Transportation May 25, 2023 at 4:05 pm

Dismantling This Argument Is Not Only Not Interesting, but a Complete Waste of My Time. Instead, This Post Will Be about the Philosophical Function of the Automobile.

This is making global warming worse? Charles Mudede



@1 it is becoming less relevant as cars move to hybrid/electric power and idling/wasting gasoline is a thing of the past. Charles is right that this is a lame back door argument for widening roads across town to appease some road ragey inclinations. Yeah we need cars but go live in Bellevue or the actual suburbs if one giant road of cars is your thing.


"The driver in a traffic jam is, as a consequence, in the worst kind of situation."

True. But that driver has the power to seek an alternate route. When the city, in all of its wisdom, reduced speed limits, it reduced the time savings of driving down Aurora (for example) compared to cutting through adjacent neighborhoods. As those smaller local roads present a large and very flexible network of possible paths as opposed to the few straight arterials, suddenly I feel empowered again in my ability to select my own route.


So Charles decided to completely waste our time, instead of his.


I like how Charles spent the first half of the post explaining how technology changes human perception, to an audience which once read his words on paper, but now reads them on a screen.

Then we get to his questionable assertions, presented as facts:

“The inner experience of a bat from a million years ago is not that different from those one finds at the dusk of our day.”

“The inner experience of a driver on, say, Mercer Street is adequate to the way most at the top of their society experience (or feel) reality: as an individual, as above the rest.”

I doubt very much anyone driving on Mercer Street, especially anyone stuck in traffic there, truly resides “at the top of their society”.


"Hmm...I can't really rebut the argument, so how can I use my liberal arts degree to pretend that I have a point?"


we've seen the Adverts:
in your New Car even YOU
can be The King of the Road!

but you gotta be in
fucking Montana or
Nevada to go flat out

at least you
can take your
Living Room for
a Drive -- even if
it's just to stupid Work


My comment was going to be "it might be uninteresting, but it's not a waste of time". But, of course, the article does attack the argument in a way that is more interesting than nitpicking every detail of it.

There is value in this, as lots of political discourse is bogged down by distributed gish gallop attacks (both by people who are actively malicious, and those who were take in by the poorly constructed argument), and trying to address each point individually is literally doing exactly what they want you to do. But I'm not sure that turning into an inquest into the moral character of a person who legitimately has that concern leads to a more harmonious society. But the points made are still valid, and we can't have a harmonious society without the de-prioritization of ego.

Although, to nitpick at this article a little bit, I would expect that people in horse-drawn carriages felt more "at the top of their society", not less, because horse-drawn carriages were more scarce than cars relative to the population size, and nothing makes people feel superior to others more than claiming exclusive rights to a scarce resource.


“speed limits? We don’t need no stinking speed limits!”
Enforce the law, coppos


@3 Or... get this!... think about walking, biking, or mass transit to get to work.

Negative incentives are also a way to get people who would not consider giving up their car to pay such a price that giving up their car is actually advantageous. I mean, that's also the point.


I took the bus from my home in Federal Way to downtown Seattle for a year.
It was an awful malodorous mess 20 years ago. Can’t imagine it got any better.


When I see all the car drivers (at least 80% of them) in this fair city of ours speeding towards the next red light, stopping, re-starting, only to speed towards the next red light every day of every year and calculate in my mind all the unnecessary gasoline wasted and all the unnecessary ozone killing emissions created I don't need to read about bats hanging upside down or give some moron complaining about bike/bus lanes the time of day.


@9 I've been meaning to ask: We know Charles is a Trustafarian, but what kind of -farian are you? Rastafarianism is the most craptastic of religions. To quote Propagandhi, "An amalgamation of jewish scripture and christian thought. What will that get you? Not a fucking fuck of a lot!"


Dismantling the argument would actually be useful to readers. But instead you provided us with something that you felt was a good use of your time. Does anyone agree? Seriously, is there anyone on here who thinks "I can dismantle that argument as easily as I can solve a puzzle designed for 3-year olds. I would rather here Mudede write about philosophy."

I can't think of anyone who feels that way. I know people who are philosophers -- they got their PhD in philosophy and taught (or teach). It isn't clear if Charles ever reached that level. So why the fuck should we care about his musings, while ignoring an argument that is clearly not obvious to so many Americans? You remind of that guy in Annie Hall -- the one with Marshall McLuhan ( Maybe not as ignorant, but just as annoying and irrelevant.


OK, now on to dismantling the argument. I'll start with buses. Buses use a lot less carbon per person than cars. They also use less space. Thus you can have a lot more people in a lot more buses for a given space. But if the buses compete with cars for space, they will be slow. Beyond a certain point, people will prefer driving over taking the bus. It is a classic case of tragedy of the commons.

The same thing is true with bikes, but it is more about safety than speed. At a certain point level of risk, bikes become less popular. Or, to put it another way, if you make biking a lot safer (by adding bike lanes) you increase bike use.

There is an economy of scale with both modes of transportation. The better a public transportation system becomes, the more cost effective it is. The more frequent a bus, the more popular it becomes, and the more people ride it. Getting back to bus lanes -- the faster it becomes, the cheaper it is to operate. Thus bus lanes not only make for a better and more efficient transportation system, but a cheaper one as well. For a good primer on the subject, I suggest Human Transit, by Jarrett Walker.

Likewise, the safer the roads become, the more people ride. The more people ride, the safer it becomes. That is because drivers get used to seeing people biking, and are less likely to hit them.

All of this is pretty basic, and rarely disputed by anyone with any knowledge of these subjects. But here is the interesting part: Sometimes a city that evolves to be less dependent on driving will actually have better driving. Cities can (and have) actually evolved to have very little in the way of traffic jams, despite the city prioritizing every other mode. This is because driving infrastructure is not an economy of scale, but a diseconomy of scale. The more people drive, the worst it gets. Add a lane, and more people drive. This becomes a vicious circle -- the exact opposite of investing in transit or bike infrastructure. Anyone who has been stuck in a traffic jam on an eight lane freeway is familiar with this phenomenon.



@16 -- you made a Rhyme! also:

"Rastafarianism is the most craptastic of religions."

sure suggsy &
thee most Elegant?
crucify the Poor the Meek
the Social Justice warriors?

please Prosperity Jesus
save Us from your
ugly Disciples.


@13: Or... get this!... think about moving my business and employees to the East Side. Closer to where I live.

Please wait...

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