Should Sam Harris focus more on the economic implications of rejecting free will?

 
Harold
 
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Harold
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10 July 2017 21:44
 

Sam Harris makes a convincing scientific case for why free will must be rejected. He subsequently outlines what positive implications that would have on the criminal justice system. However, he should make a similarly strong case regarding what implications rejecting free will should have on the economic system. Perhaps on the extreme side of the political spectrum Libertarians claim people morally deserve their money and therefore any government taxation is theft. A similar behavior can be observed in Republicans asserting the rich morally deserve their money therefore the government should not tax them. The view that rich people morally deserve all their money justifies to them why rich people should not be taxed to provide healthcare for poor people.

I would submit that if we take the view that free will does not exist seriously then that entails nobody morally deserves anything including the money they have at the moment. Some might think this leads one to the view that we should have a communism, however that should not be a worry. Accepting this new view about free will rearranges our view of how the political and economic system should be arranged. It is reasonable to advance a utilitarian position regarding the distribution of money in society in order to maximize the wellbeing of people. To the extent that a communist system does not aid in that endeavor, a capitalist system should be preferred. Therefore, if taxing rich people to provide healthcare for poor people will increase the utility of society then one is justified in supporting that task. Dismissing free will closes the door to the line of arguments that assert people morally deserve their money therefore it is wrong to tax them. It will subsequently move the debate involving healthcare, welfare, and education to a discussion of how to balance the utility of different people in society as to maximize the wellbeing of the most people. If proponents of determinism, including Sam Harris, focused on how that worldview entails certain precepts of how the economic structures should be arranged then that would have the most impact on the political system and society.

 
Twissel
 
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Twissel
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11 July 2017 00:17
 

Absence of Free Will doesn’t have an immediate implication for economic or judicial policies: people who by luck have the ability to make money will probably make even more money if you don’t take it all away. The progressive tax is exactly meant to take “from each according to his/her abilities”: taxation shouldn’t hurt a person’s ability to add value to the economy, for he good of society itself. Moral right of ownership doesn’t need to come into it.
Same goes from sending violent people to prison: it doesn’t matte that they are victims of the genes/upbringing, society still is better of by quarantining them.

 
 
bbearren
 
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bbearren
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11 July 2017 06:40
 
Twissel - 11 July 2017 12:17 AM

... people who by luck have the ability to make money will probably make even more money if you don’t take it all away.

Warren Buffett disagrees.  From a NYT OP Ed 8/14/2011:

“Back in the 1980s and 1990s, tax rates for the rich were far higher, and my percentage rate was in the middle of the pack. According to a theory I sometimes hear, I should have thrown a fit and refused to invest because of the elevated tax rates on capital gains and dividends.
I didn’t refuse, nor did others. I have worked with investors for 60 years and I have yet to see anyone — not even when capital gains rates were 39.9 percent in 1976-77 — shy away from a sensible investment because of the tax rate on the potential gain. People invest to make money, and potential taxes have never scared them off. And to those who argue that higher rates hurt job creation, I would note that a net of nearly 40 million jobs were added between 1980 and 2000. You know what’s happened since then: lower tax rates and far lower job creation.

He is one of those “people who by luck have the ability to make money”, so his words carry a bit of weight of authority.

 
 
GAD
 
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GAD
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11 July 2017 08:16
 

Whats an economy without freewill look like, just like the one we have.

 
 
GAD
 
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GAD
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11 July 2017 08:19
 
bbearren - 11 July 2017 06:40 AM
Twissel - 11 July 2017 12:17 AM

... people who by luck have the ability to make money will probably make even more money if you don’t take it all away.

Warren Buffett disagrees.  From a NYT OP Ed 8/14/2011:

“Back in the 1980s and 1990s, tax rates for the rich were far higher, and my percentage rate was in the middle of the pack. According to a theory I sometimes hear, I should have thrown a fit and refused to invest because of the elevated tax rates on capital gains and dividends.
I didn’t refuse, nor did others. I have worked with investors for 60 years and I have yet to see anyone — not even when capital gains rates were 39.9 percent in 1976-77 — shy away from a sensible investment because of the tax rate on the potential gain. People invest to make money, and potential taxes have never scared them off. And to those who argue that higher rates hurt job creation, I would note that a net of nearly 40 million jobs were added between 1980 and 2000. You know what’s happened since then: lower tax rates and far lower job creation.

He is one of those “people who by luck have the ability to make money”, so his words carry a bit of weight of authority.

Ergo the higher taxes are the more jobs there are i.e. 100% tax = 100% employment.

 
 
Harold
 
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Harold
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11 July 2017 08:48
 
Twissel - 11 July 2017 12:17 AM

people who by luck have the ability to make money will probably make even more money if you don’t take it all away.

That is a straw man of the utilitarian position on taxes. When a tax is to be imposed both the possible negative incentive it might have on the people being taxed and the positive benefit it will have for poor people needing healthcare will be taken into account. The argument was that the claim that people deserve all their money is false since no one has free will. Admittedly, a tax rate of 99% will have a negative incentive as it might stop people from working. On the other hand claiming a tax rate of 1% will have detrimental impact on incentives is ridiculous. Therefore, the tax rate which maximizes the total utility in society will be somewhere in that range and should be determined by empirical evidence.

 
Twissel
 
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Twissel
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11 July 2017 09:12
 

not sure why people think I said anything else: if you give a skilled farmer more land, he/she will produce more. It is in the interest of society to let them keep more: on the individual level, the principle of the Laffer curve makes sense.
At no stage does this imply that there is a right to this extra wealth, only an optimal taxation point.