Antifashionism

Utilitarianism, prioritarianism and other varieties of consequentialism.
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Nap
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Antifashionism

Post by Nap » Mon Jul 30, 2012 6:25 pm

I saw this quote and it inspired me to create this tread.
she doesnt look like someone we would want to be promoting
I know it wasn't literal, but I think we should consider it literally for a second.

I have a prejudice against people that wear expensive clothing (expensive looking, I'm not very good at knowing what is or isn't expensive clothing).

Spending large amount of money on cloths is extremely wasteful, but in our society its sometimes necessarily. This wont change till we point out how ridicules spending a few $100 on shoes, pants, dresses etc. can be.
When did empathy become a mental illness?

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RyanCarey
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Re: Antifashionism

Post by RyanCarey » Mon Jul 30, 2012 9:30 pm

Sure. Let's put aside the fact that the quote is a bit out of context for a moment...

I agree that we shouldn't embark upon great new ventures into fashion if we can avoid it. It seems to follow logically from Peter Singer's argumentation.

I think it's trickier to argue that fashion is greatly more wasteful than other hobbies. Who am I to say that fashionistas don't derive greater satisfaction per dollar spent than I do when I watch a TV series on DVD? Despite my protest, I would probably tend to agree with the idea that fashion is extra-wasteful.

However, even granting that, we have to take the next step and say that fashion is so wasteful that it is worth our time, effort, and reputation to intervene. This is the trickiest part, and I'm a bit suspicious that we can make a convincing argument of this.

I'd be interested to see whether you argee that these are the challenges that an antifashionist position would face, and if so - whether you think they can be met.
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Hedonic Treader
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Re: Antifashionism

Post by Hedonic Treader » Mon Jul 30, 2012 10:10 pm

Nap wrote:Spending large amount of money on cloths is extremely wasteful
It depends on what would otherwise been done with the money. Compared with the most efficient altruistic charities, it is probably wasteful.

Clothes are clothes - expensive brands don't necessarily require more energy and resources than cheaper clothes. It means that money is distributed from you to the company who makes the clothes, some of which will go into taxation, some into employment, some to the stock holders, but not that much more actually to burn the limited resource supply of humanity. This is also why I don't mind buying art that didn't consume many physical resources in production. Some artists or fashion designers could possibly do productive work as charity employees, but some couldn't - due to the law of comparative advantage, some designers may be better at designing high-end clothes than at anything else, and better at it than most other people.

If most of the money goes to stock holders or high income employees or inefficient government spending, it may not do as much good as efficient charity, but it does more good than simply buying and burning physical resources worth the same amount of money spent, i.e. $100 spent on these clothes is not the same as "resources worth $100 wasted".
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Nap
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Re: Antifashionism

Post by Nap » Tue Jul 31, 2012 5:30 am

I think it's trickier to argue that fashion is greatly more wasteful than other hobbies.
Actually I think about this allot too. A very large amount of hobbies people spend their money on are VERY wasteful. I obviously think people should try to spend money on what makes them happy but more often then not I look around and see people just reacting in ways they might not even want to if they give it a closer look.

You need to spend $10 to see the new batman movie because every one else has. $10 for 2 hours of fun? That means that people work jobs that they usually hate (ask almost any one in retail) for just a return of 2 times the amount of time (if they work for 30% more than minimum wage where I live)? Well maybe the happiness is worth it? I find usually its not that much worth it. If they waited a year the movie might drop to $1 at a dollar theater. Then it'd be 20 hours of fun for every 1 hour of work.

With fashion its even worse! A lot of people spent $30 for a shirt their don't wear that often. Why does that shirt make you very happy to begin with? A friend of mine got a 2day express shipping for his shirt for $5 more than it would have been with normal shipping. He had no reason to need it sooner, he just wanted it (he's a broke college student btw).

It's not just him, I am constantly seeing this behavior in people around me. On occasion in myself too.

I think this is a social problem when it comes to fashion, art, music, movies, not just that of individual choice. People don't buy expensive cloths because they like it most of the time, they like it because they feel a social motivation, "I'll buy this because people will like me more."

When it comes to other hobbies there might be a few other reasons, but I think sense this thread is about fashion I want to concentrate on that.

@ Hedonic

I consider it to be wasteful employment. That person is now putting time into some thing that (assuming for now) has no beneficial worth. I never understood why people think creating jobs is so important. Shouldn't it be creating useful jobs is an important thing? If I hire a person to just just say the word "hello" over and over for an hourly wage, I didn't do any thing beneficial.

Fashion seems to be a remnant of some evolutionary bi-product. I think we should learn actual benefits it might have still if any. If it has none shouldn't we try to overcome this "bad habit".

I'm not trying to exclude hobbies I like. I think they deserve the same scrutiny. Music, movies and video games for example. These to me are huge wastes of our economy. You can talk about direct waste (this is what you were talking about Hedonic when you said physical resources), for example Hollywood. They waste a tone of talented peoples time and physical resources. Or we can talk about indirect waste for example with music. Michael Jackson build an amusement pack in his backyard with the money he made. To me this is another waste. I don't know exactly what kind of use it got, but I doubt it was worth the million it probably cost.

@ Ryan
However, even granting that, we have to take the next step and say that fashion is so wasteful that it is worth our time, effort, and reputation to intervene. This is the trickiest part, and I'm a bit suspicious that we can make a convincing argument of this.
Ya this is a very good point, but I think for now I want to take this idea with baby steps like others before me have.

You know, just think about my own choices more, maybe not buy that thing I wanted that wouldn't even make me that happy, or try to find a cheaper alternative.

I'm trying out this new idea I have where if I find myself wanting to spend money on some thing I don't need or would even make me that happy, I should put away a percent of its worth into a charity fund. On top of that help work against, what I perceive to be these negative social behaviors or basic human instincts, by pointing out to a few close friends that maybe their choice to buy that shirt with the $5 faster shipping isn't that smart, or maybe that just because those shoes cost more, it doesn't make them look better than other shoes.
When did empathy become a mental illness?

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Re: Antifashionism

Post by Bruno Coelho » Tue Jul 31, 2012 6:14 am

P. Singer argument against fashion is based on premisse that people spend money in luxuries that could have be well spend giving/poverty/NGOs. I think it's more than a moral question.

If you acusse someone of having bad preferences, this is about they not considering all life on earth -- scope insensitivity. But, I assume that rich people know what's the percentage of humans above the poverty line, surely. They simple don't see why it's the best strategy for their investiments.

To me, one constrain to global altruistic endeavor, is libertarianistic assumptions.Thinkers who richs pay attention, in terms of decisions, mostly are liberal/libertarian. A recent contrarian voice is M. Sandel, acussing them of bad behavior.

In a more broad perspective, even the median class spend a good amount of income in clotles, for social signaling reasons. It's more "easy" to argument in favor of collective welfare, than trying to change specific spendings.

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Re: Antifashionism

Post by Hedonic Treader » Tue Jul 31, 2012 11:14 am

Nap wrote:I consider it to be wasteful employment.
Let me remind you that people are different: Some people are better at some things than at other things. Some people are more motivated to do some things than other things. To allocate them differently by eliminating certain kinds of jobs entirely (e.g. fashion designers) does not imply that they create the same dollar worth in another job, or that they like their new job equally much.
That person is now putting time into some thing that (assuming for now) has no beneficial worth.
I think it does have beneficial worth. If people use it to play status zero-sum games, it doesn't. But if people derive genuine pleasure from it, it has value. After all, money is the unit of caring, and that people are ready to pay such sums on fashion and art is pretty good evidence that they must care about it.
If I hire a person to just just say the word "hello" over and over for an hourly wage, I didn't do any thing beneficial.
If a lot of people are ready to pay for a bundle of experiences in which someone saying "hello" is a part, then it did indeed do something beneficial. Why else would they pay for it? For instance, I saw a woman once whose job it was to scare visitors in a haunted house in an amusement park. It was only a temporary job, a kind of joke, where the visitors were surprised by a live person among the puppets. The amusement derived from this surprise is the utility of the job. People work and pay to get that utility. How do we know it's a net-positive interaction? Because people consent to pay for it, and the employees consent to work there for that wage.
Music, movies and video games for example. These to me are huge wastes of our economy.
I think they are the exact opposites of waste. They provide hedonistic value to all their users, distracting them from their general misery and allowing them to feel pleasure and amusement. This is exactly the short-sighted thinking that led Stuart Armstrong to conclude: "If there were an existing poorer population, then the right thing to do would be to redistribute wealth, and thus lose the last copy of Akira. However, currently there is no existing poor population, hence I would oppose it coming into being, precisely because it would result in the lose of Akira."

He saw that as a defeat of total utilitarianism. But it's not. It just means that a world with fewer people who are entertained is better than a world with more people who have the questionable benefit of mere existence in a state of non-entertainment. Now you could argue that people could just spend time with each other, or having sex, or singing instead of buying music. But that, too, requires time and coordination, resources even (e.g. for contraception). And to diversify one's hedonistic assets means to derive pleasure and distraction from more than one source. For some people (not for me), fashion is clearly a part of this. If you think the pleasure of entertainment is not needed, then when, and how, will people finally be happy? If we had a way to create hedonium, I would agree that we should spend all our excess resources on it. But the way the human mind currently works, it can be argued that we need the entertainment just to palliate the inevitable pains of our mere existence.
You need to spend $10 to see the new batman movie because every one else has. $10 for 2 hours of fun? That means that people work jobs that they usually hate (ask almost any one in retail) for just a return of 2 times the amount of time (if they work for 30% more than minimum wage where I live)? Well maybe the happiness is worth it? I find usually its not that much worth it. If they waited a year the movie might drop to $1 at a dollar theater. Then it'd be 20 hours of fun for every 1 hour of work.
Ah, but this ignores all the pirates on the internet, and all the people watching it over the years later for free in one form or another. A lot of these pirates live in countries with low per-capita income, and the $10 you pay at the box office is already calculated to offset the cost of piracy. And of course you can pirate it and donate the exact same amount to the most efficient charity, if you really think it is a complete waste to spend that money.
Michael Jackson build an amusement pack in his backyard with the money he made. To me this is another waste.
I agree with physical forms of waste like these, and it subtracts from the value of spending on fashion, art or entertainment. But it doesn't reduce the value to zero, and it is a necessary side-effect of a capitalistic system where people in demand can choose to waste resources. I wish they didn't waste them, but in part this effect can be reduced through taxing them, in part it just has to be accepted in a free society. Coercive collectivism is way worse in its consequences on human well-being - I think that's quite clear, isn't it?
"The abolishment of pain in surgery is a chimera. It is absurd to go on seeking it... Knife and pain are two words in surgery that must forever be associated in the consciousness of the patient."

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Nap
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Re: Antifashionism

Post by Nap » Tue Jul 31, 2012 8:18 pm

To allocate them differently by eliminating certain kinds of jobs entirely (e.g. fashion designers) does not imply that they create the same dollar worth in another job, or that they like their new job equally much.
But a worthless job is still a worthless job. Granted maybe not all fashion is completely worthless, but I think its not hard to see its not proportional to what it should be if humans were smarter.

Just because it creates worth to a human doesn't mean it creates practice worth for humans, humans are too easy to manipulate for that. An example might be Peter Popoff. You might say he comforted people which is what he has his worth in, but you can be left to wonder how many people ignored actual health ricks for that and wasted what little money they might have had to do some thing about it.
But if people derive genuine pleasure from it, it has value. After all, money is the unit of caring, and that people are ready to pay such sums on fashion and art is pretty good evidence that they must care about it.
People caring about it doesn't mean they get happiness from it, and short term happiness isn't always worth it like in the Peter Popoff example. Another example are some fads. People often get things because they feel those things will make them happy (because they were told they need this to be happy) or it will make them more popular, these are the things I have the biggest problem with. Fashion seems to be the genre of hobbies that is most extremely infested with this.
If a lot of people are ready to pay for a bundle of experiences in which someone saying "hello" is a part, then it did indeed do something beneficial. Why else would they pay for it?
I think you place to much faith in people rational decision making. I know a girl that spent $30 for faster shipping by 7 days for colored contacts that were $20. There was NO need for it, its not like she was cosplaying 3 days later or any thing. This same girl wouldn't let her boyfriend spend $250 on a required boots for his work, he could get fired for not having it. That's 12% of the cost for his boots she wasted because she's so impatient she can't wait a week.

According to you, since people are willing to spend the extra $30 on fast shipping it must be beneficial? I doubt you think that. Do you think that its the best we can do? I don't, I think these bad habits in people can be worked on, at the very least we can work on it in ourselves.
I think they are the exact opposites of waste. They provide hedonistic value to all their users, distracting them from their general misery and allowing them to feel pleasure and amusement. This is exactly the short-sighted thinking that led Stuart Armstrong to conclude: "If there were an existing poorer population, then the right thing to do would be to redistribute wealth, and thus lose the last copy of Akira. However, currently there is no existing poor population, hence I would oppose it coming into being, precisely because it would result in the lose of Akira."

He saw that as a defeat of total utilitarianism. But it's not. It just means that a world with fewer people who are entertained is better than a world with more people who have the questionable benefit of mere existence in a state of non-entertainment. Now you could argue that people could just spend time with each other, or having sex, or singing instead of buying music. But that, too, requires time and coordination, resources even (e.g. for contraception). And to diversify one's hedonistic assets means to derive pleasure and distraction from more than one source. For some people (not for me), fashion is clearly a part of this. If you think the pleasure of entertainment is not needed, then when, and how, will people finally be happy?
I do think its a part of being happy, I just think its extremely off balance right now.

People in the high-end of entertainment make FAR too much money for their worth. You can argue this might be proportional because of the tones of people who try to make it in entertainment but are barley paying the rent. To be a better way of life for every one would be cut down the high-end to be more reasonable (instead of football plays or fashion deniers making millions while people in 3rd world countries starve, they only should make 60k a year or less like a lot of other people).

I agree, fewer more happier people seems to be a better way to go, but right now we have almost 7 billion people on earth and a scary high number of them starve to death.

I do think spending time on other things different from a lot of the most common in our society (mine at least) would be much more beneficial. Why spend $10 to see a movie with friends when you can just hangout with them? Again my biggest problem is the distribution. There are cheaper ways for entertainment that are pretty much equal that people don't take advantage of. Why spend $10 to see a movie when you can get it for free legally? Public libraries (here in the US) have almost every movie ever made. There is often better music online for free. I get that music is subjective, but why spend 18 on a Nicki Minaj CD with 22 songs, I see nothing different about her from any other (bad or good, but in her case I think more bad than good) musician other than it seems her fan base is dumb enough to buy her CD's. There is an almost unlimited amount of better quality (again, how much a person likes music is subjective, but I think any one can find some thing musically they like as much if not more online) music for every genre online for free. Very talented people make a lot of good music for the fun of it, and provide it for free online.

http://www.youtube.com/user/MonstercatM ... ture=watch
http://www.youtube.com/user/estan247
http://www.youtube.com/user/pyrofiliac
http://www.youtube.com/user/TayZonday
http://www.youtube.com/user/lindseystomp
http://www.youtube.com/user/vkgoeswild

I got lazy with that list, I can still keep linking you to prove a point :p but I don't think its necessary.

If I tried hard enough, I think I could find a thousand + artists for every music genre that make music mostly because they want to and provide it for free.

I see no reason why some one would pay for music other than for popularity of the artist (aka every one likes then and got their CD so I need to too) or because of ignorance.
Ah, but this ignores all the pirates on the internet, and all the people watching it over the years later for free in one form or another. A lot of these pirates live in countries with low per-capita income, and the $10 you pay at the box office is already calculated to offset the cost of piracy.
I disagree. I don't think the price is high to account for pirates, I wouldn't watch a movie even if I couldn't get it for free online or from public libraries. I don't think this high price comes from a drain in the market. People that "steal" movies don't add to the production cost, they just don't contribute to the income. The high production cost comes from wastefulness, for example paying actors millions.

Piracy isn't a cost, its just does not contribute to a profit. That mindset assumes people must watch that movie. Premise A, all people watch the movie. Premise B, those that pirate it online don't contribute to income the movie makes. Conclusion, every one that pirates creates a cost that the company needs to account for.

The budgets for these movies should not be this high, the cost to see them should not be this high either. Standard forms of capitalism just don't seem to work in the entertainment industry. Movies tend not to have competition for who can create the lowest ticket price for the best quality movie, instead it turns into who can convince the most people that this is the best movie to see and you must see the best movie. I've never heard anyone way options in ticket price.
I agree with physical forms of waste like these, and it subtracts from the value of spending on fashion, art or entertainment. But it doesn't reduce the value to zero, and it is a necessary side-effect of a capitalistic system where people in demand can choose to waste resources.
According to youtube musicians it does reduce the value to almost zero, many do it for the fun.

This doesn't mean we can't work against the system by making better choices and telling those around us to make better choices.

Plus, the standard form of capitalism doesn't appeal to me, but that's another subject.
When did empathy become a mental illness?

Ubuntu
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Re: Antifashionism

Post by Ubuntu » Wed Mar 29, 2017 9:06 pm

I don't really understand your argument. I can understand your point if you're saying that people are wasting money or other resources on personal entertainment that could have otherwise been spent on cost-effective charity and altruism instead but your argument seems to be that people overestimate how much happiness these things will cause them and I don't know what you're basing this on if not your own personal preferences. I understand your point even less when it comes to music, fiction etc.

Something is 'beautiful' if it either a) is aesthetically pleasing, which only tells us about the emotional response at least some people have toward it and not the inherent nature of the thing itself, or b) you're making a value judgment about the inherent nature of the thing itself. ' Beauty' isn't a physical characteristic like shape, color, texture, melody etc., if we go with the second definition we're making a value judgment about these things. I value the emotional experience of 'beauty' and not it's sensory objects (the beautiful things I have in mind are sensory objects like art, music, natural scenery, ballet, fashion etc. but other things like poetry and stories can be considered 'beautiful' and I might say something like 'so and so has a beautiful soul'). If you're a 'philosophical' hedonist you don't consider anything to be intrinsically beautiful or ugly independently of how it makes people feel (again, I have sensory objects in mind. I might consider compassion as a personality trait to be inherently 'beautiful' in the sense that it's inherently moral, if happiness is intrinsically good, and affection is inherently related to compassion/sympathy/empathy). Without referring to how something makes you feel, beauty judgments are completely arbitrary and even if people consider X to be inherently beautiful regardless of whether or not it is aesthetically pleasing, they only think so because they find it aesthetically pleasing (that or they're just going along with the crowd).

From this point of view I don't really understand the concept of temporary fads where things become fashion no no's for reasons other than the fact that nobody finds them to be aesthetically pleasing anymore (not necessarily fashion 'trends' where people naturally lose or gain interest in different styles but the idea that X really *is* out of style) or criticizing art, music etc. since the value of art, fashion, music, fiction etc. is in maximizing happiness. In my view, the criticism is invalid because there's nothing intrinsically good or bad about the things that people find aesthetically pleasing or displeasing. You can still advise an artist, musician or fashion designer to make various changes that would make their work more appealing to more people or more likely to ensure employment etc. (adding this point in quickly - about to sign off) but that's not 'critical' since you aren't claiming their work is fundamentally flawed or in need of improvement.

Not everyone who's interested in fashion cares about expensive clothing or following fads. Some people enjoy expressing themselves creatively through their clothing style (not to mention tattoos, piercings, make up and hair dye etc.), find certain clothing to be more aesthetically pleasing or even the self-image they associate with that clothing to be appealing or 'cathartic'. In regard to the people who are interested in expensive fads that they don't necessarily actually like, whatever happiness they feel as a result of having the kind of social reputation or even private self-image of being the 'kind' of person who wears designer things has value (even if they're probably better off in the long run if their self-esteem doesn't depend on that) but they probably feel that way because they value 'beauty' and not happiness (obviously they probably do value happiness-inconsistently-but that's not the basis for their preoccupation with fashion).

Personally (and I wouldn't say this offline), I don't necessarily like the way I dress but I have preferences. It would be nice if I could design my own clothing (I have no money and what I like can't necessarily be found. I also love black which can easily fade) but I don't think about clothing as much as I used to. What's sad is that I go through long periods when music is boring to me, it's just sound, even music I would otherwise find shockingly beautiful won't get me 'high' like it used to.

You said something about $10 for a movie being a waste, but the money goes to people whose happiness you identify with, and it may even go into whatever resources required to produce what you and other consumers benefit from consuming. That might be a weak argument, this is kind of rushed. It might have been wiser to have replied later when I have time to think things through, read through the posts and my mind might be clearer. I agree with a lot of Headon_Treader's last post.

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