The Social Unit

The Social Unit 11: Justice

Posted in The Social Unit on June 8th, 2020 by buzzing wire – Be the first to comment

Justice is not an us versus them problem. It’s an us versus us problem. Any inversion of social/economic/political class just perpetuates injustice. I.e. the difference between labor/capital or high/low class is only an accident of history, not written in our biology. That is why “taking” power only results in “taking on” all the moral problems once despised in an oppressor. A deeper kind of a revolution is one that frees oppressors as well as the oppressed.

The Social Unit 10: The State of Nature

Posted in The Social Unit on August 31st, 2015 by buzzing wire – Be the first to comment

The state of nature hypothesis even when not explicit haunts many theories of social organization. Man has always lived in social units whether family or clan. An analysis of ideal smaller social units and how we broaden them while keeping their virtues seems a much more plausible and profitable.

The Social Unit 9: Just State

Posted in The Social Unit on July 20th, 2015 by buzzing wire – Be the first to comment

Solely focusing on finding a workable theory of a just state is a misplaced effort. Justice is one of many virtues that an ideal state balances. Take the virtue of security. It wouldn’t do to be a just state that couldn’t defend itself from foreign aggression. Just as it wouldn’t do to be a secure state that was radically unjust.

The Social Unit 8: The Veil of Ignorance

Posted in The Social Unit on June 8th, 2015 by buzzing wire – Be the first to comment

In the original position behind a veil of ignorance, one is asked to imagine what kind of distribution schemes one would agree to not knowing one’s place in society ahead of time. I imagine pie charts of various sizes sliced in different ways floating by me. Maybe we can even add Nozick’s games and their rules into the mix. If we are not overwhelmed, we chose and are suddenly given a slice of pie or a starting position in a game. If I ever complain, I am reminded but this is what you chose and this is supposed to satisfy me. But does it really? Think how many things you have chosen that after the fact you regret having chosen it, or at least wonder about alternatives. (Is anyone completely free of regret?) as important as having chosen initially a distributive scheme we must keep choosing it. The preference has to be stable. Rawl’s original position tells us a lot about what societies we would enter into, not as much about societies we would continue to live in.

The Social Unit 7: Procedure for Dissolution

Posted in The Social Unit on April 27th, 2015 by buzzing wire – Be the first to comment

It is important for social units of the future to include in their constitutions (written or implicit) a procedure for dissolution or succession. This procedure would aid poorly functioning units from lapsing into civil wars, and encourage emerging unions by lowering the risks of conglomeration.

The Social Unit 6: Marketing

Posted in The Social Unit on March 16th, 2015 by buzzing wire – Be the first to comment

I am a bit worried that I have been thinking about marketing all wrong. It seems as though marketing might be part of the actual product/service’s value. For an example, consider the placebo effect in relation to pharmaceuticals. What is even more amazing than the fact that presentation matters almost as much as content is that they reinforce each other. The greater the efficacy of a drug, the greater the placebo effect.

The Social Unit 5: Giving

Posted in The Social Unit on February 2nd, 2015 by buzzing wire – Be the first to comment

In development economics simple cash transfers, like GiveDirectly, are showing promise. The logic is that the people receiving the money know what will best improve their lives. The logic and the empirical results of such transfers are compelling. At the same time I find it difficult to reconcile with what I hear about lottery winners. I’m not sure if anyone has studied it, but one hears plenty of anecdotes on how the lottery has ruined a winner’s life. Assuming that low-level cash transfers tend to benefit people and that an excessive cash transfer will ruin them, is there some kind of sweet spot (percent of yearly income) where an unencumbered infusion of cash is likely to benefit one maximally?

The Social Unit 4: Coercion

Posted in The Social Unit on December 22nd, 2014 by buzzing wire – Be the first to comment

One point I take from Nozick’s critique of Rawls is that any end-state distributive scheme requires coercion. Given natural micro-level exchanges, any kind of distributive goal will require redistribution of goods, not just initially but in an on-going manner. It is important to recognize this, but it is also important to recognize that there is no perfect libertarian coercion-free social unit (even an entitlement scheme). The market through it’s own actions will collapse into monopolies without coercion. We are stuck with coercion of some kind to make liberty (and our markets) work at all. The question is not how do we get rid of coercion, but how do we make coercion less onerous. There are many varieties of coercion, spanning from the threat of gulags to eye rolling to gentle nudges.

The Social Unit 3: Choice

Posted in The Social Unit on November 10th, 2014 by buzzing wire – Be the first to comment

Choice is a more complicated thing than is often thought. One hears that market transactions are voluntary and therefore reflect each actor’s preference or choice. What is clear to me is that we have many preferences that often conflict. Example, one chooses to maintain one’s health and eat the cookie on the counter. I think of these preferences loosely as shorter term and longer term. The markets I am used to are very responsive of shorter term preferences. One question is how might one structure current markets to better balance the totality (often conflicting) of one’s preferences? And if not, what other methods of distribution would perform better in this respect than markets.

The Social Unit 2: Boundaries

Posted in The Social Unit on September 29th, 2014 by buzzing wire – Be the first to comment

Many of a social unit’s most difficult moral questions occur at it’s physical and temporal boundaries. Those members coming to be, those members that will be, those that live among us, but aren’t full members. Who should we induct as members, how many, who should we exile, what protections do we offer them? And what do we owe the members of other social units that we so drastically affect?

The Social Unit 1: Definition

Posted in The Social Unit on August 18th, 2014 by buzzing wire – Be the first to comment

There is this thing that we all do together. I would like to talk about that, all collective activities: families, clubs, organizations, firms, nation states…