• Posts
  • RSS
  • ◂◂RSS
  • Contact

  • Objecting to Situations

    September 11th, 2012
    giving  [html]
    In several conversations recently I've been frustrated by people trying to convince me that some situation is bad: global warming is out of control, housing is too expensive, single parenting is harmful to children. The problem is that situations are really only good or bad in comparison to alternatives. What does it mean that housing should be cheaper? There isn't a world we can get to with some simple change that is just like ours but with cheaper housing. Instead we'd need some legal or social changes, such as removing zoning restrictions, instituting rent control, or expanding housing vouchers. Any of these would have positive and negative effects, with their overall value depending on much more than simply whether cheaper housing is good.

    You can take this too far: "Why are we debating housing policies when we aren't in a position to implement them? Why don't we only discuss options available to us, like donating to PACs, writing our representatives, or canvassing in person?" You do still need to figure out whether some alternate world would be worth working for, which is one component in what actions you should take yourself. But its not enough to convince me that global warming is an extremely serious threat to humanity without making the companion arguments for what the world should be doing to stop it and what I should be doing to make that happen.

    (Because social programs tend not to work, the main hurdle isn't establishing that a program's goal is worthy but instead that it's moving us toward its goal.)

    Comment via: google plus, facebook

    Recent posts on blogs I like:

    Experiences in raising children in shared housing

    Sometimes I see posts about people’s hope to raise children in a group housing situation, and it often seems overly optimistic to me. In particular they seem to expect that there will be more shared childcare than I think should be expected. Today I talke…

    via The whole sky October 18, 2021

    What to learn

    It's common to see people advocate for learning skills that they have or using processes that they use. For example, Steve Yegge has a set of blog posts where he recommends reading compiler books and learning about compilers. His reasoning is basicall…

    via Posts on Dan Luu October 18, 2021

    EDT with updating double counts

    I recently got confused thinking about the following case: Calculator bet: I am offered the opportunity to bet on a mathematical statement X to which I initially assign 50% probability (perhaps X = 139926 is a quadratic residue modulo 314159). I have acce…

    via The sideways view October 12, 2021

    more     (via openring)


  • Posts
  • RSS
  • ◂◂RSS
  • Contact