The Bayespublic

A Bayesian's musings on the ideal society

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Something we can all agree on…

Posted by thebayespublic on 26 October 2010

In the previous post I tried to define the ideal society as the society which achieves the greatest common good. The problem with that is that it requires everyone to agree on what the common good is, yet there is no objective definition of the common good — every single person has a different definition of what this common good is.

This problem will appear whenever a society is based on any principle that is supposed to be objective, but in reality is subjective.

In the end, everyone wants something (possibly different) from society. And I think that is something we can all agree on.

And if we can all agree on it (!!!), we have a criterion to judge whether a society is ideal or not, and how close we are to it. Of course, this criterion is subjective — each of us has a different measure of how ideal the society we live in is.

The ideal society is the society that gives a person what she wants, and the more of whatever she wants the society gives, the more satisfied the person is. This measure of satisfaction is usually referred to as the utility function in economics. The more satisfied we are, the better the society; the society that can satisfy us best is the ideal society.

Of course, for some, the ideal society may be the society where this person is Supreme Overlord, and everyone else is her slave. But let’s face it, this is (most likely) not going to happen. Because if you try to accomplish this, everyone else will try to kill you before you get to it. From the start, I required the ideal society to also be doable.

So what is my final definition of the ideal society? It is the society that will satisfy you the most out of all societies that you can make happen. Each person will have a different definition of the ideal society. Do they all coincide? Does it matter? That’s for the next post. (I’ll try to post weekly.)


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