On Age Limits
Updated February 1st, 2012 at 10:03 PM by twocows (update)
Take the following to be true:
0. Human happiness has inherent value. Human life has inherent value because of the previous. Human liberty has inherent value insofar as it does not negatively impact the two former.
1. Age limits (ala consent, alcohol, etc.) are a compromise. There are people below the age limit mature enough to handle the responsibilities and above the age limit immature enough not to handle them.
2. It is morally wrong for an adult to have sex with or to sell alcohol to one of these "irresponsible people" because they may get hurt or hurt others, thus impacting their happiness and that of others (this is the supposed moral foundation for these sorts of laws).
Then it must also be the case that:
3. There is a set of people above the age limit who are not prepared for the responsibilities (1) and whose happiness or right to life may be impacted as a result (0, 2).
4. There is a set of people below the age limit who are prepared for the responsibilities (1) and whose liberty is impacted by these laws, and thus potentially their happiness (0).
5. Laws mandating age restrictions and those who support them are inherently acting immorally. They restrict the liberty of those mature enough to handle responsibilities (4) and harm those not mature enough to handle them (3).
Know someone who died to a drunk driver? Then you know someone who probably died because our society as a whole refuses to work toward fixing age-restricted laws. Yes, I'm making an appeal to emotion here, but it shows exactly what the problem is. Some people above the age limit are just not ready to handle those responsibilities.
Laws that mandate age restrictions are a compromise. They are a "patch" to the law to balance the number of people who will die or be significantly harmed through irresponsibility against those who will have their freedom restricted. The people who support these laws are condoning the sacrifice of the minority's happiness to benefit the majority's. They compromise on the very values upon which our society is predicated.
Maybe that's fine with you, though. Maybe you think it's a necessary sacrifice, that there's no other way. If that's the case, surely there has been a lot of dialogue over coming up with a better way? There hasn't. Nobody talks about this issue, everybody accepts the "required sacrifice" argument at face value. Maybe there isn't a better way; maybe we're doomed to balance liberty against life forevermore. I don't buy it. Regardless, what harm could possibly come from trying to find a better solution? Isn't it worth it to make life a little better for those few of us affected by these issues?
I proposed an idea a while back in OC regarding age of consent. As some people mentioned, it'd probably have some problems with implementation, but I'm only one person (and not one particularly familiar with economics). These are things that everyone needs to come together and work toward a solution on. There are a lot of extremely intelligent people in the world, surely we can come up with a solution to this that's better than "liberty versus death."
Posted February 1st, 2012 at 10:02 PM by twocows
Posted February 2nd, 2012 at 8:31 AM by Esper
Posted February 2nd, 2012 at 10:25 AM by Oryx