Friday, March 20, 2009

Bloggingheads on Ending Poverty

Peter Singer and Tyler Cowen discuss. My favorite part was aobut 22:50 to 25:30, watch it even if you watch no other part.

I like the initial part of this 2.5 minute segment because, in my mind, Singer seems to confuse intentions with outcomes in a very obvious way. He wants people to walk around asking "how can I help others" when, as Adam Smith pointed out, we often get the consequences that would follow from this question as a response precisely when people instead ask "how may I best help myself?" The inability to figure out how to answer the first question is a big part of the reason why the latter tends to be more functionally useful.

The second part illustrates the fun ways in which one can critique the utilitarian philosophy with hypothetical scenarios.

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