Impoverished world

Randy brings up the hypothetical question first asked by Bryan Caplan, “How Would the World Change If Everyone Shared Your Factual Beliefs?” Randy points out that factual beliefs are not enough that he would also need to change peoples values. Well what if we changed the question to include values. I’ll answer for myself.

If everyone shared my factual beliefs and values then in many ways the world would be better. However in other ways we would live in an impoverished world. There would be no sports stadiums, no disco, no boxing, no dancing, no cosmetics, no more foreign languages, no native cultures except my own, etc,

I value using many things that I don’t actually value producing as much as others. So assuming everyone’s talents stayed the same certain goods would be produced less and the salaries would have to rise to compensate. However it’s clear that I’m not willing to pay more for those things. I’m not particularly fond of producing music because I don’t value it as highly as other activities. Yet I don’t mind listening to it when it’s free. So I benefit in many ways from things I don’t currently pay for that it seems just would cease to be produced in this new utopia.

Of course, I’m not sure my values wouldn’t change given different talents. If I were not so good at math and science I might value them less. So I’m not exactly sure what values should be considered universally identical to my current values given this hypothetical. If I was real good at dance and couldn’t think my way out of a wet paper bag would I really value math and science so much? I doubt it. Would I bother to obtain all the “facts” I know? I doubt that too. I think such a world of people with varying talents sharing all my factual beliefs and values is an impossibility.

So long as we have different talents we will have different factual beliefs and values. I wouldn’t sacrifice the former to obtain the latter either. The efficiency of division of labor depends on our differing talents. Without our differences we would indeed suffer and impoverished world.

Otherwise, like the other guy, I think this is mental masturbation. Although I’m not the kind of guy to criticize other people’s leisure activities because I’m not certain that this kind of discussion won’t produce an interesting thought.

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