Tyler on Robin on Tyler on Robin

Here is Robin on Tyler on Robin

I think of Robin as a dominant intellectual presence in my book (can you guess who the other presences are?).  He is the only specific thinker discussed at any length.  That’s conscious choice, not accident.  He also receives part of the dedication at the end.

In some ways I think of the whole book as an (attempted) rebuttal to Robin.  Robin is the rational constructivist, the logical atomist, the reductionist, and the extreme Darwinian.  The Inner Economist is trying to reconcile (modified) economic reasoning and a (modified) version of common sense morality.

But…for the secularist reductionism beckons and seduces.  Imagine an intellectual war with Darwin, Fourier, Comte, early Carnap, David Friedman and millenarian Christian eschatology on one side (that’s my mental image of how Robin maps into the history of ideas), with bits from Henry Sidgwick, Hayek, Quine, and William James on the other side, yet within the framework of modern microeconomics and with ongoing references to the blogosphere.  I am (implicitly) defending gradualism, pluralism, the partial irreduciblity of individual choice, the primacy of civilization, and yes also a certain degree of social artifice.

But can such a defense succeed?

Note that Robin is wrong to suggest I don’t reply to his views.  I paint him
as engaged in a subjective quest — including on bias — rather than standing from an
Archimedean point.  And within the realm of subjective quests, I try to
outline a superior one, especially in the last few chapters of the
book.  He doesn’t like being relativized in this fashion, and that he doesn’t see me as replying to him is itself an indicator of our underlying differences.

Still, I know I have to be afraid of Robin!  Most people who don’t find Robin’s ideas compelling are simply unwilling to face up to the holes in what they believe. 

Wake up, and take at least a sip from the Robin Hanson Kool-Aid.  Life will never be the same again.

And if you can, hire him to write a book for you.


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