Monday, October 19, 2009

It does seem to me that all people of goodwill would welcome the news that it had become possible to proceed otherwise [i.e. in ways that tapped into our nobler, rather than our more selfish, motives] perhaps, for example, because some economists had invented clever ways of harnessing and organizing our capacity for generosity toward others.
Liberal idealists try to institutionalize concern without understanding that institutionalized concern manifests only as pity. There is no care without caring: empathy is a practice not a function. Conservatives understand this and the self-serving hypocrisy of idealist abstraction and their cynical response is institutionalized contempt.

Concern is intimate empiricism: it can be fostered by institutions but can not be institutionalized. I've said this before but the above quote from Cohen, and the discussion around it, are a perfect example of liberal indulgence that will always end in righteous sentimentalism and self-pity. The discussion of hate crimes law and then Freakonomics and my jottings in response brought me back to that quote.

In reference to Levitt and Dubner: the proper response to their contrarian idealism is not game theory or falling back on "conventional wisdom"

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