Monday, April 04, 2005

Getting Your Priorities Straight

There's an interesting little discussion going on over at polyscifi about how different people give different weight to different values when establishing an opinion on a given matter. Jody's idea that "Improving Society Is a Time-Varying Multi-Dimensional Multi-Objective Nonlinear Optimization Problem" is a refreshing change from the "this way or that way" approach that seems to dominate a lot of discussions. However, it may need to be trimmed down and simplified just a touch if it's going to catch on with the general public.

Jody listed ten values off the top of his head and asked his readers to weight them (as opposed to rank them, which Thason and Jody effectively did anyway, but that's okay too). Here they are, with my weights (on a scale of 1 to 10).

Prosperity: 7.5
Security: 7
Family: 8
Liberty: 8.2
Justice: 6
Beauty: 3.14159265358979323...
Fairness: 6
Intellectual stimulation: 10
Happiness: 7
Faith: 5

Now, of course, your ranking of each value may also depend on your definition of each value. Thason gave his definition of each value, which, based on the discussion, differed from those of the other people who had already ranked and weighed the values for themselves (especially in regards to security). Although, amazingly, I didn't think about this before I ranked the values, I realized as Thason scolded the rest of us for not prioritizing security that I have, since graduating from college, made several decisions that were directly effected by how I prioritized these values. Selecting my apartment, every job choice, etc. Security, though certainly important, could have been gained much earlier if I had not prioritized intellectual stimulation(my anything-but-secure engineering job, followed by my more secure current job), liberty(having a job rather than going to school, which may sound strange to my friends in academia), prosperity(no starving student status for me), or my cat (cats are family; besides, the job market was dry as a bone when I was nursing him back to health). Of course, the list is also incomplete. You could add life, loyalty and obligation, fame, social interaction, being well liked (or well perceived), or any number of other things. But it's good to think about these things every once and a while, especially when you find yourself disagreeing with other people and not understanding why.


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1/05/2006 12:40 AM  

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