Tuesday, September 23, 2003


Jacob hasn't responded to my posts on community and exploitation yet, but no doubt he'll get around to them eventually. (He promised, after all.) But he has responded at length, and very insightfully I think, to various other critics of his TNR piece. Jacob is a sharp thinker, and his defenses are worth considering. I especially like his retort to those who believe that the various communal policies he describes (or at least some of them) couldn't be exploitive, because they are in the individual interest of each of (or at least most of) the disparate members of the community. Jacob calls that what it is: nonsense. Once you employ individual benefit-measurements as the reductive criteria to be used to justify any collective act, you long longer get to elide any particular individual concern with that act, because acknowledging the individual who feels exploited has become part of the whole justificatory scheme in the first place. As Jacob put it: "If our concern is with persons taken one at a time, then we can't slip from benefits to the community as a whole to the conclusion that the provision of the policy isn't exploitative of those who bear its costs. The policies may be justifiable; indeed, I think that one can't have a politics wholly free of utilitarian calculations that override the separateness of persons...sometimes unfairly concentrating net costs on some people. But we shouldn't pretend that those persons have actually benefitted, individually, and that the approach that's been taken toward their interest has been paternalistic rather than exploitative." Hopefully, there will be more from Jacob soon.

Meanwhile, if you still want to know more about the continuing saga of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, be sure to check these two wonderful posts from Gregg Easterbrook.