Consider two ways for an individual to arrive at their policy preferences. First, an individual can consider inherent goodness or badness of a policy. For example, an individual can consider banning drugs to be good because it is inherently good to prohibit people for using drugs. I’ll call this method Specific Value evaluation. Alternatively, an individual can consider the results of a (rough) utilitarian calculus. For example, an individual can consider banning drugs to be good because they judge that it will improve overall human welfare by reducing suffering because of drugs. I’ll call this method Utilitarian Evaluation.

Here is my question: Would a person who was required to learn a lot about a certain policy rely more on a utilitarian evaluation of the policy than on judgments about inherent goodness or badness of the policy than a person who was not required to learn about the policy?

My intuition is that yes, greater information leads to judgments based more on Utilitarian evaluation than on Specific Value evaluation, because Specific Values are not values themselves but simply very simplistic Utilitarian evaluations. If this is the case, then the thought that prohibiting drug use is inherently good is simply a way of expressing the thought that prohibiting drug would very obviously improve human welfare. However, I am not very sure about this.

I am interested in this because I am curious about what sort of politics Professional Voting would lead to. I obviously hope that greater information leads people to make more utilitarian judgments, because my own preferences are quite utilitarian.

If anyone could point me to relevant research, I would be very grateful.

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