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Is ethics/politics exempt from "the economic problem"?

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fakename Posted: Mon, Jan 21 2013 11:41 PM

For instance, in the allocation of means to ends in economics there are usually competeing "non-specific" means towards a given end.

But in political and ethical philosophy, there is IMO, a tendency to exactly one solution for every problem.

For instance, how does one create the perfect state? Every philosopher differs in his rule but all agree that there is only one proper way of constituting the perfect state. For marx, it was one specific arrangement of classes and for machiavelli/livy it was one specific set of habits and character traits. In no case would these philosophers say that some other set of traits would yield an equal outcome.

So I think that is one reason why people don't really understand economics, namely because everyone implicitly disbelieves that an economic problem even exists.

Another interesting outcome of this conclusion IMO, is that economic calculation is totally practicable according to pol. sci./ethics since only a few and completely specific means are needed to produce just one end and, given these means are attained, there can be no deviation from the perfect constitution; every perfect society is by definition a steady equilibrium.

Any other thoughts would be interesting.

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Egon replied on Wed, Jan 23 2013 5:15 AM

Hey fakename,

Thanks for posting.

1.  Why do you believe that there is a tendency to exactly one solution for every problem in political and ethical philosophy?

2.  What is the "economic problem"?

3.  How would disbelief in the existence of an economic problem cause one to not understand economics?

4.  What's a perfect constitution?

5.  What's a perfect society?


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fakename replied on Wed, Jan 23 2013 11:46 AM

1. I think every philosopher that I've read or heard about, makes it his lifework to make one solution for every political/ethical problem. They sometimes even establish philosophies of nature to make their solutions more or less inevitable. So for instance, some would say democracy is the means towards a perfect state or aristocracy or some such thing etc. Others would say that respecting the rights of others, is only consistent with a democracy. Every contribution to ethics has been of this nature.

2. the economic problem are the dilemmas of choice between different ways to reach a goal.

3. Disbelief in the economic problem means that there is no problem of allocation and hence no problem of prices, and to disbelieve in the necessity of prices is to debunk such a great deal of economics that one can be called practically ignorant of it.

4. The perfect constitution is simply my short-hand notion for the solutions to ethical and political problems.

5. A perfect society is the same as a perfect constitution.

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fakename replied on Tue, Jan 29 2013 1:33 PM

What I'm trying to figure out is, if you believe that there is only 1 answer to political/ethical problems, would morality be centrally plannable? I think the answer would be, "of course" and the simpler the moral theory becomes the easier it would be to centrally plan it.


Does this detract from libertarianism? Maybe not, if we think that something is so easily planned and that we have the recipe to do it, then that is an even greater argument that others would voluntarily flock to such infallible planners.

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