Choice, Equality and Cost
Chapter 3: The invisible mind
Liberal democracy is thee and me. Great books, great Leviathans and the doctor who knows best must defer to real-world men and women who have a preference to reveal. Their evidence is selective and their reasoning suspect. Their probabilities become their predictions and the fortuitous their facts. Real-world men and women are a handful. Muddle-headed, frustrating and opinionated, thee and me want the law of gravity to be repealed, the care budget to be doubled and wonder drugs to be delivered as of right. Thee and me are the reason why our leaders need long holidays and become old before their time. Ordinary people are a handful. In a liberal democracy, however, they are also the suprema lex: ‘Although it may be accepted that where public funds are involved we ought not to use a fool’s valuation in deciding upon their allocation, if … society is comprised soley [sic] of fools, then the valuation of these fools is the correct one to use’ (Mooney, 1977: 126–7). The fellow traveller on the Clapham omnibus knows best. That is the bedrock absolute that liberal individualism came into being to protect. The democratic order requires a good knowledge of what real-world men and women really want. That is just the problem. The contents of people’s minds are not directly observable. There is no sophisticated polygraph that can measure the relevant brainwaves. There is no Clapham omnibus in which all is said and done.
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