What the people want vs. what the people should have

  • Thread starter Pengwuino
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  • #1
Pengwuino
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Main Question or Discussion Point

So whats everyones opinion on this...

Should a government exist in a society to do whats right for the population or should it do what the people want. While i was paying my... uhm... speeding ticket... that i was framed for... i got to thinking about something. I bet if you asked everyone in the city, you would probably get a majority of the people to say that speed limits should be greatly increased or abolished. This could also be true in say, P2P illegal content trading. You can probably get, at some point, enough people (a majority) to say any and all trading should be legal over P2P networks no matter what the content is. This makes me wonder something. Should the government and laws be in place to do whats right for people or should they be in place to do what the people want. And lets think about the possible places where the idea could go. Public sex? hard-drug use? public drunkenness? cell phone use during the course of driving???
 

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  • #2
EnumaElish
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To some extent this is what the legislative branch is for, isn't it? Although saying that it is an imperfect mechanism may be an understatement, it is the best system that mankind has devised for making laws that represent what "people want," or, in any case, what can be "sold" to people. Not all that bad.
 
  • #3
arildno
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Pengwuino said:
Public sex?
Do you want to sit on the bus to work and have guys all around you fellated?
Aren't you part of the "people"?
Don't your wishes count for anything?

hard-drug use?
Here, the concept of "wanting" is wanting in relevant distinctions.
public drunkenness?
Do you want to step into other people's vomit?

cell phone use during the course of driving???
Do you want to be run down by a guy who is more interested yelling at his wife through the cell phone than minding where he's driving?
 
  • #4
Pengwuino
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Well since an unfortunate amount of people dont care or think about the consequences of their actions (and theres no signs showing that trend is changing), its irrelevant to discuss the consequences of certain actions. We're talking about majority rule here so I was wondering what would be considered "good" majority rule. You also did stumble onto one of hte underlying factors here. Many people dont consider the consequences of their "wants" and what effect would such an attitude have in both scenarios.

Unless of course, you think a majority of people do think about the consequences of their actions. I personally feel they dont and thats the only reason i make my argument.
 
  • #5
arildno
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Pengwuino said:
Unless of course, you think a majority of people do think about the consequences of their actions. I personally feel they dont and thats the only reason i make my argument.
Well, since any rational government ought to pay heed to possible consequences of various actions when evaluating whethet these should be allowed or banned, I cannot disagree with you on principle that on occasion that which should be allowed might be in conflict with direct, thoughtless wish-fulfilment.
 
  • #6
Pengwuino
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Exactly, so should governments use their relative superiority in knowledge (or access to superior knowledge) to do whats right for people or should they go with whatever the people want no matter what the superior knowledge saysa bout it?
 
  • #7
arildno
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That depends on your definition of "right", doesn't it?
 
  • #8
honestrosewater
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I think there should a balance.
I haven't read this book (I saw a book talk), but you may be interested in his arguments. The Wisdom of Crowds - "While our culture generally trusts experts and distrusts the wisdom of the masses, New Yorker business columnist Surowiecki argues that "under the right circumstances, groups are remarkably intelligent, and are often smarter than the smartest people in them." To support this almost counterintuitive proposition, Surowiecki explores..."
 
  • #9
Pengwuino
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arildno said:
That depends on your definition of "right", doesn't it?
haha ah yes, i knew this would eventually complicate itself soon enough. I mean peoples definitions of "right" vary from ol protestant 17th century stuff to the new age "everyone should do whatever they want" type definition of right.

How bout for the sake of argument, we say we can indeed establish a moral absolute and lets say it falls somewhere in the middle.
 
  • #10
arildno
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And what is the particular view of "right" which is precisely situated "somewhere in the middle"?
 
  • #11
Pengwuino
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ughhhhhhhhh, the only things that are good and right are things that can keep this conversation moving along, hwo bout that :P

Lets just say that whatever it is, theres always some people who think we should live "simpler" and with less "rights" and theres always some people who think we are too restricted and need the ability to do even more things legally.
 
  • #12
arildno
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Okay, so you want a discussion which treats rights on a formal, abstract level, rather than getting bogged down in concretizing the actual content and quarrel about what specific right should or should not be included?

If that's the case, go ahead:
But I warn you, I'll bite if you try to sneak in some particular type of right unseen into the discussion ..
 
  • #13
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Pengwuino said:
So whats everyones opinion on this...
Should a government exist in a society to do whats right for the population or should it do what the people want.
The government should protect people's rights from violation through threat or use physical force and then get out of the way.
Period.

There is NO need for the government to act like a bunch of elitists pretending that it knows what is better for us than ourselves.
Nor does it need to sell out the individual to the majority (since that is what will happen if it starts obeying the people).

PS. By rights I mean the fundamental rights like freedom of speech, right to own firearms, to protest peacefully, freedom of choice, basically right to one's own life.
 
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  • #14
EnumaElish
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sid_galt said:
The government should protect people's rights from violation through threat or use physical force and then get out of the way.
Thus guaranteeing that most other species will go the way of the bison, to give but one counterexample. Unless the definition of "people" somehow includes other species, which is rather unlikely.
 
  • #15
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EnumaElish said:
Thus guaranteeing that most other species will go the way of the bison, to give but one counterexample. Unless the definition of "people" somehow includes other species, which is rather unlikely.
You mean animals?

1. Animals do not have the capability or potential to think, therefore they cannot have the same rights as humans do.
2. The whole world will not start killing each and every animal for no reason if the government steps out.
 
  • #16
AKG
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The government should be there to generally give people what they want (put in very simple terms). It is there to improve our lives. However, this doesn't mean giving in to our every demand. In general, the public may not know how to get what they want. Right now, they may think hard drug use would be great, but they may regret that decision later on. On the other hand, there will be some people who will enjoy hard drug use, and if possible, do it their whole lives enjoyably, or else just enjoy it for a shorter period of time. A young person may not know whether he'll end up regretting using drugs or not. The government can't know for sure either, but ideally they should be able to find out enough to decide what would likely be in the young man's best interest (maybe study current drug users and see if they regret it or not) and then legislate accordingly.

Generally, I think the right approach should be to let people do what they want. I think most people would rather learn from their own mistakes then to never have experienced anything at all. However, when the government has good reason to believe something will be a problem for an individual, or whether permitting an individual to do something will create real problems for others, then they should step in. I think it's obvious that gay marriage won't hurt anyone, so although many people may complain that they don't like it, the government should be able to objectively see that this is just whining stemming from ideology, and there is no real problem that will result from it, so they can permit it. On the other hand, Mothers Against Drunk Driving are justifiably complaining about a real problem, so governments have to recognize that this is a real problem and make policy accordingly.
 
  • #17
EnumaElish
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sid_galt said:
You mean animals?
Let's say.
sid_galt said:
1. Animals do not have the capability or potential to think
How do you know?
sid_galt said:
therefore they cannot have the same rights as humans do.
I hear you.
sid_galt said:
2. The whole world will not start killing each and every animal for no reason if the government steps out.
How do you know? And, why should I trust that you wouldn't?
 
  • #18
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EnumaElish said:
How do you know?
Because their actions demonstrate that. Otherwise they would have become equal to humans long ago.

How do you know? And, why should I trust that you wouldn't?
Because people are not inherently evil bloodthirsty savages wanting to kill and destroy everything they see. If they were, this world would have ended long ago.

No one except a raving lunatic would destroy objects for no reason at all. And human beings are not raving lunatics.
 
  • #19
Pengwuino
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What about blasting away at an old car with a minigun?!?!??!

I dont wanna kill anyone... but i wanna blast a car with a minigun :) Does that mean im a lunatic? :P
 
  • #20
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Pengwuino said:
What about blasting away at an old car with a minigun?!?!??!

I dont wanna kill anyone... but i wanna blast a car with a minigun :) Does that mean im a lunatic? :P
You need to have a reason to destroy the car. It is pretty much crazy to just randomly shoot at old car/cars.
 
  • #21
Pengwuino
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Entertainment.

Same reason people fire off fireworks :) At least for me thats the reason. Give me any situation where i can make huge flashes of sparks and light like fireworks and ill be happy.
 
  • #22
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So you do have a reason so its not crazy.

But how many people would endeavor to destroy all the species of the planet for entertainment? People didn't kill all animals in the 19th century. They won't end it now.
 
  • #23
EnumaElish
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sid_galt said:
Animals do not have the capability or potential to think, therefore they cannot have the same rights as humans do.
Otherwise they would have become equal to humans long ago.
Do I detect some circularity here? Animals do not have the same rights as (are not equal to) humans because they don't have the potential because they are not equal to humans.
Because people are not inherently evil bloodthirsty savages wanting to kill and destroy everything they see.
You know it is easy to come up with a zillion counterexamples to that.
No one except a raving lunatic would destroy objects for no reason at all.
We all have our reasons and rationalizations.
 
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  • #24
Pengwuino
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sid_galt said:
So you do have a reason so its not crazy.
Oh, so they still allow enertainment as a legitimate reason to do things? sweeeeet :biggrin:
 
  • #25
selfAdjoint
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I'm wth Pengwuino. As L. Sprague deCamp said in The Incomplete Enchanter, no reason is as good as any. You would have to do due diligence to ensure no "friendly fire" accidents from your blasting.
 

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