Sherry Listgarten
Sun, 21 Oct 2001 13:31:40 -0700

> First of all, there is no such thing as absolute liberty -- there are
> always tradeoffs, and the real question is what is to be traded for
> what. I am uncomfortable with any system which trades individual
> liberty in order to preserve cultural homogeneity.

Right, no problem, as long as it's okay for other people to prefer that
tradeoff. There are a lot of people in the military for example, many of
whom like the single-mindedness, the sense of purpose, the sacrifice of the
self to the whole. Though Jim "Kool-Aid" Jones was of course not okay.
There's voluntary and voluntary. And brainwashing and brainwashing.

> Second of all, economics works because indivuduals _do_ maximize, not
> because someone decided they _should_ maximize. Good economics is
> descriptive, in other words, not prescriptive.

Okay, then it should say "individuals _try_to_ maximize, given incomplete
information, different methods of reasoning, and varying notions of
optimality". Which seems like pretty much of a no-op to me, unless you try
to complete the information, unify the type of reasoning, and give some
coherence to the notion  of optimality -- which is what that second
(distasteful) paragraph was about.

> If I had to put something I believe in place of this paragraph, I
> would say "Enforcing the will of the group on the individual should be
> avoided wherever possible" or perhaps "A large sphere of negative
> liberty should be safeguarded for every citizen."

Well, at least this is slightly less dogmatic...

-- Sherry.