Thursday, August 25, 2011

Time Horizons: Bioethics Edition

FLG often gets pushback from people about his time horizons theory. Applies to economics questions, they say, but less true for other issues, particularly moral and ethical dilemmas.

Here's Ross Douthat:
From embryo experimentation to selective reduction to the eugenic uses of abortion, liberals always promise to draw lines and then never actually manage to draw them. Like Dr. Evans, they find reasons to embrace each new technological leap while promising to resist the next one — and then time passes, science marches on, and they find reasons why the next moral compromise, too, must be accepted for the greater good, or at least tolerated in the name of privacy and choice. You can always count on them to worry, often perceptively, about hypothetical evils, potential slips down the bioethical slope. But they’re either ineffectual or accommodating once an evil actually arrives. Tomorrow, they always say — tomorrow, we’ll draw the line. But tomorrow never comes.

Tomorrow's worries are so far away when you live in a Eternal Now. An Eternal Today. There's a tangible, measurable benefit right now. How can a hypothetical future consequence even be seriously considered as relevant?


Anonymous said...

It only matters when it can serve the larger statist agenda.

Anonymous said...

The short-term, long-term template fits only if one accepts Douthat’s premise (and FLG’s I believe) of liberal aspirations being of immediate importance while being dismissive or unconcerned with future consequences. The template doesn’t fit if the consequences are understood as having been desired in the first place. And I’m not limiting unseen consequences of liberal/progressive desires to just biological technologies.

When, two generation following the Civil Rights Act, The Great Society programs, and Roe v Wade, one finds oneself in a veritable theme park of slippery slopes, it is not for the failure to “monitor” and “debate” and “control” developments nor is it due to sunspots. A trend so remarkable in its extensiveness is evidence of the progressive urge to fundamentally change society and human nature - a project begun in earnest with Wilson nearly a century ago - a decidedly long-time horizon already.

Has FLG thought to expand his time horizons to including ‘intermediate’?

Time Horizons
Short time – liberal - immediate interest – present generations - little interest in the future.

Intermediate time – traditional - foreseeable interests – future generations - some interest in the future (to children, grandchildren at least).

Long time – progressive/gnostic – immediate interests of future interests only - fundamentally overthrow the past for a glorious future.

George Pal

FLG said...


But then you'd have to accuse these progressives of lying. They're saying they're concerned about these things, at least in the specific cases cited by Douthat in the post. I'm hesitant to ascribe bad motives.

Too put it rather crassly:
I'd rather believe they're stupid than evil.

Anonymous said...

It’s not an either/or situation; both are numerous. It’s also not likely those with radically expansive or destructive agendas would hesitate to lie.

George Pal

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