14
Jun
11

Quote of the day, value differential edition

Aretae:

Basic (Austrian) value-subjectivism is the claim that different people ACTUALLY want different things. If value-subjectivism is true (And I think it obviously is)….then huge chunks of government (all?) are the claim that “I think that not only am I right about what is important, but I am SO right and SO certain that I am justified in (a) taking your $ to finance my particular obsession, and then (b) using your $ to pay thugs shoot you if you violate the obsession.”

Folks who argue against Aretae’s construction of “huge chunks of government” invoke external circumstances — what existentialists call facticity — to justify enforcing their preferences.  Thus the pious public-health evangelists who campaign against raw milk insist that no right-thinking individual would ever want to drink unpasteurized milk: those who do have been betrayed by their circumstances.  “You wouldn’t want to drink that shit if you hadn’t been born in a (hick farm|hippie commune)!”, they cry.  “I wasn’t; I know the Truth; I will help you.”

While some circumstances are pretty clearly external, the bar is often higher than we’re comfortable admitting.  For example, the shitty apartment kitchen that I bitch about could easily be mistaken as a sign of gross systemic injustice, if you’re interested in telling stories about the poverty of the grad students upon whose trembling backs rests the edifice of academic research.  It is, however, purely a product of my own preferences: compare my kitchen in its, um, authentic harvest-gold faux-marble linoleum to the glossy off-white appliances in my friend’s chic downtown apartment kitchen.  I preferred to go to grad school after graduating from the same university and with the same degree as he did; he slogged off into the morass of the software industry and built himself an admirable career.

See also: Why I don’t want a 315lb power clean.  Demonstrated preference is a bit too glib for my liking, but it’s a good first approximation.

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1 Response to “Quote of the day, value differential edition”


  1. June 27, 2011 at 22:31

    Thanks. Delayed a couple weeks to not go fishing for compliments.


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