[ 8/April/21 ]
In general I would say very little.
For most people most debates relate to sets of valences (tendencies towards or away from various levels of “things” both physical and conceptual) that they have inherited from either biology or culture. And there is a sense in which we all have to start there, and we must all retain some aspects and influence from those starting valences at many different levels of our being. And for most people, most of the time, it seems to me that there is very little conscious connection between the debates about environment and lifestyle.
There is certainly a sense in which if one is to actively engage in the depths of such debates then one needs to have existed in a context that has had sufficient freedom and resources for one to be able to learn sufficient about mathematics and science and logics and physics and cosmology and biology that one can actually start to be able to meaningfully deal with the levels of complexity and uncertainty and strategy actually present in such things.
The reality present in most public debates is that most people are acting from such low resolution models of the actual complexity present that it is something like trying to build a working jet aircraft using leggo bricks – while it might look something like the real thing from a distance, it is never going to fly.
And everyone has to start from very low resolution models of reality; there is no other logical option.
The unfortunate thing is that many cultural and belief systems try to keep people in such very low resolution models throughout their adult life. While that may make life easier for some within various levels of administration of those systems, it is not something that generally adds to the likelihood of survival in complex and rapidly changing contexts – which is what we seem (beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt) to be in.
And such tendencies are not simply down to the people within such systems, but are actually deeply embedded in the tendencies of the systems of brains by the systemic incentives of the evolution of complexity itself – and that is a deeply complex subject, with multiple levels of recursion of complex adaptive systems requiring cooperative contexts for survival.
So it is a deeply complex context we find ourselves in, where every level of system has sets of constraints that are required for the survival of complexity at that level, and at all levels freedom needs to be used responsibly such that it does not violate any of the necessary sets of constraints that are required for the survival of any of the levels of complexity present in each and every one of us, and the systems around us that are required for our survival (whether we are aware of it or not).
Trying to simplify such complexity down to simple binaries like right or wrong, true or false, good or bad in some sense that can be applied to any and all contexts, is simply not going to work reliably – something much more is required of us.
Responsibility in this sense means accepting the probability of error, and in that full knowledge making the best assessment we each can, individually, of what responsibility and freedom look like in any particular context; then choosing to act. The more we can each put that step into our actions, in any context that seems at all unusual to us, the greater the likelihood of our survival – both individually and as a species.
What that looks like for each of us individually is likely to be very different. I run a small software business, I chair a charitable trust working for the survival of a bird species that breeds only in the area where I live, I also chair our district committee on water policy and I am involved in various levels of biosecurity, biodiversity and life extension and risk management and planning and policy. I am also vegan as a result of being give a “terminal cancer” diagnosis and being sent home “palliative care only” and told I had a 2% chance of living for 2 years – 11 years ago. I just had the 10th anniversary of the last tumour. So there is no sense in which I am near the median, and I am normal in the sense that I am on many different distributions that exist in the complexity that it is in being human, and I am well out towards the tails of quite a few of those distributions. I do not seem to be particularly constrained in my modelling and understanding by any level of social agreement; yet I do understand the importance of building cooperation and consensus at such levels as this is possible.