Regressive Attraction to Abstractions

by Don Boudreaux on December 28, 2007

in Myths and Fallacies

Here’s my latest column in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.  The central theme is the following:

Modern "progressives," though, are enamored with statistical
abstractions and categories. They look at society as a physician looks
at a human body: as a whole. In the case of a human body, the physician
is correct; each of the countless individual cells that make up each
body has no mind or purpose of its own. Each cell exists for the body.
The health of the cell matters only insofar as its health serves the
purpose of keeping the body healthy.

In society, however, each individual does have a mind
and purpose of his or her own. Unlike a cell in a human body, an
individual person is a moral being with desires, goals, fears, likes,
dislikes and (as far as we can tell) free will. And although each
person contributes to the functioning of society, no person exists to
serve society.

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