How should political decisions be made?

This is a really interesting topic. Can you expound?

Something something Catholicism.


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Silly solipsism, although I love that book.

I honestly don’t see how large scale political decisions can be made otherwise.

I don’t get this point? Can you explain?

You can put as guiding line anything: what the bible says, the good of certain group, minimizing the worst situations, your personal feeling…

I mean… it all also doesn’t contradict the idea of the “greatest good”, it depends only on how you define the metric of the greatest good.

Bible is arbitrary nonsense to define good.

Good a certain group is just a scale question. Greatest good for that group is valid assuming it doesn’t result in greater harm for another.

Minimizing bad outcomes is same as saying maximizing good.

This all began with me arguing personal feelings are an invalid metric and frankly immoral.

Definition of the metric would be context specific.

Let’s say you are making an education funding decision. The best decision is the one that results in the most people getting the best quality education.

You’re just re-stating your premise.

Eh… this is all a lot more complicated than that.

No, the Bible endorses Divine Command theory, meaning that things are good because God says they’re good. The only final good is God’s will.

What do you mean by valid? Do you mean “acceptable”? And why shouldn’t a small harm for one person (or even a tiny one) justify a large benefit for someone else? What if the benefit is helping the worst off and harming the most well off?

It isn’t that simple. It’s quite different to maximize the worst outcomes versus maximizing the total good, all things considered.

You are opposed to all forms of affirmative action? You don’t think anything should be means tested? And why the most people instead of the most good? These aren’t the same. Is it better to give everyone an infinitesimal improvement or all but one person a large benefit? And so on.


The thing is that it is completely arbitrary how you define the good.

Minimizing bad outcomes is not the same like maximizing good. For example you can give 10 schools enough money that they ensure that everyone gets mediocre math lessons or you can give two schools enough money that they will have excellent math lessons but 8 others will have none at all 80% of the time. First situation minimizes the bad outcomes, second maximizes the good.

I mean… that is so… You can’t avoid to bring-in personal feelings. The second you use categories good/bad it is about personal feelings. (edit: see how you dismissed bible as possible metric. And “no” I am not christian. )

Who says that having math lessons at all is something good. Why not bible study? In fact huge percentage of the population will prefer their children to study bible instead of math.

I agree with most of your post, but not this. None of the examples you list are defining “good” arbitrarily/randomly. Each expresses a different understanding of what is inherently valuable. Whether that’s God’s will, pleasure, happiness, meaning, minimizing the worst case scenario, or whatever – I don’t think we should think that any of these views are arbitrary.

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Would you prefer a system in which 70% of people get the best quality education and 30% get no education over one in which 60% get the best quality education and 100% get an adequate education?

Completely agree.

But you can also think out 100000000000 other ways to define good / see what is inherently valuable.

edit: I worked some time in India with Buddhism and castes and so. “good” is defined there like fulfilling your caste defined task on this earth as good as possible, without complaining and so. That leads to the weirdest stuff for the western brain. But for them that is “good” and politic must take that into account.

Perhaps. From my point of view pleasure is the only thing with inherent value.

One would have to measure outcomes to choose but instinctively the second seems optimal.

When I say greatest good, I’m being literal. I believe in political decision making based on measurable outcomes. That is why I don’t care about personal feelings.

I want the education system that results in the greatest increase in group-level wealth and happinesses.

For example, if the population is 10 people, I prefer the outcome where all 10 increase their wealth and happiness by 10% (as measured compared to another system or population) over the outcome that results in 4 people seeing a 20% increase and 6 seeing zero.

The first is a 100% increase, the second is 80%.

Exactly. Arbitrary nonsense. :grin:

I’m not understanding how people are using “arbitrary” ITT. The Bible is dumb, evil, and confused – but it’s not arbitrary.

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Neither are they.

Random(in this case historical) rather than rational or systemic.

It’s an accident of history the bible is seen as a source of morality. That is what I mean by arbitrary.