Steelmanning social justice

post by toonalfrink · 2019-11-17T11:52:43.771Z · LW · GW · 30 comments


  Inference chains towards "bad"
  Dissolving narratives
  Personal boundaries as a first step
  Public and personal boundaries

I've been trying to steelman social justice. Here's one perspective that I like. Forgive me for writing about politics. I don't claim to be certain about any of this. I don't claim that this is the whole truth. Feel free to criticize me, even in bad faith. I won't take it personally.

Inference chains towards "bad"

Consider a situation that you don't like. Lets say you're walking through an alleyway at night. A stranger appears behind you and he is carrying a large knife.

This situation is one of suffering.

But does that make sense? You haven't actually been stabbed. It is not certain that you will get stabbed. It seems that your suffering isn't necessarily based on a reality. It seems to be based on an inference chain:

Stranger with knife -> Stranger will stab me -> I will bleed out and die -> "bad"

And this inference chain can be arbitrarily long. The suffering might already start before the stranger appears:

Alone in an alleyway -> Stranger with knife may appear -> ...

Even when unrelated events cause you to intuitively anticipate this situation to happen:

Lost friends at party -> have to walk home alone -> alone in alleyway -> ...

The lemma I'm constructing here is that suffering isn't based on something being bad, but on a constructed narrative that has a bad ending.

Dissolving narratives

One plausible definition of meditation is that it dissolves narratives. You stare at the constituent facts long enough until the constituent facts of a narrative overwrite it. You're replacing the symbol with the substance [? · GW].

I once went through a painful breakup. She wanted to try poly, and I agreed. Then when she slept with another guy, I couldn't help but notice some subtle details that led me to believe in a narrative that I was just the "beta male" for her.

I could "disprove" this narrative all I wanted. For every signal that it was true there were at least 10 that it wasn't. But still there was some shadowy part of my psyche that wanted to believe it, and this shadow would sometimes take over in an angry stupor.

Then I went to a meditation retreat. Instead of arguing against this shadow, I stared at it for a good while. The narrative dissolved, and with that, my suffering dissolved as well. We stopped fighting. This, I hypothesize, is why meditation eventually leads to a total lack of suffering. You dissolve all the narratives you believe in and "see the world for how it truly is", as the buddhists suggest.

My second lemma is that meditation is one strategy for a broader development that is dissolving narratives that cause suffering, and that dissolving these narratives is a worthy goal that all of us should strive towards.

Personal boundaries as a first step

One important prerequisite to dissolving a narrative is that it is not currently active. If you meditate long enough, you might eventually be able to tolerate a stranger with a knife without any suffering. But you will not be able to let go of this suffering while the stranger with the knife walks behind you.

In other words, to build tolerance for a perceived lack of safety, you first need to feel safe.

Consider the idea of personal boundaries. I have found this concept to be extremely useful in practice. A personal boundary, as I define it here, is not a loose declaration of where the line is, but a psychological fact about where the line actually is.

The line being between situations that activate an inference chain towards bad, and situations that don't. Between situations that make you suffer, and situations that don't.

In order to dissolve our narratives, we first have to set the boundaries that create a safe space. Only then can we start growing our base, increasing the amount of situations in which we don't suffer.

Public and personal boundaries

Here's where this story becomes political.

I already defined personal boundaries, which is the boundary between situation where one suffers and the situations where one doesn't suffer, regardless of their own opinion about it (though it is good practice to always believe them).

Public boundaries are an essential ingredient of our culture [LW · GW]. I define it as the set of behaviors that are acceptable in a public space. It is implied that this set of behaviors will ensure that no one's personal boundaries are crossed.

In other words, public boundaries are what we agree to be the lowest common denominator of what makes a person feel safe.

In any culture, there is a fundamental trade-off between freedom and safety. If you punish more behaviors, more people will feel safe, but there will be less freedom. That's why, as we negotiate public boundaries, the incentives will be in opposition to each other. No wonder this topic is such a shitshow.

Social justice, as I currently understand it, is at least partially about reducing freedom in order to increase safety. Some (many) people, especially those in minority groups, don't have a stable base to grow from. We should have more stringent behavioral norms so that these people can feel safe, in order for them to develop a tolerance for said behavior in the first place.

It is also about reducing actually bad things, but the controversial part is that it also wants to reduce the apparent threat of bad things, even if this appearance of threat is unfounded.

Some people are afraid of spiders. Right now we have some people out there with gigantic posters of spiders in their bedrooms. We're telling them that they are safe, therefore shut up about it already. But perhaps they won't be able to see that the posters are harmless, until we get rid of them.

(To be clear, I'm not saying that there is no danger at all. I don't mean to invalidate anyone's experience. Quite the opposite, actually)


Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by cousin_it · 2019-11-18T19:35:26.453Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Not to attack you, but I quit reading political subreddits because it was making me unhappy. If this kind of thing becomes common on LW, it'll be less fun for me.

comment by Wei_Dai · 2019-11-18T21:25:03.714Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

My guess is that LW can handle political discussions better than a typical subreddit. Past "political" discussions led to posts like The Nature of Offense [LW · GW], which I know you liked. Another thing is that as x-risk concerns spread into the wider world, it's going to come into conflict with other value systems (see this example) and it seems like we need a place to talk about that at least. But I would support putting political discussions into a "subreddit" here or use a tagging system to allow users to filter them out.

comment by ChristianKl · 2019-11-17T14:01:57.147Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

When steelmanning I think it would be helpful to start with defining the claim you want to steelman. Steelmanning is about starting with a claim and then arguing for it.

It isn't about engaging a topic and trying to dig up an uncontroversial claim that might be held by some people.

comment by Chris_Leong · 2019-11-18T00:56:27.985Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think argument is that even if you don't necessarily accept all of the fears or worries held by some within the social justice sphere, failing to emphasise with these emotions may simply make people feel them more strongly. And so that certain requests that might seem unreasonable might not actually be unreasonable keeping this in mind.

comment by ChristianKl · 2019-11-18T15:04:41.243Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If that's the argument then the failure to make that argument explicitly points towards the post being badly written. It's not a defense of the post.

comment by Viliam · 2019-11-18T23:58:15.628Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

It seems to me that you didn't steelman "social justice", only a small part of it. There are people (such as myself) who are quite okay with the ideal of making the world a safer place -- of course, after considering the costs and trade-offs; it's not like I would sacrifice everything else for the smallest increase of safety -- but object against some other parts of "social justice". So, from my perspective, you didn't steelman social justice at all. You only showed that it also contains some reasonable parts... which I already believed, because that is my standard assumption about all belief systems.

The usual problem with "safe spaces" is that often a safe space for X is an unsafe space for Y, because a thing that one person needs sometimes happens to be a thing that triggers another person. Making something a "safe space" for everyone would require a consensus on what is good and what is bad.

And we could find some generally accepted values, and e.g. make a space where no one is allowed to physically attack another person. But when we go further and declare that e.g. contradicting the beliefs of my tribe is literally violence... well, that makes it merely a safe space for one tribe, plus people who are willing to submit to the tribe's rules. It isn't even a safe space for skeptics or heretics within that tribe.

This may be difficult to notice for a naive, or politically mindkilled person, because "obviously" the safe space only needs to be safe for the good people; and it's quite okay (maybe even desirable) if it makes the bad people feel unsafe. There is nothing wrong about helping good people at the expense of bad people, right? I mean, no one is forcing you to be bad; you could just stop being bad, and repent. If you are sincere, the good people would probably find it in their heart to forgive you, especially if your words are accompanied by real action, such as defending good people, attacking bad people, and promoting the expansion of safe spaces.

So, as I said, as long as we can have a consensus on what is good and what is bad, there is no problem with building universally safe spaces. Until then, we can only have tribe-specific safe spaces. If we try to turn the entire society into a safe space, unless it means an archipelago where each tribe gets its place, it probably means the dominance of one tribe and subjugation of everyone else (including the skeptics and heretics of the dominant tribe).

Related: A Response To Apophemi on Triggers; Safe Spaces As Shield, Safe Spaces As Sword.

comment by Stuart Anderson (stuart-anderson) · 2019-11-19T11:41:21.374Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

You must adapt to the world, not the other way around. Expecting others to fix your problems, especially at their cost, is both unreasonable and irresponsible.

If you want the aid and respect of others then you have to earn that. You fit in, you put in the work, you become respectable in the community. Then you don't have to worry about "us and them" because you become part of the "us".

Tangible harms are to be dealt with by law that applies to all. Intangible harms are not a problem for society to deal with. Your own thoughts and emotions are your responsibility to deal with.

People tend not to like bigots. It's one thing to build a ramp for someone with mobility issues, it's quite another to have racial hiring quotas. The former is a disability, the latter is not. The former increases fairness, the latter does not.

It doesn't matter if your apartheid is for or against a particular class, it is unjust either way. Also, it's only a matter of time before it gets used on you. That's how weapons work.

comment by Wei_Dai · 2019-11-17T21:04:32.736Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I understand this post as trying to steelman the part of social justice movement that advocates for things like trigger warnings, safe spaces, and callout/cancel culture. It doesn't seem to touch upon the part of social justice that tries to enact policies aimed at reducing or eliminating inequities between groups. Does this seem fair?

comment by toonalfrink · 2019-11-23T21:24:24.085Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

That's fair

comment by Darkar Dengeno (darkar-dengeno) · 2019-11-17T22:35:33.367Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'd like to thank you for writing this up. I have a strong intuition that many of the ideas central to social justice would work well alongside the rationalist movement if it were less politically charged. Maybe if Scott Alexander's thesis about New Atheism transforming into Social Justice is correct (and the corollary that a new hamartiology will show up soon and take its place) then it is plausible social justice ideology will become less toxic and more amenable to an approach at the object-level (which is where I think we excel).

I am not sure this model is complete; in another comment [LW(p) · GW(p)], Wei_Dai points out that much of the social justice movement is centered around social inequalities, and your frame of "reducing suffering that can cause from predicted harms" doesn't seem to exactly hit on the problems systemic inequality can cause (such harms are often relatively easy to measure, even if not as straightforward to correct).

Social justice, as I currently understand it, is at least partially about reducing freedom in order to increase safety.

This makes sense to me. My model of a social justice advocate would argue that threats to safety are also threats to freedom: if someone does not feel safe in their environment then the range of actions they can de facto pursue is reduced even if they are technically permissible. In either case, my suspicion and the underlying assumption that good-faith social justice advocates must believe: social Pareto improvements exist.

comment by ChristianKl · 2019-11-18T15:47:35.881Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I don't think anything about Scott's thesis indicates that it's easy for Social Justice to be replaced. That movement has social dynamics that drive people to take more extreme positions and not express dissent that don't exist in the same way in New Atheism.

comment by Darkar Dengeno (darkar-dengeno) · 2019-11-18T16:19:40.184Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
Where do we go from here? I’m not sure. The socialist wing of the Democratic Party seems to be working off a model kind of like this, but hoping to change the hamartiology from race/gender to class. Maybe they’ll succeed, and one day talking too much about racism will seem as out-of-touch as talking too much about atheism does now; maybe the rise of terms like “woke capitalism” is already part of this process.

This is what I was referencing, I think it is unlikely social justice will remain the political center it has been for the last decade or so forever and socialism seems like a plausible 'next step' (though I wouldn't place much confidence on this).

That movement has social dynamics that drive people to take more extreme positions and not express dissent that don't exist in the same way in New Atheism.

I'm not sure this is true; New Atheism hit its peak before I was really active online but I don't think arguments like "religion may be false and harmful in some cases but it also has certain benefits to individuals and society that it would be foolish to ignore" would have gone over well in atheist communities, nor would "most modern organized religions downplay the harm they have caused historically and honestly dealing with those harms, both historical and modern, is a weak-point for many followers, even highly educated ones" have been met with much generosity in religious communities.

I cannot personally judge whether the atheism/religion flame wars were as toxic as the social justice/alt-right wars are today and I would not be shocked to learn that things really are worse now and that this conflict is stickier memetically, but I would be very surprised if this were the last political conflict ever. Something has to come next. In fact, I'd put ~75% odds that by 2025 it will seem odd that so much emphasis was put on social justice during this decade (although I'm not sure how one would judge this fairly).

comment by ChristianKl · 2019-11-18T16:50:43.250Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
Something has to come next.

What comes next might be a version that's even more radical.

It might be that nobody gets a degree in education without professing allegiance to SJ and those teachers then go to bring SJ into all the subject at school.

SJ is more then an online phenomena. It's also a fight for the control of various institutions and I see little reason that the people you won power will suddenly let it go.

comment by Darkar Dengeno (darkar-dengeno) · 2019-11-18T17:33:10.287Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
It might be that nobody gets a degree in education without professing allegiance to SJ and those teachers then go to bring SJ into all the subject at school.

This sounds unlikely, uncharitable, and frankly more than a little conspiratorial. I'm not even sure if this is something most social justice advocates would even want.

What comes next might be a version that's even more radical.

I would not consider this an actual paradigm shift in the way the atheism->SJ shift occurred and I do not think it will actually happen.

My model of culture wars is that they are fought over large ideological fronts. Atheism was a front line, now it is not. Scott proposed a view in which that front line moved over the ideological space centered around identity and culture and became the social justice conflict. If this model is correct then that front line can move again but it can't move to social justice because it's already there. If this happens, people could still argue about SJ topics and think they're important (just like people still argue about atheism now) but it also means people can discuss these things intelligently without the discussion devolving.

I'd encourage you to take an outside view here and consider how plausible it would sound for an atheist arguing in 2004 that atheism vs religion was going to be the most important cultural topic forever and that the reason for this was that theists were just so backwards and extreme they would keep upping the fight until faith pledges became mandatory in public schools and everyone would be forced to read the Bible instead of studying biology.

comment by at_the_zoo · 2019-11-18T20:25:21.260Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

This sounds unlikely, uncharitable, and frankly more than a little conspiratorial. I'm not even sure if this is something most social justice advocates would even want.

It's already happening IRL. See this Reason article:

The district has proposed a new social justice-infused curriculum that would focus on "power and oppression" and "history of resistance and liberation" within the field of mathematics. [...]

If adopted, its ideas will be included in existing math classes as part of the district's broader effort to infuse ethnic studies into all subjects across the K-12 spectrum.

comment by Darkar Dengeno (darkar-dengeno) · 2019-11-18T21:21:56.031Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Right, so, a few things:

The curriculum isn't mandatory

There is a huge difference in my mind between forcing teachers to adopt a specific curriculum with political implications and providing them the resources to include political topics as they see fit.

I'll admit, looking over the framework itself feels pretty icky. There are a few things I like about it, though.

SWBAT identify ancient mathematicians and their contributions to mathematics

I've long felt that more history of mathematics should be included in math curriculum (for much the same reason as history of science should be included). Seeing how our understanding of math as changed as new concepts were invented makes it feel more like a living process (off the top of my head, you could probably get a lot of mileage out of just looking at how the conception of numbers changed from the Greece to Rome to India).

Who holds power in a mathematical classroom? Is there a place for power and authority in the math classroom? Who gets to say if an answer is right? What is the process for verifying the truth?

This is practically proto-rationalism. Getting kids to question why things are accepted as the correct answer ('because that's what the book says' vs 'because I can prove it given ZFC axioms') and understand that there is a way they can see for themselves if something is true.

How is math manipulated to allow inequality and oppression to persist?

I didn't say the framework was perfect. This is just one example of clear progressive-coded language and yeah, I have a hard time defending why this ought to be in a math curriculum.

Going back to my earlier point, though, Christian-advocacy groups do sometimes try to get evolution taken out of public schools (or have creationism taught alongside evolution as an equivalent 'theory'). I'm not saying that it never happens or that there aren't extremists or that no effort should be put into wacking back insanity. But trying to paint evolution vs creation as the most important debate ever feels silly now. And more than that, for people who think religion vs atheism is the most important fight ever, trying to get one side to recognize good arguments on the other is like pulling teeth.

Politics is the mind-killer [LW · GW]. The fact that, as I write this, a reasonable-if-flawed attempted steelmanning of an ideology that the LessWrong community has decided is on the other side is sitting at ~minus 5 karma~ (ninja edit: +5 now, it seems to be fluctuating a lot, so reduce the intensity of this) should be considered shameful. I grow ever more afraid that LessWrong is just one more community that can tolerate anything except the outgroup.

comment by ChristianKl · 2019-11-18T22:09:47.480Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Reasonable-if-flawed posts about political issues have no place on LessWrong. Given that politics is problematic it's worthwhile to discourage people from posting low quality political posts on LessWrong and there's nothing shameful about discouraging such posts.

The behavior of discouraging has little to do with outgroup toleration.

comment by Darkar Dengeno (darkar-dengeno) · 2019-11-18T22:47:42.800Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
Given that politics is problematic it's worthwhile to discourage people from posting low quality political posts on LessWrong

I did not say "low quality" and I do not think this post is low quality. I think it is of middling quality, around what I would expect an average LessWrong member to be capable of writing. It is less specific than I would like and I think overreaches in the amount the key insight is able to explain but there is a key insight. One I found useful and novel and well constructed.

Further, while it would be very bad to have LessWrong become solely about politics, looking at the front page there are very few posts with a political focus. Politics is a part of our world and if we cannot discuss it then that is a weakness in our epistemology. If we strongly discourage mid-quality posts that deal with political topics then it could have an intellectual chilling effect.

That said, the post has positive karma right now and while it's not quite where I would place it, it's within a range that I would expect to see for most posts like this so I am no longer as terrified as I was that LessWrong had suddenly caught groupthink.

comment by at_the_zoo · 2019-11-18T21:57:16.067Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The curriculum isn't mandatory

I believe this is a mis-reporting, or talking about part of the curriculum. See pages 27 and 28 of this presentation:

We believe that all courses should incorporate Ethnic Studies curriculum, however at a minimum, students should participate in 4-5 ethnic studies classes in high school, i.e., a minimum of 1 ethnic studies course per year. [...]

A graduation requirement is a way to ensure that Ethnic Studies classes reach all students.

comment by Darkar Dengeno (darkar-dengeno) · 2019-11-18T22:34:38.535Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
All math, world languages, and all visual and performing arts courses should have an ethnic studies equivalent.

Ah, I think you're right. It seems like they want an "ethnic studies" version of everything and students have to take at least one ethnic studies course per year. I'm not a huge fan of that and it seems like it is taking some well-deserved criticism.

Looking at this presentation through the lens of the original post, it seems like what the Ethnic Studies Board is trying to do is create safe spaces and reduce perceived harms against minorities (hence, I think, why they want to make sure there's an "ethnic studies" version of every core class: so that the people they feel will best benefit from this curriculum can use it for their entire high school education).

I'm not sure they have fully considered the consequences of doing this (especially opportunity cost: all the class time spent on "ethnic studies" math is time not spent on, well, math) but I see no objection with the goal of providing minority students with a curriculum which will fit them better, in and of itself.

This is an interesting discussion which touches on education philosophy (how do we know the curriculum the Ethnic Studies Board has produced actually accomplishes its goals?), optimal resource allocation, language, culture, and (yes) race. But it is not a discussion we can have if seeing the phrase, "countering dominant narratives" makes the participants blind to anything else there.

comment by at_the_zoo · 2019-11-19T04:54:49.951Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Ah, I think you're right. It seems like they want an "ethnic studies" version of everything and students have to take at least one ethnic studies course per year. I'm not a huge fan of that and it seems like it is taking some well-deserved criticism.

FYI, there is virtually no criticism within the city / school district itself, because (1) it's too progressive / left-leaning and (2) anyone who does offer criticism gets labeled as "racist" or "white supremacist", even if the critic isn't white. (Look up "internalized oppression" if you're not already familiar.)

Looking at this presentation through the lens of the original post, it seems like what the Ethnic Studies Board is trying to do is create safe spaces and reduce perceived harms against minorities (hence, I think, why they want to make sure there's an "ethnic studies" version of every core class: so that the people they feel will best benefit from this curriculum can use it for their entire high school education).

That's part of it, but it's also about turning students (and not just minorities) into social justice activists. See this quote from page 31 of the presentation:

Critical pedagogy aims to engage students in an exploration of their world in order to gain a political and critical consciousness. It is based on the belief that historical events are the result of a series of contradictions and their solutions.

Humanizing pedagogy is a component of critical pedagogy that encourages learners to recognize oppression doesn’t just happen and they are agents of change.

Educators who employ critical pedagogy accept that the practice of teaching can never be apolitical when systems of oppression exist. Educators see education as a tool of resistance and liberation.

Critical pedagogy transforms the learning environment from one of passivity to one of action and change. Students don’t learn for the sake of learning, but learn to understand the how and why of social systems that oppress certain groups and privilege others.

Combine this with other forms of political correctness (e.g., it's taboo to even talk about "culture" as a factor in educational disparities; any differences in educational outcomes must be the result of racism/oppression) and it's hard not to be concerned about the outcome of this educational philosophy and to see certain worrying historical parallels.

BTW, I don't know if it's a good idea to get into a big object-level discussion about this here. Initially I just wanted to offer some clear-cut evidence to correct your belief that "bring SJ into all the sub­ject at school" is unlikely. Hopefully that's settled at this point?

comment by Darkar Dengeno (darkar-dengeno) · 2019-11-19T14:38:40.423Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Agreed on both counts, yeah. I still don't think this is actually evidence against the possibility of the political nexus shifting away from social justice (in fact, I would count it as evidence we're near peak intensity) and I still think there is a lot of value to trying to understand and capture interesting insights from the social justice movement, but I don't think a real concerted effort do do this is possible until things relax a bit.

If someone can think of reasonable ways to verify whether the cultural toxicity of the SJ fight has 'moved on' I would be willing to make a public prediction that it will have done so in five years. Maybe some kind of random sample of twitter fights? Or a survey of leftist tumblr?

comment by ChristianKl · 2019-11-18T22:45:21.631Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Christian-advocacy groups always have very little influence on what happens within education departments in universities. Deconstructionist thought on the other hand has a lot of influence within those departments.

It would be a big problem for the career of a professor in an education department to argue that more creationism has to be taught in science classes. On the other hand today a professor in an education department who would argue that there are only two genders would get massive problems.

comment by ChristianKl · 2019-11-18T22:42:28.492Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If you take the outside view there are plenty of cultural conflicts that end very bloody. From the outside view it's possible that a social force gets weaker but it's also possible that it gets stronger and goes on to project more power.

New Atheism vs. fundamentalist religion isn't even a good comparison because neither of those camps had a lot of institutions behind them.

comment by Chris_Leong · 2019-11-18T01:07:02.964Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Thanks for sharing, I found this helpful. I think this is a valuable lens to have. I think it would be useful for me to also raise a counterpoint: sometimes making concessions simply encourages people to demand more. Of course, this is highly dependent on the actual social dynamics like the attitude of the person who wants the concession and whether you can offer the concession with dignity and without it coming off as submission. But as I said, what you've posted here is definitely a useful lens.

comment by Wei_Dai · 2019-11-18T20:55:41.163Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Not sure why this post has been downvoted so much. I had upvoted it from 6 to 9, and now it's at -5. I don't see any new strong criticisms of it posted since that time, so what gives? ETA: I just did a strong upvote to bring the karma into positive territory, otherwise nobody can see my question under "Recent Discussion".

comment by robertskmiles · 2019-11-26T11:48:31.263Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think it's fine as a post, but I'd very much prefer not to have explicitly political (and especially explicitly culture-war) posts here

comment by romeostevensit · 2019-11-19T05:08:33.317Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I didn't downvote, but I do think that conversations like this attract people who aren't interested in arguing in good faith. I prefer that such discussions occur at one abstraction level up so that they don't need to mention any object level beliefs like social justice in order to talk about the pattern that the author wants to talk about.

comment by Wei_Dai · 2019-11-19T06:03:10.438Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I didn’t downvote, but I do think that conversations like this attract people who aren’t interested in arguing in good faith.

This seems like a reasonable worry. Maybe one way to address it would be to make posts tagged as "politics" (by either the author or a moderator) visible only to logged in users above a certain karma threshold or specifically approved by moderators. Talking at the meta-level is also good, but I think at some point x-risk people have to start discussing object-level politics and we need some place to practice that.

comment by shminux · 2019-11-17T19:20:22.969Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Social justice does not need steelmanning. The wikipedia definition makes perfect sense as is: "Social justice is a concept of fair and just relations between the individual and society." I am not sure what you are trying to steelman (or, from the tone of your post, dismiss), but it is something else, unrelated to social justice except maybe in some loose way.