• Isaac
    1.3k
    True, and yet...jamalrob

    The HDI is not a good measure relative to the things we're discussing here.

    1. It heavily weights school enrolment (1/9th of the total score), this heavily favours countries with younger populations, making it look like developing countries are doing better), and making population growth alone and indicator of development.

    2. It ignores income inequality in its GDP measures (1/3rd of the total score). Given that we know. Since the wealthiest 1% obtain around 15% of GDP, rises in this metric do not mean that the poor are any better off.

    3. Trading GDP for life expectancy (1/3rd weighting each) has the statistical effect of suggesting that any extra year of life has the same value, and that this value is linked to GDP. Again, the effect is to make it look like developing countries are doing better than they arguably are.

    4. Life expectancy and literacy are finite, GDP is not. Giving each an equal rating yet again favours developing countries (who can still realistically improve life expectancy and literacy) against developed countries (who can only improve GDP, effectively throttling their improvements to 1/3rd).

    Basically, the net effect of all this is to make it look like growth is good, that developing countries (where growth is greatest) are doing better than they arguably are.

    Furthermore, the data is highly ahistorical. It starts around 1870, and shows a steady increase since then. But a lot of extremely significant factors other than economic growth are correlated with that date range.

    1. The discovery and distribution of antibiotics. Hugely correlated with a drop in death rates. (particularly infant mortality). One single discovery which had nothing whatsoever to do with economic growth.

    2. The end of the colonial era. Colonialism was probably more responsible for rises in literacy rates than economic growth (and not really for good reasons). Schools were a means of freeing up women to do factory work and at the same time effect cultural change in the young. Education, measured by enrolment alone, is not always a good thing.

    3. The end of mass urban immigration. A function of increasing mass production and enclosure of common land is to push mass urbanisation. This leads to tremendous health implications and coincides with the start of the graph. Take India for example. Ancient Ayurvedic texts from pre-colonial India refer to "Middle age" from 30-60, and odd thing to say if life expectancy was below 25.
  • boethius
    297
    We’re not playing a Sims City video game where you pick and choose your designs of society, you have to deal with institutions in the current existing world in order to reorient and change the established order step by step.Saphsin

    What do I say that contradicts this?

    My point is that if industrialization is not sustainable then, if you care about future generations (if you don't this isn't an argument for you), industrialization will collapse along with the ecosystems.

    Maybe this isn't possible to avoid, that all attempts will fail.

    However, your argument seems to be "well, people like industrialization, and whether it's sustainable or not, we have need, for political expediency, to continue with it". Now, if you finish that argument with "... we need to continue with it until the ecosystems collapse", then your argument is sound and I have no analytical criticism. Our difference is one of values, I don't want the ecosystems to collapse.

    You can argue industrialization is sustainable, this is an an empirical claim and requires empirical investigation and a lot of time; if you care about the ecosystems and future generations you will carry out such an investigation, if you don't care you will not bother to investigate (you can claim to care anyways, but critical thinkers might not agree that's consistent with your actions). My point is that our view of the current system depends on whether we think it's sustainable or not. If you make an empirical review you can't come back to the myth of progress and just patch it up with "ok, maybe it's not sustainable but that doesn't matter".

    If global industrialization isn't sustainable, and if we view sustainability as a moral imperative, then we must try to change our production methods to something else regardless of the political enthusiasm from western populations, either due to not having time to think about it or due to being a beneficiary of the current system or due to profoundly not caring about sustainability. Such a political project is not guaranteed to succeed but if it's a moral imperative then it's simply the reasonable course of action to people who have that world view and ethics.

    I don't have analytical criticism of people who don't share my world view and ethics. If someone doesn't care about future generations, wants the status quo and reasons that they should just promote the myth of progress regardless if it's true or not, I have no analysis for them. Makes sense.

    My analysis is not directed towards people who don't care about future generations, but people who do, trying to untangle the myth of progress that might otherwise lead them to believe there is no alternative than an unsustainable system and that there are as good moral arguments for continuing an unsustainable system (graphs of gdp and whatnot) as there are for trying to become sustainable (even if it means dismantling global industry as we know it today, and rich people throwing their little rich people tantrums about it).

    If you show me the best path to sustainability is more global industrialization, that what has caused the problem will solve it, then I'll accept that's what we should do. But such an argument requires more than hand-waving and vague references to "political feasibility", it requires a very deep empirical investigation that our problems can, in fact, be solved with more industry and small changes to the status quo. My investigation into this subject, so far, leads me to the conclusion that it cannot; that the energy required to run global industry, in particular transportation of large amounts of material, has no industrial fix, and the only solution is shorten the length material travels as much as is feasible (and, importantly, that internalizing the costs of global industry makes shorter-material-flows more competitive; it's not a radical change to the status quo in terms of using markets, but rather a radical change to the status quo in terms of letting the rich and powerful disproportionately dictate the regulation of global markets through their various known schemes to avoid sustainable regulations -- the throwing the hands in the air and saying "ah, well, we can't do anything about that" is simply not true, we can do something about it).
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