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03/26/2005

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Palooka

Excellent post. You've articulated what I was trying to accomplish in Becker's thread, though I was often distracted with many side issues.

I don't see why it's necessary for those advocating legalization to entertain the fiction that drug use would not increase. Posner does not think this is necessary to justify his opposition to the status quo. And I am fairly certain, if pushed, Becker doesn't either. There are just too many reductions in cost (both nominal and "full"). Lower nominal price, reduced social stigma, ease of aquisition, lack of legal punishment, increased quality, a much decreased risk of receiving dangerous or toxic product, and the elimination of fear of violence. The list goes on and on, and it all points to one result--increase in drug use.

The war on drugs may have "failed" because it produced greater costs than it did benefits (though this is a very difficult thing to measure), but it has not failed to reduce drug use.

Peter Konefal

There are many reasons to have ethical objections to performance enhancing drugs, especially at this point in time. Comparing an MBA which is a performance enhancing aid of a particular kind - no doubt - to performance enhancing drugs is quite problematic.

Without going into a host of details, my main concern stems from how far performance enhancing drugs and/or analogous biochemical/bio-engineering modifications can change human potential.

There is an enormous grey area involved in 'improving' the human being through technology.

I suggest a reading of Aldous Huxley's 'Brave New World', or Margaret Atwoods 'Oryx and Crake' for fictional accounts of how technological improvement for its own sake can lead to ethically disastrous ends. The film 'Gattaca' presents similar issues.

Actually, its preposterous to suggest that we need fiction to provide these ethical conundrums. A similar lesson was impressed on the scientists of the Manhattan project as many of them contemplated how the seemingly noble quest for knowledge, had led inexorably from Einstein's 1905 theory of relativity formula to a technological doomsday device which ushered in the prospect of self-annihilation.

Similarly, geneticist Bill McKibben and many others pose whether there is an 'enough' line, beyond which we should not exercise our technological powers to alter human material.

Another difference between an MBA and a performance enhancing drug arises from a philosophical preference for 'hard work and applied intelligence' over the effort required to pop a few pills. Clearly, we value individuals capable of sustained mental/physical effort and concentration over those who prefer to take shortcuts.

All this said, I think your overall argument about the merits of legalization is quite sound.

elliot

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About the difference between skill and strength - I think you might to some extent be making an artificial distinction. Often they are different - sometimes they are the same.

Take swinging a baseball bat. The ability to hit a pitch accurately (as opposed to hard) would I assume be considered skill, but that is heavily dependent on the time it takes a batter to react, which is dependent on bat speed. Bat speed and strength are of course linked as well. Now you could isolate strength from the whole mess by saying that everything but bat speed is the skill component of hitting a baseball pitch, but that seems to be a rather arbitrary distinction.

elliot

Wow - I like this blog. I'll come back and link.
About the difference between skill and strength - I think you might to some extent be making an artificial distinction. Often they are different - sometimes they are the same.

Take swinging a baseball bat. The ability to hit a pitch accurately (as opposed to hard) would I assume be considered skill, but that is heavily dependent on the time it takes a batter to react, which is dependent on bat speed. Bat speed and strength are of course linked as well. Now you could isolate strength from the whole mess by saying that everything but bat speed is the skill component of hitting a baseball pitch, but that seems to be a rather arbitrary distinction.

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