Monday, 28 March 2016

Socialism/Communism and Scale

I've just read a very interesting draft article by Canadian philosopher Joseph Heath.

I don't always agree with Heath, but his work is usually very challenging (in a good way - i.e. interesting).

It is currently available on his page, though he may remove this in the future if it gets reviewed and published.

His argument is that just as computer architecture has to be able to cope with the amount of data required of it so social relations must be able to cope with the amount and nature of social and economic interactions.

He discusses GA Cohen's well known short book 'Why not socialism?' in which Cohen points out that camping trips work fine without a market so why can't society? (He even indicates the reasons why it wouldn't in his book so it isn't a very effective analogy in its own terms).

Heath goes to the trouble of pointing out why - small scale societies have methods to work and these are attractive to us. Which is unsurprising as much of our genetic ancestry would have been based in such societies.

However, the way that these societies function is simply not scalable past about 150 people. So attempts to bring about socialism on a larger scale inevitably result in the kinds of terrible things that Mao and Stalin did in the hope of enforcing their utopia.

Heath is certainly no market fundamentalist - all the other work I have read by him has challenged market thinking (Cattalactic bias as he calls it). However, he concludes that on a social scale markets are a very effective method of allowing economies to function on a huge scale and so capitalism is therefore the normatively required economic system for advanced societies.

Heath's argument is a development of the common conclusion most people have reached (that communism isn't viable for societies of more than 150 people) but he has developed an interesting and well-researched way of presenting it.

Sunday, 13 March 2016

A journal article by yours truly - Arguing for a New Form of Taxation: Lifetime Hourly Averaging

Great news, my paper Arguing for a New Form of Taxation: Lifetime Hourly Averaging is available for viewing online.

I'm very pleased to have this paper published in the Journal of Applied Philosophy.

In the paper I present my lifetime hourly averaging proposal and defend hypothetical insurance as the best method to determine whether resources in society are distributed in a fair manner.

The hypothetical insurance approach is to consider how much redistribution people would support if they did not know if they had a good or bad upbringing, were highly talented or less talented and whether they find themselves in the right place at the right time to earn more money.

I argue that if people put themselves in this hypothetical situation they would find my hourly averaging tax and benefit proposal the most attractive one to transfer resources from the more to the less economically fortunate.

As I've explained elsewhere, you don't have to take a hypothetical insurance approach to support my hourly averaging proposals. However, in this paper I argue that hypothetical insurance is the best approach to take and that if you take this approach then hourly averaging is the tax and benefit system to support.