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I'd like to talk about why conservatives say things like this, for my progressive friends who genuinely don't know anyone like this. I was a libertarian, sort of, as a teenager (I recovered) and have read Hayek, Nozick, and Friedman. Here goes.
Sure, there are plenty of Repubs who are just cruel and like seeing people suffer, especially certain kinds of people. But there are plenty who think they are being virtuous and morally strong here. Here is a brief anecdote about participating in college debate...
which was overrun by libertarians. There was a debate about drug testing welfare recipients. I argued against it, in part by arguing that the policy would disproportionately impact women. This ENRAGED my opponents, and apparently the judge (well beyond the normal "debate" energy)
The issue was that 1) I mentioned women-stuff, but mainly that 2) I made an argument about the CONSEQUENCES of a policy, and I was supposed to decide on the justice of the policy in a vacuum of pure logic, and then wherever the chips fall: justice! No matter how it turns out.
And I think this is what progressives miss when arguing with conservatives. They believe a policy is just.
You tell them about the consequences: people suffer.
They don't care.
You say: How can you not care, you monster.
But:
Libertarians/conservaties' whole deal is that you can only decide what is just BEFORE the consequences occur. You might be able to predict the consequences before making the policy, but they believe you *shouldn't.*
They think you should be strong enough to ignore them and make a purely just policy (generally based on property rights).
So if you examine your principles and derive a policy that results in a mass of people starving, they think that consequence is irrelevant to the justice of the policy. Justice can only be decided before consequences. And they think you are immoral for thinking otherwise.
In philosophy class, discussions about "deontology" and "teleology" -- whether morality comes from the intent or the result of an act -- focused on examples wherein, for example, you feed a hungry person but accidentally poison them, or try to murder them but end up helping.
In most of those philosophical examples, the person's intent seems most important, and the results are unexpected and unforeseeable. But IRL, people who subscribe to an entirely intent-based ethic aren't talking about these things.
This is why such people might subscribe to a policy that tries to reduce teen pregnancy via abstinence education, but actually increases it due to ignorance and lack of contraception. Showing them the results doesn't change their mind bc they think considering results is immoral.
This is why such people enjoy policies involving work requirements in order to receive, say, food aid. When told that there are no jobs, or that many people receiving the aid are caregivers and cannot work full-time, they literally believe they are morally required to ignore this
There is some mental gymnastics here. Most people do have some level of empathy for abject human suffering. Calling libertarians/conservatives psychopaths or something doesn't capture this.
If you're a liberal or progressive and hear about suffering, you probably think you, or we, should do something about it, or at least you feel guilty for not doing anything, or not being able to do anything. Because you *start there* when forming policies and beliefs.
The progressive mind looks at the suffering in the world and reasons backwards to develop policies. The conservative mind finds this deeply corrupt.
They reason the other way: decide what is just, and if suffering results, the only way to remain moral is to harden yourself to it. If you allowed your empathy to decide policy, you would override what you had decided was just in a "pure," results-free thinking space.
So this is what's happening when everyone I know RTs some Republican, like "This guy is a psychopath who doesn't care about people suffering." That's now how that guy sees himself. He probably thinks he is mentally strong and pure for making policy regardless of consequences.
I'm clearly against that. But I understand it. As a teenager, I for some brief time existed in a space where I cried over newspaper articles about famine, but also read Ayn Rand (frankly, Robert Nozick is half as silly, a thread for another time)
It takes mental gymnastics to decide that "taxation is theft" or that we should design society as a "perfect meritocracy", and then to note that many people would die, and then to "stay strong" because you think the first thing is justice and the second is just unfortunate.
So, this is what's going on in a lot of people's heads when you point out the consequences of their policies and tell them they don't care. They may care on a personal level, but they believe they are better than you for not letting it affect policy.
How do you work with that? Well, do you have a coherent philosophy about the limitations of property rights that leads to your desired result? No amount of evidence of suffering will persuade people who expect you to begin at the other end.
The end. -your friendly neighborhood phil-major-a-long-time-ago from the South
*That's NOT how that guy sees himself.
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