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Example Of Imperceptible Effect

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Occasionally situations arise where people believe that what they are doing won’t make a difference, yet, some claim that sometimes they should do these actions on a moral basis, in spite of this perceived lack of effect. Whether these situations are real, or imagined, it is important to consider them, as it gives us insight into the large importance our actions play into the collective morality of the society in which we operate. Imagined examples of situations where one morally ought to do something despite a perceived lack of potential effect might be participating in a rally, or as Socrates ponders, breaking out of prison . A good example of a situation where one could be considered morally obligated to do something despite there being…show more content…
The fallacy that at the nexus of this theory is what Derek Parfit describes as “Imperceptible Effects.” Imperceptible effects are effects that one can’t reasonably perceive, like donating a penny to a large charity, but that when combined with other imperceptible effects, become essential. If everyone shared a belief that what they were doing was imperceptible and therefore not worth doing, then much less would get done on a larger scale. In the case of the Republicans in New York example, if there was a year where an unreasonably high amount of Democrats in the state of New York either voted for a Republican candidate, or didn’t show up to the election because they believed a Democrat would win, a Republican candidate would need the full support of all Republicans in New York to succeed in an improbable victory. The danger of these group mentalities is that they turn a likely outcome into a definite outcome, and in doing so become a self-fulfilling prophecy. While it is likely that a Democrat would win New York in a presidential election, it becomes certain that they will win if and only if all Republicans in the state of New York don’t vote because they think that their vote won’t make a…show more content…
These two concepts can be tied together somewhat, as if multiple parties forgo their admittedly miniscule expected value from an action by not doing it, because they believe this miniscule expected value is identical to no expected value, then they give up their combined expected value all together, which could actually be substantial. If Republican voters in New York truly believe in their candidates, and want Republican ideologies to govern the laws of the United States, then it is their responsibility to band together and make sure they are doing all they can for their political party by fulfilling their civic duty and voting, even if it will only affect the political landscape in an extraordinary situation. Additionally, the very basis of petitions having any function is that they rely on collective action from a large mass of like-minded people, and any widespread fallacy of imperceptible effects would render a petition useless. All in all, it is clear that despite what one may believe about the effectiveness of an individual action, effects occur due to collective action, something that is nothing more than a bundle of imperceptibly effective individual
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