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Did Sam Bankman-Fried’s Mother’s Ideas About Moral Responsibility Have, Er, Consequences?
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Earlier, by Steve Sailer: Sam Bankman-Fried’s Mom: “The Philosophy Of Personal Responsibility Has Ruined Criminal Justice And Economic Policy. It’s Time To Move Past Blame” and Sam Bankman-Fried’s Aunt: “Putting a Public Health Lens on Incarceration”

Imagine being raised to believe that there is no such thing as free will. How would your thinking develop if your mother informed you, from a very young age, that you couldn’t possibly be to blame for anything you did? What contribution would you make to the world if you absorbed the idea that you carried no moral responsibility for your actions, nothing you did was your fault and, in fact, you had no control whatsoever over anything you engaged in?

Well, we don’t have to imagine it, because it has just played out before our very eyes, with devastating consequences for large numbers of people.

Earlier this month the crypto-currency FTX dramatically collapsed, leaving up to $2 billion of investors’ money missing [Exclusive: At least $1 billion of client funds missing at failed crypto firm FTX, By Angus Berwick, Reuters, November 14, 2022]. FTX was founded in 2019. Headquartered in the Bahamas, Sam Bankman-Fried, aged 30, his 28 year-old girlfriend Caroline Ellison and four other young couples ran the crypto-currency from their shared house. There they seemingly engaged in some sort of polyamorous relationship, referred to by Ellison as a “foray into poly.” By January this year, the company was valued at $32 billion, had sponsored Mercedes at Formula 1, and by April Bankman-Fried was spending time with Bill Clinton, Tony Blair and Katie Perry at his “Crypto Bahamas Conference.” However, it all unraveled on 2nd November when a major Chinese backer, Binance, pulled out of FTT (FTX’s trading token), possibly because it had emerged, via leaked documents, that Bankman-Fried’s crypto-currency trading company, AlAmeda, was heavily dependent on FTT.

By 8th November, the value of FTT had fallen by 72%. FTX filed for bankruptcy on 11th November. Bankman-Fried, a major Democrat donor who was notoriously Woke, confessed that his commitment to “ethics” was a “front” and he feels bad for people who were “fucked” by it.

As the crypto-currency unraveled, he transferred $10 billion to Alameda, although he is now being sued by former celebrity endorsers for $11 billion. Bankman-Fried also blamed Ellison, whom he appointed FTX chief executive despite a blatant lack of experience in such matters, for the collapse of the company [EXCLUSIVE: Ex-girlfriend blamed by Sam Bankman-Fried for failed FTX wrote about her ‘foray into poly,’ being in a ‘Chinese harem,’ thinks men are ‘cute’ if they ‘controlled most major world governments’ – AND admits crypto is ‘mostly scams and memes,’ By Daniel Bates, Daily Mail, November 17, 2022].

Currently, Bankman-Fried remains in the Bahamas, though there is an on-going extradition attempt by the FBI [FTX: FBI Mulling Bankman-Fried Extradition As Bahamas Arm Of Exchange Files For Bankruptcy, St Kitts & St Nevis Observer, November 16, 2022]. And so there should be, as economics experts have suggested that there is evidence of deliberate fraud. Worthless tokens were presented by the company as assets, billions of dollars were conveniently transferred out of the company just before it went bankrupt, and most basic business practices, such as keeping records, were not followed, rendering investigation conveniently difficult [The FTX fraud and first principles, By Debashis Basu, Business Standard, November 21, 2022].

Mike Novogratz, Galaxy Digital CEO and an investor in FTX, has highlighted fraud at an even more basic level, explaining that, contractually, investors in FTX had deposited their coins in the FTX Exchange. For Bankman-Fried to run his own personal hedge fund with them is, which he did, is, therefore, fraud [‘I think his day will come’: Novogratz questions why Sam Bankman-Fried is still a free man after massive FTX ‘fraud,’ By Joseph Adinolfi, Market Watch, November 23, 2022]. According to Crypto Briefing, using FTX customer funds to bail out his other company, Alameda, is clearly fraud [FTX Fraud: Who Are Sam Bankman-Fried’s Biggest Victims? By Timothy Craig, Crypto Briefing, November 14, 2022].

How does this relate to being raised not to believe in free will? Well, meet Barbara Fried [Email her] mother of Sam Bankman-Fried and Emerita Professor of Law at Stanford University. In 2013, Fried wrote an essay in The Boston Review entitled “Beyond Blame” in which she argued—it should be admitted rather cogently—that the concept of “blame,” in legal terms, is extremely difficult to philosophically justify. Humans, she maintains, are products of their biology and the interaction of this particular biology with their environment, which can cause them to think and react in certain ways. As such, human actions, in all circumstances, are essentially pre-determined and there is no such thing as “free will.” (This was more or less Edward O. Wilson’s position, as well.)

We feel that we have free will, but this is simply an adaptive illusion. This being the case, argues Fried, humans cannot be said to be “blameworthy.” Fried looks at those philosophers who have countered that even if we don’t have free will then we can still be blameworthy and quotes one of them, T.M. Scanlon: “Even if our attitudes and actions are fully explained by genetic and environmental factors, it is still true that we have these attitudes and that our actions express them.” She then paraphrases Scanlon as effectively saying, “we are blameworthy for doing what we could not help but do.”

Looking at why we need to make the world “safe for blame,” Fried suggests four key reasons.

  • Firstly, we so strongly feel that we have free will that we can’t possibly accept that we don’t.
  • Secondly, blame allows us to control behavior by eliminating those biologically-prone to criminality or incompetence, or, at least, environmentally influencing their future behavior.
  • Thirdly, blaming others, in a sense, shows respect for them. It treats them as humans who are capable of thoughtful moral decisions.
  • Fourthly, blame is here to stay so we might as well accept that and try to make the process as civil as possible.

Fried then takes these arguments apart, noting that we state that some people do not have free will or it is too impaired for them to be blameworthy—such as children and the mentally ill—but there exists no clear border between “us” and “them.” They may be even less to blame than “us,” but we are still not really to blame.

My opinion: The key problem with Fried’s philosophical argument is that it fails that test of pragmatism. We cannot possibly live according to the idea that we don’t have free will, just as we can’t live by the idea that there is no such thing as objective truth, so it is a frivolous area of discussion.

Is this, however, something that may have been discussed in the presence of the young Sam Bankman-Fried? Has Professor Fried attempted to be philosophically consistent by, at the very least, trying to live by her philosophy that you should never “blame,” and that a person’s actions are not their fault? What would it do to a child if they were never blamed for their moral transgressions and if they were told that nothing was ever their fault?

Presumably, they would grow-up with a Narcissistic sense that they were perfect, that they could do whatever they wanted, and that anything bad that took place in their lives was the fault of somebody else.

There is at least some evidence that children with Narcissistic traits—to the extent that Narcissism has environmental causes—experience “parental overvaluation: parents believing their child to be more special and more entitled than others” [Origins of narcissism in children, By E. Brummelman et al., PNAS, 2015]. Sam Bankman-Fried’s childhood would certainly have imbued him with a sense of being “special”: the 3000 square foot mansion in the middle of Stanford’s campus; the $56,000 per year private school [Private School and Lefty Parents: Inside FTX Founder Sam Bankman-Fried’s Charmed Upbringing, By Amy Tong, San Francisco Standard, November 22, 2022]. What would parental over-valuation do on top of that?

“Parental overvaluation”? We’re speculating, obviously, but if the mother believes the child is “blameless,” then wouldn’t that implicitly lead to “parental overvaluation”? And would that not in turn lead to the kind of behavior we have seen from the Sam Bankman-Fried?

Barbara’s Boston Review piece is far from her only piece of writing which seems to line up with her son’s behavior. In academic article entitled “Facing Up to Risk,” [Journal of Legal Analysis, Volume 10, 2018, Pages 175–198,]she criticizes the idea that no amount of money is worth trading for human lives or for human suffering: “But in a world of epistemically indeterminate consequences—which is to say, the world in which we live—it cannot supply a general guide to action”.

Sam’s mother is not the only person in his family with such attitudes. Her sister, Prof. Linda Fried [Email her] is Dean of Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. She has argued that public well-being would be increased if criminals were not sent to prison; in other words were not seriously punished for their transgressions [Putting a Public Health Lens on Incarceration, By Linda Fried, Huff Post, June 2, 2014].

And, of course, they’re all involved in the Democratic Party. Barbara Fried is a founder of “Mind the Gap,” which raises funds for Democrat candidates [Stanford-connected fundraising group wants to raise $140 million for Democrats in 2020, By Kate Selig, The Stanford Daily, January 16, 2020]. Her husband, Joseph Bankman, also a Stanford professor in the Law School, drafted tax legislation for Elizabeth Warren [Stuart Varney: Influence in Sam Bankman-Fried’s family runs deep, By Fox Business Staff, Fox Business, November 7, 2022].’ Darren Beattie has just described FTX extremely dark money laundering operation as “bigger than Soros” and fueling the “Clinton-Underworld Democrat Machine” (November 26, 2022).

This is family who virtue-signal equality to others while living in spectacular luxury. It is a family who think they’re above rules such as “practice what you preach.” In other words, they have Narcissistic tendencies.

And how many times have I highlighted research on the connection between Leftism and Narcissism?

See earlier:

Lance Welton [email him] is the pen name of a freelance journalist living in New York.

(Republished from VDare by permission of author or representative)
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  1. meamjojo says:

    I don’t think this kid would be mentally capable to do prison time. I’m betting on a suicide when the going gets tough (when he finds out how many years he will have to serve in jail).

  2. Anonymous[374] • Disclaimer says:

    Barbara Fried…mother of Sam…maintains…there is no such thing as “free will.”

    Her sister…argued that public well-being would be increased if criminals…were not seriously punished for their transgressions.


    Christians will no longer be blamed for antisemitism…or anything else.

    ADL, ACLU, SPLC, Snopes, YouTube censorship, etc. will all end.

    And Israel will return all Holycost guilt-gelt grifted from goyim.

    All Shoah-business museums will be shuttered.

    No more “Never Again” nonsense will be taught in schools.

    And Palestinians will be made whole via reparations, the return of 1948 refugees, and true political equality and power.


    If so, gain great!

    • Agree: Old Brown Fool
    • Replies: @Old Brown Fool
  3. Dutch Boy says:

    All philosophies (or rather, anti-philosophies) that posit the non-existence of free will or objective truth are intended to exculpate those who violate the moral order. Promotion of such beliefs is useful to our overlords, who are currently pushing sodomy, aggression, and economic exploitation.

    • Agree: Art Deco
  4. Franz says:

    That’s the current and most fashionable flavor, no free will. Sam Harris is the chief guru and his blog contains most of what he has to say on it. One of the comments is slick under the current circumstances:

    Many say that believing that there is no free will is impossible—or, if possible, will cause nihilism and despair. In this feisty and personal essay, Harris offers himself as an example of a heart made less self-absorbed, and more morally sensitive and creative, because this particular wicked witch is dead.

  5. Notsofast says:

    if anyone argues that there’s no such thing as free will, just punch them in the face. when they ask why you did that, tell them you had no choice.

  6. @Anonymous

    Most of such “philosophies” are mere verbiage, with faulty reasoning at its core. This argument – “If a man’s actions are beyond his control, then no use punishing him” has a corollary too: “No use rewarding him either”. That means nobody should be paid for doing anything, because they would be doing it anyway, without expecting our rewards, which is absurd. No man would continue to do something for ever without getting rewarded (or at least paid for it, which is a “reward”). Now, if the counter argument is, “Yes, a lot of people do philanthropic actions without expecting rewards”, then it argues, “Then there must be many other people who harm mankind through their action without expecting punishments!”. The sum of all these verbal jousts is still nothing.

    • Replies: @anon
  7. anon[198] • Disclaimer says:
    @Old Brown Fool

    This argument – “If a man’s actions are beyond his control, then no use punishing him” has a corollary too: “No use rewarding him either”.

    But also there is no HARM in punishing, because the one who punishes also has no free will.

    There is a story of a wandering wise man in a Muslim country. He wandered onto a farm and began helping himself to some of the apples growing there. The farmer yelled at him, but the wise man said, “Don’t you see this is all the will of Allah? The apple tree manifests nutrition, and my body naturally nourishes itself. All things are one. I am merely the manifestation of cosmic forces. Don’t blame me!”

    The farmer tied the wise man to the apple tree and began beating him about the shoulders and buttocks with a stick. The farmer said: “Alhamdulillah! Don’t you see this is all the manifestation of cosmic forces? The ropes do the cosmic will as they bind you, and the stick does the cosmic will as it hits you. I am just a manifestation of cosmic forces. Don’t blame me!”

    • Agree: Old Brown Fool
  8. anon[198] • Disclaimer says:

    My opinion: The key problem with Fried’s philosophical argument is that it fails that test of pragmatism. We cannot possibly live according to the idea that we don’t have free will, just as we can’t live by the idea that there is no such thing as objective truth, so it is a frivolous area of discussion.

    You are entitled to your opinion, because you don’t have free will to have any other opinion. I won’t try arguing you out of it, because it is your nature to have that opinion and to resist philosophical arguments. I don’t have to respect you. I don’t have to regard you as rational. I don’t have to let you into conversations reserved for rational people. But I will let you have your opinion.

    Philosophical debates about ontology and epistemology and the metaphysics of reality are useful ONLY when the participants are trained philosophers with considerable professional dedication to honest debate. Painful experience indicates that any attempt to debate random voices on the Internet with professional philosophy is a waste of resources that could be better spent on getting tenure as a philosophy teacher. Philosophy teachers can debate amongst ourselves whether there is objective reality, but we are more likely to debate to what extent any objective reality is KNOWABLE — epistemology before metaphysics! (And if you are an aspiring philosophy teacher, don’t contact me through my “anon” pseudonym — go to my university office! All aspiring philosophers are adept at tracking down anons on the Internet, after all!)

    I will note, however, that “free will” is not a philosophical question, but rather a question of Christian theology. The ancient Christians are the ones who started muddying the waters with their insane notions of “free will,” and not because they wanted to serve Jesus, but rather because they wanted to demand loyalty for their sectarian hierarchies.

    If you want to do ethical arguments (and the more fool you if you do) then don’t bother with questions of whether the personal will is free. Start with whether the personal will is subjected to identifiable coercion. Study the practice of force and fraud among real humans.

  9. G. Poulin says:

    Tired of these philosophical debates. Round and round they go, never getting anywhere. At this point, I don’t really give a shit about who’s right. The question is, “How do we rid ourselves of these monsters who are destroying us?”

  10. The reason Jews like SBF’s mother peddle nonsense about no free will and blamelessness is to avoid blame for all of the manifold harms they have caused humanity. They are desperate to escape blame and responsibility for their self serving, socially predatory behavior.

    Don’t assume for one minute that Barbara Fried actually believes any of her own nonsense. It’s simply a legal rational to advance her own preference for a society that nurtures sociopaths and psychopaths at the expense of the rest of us.

    I’m not going to waste my time scouring the interwebs for evidence of her own blamecasting but I bet I wouldn’t have to look very hard to find it. Jews being Jews, they love the blame game more than anyone since it tends to reinforce their own sense of victimhood.

    • Replies: @Alrenous
  11. Alrenous says: • Website

    Free will, called in philosophy libertarianism, has no logical consequences at all regarding whether you can be be blamed for your actions.

    If libertarianism is true, then deterrence works because you feel responsible for the act you suffer deterrence subsequent to.

    If libertarianism is false, then deterrence works because you are biochemically shackled to the avoidance of pain.

    You may note that deterrence works.
    The point of blame is to prevent blameworthy actions. Deterrence.

    The point of linking free will to responsibility is precisely to encourage crime. No matter how libertarian the world is, sometimes you free will is limited enough that you no longer “have to feel” responsible.

    Anyway, the other way around.
    The BF family is obviously part of the 10% obligate defector population. They are a crime family. A criminal bloodline. Knowing they can’t stop themselves, they claim that humans can’t reasonably be held responsible for their actions, in the hope of stopping you from reacting.
    Unaware that this means they’re claiming they can’t control themselves and by inspection the only crime-reduction solution, in that case, is to execute their entire clan.

  12. Alrenous says: • Website
    @superfluous man

    Yeah obviously everyone knows you’re the victim, not them. How dare they try to appropriate your victimhood. Insolence! They need to perpetrate like they’re told.

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