Rob Henderson on language and morality

Morality has some similarities to language. Both are human universals, even though the specifics of each vary by culture and change over time.

Both morality and language are governed by certain rules. Though languages differ, they all have some underlying similarities. Same with moralities. Though the specifics differ, all languages have rules about nouns. And though the specifics differ, all moralities have rules about harm…

Finally, morality is “real” in the same way that language is real. Both can change, but both still operate within certain constraints. There are rules to every language, and rules to every morality. Saying morality isn’t real is like saying language isn’t real. We don’t have a choice about whether they exist. They preceded us. Though the specifics might be unfamiliar to us today, people were speaking and adhering to moral commitments long before we were born. Language and morality will be around long after we’re gone.

https://mailchi.mp/8c9121b08d49/human-nature-and-envy-10134758?e=506c288f2b

Translating Amanda Gorman

Is experiencing white supremacy all she is? And if not, why do her translators have to be people just like her?

Our racial reckoning has put many new ideas afloat. One of them is that a black female poet’s work should only be translated by other black female people. Or at least black people…

The logic is supposed to be that only someone of Gorman’s race, and optimally gender, can effectively translate her expression into another language. But is that true? And are we not denying Gorman and black people basic humanity in – if I may jump the gun – pretending that it is?

https://johnmcwhorter.substack.com/p/translating-amanda-gorman?token=eyJ1c2VyX2lkIjoyNzk5MjAwLCJwb3N0X2lkIjozMzk4NjMxMCwiXyI6ImNpWEY5IiwiaWF0IjoxNjE2MjU4NjU0LCJleHAiOjE2MTYyNjIyNTQsImlzcyI6InB1Yi0yNzIyMzQiLCJzdWIiOiJwb3N0LXJlYWN0aW9uIn0.3nE4p85gCGII1AcxTGOl1E8HW0ZDXJm9UvGvuVpRdXw

No, Shawn Bradley Wasn’t Paralyzed in a “Bicycle Accident”

THE MEDIA FLUBBED THE LANGUAGE OF THE FORMER NBA PLAYER’S DEVASTATING INJURY AFTER HE WAS HIT BY A DRIVER WHILE ON HIS BIKE.

While we cyclists clearly love our bicycles, it’s more likely that Bradley would just be very, very sad that a car hit his bike—not grievously injured.

Simply put, the media missed an opportunity for a slam dunk with its headlines and stories on the news, and similarly missed a chance to begin to right a long-running wrong against the cycling community. As Henry Grabar wrote for Slate, “A child falling off his bike in the park is a bicycle accident … Getting rammed from behind by a car is not a bicycle accident.” And yet, for decades, media reports have used this framing when reporting on cyclists who are hit by drivers and injured or killed.

https://www.bicycling.com/news/a35880731/shawn-bradley-paralyzed-hit-by-car-during-bike-ride/

Did Amazon “steal,” “withhold,” or simply not “pass on” delivery drivers’ tips?

Interesting commentary on language. To be fair to the headline writers in the publications below, the FTC complaint itself uses the word “withholding.” To say “stealing” would be editorializing. Good discussion nonetheless.

Below a headline that states: “Amazon to Pay Contract Drivers $61.7 Million After FTC Probe Finds It Stole Tips to Pay Wages”

Crowdscience Podcast: How does a language begin?

There are over 7000 living languages on earth today. These mutually unintelligible means of communication are closely associated with different groups’ identities. But how does a new language start out? That’s what listener BK wants to know. BK lives on one of the islands of the Philippines, where he speaks three languages fluently and has noticed there is a different language on almost every island.

Presenter Anand Jagatia finds language experts from around the world who tell him about the many different ways that languages can form.

https://www.listennotes.com/embedded/e/7abc6dc8b4ed482c9d5ad6e3585e7f14/

Language and Economic Misunderstanding

Interesting post about the nature of language and how it can misconstrue a complex reality and ultimately lead to misunderstandings and poor policy actions by governments.

Muddled thinkers confuse the world of our senses with the way in which it is depicted in language.

Yet as is true of all beneficial institutions, language is imperfect – it has, some might say, its ‘costs.’ Among the ‘costs’ of language is its tendency to cause us to suppose that the abstractions that we describe with words possess a concrete reality that these abstractions don’t possess. 🔥🔥🔥 [flames are my addition]

https://cafehayek.com/2020/05/quotation-of-the-day-3159.html

For more posts related to Economics, click here.

I Worked at Capital One for Five Years. This Is How We Justified Piling Debt on Poor Customers.

Interesting story that raises many interesting questions about ethics and responsibility. What is the responsibility of the institution vs. individual? How do we decide what is ethical? The article describes a level of abstraction and jargon that happens in the company that belies the very human cost of its actions. Further, how do our actions change when we don’t directly deal with the human face/cost of our actions?

People at Capital One are extremely friendly. But one striking fact of life there was how rarely anyone acknowledged the suffering of its customers. It’s no rhetorical exaggeration to say that the 3,000 white-collar workers at its headquarters are making good money off the backs of the poor. The conspiracy of silence that engulfed this bottom-line truth spoke volumes about how all of us at Capital One viewed our place in the world, and what we saw when we looked down from our glass tower.

Amid the daily office banter at Capital One, we hardly ever broached the essence of what we were doing. Instead, we discussed the “physics” of our work. Analysts would commonly say that “whiteboarding”—a gratifying exercise in gaming out equations on the whiteboard to figure out a better way to build a risk model or design an experiment—was the favorite part of their job. Hour-long conversations would oscillate between abstruse metaphors representing indebtedness and poverty, and an equally opaque jargon composed of math and finance-speak.

https://newrepublic.com/article/155212/worked-capital-one-five-years-justified-piling-debt-poor-customers

Emojis prove intent, a judge in Israel ruled

On the surface this ruling may seem silly. The smiley pictogram is internationally popular precisely because it’s simple for most people to understand, or so it seems superficially. One of the messages in question was supported with victory signs, champagne, a quilt of symbols that’s barely translatable but clearly positive. In fact, however, emoji in a legal context is very serious business.

Language interpretation is rarely simple upon close examination and lawyers can argue anything. Pictures give them a lot of room to do so.

Santa Clara University law professor Eric Goldman searched for 2016 cases in the US that dealt with emojis and emoticon and found about 80 judicial opinions that mentioned these.

He told The Recorder in May that he imagines that emoji interpretation issues will only get more common and could get very difficult. The images look different to each of us, and parties can have legitimately different understandings of an image used in an exchange.

https://qz.com/987032/emojis-prove-intent-a-judge-in-israel-ruled/

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How Emojis Have Invaded the Courtroom

In 2019, dozens of emojis showed up in legal cases. Here’s a look at the different ways they’ve been used.

https://slate.com/technology/2019/11/emoji-court-cases-crime-free-speech-contract-law.html

How one city hopes language monitoring can help it defeat hate

Once Hatebase has the data, it is automatically sorted and annotated. These annotations can explain the multiple meanings of the terms used, for example, or their level of offensiveness. The resulting data can also be displayed in a dashboard to make it easier for city officials to visualize the problem.

Once enough data has been gathered (most likely in a few months’ time), the city will use Hatebase’s system to monitor trends in hate-speech usage across Chattanooga, and see if there are any patterns between the words used against particular groups and subsequent hate crimes. Often, violence against a particular group is preceded by an increase in dehumanizing, abusive language used against that group. The Sentinel Project has already used this sort of language monitoring successfully as an early warning system for armed ethnic conflict in Kenya, Uganda, Burma, and Iraq.

https://www.technologyreview.com/s/614962/chattanooga-tennesee-data-race-language-hate-speech-monitoring-hatebase/?utm_source=newsletters&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=the_download.unpaid.engagement

Why you might be counting in the wrong language

Learning numbers in a European language has probably affected your early maths ability. It turns out there are better ways to count.

So even though we might all be using the same numbers, the words we use may influence how we think about them. They say maths is a universal language, but perhaps that’s not true after all.

https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20191121-why-you-might-be-counting-in-the-wrong-language