Re: Market failure to sufficently weigh the future

Date: Wed Nov 01 2000 - 11:33:04 MST

Robin writes:
> I can't follow your argument. Yes of course our preferences evolved to
> be adaptive to our ancestors' environment. And if so then artificially
> changing our actions, relative to those we prefer, would make us less
> adaptive if we were still in our ancestors' environment.
> But you seem to accept that our environment has changed greatly since
> our preferences evolved.

I think it has, although I don't know what the detailed impact of these
changes would be. But I don't see where in the paper this fact arises.
Wouldn't the authors' reasoning apply just as well if the environment
hadn't changed? So what is the relevance of this change?

> And the paper isn't about what is adaptive
> anyway - it is about what would satisfy the preferences we have, however
> we got them and however adaptive they are.

But isn't it relevant that changing society's discount rates may be
harmful? Or is that simply off topic for this paper?

What if someone wrote a paper proposing to change prices. Let's lower
the price of gasoline to 10 cents a gallon. That would improve social
welfare because there are more consumers than producers. Is it reasonable
to neglect the impact of that change on the supply of gasoline, and to
look only at how this satisfies our preferences?


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