Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Week 2-Inegalitarian Distribution

In the SEP section on "Distributive Justice", one concept was provocative (p.6). "Some people may have a preference that some...should have less material benefits. Under Utilitarian theories, in their classical form, this preference or interest counts like any other..." and, if not outweighed by a counter-interest, would prevail. This the most difficult thing about justice and democracy: sometimes 'their' side wins. This is the old saw about, I may not agree with you but I defend your right to hold that opinion. When considering equity of information, creators/distributors of information have choices and preferences about distribution. They may charge me for using their information, or they may publish it freely. They may deliberately filter it and I would never know. Woodrow Wilson said in 1915 that, "All the transforming influences in the world are unselfish." Business that create/distribute information must selfishly make profits, yet may also want to be a "transforming influence" on society. They consult with others when determining distribution patterns. What, in this Utilitarian scenario, could a possible process be for disadvantaged, invisible receivers to express their preferences and thus influence the equity of information distribution?

1 comment:

  1. While I don't really subscribe to the theory, I think the classic "trickle down" economic theory could be modified to fit. The more the upper rungs get, the more it will trickle down.

    I'd imagine preference would be heard merely by the lower run *having* preferences. In a verticle view like this, if something is popular or useful, there are those who would always seek something better or more useful. I think how even the cheapest SUV is now more advanced than the elite SUVs of a few years ago -- and the elite SUVs are well beyond that. Why the advancement among the cheap road beasts? Interest. Cell phones might be a better example. Just for signing up for service, you can get an extraordinarily advanced phone compared to just two or three years ago. The market realized there was more money in charging for phone service than for phones, and right now, it takes camera phones to get folks to switch providers. But those with money can now get video phones the size of a wrist watch.

    Somewhere Jack Kemp is smiling.

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