Saturday, October 20, 2012

The moral and political philosophy of Mitt Romney

Building on a couple of throwaway items in my last post, I am happy to report that the Mitt Romney Philosophy Project is off to a great start.

We have so far the following:

(1) Maximax: welfarist social welfare function that accords absolute priority to increasing the single best-off individual's welfare.

This term can actually be found here in the decision literature: "In decision theory,  the optimistic (aggressive) decision making rule under conditions of uncertainty.  It states that the decision maker should select the course of action whose best (maximum) gain is better than the best gain of all other courses of action possible in given circumstances."

 Sounds as plausible to me as the infinite risk aversion behind the Rawlsian maximin.

(2) Minimin: inverted welfarist social welfare function that accords absolute priority to lowering the single worst-off individual's welfare.

Alas, when I did an online search for this principle all I could find was that it is someone's nickname. 

(3) Veil of arrogance: the starting assumption that you are the richest, smartest, and worthiest person in the society being described; helps to motivate the adoption of maximax.  Also (since you are disgusted by others' inferiority to you) contributes to the appeal of minimin.

(4) Primary goods: the things that every rational individual is assumed to want.  Obvious examples would include Caymans investments, tax shelters, the carried interest rule, Swiss bank accounts, and car elevators.

(5) The original position: Where you stand after you have received government subsidies (so long as they aren't from entitlements or poverty programs), but before you have paid any federal income taxes.

(6) Veil of ignorance: voters' rightful state concerning your plans if you win the election.

(7) Deceptive equilibrium: a state of balance or coherence as between your listeners' beliefs and what they think are your beliefs; arrived at by a process of unilateral rhetorical adjustment.

Am I missing anything here?

13 comments:

  1. Well, that's the Internet won for today. See customer service for further information

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  2. You appear to be more interested in sneering at those who do not share your political instincts than in understanding the perspectives of Mitt Romney and many of your fellow citizens. This is a pity, given the pressing need of our nations for constructive engagement and thoughtful solutions.

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  3. @Unknown

    You are making the unfortunate mistake of believing that the targets of said derision are honest actors that are truly plausible of being argued with. That is clearly not the case with Romney.

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  4. Unknown, I would just note that I have a number of good friends in the Romney campaign, and would not be as dismissive of them as I am of him.

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  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  6. I don't think you missed anything, but I wonder if maybe there is something to be done with

    The social contract: exceptions to all apparent promises to be found in the fine print.

    See in particular Chapter 11 of the social contract which affords elected officials protection from those electors who expect them to keep their impossible promises.

    An R and R being: A rich or richer being

    (OK this is from lectures on Kant but the point is that "rational" doesn't translate Vershruggen sp??? which is further from rational as in rational egoism so "rational and reasonable" which is a lot of syallables hence R&R. The categorical imperative requires R & R beings to assume all R & R beings will do what they do. Non R&R beings are irrelevant.

    The conflict of wills test: to be settled by an estate court.

    Not I admit at the level of the post, but you did ask.

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  7. The Deference Principle. The principle that in a just society the least well-off 47% of the population should defer to the judgment of those better off.

    Note this is a standard for minimal justice. In a perfectly just society (a "Romney-just" society") 99% of the population will defer to the top 1%.

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  8. The post-Hirsanyi aggregation theorem: it would be a-ffine thing if all the wealth was aggregated by me and my pals.

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  9. Whoops, Harsanyi. Do not type or vote when drowsy.

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  10. The four stage sequence (of policies)
    Stage 1: Policy X
    Stage 2: Policy not-X
    Stage 3: The details of my policies will be worked out in government
    Stage 4: President of the United States (see Maximax and Minimin)

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  11. Yep, you missed the most obvious. None. I don't think Mitt has a moral and political philosophy.

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