Utilitarian Future: Guns, Grammar Schools and the Greater Good

Utilitarian Future: For the Greater Good?

None of this matters if the people you care about are the people in those anecdotes. Or if you don’t believe the objective of government policy should be ‘the best for the most’. But few politicians would readily admit that they are happy to let the majority suffer for the good of the few. At least not quite so explicitly.

So we’re left with a question: why do we so often let anecdote and emotion defeat data and reason?

I simply don’t think we have a culture of reason when it comes to big decisions. For all our advances and sophistication, we still have a lizard-brain culture of emotion.

We don’t need to be robots in a utilitarian future. But we do need to learn to trust the numbers and facts a little more. And right now with the constant disparaging of ‘experts’, we’re going in quite the other direction.

*In the interests of transparency I must add that I can’t find any good data on this. I have trawled the search engines but no-one seems to have done the research yet. But here’s a comparison point from the LA Times. The Violence Policy Center in the US counted 259 ‘justifiable’ — i.e. self defence — homicides in 2012. In the same year there were 8,342 criminal homicides using guns, 20,666 suicides with guns, and 548 fatal unintentional shootings, according to the FBI’s Supplemental Homicide Report.

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Tom Cheesewright