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People acting in their self interest

Cowboy0108
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5/19/2015 12:09:16 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
Today, my Physics teacher told our class that he could not stand Ayn Rand because she believed that all people work in their self-interest. He said that every country that has tried to run on this idea has failed miserably, yet this is a foundational principle in economics. I strongly disagree with him, but what are the other opinions out there.
slo1
Posts: 4,309
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5/19/2015 1:39:02 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 5/19/2015 12:09:16 PM, Cowboy0108 wrote:
Today, my Physics teacher told our class that he could not stand Ayn Rand because she believed that all people work in their self-interest. He said that every country that has tried to run on this idea has failed miserably, yet this is a foundational principle in economics. I strongly disagree with him, but what are the other opinions out there.

To my knowledge there is no country that has tried to run with that level of laissez faire markets.

Secondary, when one adds all the gov requirements needed to establish the environment in which capitalism works, you already have "Big Government". Functions needed to name a few.

1. Defense
2. National, state, and local law enforcement to help enforce protection of individual freedoms.
3. Justice system to resolve civil disputes and handle criminal cases.
4. Infrastructure, such as roads, communications, etc.

The only thing she is really advocating is dropping all safety net protections such as medicare, social security, unemployment insurance, etc. On that other post I just put up it was all about the fact that the most rich nations all spend upon social functions. Even the most economically free such as Singapore have compulsory medical and retirement savings. Not much freedom there.

The countries that don't spend on those things, should in theory be able to demonstrate higher growth than Europe, Japan, South Korea, and US, but they are stuck in 3rd world. In many cases because they don't even have the basics such as a fair justice system.

So to sum it up, big government is a requirement to success. Secondly Ayn Rand does not compensate for real human behavior and built her system upon the notion that everyone is rational like her. Epic fail.
Fly
Posts: 2,042
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5/19/2015 3:19:27 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 5/19/2015 12:09:16 PM, Cowboy0108 wrote:
Today, my Physics teacher told our class that he could not stand Ayn Rand because she believed that all people work in their self-interest. He said that every country that has tried to run on this idea has failed miserably, yet this is a foundational principle in economics. I strongly disagree with him, but what are the other opinions out there.

I am curious which countries tried this as your teacher claims. And if you disagree with him, you should provide at least one successful country as a counterclaim. Frankly, I am skeptical it has even been tried. And I am also skeptical that it would be successful if attempted.

Among many, many other reasons for disagreeing with Rand, I will say that her foundation depends upon "enlightened self-interest." The problem is that self-interest is often not very enlightened at all. It has been demonstrated to be capricious, illogical, emotional, panicky, unethical, competitive to excess, and greedy to excess. And on top of all that, criminal to an alarming degree.
"You don't have a right to be a jerk."
--Religion Forum's hypocrite extraordinaire serving up lulz
lannan13
Posts: 23,017
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5/19/2015 3:55:16 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 5/19/2015 12:09:16 PM, Cowboy0108 wrote:
Today, my Physics teacher told our class that he could not stand Ayn Rand because she believed that all people work in their self-interest. He said that every country that has tried to run on this idea has failed miserably, yet this is a foundational principle in economics. I strongly disagree with him, but what are the other opinions out there.

What countries did your teacher claim did this?
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If the sky's the limit then why do we have footprints on the Moon? I'm shooting my aspirations for the stars.

"If you are going through hell, keep going." "Sir Winston Churchill

"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." "Eleanor Roosevelt

Topics I want to debate. (http://tinyurl.com...)
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Cowboy0108
Posts: 420
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5/19/2015 3:56:57 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 5/19/2015 3:55:16 PM, lannan13 wrote:
At 5/19/2015 12:09:16 PM, Cowboy0108 wrote:
Today, my Physics teacher told our class that he could not stand Ayn Rand because she believed that all people work in their self-interest. He said that every country that has tried to run on this idea has failed miserably, yet this is a foundational principle in economics. I strongly disagree with him, but what are the other opinions out there.

What countries did your teacher claim did this?

He didn't. That is part of my problem; I did not want to argue this without knowing which countries he was referring to. However, he did use "socialist" countries like Denmark to argue why socialism is good.
lannan13
Posts: 23,017
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5/19/2015 3:58:57 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 5/19/2015 3:56:57 PM, Cowboy0108 wrote:
At 5/19/2015 3:55:16 PM, lannan13 wrote:
At 5/19/2015 12:09:16 PM, Cowboy0108 wrote:
Today, my Physics teacher told our class that he could not stand Ayn Rand because she believed that all people work in their self-interest. He said that every country that has tried to run on this idea has failed miserably, yet this is a foundational principle in economics. I strongly disagree with him, but what are the other opinions out there.

What countries did your teacher claim did this?

He didn't. That is part of my problem; I did not want to argue this without knowing which countries he was referring to. However, he did use "socialist" countries like Denmark to argue why socialism is good.

LOL, Denmark is a horrible country. I'm suprised he didn't give Scandinavia as an example for their mixed market economics.
-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-Lannan13'S SIGNATURE-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-

If the sky's the limit then why do we have footprints on the Moon? I'm shooting my aspirations for the stars.

"If you are going through hell, keep going." "Sir Winston Churchill

"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." "Eleanor Roosevelt

Topics I want to debate. (http://tinyurl.com...)
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Cowboy0108
Posts: 420
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5/19/2015 4:00:22 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 5/19/2015 3:58:57 PM, lannan13 wrote:
At 5/19/2015 3:56:57 PM, Cowboy0108 wrote:
At 5/19/2015 3:55:16 PM, lannan13 wrote:
At 5/19/2015 12:09:16 PM, Cowboy0108 wrote:
Today, my Physics teacher told our class that he could not stand Ayn Rand because she believed that all people work in their self-interest. He said that every country that has tried to run on this idea has failed miserably, yet this is a foundational principle in economics. I strongly disagree with him, but what are the other opinions out there.

What countries did your teacher claim did this?

He didn't. That is part of my problem; I did not want to argue this without knowing which countries he was referring to. However, he did use "socialist" countries like Denmark to argue why socialism is good.

LOL, Denmark is a horrible country. I'm suprised he didn't give Scandinavia as an example for their mixed market economics.

My pro-socialist philosophy professor used Denmark too. It seems that that is the go to country for socialist policies.
lannan13
Posts: 23,017
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5/19/2015 4:03:53 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 5/19/2015 4:00:22 PM, Cowboy0108 wrote:
At 5/19/2015 3:58:57 PM, lannan13 wrote:
At 5/19/2015 3:56:57 PM, Cowboy0108 wrote:
At 5/19/2015 3:55:16 PM, lannan13 wrote:
At 5/19/2015 12:09:16 PM, Cowboy0108 wrote:
Today, my Physics teacher told our class that he could not stand Ayn Rand because she believed that all people work in their self-interest. He said that every country that has tried to run on this idea has failed miserably, yet this is a foundational principle in economics. I strongly disagree with him, but what are the other opinions out there.

What countries did your teacher claim did this?

He didn't. That is part of my problem; I did not want to argue this without knowing which countries he was referring to. However, he did use "socialist" countries like Denmark to argue why socialism is good.

LOL, Denmark is a horrible country. I'm suprised he didn't give Scandinavia as an example for their mixed market economics.

My pro-socialist philosophy professor used Denmark too. It seems that that is the go to country for socialist policies.

That's strange, because the Centralist-Rights are in control of their government and have been for quite some time. Plus they have a Monarchy, so I would think that it would be impossible for there to be a Socialist regieme in Denmark.
-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-Lannan13'S SIGNATURE-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-

If the sky's the limit then why do we have footprints on the Moon? I'm shooting my aspirations for the stars.

"If you are going through hell, keep going." "Sir Winston Churchill

"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." "Eleanor Roosevelt

Topics I want to debate. (http://tinyurl.com...)
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Cowboy0108
Posts: 420
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5/19/2015 4:05:03 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 5/19/2015 4:03:53 PM, lannan13 wrote:
At 5/19/2015 4:00:22 PM, Cowboy0108 wrote:
At 5/19/2015 3:58:57 PM, lannan13 wrote:
At 5/19/2015 3:56:57 PM, Cowboy0108 wrote:
At 5/19/2015 3:55:16 PM, lannan13 wrote:
At 5/19/2015 12:09:16 PM, Cowboy0108 wrote:
Today, my Physics teacher told our class that he could not stand Ayn Rand because she believed that all people work in their self-interest. He said that every country that has tried to run on this idea has failed miserably, yet this is a foundational principle in economics. I strongly disagree with him, but what are the other opinions out there.

What countries did your teacher claim did this?

He didn't. That is part of my problem; I did not want to argue this without knowing which countries he was referring to. However, he did use "socialist" countries like Denmark to argue why socialism is good.

LOL, Denmark is a horrible country. I'm suprised he didn't give Scandinavia as an example for their mixed market economics.

My pro-socialist philosophy professor used Denmark too. It seems that that is the go to country for socialist policies.

That's strange, because the Centralist-Rights are in control of their government and have been for quite some time. Plus they have a Monarchy, so I would think that it would be impossible for there to be a Socialist regieme in Denmark.

Just might use that one in my next debate...
lannan13
Posts: 23,017
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5/19/2015 4:05:58 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 5/19/2015 4:05:03 PM, Cowboy0108 wrote:
At 5/19/2015 4:03:53 PM, lannan13 wrote:
At 5/19/2015 4:00:22 PM, Cowboy0108 wrote:
At 5/19/2015 3:58:57 PM, lannan13 wrote:
At 5/19/2015 3:56:57 PM, Cowboy0108 wrote:
At 5/19/2015 3:55:16 PM, lannan13 wrote:
At 5/19/2015 12:09:16 PM, Cowboy0108 wrote:
Today, my Physics teacher told our class that he could not stand Ayn Rand because she believed that all people work in their self-interest. He said that every country that has tried to run on this idea has failed miserably, yet this is a foundational principle in economics. I strongly disagree with him, but what are the other opinions out there.

What countries did your teacher claim did this?

He didn't. That is part of my problem; I did not want to argue this without knowing which countries he was referring to. However, he did use "socialist" countries like Denmark to argue why socialism is good.

LOL, Denmark is a horrible country. I'm suprised he didn't give Scandinavia as an example for their mixed market economics.

My pro-socialist philosophy professor used Denmark too. It seems that that is the go to country for socialist policies.

That's strange, because the Centralist-Rights are in control of their government and have been for quite some time. Plus they have a Monarchy, so I would think that it would be impossible for there to be a Socialist regieme in Denmark.

Just might use that one in my next debate...

What kinda debate?
-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-Lannan13'S SIGNATURE-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-

If the sky's the limit then why do we have footprints on the Moon? I'm shooting my aspirations for the stars.

"If you are going through hell, keep going." "Sir Winston Churchill

"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." "Eleanor Roosevelt

Topics I want to debate. (http://tinyurl.com...)
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Cowboy0108
Posts: 420
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5/19/2015 4:08:18 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
Just might use that one in my next debate...

What kinda debate?

Any debate over the flaws of socialism. People love to throw Denmark out there, but being able to say that it is centrally planned and not socialist would help dismantle that argument. Of course, learning about Denmark might also help my debate. My usual argument is that all of their social programs require so much less infrastructure because the nation is so small, both in physical size and population size.
lannan13
Posts: 23,017
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5/19/2015 4:10:04 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 5/19/2015 4:08:18 PM, Cowboy0108 wrote:
Just might use that one in my next debate...

What kinda debate?

Any debate over the flaws of socialism. People love to throw Denmark out there, but being able to say that it is centrally planned and not socialist would help dismantle that argument. Of course, learning about Denmark might also help my debate. My usual argument is that all of their social programs require so much less infrastructure because the nation is so small, both in physical size and population size.

True, have you ever looked into FDR's New Bill of Rights? He almost made the US into a Socialist Welfare state. The only problem is that you'll eventually run-out of borrowing money from somewhere at somepoint in time.
-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-Lannan13'S SIGNATURE-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-

If the sky's the limit then why do we have footprints on the Moon? I'm shooting my aspirations for the stars.

"If you are going through hell, keep going." "Sir Winston Churchill

"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." "Eleanor Roosevelt

Topics I want to debate. (http://tinyurl.com...)
-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~
Cowboy0108
Posts: 420
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5/19/2015 4:12:27 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 5/19/2015 4:10:04 PM, lannan13 wrote:
At 5/19/2015 4:08:18 PM, Cowboy0108 wrote:
Just might use that one in my next debate...

What kinda debate?

Any debate over the flaws of socialism. People love to throw Denmark out there, but being able to say that it is centrally planned and not socialist would help dismantle that argument. Of course, learning about Denmark might also help my debate. My usual argument is that all of their social programs require so much less infrastructure because the nation is so small, both in physical size and population size.

True, have you ever looked into FDR's New Bill of Rights? He almost made the US into a Socialist Welfare state. The only problem is that you'll eventually run-out of borrowing money from somewhere at somepoint in time.

I can't say that I have. I do not like the idea of continually supporting people who are unwilling to help themselves. The idea of living in a welfare state makes me sick.
lannan13
Posts: 23,017
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5/19/2015 4:13:41 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 5/19/2015 4:12:27 PM, Cowboy0108 wrote:
At 5/19/2015 4:10:04 PM, lannan13 wrote:
At 5/19/2015 4:08:18 PM, Cowboy0108 wrote:
Just might use that one in my next debate...

What kinda debate?

Any debate over the flaws of socialism. People love to throw Denmark out there, but being able to say that it is centrally planned and not socialist would help dismantle that argument. Of course, learning about Denmark might also help my debate. My usual argument is that all of their social programs require so much less infrastructure because the nation is so small, both in physical size and population size.

True, have you ever looked into FDR's New Bill of Rights? He almost made the US into a Socialist Welfare state. The only problem is that you'll eventually run-out of borrowing money from somewhere at somepoint in time.

I can't say that I have. I do not like the idea of continually supporting people who are unwilling to help themselves. The idea of living in a welfare state makes me sick.

Indeed, I mean look at this. (http://en.wikipedia.org...)
-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-Lannan13'S SIGNATURE-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-

If the sky's the limit then why do we have footprints on the Moon? I'm shooting my aspirations for the stars.

"If you are going through hell, keep going." "Sir Winston Churchill

"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." "Eleanor Roosevelt

Topics I want to debate. (http://tinyurl.com...)
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Cowboy0108
Posts: 420
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5/19/2015 4:19:36 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
I can't say that I have. I do not like the idea of continually supporting people who are unwilling to help themselves. The idea of living in a welfare state makes me sick.

Indeed, I mean look at this. (http://en.wikipedia.org...)
That just looks nasty. Plus, some of those things are just not economically feasible. Competition and everyone acting to benefit themselves is what drives the market.
Furthermore, equality in opportunity is great. However, he wanted equality of result. That is an entirely different ballpark, and it fails to consider the concept of value.
lannan13
Posts: 23,017
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5/19/2015 4:20:45 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 5/19/2015 4:19:36 PM, Cowboy0108 wrote:
I can't say that I have. I do not like the idea of continually supporting people who are unwilling to help themselves. The idea of living in a welfare state makes me sick.

Indeed, I mean look at this. (http://en.wikipedia.org...)
That just looks nasty. Plus, some of those things are just not economically feasible. Competition and everyone acting to benefit themselves is what drives the market.
Furthermore, equality in opportunity is great. However, he wanted equality of result. That is an entirely different ballpark, and it fails to consider the concept of value.

It's not even close to economically feasible, because FDR wanted to do this to the entire US. Eventually we would run out of getting welfare money from places and the system would break.
-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-Lannan13'S SIGNATURE-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-

If the sky's the limit then why do we have footprints on the Moon? I'm shooting my aspirations for the stars.

"If you are going through hell, keep going." "Sir Winston Churchill

"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." "Eleanor Roosevelt

Topics I want to debate. (http://tinyurl.com...)
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Fly
Posts: 2,042
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5/19/2015 4:30:21 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
Circle jerk alert.
"You don't have a right to be a jerk."
--Religion Forum's hypocrite extraordinaire serving up lulz
lannan13
Posts: 23,017
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5/19/2015 4:39:55 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 5/19/2015 4:30:21 PM, Fly wrote:
Circle jerk alert.

How so?
-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-Lannan13'S SIGNATURE-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-

If the sky's the limit then why do we have footprints on the Moon? I'm shooting my aspirations for the stars.

"If you are going through hell, keep going." "Sir Winston Churchill

"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." "Eleanor Roosevelt

Topics I want to debate. (http://tinyurl.com...)
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Fly
Posts: 2,042
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5/19/2015 6:42:12 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 5/19/2015 5:33:27 PM, Cowboy0108 wrote:
At 5/19/2015 4:30:21 PM, Fly wrote:
Circle jerk alert.

What is a circle jerk alert

*facepalm*

Wow, guys... you're making me feel as though I am ridiculing a guy with Down's Syndrome here... I almost feel guilty...

You can start by looking up "circle jerk." I will trust you to discern the most appropriate definition considering the context here.

Cowboy, I have posted to two of your threads now where you appear to honestly solicit dissenting opinions from yours, and when such opinions are offered to you, it seems as though you are bored by them or you cannot be bothered addressing them. In the case of this thread, you choose to have a "circle jerk" with a sympathetic poster instead of engaging the dissenting opinions you initially requested.

You seem to forget quickly that you are posting to a debate site forum here...
"You don't have a right to be a jerk."
--Religion Forum's hypocrite extraordinaire serving up lulz
Cowboy0108
Posts: 420
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5/19/2015 6:46:21 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 5/19/2015 6:42:12 PM, Fly wrote:
At 5/19/2015 5:33:27 PM, Cowboy0108 wrote:
At 5/19/2015 4:30:21 PM, Fly wrote:
Circle jerk alert.

What is a circle jerk alert

*facepalm*

Wow, guys... you're making me feel as though I am ridiculing a guy with Down's Syndrome here... I almost feel guilty...

You can start by looking up "circle jerk." I will trust you to discern the most appropriate definition considering the context here.

Cowboy, I have posted to two of your threads now where you appear to honestly solicit dissenting opinions from yours, and when such opinions are offered to you, it seems as though you are bored by them or you cannot be bothered addressing them. In the case of this thread, you choose to have a "circle jerk" with a sympathetic poster instead of engaging the dissenting opinions you initially requested.

You seem to forget quickly that you are posting to a debate site forum here...

I attempt to respond to the most pressing posts first. For your posts, I did not have a response, I read them, acknowledged it, and could not come up with any response, particularly since your post seemed as if it was agreeing with mine.
blackkid
Posts: 29
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5/20/2015 9:10:24 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
To my knowledge he is correct; a "Truly Capitalist Country" has never existed simply because it isn't feasible. As humans are social creatures Behavioral Economics completely destroys the idea that there would ever be a truly "selfish" economy.
Cowboy0108
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5/20/2015 9:43:08 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 5/20/2015 9:10:24 AM, blackkid wrote:
To my knowledge he is correct; a "Truly Capitalist Country" has never existed simply because it isn't feasible. As humans are social creatures Behavioral Economics completely destroys the idea that there would ever be a truly "selfish" economy.

How does behavioral economics prove this?
DanMGTOW
Posts: 1,144
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5/22/2015 3:20:20 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 5/19/2015 12:09:16 PM, Cowboy0108 wrote:
Today, my Physics teacher told our class that he could not stand Ayn Rand because she believed that all people work in their self-interest. He said that every country that has tried to run on this idea has failed miserably, yet this is a foundational principle in economics. I strongly disagree with him, but what are the other opinions out there.

why is a country failing a bad thing? i'm in the US so i'll use the US as my example
look at all the things the US got right, but look at how many things the US really screwed up. the welfare state, food stamps, minimum wage, affirmative actions started as good intentions but their usefulness is over and is draining the resources that the US desperately needs. instead of getting rid of obsolete and draining laws the US continues to push more and more confusing laws full of loopholes that require later laws to close.

i'm a MGTOW, and i have my self-interests at the top of my priority. the divorce and family courts are designed to bleed men of their resources. as men become more aware of this MGTOW will spread, and the marriage and birth rates will continue to plummet. politicians are already becoming desperate to stop the hemorrhaging by rapidly changing the immigration laws, but it's too late demographic winter is already here to stay
brunoalley
Posts: 15
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5/22/2015 3:46:20 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
Though I suppose it depends on your definition of "self-interest," by most measures it is only a partial motivation for social actors, including in their larger economic behaviors-- especially if you are using "self-interest" as a byword for "profit-maximizer."
If you expand "self-interest" to include love, curiosity, generosity, aesthetics, etc.-- that is, any interests that the "self" happens to have-- then you get an empty claim that "people are motivated by their motivations."
If your definition of "self-interest" is more along the lines of "everyone trying to get the most for themselves"-- especially in its crasser forms--- I do not think this is a formula a good society, or how the better parts of our society do behave. So, I guess we have to ask your meaning first.
Cowboy0108
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5/22/2015 6:11:52 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 5/22/2015 3:46:20 AM, brunoalley wrote:
Though I suppose it depends on your definition of "self-interest," by most measures it is only a partial motivation for social actors, including in their larger economic behaviors-- especially if you are using "self-interest" as a byword for "profit-maximizer."
If you expand "self-interest" to include love, curiosity, generosity, aesthetics, etc.-- that is, any interests that the "self" happens to have-- then you get an empty claim that "people are motivated by their motivations."
If your definition of "self-interest" is more along the lines of "everyone trying to get the most for themselves"-- especially in its crasser forms--- I do not think this is a formula a good society, or how the better parts of our society do behave. So, I guess we have to ask your meaning first.

Replace the term "profit maximizer" with "utility maximizer". I recently read about the concept of marginal utility. That when you first do something, it gives you utility, however, when you do it the next time, it gives you less marginal utility despite providing more absolute utility. This is what I mean by self-interest: That people act to maximize their marginal utility. If you take utility to mean happiness, then you have people acting in ways that benefit the most, and when those methods stop benefiting them as much, they stop and go to another action. I believe that this is the method by which all people operate, and I believe that this is a good model for economics since it is so versatile.
brunoalley
Posts: 15
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5/22/2015 6:07:48 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
This replacement of "profit maximizer" with "utility maximizer," however, doesn't get you very much, especially with regard to whether a nation or community should act on this principle. The big question is not whether we act to maximize utility or happiness; of course we do (though not necessarily in neatly mensurable ways). This is on the whole an either cyclical or vacuous statement. The big question is about our preferences and beliefs determining "utility" or our conceptions about human happiness.

For instance, if what brings us happiness as a society, with almost unflagging marginal utility, is the differential accumulation of profit, to the exclusion of everything else, then I think this is a poor principle for the organization of society and the normative aspects of economics.

If what brings us happiness as a society is magnanimity and bringing joy, comfort, laughter to others-- maximizing their utility at some rate as we maximize our own-- then I think we're far better off. Both examples however are modeled on utility maximizers, but have very different shapes as societies.

That being said, because of the mensurability and mathematical tractability of money, I think the idea of utility within economics often starts to slide toward cash equivalent, which I fully disagree with. I also don't think that most of our decision-making takes places in a fully mathematically tractable way, even much of our economic decision-making, and the adoption of "utility" in a rational choice sense only helps to the degree that the r.c. models fit the topic at hand. That is, it's very helpful for determining what kind of stocks or toilet paper to sell and buy, far less helpful when it comes to determining what kind of society or person to be, what kind of culture to create, what kind of beliefs to have, etc..
Cowboy0108
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5/22/2015 8:26:53 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 5/22/2015 6:07:48 PM, brunoalley wrote:
This replacement of "profit maximizer" with "utility maximizer," however, doesn't get you very much, especially with regard to whether a nation or community should act on this principle. The big question is not whether we act to maximize utility or happiness; of course we do (though not necessarily in neatly mensurable ways). This is on the whole an either cyclical or vacuous statement. The big question is about our preferences and beliefs determining "utility" or our conceptions about human happiness.

For instance, if what brings us happiness as a society, with almost unflagging marginal utility, is the differential accumulation of profit, to the exclusion of everything else, then I think this is a poor principle for the organization of society and the normative aspects of economics.

If what brings us happiness as a society is magnanimity and bringing joy, comfort, laughter to others-- maximizing their utility at some rate as we maximize our own-- then I think we're far better off. Both examples however are modeled on utility maximizers, but have very different shapes as societies.

That being said, because of the mensurability and mathematical tractability of money, I think the idea of utility within economics often starts to slide toward cash equivalent, which I fully disagree with. I also don't think that most of our decision-making takes places in a fully mathematically tractable way, even much of our economic decision-making, and the adoption of "utility" in a rational choice sense only helps to the degree that the r.c. models fit the topic at hand. That is, it's very helpful for determining what kind of stocks or toilet paper to sell and buy, far less helpful when it comes to determining what kind of society or person to be, what kind of culture to create, what kind of beliefs to have, etc..

And why is profit maximization a bad idea for society? And why do you disagree with the cash equivalent?
brunoalley
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5/24/2015 5:40:29 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
And why is profit maximization a bad idea for society? And why do you disagree with the cash equivalent?

Is this question in earnest? If so, I'll answer my thoughts. But just to clarify, I do think "profit maximization" (or more widely "optimization of scarce resources under budget constraints") has a place in society, as an instrument. I think most larger firms can and will act according to profit maximization and think in terms of cash equivalent. However, I would hope that, outside firms, the aims of "profit maximization" are greatly countered and constrained by a host of other values, aims, and beliefs (and that the profit maximization of firms is countered and constrained by other spheres of society; rather than just dictating these other spheres).

Laws, universities, friendships, love, family, culture, knowledge, individuals-- I would hope that these are not primarily motivated by "profit maximization," and don't think the good they provide have credible "cash equivalents." There is no amount of money that will change who I love and befriend, what I believe, or what culture or laws I think are good. I would also hope that this sounds trite.

However is your question a non-rhetorical "why" to the above paragraph? Remember that you would be hard-pressed to find an economist who actually believes that "profit maximization" should be the basis of a society or individual life; economic behavior (the demand curve, for instance) relies on exogenous values, needs, preferences, tastes, beliefs, and circumstances to make sense at all.
Cowboy0108
Posts: 420
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5/24/2015 6:00:26 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 5/24/2015 5:40:29 PM, brunoalley wrote:
And why is profit maximization a bad idea for society? And why do you disagree with the cash equivalent?

Is this question in earnest? If so, I'll answer my thoughts. But just to clarify, I do think "profit maximization" (or more widely "optimization of scarce resources under budget constraints") has a place in society, as an instrument. I think most larger firms can and will act according to profit maximization and think in terms of cash equivalent. However, I would hope that, outside firms, the aims of "profit maximization" are greatly countered and constrained by a host of other values, aims, and beliefs (and that the profit maximization of firms is countered and constrained by other spheres of society; rather than just dictating these other spheres).

Laws, universities, friendships, love, family, culture, knowledge, individuals-- I would hope that these are not primarily motivated by "profit maximization," and don't think the good they provide have credible "cash equivalents." There is no amount of money that will change who I love and befriend, what I believe, or what culture or laws I think are good. I would also hope that this sounds trite.

However is your question a non-rhetorical "why" to the above paragraph? Remember that you would be hard-pressed to find an economist who actually believes that "profit maximization" should be the basis of a society or individual life; economic behavior (the demand curve, for instance) relies on exogenous values, needs, preferences, tastes, beliefs, and circumstances to make sense at all.

Often, economists do not think in terms of straight "profit maximization" when it comes to human behavior. They do, however, think in terms of utility maximization. People's emotions provide utility for the individual and all individuals act to maximize utility using the tool of marginal utility.
Still, the cash equivalents exist. Think in terms of how much money would a person be willing to save a friend, make a friend, etc. There is already a monetary amount for someone to have sex, the cost of prostitutes. There is already a set amount for each limb, workers comp for accidental amputations.