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Radically Inept
Friday, May 21, 2004
  The Water Drop Allegory

Brad DeLong's Semi-Daily Journal (2004): a Weblog has this post Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals: Archive Entry From Brad DeLong's Webjournal which includes this:
It seems to me that this is not quite right. What the rightwinger needs to deny is the "original position"--everyone in their white robes not knowing who they are going to be sitting around arguing over institutions before they drink from the Lethe and descend to their places in their mothers' respective wombs--and its associated device of hypothetical consent. By denying that you ought to reason morally by putting yourself in an original position, you allow the redistributionists no handholds. And then your position--that what we have, we hold--becomes unassailable.
and proceeds to start a fairly good discussion on economics v philosophy v sociology. Anyway, it worth your time to read the post and the comments (which is often a rich source of info at the more thoughtful blogs), but in case you're not going to follow directions, I'm pasting my comment here:
When I was TA'ing a class on ethics and technology, I had my section divide up in to small groups and try Rawls' experiment for themselves. The result were pretty diverse and interesting, but my favorite was the group that started down the line of a meritocracy.

[Remember, this was like the only liberal arts class these soon to be engineers and chemists/physicists were required to take at Tech, so they truly had 'fresh' minds when approaching the subject matter.]

But, I really liked the meritocracy idea. too bad we didn't have enough class time to really pursue it and flesh it out. I mean, these kids didn't know enough about sociology, philosphy or economics to even know there was a box, much less confining their thinking to it.

As for redistribution? Well, if you ever watch a drop of water slowly form on the end of your tap, you'll notice at first, there is a great deal of movement in the droplet. Water seems to cycle around the forming bubble. As the droplet gets bigger and heavier, more of the water seems trapped in the bottom part of the droplet, and very little of the water at the bottom of the drop cycles up to the tap at the top. As the drop grows, the weight at the bottom narrows the amount of water at the top which is in contact with the tap. The bottom becomes so heavy, that the bond holding the droplet to the tap fails, and the whole droplet falls into the basin and breaks into many little droplets.

That's how I see the economy, anyway. If there's too much weight at the bottom, the top can't maintain a stable bond, and the whole thing collapses.

I just hope I start at the top in the next drop. [allegory in bold]
And, that is kind of the way I view social economics even if it isn't all that metaphysical.

[Note: Edited allegory @ 12:02pm]
 
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