Rebecca Brown has an article at Aeon on how philosophy can make the previously unthinkable thinkable. She starts with a discussion of the Overton window:
In the mid-1990s, Joseph Overton, a researcher at the US think tank the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, proposed the idea of a ‘window’ of socially acceptable policies within any given domain. This came to be knownas the Overton window of political possibilities. The job of think tanks, Overton proposed, was not directly to advocate particular policies, but to shift the window of possibilities so that previously unthinkable policy ideas – those shocking to the sensibilities of the time – become mainstream and part of the debate.
Overton’s insight was that there is little point advocating policies that are publicly unacceptable, since (almost) no politician will support them. Efforts are better spent, he argued, in shifting the debate so that such policies seem less radical and become more likely to receive support from sympathetic politicians. For instance, working to increase awareness of climate change might make future proposals to restrict the use of diesel cars more palatable, and ultimately more effective, than directly lobbying for a ban on such vehicles.
- The universe is ultimately meaningless. Whatever meaning we find in this life, we have to provide, both to ourselves and to each other.
- There is no objective morality. Ultimately what a society calls “moral” amounts to what the majority of a given population decides is allowable and what is not. Innate instincts do provide some constraints on this, but the variances they allow are wider than just about anyone is comfortable with.
- Whether a given system is conscious is not a fact, but an interpretation, depending on what definition of “consciousness” we’re currently using. Consciousness exists only relative to other conscious entities.
- We don’t have contra-causal free will, but social responsibility remains a coherent and useful concept.
- The mind is a physical process and system that can be understood, and someday enhanced and copied.
- Enhancement of ourselves, either with technological add-ons or genetic therapy, should be allowed, particularly when it will alleviate suffering.
- Politics is about inclusive self interest. The political philosophies people choose are generally stances that benefit them, their family and friends, or people like them. If we could admit this, compromising to get things done would be easier.
Those are mine. What about you? Do you have positions that are not currently popular, that may lie outside of the current Overton window?