Better behavior through chemistry

Imagine there are two men. Both experience an emotionally trauamatic situation. Both suffer the same emotional states as reaction to this trauama — confusion, anger, rager. Both experience the gut-wrenching pain that goes along with this, and both imagine inflicting violence in response to the trauma.

Now imagine one of these men is stentenced to twenty years in prison, where he experiences loss of freedom, rule by gangs, and perhaps rape. The other goes about his day.

Clearly this is injust, but this is how how legal system is set-up. We punish in response to someone’s behavior, which of course is systematic discrimination against those with poor behavioral control. Every day countless people of evil intention, evil hearts, and evil design go free because they happen to possess better behavioral control, while those who suffer the same temporary lapses as everyone else are imprisoned because of a lack of behavioral control.

Clearly, behavior matters to society. We don’t want people to be violent around us. So we create this institutional evil — the prisons — to avoid an even worse evil — anarchy.

In the coming years and decades, pharmacological gene therapy may save us from a lot of this evil. By giving more people an equal playing field — by allowing this who suffer from the illness of poor behavioral control to be cured — we may allow many prisoners to enjoy a normal life and allow more citizens to be secure from criminal violence.

Indeed, the benefits may not end there. We may be able to help those who suffer from thoughts that lead to this sort of trouble to escape from those thoughts, and those who suffer from sick desires to be free of those desires, in the way that those who suffer from other forms of sickness may also be cured.

Some of course will object. They will prefer a world where men are killed in bar fights, where children are sexually abused, and prisoners are raped, to one where people can be cured of illnesses. This may be because they view the technology of cure as morally suspect, through a pagan belief that some people have less virtue than others and thus deserve more punishment than others, through a belief that time in prison is not a loss, or some other reason.

But I believe in building a world with less suffering. I believe in a political philosophy based on love. So I welcome the coming of pharmacological gene therapy.

And as a realist, I am happy I don’t have to rely on such airy beliefs. There’s money to be made in better behavior through chemistry, just as there is inbetter thinking through chemistry.

Isn’t it great when money and love work for the same ends?

29 thoughts on “Better behavior through chemistry”

  1. “Clearly this is injust, but this is how how legal system is set-up. We punish in response to someone’s behavior, which of course is systematic discrimination against those with poor behavioral control.”
    This almost sounds likes a parody…

    You missed a step between the first two paragraphs. Everyone wants to inflict horrific violence, but most don’t.

    I, for one, would prefer a world with horrible violence and human freedom of action to one without violence and a Brave New World situation. And I’m not sure that holding people responsible for acting or not acting on their impulses is a pagan idea – the only Clockwork Orange character who spoke out against pharmacological gene therapy was a Christian. Dostoevsky would have adapted this blog post for one of his atheists to write.

    And yes, most of my moral thinking comes from books.

  2. We put people with poor behavioral control in prison because they possess poor behavioral control, so they do things that make us put them in prison. That’s what prisons are for.

    “…the illness of poor behavioral control …”

    This is now an illness? Defined by whom? Treatments are mandatory?

    “…a pagan belief that some people have less virtue than others and thus deserve more punishment than others…”

    Punishment should be a consequence of deeds. If by “more virtue” you mean a life with more good rather than bad conduct, that is not a pagan belief, it is an unambiguous and observable reality. Justice is giving to each person what they are due. God alone knows what is justice at some level pertaining to the person’s interior disposition. We only know what people do, and even that is limited. But there is no injustice in inflicting suffering as punishment on someone who is a wrongdoer. To the contrary, there is injustice in failing to do so.

    If you are saying, “we can drug people so they do fewer bad things” that may or may not be a good idea. But I, and most people, would need to hear the details.

  3. If you are saying, “we can drug people so they do fewer bad things” that may or may not be a good idea. But I, and most people, would need to hear the details.

    Adam mentioned Clockwork Orange, which I had in mind after reading Dan’s last post on the subject. There, Smitten Eagle mentioned Gattaca (which I think was a better movie than Dan thought). But your comment reminds me now of the movie Equilibrium [1], which also was pretty good if a bit polemic like the other two. It’s a movie about a dystopia/utopia — how its viewed, dystopia or utopia, would depend upon how the viewer characterized the drug therapy, steady doses throughout a day required by the ruling government which sought to limit emotional responses to things. Yes, there was less violence by those who were drugged, but there was less art as well. Indeed, art was criminalized, w/ lots of book burnings, art burnings, etc.

    [1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equilibrium_(film)

  4. Excellent comments!

    Adam,

    No missed step. Behavior is a consequence, not a cause. My thought experiment examined two men, with the same causal factors, except for impulse control. The one with impulse control is free, the one without is in prison.

    If there was some other attribute that caused so much grief, we would call it an illness and try to cure it. We shoudl do the same here.

    I, for one, would prefer a world with horrible violence and human freedom of action to one without violence and a Brave New World situation.

    I propose neither.

    More generally, the most fundemental right is the right to life. Governments are crated to protect the people and their rights, most fundementally life. Violence, whether state generated or not, represents a failure of the State to fulfill its end of the bargain.

    I, for one, would prefer a world with horrible violence and human freedom of action to one without violence and a Brave New World situation. And I’m not sure that holding people responsible for acting or not acting on their impulses is a pagan idea – the only Clockwork Orange character who spoke out against pharmacological gene therapy was a Christian. Dostoevsky would have adapted this blog post for one of his atheists to write.

    2,000 years of history allows much conspiracy. Much of so-called Christianity is a monotheistic version of Hellenism. Much of so-called Atheism is warmed over Protestantism, without the supernatural bits.

    And yes, most of my moral thinking comes from books.

    There should be great liberty when it comes to thinking.

    Behavior is naturally more circumscribed, given the need to peace.

    Lexington,

    We put people with poor behavioral control in prison because they possess poor behavioral control, so they do things that make us put them in prison. That’s what prisons are for.

    Agreed. Still, I’ll always trade away a greater evil to get a lesser one. We trade away the liberty of criminals for the safety of the innocent. I’d likewise trade the confinement of criminals for the correction of criminals.

    This is now an illness? Defined by whom? Treatments are mandatory?

    Dictionary definintions appear to fit lack of impulse control well: [1]

    “# A pathological condition of a part, organ, or system of an organism resulting from various causes, such as infection, genetic defect, or environmental stress, and characterized by an identifiable group of signs or symptoms.
    # A condition or tendency, as of society, regarded as abnormal and harmful.”

    In a free society, citizens should be free to reject care. Thus, Christian Scientists and other cranks allow themselves to die rather than receive blood injections. However, in cases where the disease causes harm to others (say, the Spanish flu, or a plague, or an outbreak of solanum virus [2]), the government has a duty to protect the peace.

    Punishment should be a consequence of deeds.

    The completion of the Law is Love, not Justice.

    If by “more virtue” you mean a life with more good rather than bad conduct, that is not a pagan belief, it is an unambiguous and observable reality.

    Well, that’s very close to Aristotle’s reasoning. It is indeed obvious. And it should be rejected.

    Justice is giving to each person what they are due. God alone knows what is justice at some level pertaining to the person’s interior disposition. We only know what people do, and even that is limited. But there is no injustice in inflicting suffering as punishment on someone who is a wrongdoer. To the contrary, there is injustice in failing to do so.

    We are called to love and forgive our enemies, not persecute them and deliver them to justice.

    Now, that said, such a policy is clearly not practicle. Attempting to impelement it would create greater evil than the pagan approach in most cases. The wonder of gene therapy is that we can have a morally purer policy that is also more practicle.

    If you are saying, “we can drug people so they do fewer bad things” that may or may not be a good idea. But I, and most people, would need to hear the details.

    Indeed. That’s true for all classes of therapy.

    Curtis,

    I’ll watch out for the movie.

    The difference between that movie and my proposal, of course, is I propose to have a more effective criminal justice / corrections system, while that film imposes a totalitarian order on a civilization. Rather different in scope & aims.

    PRCalDude,

    In every case in my original post, the term can be replaced by “bad” or “badness” with on loss of meaning.

    [1] http://www.answers.com/disease?cat=health
    [2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_War_Z

  5. “The completion of the Law is Love, not Justice.”

    “We are called to love and forgive our enemies, not persecute them and deliver them to justice.”

    I see where we are going off the paved surface now.

    Personal morality and political rule do not follow the same rules. What we do collectively through the state is not the same thing and cannot be the same thing we do through the state.

    I have to forgive, since I am a Christian. The state is not a person. It does not forgive. It cannot forgive. It is not a person. If it does what it is supposed to do, among other things, it keeps order. People exercising political or legal or military responsibility are under law, not under their own personal views, regarding what they can do with the power entrusted to them.

    I am strongly suspicious of the state attacking the person’s identity and free will, where now all it does is put the person in prison. The latter does not purport to be doing him any good. It is retribution for a wrong. The former is to medicalize bad decisions and immoral behavior, which is a dangerous road I do not want the state to go down. I don’t trust it.

    But, yeah, sure, let’s hear the details.

  6. To follow on what Lexington Green says, the Bible distinguishes two kingdoms: the left hand kingdom (the city of man) and the right hand kingdom (the city of God). The former is governed visibly by earthly rulers, the former and the latter are governed invisibly by Christ. The job of the visible, earthly rulers in the LHK is justice, per Romans 13, not love.

    PRCalDude,

    In every case in my original post, the term can be replaced by “bad” or “badness” with on loss of meaning.

    So what definition of badness are we going to use?

  7. Excellent comments!

    Lexington,

    You are right that the State is not a person. However, I think you miss the implifications of this.

    The State is a technology, like the Hammer and the Fire. These technologies have uses, and the primary use of the State is to preserve the peace. However, just as the blow of the hammer is the fault of the agents behind the hammer, and the burning of the fire is the fault of the agents behind the fire, the wrath of the state is the fault of the agents behind the state.

    To the extent that we are the agents behind the State, it is a sin for the State to use sinful methods to presere the peace.

    To say “I am not the State. I am not responsible to the State’s evils” is like saying “I am not the Hammer. I am not responsible for the Hammer’s evils.”

    I am strongly suspicious of the state attacking the person’s identity and free will, where now all it does is put the person in prison. The latter does not purport to be doing him any good. It is retribution for a wrong. The former is to medicalize bad decisions and immoral behavior, which is a dangerous road I do not want the state to go down. I don’t trust it.

    Identity is normally used to mean either in-group-/out-group preference or else a preference schedule. It’s perfectly legitimate for the state to alter any of these during the correctional process.

    I can’t see how gene therapy attacks free will. Is someone who naturally possess the less harmful allele less “free”? Or is “free will” essentially tied to a genome at birth?

    PRCalDude,

    Romans 13 does not address justice, but does address peace. In this it is a sensible description of a 4GW approach to war against the Roman Empire, but hardly a command punish those who do wrong regardless of the efficacy of that punishment! [1]

    Indeed, it is a command to love your enemy! [2]

    A plain dictionary definition of bad is “Not achieving an adequate standard; poor: a bad concert.” [3] Evil is defined as “Morally bad or wrong; wicked: an evil tyrant.” [4] Both of these preserve my meaning well.

    [1] http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/193484036X/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top
    [2] http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2005/07/10/jesusism-paulism-part-i-love-your-enemy-as-you-would-have-him-love-you.html
    [3] http://www.answers.com/bad&r=67
    [4] http://www.answers.com/evil

  8. Imprisoning criminals who have had due process is not sinful.

    “It’s perfectly legitimate for the state to alter any of these during the correctional process.”

    I don’t see why it is legitimate. Commit the crime, get caught, get punished. Your interior being is no damn business of the state’s.

  9. There are certainly other possible objections here.

    While I do agree that some violent criminals are violent because of genetics (there have been studies), and that if those genetic issues can be repaired, they should be — because not to do so would be to deny biology altogether — I think that it would be wrong to assume that *all* violent crime is caused by genetic factors. To make this argument would be to suggest that the high murder rate in Eastern seaboard “inner cities” (for example) is the result of several thousand people with similar genetic defects living in the same place, not of real socioeconomic factors that have led to a culture of violence.

  10. “No missed step. Behavior is a consequence, not a cause. My thought experiment examined two men, with the same causal factors, except for impulse control. The one with impulse control is free, the one without is in prison.”

    The missed step I was referring to is the element of free choice. Someone with genetically “poor behavioral control” (has this actually been identified?) might have a stronger impulse or temptation to kill people on a bad day, but he still has the choice.

    The forced castration of convicts has been considered morally abhorrent for a long time.

    My guess is because its just to lock someone up (after due process) and deny them freedom for a period of time that gives them the opportunity to self-reform. But, its unjust to force the reform on them for the rest of their lives, especially a reform that denies them choice permanently, even after their usual sentence has expired.

  11. Romans 13 does not address justice, but does address peace. In this it is a sensible description of a 4GW approach to war against the Roman Empire, but hardly a command punish those who do wrong regardless of the efficacy of that punishment! [1]

    Indeed, it is a command to love your enemy! [2]

    Romans 13:1-7 reads as follows:

    1Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. 4For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. 6This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. 7Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

    Paul is discussing the LHK there. See the parts about rulers and swords and punishment of wrongdoers? In the rest of the chapter, he addresses the RHK:

    8Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. 9The commandments, “Do not commit adultery,” “Do not murder,” “Do not steal,” “Do not covet,”[a] and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”[b] 10Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

    11And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. 12The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. 14Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.[c]

  12. A plain dictionary definition of bad is “Not achieving an adequate standard; poor: a bad concert.” [3] Evil is defined as “Morally bad or wrong; wicked: an evil tyrant.” [4] Both of these preserve my meaning well.

    Yes, and it depends on the standard of “badness” or “evil” being used.

  13. Lexington Green,

    Imprisoning criminals who have had due process is not sinful.

    It’s no more sinful than killing soldiers in a just war. Jus in bello and Jus post bellum can lead one to decide one has license to bring evil fates to one’s enemies, but certainly it is better to move to an area where such barbarism doesn’t have to be justified.

    fl,

    Well said.

    Adam,

    The missed step I was referring to is the element of free choice. Someone with genetically “poor behavioral control” (has this actually been identified?) might have a stronger impulse or temptation to kill people on a bad day, but he still has the choice.

    The specific buzzwords used for impulse control change depending on what field you’re in, but its heritability is currently under active research [1,2], and has been for some time [3].

    I assume there are two general ways to frame the heritability of behavioral control, with respect to evil behaviors. One is that evil is a genetic trait, and that some people are born more evil than others. The other is that behavior is a genetic trait and some people are born more likely to behave in certain ways than others. Thes second is closer to a Christian conception (the parents of the physical body are not the parents of the soul), and for that matter are closer to the seperation of moral worth from genetic traits that will be needed as genetic differences are less and less deniable.

    My guess is because its just to lock someone up (after due process) and deny them freedom for a period of time that gives them the opportunity to self-reform.

    This has always struck me as moral gobbledygook.

    “Self-reform” seems to mean whatever processes the speaker already approves of, and so is not a useful concept.

    PRCalDude,

    The versus you cite do not argue for a Justice over Peace interpretation. Indeed, it’s obvious at the time that Paul was writing that Rome was an unjust institution! What it did well was protect the Peace.

    Yes, and it depends on the standard of “badness” or “evil” being used.

    Certainly. But morality and the law is not perfectly relative, so this is an idle point.

    [1] http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1469-8986.2008.00664.x?cookieSet=1&journalCode=psyp
    [2] http://www.citeulike.org/user/oamg/article/1300401
    [3] http://www.atypon-link.com/SJP/doi/abs/10.2224/sbp.1985.13.1.33?cookieSet=1&journalCode=sbp

  14. The versus you cite do not argue for a Justice over Peace interpretation. Indeed, it’s obvious at the time that Paul was writing that Rome was an unjust institution! What it did well was protect the Peace.

    Where did Paul indicate that Rome was an unjust institution? He, Peter, and Jesus all agree that the purpose of government is the punishment of wrongdoers and the maintenance of order, as a continuation of the common grace order established after the Fall in Genesis 3 and after the Flood in Genesis 9. I’m not even sure what you’re talking about I know of no historical Christian writers who make your argument.

    From reading the reviews of your book, I’m not sure you know what the purpose of Christianity is, or what the Gospel is. When Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world,” he didn’t have in mind a 4GW struggle with the Roman empire for his disciples for the purpose of co-opting it, “Render unto Caesar what is CAesar’s” and all that. The Great Commission leaves no doubt of that, and neither do any of Peter or Paul’s sermons to the unbelieving Jews or Greek Gentiles, respectively. Social justice was not what they were after.

    What, in your estimation, is Christianity?

  15. PRCalDude,

    Where did Paul indicate that Rome was an unjust institution?

    Well, without historical context, one can interpret the Bible any way one wishes.

    With historical context — such as ongoing state-supported persecution of Christians, up to and including the killing of Christ — arguments for Rome as a Just State as somewhat futile.

    He, Peter, and Jesus all agree that the purpose of government is the punishment of wrongdoers and the maintenance of order…

    Obviously.

    I’m not even sure what you’re talking about I know of no historical Christian writers who make your argument.

    What did you think my argument is?

    You quote “My kingdom is not of this world,” but not “Given to me was all authority in heaven and on earth” (which is part of the Great Commission).

    Attempts to elevate isolated versus above the Divine Tradition will obviously lead one astray.

    What, in your estimation, is Christianity?

    Catholic Encyclopedia has a good summary. [1]

    [1] http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03712a.htm

  16. The first of Ruben Greenberg’s observations is that we do not know how to rehabilitate people.

    Dan proposes that perhaps we can with gene therapy or drugs.

    If we accept the therapeutic view that crime is a manifestation of illness and that committing a crime gives the state the moral right to fix criminals then it is reasonable to examine other therapies such as castration and lobotomy which have demonstrated some success at modifying behavior.

  17. Mark,

    then it is reasonable to examine other therapies such as castration and lobotomy which have demonstrated some success at modifying behavior.

    Agreed on castration, though this is politically impractical.

    Massive brain damage is of limited therapeutic value.

  18. Lobotomy, like Civil War medical care, got a bad reputation because even though it was a big improvement over what came before the advances that came later made earlier technology look barbaric in comparison.

    At the beginning of the Civil War, there was almost no system in place to deal with wounded soldiers who often lay on a battle field for days before they died or some civilians took them in. Eventually there was a well developed system of stretcher bearers, ambulances, aid stations, field hospitals and military hospitals. This system provided the best care available such as immediate amputation while anesthetized with opium or laudinum. The outcomes were much better than in previous years.

    However, a few years later when germ theory made it possible to get better outcomes with less severe treatment, the accomplishments of Civil War medical car were overlooked and only the horrors were remembered.

    When lobotomy was first developed there were no drugs for treating mental illness. As Walter Freeman said, “Lobotomy gets them home.” Modern psychiatric drugs produce much better results when the patients take them. A basic problem with treating the mentally ill is that many of them will not take their medication if they are not coerced. When you are talking about people who commit crimes, often violent crimes (10% of the homicides in this country are committed by mentally ill people) that is a real consideration. This is not an issue with lobotomy.

    Given the advances in medical imaging and knowledge of brain geography since the late 1940s when lobotomies went out of fashion, it seems that it might be possible to do better than the ice pick through the eye socket surgery that is so poorly thought of today.

  19. Well, without historical context, one can interpret the Bible any way one wishes.

    With historical context — such as ongoing state-supported persecution of Christians, up to and including the killing of Christ — arguments for Rome as a Just State as somewhat futile.

    The Bible contains its own historical context. “Scripture interprets Scripture” has always been the hermeneutic of sound Biblical scholars. While it’s true that the outside historical facts can be relevant, they’re seldom necessary and I rarely hear them mentioned in a sermon.

    Widespread persecution of the church didn’t begin until after the resurrection and is mentioned in the early part of Acts. The crucifixion of Jesus was organized by the Sanhedrin, though the Romans did carry it out, but the crucifixion was necessary for God’s justice to be satisfied, as it says in Romans 3:

    21But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, 23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement,[i] through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

    So Jesus was the “sacrifice of atonement,” and Romans 3:23-26 is Christianity in a nutshell. Jesus came to redeem sinners. The persecution of Christians and the crucifixion of Jesus are an example of the Christ/antichrist theme running throughout Scripture and have to do with spiritual opposition to Christ’s invisible kingdom.

  20. Mark,

    Thanks for the history lesson!

    I simply don’t know enough about the procedure to comment.

    PRCalDude,

    The Bible contains its own historical context. “Scripture interprets Scripture” has always been the hermeneutic of sound Biblical scholars.

    I’m not aware of any support for this extra-biblical doctrine before, say, 500 years ago. It certainly sounds like a modern innovation, as it assume a fixed and unquestioned set of books for the Bible which certainly wasn’t the case in biblical times.

    Romans 3:23-26 is Christianity in a nutshell.

    I would expect that someone looking for a brief summary of Christianity and who uses only scripture to itnerpret would use Scripture’s summary, in 1 Corinthians 13:13.

    The persecution of Christians and the crucifixion of Jesus are an example of the Christ/antichrist theme running throughout Scripture and have to do with spiritual opposition to Christ’s invisible kingdom.

    Indeed, Christ’s crucifixtion was spiritual. But it was physical too. Spirits without bodies are ghosts, and bodies without spirits are corpses.

  21. I think I understan MiT’s point. I still don’t like it much. A LexG continues in both threads there’s the question of free will, choice, and autonomy. Does anyone remember a few years ago a group of Berkeley soc. scientists wrote a paper calling ‘conservatism’ a mental disease? I know, its the fallacy of the slippery slope, but it is a consideration. In the line of reasoning of taking a lesser evil over a larger one couldn’t it be said that we have chosen the lesser one since the isea of classifying unpopular and anti-social behaviors and views could lead to forced chemical ‘fixing’?

    I think another way of looking at this, Dan, is the issue of gender dimorphism. Is it totally right for the State to decide which of the genders the ‘broken’ kid should be? The path to hell is paved with good intentions after all. (Personally, I’m in favor of gender selection. But that’s just preference and not reasoned position).

    And, Dan, I haven’t even gotten to the pharmacological stuff yet. In 2001 in the New Scientist there was a report of how use of The Pill was affecting fish spawning. So much of the hormone was going out in the waste that it had caused multiple generations of fish to experience massive gender imbalances that cut down on fish populations. With the FDA cutting down the number of years for study the ‘bible’ on a drug is so short we’re constantly seeing stuff pop up that is very nasty with new drugs(the Merck case being just the most visible a few years ago). There’s some ‘horizontal’ factors I don’t think you’ve considered yet that you might want to.

    And what would PJP2 say of all of this, hmmm? (Yipe!)

  22. ry,

    Thanks for your comment.

    In the line of reasoning of taking a lesser evil over a larger one couldn’t it be said that we have chosen the lesser one since the isea of classifying unpopular and anti-social behaviors and views could lead to forced chemical ‘fixing’?

    Someone who says that discounts he harm of murder, rape, roberry, arson, and assault more than I do.

    There are theoretical concerns relating to corrective gene therapy, concerns that are close to those of any effective solution to crime. There are real concerns over real lives destroyed every day. My assumption is that the farther one lives from crime (meaning the higher one’s income, because income’s correlated with crime, and the more asian, jewish, or white one is, because race is correlated with crime apart from income), the less one will naturally care about reducing crime and the more one will be concerned that the state will discover an effective tool for reducing crime.

    Is it totally right for the State to decide which of the genders the ‘broken’ kid should be?

    I don’t understand the question.

    And, Dan, I haven’t even gotten to the pharmacological stuff yet. I

    Along with assembly-line surgeries, pharacologies are the invention that finally made health care actually work… before 1980, there was no special correlation between national health care spending and life expectency, because without these inventions you’re killing as many people as you are saving.

    So if you want to debate whether pharacological drugs are socially worthwihle, i’ll happily take that debate.

    And what would PJP2 say of all of this, hmmm? (Yipe!)

    The great Pope would naturally condemn all bad deeds, which is not an option for policy makers.

  23. YOu know, Dan, I grew up having the hell beat out of me by the vatos of 18th Street, Lopers, and F. Troop and the likes of Nip 13. I grew up very poor. That’s why I hauled freight for a few years and worked 40 hours a week retail/busboy jobs thru 5 of my 7 years in college and put one of my older sisters thru college. There’s a tone of self-righteousness in “My assumption is that the farther one lives from crime (meaning the higher one’s income, … concerned that the state will discover an effective tool for reducing crime.” that is really misplaced on your site as it it is unbecoming and below your skills at rhetoric and your typical good nature as a person.

    And, yeah, I carry some dents in my skull, divots in the bones of my arms and legs that a kid who had a white collar professional as a parent wouldn’t have gotten simply by trying to survive. This is why i always have such a problem with my inlaws and my wife’s HS friends. They care oh so much, but because I clean up well I don’t look like the street urchin I used to be who lived with all that crap(ghetto birds aren’t good for light sleepers. Nor are gun shots. No knocks that go to the wrong house. Cops who don’t enforce stuff because the DA sucks. Etc) I’m evil because I don’t agree with their hairball ideas of how to fix what I lived thru. There’s something to be said for first hand knowledge of the problem when talking about fixing it.

    What’s your point? You *care* more than me? Does that matter, really, when we’re talking about whether something is good policy and ethical? That one *cares* more? Shouldn’t it be based on the appropriateness and correctness of a proposed policy rather than caring?

    My question, as I have a problem being succint, especially when tired, is: Which is worse: a broken species or living with crime?

    I say a broken species is far worse than crime. Simply for the issue of scale. It affects all. Crime affects some fraction less than unity.

    Granted, it doesn’t necessarily lead to a broken species. But, shouldn’t the possibility deserve to be considered when discussing the policy?

    “I don’t understand the question.”
    The question is should we trust the state in enforcing ‘norms’? What’s to stop the state from being taken over by, say, people who hate green, and use that power to enforce green color blindness? Sure, it’s a ridiculous example but it illustrates the point. What safeguards do you propose such that what is meerly unpopular is not criminalized and then subject to genetic rewritting? A broad definition would suffice given the forum I would think.
    “pharacologies are the invention that finally made health care actually work… before 1980, there was no special correlation between national health care spending and life expectency, because without these inventions you’re killing as many people as you are saving”
    But, as your resident organic synthetic, I tell you we’re also, because of the way we’re releasing drugs, generating people who will need more care and more complicated care because the drugs aren’t well understood though they treat the initial ailment. Ergo, is there true advancement? Just because we haven’t seen that uptic yet doesn’t mean it isn’t there. The Boomers are the first true pharma gen, and we’ll see this as they age. In fact, we’re already seeing it. Merck’s drug was just the most famous, but there are others. The Pill example I gave. Thimerisol(which, is a load of crap, none of the science supports it causing autism, though it does go in line with my point of not fully understanding a compound before releasing it because we’re in a hurry to fix things.).

    Point is: fixing the first ailment with a second that may be worse in the long run may not be the best choice. Particularly since we don’t understand what we’re bloody doing in our rush to “care” and “do something because people are suffering”.

    It isn’t a question of “are they worthwhile” so much as are we doing it responsibly, are the secondary and teriary problems worth the cost, and do we know enough to predict and deal with the secondary and teriary problems. Right now, looking back at the whole Phen-fen thing(both drugs had problems with them, Dan), no, we don’t. It isn’t anti-science to say that either.

  24. There’s a tone of self-righteousness in “My assumption is that the farther one lives from crime (meaning the higher one’s income, … concerned that the state will discover an effective tool for reducing crime.” that is really misplaced on your site as it it is unbecoming and below your skills at rhetoric and your typical good nature as a person.

    Agreed.

    I stand by the claim (it is a variant of “a conservative is a liberal who’s been mugged”), but it was inappropriate to make it in that context. It was a cheap shot. I apologize.

    My question, as I have a problem being succint, especially when tired, is: Which is worse: a broken species or living with crime?

    Both.

    A healthy species that does not have to live with crime is clearly preferable.

    Hence my proposal.

    The question is should we trust the state in enforcing ‘norms’? What’s to stop the state from being taken over by, say, people who hate green, and use that power to enforce green color blindness?

    I’ve discussed the enorcement of norms — which I called vertical and horizontal controls, before [1]. It’s preferable to be able to do things consensually, and not require police protection.

    The police enforcement of the norm against violence has perhaps been the greatest invention in the history of man. [2]

    What safeguards do you propose such that what is meerly unpopular is not criminalized and then subject to genetic rewritting?

    The basic problem — how we do have a government that can protect us, but not one that oppresses us — is the basic question of liberal political thinkers. I think we’ve done pretty well. [3]

    But, as your resident organic synthetic, I tell you we’re also, because of the way we’re releasing drugs, generating people who will need more care and more complicated care because the drugs aren’t well understood though they treat the initial ailment. Ergo, is there true advancement?

    Improving quality and length of life is an improvement, yes.

    Point is: fixing the first ailment with a second that may be worse in the long run may not be the best choice.

    This is true, but using this as an argument freezes all policy making, because every option could conceivably have unimaginably dire consequnces.

    It isn’t a question of “are they worthwhile” so much as are we doing it responsibly, are the secondary and teriary problems worth the cost, and do we know enough to predict and deal with the secondary and teriary problems.

    So the question is at what rate lives should the lives saved be discounted, because of the possibility of bad effects down the road?

    If so, what rate do you prefer?

    [1] http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2005/04/12/controls-vertical-horizontal-strong-weak-implicit-explicit-spousal-abuse-an-a-transcending-example.html
    [2] http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2006/07/09/comments-on-verticalization-and-progress.html
    [3] http://www.usconstitution.net/const.html

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