03. August 2011 · Comments Off on Who Gets the Flute · Categories: General

An Open Question [1] [2] for the 2012 candidates for President.

This letter has been sent – or will be sent – to most of the candidates for the presidency in the Democratic and Republican parties in 2012. Some won’t get it – their web site utterly lacks ‘contact me’ email or a web form.

I have no pretension that I’ll get anything but a form letter back. If that.

It would be instructive if they would answer the question. But that will have to wait until a person with more umph asks the question at a debate, or a member of the press with some brass ones pitches it to them. Or, possibly, if a lucky member of the public finds themselves face-to-face with the candidate.

Or maybe you could re-blog, pass it along, send it to the candidates, put a bug in the ear of a reporter.

Sir / Ma’am,

I am asking this question of the announced candidates for President.

The answer will be very instructive, will tell the voters a great deal about your philosophy, how you will perform in office.

I will publish the results on my blog, Space For Commerce, and a mil-blog that I contribute to, The Daily Brief.

Amartya Sen wrote in ‘The Idea of Justice’ this thought experiment;

Take three kids and a flute. Anne says the flute should be given to her because she is the only one who knows how to play it. Bob says the flute should be handed to him as he is so poor he has no toys to play with. Carla says the flute is hers because she made it.

Sen argues that who gets the flute depends on your concept of justice.

Bob will have the support of the economic egalitarian.

The libertarian would opt for Carla.

The utilitarian will argue for Anne because she will get the maximum pleasure, as she can play the instrument.

Who gets the flute?


Brian Dunbar
Neenah, Wisconsin

[1] On review I see the summary owes a great deal to – if not an outright theft from – Eric Falkenstein at Falkenblog.

Sorry about that.

[2] Tip o’ the hat to SouthBend7 for sparking the idea.

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