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But, for me, part of that requires a connection between the generations that's through love, which I think is often ignored, and it is there.
And I'm wondering whether people alive today who maybe are less likely to have children than people in the past, whether some of those arguments don't work quite as well. Tyler Cowen: Well, keep in mind, this book is in a sense a companion to my trade release, The Complacent Class.
But, from a practical point of view, virtually all people are better off, say, in a society that has 5 or 7 times the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of an alternative course for economic policy. So, the long time perspective--it both puts a higher priority on the environment, but also a higher priority on economic growth.
Russ Roberts: So, if I might, I just want to defend you a little more, completely in your point about human rights. And it gives you some metric for trading those things off against each other.
Cowen argues that economic growth--properly defined--is the moral key to maintaining civilization and promoting human well-being. The title is Stubborn Attachments: A Vision for a Society of Free, Prosperous, and Responsible Individuals. And in this book I try to argue we can actually solve the biggest issues in judging what makes a political or economic order right, why do we prefer one economic policy over another. And, unlike a lot of philosophy, which tends to lead to a kind of an anihilism or extreme skepticism, in this I try to suggest we actually have all the answers. I've worked on it for about 20 years, spending maybe a month or two a year trying to improve it. Russ Roberts: Well, it's a really interesting book and it does make a bold claim--more than one bold claim--which your summary captures one of those claims. And think of the fundamental problem in so much of philosophy as being what we call aggregation.
Russ Roberts: So, I find the argument extremely compelling in many dimensions.
I want to cast it in a different way, which is--I've used this in a couple of my books; I really think it's the right way to think about it--which is: If you asked a person in 1900 who suffered through economic change, who suffered through, say, the transformation of agriculture, the industrialization in the second half of the 19th century, there's a lot of hardship that that imposed.
' I think we have less of that willingness to sacrifice for the future; more sense of entitlement: 'I'm not going to give up anything now, no matter what it may bring later on.' So, I think we're moving in the wrong direction.
I think even people who don't have children or who maybe do not love their children should be able to see the morally forcing nature of, 'We should choose the outcome that will both enable civilization to last for longer'--which is really compelling when you think about what means--'and have a higher standard of living for virtually all human beings.' I think those are the strongest values we can possibly cite, especially when combined with this notion of inalienable human rights as a kind of binding side-constraint on what we can do.