Another post! I have started my master program, but I’ve been busy. I plan to update once a week on Friday or Saturday.
I just had an interesting conversation with another person in my program. We were talking about whether it was right to sacrifice an (essentially) unlimited number of people for someone that you love. His very strong inclination was that he would make such a sacrifice, without really caring whether it was right or not. I felt that the right thing to do would be to sacrifice a loved one for an immense number of other people.
What I would like to talk about in this post is not that issue exactly. I’m rather inclined to think, when it comes to problems such as the one I describe above, that we will never reach a real solution. We will continue to develop and invent moral systems to help us in making challenging choices, but (in line with my general theory of autonomy) the most we can do is be invested in the process.
The new ground that I want to cover today is the the government as an ethical actor. In certain ways a government can be considered strongly analogous to a human actor. Fortunately governments mostly have the same moral concerns as we do. Governments do not have individualistic attachments however. Though a government can have priorities and biases, it must have a significant amount of corruption to be attached to individual people. Though government has only so much power to act ethically based on the limits of our ethical theories, it can apply these theories in an inhumanly impartial way (though in a democracy it remains strongly tethered to public opinion).
A government is still limited in that it must maintain its working parts to function – in a sense it is maintaining itself by maintaining its people. Extreme utilitarian maximization (focus all money on healthcare and military, maybe) will exhaust a government/country in the same way it exhausts an individual, since a government is comprised of individuals.
This is a very, very rough idea. I’ll work on it some more, and see if I get anywhere with it.
Let me know what you think,
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