The Non Sequitur of the “Dependence Effect"

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1.Introduction: The problem or issue the author addresses is who should control the means of production – the private or the public.

2.Summary of the article/argument.

von Hayek counters Galbraith’s The Dependence Effect by pointing out that the crux of the argument relies on a flaw that ultimately leads a faulty conclusion. While agreeing that many of our wants are created by production, von Hayek illustrates that society’s “highest” desires, including art, literature and education, are instilled in us by there very creation. Were it not that, say, the works of scholars, artists and writers ever created then there would be no desire for the Mona Lisa, Romeo & Juliet and Plato’s The Republic.

3.The author’s conclusion is…
von Hayek cheerfully disassembles Galbraith’s argument by showing there is no direct link between the source of wants and their relative importance. Galbraith would have us believe that the desire for these are not important, simply because “production creates the wants it seeks to satisfy.” von Hayek disagrees that only the intrinsic wants of food, shelter and sex are important, showing that, while producers and advertisers can influence our wants, the product cannot determine want as Galbraith implies.

4.My view of the author’s conclusion is…
von Hayek’s defense of the free market is sound, but, fortunately for me, an attack on the logic rather than the ethics of the argument. While von Hayek identifies Galbraith’s fallacy and defends the attack on liberty and the market, he ignores the core moral argument and misses an opportunity to dispatch of The Dependence Effect on its own grounds.

5.In the course of your summary, make any appropriate association with ethical theories or scholars we have read already. Producers, via advertising, create these non-original desires. When their motivation is profit the producers are not interested in the lives of the consumer – they only wish to influence the consumer in order to line their own pockets. If Galbraith is right, then, it means that, because producers manufacture these wants, companies that supply the satisfaction to the artificial want doing so in order to manipulate people. Clearly, in such a case, people are being treated as means to corporate profits, rather than ends. Galbraith uses this claim of moral wrong to justify redress.

Galbraith’s solution is equalized re-distribution, where by the means of production are controlled by the state. The only way to prevent this injustice, he claims, is to let the state decide how wants are fulfilled. This will prevent the moral wrong committed by the producers who are creating demand in order to generate profit. It is, however, inconsistent for Galbraith to reach this conclusion. Galbraith would have us take from the collective, by force if necessary, in order to prevent the manipulation of individuals. In other words, to prevent people from being treated as ends the solution is to treat people as ends.

The Inconsistency of the “Dependence Effect”
In The Non Sequitur of the “Dependence Effect” von Hayek critiques Galbraith’s argument (in The Dependence Effect) that the means of production must be controlled by the state. Galbraith, a socialist, argues that consumer demands are manufactured - by the very companies that create products to meet those same demands. Because these wants are created, rather than intrinsic, Galbraith contends, they are not urgent or important. The completion of Galbraith’s syllogism provides that ultimately the state should own the means of production to ensure the appropriate, urgent wants are met for the whole of society. von Hayek counters, pointing out that the crux of the “Dependence Effect” relies on a flaw that ultimately leads a faulty conclusion. von Hayek cheerfully disassembles Galbraith’s argument by showing there is no direct link between the source of wants and their relative importance. While agreeing that many of our wants are created...
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