Gayblack Canadian Man

Foreign Policy Analysis
Philosophy and public policy (23 Nov 2010)

Philosophy and public policy (23 Nov 2010)


>>Thank you very much and
thank you for turning up today. So about ten years ago, I– you know, went into the
faculty department one morning and there was a phone message
waiting for me in my mailbox, it said, could I please
call the Home Office– the Department of Gaming,
Liquor and Data Protection. So, I picked up the phone with
a bit of trepidation expecting to get ticked off for something
I’ve done wrong, but instead, they asked me whether I wanted
to take part in a review of gambling law that was
taking place in the UK. And this review was gonna be
chaired by someone who was, has become a bit more famous
than he was even then, Alan Budd who was in the
news recently in relation to the Office of
Budget Responsibility. So he asked me if I wanted
to take part in this. And, you know immediately I
knew I was going to say yes. But I have to pretend
to think about it. So I said, “What
would it involve?” And he said, “Well there’ll
be about ten meetings and the documents
will all be drafted by the civil servants,
a support unit.” I might have to look at
a few drafts of things. Oh, and by the way, I
would probably have to go on about ten site visits to gambling establishments
as part of it. So I told one moment,
okay, okay, I’ll do it. And so I did. And I joined [inaudible]
became known, in fact I was already known
as the Gambling Review Body which was set up by then
the Home Office as I said. And the idea was to
review British Gambling Law in the light of a
number of developments which I’ll mention as I go on. And as I arrived in the
committee expecting really just to sit there and go to meetings. And I was told immediately
that actually that wasn’t my job
was going to be. And we really had
to get involved in understanding gambling law
which I knew nothing about, gambling practice which
I knew little a bit about but not very much. And we were going to
take evidence as well. And so the Chair said, we’re
gonna ask people for evidence, we’re going to set
some questions and, you know we should
all have the courtesy of reading all the
evidence that comes in. So if we ask of course, if
people were going to the trouble of writing evidence
then we should read it. So anyway, a deadline went and
came and the evidence arrived and I put in a pile that came up
to my waist, roughly speaking. And every gambling company
had employed PR consultants to send evidence in. And we probably got about a
hundred and fifty submissions. Many of these were bound
hundred and fifty page treatises on gambling law and how
things should be changed. And in the event, instead of
just going to ten meetings and ten visits which I
did do very enjoyably, I tried particularly
recommend the dog track if you’re wondering
how to spend some time. But I probably spent
most of my research time for about 18 months
thinking about gambling law and gambling regulations. The evidence as it came in
was interesting at first and then very repetitive and one of the very last things I
read was a bit of evidence, a letter a few pages from
a man called Peter Collins who was Professor of Gambling
Studies at the University of Salford and one of the very
few academics actually employed on gambling studies. And he said that, he didn’t
really know why we were asking for evidence because what
we would have is a lot of gambling companies
writing in saying that the law should be
reformed in such a way that they personally
could do more but no one else should be able
to come into the industry. Church groups would write in saying why gambling
should be more restricted and academics would write
in– I was expecting to– you know, within
objective analysis. But what Peter said,
academics were right in saying, we don’t know nothing
to say or are in need more money
for research, right? And he was right, every
bit of evidence fell into these categories and
since then I’ve been more or less continually on working
parties of various sorts, some of them commissioned
by Academy of Medical Sciences
Nuffield Council and in virtually every case, we made recommendation
we don’t know enough and we must put more money
into research in this area. And so now, I make it a point
of principle when I say, the only thing I’m gonna say
in advance is I don’t want to make a recommendation, we
need more money for research. I’m always overruled
on that issue. So, we need more money for
research apparently and actually in the case of gambling, it was true that almost no money
had been spent on research, I mean it’s very
interesting to think of how research priorities
are set. So that along people had thought
gambling was a social problem, or could be a social problem. So what were we doing
as a country or as an academic community to
study the problems of gambling or nature of gambling? Well in the course of our
report, we found that, that when we started that
there was a pilot study in Sheffield funded by the
NHS for about 25,000 pounds. [Inaudible] problem gambling,
in a few months we got a lot to saying– actually
NHS would pull the plug on this and then it stopped. And that was the only
public money we could find in the country going in to
studying gambling at all. So there were half a
dozen academics but most of them were funded by the
gambling industry one way or another or were funded just
out of university resources, out of [inaudible] money. So, there was no research
going on of any significance in gambling in the UK. And the few academics involved
in this or on the fringe said– you know, do a comparison
with drugs. There’s problem with gambling,
problem with drugs, millions, hundreds of millions are
going into drug research. Almost nothing is going
in to gambling research. Nothing is going to
gambling research. So there is sort of a
drug research envy going on in the gambling community. Few years later I was
on a committee looking into the regulation
of recreational drugs, guess what we recommended. We didn’t have gambling– I mean, we had the
US envy on that one. And all these money in the
US was going studying drugs. We were doing very little
in the UK by comparison. In fact, what happened in that
case was that a fair amount of money was going in to the
study of drugs in various ways, epidemiology into study
the effects of drugs, but what was interesting was that there was almost no
results from this study. The money was going in
and nothing was coming out the other end as far as
I could see or very little that was useable was
coming out the other end. Just to give an illustration
of this, the Chairman of that committee Gabriel Horn
who’s a very eminent scientist. So he thought that one
thing we needed to know on this committee was what harm, what physical harm do
various drugs do to you? This seems like quite
a sensible question. If you think about
regulating drugs, you need to know
what harm they do. So he started with the–
you know, let’s try them. A serious case and
I solved this case, what does Heroin does to you? Well, all the encyclopedias
we looked at told you about the dangers of overdose
and how easy it was to overdose. They told you about
opportunistic infections from injecting– so we know
about that, HIV, hepatitis, you can kill yourself
if you take too much, you can get infections
if you inject it wrongly. What about someone
who just takes it from clean needles
and never overdoses? What’s that going to
do to their health? Well, no one has
answered that question as far as we could tell. We couldn’t find any source that says what a regular
clean controlled dose of Heroin would do
to you physically. It would be addictive, we knew
that but would it kill you? I mean Keith Richards is saying
that it’s a miracle he is alive. And yeah, maybe he has just
read the government’s publicity about what Heroin
does to you and– you know, when I was
at school, we were told that if you take Heroin once
you’ll be immediately addicted and dead within 7
years– so don’t do it. And, well it doesn’t
appear to be true or if it’s true,
no one knows that. And you can see the
difficulty here because you can hardly do
a randomized clinical trial on the harms of Heroin. And it’s very hard to do
observational trials for things that are against the law. Don’t bring people into contact
with the law that bring them into trouble and so on. So it turned out that we’ve
got almost no knowledge about what harms these
different drugs do to you despite spending all
these money on research. Now you may think we
know some things and– you know, maybe there are
things that we now know that were not available when I
was looking at this or looking in wrong places but we had some
of the country’s leading experts on the committee and we took
evidence from other experts and it was just astonishing
that people would do experiments and put you know
people in a FMRI scan and detect the tiny difference. But you might have a subject,
a group of eight people, four in the experimental arm
and four in the control arm. Because afterwards it’s
expensive, the FMRI, you can’t get time on it. So you do it little bit. You got a tiny effect. The university’s press
office gets hold of it and suddenly you’ve cured
cancer or whatever it is. But you’ve shown this tiny
thing and which gets blown out to full proportion and
you look at the studies and they show almost nothing. So this was shocking,
lots of money was going into studying things
almost nothing was coming out the other end as
far as I could see.>>But even when there were
results and it is very hard to know how to interpret them. So one area in the case of drugs where there are a
significant usable numbers is in the epidemiology, where you
can clot overall population trends and you can
look for correlations between different data
sources, different variables. Now this was quite interesting because there are some
well known correlations, for example there’s
a correlation between cannabis use, heavy
cannabis use and schizophrenia, there’s a correlation for you. So a lot of people
think this shows that cannabis use
causes schizophrenia. But in our first year
methodology classes, the first thing you tell people
is correlation doesn’t mean causation, right? But when people think
about their own results, they forget what they’re
teaching their students and so jump to what
actually it’s not true that scientists jump to this but
people who see the statistics. And so you get these
correlations but you get conflicting
correlations so supposedly there is a well as it’s been shown
there’s a correlation between heavy cannabis
use and schizophrenia. There’s also a chart that
someone produced that I saw where you see cannabis use
going up over the last 20 years and what happens
to schizophrenia? It goes down over
the same period. Okay so what does that show you? Who knows what it shows? It shows that the first
statistics seems to not to correlate very well
with your second one. There was another
statistic we had where– so the death records, okay where
by if there’s a post mortem and there’s a drug in
someone’s system then disappears on the death certificate. So anyone who dies with ecstasy in their blood this will
count as an ecstasy death. Although practice barely says
this does not get the same way. So I showed some of you these
figures about the number of ecstasy deaths in
the UK to a statistician and he said there are
not enough of them. And what are you talking about? And what in that age group there
ought to be more deaths in that. Because statistically the people
in that age group they die in fights, they get stabbed,
they die in car crashes, they have accidents in the home, so there should be a
higher number of deaths. So even though there are
12 deaths or 20 deaths or 30 ecstasy deaths a year
depending on which version of statistics you use, there
ought to be more than that, i.e. it looks like ecstasy on this [inaudible] is
protective of your health. Why? Well because if you take
it you don’t get into fights, you don’t get drunk, you
might be taken at a club where there’s a nurse present. And so and so it may well be. We should be encouraging our
children to take ecstasy rather than the other things
given this evidence. But in any case this
is the issue but how do you interpret
this data? You’ve got the data. Yeah you can use it in all
sorts of ways but yeah even if it’s hard fact in the terms
of numbers, it’s always going to be debatable what it shows. And even then there are
other problems with it. So in the case of drugs there
are a number of people– and because there’s no
data on sorry gambling, in the case of gambling
because there’s no data on– until recently there
was very little data on the problem gambling and
the effects of different types of gambling in the UK. People use figures from the
US and warnings from the US. So at the time when we were
thinking of this country of introducing resort casinos,
that by the way wasn’t one of our recommendation
on my committee. We recommended something
much worse than that. But anyway we– when resort
casinos or super casinos were under consideration
there haven’t been one in the UK so what would happen? The people used statistics
from America and Australia and South Africa where super
casinos have been brought in and problem with
gambling rates went– rocketed through
the roof supposedly. So this was meant to be a
warning about what would happen in the UK if we introduced
resort casinos. But this was nonsense
because in all of these other countries they
were introducing large scale casinos against the background where there had been no
legalized gambling before. Whereas in the UK
we are saturated with gambling opportunities, on your way home you have
probably passed half a dozen bookies, without the
slightest temptation to go in. If they were called
super casino would that change things for you? Would you suddenly
find yourself drawn in? Because they were– it
could seem maybe once. But we have a, yeah a completely
different background to gambling in this country than in the US. We even allow our
children to do it legally. Okay so you may not
have realized this but we are possibly the
only developed country which legally allows
children to gamble. So if you go to the
seaside arcades, there are fruit machines,
slot machines and those machines called the “penny force” or
pusher machines. Where you put on top [inaudible] and you might get four
pounds back if you’re lucky. But that’s gambling, okay? And in other countries that
would be illegal for children. But we encourage our children. We think that’s a good
use of their time. But when they’re at the seaside
we think actually that’s much better than the slot machines
but it’s the same thing. And those crane machines,
remember them? Those things with the fluffy
toys in and you put some money in and you try to pick
them up with a crane. Well that’s a– you may not
know this, I don’t know this, that’s a gambling machine because the crane has
a random grip on it. So you might think you’ve
done all the right things and you pull the fluffy toy out and then it loosens
its grip like this. So there’s an elements of skill so if you don’t have any
skill you won’t get it. But it’s not determined by
skill so that’s a gambling game. So we allow our children
to do this and don’t think anything of it. So we’ve got children who
have grown up with gambling. They’re gambling
all over the place. What’s gonna happen if
we open big casinos? Nothing much probably, it
would just cannibalized the existing market. People who gamble in different
way will go and gamble that way possibly or it will
cause huge problems possibly. But the fact that introducing
casinos in South Africa where there hadn’t been any
legalized gambling before, the fact that that caused
problems is no reason to think the same thing
will cause problems here. So even when you do have
evidence, translating it from one context to another
is highly problematic. Okay so anyway I– really
a diversion of our evidence but I think this is
quite important to think about how evidence can feed
into policy making or not in this case because
it’s so difficult to say anything actually
means anything. So anyway they asked me if
I would join this committee on looking at gambling
law I said yes! And not only did I say yes I
thought I can sort this out. Alright no problem, I am
a trained philosopher. It should be very easy
for me to work out how to regulate gambling law. Because after all I’ve
read John Stewart Mill and John Stewart Mill says that
now the only reason to interfere with the liberty of any person
is to prevent harm to others. Their own good is not
a sufficient reason. So I went in thinking I can
jive it’s not gonna take long. We’ll be able to work this out. And then I thought
hang on a second. Do I actually believe this? Do I believe that the only
reason government can interfere with people’s liberty is to
prevent harm to other people and not harm to the
people themselves? Because I mean to think
what that would mean in the context of gambling. Now in this country
we have or had we– our committee made
some small reforms. So we were very restrictive
in this country about what you could do. So I don’t know if ten years
ago, any of you who tried to play Bingo, I did and because
I was living around the corner from a Bingo hall and I
thought that would be fun to see what goes on in there. So there were some friends, we
went around to have a great time and we had to apply for
membership of the Bingo hall. And they said– and it
takes 48 hours to process, you can’t just come in. I said that’s ridiculous
business practice, why would you do that? They said it’s not a business
practice, that’s the law. That if you want to play Bingo
at that time you have to apply for membership from the club
and then go home for 48 hours to reflect on your decision to see whether you had made
a mature enough decision that you were worthy
of going to play Bingo. And this was true
for casinos as well. So you couldn’t just walk
in, you have to be a member and being a member of one casino
wasn’t enough to be a member of another one you have to
apply for each one individually. So my cousin who is a traveling
salesman saw lots of casinos, in his wallet he had
about 20 membership cards for different casinos and
different towns he visited. What would John Stewart
Mill say about this? Oh the liberty principle
would say this is ridiculous! Because you are stopping
people doing things they want, they are not gonna
harm anyone else. Now you might think they
do harm other people, I’ll come back to that. They’re not gonna
harm anyone else so you can’t restrict
their liberty. So the liberty principle says that you can’t restrict
people in this way. What did John Stewart Mill
actually say about gambling? Well just by chance I found
that he as a young man, in his teens actually, he
wrote a letter to the Lancet in the first year of
the Lancet publication, he wrote an anonymous letter in fact we have the Lancet
lecture last night and I spoke to the editor of the
Lancet to ask him if he knew that John Stewart Mill had
published a letter in the Lancet and they didn’t know about this. This is [inaudible]
first year, 1823. And John Stewart Mill wrote a
letter to the Lancet warning about the dangers of gambling and how it corrupts
individual character and is bad for the person who is gambling. According to the
liberty principle, of course Mill was much older when he wrote the liberty
principle, but according to the liberty principle
that’s irrelevant. If people want to
harm themselves that’s their business. So if you believe in the liberty
principle you should say why don’t we have this sort
of gambling machine? You just put your credit card
in through the slot machine and carry on until you ran out
of credit on your credit card. No country allows that. No country allows
people to gamble on their credit card
as far as I know. You might be able to go to the
cash point and withdraw money on your credit card and use it. But no country will allow that. In this country,
even now I think in the casino there is a
brass rail on the ground, sort of lying on the ground that separates the bar
area from the gaming area. And you’re not allowed
to take your drink across this brass bar. The drinks are in one place
and the gambling is another. And in the US it’s
different, they encourage you to drink while you’re gambling. In the UK we think that’s
probably not very sensible. It’s very sensible for the
casinos to encourage this, not very sensible
for the [inaudible] so we don’t allow it. Why? To stop the
person losing money. So we do all these things to
protect people from themselves. So I realized this within
about ten minutes of sitting down on this committee it
was gonna be a bit harder than I thought here. Because I thought
we could just appeal to a philosophical principle
to solve this problem and it would be the
liberty principle. But I could have
tried to do that. I could have said well the truth
about this is John Stewart Mill, the liberty principle
blah blah blah, we have to take all
restrictions off. But what reception would I have
received by the other people on the committee
if I’d said that? Now my thought that
they would be respectful for about five minutes and–
but if said you know we have to follow this principle, the
reaction I would have gotten, got through other things was
well who says that you have to follow this principle? If I said well John Stewart Mill
says, well part of my training as a philosopher is I’m not
meant to argue from authority. You know you’re meant to
argue from the strength of the argument not
of authority. And so what argument
did Mill give? Well you better get back, I’ll
get back to you on that one because I couldn’t
remember and he doesn’t. I mean he just gives
you the principle. Alright he tells
you this principle and you find it compelling
or you don’t. And the truth is people
find it compelling just because they don’t think
about the consequences of it. And you have here
contemporary politicians, they are occasionally
appealing to Mill’s principle and then doing something highly
paternalistic the next day. So we know we don’t
believe in these principles and indeed you find as a
philosopher getting involved with this type of
public policy issues. The training one has as a
philosopher cannot be applied in any straightforward way. So you know we learn
philosophical theories, we teach these theories
to others, we teach them as options that you could take. But as soon as you
get into a discussion with other people,
everything changes. And the source of things
that change are numerous but here is just a few
of the salient points. That in all of these public
policy issues there is a type of deference to the status
quo, how things are now because public policy is always
about what changes are we going to make, it’s never
about what would we do if we were starting
from nowhere. And this is difficult for political philosophers,
moral philosophers. One political philosopher
Jeremy Waldron who has just move in to Oxford said
that you know a lot of political philosopher
write as if they’re engaged on a project of answering
a question and you know I expect
you to all want to know what I would do
if I ruled the world. Well actually no one
wants to know what you do if you ruled the world. Well maybe they do, maybe
you’re really brilliant and it would be worth
listening to but we’re not, now the world is not going
to conform to your will here, the world is not gonna
change itself just because you’ve got
the best theory. So there’s a it started
with always the status quo and you have to justify
changes and it’s always harder to justify changes than
not doing anything. So the status quo always
has a privilege position in the argument. No philosopher will like this but in public policy
debates that’s where we are. The second thing is
that as a philosopher– so being a philosopher is
largely a solitary business, you do this on your own. In front of your computer,
in your room with your books, every now and again you take
your views and you present them to other people and
they disagree with you. And they tell you
why you’re wrong and you tell them
why you’re right and then they tell
you why you’re wrong. And then if we find
we start agreeing, this is extremely
boring and so we look for the disagreements
rather than the agreements. So part of the process
of philosophy is to try to move things apart. So we concentrate on
minor disagreements. Freud has this term “the
narcissism of minor difference”. Well this is what happens in most academic
disciplines I think. What’s much more important
is how your view is different to everyone else’s
and how it’s the same. So you can have 99
percent agreement, it’s that one percent
disagreement that you concentrate on. Now at the end of
the seminar series and then no one says well
what have we learnt friends is that let’s write a joint
minute on what we’ve done here. You just go away still
thinking you’re right and everyone else is wrong. Although what you think was
your view might have actually startled off as someone
else’s view and so on. But in any case we– the result in philosophy is always
you agree to disagree. But in this public policy
debates you can’t do that. You somehow got to bring
yourself into consensus with others, you’ve
got to compromise. And our training doesn’t
encourage this at all. The reverse actually, our training is to
be uncompromising. So that’s the second. And the first thing is– the
preference to the status quo, the second is there’s no room
for agreeing to disagree, you have to come up
with a joint view. Third thing I want to say is
that in philosophy classes when we’re teaching first
year students’ ethics, most of them assume some sort of
subjectivist view about values or relativistic view
about values that is– now what you think is up
to, there’s no truth here. And we spend about two or
three years trying to explain to students that
that is a theory about ethics not the only truth. There are answers and
there are other views and maybe there is
truth in ethics. Maybe it’s not just up
to you what you think. And eventually they
get the message. But when you go into
the public policy arena, most of these people haven’t
gone through that education and they are still subjectivist
or relativist of some sort. And you can tell them
they’re wrong about that or you could tell them
that’s a philosophical theory but you know you don’t
have the two years to try and drum it out of them. In any case you know they’re
your equals not your students and so they don’t have to
listen to you at this point. So what counts in this public
policy debates is not whether you have the objective
truth or you’re arguing from the authority
of John Stewart Mill but whether people will–
whether what you say makes sense to people given what
they already think. That is what you have to do
is build on trying to build on the values people
already have. And in one way this
isn’t too difficult because people do broadly agree on the same values
it seems to me. So if everyone thinks
autonomy is important, everyone thinks the
general good is important. Where people differ is
on what weight they give to these different values
when they come into conflicts. And these cases it’s
actually very hard to come up with any argument to show
that one value is the right one in the particular case. And maybe in some cases it is
obviously right to put one thing above another but very
often you can’t do that. And you could say well a number of different values we’re
gonna have to compromise, we’re gonna have to see if
we can come up with a scheme. Well most people can get
most of what they want. And how can we arrange
regulations for that? So what matters is trying to
get some sort of drawing people into a consensus rather than saying I’ve got
the truth, listen to me. I mean it is really
tempting yeah. But if they would say, you
know you give them a view, and they say who says? I say well I do. So who are you? I’m the philosopher. You invited me onto this
committee, why did you invite me on if you’re not gonna
listen to what I say. But you know, never actually did that ’cause I thought it
wouldn’t go down very well. Again a couple of other points
so in the philosophy seminar, if you can convict
your opponents of inconsistency
you’ve won, okay. That’s the only thing we’ve got, showing your opponents
view as inconsistent. And then there’s no reply to that unless they can
wriggle out of it someway. In public policy, if a
public policy is inconsistent that just turns into an
interesting fact about it. Rather than a reputation and
the best example of this is in relation to drug lords. So David Nutt who has been
going on for the last 10 years about the inconsistency on
drug laws because ecstasy and cannabis are illegal
and alcohol and tobacco which do much more harm are not. And I think the general view
is [inaudible] he is right about the relative harms. So the philosopher’s
point of view you know if alcohol is legal and ecstasy
is not as harmful as alcohol, then surely we should
treat both the same. They should both be
illegal or both be legal. In public policy, the argument
that I’ve heard a couple of times now is that
the fact that alcohol is so harmful is the reason for keeping ecstasy illegal
even if it’s less harmful. Why is that? Well if we’re already
allowing all this harm, why would we want
to allow anymore? Even if it’s smaller, and you
know there is something to this. That the fact that
something a new form of pollution is less polluting than what we already allow
is not necessarily reason for allowing it. They say well we stop
actually with that we will stop where we are with alcohol but we
can stop introducing more harms. So inconsistency is a very
weak thing in public policy, of course if a law told you to
do something and not to do it that would be a problem. But treating ecstasy and alcohol
differently is not a problem. Finally for political
philosophers quite often we think if there’s a problem in fact the ordinary
person thinks this as well, if there’s a problem the answer
is what is [inaudible] possible or some sorts, okay. Well if that was a solution
the prisons will be empty okay. It is one thing to pass
a law it’s another thing to get people to obey it. And what happened in
the case of gambling, the reason why gambling became
legal in this country was that they couldn’t enforce
the laws against it. That off track gambling was
illegal but apparently one in 4 of the adult population was
gambling illegally every month. So if you read these
novels, realistic novels of the 1950s there is this
character, the bookies runner, who has always been
chased over garden fences by the [inaudible] okay. So this is illegal
gambling taking place on a massive sort
of industrial scale. And the police in the end
thought it brought no credit to the law to have a law
that people wouldn’t obey. So you need to think
about whether– actually if you do pass a
law, will people obey it? Because if you pass a law and people don’t obey it
you’ve increased the number of problems you got
rather than reducing them. And this was a shock to see
this although having put it like that it seems
not quite obvious. Okay so, what do we do
then as philosophers, we call the [inaudible] and
no one’s gonna listen to us, he was saying anything
outlandish [inaudible] theories are irrelevant, well what we
have to do is what anyone has to do really which is just
understand the subject matter in front of you. So we [inaudible] because
there’s a dilemma of some sort, you really need to understand
how that dilemma rises and what is the problem
you’re looking at. Why the people think
this is a difficulty that needs some resolution. And when you’ve done that, you can just think
really hard about it. And as a philosopher
one has a training where this is what you do. I mean think about problems and
do you think about distinctions and arguments and ways of
reframing the question, ways perhaps of bringing
out the considerations then. This is not to say that
philosophers are the only people that can do that although
my experience a lot of people can’t do this so a lot
of people who are in other areas like academics, most
academics can do this. You don’t have to be only a
philosopher so that people without academic
backgrounds can do it. A lot of people who’ve
achieved quite a high level in public life one way or
another have never really have to think very hard distinctions
between intellectual positions. So the things we can
contribute and also, of course as philosophers we can
do this informed by thousands of years 2000 years of thought
on this topics and similar ones. But in the types of committees,
that I’ve been involved with, in a way this is philosophical
work of the type with ambition, because if you stop from
where you are, you can’t bring in the ideals you need to
try to work out compromises. So what you are doing
is responding to values people have. But there is another
task for the philosopher which may be more important and most philosophers will find
this more comfortable which is to do what philosophers do. Think hard about issues
and answer the question about what you would
do if you’re in charge, that is try to come up with
your own view of what is right in this area rather than
what you can get by. And in doing that, maybe next
time there is a discussion of that issue, values
will have shifted a bit. So, in the short term, what you
have to do is try to respond through existing values. In the longer term,
what one tries to do is reshape the
value environment, so that you can bring new ideas. And we see this sometimes
it takes 200 years. So various arguments made
about the emancipation of women for example would have
been completely irrelevant to put forward in the
policy debates of the 1790s. Should people, [inaudible]
or should they have just shut up then because they couldn’t
affect the current environment? Obviously not. They should have carried on doing what they’re doing
even though their work wouldn’t account for any fruition for 100
years or more, which if this was about the impact agenda,
you’d think about the way in which impacts in
the humanities works. It’s not on a 5-year
time scale generally. But anyway, I want to say
that within philosophy, there’s a short-term work to
be done, responding to values, trying to help people out of
dilemmas, trying to give people as much as they can
in a consensus and there’s also the longer
term dilemmas issue where we try to shape the values that will be around next time the issue
comes up for discussion. Okay, thank you. [ Applause ]>>Thank you very
much Professor Wolff, we do have about five
minutes for questions. So, raise your hands. When I call on you, please wait
until one of these kind people with a microphone
has gotten to you so that your voice can be
held for all posterity. I saw our first hand,
there we go, gentleman in the blue sweater.>>Thank you very much,
that was really good. Not so much on the
philosophy side, may be more on the
policy side on gambling. I think one of the
things I found interesting or curious ar the time
was that the majority of policies decisions,
at least they come from politicians either come
up because they’re very popular or they’re necessary
or ideally both. The strange thing about gambling
problem I guess especially super casinos is there didn’t seem
to be any popular desire for it and it also didn’t
seem to be necessary. I mean the cynical
interpretation is it was driven by big business but–
is that what you think or I’m just intrigued
intrigued– I was very curious because
there was no reason for it.>>Well the reason why we
were called in for a review of gambling law wasn’t
to bring in super casino. That was never part,
explicit or inexplicit– The reason why there was
need for reform was the, if you go back to the 1950s when
gambling was illegal in the UK, created all these problems. So, the government decided
the right thing to do was to make it legal in a highly
regulated form but not to encourage it, okay. So, if it existed, you
could create a casino in some places of gambling. So, they have this concept of
unstimulated demand, right. So, it’s actually– it
was very like prostitution that the thought was
this is something that shouldn’t really exist in a civilized society
but it’s going to. So, we better make sure
it happens in a way that keeps crime out
as much as we can, give the people a
fair deal and so on. So, if you want to go open a
casino or betting shop you have to show that there was
already demand for it, therefore you couldn’t
advertise. So, in that era, most
casinos we’re not allowed to put a sign outside that
said casino, all right. So, you have to somehow know that was a casino before you
applied to membership for it and so very recently, there was
no TV advertising for gambling, or very limited magazine
advertising. But the government
violated its own rules by introducing national
lottery and stimulating gambling like crazy and the gambling
industry had this [inaudible] threat to take the government to
the European competition clause because of unfair competition
and various other things, aspects of gambling
law were not compliant with human rights law anymore. So, there was a type
of lag behind. So, they just said well
this is not [inaudible] to review the whole thing. The other thing they were
scared about was the internet and how do you regulate
gambling on the internet. And yeah here it was
quite interesting because we just completely
failed to anticipate what would happen. We thought computers would
be turned into slot machines. In fact, hardly anyone has
put slot machines on computers and you have poker
as the game of choice which we didn’t anticipate but
anyway, that was why we did it and then the super casinos,
you are absolutely right and it was business lobbying
government after our report came in so you know, we
wrote our report. We didn’t recommend
super casinos in fact we recommended there
should be free markets subject to local authority
approval because we thought that would keep casinos
small, because the point about super casinos is
they need a local monopoly. Atlantic City works
because there are no casinos in New York City. If there were casinos in New York City no one
would go to Atlantic City. They thought if we would have
competition then it would just be like betting shops. These would be small
things and not a problem but the government
ignored our recommendation. They were lobbied by two or
three academics who we used as advisors in numerous stages
in the process who had worked in South Africa before
and pointed out that super casinos would be
a great way of raising revenue and mobilizing [inaudible]
over the stuff. But you know what there
absolutely no public support for it. It was imposed by government
in business and it faded away and I haven’t heard a single
person say what a shape, we should have had them.>>I’m afraid that’s
actually all the time we have this afternoon. Before we do one last round of applause let me mention
Thursday’s lunch time lecture which is light and darkness
in the accelerating universe by Professor Lahav [phonetic]
from Physics and Astronomy. Thank you very much,
one more round. [ Applause ]

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