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August 11, 2013


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Phil Cubeta

Unless we have a single unit in which to measure The Good, how can we be sure that our gifts do the most good? And without that how can our gifts be optimally rational? At the heart of this debate is the unasked question as to whether the good is itself self consistent. Isaiah Berlin held that the good is not God, as known to us it is fractured, and at war with itself. Dilemmas rise to the level of tragedy, if you believe as did Hegel that in tragedy the good is divided against itself.


Perhaps the "good" would consist of visiting the new wing of the museum 1,000 times, on the likelihood that by being blinded, you could spare someone else the pain. Is this a masochistic theory of philanthropy? Not if one realizes that Singer's example doesn't really teach us anything, regardless of how one answers, because it's a deliberately constructed absurd conundrum. Is that how philosophers usually work?

At the risk of being "too nice," great review, Albert!


Thanks, T-funk! Though perhaps instead of thanking you and writing this reply, the Hedonistic calculus would require that I pop a dollar into an envelope for the needy. Every action has a price. Strolls through museum wings can cost you not only your sight, but also, more realistically, your moral bearings. Great art can give you ideas, or move you to express thoughts about the current economic order that are better left unexpressed. Better to replace the museum with a Hedonistic Marketplace where people can come to trade their utils for bread or Bitcoin.


Maybe even better, be the proprietor of the Hedonistic Marketplace, and take a commission on each of the trades, just like the New York Stock Exchange, which if I read this correctly, had a net income before taxes of $13.5 billion in 2013. I'm not an accountant and don't know the exchange rates, but that sounds to me like some serious Hedons, er, Utils. I say, put an end to all this endless bickering and competing theoretical frameworks, and let the market decide where the most Good lies! But my vision and moral bearings are irretrievably compromised from strolling through new wings of museums and reading blogs.

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