Thursday, May 4, 2017

Welfare, Smiley Faces (parabolas), and the Technics of Objection

Paul Fischer
Professor Mark Budolfson

Welfare, Smiley Faces (parabolas), and the Technics of Objection

  Wong makes the point that standard welfare units can be established in terms of how many life years are lived combined by the experiential hedonism. That is by comparing inter and intra species data for the ability to solve complex puzzles, achieve goals, and other trends it should be possible to create a concrete unit of any animals lost wellbeing should their life be truncated. Elucidating the way in which this can be useful for charities, militaries, policy leaders, and other people in need of research cannot be described effectively enough. Such an index is a holy grail for analysts.
  There can be no such standard welfare unit, however, because application to the real world does not satisfy the requirements for usability. Using the number provided in the study of 23 pigs who are worth one human, it is very apparent that taking the extremes, in which a whole nation were to be sacrificed in order to save a group of pigs with 23 times as many people, it is very unlikely that any human would make the sacrifice. It would take many more pigs to save the nation or justify a declaration of war against the nation plotting to harm these.
  Conversely, there are situations in which poaching necessitates the incarceration or execution of more than 23 humans. In this manner, the symbolic or economic value of a particular animal places it at a greater value than its human counterparts. Prosecuting such
violations are a critical part of maintaining biodiversity and describing the necessary actions to protect our environment.
  These two delimiting factors demonstrate two thresholds at which the standard usability of the welfare units are effective. In order to complete the work, it should be determined that there is not a further use for the measure by completing the analysis at a 25th and 75th percentile level of destruction, as might have been seen in human mortalities a plague borne by a rodent or in a declining bird population as suburban California housing developments expand. In the case of the latter, it can at least be said that many humans have expressed an eager desire to be inconvenienced in order to save a large number of animals. This paper will not delve further into this point.
  Establishment of the unit as a marginal unit does continue to make it useful. This opens it to use in marginal analyses of next unit purchasing power and to compare the value of consumer items across consumer price indices. I cannot take credit for that terminology, which fixes the error in Wong’s work, but instead must give that analysis to Mark Budolfson, my lecturer at UVM. It is too bad Wong did not do so when penning his research, or it could have been laudable from an interstudies perspective.
  One potential objection that is deftly avoided and disregarded by Wong is analogous to that raised by Deaton in response to Peter Singer’s statements regarding the value of a human life. He objects that once one is convinced the fundamental premise of an argument is correct, one must determine the complementary premise to be correct as well. In his case this referred to the efficacy of human rights’ groups to save a life in another country, where there is a low likelihood of long-term longevity, while the lives saved in this country have a high probability of long-term longevity.
  Similarly, it can be argued that there will be problems with implementation of the standard welfare unit once it is appropriately developed for use and comparison across species and populations (intra or inter species comparison can be obtained by holding the hedonic capacity or experiential capacity to one). This will not be a problem because Wong explicitly states that his number is for the purpose of measurement only. What is done with the measurement once it is obtained is up to the researcher. While it is Wong’s responsibility to note that the ratio found is a marginal value and will not work on individual or mass scales at the least, and may need adjustment through a graphical representation for larger populations, it is not within the scope of the paper to address objections such as those raised by Deaton. They argue against the efficacy of the system. 

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