Friday, January 4, 2013


Do people apply the same moral reasoning to hobbies they do to market exchange? If I collapse the buyer and seller into one agent, when would a "trade" be non-euvoluntary? Of those non-euvoluntary ventures, which might prompt intervention?

I've let this question stew for the past few days, and the best I can come up with is violations of conventional ownership, and even then, only weakly. This is admittedly a bit of an albatross for me, since I put a lot of stock in the regret condition as a motivator for paternalism, and it seems likely that unskilled amateurs trying their hands at home repair, smelting, brewing, kit aviation, or... I dunno... what is it the kids are up to these days... animal husbandry or whatever would be more prone to ex post regret than hiring a professional to do the job properly. Specialization and trade and all that.

In dire circumstances, DIY production is the BATNA. Circumstances (or elected nanny-goats) force frustrated shoppers to resort to a substantially less-efficient means of production. Bathtub gin, anyone?

I don't think I've really nailed down the source of the moral intuitions towards autarkic production, but I can note that when states have lifted marijuana bans of late, they typically include language about individuals being allowed to grow a few plants in their home. When we do see provisions for market exchange, it's usually for medical dispensaries, wrapping up the moral foundations in a swaddle woven from the care dimension. Whatever the underpinnings, folks seem to approach hobby production as, if not totally euvoluntary, at least more morally acceptable than trade. Maybe it's predicated on the assumption that it's pretty hard to exploit yourself? Maybe it's because home production is evidence that the consumer-cum-producer wants the thing bad enough to make it herself?

Anyway, D.I.Y.: Vitruvian to euvoluntary.

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Do you have suggestions on where we could find more examples of this phenomenon?