Consequentialist arguments for deontological positions

Thinking about various interchanges on the Internetz, a great many have the frustrating property that, while they appear to be couched in consequentialist terms, some or all of the participants are defending claims that they actually hold for deontological reasons[^1]. For example, a follower of Pythagoras (who, apocryphally, forbade the eating of beans) might appear in a discussion about beans and claim that we shouldn’t eat beans because
* they cause flatulence
* bean production is environmentally destructive
* the bean industry is dominated by exploitative multinationals
The problem for someone seeking to counter these arguments is that, even if they are all refuted, the Pythagorean will not agree that it is OK to eat beans.
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My dear Mr Quiggan …

… so begins this comment on a recent thread. I don’t have to read any further to know that the subsequent comment will be both hostile and silly.[^1]

My surname is mis-spelt fairly often, reasonably enough in the case of people who’ve only heard it and have to guess at the unstressed vowel. But it happens surprisingly often when all that is needed is to transcribe the text in front of them.

Likewise, I occasionally get people addressing me as “Mr” because they feel the need for a title and choose the default.

Neither, by themselves guarantees hostility and stupidity. But in ten years of blogging, I’ve never seen an exception to the rule that together, they imply exactly that.

Is this just me? Do other bloggers and commenters find that particular forms of address predict the content of comments? And, if so, which ones?

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I’m travelling, which explains the total absence of recent activity. I hope to resume posting soon, but probably on a limited basis for some time. In the meantime, please keep it civil and constructive.

Back on air

My technical problems have vanished as mysteriously as they arrived. Thanks again to Jacques Chester who stands between me and the mixture of frustration and wonder that is WordPress. Jacques supports quite a few of the political blogs in Oz, with an admirable willingness to assist bloggers of all viewpoints.

Normal posting to resume soon. But, if you use Facebook, be sure to check out my Facebook Public Page, and share posts there if you do that kind of thing. I’m also on Twitter, with the highly creative handle @JohnQuiggin

What I did on my holiday …

… from blogging.

I’ve been off-air for quite a while. First, I was travelling in Europe, mainly based in Paris, doing some joint work with colleagues there and attending conferences on decision theory. I made some good progress on my main project, on the role of unforeseen contingencies in financial crises, which hope will lead to some interesting posts in the future.

I got back a couple of weeks ago, with a week to spare before I went to the Cairns Adventure Festival, where I entered in the 70.3 (Half Ironman) event. I was the last person to finish within the stated cutoff time of 8 hours, though a few crossed the line after that. Still, I finished, which pleased me a lot given that two weeks in Paris would be suboptimal for training even if it hadn’t been wet and cold enough that I caught a nasty cold there.

That was a week ago, and I’ve been catching up on unfinished business, and planning a return to regular blogging. The state of Australian politics is so depressing that I plan to avoid the topic altogether[1], which will give me a chance to talk about some of the broader issues we face.

fn1. Let’s see if I can hold myself to this, or whether I get so annoyed I need to vent