Explorations in Positive and Normative Issues

4. Place a check before those statements that are normative and leave unchecked those that are positive.

a. New York city is on the Hudson River.

b. Washington D.C. is the capital of the United States.

c. Washington D.C. is a prettier city than is New York.

d. Washington D.C. has more people than New York.

e. When prices go up, people buy less.

f. When prices go up, poor people cannot buy as much.

f. High prices are unfair to the poor.

5. Would you prefer a society in which everyone earned $35,000 or a society in which half the population earned $75,000 and the other half earned $25,000? Is this question relying on your positive or normative judgments?

6. Suppose that a large electronics company has invented a locator device that can be implanted in the brain stem of humans and allows the individual to be located or tracked at all times. The tracking information would be stored on computer, so a complete record of everyone's location at all times would exist. They have a group of experts that argues that if all people had these chips implanted and if everyone were allowed to access the data for everyone, then crime would be reduced by 95%.

a) On the nightly news a group of other experts is disputing whether the crime rate would be reduced 50% or 70% or 95%. Is this dispute one of positive or normative positions?

b) On the news a group of people is debating whether we should have mandatory implantation of the device if the company's experts are correct. What position would you take and why? Is this dispute about positive or normative issues?

c) Can you separate out the areas of controversy that would be largely positive issues from those that are primarily normative?

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