About the Dark Web and some thoughts on Free Will and the Pursuit of Happiness in Theorem 9.1


#1

According to Stainer and Barrett’s Dictionary of Musical Terms a Coda is defined as it follows:

" Coda: That closing adjunct of any movement, or piece, specially intended to enforce a feeling of completeness and finality." Stainer and Barret (1898).

So properly, Pancs presents in Chapter 9 a series of concluding remarks towards the content of the entire book. As a worthy way to finish The Big Questions Approach, the chapter begins with an overwhelming conclusion regarding the liberty present in markets.

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As a brief reflection, I found in the markets and sites from the deep and dark web (The part of the internet that is not explorable by standard search engines) a clear example of the way in which this tolerance towards others preferences grounds the development of markets whose existence can only be conceived by the most morbid and immoral mind. The degree of liberty that the internet provides to its users (and the relative easiness with which one can anonymously develop a site devoted to services of any nature) sow the ground to the development of this feedback loop: As a completely tolerant virtual space, individuals expand the scope of markets limited only by their imagination (or creepy and perverted desires).

Changing the subject, there is another controversial statement besought in this chapter. It refers to the incompatible goal of having liberty and to pursuit our happiness:

Recalling Pancs’s condition of Liberty:

" Condition 9.1 (Liberty). A constitution satisfies liberty if and only if, for each agent, one can designate a pair of distinct outcomes such that, for any preference profile, the planner ranks these two outcomes the same way as the agent does. The designated pairs of outcomes for each agent must be such that no two agents’ pairs overlap."

and of Pursuit of Happiness:

Condition 9.2 (Pursuit of Happiness). A constitution satisfies the pursuit of happiness if, for any preference profile, whenever all agents rank any two outcomes unanimously, the planner concurs with this unanimous ranking.”

The impossibility of coexistence of this two conditions is beveled as it follows:

It seems to be a very powerful and convincing argument, so that it seems natural to place the question “Am I really not happy?” “Am I really not free?”. Suppose that (as it really seems to be) happiness is a feeling that can’t be misunderstood, and one can really seek for it within the conditions that each one experience in its daily life. Then it would be more pertinent to question us about our freedom.

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As the proposed liberty condition is sustained in the fact that any individual has preferences, it is assumed that those are personal and responds to the inner wishes. This wishes can be said to be originated by the individual will without the imposition of a third. Therefore, it is understandable that liberty finds its origins in the free will. So, it seems to be logic that our degree of freedom responds to the extent that we can exercise our free will.

But, what if Free Will is only an illusion? What if we lack of self determination and we are not more than puppets acting by reaction of our conditions and causalities? What if we live in a context of absolute determinism and Ortega y Gasset must subtract the me from his famous quote " I am me and my circumstance" ?

The American philosopher and neuroscientist Sam Harris gives affirmative answers to every of the precedent questions in his book Free Will.

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For him, we are no more than biochemical puppets as science has revealed.

… “People’s thoughts and intentions, Harris says, “emerge from background causes of which we are unaware and over which we exert no conscious control.” Every choice we make is made as a result of preceding causes. These choices we make are determined by those causes, and are therefore not really choices at all.” Free Will (book) Wikipedia’s article.

So, if as Harris says, we don’t have free will, it is true that our preferences are determined by the environment and it results that we do not experience liberty in reality. The, it is true that the only thing we can do, as our natural constitution restrict from our liberty, is to aim our life and self realization towards the pursuit of happiness.

I will be glad and impatient to read your opinions towards this interpretation.

Regards

V.


#2

Hello Victor,

Regarding the first part of your question. The deep web and the final exam have arisen my interest on repugnant markets, such as the one we studied at Magdalena Barba’s class, the Market for Organs. This is a very interesting market, since there’s a very big loophole on its regulation which also touches the subject of free will.

As you might remember from that course, we read authors such as Alvin Roth and Von Mises, There latter has an interesting point of view in his work A Critique of Interventionism, Ludwig von Mises concluded that an endless progression of interventions was the inevitable consequence of otherwise well-intentioned policy makers

“In a private property order isolated intervention fails to achieve what its sponsors hoped to achieve. From their point of view, intervention is not only useless, but wholly unsuitable because it aggravates the “evil” it meant to alleviate…. If government is not inclined to alleviate the situation through removing its limited intervention and lifting its price control, its first step must be followed by others.”

This quote takes relevance when considering the market for organs. As you probably know, there’s a huge shortage of donors, since there are no economic incentives for people to donate. Donors are usually donors because they lived a personal experience and have gained a lot of conscience on the problem or because they are true altruist are donate to a close friend or relative.

On this market, it has been suggested many times that everyone should be listed as a donor and, if desirable, you can opt out as a donor. It is clear that the shortage in the organ market is caused by poor incentives and a lack of economic signals. Without prices, no one knows what a organ is worth. Without the possibility of being remunerated for their time and goodwill, very few want to go through with an organ donation.

What do you think when bringing repugnant markets into the question? What’s the role of morale? Is forcing people to donate unless they explicitly say they don’t want to the proper solution? Or do you think that Von Mises was right and that the this would be the creation of an unnecessary law, to fix a problem caused by another intervention?

Let me know what you think!

Best,

Emilio

References:

A critique of interventionism, Ludwig von Mises.