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Why eliminate controls gradually instead of immediately?

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Mnrchst
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Mnrchst, I am not going to keep saying the same things in 5 different ways. We just disagree. I think you are posing your questions in the context of a fantasy land, though I don't think we disagree in principle.

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"I'm not talking about how likely this scenario is (I know most people will, probably, remain very anti-Objectivism/similar for a long time)."

The problem is, at least for me, that it simply ends up an exercise in wishful thinking. It's fun, of course, but in the long run it doesn't get one very far. I accept, though, that you might enjoy discussing and theorizing about possible Utopias.

Rand's books have been popular for decades now. Nonetheless, no resulting change towards full-blown Objectivist positions on government and taxation can be detected. It is true that conservatism has been growing or at least is a force to be reckoned with, but I'm sure I don't need to tell you that conservatism and Objectivism are two very different animals.

"WHY is there no chance that such big changes could be made overnight? People have free will."

Of course they do. And I'm not saying that overnight big changes are theoretically impossible. But it is just that -- theoretical, hypothetical, wishful thinking. I think you have to look at reality -- at human nature, at our system of government, etc. -- and make your assessment of the likelihood of overnight big change accordingly.

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I doubt there would be backlash if people generally decide that taxation is, in principle, immoral.

But let's suppose there is. So what? Does this mean we shouldn't advocate lowering taxes gradually if we knew there would be a backlash to that? It's like you're saying "Let's only advocate whatever people will like."

You misunderstand my meaning. I was saying that this is a reason to gradually improve the situation, rather than abolish all bad laws overnight. The only way you can practically get away with doing it overnight is if you suddenly woke up and had a 51% majority of Objectivists, which is fairly unlikely. I think it is politically speaking a lot easier to do it in increments, which should matter to anyone who actually cares about reality :)

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Let's be more specific in discussion. I don't think anyone is saying no one will quickly try to replace what social security did, but what is *better* about that than using several steps in dismantling the current way social security works? Sure you are stating that there won't be an apocalypse, but that's not helping any. You're talking about political strategy to reach a better state of existence than currently. What I'm saying is that usually, sudden change is not the best option.

Revolutions of any kind typically leave SOME kind of instability because a portion of society has been restructured significantly. Whether or not that is the best option depends upon current living conditions and other historical facts. Communist movements have tried this, and although they did achieve some desired change, the resulting consequences were less than desirable. Their tactics of change I would bet had a far more negative impact than just the Communism (and part of the reason I'm sure many hardened Communists would say the USSR just did it wrong). What I meant abou banzai charge is a sort of impulse to say "initiation of force! initiation of force! End it now no matter what the cost!" But it's important to remember tactics to get to the end you want. A head on charge of change might not be the best option.

I'd say rapid change for ANY kind of system is something to be avoided. Suddenly changing the CEO of a company can cause issues in business structure. An employee quitting without any warning can have a big impact for a small advertising firm. Anyone can deal with these changes, certainly; but there is a disruption in your life which if you had time to plan ahead from a two week warning, you would be much better off because you can find your replacement without a disruption in your businesses schedule.

It'd be better to use an example for discussion as opposed to this vague notion of government programs and social security. The example I'll talk about is social security for disability, where you get money once a month when (essentially) unable to work. Charities exist, yes, but the existence of social security in the first place has an impact on how charities work and how much money a charity even has. End social security immediately and there will be a disruption in daily life. New means of finding support will be required. A period of adaptation would be beneficial, in the same way there's a benefit to two week warning for an employee quitting. Give time for new charities to be set up before just having a support net suddenly vanish, that way there won't be chaos when the final transitionary change occurs.

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Mnrchst, I am not going to keep saying the same things in 5 different ways. We just disagree. I think you are posing your questions in the context of a fantasy land, though I don't think we disagree in principle.

This is extremely vague.

Also, look at it this way:

Some guy: "JASKN, I'm not going to keep saying the same thing five different ways. We just disagree. I think you are posing your questions in the context of a fantasy land. And that's why I think we must always have taxes, strong antitrust legislation, a ban on the sale of hard drugs, and a good minimum wage."

You: "But here are my arguments. If you're not addressing them, why are you so sure you're right?"

Some guy: "Look, you're just living in a fantasy land. I really don't know what else to say."

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You misunderstand my meaning. I was saying that this is a reason to gradually improve the situation, rather than abolish all bad laws overnight. The only way you can practically get away with doing it overnight is if you suddenly woke up and had a 51% majority of Objectivists, which is fairly unlikely. I think it is politically speaking a lot easier to do it in increments, which should matter to anyone who actually cares about reality :)

It's not relevant--I'm discussing morality (in a political context), not strategy. And the ONLY way we will eventually eliminate taxation is if 51% want it gone. Just because we could argue that we should eliminate taxes immediately doesn't mean we couldn't also say "And it would be almost as good if we did it gradually over 5 years" and manage to convince people that we should do it over 5 years instead of right now. It's not like if everyone who is against taxation in principle (right now) started arguing that we should eliminate it immediately instead of gradually over 5 years that we'd never get to a point where legislation was enacted to eliminate taxation gradually over 5 years.

Finally, I'll add that even if it were true that I could advocate X and get X and be happy that I got X, I'm not going to advocate X if I want Y (even if X is better than the status quo). I don't lying is a good means of getting things done.

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It's not relevant--I'm discussing morality (in a political context), not strategy. And the ONLY way we will eventually eliminate taxation is if 51% want it gone. Just because we could argue that we should eliminate taxes immediately doesn't mean we couldn't also say "And it would be almost as good if we did it gradually over 5 years" and manage to convince people that we should do it over 5 years instead of right now. It's not like if everyone who is against taxation in principle (right now) started arguing that we should eliminate it immediately instead of gradually over 5 years that we'd never get to a point where legislation was enacted to eliminate taxation gradually over 5 years.

Finally, I'll add that even if it were true that I could advocate X and get X and be happy that I got X, I'm not going to advocate X if I want Y (even if X is better than the status quo). I don't lying is a good means of getting things done.

Right. But exactly how you are planning to abolish something does have bearing on the likelihood of this actually succeeding.

Think about a completely different scenario: let's say we conclude that country X is a significant threat that will harm our country if left unchecked. That doesn't mean that the ONLY proper way to deal with country X is by immediately invading them and putting an end to the threat? Maybe that is the best way to do it, but there could easily be other superior ways to achieve the same goal.

My point is just that we can determine using philosophical principles that taxes (for example) are wrong and shouldn't exist, but that doesn't tell us what the best way is to actually abolish them. And for that, of course it matters HOW you propose to do it; that's where it becomes a strategic question.

You would have a point if we were saying: well, we only want to slightly reduce taxes. That would be improper. But there's nothing wrong with phasing something out, and saying that every year taxes will go down by 5% until they reach 0. If that has a better chance of succeeding, then it IS the better choice if you actually care about achieving your ends.

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You're talking about political strategy to reach a better state of existence than currently.

No, I'm talking about MORALITY.

Revolutions of any kind typically leave SOME kind of instability because a portion of society has been restructured significantly.

It sounds like you're arguing from pragmatism/consequentialism instead of Rand's style of ontology. Consider this: if a socialist system could get you the "best" society by your standard, would you want it?

I'd say rapid change for ANY kind of system is something to be avoided.

Couldn't you use the same reasoning to say "Let's not eliminate slavery overnight. Let's do it in 2 years--now people have 2 years notice." You may respond that "Slavery is immoral," but you also agree (I assume) that taxation is immoral. So why are there immoral things you want to eliminate now, and immoral things you want to eliminate gradually?

Suddenly changing the CEO of a company can cause issues in business structure.

That's true. It could also help it a lot (if the new CEO is better).

A period of adaptation would be beneficial, in the same way there's a benefit to two week warning for an employee quitting.

That's a poor analogy. In your analogy, the dependent is the employer (because they need to adjust to a change). Well, the employer MUST do the work of finding a replacement. With the situation we're discussing, the dependent doesn't necessarily have to change anything--they might still get the exact same check in the mail, administered by the exact same people. What they have to deal with is the possibility that they won't get the same amount. But, they always have to deal with this possibility. There's no guarantee they'll get the check every month (perhaps, for example, if the debt ceiling debate wasn't resolved, they wouldn't have for at least one month). There's no reason to think they won't get the money they're used to--it's up to the people (those who want to donate can make up for the loss of those that don't). In fact, it's entirely possible that they would get more.

Your argument seems to be that people should get what they expect. The problem is, life is unpredictable. Things happen that people won't expect all the time. That doesn't mean we shouldn't make large changes immediately. If a morally bad system can be replaced with a morally good one, then I think that's what we should do. There's no guarantee that next year people won't vote for a system where's there is both taxation and an elimination of all handouts to the poor.

If the poor don't get as much money as they're used to, I'm not sure how that's immoral. Yes, it will make their life harder, but you also have no wealth being taken from someone by force (which is supposed to be immoral).

How would an immediate change be immoral and how is this reconciled with the immorality (in principle) of taxation?

Give time for new charities to be set up

One, we don't have to (we can keep funding the same people sending checks). Two, why can't we set up the charities ahead of time, so that they're ready to go at a moments' notice once people's views get closer to ours? Can't we get a list of everyone on SS+medicaid+whatever from the government? Couldn't a charity send a $1 check to every SS recipient in the near future to prove a point?

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But the question of how to implement repeal of a law IS a political question. I don't understand how you can just ignore that whole calculus. Morality cannot tell you what precisely the best way is to get from A to B... It can tell you that you should go from A to B because it is good, but what path to take is exactly the discussion we are having right now. Morality cannot tell you that... We can argue morally speaking that it is good to be productive, but morality doesn't have extremely specific guidelines on what that means in the context of your day to day job, and whether you should walk to work or drive.

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Right. But exactly how you are planning to abolish something does have bearing on the likelihood of this actually succeeding.

Think about a completely different scenario: let's say we conclude that country X is a significant threat that will harm our country if left unchecked. That doesn't mean that the ONLY proper way to deal with country X is by immediately invading them and putting an end to the threat? Maybe that is the best way to do it, but there could easily be other superior ways to achieve the same goal.

My point is just that we can determine using philosophical principles that taxes (for example) are wrong and shouldn't exist, but that doesn't tell us what the best way is to actually abolish them. And for that, of course it matters HOW you propose to do it; that's where it becomes a strategic question.

You would have a point if we were saying: well, we only want to slightly reduce taxes. That would be improper. But there's nothing wrong with phasing something out, and saying that every year taxes will go down by 5% until they reach 0. If that has a better chance of succeeding, then it IS the better choice if you actually care about achieving your ends.

There's two problems here.

One, you're still not explaining how it would be immoral if we eliminated taxes overnight. All you're saying is that doing so "might not work so well" (which means what exactly?)

Two, your analogy is begging the question. Yes, if we discover a country is "probably" a security threat, it doesn't mean we need to go all in. But we haven't established that eliminating all taxes at once is "probably" going to cause problems.

I think your point about a "slight" reduction in taxes validates my argument. There's probably only going to be a slight reduction in the money being spent on dependents. Observe that the vast majority of people say that one of their biggest problems with eliminating taxes (in principle) is "But what would happen to the poor?" This demonstrates that they want money being allocated to them. So that's what they'd do. I doubt they wouldn't want to fork over the few extra bucks it would take to keep the dependent well off when they've eliminated all their spending on things they have no desire to support (which would almost always add up to way more than the necessary different to keep the dependents well off--some military spending, subsidies, miscellaneous pork barrel, etc.).

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But the question of how to implement repeal of a law IS a political question. I don't understand how you can just ignore that whole calculus. Morality cannot tell you what precisely the best way is to get from A to B... It can tell you that you should go from A to B because it is good, but what path to take is exactly the discussion we are having right now. Morality cannot tell you that... We can argue morally speaking that it is good to be productive, but morality doesn't have extremely specific guidelines on what that means in the context of your day to day job, and whether you should walk to work or drive.

Couldn't you just as easily say that figuring out that we need to live in a moral society doesn't tell us what it is (anarchy vs state). Once we figure out that there are ways of figuring out how to live in a moral society in political terms, why can't we include eliminating taxation? And if we can't, why is your position any better than mine? Why wouldn't it be better to eliminate taxes over 100 years instead of 5 years?

Finally, suppose you're right that there's no real way to know how long it should take to eliminate taxes--that's there's no objective answer. We can still argue about it (pros/cons). It's like, O-ism can't tell us how to rule on a verdict in a court case, but that doesn't mean we can't argue about it.

So, I'm open to the idea that there's no objective answer on this question, but I'd still like to debate it anyway, even there isn't an objective answer (and I think there is). Of course, I'd like to first determine whether we can get an objective answer on this issue.

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Couldn't you just as easily say that figuring out that we need to live in a moral society doesn't tell us what it is (anarchy vs state). Once we figure out that there are ways of figuring out how to live in a moral society in political terms, why can't we include eliminating taxation? And if we can't, why is your position any better than mine? Why wouldn't it be better to eliminate taxes over 100 years instead of 5 years?

Finally, suppose you're right that there's no real way to know how long it should take to eliminate taxes--that's there's no objective answer. We can still argue about it (pros/cons). It's like, O-ism can't tell us how to rule on a verdict in a court case, but that doesn't mean we can't argue about it.

So, I'm open to the idea that there's no objective answer on this question, but I'd still like to debate it anyway, even there isn't an objective answer (and I think there is). Of course, I'd like to first determine whether we can get an objective answer on this issue.

I agree that eliminating taxation is morally good, and the destination we want to reach. But surely you agree that it matters whether we actually get there and end up in a place where taxes are actually eliminated? It does you little good if you say: well, I abolished the taxes, but then the next day people realized that they now had no money for welfare, so they rebelled and reinstated (possibly higher) taxes. Wouldn't you agree that that would be counterproductive?

I'm not saying that immediately abolishing taxes would necessary lead to that, but can we at least agree that once we agree to abolish taxes, we then want to find the best way to actually succeed at this? I don't understand how you can say that it is irrelevant how we actually achieve our desired end?

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The morality is if it's a stupid choice or not. If the proposed method of transitioning to a state of the non-existence of social security will bring a *net gain* in benefit, then it will be a moral choice. If there is a *net decrease* in benefit, then it will be an immoral choice. Doing the right thing always requires a process, and no two processes are picked equally. People are forward-thinkers and make predictions, that's how all people function. Unpredictable events should be minimized to the best of one's ability. I think deliberately causing a high degree of uncertainty is bad for myself, and for the structure of society.

"So why are there immoral things you want to eliminate now, and immoral things you want to eliminate gradually?"

I actually think that usually, immediate and sudden changes are bad, regardless of the type of system. Structure of a corporation, a website, a piece of software, changing diet, etc. This is basically because adaptation takes time, and more time tends to be better. Even suddenly ending slavery would be worse than having a transition period. There may be exceptions, but it's not the norm that abrubt changes work out well. I don't think social security is any special. Of course, a situation may be so bad that abrubt change is the only option. If all options are failing, drastic measures may be necessary.

"Two, why can't we set up the charities ahead of time, so that they're ready to go at a moments' notice once people's views get closer to ours?"

Exactly, providing a notice gives you time to do that. =]

Like any question pertaining to *doing* something, you have to consider what will happen once you do that something. Then you evaluate if that will be in your long-term self-interest. When it comes to politics, you have to consider what other people might do. Look at the French Revolution to see an example of what happens with abrupt changes.

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Wouldn't you agree that that would be counterproductive?

Yes. So what? No one can predict what people will choose to do.

Suppose that transitioning to an O-ist society (gradually) leads to outright socialism. Does that mean we should oppose O-ism?

Suppose that transitioning to an O-ist society (gradually) makes all the socialists here go on murder rampages. Does that mean we should oppose O-ism?

I'm not saying that immediately abolishing taxes would necessary lead to that, but can we at least agree that once we agree to abolish taxes, we then want to find the best way to actually succeed at this? I don't understand how you can say that it is irrelevant how we actually achieve our desired end?

This is like arguing that it isn't immoral for a criminal to take your money because you gave it to them. The best thing for us to do is do what is moral. So why is eliminating taxation immediately necessarily immoral regardless of how people react? If you can't answer that question, I don't see how I can be convinced that we should't. I don't see how it matters how people react to X. All I think matters is whether or not X is moral based on what it is.

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If the proposed method of transitioning to a state of the non-existence of social security will bring a *net gain* in benefit, then it will be a moral choice. If there is a *net decrease* in benefit, then it will be an immoral choice.

By what standard?

This just sounds like boilerplate pragmatism. So what if socialism brings the best outcome by this standard you aren't elaborating on? Does that mean you'd support socialism? Does all of Rand's work go out the window? She didn't say "Minarchism creates a good outcome by some vague utilitarian standard" she said "I know A, so now I know B, so now I know C, etc"

Unpredictable events should be minimized to the best of one's ability. I think deliberately causing a high degree of uncertainty is bad for myself, and for the structure of society.

First, doesn't this mean that if the % of people who want the elimination of taxation immediately gradually increases to 51% over several years that it is then moral for taxation to be eliminated immediately because people saw it coming.

Also, where do you draw the line? Should we have subsidized slave owners if we eliminated slavery? Should we eliminate taxation gradually over 100 years instead of 5? If not, why is 5 better than 100 and also 0? Also, even the gradual transition of O-ism would be one hell of a big change in many ways, so I'm not sure where you draw the line on "too big of a change" and "not too big".

Even suddenly ending slavery would be worse than having a transition period.

Is there anything government does that you'd like to end abruptly? If so, how is that not as bad as slavery?

There may be exceptions, but it's not the norm that abrubt changes work out well.

That says nothing about whether or not this change would work out well.

Exactly, providing a notice gives you time to do that. =]

Doesn't this mean you're in favor of eliminating taxation immediately as long as you think there's already charities set up to take care of the transition?

Look at the French Revolution to see an example of what happens with abrupt changes.

In Ominous Parallels, Peikoff argued that what did the French in was that there was no clear philosophy driving the revolution, so I don't see that as a good example.

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"First, doesn't this mean that if the % of people who want the elimination of taxation immediately gradually increases to 51% over several years that it is then moral for taxation to be eliminated immediately because people saw it coming."

You seem to think that we live in a democracy -- we don't. We live in a representative republic. The idea that if 51% of the population likes a policy, it can automatically be implemented, or if 51% of the population dislike some policy, it can automatically gotten rid of, is incredibly naive.

It's also naive to think that Objectivist views will be supported by a majority of the population. As I mentioned before, Rand's books have been very popular now for many decades, and yet Objectivism is not even a serious contender in being a dominant or even influential philosophy. Conservatism has made gains, but not Objectivism. So to ask about these kind of fantasy camp scenarios, like eliminating government controls and taxation overnight, is just a kind of game. Fun, perhaps, but you do need to know that it is just a game.

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The idea that if 51% of the population likes a policy, it can automatically be implemented, or if 51% of the population dislike some policy, it can automatically gotten rid of, is incredibly naive.

I never said that. And the "51%" was a simplistic way of saying "enough people". (the whole Senate doesn't get changed every 2 years, for example, so that wouldn't automatically translate to a governing majority). My point is that if the idea of getting rid of all taxes immediately keeps getting more and more popular, exceeds 40%, and is growing at a rate a 5% per year, then people would start to anticipate the elimination of taxation.

So to ask about these kind of fantasy camp scenarios, like eliminating government controls and taxation overnight, is just a kind of game.

I sincerely hope you haven't bothered to read my posts, because I've already explicitly addressed this. I am NOT debating how likely ANYTHING is. I'm debating what is and is not moral.

Why is eliminating taxation overnight immoral?

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Why is eliminating taxation overnight immoral?

It isn't inherently immoral. What is immoral is to make a bad decision without considering other options, or knowingly discarding better options. That's all there is to your question. I'm thinking the issue is you want an answer to whether it is or is not immoral in all circumstances, universally. There is no such answer. The best possible answer without analyzing methods to be employed is "it depends".

My only point about the French Revolution is that beheading leaders, even totally immoral leaders, may lead to utter chaos. Most people will not know how to deal with sudden change. Why the ideals didn't take hold is due to philosophy, why there was chaos was due to poor planning. This information may help indicate when sudden changes may be bad. Whether or not the particular change is good or bad determines if the action is moral or immoral. That probably sounds like standard consequentialism, but Objectivism really only differs to the extent of using moral principles to make choices and abstractions rather than strict cost/benefit analysis.

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I'm thinking the issue is you want an answer to whether it is or is not immoral in all circumstances, universally. There is no such answer. The best possible answer without analyzing methods to be employed is "it depends".

So where do we draw the line between what is always good/bad and what depends on context? I assume thinking rationally is always good.

Also, if we establish that there's no objective answer to this question, what, then, do you think would be the best? 5 years? 10 years? If not immediately, why not immediately?

why there was chaos was due to poor planning.

So you'd support the immediate elimination of taxation as long as there was sufficient planning to deal with its effects?

You might say that's what you've been advocating, but let me draw a distinction:

Scenario A: Legislation is passed that gradually eliminates taxes over 5 years, giving people sufficient time to plan for how to deal with the change.

Scenario B: Legislation is passed that immediately eliminates taxes and there was sufficient planning done ahead of time for people to deal with the change.

In either case, there has been sufficient planning to deal with the change.

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If we establish that there's no objective answer to this question, what, then, do you think would be the best? 5 years? 10 years?
5 or 10 years would be objective, since they are measurable. Maybe you mean, "If we establish that there is no scientific, inherent-to-the-universe answer to this question of ending government controls..." Which, of course, if you wanted to be rationalistic, there is an answer, just good luck figuring it out. People aren't omniscient, you know, they have to go off of the facts and their knowledge at the time.

Your questions have been answered many times now, both in detail and in principle. Maybe you should take some time off from posting to mull things over and re-read what people have already posted.

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there is an answer, just good luck figuring it out.

What I meant was "Does philosophy answer this question?" The consensus here appears to be that it can't.

I don't think that's true. I think that taxation should be eliminated immediately for moral reasons. I've responded to every objection so far.

It appears Eiuol at least agrees with me that eliminating taxation immediately wouldn't be inherently immoral, even if s/he's not convinced it would be inherently moral.

Is there anyone who wants to argue it would be inherently immoral?

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Is there anyone who wants to argue it would be inherently immoral?

There is no "inherently immoral," it's always within a context. So, within the context of America today, yes, it is immoral to eliminate all forms of government intervention, all at once, with no warning for the populace. Even that, however, drops the context that it will never end abruptly. People take time to change their minds, legislation takes time to pass, time lines will almost certainly be established in that legislation... ie. it will happen according to the most present, human context at the time.

Context, context, context. Morality doesn't happen in a vacuum.

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Exactly. And approaches matter, if you try to achieve an end in a sub-optimal way that never results in you achieving the right end, then that is not a good way to do it, especially when there is clear evidence that it may not work (which is what people here have been trying to present).

If you're stuck in a burning house, morality would tell you to get out as soon as possible to preserve your life. However, that doesn't mean that only the fastest way to the exit is morally right, does it? It all depends on context... If you're on the third floor and have the choice of taking the stairs or jumping out the window, you could say that jumping out the window is best because it gets you out of the fire the fastest. But if you end up dying as a result of trying to achieve your end too quickly, you didn't actually act in a pro-life fashion, right?

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