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Laissez-Faire and Social Metaphysics

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This question could apply to any field, but I often think about how the medical field would shape up in the absence of regulation such as the FDA and professional licensing. The basis for regulation is the idea that consumers aren't capable of making good decisions; some people seem to think society is stratified into two groups of people—doctors and patients—the former being like an enclave of erudite super-experts and later of whom are helpless and irrational, and in their desperation, sure to gulp down the first bottle of snake oil within arm's reach when the get sick if they don't have the erudites protecting them from themselves. So to prove that freedom is good, one has to be able to prove that lay people, that is, those with no particular scientific education or expertise, are capable of figuring out who is most qualified to treat them and what drugs are appropriate to take. So how would people do that exactly without resorting on some level to basing their decisions on the belief that large numbers of other people must be right about their choice of a certain kind of clinician, hospital, or drug? If you go to a website like Healthgrades to look at reviews, you're assuming that the reviewers are credible. If you were to seek the services of someone with some kind of prestigious private sector certification, you'd be assuming that the people who grant it that prestige are right to do so—but how is that different than assuming that the various government bodies who regulate medicine deserve their prestige, which most people mistakenly buy into today? How would people make good judgments about what product or service is best without resorting to the assumption that "X is true because others believe it is so?"

Edited by happiness

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No one is required to learn everything.  You do not need to be able to design and build and airplane before deciding it makes sense to fly on one.

You must rely on information provided by others, but you must exhibit independent judgment about how much you can rely on that information, how credible is the source, are there any glaring errors, etc. 

Every value has a market.  You are identifying a particular value, the value of information about services and/or products. Knowing you are making a good choice re. doctor, service provider, etc. is of value to you.  There is no reason why something like better business bureau or Consumer Reports would exist to provide one with the desired information and if it is on a paying subscriber basis you can be sure they would take every measure to ensure objectivity and accuracy, otherwise they would go bankrupt.

Imagine Healthgrades earning money directly from those looking for information... given markets of scale, it might be better for a company to embark on something you would call "Allgrades", and you would gain access to all their market info for a wide variety of services and products for monthly (or one-at-a-time) fees.


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14 hours ago, happiness said:

This question could apply to any field

Ok, let's pick information technology. How did you decide that the processor in you computer really can perform billions of operations each second, as advertised?

Did you learn how the processor works in every minute detail, allowing you to figure out a way to test it, did the government check for you, or was there a third option that's actually better than the first two (and is therefor allowing information technology to progress much faster than heavily regulated fields like medicine)?

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