Monday, April 27, 2009

Modern 'Calvinism'

Since this is supposed to be an economics blog, (in intellectual content, anyways) this seems appropriate.

The irony, I see anyways, is how relevant Calvin's voice is in our current political/economic climate.  It's frustrating that it's taken so long for the United States to have a cultural/economic crisis on a national scale to finally engage in some soul-searching about our overall political philosophy and understanding of personal ethics.  We live very much in a "me"- based culture; which has some positives and negatives.  One of the biggest negatives that I see, is an insistence on 'if it doesn't effect me, why should I care?'  I see this commonly coming from conservative and especially libertarian political affiliates.  THe biggest problem with this, as I see it, is a willful ignorance of not only the practical issue of second- and third-tier effects, but also a override of the concept of empathy.  

People suffer, and it is a shame.  A person suffering, even if it does not immediately, or even transitively effect you, I feel a ethical actor should have an empathic approach in mind. 

Hilzoy (I believe) wrote a few weeks/months ago: 

if morality requires anything at all, it requires that we take other people seriously as people, with their own independent existence, rather than using them as screens onto which we project our own psychological needs at will. So I would think that anyone who was genuinely concerned to do the right thing would recognize this sort of freefloating hostility, and the lack of concern for others that lets it emerge, as vices dressing themselves up as virtues.
I'd like to build on this point some more later.  I feel like this is, in a way, at the heart of the liberal philosophy, and the mark of a mature society.

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