Wednesday, September 8, 2010


A reader wrote to ask if there is a problematic case for FLG's time horizons theory.

The answer is yes. The most common thing FLG hears from people on the Left when confronted with this theory is environmental and climate change. But FLG thinks they're wrong that they are taking the long-term view on that.

The problematic case, at least in FLG's opinion, is torture. Conservatives see American lives at risk in a sort of Eternal Now. Consequently, torture, enhanced interrogation, whathaveyou is justified to protect innocent lives.

Liberals, on the other hand, worry about what this does to our principles and standing on a broader and long-term scope.

Now, FLG has tried to jive this with his theory by saying liberals are more motivated by a visceral disgust of the act of torture than damage to principles and longer term concerns, but he doesn't feel that's a charitable portrayal.

And so torture remains the problematic case for FLG and his theory.


Withywindle said...

I would have said that the conservative case for torture was precisely one of long-term consequences, and the liberal case was simply that torture is wrong. Hence the whole ticking-bomb scenario thing. Liberals also add the long-term damage to our reputation, etc., but the nub of their case is that torture is wrong, period.

I grant you that you can make a case that the pro-torture side has a shorter-term view than the anti-torture side. I'm tempted to say "sometimes the short-term is of overriding importance." If you like, I also want to suspend the market to prevent grain exports in times of impending famine. I suppose I would also say that thinking of things in terms of "stability" rather than of "long-term time horizons" allows one the occasional response to emergency.

FLG said...


I'm not saying the long-term is always the correct concern. I'm just saying that it seems in this case, the roles are reversed.

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