“Perhaps the most common objection to consequentialism is this: it is impossible to know the future…This means that you will never be absolutely certain as to what all the consequences of your act will be…there may be long term bad effects from your act, side effects that were unforeseen and indeed unforeseeable…So how can we tell which act will lead to the best results overall – counting all the results? This seems to mean that consequentialism will be unusable as a (...) moral guide to action. All the evidence available at the time of acting may have pointed to the conclusion that a given act was the right act to perform – and yet it may still turn out that what you did had horrible results, and so in fact was morally wrong. Indeed, if will never be possible to say for sure that any given act was right or wrong, since any event can continue to have further unseen effects down through history. Yet if it is impossible to tell whether any act is morally right or wrong, how can consequentialism possibly be a correct moral theory?”. (shrink)
The so-called Turing test, as it is usually interpreted, sets a benchmark standard for determining when we might call a machine intelligent. We can call a machine intelligent if the following is satisfied: if a group of wise observers were conversing with a machine through an exchange of typed messages, those observers could not tell whether they were talking to a human being or to a machine. To pass the test, the machine has to be intelligent but it also should (...) be responsive in a manner which cannot be distinguished from a human being. This standard interpretation presents the Turing test as a criterion for demarcating intelligent from non-intelligent entities. For a long time proponents of artificial intelligence have taken the Turing test as a goalpost for measuring progress. (shrink)
George Mason University, USA It has been suggested that the production of public goods through a government involves a circularity problem. Since government itself is a public good, how can we use government to produce other public goods? Several solutions to this supposed circularity are offered. Government is a unique kind of public good with some potentially self-generating and self-supporting features. The public goods theory of government remains intact, and this enterprise helps shed some light on the special features of (...) government. Key Words: public goods theory of the state free riders circularity problem. (shrink)
In a series of articles on population theory, culminating in his 1984 b00k Reasons and Persons, Dcrck Pariit presented dilemmas for utilitarian and conscqucntialist moral theories.] ParHt’s work has led to rcncwcd interest in thc theory of optimal population. More generally, Pariit is searching for a general theory of bcncHcencc—"Theory X"——that also will covcr population comparisons. Theory X corresponds to Kenneth Arrow’s notion of a social welfare function—both attempt t0 provide 21 generic formula or algorithm for ranking social outcomes on (...) the basis of their characteristics. (shrink)
It is commonly claimed that rule consequentialism (utilitarianism) collapses into act consequentialism, because sometimes there are benefits from breaking the rules. I suggest this argument is less powerful than has been believed. The argument requires a commitment to a very particular (usually implicit) account of feasibility and constraints. It requires the presupposition that thinking of rules as the relevant constraint is incorrect. Supposedly we should look at a smaller unit of choiceas the relevant choice variable. But once we see feasibility (...) as a matter of degree, there is no obvious cut-off point for how broadly we should think about the constraints on our choices. Treating as a relevant free variable is no less defensible than treating as the relevant free variable. Rule utilitarianism, rule consequentialism, and other rules-based approaches are stronger than their current reputation. (shrink)
Geoffrey Brennan and Philip Pettit have produced a major work on the economics of esteem, entitled The Economy of Esteem . 1 They show that much of social order depends on our desire to have our fellow man think well of us. This review also considers some extensions of their basic arguments and the conditions under which those arguments hold. Key Words: economics esteem fame rationality.
Utility, rights, and holistic standards all point toward some modest steps to limit or check the predatory activity of carnivores relative to their victims. At the very least, we should limit current subsidies to nature’s carnivores. Policing nature need not be absurdly costly or violate common-sense intuitions.
The received wisdom once stated that anarcho-capitalism would collapse into Hobbes’s state of nature, with life nasty, short, and brutish. The problem of competing governments is the problem of externality par excellence. But David Friedman, among others, has argued persuasively that privately financed arbitration agencies can overcome the basic externalities problems behind social order.
How should we define the feasible set? Even when individuals agree on facts and values, as traditionally construed, different views on feasibility may suffice to produce very different policy conclusions. Focusing on the difficulties in the feasibility concept may help us resolve some policy disagreements, or at least identify the sources of those disagreements. Feasibility is most plausibly a matter of degree rather than of kind. Normative economic reasoning therefore faces a fuzzy social budget constraint. Iterative reasoning about feasibility and (...) desirability may help us overcome these problems. (shrink)
We review literatures on agreeing to disagree and on the rationality of differing priors, in order to evaluate the honesty of typical disagreements. A robust result is that honest truth-seeking agents with common priors should not knowingly disagree. Typical disagreement seems explainable by a combination of random belief influences and by priors that tell each person that he reasons better than others. When criticizing others, however, people seem to uphold rationality standards that disapprove of such selffavoring priors. This suggests (...) that typical disagreements are dishonest. We conclude by briefly considering how one might try to become more honest when disagreeing. (shrink)
Defenders of laissez?faire have not successfully explained the historical experience of the Great Depression. Unemployment was widespread and persistent and cannot be ascribed to government intervention. Legal restrictions offer at best a partial explanation of why real wages did not fall. The Keynesian world view is also supported by experience with investment and equity market volatility, the conversion of Lionel Robbins, the wartime recovery, and the success of postwar macroeconomic performance. Some concluding remarks address how the case for laissez?faire might (...) be revived. (shrink)
Noradrenergic pathways are involved in mediating the central and peripheral effects of physiological arousal. The aim of the present study was to investigate the role of noradrenergic transmission in moral decision-making. We studied the effects in healthy volunteers of propranolol (a noradrenergic beta-adrenoceptor antagonist) on moral judgement in a set of moral dilemmas pitting utilitarian outcomes (e.g., saving five lives) against highly aversive harmful actions (e.g., killing an innocent person) in a double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel group design. Propranolol (40 mg orally) (...) significantly reduced heart rate, but had no effect on self-reported mood. Importantly, propranolol made participants more likely to judge harmful actions as morally unacceptable, but only in dilemmas where harms were ‘up close and personal’. In addition, longer response times for such personal dilemmas were only found for the placebo group. Finally, judgments in personal dilemmas by the propranolol group were more decisive. These findings indicate that noradrenergic pathways play a role in responses to moral dilemmas, in line with recent work implicating emotion in moral decision-making. However, contrary to current theorising, these findings also suggest that aversion to harming is not driven by emotional arousal. Our findings are also of significant practical interest given that propranolol is a widely used drug in different settings, and is currently being considered as a potential treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder in military and rescue service personnel. (shrink)
How should we define the “feasible set”? What does it mean to assert that a policy is the “best feasible option”? Feasibility is most plausibly a matter of degree rather than of kind. We therefore must think about how to do normative economics with a fuzzy social budget constraint. I consider a number of ways of proceeding, including a twodimensional social welfare function, weighting both desirability and feasibility. Focusing on the difficulties in the feasibility concept may help us resolve some (...) outstanding policy disagreements. (shrink)
The Repugnant Conclusion is closer to infinity-based arguments, such as Pascal’s Wager, than it at first appears. Both rely on an unbounded set of payoff comparisons. It is possible to restructure Pascal’s Wager to resemble the Repugnant Conclusion more closely, as the use of infinity is not central to the former. I then consider settings in which the set of comparisons is bounded, so as to differentiate Parfit’s problem from the more general issues involved with very large numbers. We then (...) find the Repugnant Conclusion no longer necessarily arises as a matter of logic rather is an empirical contingency. I then present some plausible intuitions under which the Repugnant Conclusion never arises. The paradoxical nature of Parfit’s Repugnant Conclusion is traced to the simultaneous application of two inconsistent outside observer constructs: one to judge the Repugnant Conclusion as repugnant, and another to define the utility scale for a marginally worthwhile life. Once the two constructs are made consistent, the Repugnant Conclusion can be defused. (shrink)
Thank you all, and good morning. Let’s start with slide one. That’s me, the obsessive, and obsessive is the key word here. I’m food obsessive. I have several obsessions actually, but today we talk about food. When I get home, my wife will ask me, “how did it go?”, and my answer will be, “the breakfast was excellent!” So I travel a great deal, I cook a great deal, and I write an on-line dining guide. I’m one of those people (...) who lives to eat. For a long time now, I have been writing about culture, and creativity, and diversity, and now I am writing about food. And my interest in food really stems from my life, and that is from my obsessive nature. I wanted to be going out there, eating in the best places possible. With this attitude every meal counts. But if every meal is going to count, you have to know how to eat. (shrink)
In classical music, the immediate canon is Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, and Mozart. With Bach and Beethoven it is hard to go wrong. But my short list there would be Bach's B Minor Mass and St. Matthew's Passion, The Art of the Fugue, Well-Tempered Klavier, some of the organ music, the Brandenburgs, the Partitas, the Goldberg Variations, and the solo violin works.
The social discount rate typically consists of two components: differences in the marginal utility of consumption across time, and the pure time preference rate as applied to cardinal utility. Within this framework, intragenerational and intergenerational time preference rates must be the same, if we are to avoid strongly counterintuitive results. Both rates, however, can be plausibly equal at zero rather than at a positive level; pure time preference should not necessarily be applied to cardinal utility, even when we apply it (...) to goods. The other component of the discount rate, the marginal utility of consumption, is appropriate only for very small changes in individual wealth; this assumption does not match most of the intergenerational scenarios in question. I conclude that economics does not provide a prima facie case for a positive rate of intergenerational discount for most policy issues. (shrink)
"Every man, however hopeless his pretensions may appear, has some project by which he hopes to rise to reputation; some art by which he imagines that the attention of the world will be attracted; some quality, good or bad, which discriminates him from the common herd of mortals, and by which others may be persuaded to love, or compelled to fear him." - Samuel Johnson.
On one thing the whole world seems to agree: Globalization is homogenizing cultures. At least, a lot of countries are acting as if that’s the case. In the name of containing what the Canadian novelist Margaret Atwood calls “the Great Star-Spangled Them,” the Canadian government subsidizes the nation’s film industry and requires radio stations to devote a percentage of their airtime to home-grown music, carving out extra airplay for stars such as Celine Dion and Barenaked Ladies. Ottawa also discouraged Borders, (...) the American book superstore, from entering the Canadian market out of fear that it would not carry enough Canadian literature. The French government spends some US $3 billion annually on culture and employs 12,000 cultural bureaucrats in an effort to preserve its vision of a uniquely French culture. Spain, South Korea and Brazil place binding domestic-content requirements on their cinemas; France and Spain do the same for television. Until recently, India barred the sale of Coca-Cola. (shrink)
The microstructural evolution, creep and tensile deformation behaviour of a Ti?15Al?33Nb (at.%) alloy was studied. Monolithic sheet material was produced through conventional thermomechanical processing techniques comprising non-isothermal forging and pack rolling. Electron microscopy studies showed that depending on the heat-treatment schedule, this alloy may contain three constituent phases including:???(disordered body-centred cubic), α2 (ordered hexagonal close-packed based on Ti3Al) and O (ordered orthorhombic based on Ti2AlNb). Heat treatments at all temperatures above 990°C, followed by water quenching, resulted in fully-? microstructures. Below (...) 990°C, Widmanstätten O-phase or α2-phase precipitated within the???grains. The fine-grained as-processed microstructure, which exhibited 90?vol.% ?-phase, exhibited excellent strength (UTS?=?916?MPa) and ductility (?f>12%). After heat treatment, greater volume fractions of the orthorhombic phase precipitated and resulted in lower ? f values with UTS values ranging between 836?920?MPa. However, RT elongations of more than 2% were recorded for microstructures containing up to 63?vol.% O-phase. Specimens subjected to 650°C tensile experiments tended to exhibit lower strength values while maintaining higher elongation-to-failure. Tensile creep tests were conducted in the temperature range 650?710°C and stress range 49?275?MPa. The measured creep exponents and activation energies suggested that grain boundary sliding operates at intermediate stress levels and dislocation climb is active at high stresses. Microstructural effects on the tensile properties and creep behaviour are discussed in comparison to a Ti?12Al?38Nb O?+?? alloy. (shrink)
It is a fun romp through many topics, including food. The book has a whole chapter on how to find a good restaurant, what to order, where in a city you can find the best food, and many related questions. I like to think that if you find the dining guide useful you will enjoy this book as well.
The paintings of the three brothers -- Marcial Camilo, Juan Camilo, and Felix Camilo Ayala -- stand among the high points of modern Mexican folk art, and represent the most ambitious creations to have come from the province of Guerrero . The joyous traditions of Guerrero rival the better-known outputs of Oaxaca or Michoacan in quality but they have not received comparable attention from collectors or museums.
1 Since commentary on the M ideas t is s o fraugh t with controversy, let me state s ome of my s tarting p oints up front. I am a strong believer in a market economy, and in W estern civilization. My foreign p olicy instincts tend to be dovish, in recognition of the imperfections in governments, but I am not, like some libertarians , in principle oppo sed to A merican intervention abroad. I am not religious , and (...) the M iddle East holds no s pecial theological s ignificance fo r me. I h ave fo llowe d events in the region, and read wid ely on its h isto ry, but have no literacy in either Hebrew or Arabic. (shrink)
Los Angeles Times, “Style and Culture: The joy of thinking globally; Art and commerce enrich each other, says an economist happily obsessed with what he sees as the virtues of modern culture,” profile, 7 February 2003, the link is on my home page http://www.gmu.edu/jbc/Tyler/.
Abstract Rosser's thoughtful and careful review of my book on business cycles reflects a different methodological stance than my own. I believe that economic theory and macroeconomics cannot escape using the concept of risk, even though, as Rosser points out, risk is not a simple unidimensional magnitude in many circumstances. I view the rational expectations assumption as a useful way of presenting a theory, rather than as a descriptive account of real?world expectations.