The problem with Hedonic Calculus
, as explained in my Philosophy
class, over and above the fact that it may not be philosophically justified, is that it is unusable. While this may be an unclear criticism, it becomes significantly more intelligible with an example, for instance the (as of this writeup) current occupation
. Instead of looking at the pleasure/pain aspect of the war, which is a secondary question, we must first evaluate the net gain/loss caused by the war.
It seems safe to start with the dollar value of the war, which Glowing Fish placed at $150 billion. This number, I assume, includes all of the costs associated with the war paid out by the US government. Next we will consider the economic benefits of the war, including stock market activity when Saddam Hussein was captured, the profits made by Halliburton the profits of all of the arms manufaturers who have been losing money on their civilian aircraft business since before September 11, (and realistically might have gone bankrupt without some boost such as this one.) The long term benefits to the United States of co-operation with foreign powers, and well as the benefit to the country because of the strain put by the war on the EU, our major economic rival.
Now we can start looking at the effects of each of these, such as the loss of federal money that would have gone into social welfare and healthcare benefits, and the possible repercussions on the economy of furthering the welfare state, and the profits that drug companies gain because it is less likely that congress will pass a medicare drug benefit, as well as the potential jobs lost from programs given to states whose representatives and congressman need to be convinced to support all of these programs that this money will go to. The stock market gain, which will mostly evaporate leads to a less stable market long term, and may cause mutual funds to prosper more. Haliburton making money somewhat illicitly caused a scandal for Dick Cheney, which weakens the hold that big money Republicans have on the party as a whole and the vote share of the party sa a whole as well, moving the country farther to the left politically. The arms manufacturers that stay afloat longer because of this may lead to a larger collapse later, or may spark a turnaround in the sector due to growth from the war. The international strain between the EU and the United States makes international crises more difficult to work on in the future, and could lead long term to both more requirements for unilateral crisis intervention by the United States, and to further Instability, which would be bad for international business.
Now, all we need to evaluate each of these probabilities in terms of dollar values is a team of statisticians, economists, political scientists, and market analysts to analyze each possible effect. Once this is done, we need another team, consisting of psychologists, behaviourists, and other assorted mental health professionals to decide exactly what will occur in terms of happiness of the soldiers long term. Also, of course, we need to understand exactly how the war will effect the American public, both in terms of behavior and in terms of total happiness. I assume at this point we have approximately 50% of the Gross National Product of the country involved in how much the occupation is costing us, or perhaps more accurately, cost us, since it will take years, if not decades, to complete such a massive undertaking, by which point it will be irrelevant. This, of course, is the criticism that was discussed.