Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Straight Thinking or Screw the Poor

Walter E. Williams latest article takes on two ideas. First of all he feels that we shouldn't believe Normative Statements. For example you might feel that Gas shouldn't cost $9.00 a barrel. But that's a normative statement - you are saying it simply because you think it is true, but there's no facts involved.
Positive statements deal with what was, what is or what will be. Normative, or subjective, statements deal with what's good or bad, or what ought to be or should be. Confusing the two leads to considerable mischief.

. . . Having explained the difference between positive and normative statements, I tell my students that in no way do I propose that they purge their vocabulary of normative statements. Normative statements are excellent tools for tricking others into doing what you want them to do. I simply caution that in the process of tricking others, there's no need to trick oneself into believing that one normative statement is better or more righteous than another.
Consider the following statement; A certain amount of Government Regulation is necessary. Is it normative? Hmmmm.

Eliminating Government Regulation is good for the economy. Is it normative? I don't know - Williams has sure acted like that statement is Positive or Objective before. Certainly anybody arguing in favor of Regulation, no matter how limited, will be met with William's disdain. I gather this is one of those situations in which he feels that using normative statements is good for "tricking others into doing what you want them to do."

Hey then notes that some people get along just fine without fear, proving that nobody really needs anything.
In some poor African countries, people do without food. Of course, the results of doing without insulin or food are indeed unpleasant, but the fact that the results are unpleasant doesn't require us to deny that non-consumption is a substitute for consumption.
I guess makes sense. If the poor don't want to pay for food they can starve. One could point out that we as a society have a duty to help those unfortunates, but I suppose that would be one of those normative statements.

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