Saturday, October 9, 2010

Trade Off #12: Protection vs Freedom

Preventing deleterious forces from harming individuals typically comes at the cost of constraining the actions of those individuals in some way. Thus we come to the common trade off between protection and freedom. Examples:
  • When herds of prey animals are large enough, they stand a chance to fight off a given predator. Thus they tend to aggregate together, lowering their freedom but increasing the probability of their survival. (see here)  
  • Work is one way to trade freedom now for protection from various exogenous forces in the future. Like preparing for the zombie apocalypse. (see here
  • Economic interventions that increase freedoms, like organ donation markets, are typically argued against on the basis of protecting individuals from exploitation. (see here)  
This is one of the more politically charged trade offs, which I have naturally been avoiding like a beaker of Yersinia pestis. But for me it has proven useful to frame these political debates in terms of trade offs. This enables one to see the other person's side, even when the values which inform actual decisions on those trade offs might differ.

(Credit for photo of Harlech Castle goes to theroamincatholic)