SDB has a great post about the three-way war between Empiricists, Idealists, and Islamists, and the only slight objection I have is his decision not to put quotes around the Idealists' use of the word "elegant". The URL of his post shows that he would probably agree with me in saying that the Idealists' worldview isn't, in fact, elegant at all, because it doesn't work.

To an engineer, an elegant solutions meets two criteria: it works, and it works as simply as possible. The socialism espoused by SDB's "Philisophical Idealists" isn't at all simple; every experiment with socialism has shown that the system eventually collapses under the weight of its own regulations (read: totalitarianism). People don't want to behave socialistically, so more and more laws are continually required to cluge the system and push total failure slightly farther into the future. That's the opposite of simplicity.

And, of course, every socialistic system eventually does fail.

Capitalism is both simple and effective, and thus far more elegant than socialism. Capitalism's effectiveness requires only a single: each person does whatever they want. Some regulation can be beneficial to prevent egregious violations of natural rights (however those rights are defined within the system, and assuming that the participants in the system agree that the preservation of rights is more important than efficiency), but in general few are needed. Each person will naturally attempt to maximize his ecoomic utility, and the emergent result will be a prosperous and efficient system. America's competitive capitalistic system isn't perfect, but most of its weaknesses are the results of flirtation with socialism.

Most engineers would agree with P-Idealists that elegant solutions do work, but that's because "it works" is part of our definition and only evaluated after the fact. It works, therefore it is (at least partly) elegant. To a P-Idealist, elegance is determined beforehand, and if it doesn't work then failure is most likely due to some conspiracy.



Email blogmasterofnoneATgmailDOTcom for text link and key word rates.

Site Info