a difference of opinion

A:     Well, that’s the will of the majority. You of all people should accept that considering you’re such a strong proponent of democracy.

S:     Democracy is a compromise. I realize that is the best we’ve been able to come up with so far. Doesn’t mean I am intellectually sold to the idea, that there is nothing better, more desirable… closer to utopia?

A:     You are not intellectually sold? This is perhaps the only system that primarily caters to the will of the people, where laws reflect their conscience and morality, where they actually have a say on who rules over them. What more do you seek?

S:     I agree that it is a practical system, works better than anything else we’ve tried, but it’s far from being perfect. Just humour me, will you? See it works on the assumption that the will of the people, whatever it may be, is the right and just standard to follow. Just because a large number of people support a decision, it doesn’t make it right. It sure makes it the popular view, but not necessarily the right one. A couple hundred years ago, most thought that slavery was acceptable, were they right?

A:     But what are those ‘just’ and ‘right’ standards, which you seek? Can you define them for me? And whatever definition you may attribute to them, can you state with confidence that the coming generations will perceive it the same way as you? Will your view too not become redundant, even moronic, with time as we evolve? Rights and duties are derived from culture. The idea of right and wrong varies with different environments, different societies. I see nothing wrong with laws reflecting the collective will of the people.

S:     I believe there is a universal standard. And that’s the standard of humanity. I feel that we can, through scientific inquiry, discover what all humans want and need. Our scientific knowledge, in fields of psychology and sociology, is still in its infancy. Maybe one day, we won’t need to a popularity contest to determine what policies are right.

A:     Sometimes, I wish you were just a little more practical.