many commenters here would no doubt endorse—is that Conservatism is not as bad as racism. Another possibility is that the two are as bad, but that Conservatism is a far more socially acceptable view to hold than racism, so it is easier to stomach.
      Your fixation on the comparison between Conservatism and racism shows your limited frame of reference. What you should have asked yourself, as you began ending online friendships on the assumption that those friends had exercised their fundamental democratic freedoms in “the wrong way”, is “why am I the one deleting them? If our political differences are important enough to make any relationship between us impossible, how come they haven’t deleted me first?” That would have brought you to a more appropriate question- not about the difference between Conservatism and racism, which is facile, but about the difference between the left and the right and the sense of moral superiority which far too many on the left seem to possess.

  • Camuski says:

    Ha,

    Pure outrage at “unfriending” on Facebook. Sheesh.

    I considered doing exactly the same. But then I read all the comments on here, and thought” How shallow and uneducated of me, then I thought nah fuck it, Tories are cunts, and people who voted them in are cunts. What better excuse do you need to narrow down your FB “Friends” to a manageable amount!

    I’m with you all the way Rebecca, all though I have a feeling my comradery may not be required!

  • Tom says:

    My guess is your conservative former friends are relieved to be rid of you.

  • Conrad says:

    Rebecca,

    Thanks for taking the time to respond with a thoughtful comment.

    • Bob says:

      thanks to both Rebecca and Conrad for engaging in reasoned argumentation in this sea of … not so reasoned argumentation.

  • Richard A says:

    I follow the Conservatives on Twitter but I’m by no means a Conservative supporter. I also follow Labour, UKIP and the Greens…

  • Ian Wilosn says:

    Your article shows that you are text book case of a bigot. You live your life as though your views place you on top of the moral high ground. Nothing could be further from the truth.

    I for one think that this society is built on anti-male sexist misandry – yet from what you have said you do not appear to be concerned about the wide-spread hatred of men in western societies. In addition, I for one, think that society treats men as tenth class citizens – yet you do not even mention this terrible injustice. If you were open to real debate you would discover that maybe, just maybe, your views of the world are open to question.

    • Matthew Newton says:

      “I for one think that this society is built on anti-male sexist misandry”

      Can you provide more detail to support that claim?

      • Richard Dale says:

        Women are a majority of voters. There is a Minister for Women, and none for men. Women are the majority rearing children, and with a large majority of teachers being women they dominate cultural education. Women have control of far more disposable income. Girls do better in schools, probably due to deliberate policies of schools that treat boys as defective girls. Girls are more likely to go to university. Young women earn more money than men. Women get preferential treatment in employment disputes.

        On the other hand men are more likely to be unemployed, and several government policies have more negative impact on men’s employment. Men suffer more violence. They suffer far more work-place injury and death, and also do more physically demanding work or work in dirty and unpleasant environments. Men are seriously penalised in family courts. Men are penalised in criminal courts, and are far more likely to be gaoled for similar offences and suffer longer sentences. In heterosexual domestic violence men are less likely to be the instigator but far more likely to be charged and have fewer shelters available, and if the man is killed the woman sometimes gets away with the murder. Men who suffer domestic violence are often not taken seriously. Men have a higher rate of mental illness and suicide. Men are far more likely to be homeless. Men are penalised in the workplace, suffering false accusations of sexual harassment and not having their own genuine complaints taken seriously.

        • Jonathan MS Pearce says:

          Goodness. Almost all of those have been debunked. You are pointing out descriptive norms, not barriers to equal opportunities. In fact re-reading your points, there is pretty much nothing which talks of barriers.

          In fact, the more I read it, the more terrible, terrible your points are. Things like likelihood of injury: yeah, because that’s misandry.

          Fuck me, you are conflating probability for an outcome for men over women with misandry! Holy cow! THIS is why it just isn’t worth my time. If you can’t be bothered to think through your points, well… The only relevant points would be the talk about like for like penalisation. You might want to do some research. Start with “Dispelling The Myth Of Gender Bias In The Family Court System” by Cathy Meyer, supported by data from the Pew Research Center, looking at, for example, what is in the best interests of the child. If there is empirical data to suggest this is normally the mother, then it would be good and right for the courts to favour (not bias) mothers as primary caregivers.

          Do you really want me to show you the plethora of ways in which women are disadvantaged well over and above the seriously spurious claims you make? Do you want me to drag up victim-blaming surveys which have implications for huries made up of that general public?

          I could just as easily point out that men are 882% more likely to violent crime. And?

          I suggest maybe reading around the subject a little before posting tired old tropes. That post was worse than the usual dross dragged up.

          • Richard Dale says:

            Goodness. Almost all of those have been debunked.

            No they haven’t. Every one of them is true.

            ou are conflating probability for an outcome for men over women with misandry

            No I’m not, or at least I am doing so far less than you are the other way around. I have mixed a variety of points: every one of those things is either a reason women are not powerless in society or are actually advantaged politically, a problem for men that can be addressed if MRAs can get them noticed or a genuine concern that men are being disadvantaged in society. The only ones that you could argue are outcomes not misandry you make misandry by complaining about the existence of MRAs. They are possibly not caused by misandry, but the lack of attention paid to them is, and you are loudly declaiming against those who would demand attention for them.

            Do you really want me to show you the plethora of ways in which women are disadvantaged well over and above the seriously spurious claims you make?

            You have already tried. It was a laughable list of whinging.

            Start with “Dispelling The Myth Of Gender Bias In The Family Court System” by Cathy Meyer, supported by data from the Pew Research Center, looking at, for example, what is in the best interests of the child

            Let me guess, socialist, feminist writing about socialist feminist research of a subjective metric. I think you should look at feminist campaigns against men being allowed any part in their children’s upbringing. Maybe also look at the number of men who request more visitation rights or who request joint custody that don’t get it.

            If there is empirical data to suggest this is normally the mother…

            Which there is not. There are data to suggest that joint custody is best for he child in many cases. There are also cases that have run through the courts where the father was the main carer pre-divorce and the mother was given custody, and many, many cases where the court has ordered custody rights to the father but the mother refused and the courts never enforced them.

            I could just as easily point out that men are 882% more likely to violent crime

            If you said anything so incoherent that I could not tell what you mean I would laugh. I would also point out that it irrelevant. You can’t disadvantage all men due to crimes by a tiny number. Inane fallacy.

    • Jonathan MS Pearce says:

      Holy cow. What MRA style crud. Really? Really? On a day-to-day existence, you ACTUALLY feel like a tenth class citizen on account of your male gender. That is just one, massive lie. “Terrible injustice” – really. REALLY?

      Your awful comment is not worth the time and effort to dismantle it.

      • GR says:

        Can we stop using MRA (men’s rights activist) as a pejorative? While there are certainly fringes of the MRA movement that are unsavoury, they are no more unsavoury than the fringes of feminism. And while I don’t agree with the poster that EITHER gender has a particularly worse time than the other, on the whole (and identify as neither MRA nor feminist), there are different issues affecting each gender (binary- and non-) and there is no objectively “correct” gender to prefer when selecting which causes you care about and which “movement” you use as your vehicle, if you select one at all.

        “Your awful comment is not worth the time and effort to dismantle it.”

        I’m going to take this on its own for a moment, because it’s relevant to the wider discussion going on here. Your statement can roughly translate as “lol you’re so wrong but I’m not going to tell you why or how and give you the opportunity to present me with contrary information in an engagement that might see us both richer of knowledge, because it’s just obvious that he’s a terrible person RIGHT GUYS?!”

        In other words, it’s just signalling to like-minded people, and shutting down debate – which is pointless and unproductive, and indicative of the same sort of mindset that might lead someone to remove all possibility of future engagement based on a Facebook “like”. A mindset which I feel has been maligned enough in this thread already that to dwell on it would be to verge on tautology. Either present a counter argument or don’t post, because your “not worth the time and effort” grandstanding is about as useful as a chocolate teapot.

        To wit: shit or get off the pot.

        • Richard Dale says:

          “Can we stop using MRA (men’s rights activist) as a pejorative?”

          The irony is that this answers Pearce’s inane comment. The very fact that activists for men’s rights are treated as scum that we need to wipe off our shoes before it gets on the carpet is confirmation that society is misandrist. As is the fact that the spell check underlines that word while happily accepting “misogynist”.

          • Jonathan MS Pearce says:

            The irony is that this answers Pearce’s inane comment. The very fact that activists for men’s rights are treated as scum that we need to wipe off our shoes before it gets on the carpet is confirmation that society is misandrist. As is the fact that the spell check underlines that word while happily accepting “misogynist”.

            Wow, there are some great commenters being attracted by this thread. You REALLY ACTUALLY think that society is misandrist? Really and actually? You actually think that society, qua the UK, actually hates men? Actually disadvantages men?

            It’s not that I think such a position warrants the term scum, that is your silly rhetoric, it is that it is clearly nonsense. Clearly..

            I wonder when you last got back from work and thought,, “Gee, it’s tough being a male in this UK society! Every corner I turn there are barriers! Society hates me!”

            Get a grip, man.

            • Richard Dale says:

              It very clearly is, and you prove it had I not already listed the issues (a list of actual problems, not fallacies, possible-but-unproven bias in a small, left-wing sector of work and pathetic whining that you produced for women; a list which you have not addressed, a little above this comment).

              Men have rights. Those rights should be equal to women’s.

              In this world there are problems either unique to men or far more prevalent in men. Some of these are caused by agents of government and by demands of feminists. They already get far less attention than similar problems more prevalent for women. Yet you condemn people for trying to deal with these. MRAs do not work against women. Unlike many feminists they think they can help one group of people with their particular problems without condemning another or increasing others’ problems. They simply work to help men with their rights and problems particular to them.

        • Jonathan MS Pearce says:

          Can we stop using MRA (men’s rights activist) as a pejorative?

          Well, this depends on whether the vast majority, or even the totality, or MRA advocates behave intellectually in a way which does not deserve the universal term for their position to be used pejoratively. At the moment, inductively, this looks not to be the case.

          While there are certainly fringes of the MRA movement that are unsavoury, they are no more unsavoury than the fringes of feminism.

          Tu quoque fallacy. Furthermore, the MRA position in the present context is simply not tenable, whereas feminism is.

          And while I don’t agree with the poster that EITHER gender has a particularly worse time than the other, on the whole (and identify as neither MRA nor feminist), there are different issues affecting each gender (binary- and non-) and there is no objectively “correct” gender to prefer when selecting which causes you care about and which “movement” you use as your vehicle, if you select one at all.

          There is a clear bias in terms of equal opportunities in favour of males. I know this from when I worked for a US corporation and was involved in making hiring decisions which favoured men over women based on the fact that maternity leave would adversely affect my bottom line through pay-outs and retraining.

          So you attack me and my position whilst NOT attacking someone who ACTUALLY thinks men are tenth class citizens, one of the most insane claims I have ever seen. It is THAT wrong. This is why I use MRA as a pejorative, because such claims as his entire comment deserve such.
          I am a white, middle class, privately educated male who was born into much privilege. I recognise this. I did not choose my parents, my school, my ethnicity, my country, my sex and gender, and so on. This accords me tremendous opportunity and privilege compared to others, worldwide and here. I am not worthy of praise for this, for where I am, to that extent. Being aware of this is hugely important. The right wing appears to merely want to sustain this (see inheritance tax removal which seeks to privilege opportunities for inheritors on account of accidents of birth).

          That you think there is effective parity is empirically wrong. Equal opportunity is clearly not the case in salaries, in access to policy-making and decision-making positions and so on. Here are some stats which in some sense sum up the insidious nature of the problem, just in terms of the media reporting:

          Only 24% of the people heard or read about in print, radio and television news are female . In contrast, 76% – more than 3 out of 4 – of the people in the news are male. (Could this be that it is reflective of males having all the newsworthy positions of power? Or that male-driven reporting more likely reports male-oriented stories? Either way, it does not look good for equality)

          Journalists are almost twice as likely to mention the ages of their female news subjects as they are not mention the ages of their male news subjects

          18% of female news subjects are portrayed as victims in comparison to 8% of male subjects .

          Female news subjects are identified by their family status 4 times more than male news subjects

          26% of female subjects in newspapers appear in photographs, in contrast to only 17% of males

          Women reporters are more likely to report women as the subjects of their stories than are men and are more likely to challenge, and less likely to reinforce, stereotypes in their reports than male reporters.

          46% of global news content reinforces gender stereotypes, almost eight times higher than stories that challenge such stereotypes (6%

          Etc etc., there are just too many findings from, for example, the Global Media Monitoring Project (GMMP) you will see the very subtle ways that society is fed and influenced on a diet of gender inequality.

          Or perhaps we could look at sexism in academia:

          In a recent study, professors at over 250 colleges and universities received fictitious emails from PhD students requesting meetings. Professors were more likely to grant meetings for the following week to students presumed to be white men compared to those presumed to be women and/or of colour.

          Another investigation showed:

          “The results they procured were staggering. According to her press release, “Since 1998, 92% of white males who were considered for tenure got it. During the same period of time only 55% percent of women and minority candidates were granted tenure. Looking at ethnicity alone, USC granted tenure to 81% of its white candidates but only to 48% of its minority candidates.””

          And

          For example, an experiment comparing the hireability, competence, and presumed willingness to mentor students of women and men candidates for a a lab manager position found clear gender bias (against women). And, proposed starting salaries were lower for women candidates, which reflects actual gender gaps in pay.
          When scientists judged the female applicants more harshly, they did not use sexist reasoning to do so. Instead, they drew upon ostensibly sound reasons to justify why they would not want to hire her: she is not competent enough. Sexism is an ugly word, so many of us are only comfortable identifying it when explicitly misogynistic language or behavior is exhibited. But this shows that you do not need to use anti-women language or even harbor conscious anti-women beliefs to behave in ways that are effectively anti-women.

          And, of course, there is discriminatory treatment even once you are hired:

          [T]he report [on sexist discrimination at MIT] documents a pattern of sometimes subtle — but substantive and demoralizing — discrimination in areas from hiring, awards, promotions and inclusion on important committees to allocation of valuable resources like laboratory space and research money.
          (source)

          “Your awful comment is not worth the time and effort to dismantle it.”

          I’m going to take this on its own for a moment, because it’s relevant to the wider discussion going on here. Your statement can roughly translate as “lol you’re so wrong but I’m not going to tell you why or how and give you the opportunity to present me with contrary information in an engagement that might see us both richer of knowledge, because it’s just obvious that he’s a terrible person RIGHT GUYS?!”

          No, my comment means what it says. Even the time I have invested here is pointless to some degree since I am a very busy person and the effort is literally not worth it considering the things I should be doing. This is especially the case since people are (empirically, as derived from studies) more likely to entrench in their original views when presented with counter evidence and argument. The aforementioned Jonathan Haidt has a lot to say on this.

          What is interesting, in this present context, is that conservatives are more likely to entrench (especially with regard to misinformation) – see the work of Nyhan on this. It is what is called the “backfire effect”. The more the salience (the more you care about the subject) the more the backfire. So the more you have on the line in a given subject, the more you will entrench when given opposing views and rational evidence. Changing one’s mind is tough. Hey ho.

          In other words, it’s just signalling to like-minded people, and shutting down debate – which is pointless and unproductive, and indicative of the same sort of mindset that might lead someone to remove all possibility of future engagement based on a Facebook “like”. A mindset which I feel has been maligned enough in this thread already that to dwell on it would be to verge on tautology. Either present a counter argument or don’t post, because your “not worth the time and effort” grandstanding is about as useful as a chocolate teapot.

          Derailing the discussion to gender inequality and supporting the general idea that men are oppressed or have a tough tie or are tenth class citizens is simply not worth it here. If you want to rant on about my mindset, go for it. Whoop de doo. Incidentally, I am not apologising for the OP, with which I take some issue, not least on account of causality, free will (illusion) and hate, rather than seeking causal explanation and changing the causal circumstances etc.

          To wit: shit or get off the pot.

          To wit: stop being an oppressed male apologist. It’s not becoming.

          • Gemma Rees says:

            I won’t respond here yet (save to say that equity of opportunity and equity of outcome are not the same thing), since I’m interested in your response to Richard Dale’s points above RE: gender inequality.

            It’s fair to say that I’m more concerned with issues such as mental health, violence, homelessness, income, education and suicide than I am with telly time.

          • Richard Dale says:

            Well, this depends on whether the vast majority, or even the totality, or MRA advocates behave intellectually in a way which does not deserve the universal term for their position to be used pejoratively. At the moment, inductively, this looks not to be the case.

            By your assertion. I call you out for lying. Sorry, but you have nothing to back this up, you are just repeating what the feminist press has told you to say.

            Furthermore, the MRA position in the present context is simply not tenable, whereas feminism is

            Nonsense. The opposite is the case. Feminists have no more systematic or systemic wrongs to right, so they become increasingly rabid in decrying men, falsely accusing men, in trying to gain extra privileges for women and in complaining about the patriarchy of their own imagination.

            Only 24% of the people heard or read about in print, radio and television news are female . In contrast, 76% – more than 3 out of 4 – of the people in the news are male. (Could this be that it is reflective of males having all the newsworthy positions of power? Or that male-driven reporting more likely reports male-oriented stories? Either way, it does not look good for equality)

            That fewer women are in positions of power (which you must know is the reason for this imbalance) does not imply inequality. That is a logical fallacy. You are assuming there can be no other reason for this than inequality of opportunity. Given that those other reasons are pretty obvious I am in the position I am so often with left-wing interlocutors: wondering if you are ignorant, stupid or dishonest.

            As for the remaining inequalities, they don’t even count as first-world problems. They are rich-powerful-elite-first-world problems. Pathetic that you think they are even worth mentioning, given the problems of men hung out to dry after false accusations of domestic violence, men who lose their children, men who sleep rough and men who commit suicide.,blockquote>Or perhaps we could look at sexism in academia:Perhaps we should, and maybe about the recent study where applications for tenure-track academic posts in STEM fields were twice as likely to be successful for women as identically-qualified men.

            Note that your study does not consider qualification, so your example is meaningless. Given “positive discrimination” (a disgraceful term for “a different type of negative discrimination; see my comment above) over the period those people would have originally started on their academic careers it is likely that only the best white men would have had a chance. Therefore they are likely down the line to be stronger candidates for tenure. It is certainly possible that this would explain the entire difference you note. Of course I think you know this, but are too dishonest to mention it.

            What is interesting, in this present context, is that conservatives are more likely to entrench (especially with regard to misinformation)

            Ironic statement given that this whole comment thread is attacking the entrenching of a socialist, and given the misinformation you are so keen to spread. Given the prevalence of socialists in the social “sciences”, and given the scandals in social psychology over the last few years that have rendered everything ever done in the subject meaningless (the scandals have been of such severity that literally everything is cast into doubt, and the whole field should just be started anew) I think you need something else to back this up.

            • Jonathan MS Pearce says:

              I will perhaps reply if I have the time. This has already derailed the OP and thread.

              Every encounter I have had with MRA advocates has shown my opinion to be borne out. Including this one.

              Actually, I have decided commenting for hours on end on this blog is not a good use of my time. I will create a short post in the next 24 hours on my own site, and if you wish to carry this conversation, which is not relevant to this thread, on over there, feel free.

              http://www.skepticink.com/tippling

          • Richard Dale says:

            Oh, and just to note that all the “problems” you claim women suffer are for a tiny minority. They are differences between 1% of men and 1% of women, if that. To most people in their lives these are utterly irrelevant.

  • Steve Nicholson says:

    This is why God gave us the sciences; A fulcrum of solidity upon which to base common sense, rational thought.

    Eventually, all the disciplies of the humanities and social sciences lose their grounding in it.

    Try Emerson.

  • Rebecca Sword says:

    What an utter load of bollocks.

    Where’s your common decency? Many of my friends are left wing, and right wing, we all get along, and can put our political views aside.

    If you honestly believe that the Tories are nasty, it just goes to show how narrow minded, and ignorant you really are. The people you’ve unfriended are not the nasty ones, you are. It’s people like you who give the left wing a bad name.

    You’re meant to be a professional, this blog sounds like something out of a playground!

  • Frederick James says:

    The comments above are very good but far too cerebral.

    This woman is evidently far too stupid to be in any teaching role, including kindergarten.

    FJ

  • C'Zar Bernstein says:

    I must say that I’m surprised the Practical Ethics blog decided to lend its imprimatur to this bigotry, especially since there isn’t a cogent argument in sight (if there’s any argument at all), so far as I can see. It makes me wonder whether this blog would’ve published a similar title, ‘If You’re A Leftist, I’m Not Your Friend,’ in which the author writes, ‘I claim that supporting leftist policies is as objectionable as holding racist, sexist, or homophobic views.’ Leftists would scream (as loudly as they invariably do when they feign outrage). But comparing *conservatives* to racists, sexists, and homophobes is considered permissible precisely because the target is conservatives and, after all, they are ignoramuses who don’t respond to rational argument (only to ‘prejudice,’ as the author claims).

    ‘I don’t claim that Conservatives are racist, sexist, and homophobic – I claim that supporting their policies is as objectionable as holding racist, sexist, or homophobic views.’

    This sentence is as vile as it is stupid, and if I knew nothing else about its author, I’d conclude the same about her. As a friend wrote elsewhere in response to this, taken in isolation, ‘the most charitable interpretation of that is that she doesn’t think racism is a bad thing.’ Not only is it self-evidently absurd to suppose that having conservative opinions about controversial (even amongst the experts) empirical questions is as objectionable as holding racist, sexist, or homophobic views (which tend not to be empirical questions at all), it is also repulsive, because it undermines significantly the force of those charges. Consider:

    Conservative: I support lower taxes for everybody.
    Gov George Wallace (Democrat, AL; leftist, incidentally): In the name of the greatest people that have ever trod this earth, I draw the line in the dust and toss the gauntlet before the feet of tyranny, and I say segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever!

    Having that conservative economic opinion is as objectionable as that racism? Saying so is incredibly offensive to people who have suffered from racism (and sexism and homophobia), many of whom are conservatives.

    This is just further evidence of the bias against conservatives in academia. My suspicion is that there are many more people who believe as Roache believes. The difference is that she has the courage to make public her bigoted views.

  • Chap says:

    A small non-political issue that the author failed to recognise –
    ‘Liking’ a Facebook page is not a guarantee that someone literally ‘likes’ the subject of the page and certainly not a reason to cut them off. This is a semantics issue. Many people ‘like’ simply to ‘follow’ a page’s updates. Recently Facebook have noticed this and allow people to save a page without liking it which I agree with but its not as inherently understood as ‘liking’ is such a popular term.

    In my work people often ‘like/follow’ competitors and rivals pages to keep an eye on what they are saying. Sometimes it’s a requirement of the job! Monitoring offers and marketing tactics and being able to respond to them.

    I’ve read manifestos of many parties. If a friend ‘caught me in the act’ of reading one they didn’t agree with, surely, as my friend, they would assume I was educating myself rather than unchangeably supporting that party.

    Rarely is something wholly bad either. It’s possible to like part of something enough to want to follow it, especially where Facebook is concerned. If a church regularly posted nice music it would be normal in the context of Facebook for someone to like/follow them purely to absorb this content, and doesn’t mean they are religious, go to that church, care about anything else on that page or agree with the crusades!

    Socially, anyone who wants to formulate an educated balanced view of who to support politically should research all the parties, even if only to reinforce their own detest for them with solid and current examples. Facebook is a tool through which many (young) people do this now. It may well not be the author’s usage of Facebook, she may use it purely to connect with close friends and therefore failed to recognise that ‘liking'[following]/ reading/watching anything with different political views to your own can only broaden your arguments.

Authors

Subscribe Via Email

Name
Email *

Affiliations