This post is in reference to Sargon of Akkads new idea for a new political entity called the Liberalists, which I really like, but you don't show love by unfaltering adoration, you show it through engagement and this is what I intend to do here.
You can find it here.
Specifically this idea in a section of the principles:
Humans have agency? Do they? Do we know that?
Following is a clip which is very easy going as it is on the Joe Rogan Podcast. It is Sam Harris debunking the notion of Free Will. I could just as easily have included Steven Pinkers "blank slate" which debunks the notion of perfect agency and anti deterministic approaches to the human condition. I could go on.
In debating this on a random Facebook group someone pointed me towards Sargon's debate with Destiny claiming he believes in a total perfect human agency (37 minutes in) but within minutes I found evidence this isn't the case. Sargon quickly establishes that he thinks single-parent families has an effect (environment) in black families, there are further instances and acknowledgments such as poverty (around the 50-minute mark I'm doing this from memory).
Statistically speaking you can make a reasonable bet on someone's outcomes based on their starting position and IQ. Intelligence Quotient is the single greatest determinant of success beyond any others and we know it is at least significantly inheritable.
I will acknowledge the subtle distinction here when someone says "but no one forces choices on them" and that is true. But we must question a persons capacity to make that choice.
Allow me to clarify this point. I will refer again to multiple Joe Rogan Podcasts. In his interview with Dr. Carl Hart evidence was presented that addiction is merely a matter of choices and that he believes you can end addiction by giving someone new choices. This is an intervention, not willpower. They need the help of someone else in order to move past their addiction as their own life experience hasn't furnished them with the ability to realise these choices on their own.
This can be referenced throughout all the best therapeutic literature, that therapy is giving people the ability to cognitively realise the choices they have sometimes just over their own behavior.
If this isn't enough to move you past the blank slate hypothesis, if the addiction or the therapeutic process doesn't raise a kernel of doubt in the notion of agency consider this, when it comes to treating people as though they are perfect rational agents; consider crime.
We know the majority of school shooters in the UK are on a form of psychiatric medicine. Do we treat someone with Schizophrenia who commits a crime as someone with perfect agency? If someone can't tell what is reality and what is not, how do they have agency?
Does someone with a mental health problem have the same agency as someone who does not have a mental health problem?
Charitable interpretations and further questions
I've laid out the case and now I'll attempt to interpret the rebuttals and assume the best intellect and intentions of the opposing view, if that doesn't work let me know.
I have considered that we could be delving into Peterson vs Harris conceptions of ideas. Sargon deals with agency as something with "truthiness" as opposed to simple empirical reality with no notion of context as that relates to government policy. That treating them as victims as the liberalist policy says is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Acknowledging the empirical reality does not lead to a good "survival strategy" as Peterson would say or in Sargon's terms government policy.
Which as a principle is actually very reasonable. This is because government policy such as positive discrimination is horrendous and fails empirically, benefits system seem to create dependencies and negative outcomes especially culturally and our recent history is rife with failures that are both obvious and abundant. That is fine but there is a but.
In his latest conversation with his audience on gun control (amongst many issues) he answered gun control that principally he can see the case but practically it doesn't seem to work (and I agree). With the NHS the collective solution seems to work (imperfectly Dutch systems are better) and are nearly half as cheap again as an american system.
The further flaws in the assumption relate back to IQ, the capacity to choose. We must accept that there are lower IQ sections of the population, in every race and gender who do not have the capacity and volitional will to not be simply deterministic in the grossest of interpretations. There is zero introspection or reflection or consideration of consequence. That condition exists on a spectrum as you go up the IQ scale to a certain point. After that you delve into the question of agency vs influence (and I'd refer back to choice architecture influencing anyone of any IQ).
Sam Harris suggests treating criminals like Grizzly bears walking around in public, you have to protect society but you don't have to attribute free will to it.
That last flaw opens up a whole plethora of debates. I don't expect to have changed hearts or minds with this post but I do hope I've raised a question. This is not a hostile rebuttal simply a conversation.