The Sacrifice Trap

Beware the tendency to oppose improvements that make moot your sacrifice. Kajta Grace:

A pattern … I have noticed before … goes like this. Some people make personal sacrifices, supposedly toward solving problems that don’t threaten them personally. They sort recycling, buy free range eggs, buy fair trade, campaign for wealth redistribution etc. Their actions are seen as virtuous. They see those who don’t join them as uncaring and immoral. A more efficient solution to the problem is suggested. It does not require personal sacrifice. People who have not previously sacrificed support it. Those who have previously sacrificed object on grounds that it is an excuse for people to get out of making the sacrifice. … Some examples of this sentiment:

  • A downside to recreating extinct species with cloning is that it will let people bother even less about stopping extinctions.
  • A recycling system where items are automatically and efficiently sorted at the plant rather than individually in homes would be worse because then people would be ignorant about the effort it takes to recycle.
  • Modern food systems lamentably make people lazy and ignorant of where their food comes from.
  • Making cars efficient just lets people be lazy and drive them more, rather than using real solutions like bikes.
  • The internet’s ready availability and general knowledge allows people to be ignorant and not bother learning facts. …

Is vegetarian opposition to preventing animal pain an example of this kind of motivation? Vegetarianism is a big personal effort, a moral issue, a cause of feelings of moral superiority, and a feature of identity which binds people together.

Most of Katja’s examples are from the left; what are examples from the right?  For example, do folks oppose birth control because it makes their chastity sacrifices moot?

GD Star Rating
Tagged as:
Trackback URL: