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对功利主义的膜拜  

2009-05-31 21:49:15|  分类: 默认分类 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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 [曼昆的英文博客]    [曼昆的中文博客]

康纳尔克拉克(Conor Clarke)关注过我和Matthew Weinzierl合写的关于身高税的论文(早先的,未完成版本)后,评论道:

我很惊讶的(看到),具有强烈功利主义色彩的观点被称之为共识。我对功利主义最优税收理论不太了解,但是我也没看见哪个公共财政或政策决策者拼命去重新启用杰里米边沁(Jeremy Bentham)和弗朗西斯艾奇渥斯(Francis Edgeworth)的指导思想。难道一些狂热的功利主义中央计划者准备提议向劳动者的身高、智力和种族征税吗?

好吧,不是这样的,就我所知没人期望向身高、智力和种族收税。但是,这里有一位杰出的人士,住在宾夕法尼亚大道1600号的大房子里,想要“散播财富”。道德与政治哲学的常识证明了这种收入再分配通常就是某种形式的功利主义。例如,最近荣获约翰贝茨克拉克奖的伊曼纽尔赛斯(Emmanuel Saez),他对最优税收理论的研究实质上就是借助了功利主义的思想。

我们论文的要点是:如果你打算认真考虑某个原理,那么你就必须认真考虑它所有的含义。这些含义其中之一就是最优身高税,以及与收入能力有关的其他外因所致的个人特征。

道德与政治哲学可不像自助餐,你无需解释任凭喜好即可对着菜谱挑三拣四。它更像妈妈叮嘱你把盘子里的菜全部吃光。如果你是一个功利主义的国家福利支持者,身高税就像你妈妈为你端上虽然味道糟糕,却对健康有益的蔬菜。无论你多么希望这道菜别出现在你的盘子里,可就是怎么也摆脱不掉它。

 (翻译纠错 读者发现任何翻译错误请发邮件给我们:caijingblog#126.com   将#改为@)


英文原文(地址:http://gregmankiw.blogspot.com/2009/05/healthcare-competitiveness-fallacy.html):

The Cult of Utilitarians
 
I'm surprised to [see] the strong utilitarian view described as the consensus. I don't know much about utilitarian optimal tax theory, but I also don't know of any public finance or policy people who are dying to revive the prescriptive insights of Jeremy Bentham and Francis Edgeworth. Is there a cult of utilitarian social planners out there waiting to propose taxes on inputs like height, intelligence and race?
Well, no, to my knowledge no one is eager to tax height, intelligence, and race. But there is a prominent guy who lives at a nice home at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue who wants to "spread the wealth around." The moral and political philosophy used to justify such income redistribution is most often a form of Utilitarianism. For example, the work on optimal tax theory by Emmanuel Saez, the most recent winner of the John Bates Clark award, is essentially Utilitarian in its approach.

The point of our paper is this: If you are going to take that philosophy seriously, you have to take all of the implications seriously. And one of those implications is the optimality of taxing height and other exogenous personal characteristics correlated with income-producing abilities.

A moral and political philosophy is not like a smorgasbord, where you get to pick and choose the offerings you like and leave the others behind without explanation. It is more like your mother telling you to clean everything on your plate. If you are a Utilitarian redistributionist, the height tax is like that awful tasting vegetable your mother served up because it is good for you. No matter how hard you might wish it wasn't there sitting on your plate, it just won't go away.
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