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Friday March 8th 2019Tim Candler9

 

    Adam Smith's Sentiment, as defined in the connections between feeling, affection, opinion, either are or are not subject to change. For my part, I'd make the assumption that they are. I'd also argue that morality, is essentially a description of the majority of sentiments within a society. And while I cringe at the word Values I am prepared to soften a little when Value is defined in terms of a judgment around usefulness. Invariably the usefulness of something may be difficult to immediately observe, but the judgment of someone that this or that thing is useful should be sufficient to persuade the observer to do one of two things, either to dismiss the person's capacity to make judgments or spend a little longer examining why this or that thing has been deemed to have usefulness. Utility Theory emerges from the Utilitarianism thinkers such as Bentham and John Stewart Mill. Bentham might have suffered from aspergers and he's fun to read, his "the greatest happiness of the greatest number is the measurement of right and wrong," is easy to remember. And Mill, another liberal, called for women's suffrage back in the 1830's. Utility Theory as it emerged from Utilitarianism was a measure of pleasure or satisfaction, but soon enough especially amongst Neoclassic economic theorists, who currently dominate economic theory, utility theory was robbed of its poetry, became all about when given a choice what things do consumers choose and no longer has anything to do with the more wishy-washy impossible to measure areas of happiness, or satisfaction, or pleasure. The measurement of the greatest happiness very quickly became GDP and the growth of GDP. All other measurements of happiness lacked empirical validity. In another way we people were to be objectified, our being and our future explored as widgets. So pretty obvious why 33% of us happy widgets have an abiding quarrel with the other 33% of us unhappy widgets while the remaining 33% of us widgets have pretty much given up and find solace in widget-hood by exploring happiness through the neurosis of the customer experience. The percentages vary of course.

 

Past

     The early 19th Century liberals, gave economic freedom a primary role in their philosophies. They were believers in civil rights, rule of law and economic freedom, and they were prone to understand that if these were in place, things would take care of themselves in the dawning world of a revolution in production without there being something like a French Revolution and good luck to the new country of the United States without a monarch to play the role of Unifier in Chief. But one of the problems with economic freedom was the extent to which "The Wealth of Nations" seemed to concentrate in the control of fewer and fewer, and as for the "greatest happiness of the greatest number" well there was no real measurement of it, happiness or unhappiness isn't easy to judge, but when the average height of the average adult male was in decline such that it was getting harder to meet the standards for military service, along with new increasingly radical and dangerously challenging ideas around how to rearrange a society, a new theory emerged amongst liberals that was led by John Stewart Mill. Government he decided had a valuable role. A sentiment for Civil Rights, he couldn't help but observe, didn't seem to have emerged in society, and in liberal thinking this idea around the value of civil rights to the greatest happiness came to be expressed in terms of a government's obligation to promote an environment that granted individuals an opportunity to fulfill themselves. It was a sentiment not shared by the Marxists, who based their understanding in terms of an examination of Adam Smith's supply and demand graphs followed by a dour prediction for the future of Capital. A time would come they were convinced when the wealth of a nation was owned by the very few, and the rest of us with nothing but our labor to sustain ourselves would return to a desperate servitude that would have made Xerxes envious. The next revolution is AI, a brave new world of social control in store for us all. Let's hope there's an AI Jeremy Bentham guiding the principles. Both surveillance and transparency, Bentham argued, held leaders to a moral standard, and were useful in generating understanding and improvements in people's lives.

 

 

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