Saturday, November 19, 2011


"It is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied; better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied. And if the fool, or the pig, is of a different opinion, it is because they only know their own side of the question. The other party to the comparison knows both sides."
--John Stuart Mill, Utilitarianism

From Brad DeLong's post:

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Here's a juicy put-down, found in Paul Krugman's post:

"He’s a stupid person’s idea of what a smart person sounds like."
--Ezra Klein (about someone called Dick Armey)


  1. MP said...

    I disagree with the Mill quote, for a number of reasons. For starters, if you go a few steps down that line of reasoning, it becomes a justification for colonialism. Mill, who was a life-long employee of the East India Company, has himself used this argument:

    "according to John Stuart Mill (hereafter Mill), savages do not have the capacity for self-government because of their excessive love of freedom. Serfs, slaves, and peasants in barbarous societies, on the other hand, may be so schooled in obedience that their capacity for rationality is stifled. Only commercial society produces the material and cultural conditions that enable individuals to realize their potential for freedom and self-government. According to this logic, civilized societies like Great Britain are acting in the interest of less-developed peoples by governing them. Imperialism, from this perspective, is not primarily a form of political domination and economic exploitation but rather a paternalistic practice of government that exports “civilization” (e.g. modernization) in order to foster the improvement of native peoples. Despotic government (and Mill doesn't hesitate to use this term) is a means to the end of improvement and ultimately self-government."

    To be fair, he was a bit reflective on this position, see the next paragraph of that entry for details.

    There a few other reasons for disagreeing with that quote, a couple of which are raised in the comments section of the original post.