Why doesn't everybody agree on the best candidate for every public office? Why aren't all propositions decided unanimously? (And why did you vote for such an obvious idiot?)

Instead of demonizing those who clash with my positions, a wiser approach might be to analyze — to figure out what causes good people to differ in their choices. Individuals tend to weigh options along several general dimensions, e.g.:

  • time: immediate versus distant future
  • space: local versus cosmopolitan
  • feeling: "cold" reason versus "warm" empathy

Arguments can be made for each of the above poles. Some lend themselves to clichés: "In the long run, we're all dead." ... "Don't paint yourself into a corner." ... "If not now, then when?" ... "Think globally, act locally." ... "If you're not a liberal when you're young, you have no heart; if you're not a conservative when you're older, you have no brains." ... and so forth.

Most people strike a balance between the extremes. Perhaps that's the best overall political philosophy.

(see also DeliberateOpinion (14 Oct 2001), LearningAndLosing (23 Dec 2001), RobertNozick (2 Feb 2002), ...)

TopicSociety - TopicScience - 2004-12-07

(correlates: Infelicitous Prose, CelebrityTakeover, ForTheVisuallyImpaired, ...)