Crawl Across the Ocean

Friday, July 03, 2009

18. Interlude

Note: This post is the eighteenth in a series. Click here for the full listing of the series.

I was out running on the seawall on a rainy Saturday morning, a couple of weeks back, turning over in my mind what type of interpersonal behaviour would match up with the Commercial set of morals from Jane Jacobs' Systems of Survival:

A person who was purely self-interested might fail to be honest and might not shun the use of force and might not respect contracts, while a person who was sympathetic to others as much as they were sympathetic to themselves would likely 'go beyond' just the commercial morals into guardian morals like 'loyalty' and 'treasure honour' (and regard bargaining with someone with the same distaste that they might regard bargaining with a friend or family member).

It occurred to me as I was running that what might work would be someone who was not willing to harm another by stealing from them or defrauding them, but at the same time had no interest in helping another, i.e. someone who prefers to serve their self-interest, but isn’t willing to actively harm others directly to do so in a case where hurting others is the means to improving their self-interest, rather than a side effect.

After I got home and I was on the computer, I tried googling for notions of this type, and came across a description of 'Morals by Agreement' by David Gauthier – a book which was already been in my list of books to cover (sine many other works refer to it) so I moved it up to the next spot on the list.

Sadly, 'Morals by Agreement' is an academic book in tone, which means that it starts out by defining the meaning of the word 'the' and builds from there. So although it may be a little tedious, I might as well take the opportunity to also explain some of the 'building block' concepts used in economics and philosohpy, before launching into the heart of Gauthier's argument. But, I'll have to wait until next week to get started on that....

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