>> In this light, it makes absolutely no sense
>> whatsoever to give *any* money to provide a "safety net"
>> for the needy: you're simply diverting resources that could
>> have a far greater impact, given time. When we emphasise
>> the public sector we do so out of a romanticized sense of
>> what good should be - pure, direct, and heartfelt - rather
>> than a rational sense of how good is achieved.
> Hmmm...what if that needy kid who died at the age of nine from
> complications associated with staph infection would have turned
> out to be the inventor of some crucial technology without which
> the future is grim rather than happy?
Well, then, we might have made the wrong choice in retrospect given our
goals--but so what? Should we then abandon making those choices given
the information we have, just because we might be wrong? Besides which
the conditions you postulate are unlikely: if we make a decision about
law/culture/society that on the whole saves lives while costing a few
others, whatever benefit to society those lost lives may have contributed
will likely be contributed by those we saved, maybe in a different way or
at different times. The romantic notion that discoveries are made by
heroic individuals out of thin air is pure Hollywood--inventions are made
by whoever is in the right place at the right time to make connections
between, generalizations of, and extrapolations from the common knowledge
of the time.
And of course all of that is predicated on the utilitarian premise
that making more people happy is the appropriate goal, while I as an
egoist see that as a mere side effect of my own goals, or perhaps
one means to acheiving my own goals.
The old "if just one life..." arguments are tiresome and pointless.
There exists no choice without both costs and benefits to be weighed,
and there is no excuse to make irrational choices, ever.
-- Lee Daniel Crocker <firstname.lastname@example.org> <http://www.piclab.com/lee/> "All inventions or works of authorship original to me, herein and past, are placed irrevocably in the public domain, and may be used or modified for any purpose, without permission, attribution, or notification."--LDC
This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Thu Jul 27 2000 - 14:14:45 MDT