If the title of this post sounds familiar, then you may have read or heard of Thomas Sowell’s A Conflict of Visions: Ideological Origins of Political Struggles. Essentially, Sowell categorizes two conflicting visions, which shape and determine how social visions develop including economic and moral visions. The two visions, which may often overlap are the constrained vision and the unconstrained vision. After a brief description of the two visions, two videos will be provided that I believe fairly represent each side.
The Constrained Vision: In short, Sowell describes the constrained vision as the view that humans are morally inferior and will be generally self interested in his/her own needs. Next, economic systems should not be regulated nor should the state intervene. Consequently, the constrained view has often adopted Free Market and laissez-faire economics relying on concrete empirical evidence. Lastly, a constitutional government should provide the rule of law refraining from any “interpretations” of the written constitution.
To develop a better understanding of the constrained vision, Sowell encourages readers to refer to Thomas Hobbes, Adam Smith, Alexander Hamilton, Edmund Burke, Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman, and several others.
The Unconstrained Vision: In short, Sowell describes the unconstrained vision as the view that humans are optimistic in regards to the capabilities of man. Followers of the unconstrained vision contend that unregulated economic systems like the ones mentioned above are not to be trusted and that can reason better (for example, having a better education) should be trusted to make economic decisions for the group as a whole. Lastly, Ronald Dworkin represents the unconstrained view of law: “a fusion of constitutional law and moral theory,” with “fresh moral insight,” should be the rule of law with judicial activism being encouraged.
To develop a better understanding of the unconstrained vision, Sowell encourages readers to refer to William Godwin, Antoine-Nicolas de Condorcet, J.J. Rousseau, Karl Marx (to an extent), and Ronald Dworkin.
To conclude, I will not explicitly state my personal position. I will only mention that I fall (rather definitively) within the constrained vision. That said, the following videos represent the opposing views, the first video representing the unconstrained vision and the next, the constrained vision.
Though this video is short, there are many others that can be viewed on youtube by going to learn liberty.