How to Tell if a Politician is Evil or Ignorant (feat. Bryan Caplan, Ph.D.)

by | Sep 20, 2022

My case for pacifism, to recap, comes down to three simple premises. The first two are empirical:

Premise #1: The short-run costs of war are clearly awful. [Empirical claim about immediate effects of war].
Premise #2: The long-run benefits of war are highly uncertain. [Empirical claim about people’s ability to accurately forecast the long-run effects of war].

These empirical claims imply pacifism when combined with a bland moral premise:

Premise #3: For a war to be morally justified, the expected long-run benefits have to substantially exceed its short-run costs. [Moral claim, inspired by Judith Jarvis Thomson’s forced organ donation hypothetical].

Bryan Caplan, “How Evil Are Politicians?: Essays on Demagoguery.” p. 125

Dr. Bryan Caplan is a Professor of Economics at George Mason University and New York Times bestselling author.

Buy Caplan’s new book, How Evil Are Politicians? on Amazon.

Follow Caplan on Substack here.

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Keith Knight is Managing Editor at the Libertarian Institute and host of the Don't Tread on Anyone podcast.

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