Participants in important moral and political debates tend to shift the quarrel to differences about material facts. The question, ‘what should be done?’ turns into, ‘is this true?’
To get some insight into opposing parties principled justifications for having a particular position, it is useful to force the issue. Assume a set of facts to be true, and see where that takes you. This prevents sidestepping, and lets people think more objectively – perhaps even more sympathetically – about different points of view.
I’ve found this can radically shift ones perceptions of the issues in play. Equally important, it can show how our positions are determined less by matters of principle, and more by our not wanting to deal with the consequences of being wrong.
In this spirit, I offer today the first in a series of Force-it Friday questions. Will you bite the bullet, or try to dodge it?
Here we go. Check your preconceptions at the door, and toss your hat into the ring…
Global warming is really happening. It is caused by humans. The Cooler Heads Coalition is wrong, and the Stern Review got it right: the costs of climate change outweigh the costs of doing something about it. What should we do?
Here are some unoriginal ideas:
- Emissions limits
- Energy taxes
- Laws curtailing transportation
- Sanctions on high-emissions countries
Can you think of other limits to our freedoms that might be justified?
When you think about this, consider how you are thinking about the issue. Are you being swayed because you don’t like the sacrifices you would need to make to prevent the worst effects of global warming? What changes are you willing to tolerate? What changes go too far?