Suppose someone was conducting a poll of United States residents about the measures currently being taken to control the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Further suppose that one of the questions were:
How would you classify the following services as essential or non-essential:
[INDENT]a. abortion clinics
b. gun shops[/INDENT]
I speculate that very few respondents in the United States would place both services in the same category. (If someone thinks that I have speculated incorrectly, I would welcome a discussion in a separate thread.) My question is this, to what extent are people’s supposedly rational decisions based on preconceived opinions that are not particularly relevant to the decision at hand? Furthermore, should preconceived opinions be excluded when attempting to make a rational decision or should they be included because the preconceived opinions themselves may have a rational basis?
Please note that the question in this thread is not about what makes a service essential. The hypothetical poll could probably easily be replaced by a similar poll about climate change. However, the abortion clinics versus gun shops controversy might make an interesting separate thread.
I would think that a preconceived notion would be very relevant in this decision making. If a person does not think guns are a necessary item for people to own in general, then it necessarily follows that they don’t think they are essential now. Likewise with abortion. If you are pro-life and do not believe in legal abortion in normal times, then you certainly do not see why it is essential now or at any time.
The converse is true. If you believe that guns are necessary for personal protection, then you would think that especially in a time of crisis they should be protected as essential. If you believe that abortion is a cherished right of a woman to control her own body, she she definitely should have that control in the middle of a pandemic where pregnancy puts her at additional risk should she contract Covid-19.
That being said, I am pro-life and pro-gun, but I don’t like the idea of pushing policy matters in a time of emergency, by decree of a governor, without an extreme showing that such a restriction is near absolutely necessary to prevent the spread of the disease, and not based on prior policy positions. I don’t think that showing has been made for closing gun stores or abortion clinics.
I suspect most people who think there’s a valid reason to want either one would agree that, if that much is so, a person’s awareness of their need for same, and the timeframe in which obtaining one in order for it to be useful, could be short-term and sudden-onset.
Count me among those who think both are essential for those reasons.
There is an entire area called Judgement Decision Making about how people make choices and what factors lead people to make irrational choices. The decision about which if any of these are essential is clearly tied up with politics. One’s attitude towards guns and abortion might or might not be based on rationality, but once you have a position the decision in the OP pretty much follows rationally, no matter what decision it is.