defeasible

Too often, advocacy of government policy is derived from answers to questions like “Is X something we should welcome and/or approve of? Or the opposite?”, as if it were a collective thumbs-up or thumbs-down. But because government decrees are ultimately backed by force, the right question is more like “Should people be shot or imprisoned for X?”.

For example, arguments about unwelcome cultural change make a case for disapproving of immigration from areas with significantly different cultures. I wouldn’t be happy if a lot of southerners moved to the Bay Area and changed its culture to be more like that of the South. But that doesn’t justify barring them from employment and residence, rounding them up and removing them, or shooting them if they try to move here.

Another example: suppose that selling large sodas leads some people to irrationally consume too much of them and has a negative impact on their health. That’d be a reason to caution against buying those sodas. But should someone be imprisoned or shot for refusing to stop selling them?

Which produces a defeasible but strong presumption against government policies in general.