Friday, July 29, 2011

To Know Better, To Execute Better

Advice is one of those items that is very much unwanted if unsolicited. The audacity of them to think that they know better about us then we ourselves! What are we, incompetent? Stop interfering!

Could we say the same of paternalism, or even government in general? We don't need a strong hand constantly looking over our shoulder, prodding us in "our best interests". To be nagged or beaten, just to force us to act in line with some projected notion of what's best for us, strikes many as being quite unacceptable.

It's difficult to argue that others know us better than ourselves, though in several cases our confidence in our self-understanding is merely an illusion. So, let's just grant that we know what we want, for argument's sake. However, knowing what we what doesn't actually make us any better at obtaining or fulfilling such desires. Motive does not imply competence. This is even more true when it comes to more complex phenomena, such as society or government.

In politics, a false dilemma is often presented between a layman that knows nothing of the art of governing, but who knows the trials and tribulations of the populace, and a highly trained and efficient robot that unfortunately has no realistic idea of what anyone really wants. Let's avoid such false dualities. It does occur in nature, but only as a result of willful ignorance. It occurs when someone speaks from his experience, but does not study the consequences of his suggestions. It occurs when someone performs a correction, but does not bother learning whether there was a problem in the first place. Both are regrettable, possibly well-intentioned, but not correct.

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