Last night YAL @ IU had a special guest: Dr. Justin Ross from IU’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs. Justin Ross is the only classically liberal economist in all of Indiana University-Bloomington and is an extremely eloquent speaker. He explained why libertarianism does not fall on the conservative-progressive spectrum, and also touched on a lot of “grey area” within libertarian philosophy.
We got into quite a heated discussion during the last 30 minutes about morality and choice — If someone is drowning and you have the opportunity to save him/her and you don’t, is that the same as drowning someone? We came to the conclusion that if you see someone drowning and you don’t help the person, then the person would be no better off had you not been there. But, if you forcefully drown someone then that person would be better off had you not been there because then that person would have lived and not drowned.
One member even added that if I were on the beach and I saw someone drowning and I had the option to save the person and refused, and someone saw me refuse to commit this act of heroism, the person viewing this maybe would find me immoral and not want to do business with me or not even want to be my friend. Thus, from an outsider’s perspective, there may be negative social implications on the beach goer who neglected to save the drowning person. Someone else made the argument that there is an element of personal choice involved, and maybe there was rip tide and it was not a smart idea to go swimming but the swimmer decided to take a risk and go anyway; why should the observer on the beach have to make the “moral” decision to risk his life for someone that maybe he doesn’t even know, and so is it worth it to make one poor decision based on the poor decision of another?
We finished off the night with a minarchist/anarchist debate.