Quantitative understanding of responsibility
Other Names: Responsibility limited by measurable factors
Disregard for soft variables
Neglect of qualitative factors
Claim: The claims of posterity tend to be excluded from policy deliberations not because of a belief that future generations will be unaffected by them but because there is no clear idea of how to set about attaching value to their interests. This is an instance of the familiar problem of dwarfing of soft variables. Another instance is the neglect of economically unimportant species of plants and animals in policy deliberations. In settling conflicts of interest, any consideration which cannot be precisely quantified tends to be given little weight, or more likely, ignored altogether. The result of ignoring soft variables is a spurious appearance of completeness and precision, but in eliminating all soft variables from cost-benefit calculations, the conclusion is decidedly biased. If, as seems plausible, it is in principle impossible to do justice to soft variables, it may be that the dependence on economic models needs to be abandoned as a means of resolving conflicts of interest.
Problem Type: F: Fuzzy exceptional problems
Date of last update 08.03.1997 – 00:00 CET