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Author Topic: Does Economic Freedom Foster Tolerance?  (Read 3595 times)
Torie
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« on: June 02, 2012, 05:50:47 pm »
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Do more market oriented economies have anything to do with our values when it comes to tolerance?An academic ran a regression analysis, and found that it appears to - at least when it comes to homosexuals. Just why, I am not sure, because I assume the wealth factor (which is probably  correlated with free markets) has been teased out (I can understand how wealth could cause a society to become more gay friendly, at least intuitively). I have not downloaded the study and read it yet. For this sort of thing, one needs to look very carefully at the methodology, and whether all the "noise" has been teased out, and after it has been, just how many data points are left, and whether there are enough of them to get some kind of statistical significance. Anyway, if you get bored reading the 2012 Presidential Election Board, and fights over what will trend where and by what percentage come this November, you might read this article for surcease if interested in this sort of thing.
« Last Edit: June 02, 2012, 05:53:35 pm by Torie »Logged

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« Reply #1 on: June 02, 2012, 09:00:07 pm »
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If by "economic freedom" you mean policies that result in income inequality, then the answer is certainly no.

edit: after briefly scanning through this paper and reading about the man who conducted this study, I can't take it seriously. Nicclas Berggren is a gay libertarian ideologue, of course he is going to try to suggest that socialism destroys tolerance!

http://hem.passagen.se/nicb/
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« Reply #2 on: June 02, 2012, 09:08:33 pm »
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If by "economic freedom" you mean policies that result in income inequality, then the answer is certainly no.

Maybe we both should read the paper first. Smiley
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« Reply #3 on: June 02, 2012, 09:10:03 pm »
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If by "economic freedom" you mean policies that result in income inequality, then the answer is certainly no.

Maybe we both should read the paper first. Smiley

I just scanned and find it to be sketchy but I'll read it later tonight.
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« Reply #4 on: June 02, 2012, 09:20:10 pm »
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If by "economic freedom" you mean policies that result in income inequality, then the answer is certainly no.

Maybe we both should read the paper first. Smiley

I just scanned and find it to be sketchy but I'll read it later tonight.

Good man. I am in the mood myself for something a tad less intellectually taxing actually. Smiley
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« Reply #5 on: June 02, 2012, 10:49:52 pm »
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I would think it does. In a society with greater economic freedom, more people will leave the community, be it ethnic or a small town, and travel to another city of their chosing for an education and wind up working in multiple cities for multiple different companies before they finish. Each person has a more diverse set of experiences and the new lifestyle helps to break down the local sense of community that has more defined characteristics and values. In almost every major US city some of the most socially conservative areas are those with a monolithic ethnic identity that defines that communities values. People not of that ethnic identity are outsiders in the community at least from the outset. If an area is made of business transplants that turnover quicker, the neighborhood has much less of a communal identity and therefore is less picky about who lives around them. Its members are more individualistic in outlook and less invested in the neighborhood. I suspect greater economic freedom leads to greater liquidity in the market of human capital and that drives the process to some extent.

I'll admit I did not muster the will to read the article once I saw it's length, however. Tongue
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« Reply #6 on: June 02, 2012, 11:59:01 pm »
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Reminds me of Richard Florida's "Gay Index."
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« Reply #7 on: June 03, 2012, 05:33:42 am »
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I worked with this guy last Summer, he's an interesting guy.

There is previous research, IIRC, arguing that freer markets leads to more interaction with different types of people and thus increases tolerance in general.
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« Reply #8 on: June 03, 2012, 05:52:18 am »
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I like the ad hominem approach of saying that because the auhtor is gay we can't trust his analysis as a professional scientist on issues that have to do with gay people. Excuse me while I roll my eyes.

Anyway, here's the theoretical thrust of the paper:

"Why expect such a relation? For reasons developed further in the next section, the basic idea is that economic freedom entails both market institutions of a certain kind Ė in particular an equal and predictable legal system that, among other things, de facto protects private property Ė and market processes that affect the way people think and feel about others. Market institutions offer a framework under which it becomes less risky with good faith in unknown members of various groups different from oneís own. Market processes imply interaction and exchange with people different from oneself, which, under equal and predictable institutions, can lead to a realization that differences need not pose a threat and to increased understanding; they also make intolerance come at a cost, in that rejection of groups of people for other reasons than low productivity lowers profits for firms and the well-being of consumers. These are, we propose, the main mechanisms that speak in favor of a positive relationship. However, there is also the possibility of a negative relationship, if markets bring about greed and a perception that certain groups benefit in an unfair way from market exchange (see Hirschman 1982). The empirical analysis must be brought in to shed light on the direction of a relationship." (my emphasis)

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« Reply #9 on: June 03, 2012, 06:00:27 am »
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Oh, and here are the control variables used:

"Real GDP per capita, Education, Young population share, Urban population share, Family values, Religious fractionalization, Ethnic fractionalization, Religion Catholic, Religion Muslim, Civil liberties, Political rights, Net income Gini and a set of geographical dummies."

I don't have time to really go in-depth on this right now, but I don't see anything wrong with it. It seems controlled for a lot of stuff, the theoretical argument makes sense.
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« Reply #10 on: June 03, 2012, 08:35:21 am »
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You could make the same argument with strong states, national states, welfare states, secularism or any of all the other things which to large degree defines the West.
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« Reply #11 on: June 03, 2012, 09:06:42 am »
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Thanks Gustaf for the bottom line, which still leaves the task of flyspecking his methodology. Free markets foster tolerance if you have an honest traffic cop to contain sharp practices. Does having a social safety net, or the scope of it, count as a variable here, or is that by itself irrelevant?  Was that addressed in the article?  The idea being that without it, the "losers," or those who feel vulnerable to the vicissitudes of the market, might feel screwed, and lash out at certain cohorts in the society, perhaps an identifiable group that seems to be doing better than others.
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« Reply #12 on: June 04, 2012, 07:09:06 am »
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"Economic Freedom" is a nonsense concept.
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As I have noted before 'paradigm shift' is an anagram of 'grasp dim faith'
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« Reply #13 on: June 04, 2012, 11:03:03 am »
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You could make the same argument with strong states, national states, welfare states, secularism or any of all the other things which to large degree defines the West.


Presumably that's why they control for geography among other things? Unless you actually mean it in a more philosophical sense, in which case I'd be inclined to agree.

Torie, if you look at my previous post, inequality is one of the control variables used. Which might, I guess, in itself pose some problems. Also at least one of the specifications did suggest that smaller government actually led to less tolerance.

So the paper is not mainly an attack on the welfare state or on social democracy, but rather, I think, a defense of the basic concept of free market capitalism.

Gully, feel free to elaborate. Tongue
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« Reply #14 on: June 04, 2012, 07:23:42 pm »
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I bet economic freedom itself has little impact on the amount of social distance separating folks of differing groups. It may conceivably be one among several factors that when combined make some kind of meaningful difference but on its own having a market economy enshrining personal property rights is insufficient - in my opinion - to accurately predict how people of a culture will tend to perceive, judge, and interact with each other in all aspects of daily life. Human nature is not quite selfish enough for profit motive to overcome the innate tendency of human beings to compete among themselves both as individuals and as members of larger, oftentimes tribalistic in-groups. Aside from that, my understanding is that people are usually intuitive in making their choices (and then hastily find ways to rationalize those choices afterward) instead of relying on cold, calculating logic to make all of their decisions. That is to imply the notion of homo economicus fails to offer us an empirically-sound conceptualization for human behavior.

Those are my initial thoughts. Maybe after reading the piece posted before I'll be a bit swayed. For now though I suppose the question, "Does economic freedom foster tolerance?" seems something like, "Does a liberal application of ketchup foster deliciousness?" to me. The latent potential for it is certainly there but for now I can't see it being the most important (or relevant) variable at work. :\
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« Reply #15 on: June 06, 2012, 08:07:34 am »
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I shall elaborate later but for now I will just ask: If it is the case that market economics and trade help boost tolerance towards, say, homosexuals why was it the golden era of laissez faire capitalism (ie. the late 19th Century) was the era that some of the worst oppression towards homosexuals in the history of western society? In fact, it was the era that thanks to Kraft-Ebbing, saw the disemanation of "homosexuality" as concept as distinct to "heterosexuality" and was conceived as primarily biological in nature (with "homosexuality" being seen often as due to faulty biology).

And if the first statement is in fact the case, why was it that the movement for homosexual rights (or at least in US terms the post-stonewall movement) grew out of social tendencies which were ranged from very hostile to at least indifferent towards "Capitalism" as it actually existed at the time?
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« Reply #16 on: June 06, 2012, 01:04:51 pm »
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I shall elaborate later but for now I will just ask: If it is the case that market economics and trade help boost tolerance towards, say, homosexuals why was it the golden era of laissez faire capitalism (ie. the late 19th Century) was the era that some of the worst oppression towards homosexuals in the history of western society? In fact, it was the era that thanks to Kraft-Ebbing, saw the disemanation of "homosexuality" as concept as distinct to "heterosexuality" and was conceived as primarily biological in nature (with "homosexuality" being seen often as due to faulty biology).

And if the first statement is in fact the case, why was it that the movement for homosexual rights (or at least in US terms the post-stonewall movement) grew out of social tendencies which were ranged from very hostile to at least indifferent towards "Capitalism" as it actually existed at the time?

It probably is a mistake to take a crack at a regression analysis across not only space, but time, I would think.
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« Reply #17 on: June 07, 2012, 05:36:18 am »
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I shall elaborate later but for now I will just ask: If it is the case that market economics and trade help boost tolerance towards, say, homosexuals why was it the golden era of laissez faire capitalism (ie. the late 19th Century) was the era that some of the worst oppression towards homosexuals in the history of western society? In fact, it was the era that thanks to Kraft-Ebbing, saw the disemanation of "homosexuality" as concept as distinct to "heterosexuality" and was conceived as primarily biological in nature (with "homosexuality" being seen often as due to faulty biology).

And if the first statement is in fact the case, why was it that the movement for homosexual rights (or at least in US terms the post-stonewall movement) grew out of social tendencies which were ranged from very hostile to at least indifferent towards "Capitalism" as it actually existed at the time?

It probably is a mistake to take a crack at a regression analysis across not only space, but time, I would think.

Which makes the research worthless... time is what we live n.
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As I have noted before 'paradigm shift' is an anagram of 'grasp dim faith'
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« Reply #18 on: June 07, 2012, 08:40:39 am »
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I shall elaborate later but for now I will just ask: If it is the case that market economics and trade help boost tolerance towards, say, homosexuals why was it the golden era of laissez faire capitalism (ie. the late 19th Century) was the era that some of the worst oppression towards homosexuals in the history of western society? In fact, it was the era that thanks to Kraft-Ebbing, saw the disemanation of "homosexuality" as concept as distinct to "heterosexuality" and was conceived as primarily biological in nature (with "homosexuality" being seen often as due to faulty biology).

And if the first statement is in fact the case, why was it that the movement for homosexual rights (or at least in US terms the post-stonewall movement) grew out of social tendencies which were ranged from very hostile to at least indifferent towards "Capitalism" as it actually existed at the time?

Both you and Redalgo seem to misunderstand the way regression analysis is used. No one is claiming that economic freedom determines tolerance. There is hardly any such relation existing  in any social science.

Calling the 19th century a golden era for capitalism is a bit dubious, even though I know it's popular to do so. The mechanism through which values change would probably have a bit of a lag as well. But, more importantly, see the above paragraph of mine. That is why you run a regression instead of looking at a single example.

That pro-gay rights movements did not love capitalism seems highly irrelevant to the research question, since it doesn't affect the mechanism they propose in any way.
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« Reply #19 on: June 07, 2012, 11:09:23 am »
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I shall elaborate later but for now I will just ask: If it is the case that market economics and trade help boost tolerance towards, say, homosexuals why was it the golden era of laissez faire capitalism (ie. the late 19th Century) was the era that some of the worst oppression towards homosexuals in the history of western society? In fact, it was the era that thanks to Kraft-Ebbing, saw the disemanation of "homosexuality" as concept as distinct to "heterosexuality" and was conceived as primarily biological in nature (with "homosexuality" being seen often as due to faulty biology).

And if the first statement is in fact the case, why was it that the movement for homosexual rights (or at least in US terms the post-stonewall movement) grew out of social tendencies which were ranged from very hostile to at least indifferent towards "Capitalism" as it actually existed at the time?

Both you and Redalgo seem to misunderstand the way regression analysis is used. No one is claiming that economic freedom determines tolerance. There is hardly any such relation existing  in any social science.

Calling the 19th century a golden era for capitalism is a bit dubious, even though I know it's popular to do so. The mechanism through which values change would probably have a bit of a lag as well. But, more importantly, see the above paragraph of mine. That is why you run a regression instead of looking at a single example.

That pro-gay rights movements did not love capitalism seems highly irrelevant to the research question, since it doesn't affect the mechanism they propose in any way.

I would agree with you. The 19th Century was not an era of economic freedom by any means, despite the surge of industry; there were still tariffs internationally and locally. There was little social mobility, little opportunity for those further down the scale to 'own.'

Post-War however tariffs fell, markets opened and capitalism as a tangeable concept filtered downward; there was opportunity.

Now of course, the other two variables are the welfare state and it would be interesting to see an analysis of that impact, and also secularism; social attitudes surveys link increased secularisation in the public sphere (or conversely, less identification with religion) to more tolerant attidues on sexuality, race, disability and women. In fact tolerance of homosexuality is intrinsically linked to the woman's rights movement; the impact of which forced a reassessment of what was acceptable masculinity.

Quite an interesting read.
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« Reply #20 on: June 07, 2012, 12:27:31 pm »
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'Economic Freedom' is a piece of political language and a statement about values and so on, and so is not a useful description of anything. 'Tolerance' is also not exactly an objective concept. Which makes this a project like this - no matter how many factors are 'controlled' for - a hilarious waste of time and other resources. The logic isn't so very far off some of the less edifying Marxist approaches to social sciences popular in the 1970s...
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« Reply #21 on: June 07, 2012, 12:37:26 pm »
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I shall elaborate later but for now I will just ask: If it is the case that market economics and trade help boost tolerance towards, say, homosexuals why was it the golden era of laissez faire capitalism (ie. the late 19th Century) was the era that some of the worst oppression towards homosexuals in the history of western society? In fact, it was the era that thanks to Kraft-Ebbing, saw the disemanation of "homosexuality" as concept as distinct to "heterosexuality" and was conceived as primarily biological in nature (with "homosexuality" being seen often as due to faulty biology).

And if the first statement is in fact the case, why was it that the movement for homosexual rights (or at least in US terms the post-stonewall movement) grew out of social tendencies which were ranged from very hostile to at least indifferent towards "Capitalism" as it actually existed at the time?

Both you and Redalgo seem to misunderstand the way regression analysis is used. No one is claiming that economic freedom determines tolerance. There is hardly any such relation existing  in any social science.

Then what is the point of this research?

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Calling the 19th century a golden era for capitalism is a bit dubious, even though I know it's popular to do so.

Arguing that would require quite a bit of historical revisionism, you know... (Of course one the things which has changed is that Capitalism has become identified with "Trade/Exchange" rather than the work system like it was in the past. Perhaps this is an inevitable part of the changes in perception that have become about due to the shift towards a consumer society.)

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The mechanism through which values change would probably have a bit of a lag as well.

Please describe to me the "mechanism" through which values changed. Remember we talking about a period which lasted for at least a century.

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That pro-gay rights movements did not love capitalism seems highly irrelevant to the research question, since it doesn't affect the mechanism they propose in any way.

So what the pro-gay rights movement thinks/thought is irrelevant to the spread of gay rights? Okkkkk......

Also what Al said.
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As I have noted before 'paradigm shift' is an anagram of 'grasp dim faith'
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« Reply #22 on: June 07, 2012, 12:52:14 pm »
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'Economic Freedom' is a piece of political language and a statement about values and so on, and so is not a useful description of anything. 'Tolerance' is also not exactly an objective concept. Which makes this a project like this - no matter how many factors are 'controlled' for - a hilarious waste of time and other resources. The logic isn't so very far off some of the less edifying Marxist approaches to social sciences popular in the 1970s...

Well, that's another line of attack, of course. But you'd have to specifically argue that the variables they use do not reflect those things. I think they seem like decent enough proxies for what I would mean by those terms. What do you disagree with precisely?

Gully, the point is to find whether economic freedom (as defined in this study) leads to more tolerance. Why wouldn't that be worthwhile? If it isn't, do you think all social science is worthless because it can't establish causal relationships that are 100% determined?

If you're not talking about economic freedom as defined in the study your whole point seems quite irrelevant, wouldn't you say? If it is merely that something else that you might call something else didn't have that effect, well...

The mechanism they describe is one of increased contact with other people. That would take time to have an effect, especially to alter values that are deep-rooted. You also would have to consider other factors, of course.

You can't seriously argue that social sciences must assume that intentions are all that matter??? Like, if I say the actions of the Catholic church helped cause the Reformation, would it be a valid counter-argument to say that the Catholic church did not want the reformation to happen? This is even worse, actually, because the gay rights movement got nothing to do with their mechanism. Your observation does in no way contradict their model. Do you see that?
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« Reply #23 on: June 07, 2012, 12:53:49 pm »
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I shall elaborate later but for now I will just ask: If it is the case that market economics and trade help boost tolerance towards, say, homosexuals why was it the golden era of laissez faire capitalism (ie. the late 19th Century) was the era that some of the worst oppression towards homosexuals in the history of western society? In fact, it was the era that thanks to Kraft-Ebbing, saw the disemanation of "homosexuality" as concept as distinct to "heterosexuality" and was conceived as primarily biological in nature (with "homosexuality" being seen often as due to faulty biology).

And if the first statement is in fact the case, why was it that the movement for homosexual rights (or at least in US terms the post-stonewall movement) grew out of social tendencies which were ranged from very hostile to at least indifferent towards "Capitalism" as it actually existed at the time?

Both you and Redalgo seem to misunderstand the way regression analysis is used. No one is claiming that economic freedom determines tolerance. There is hardly any such relation existing  in any social science.

Calling the 19th century a golden era for capitalism is a bit dubious, even though I know it's popular to do so. The mechanism through which values change would probably have a bit of a lag as well. But, more importantly, see the above paragraph of mine. That is why you run a regression instead of looking at a single example.

That pro-gay rights movements did not love capitalism seems highly irrelevant to the research question, since it doesn't affect the mechanism they propose in any way.

I would agree with you. The 19th Century was not an era of economic freedom by any means, despite the surge of industry; there were still tariffs internationally and locally. There was little social mobility, little opportunity for those further down the scale to 'own.'

Post-War however tariffs fell, markets opened and capitalism as a tangeable concept filtered downward; there was opportunity.

Now of course, the other two variables are the welfare state and it would be interesting to see an analysis of that impact, and also secularism; social attitudes surveys link increased secularisation in the public sphere (or conversely, less identification with religion) to more tolerant attidues on sexuality, race, disability and women. In fact tolerance of homosexuality is intrinsically linked to the woman's rights movement; the impact of which forced a reassessment of what was acceptable masculinity.

Quite an interesting read.

I believe both religion, Gini coefficient and size of public sector are included as control variables in this study.

We've had this discussion before but I've seen contradicting evidence on the link between religion and tolerance on things other than homosexuality.
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« Reply #24 on: June 07, 2012, 01:06:06 pm »
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'Economic Freedom' is a piece of political language and a statement about values and so on, and so is not a useful description of anything. 'Tolerance' is also not exactly an objective concept. Which makes this a project like this - no matter how many factors are 'controlled' for - a hilarious waste of time and other resources. The logic isn't so very far off some of the less edifying Marxist approaches to social sciences popular in the 1970s...

Well, that's another line of attack, of course. But you'd have to specifically argue that the variables they use do not reflect those things. I think they seem like decent enough proxies for what I would mean by those terms. What do you disagree with precisely?

Gully, the point is to find whether economic freedom (as defined in this study) leads to more tolerance. Why wouldn't that be worthwhile? If it isn't, do you think all social science is worthless because it can't establish causal relationships that are 100% determined?

No; don't be silly. Though I will say again that I don't believe in social "science". However, are you seriously suggesting that "freedom" is a measurable concept? (And please no strawmen-type responses). Especially "Economic freedom"? Nonsense.

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If you're not talking about economic freedom as defined in the study your whole point seems quite irrelevant, wouldn't you say? If it is merely that something else that you might call something else didn't have that effect, well...

No. It's meaningless nonsense. And meaningless ideological nonsense at that.

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The mechanism they describe is one of increased contact with other people. That would take time to have an effect, especially to alter values that are deep-rooted. You also would have to consider other factors, of course.

How is that an effect of economic freedom? And btw, here lets not forget the first great example of cross-continental oceanic trade (clearly this brought a great deal of tolerance to the world).

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You can't seriously argue that social sciences must assume that intentions are all that matter??? Like, if I say the actions of the Catholic church helped cause the Reformation, would it be a valid counter-argument to say that the Catholic church did not want the reformation to happen?


That is a completely and utterly absurd analogy. That is Libertas' level of debating. You surely see the difference between an ideologically driven movement and the accidental consequences of such a movement?

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This is even worse, actually, because the gay rights movement got nothing to do with their mechanism. Your observation does in no way contradict their model. Do you see that?

And I'm saying your mechanism is a lot of balls. Give me reasons telling me why it isn't?
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As I have noted before 'paradigm shift' is an anagram of 'grasp dim faith'
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