Intuiting Too Much

We need principles by which to choose what degree of paternalism is appropriate in what context. … Any analysis based on the idea that folks can be irrationally deaf to advice is an intellectual sham if it doesn’t consider similar deafness by organization decision makers.

That was me. This is Bryan:

[In] debate, Robin kept replying, “If Group A wants to paternalistically stop Group B from doing X, why should we trust the judgments of the A’s instead of the B’s?”  Then Balan would reply something like, “Do you deny that using cocaine is a dumb thing to do?,” … This is a meta excess.  I oppose paternalism, but I’ll still grant that smart paternalists consider “similar deafness by organization decision makers.”  They don’t do it at the level Robin wants.  But for any specific thing they want to ban, smart paternalists at least briefly consider whether it’s worth banning. … If you ask, “Should we let Group A stop Group B from doing X if the A’s think this is for B’s own good,” no one answers with a blanket Yes.  Actual paternalists will only answer after they know some details abut A, B, and X.  I don’t blame them.

Let me illustrate:

“Cocaine users seem to hurt themselves; we must stop them!”
“But they don’t think so; have you considered you might be wrong?”
“Hmm, I don’t feel wrong, so I must not be wrong.  There, considered.”

Bryan trusts his intuition.  A lot. If Bryan’s intuition told him people on net hurt themselves greatly with cocaine, and that it was morally right to prevent such hurt, then Bryan would favor cocaine paternalism.  Same if he had explicit reasons, and his intuition said his reasons were solid.  As long as his intuition was strong, it wouldn’t bother him that others disagreed.  He might be curious to hear their reasons, but the mere fact that they had unknown reasons wouldn’t bother him much.  Nor would their having strong opposing intuitions; in a conflict between his intuitions and theirs, he knows to trust his.  Why?  Because his intuition says so.

Faith simplifies much.  With faith, what need principles?  Only those lacking faith in their divinely reliable intuition need to wonder what those who disagree with them might know that they do not, and seek principles to help avoid the bias of too easily assuming they are right and others wrong.

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