Showing posts from 2014

On Seth Adam Smith's Dad

Less than a year ago, Seth Adam Smith's great blog post, " Marriage Isn't For You ," went viral. In the post, Smith explains how, not long before his wedding, his dad dealt bluntly with his cold feet by urging him to think about giving to, rather than getting from, his bride-to-be. It is, as I say, a great piece. But it raises an interesting question for me, a question somewhere at the border of normative and applied ethics. The crucial moment in Smith's story comes when his dad says: Seth, you’re being totally selfish. So I’m going to make this really simple: marriage isn’t for you. You don’t marry to make yourself happy, you marry to make someone else happy. More than that, your marriage isn’t for yourself, you’re marrying for a family. . . . Marriage isn’t for you. It’s not about you. Marriage is about the person you married. It seems clear that the elder Smith isn't offering a report on what he thinks his son is doing, much less on what people

Does Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's Little Prince Commit the Sunk-Costs Fallacy?

Saint-Exupéry's The Little Prince contains a simple explanation of what seems like an important aspect of love: history. The Little Prince seeks to explain why his rose, in particular, matters to him. (It seems likely that Saint-Exupéry was trying to understand and justify his tumultuous relationship with his wife.) The Little Prince is deeply troubled by the discovery of many, many roses that seem phenomenally indistinguishable from his rose. He says to them: You are beautiful, but you are empty. One could not die for you. To be sure, an ordinary passerby would think that my rose looked just like you—the rose that belongs to me. But in herself alone she is more important than all the hundreds of you other roses: because it is she that I have watered; because it is she that I have put under the glass globe; because it is she that I have sheltered behind the screen; because it is for her that I have killed the caterpillars; because it is she that I have listened to, when she grum