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Seattle Analytic Philosophy Club Message Board › Volunteer only if you want to sabotage the economy.

Volunteer only if you want to sabotage the economy.

user 74564852
Raleigh, NC
Post #: 41
While the repair person needs work to put food on the table, you did it for free. Because the repair person can't afford food, the grocery goes out of business. The grocery has to let go of its employees who in turn will cut down their spending, which, in turn, starve out more businesses which in turn lay off more employees, .... I couldn't think of a worser form of sabotage.

Donating money is another story though. Every time money changes hands, it creates employments.

*In case you wonder what this has anything to do with philosophy, I want to prove, inductively, that the good life is not guided by morality.
user 74564852
Raleigh, NC
Post #: 46
57,400 hours in 2010 acording to this site http://www.kingcounty...­

If people donate money instead of volunteering, that will create roughly 55 handyperson jobs ($20/hr 20hr/week) or $1,144,000 worth of wages. If this $1,144,000 changes hands 10 times over the course of one year, that will create $11.44 million of GDP or the equivalent of 550 handyperson jobs nation wide. If this $1,144,000 changes hands once a week over the course of one year, that will create almost $59,488,000 of GDP or the equivalent 2860 handyperson jobs nation wide. If rent is $700/month, $20/hr X 20hrs/week will be enjough to feed and shelter a philosopher or an artist and leave her or him enough energy to stare at the clouds. Go figure how much damage one can do by volunteering in the park.

On the other hand, if you want to crowd out blue-colar immigrants, volunteering is the way to go. If that is the case, American patriots should also accept low wages, and no one should complain about shipping jobs overseas.

Seattle, WA
Post #: 58
So for the record, I happen to agree with you that the good life is not guided by morality (although it's possible that we think that for different reasons). However, I find your argument to be unpersuasive.

First of all, from a meta-ethical standpoint, it appears to assume consequentialism, and thus does not at all address a crucial aspect of the debate. I think both Plato and Kant would argue that virtue, by definition, can't be subjected to the kind of measurement your argument relies on. Furthermore, the broad-strokes utilitarian sensibility you've presented is something that most people almost always reject when it comes to situations like Ursula K LeGuin's imprisoned child in "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas" (http://en.wikipedia.o...­) - which is to say that some people might believe that volunteering has a "qualitative" value which can't be outweighed by any "quantitative" reckoning.

I don't actually find these arguments convincing, mind you, I just think your approach fails to address them.

Secondly, from a practical standpoint, your argument seems to oversimplify how human beings work in a society. For starters, it could be that the majority of the work done by volunteers simply wouldn't get done otherwise. The public parks are a great example - most people would claim to love public parks, but they are usually seen as a somewhat lower priority in the grand scheme of things, and getting people to haul money out of their wallets is no small undertaking - just think about the desperate persistence of public radio pledge drives. Often people are more willing to donate their time, perhaps because it feels more fulfilling, or more like a fun activity. And perhaps a good portion of those volunteering do not have much in the way of surplus income, and would not be contributing money at all if they withdrew their volunteering investment.

This is all to say that your {hours.volunteered=hourly.wage} equation doesn't seem particularly solid to me in any useful way.

Also, one could make the argument that volunteering has benefits beyond the gross products of the work accomplished. It could be seen to have value as a way to bring communities together, or to bring strangers into the existing community. It could be seen as a way to focus social attention on problems in the community, which might then have a better chance of receiving financial attention in the future. It could be seen to have psychological benefits for the individual involved, benefits that are harder to achieve in other circumstances - I'm willing to bet that most people who have volunteered would tell you that they got immense personal satisfaction from the experience.

These are just the ideas that I came up with in the first ten minutes of thinking about it, which makes me wonder why you didn't address them either. I would imagine that most people reading your argument (and who disagree with you) would consider them highly relevant.
user 74564852
Raleigh, NC
Post #: 60
However, I find your argument to be unpersuasive.
Thanks, Michael.

I assert that Morality is nonsense and the good life is not guided by nonsense. I concede that I can't prove this point by means of induction.

This example only serves to illustrate that benevolence in the absence of knowledge can be harmful. I can't deny that the benefits you point out are substantial. Our differences are mostly gives and takes.
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