After Dinner Conversation - Philosophy | Ethics Short Story
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E37. "Externalities" - While facts are unchanging, is 'truth' contextual?
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E37. "Externalities" - While facts are unchanging, is 'truth' contextual?

Named “Top 20 Philosophy Podcast” for 2021!

STORY SUMMARY: Set in the 1600’s, a traveling man of knowledge comes into town with his young assistant and assortment of books. Various townspeople come to visit him, paying to ask questions. Why do my gums bleed? Why does is steel I forge brittle? Finally, a wealthy man comes and asks if he should allow his daughter to marry the local guard. The traveling man says yes, that love is always a thing to respect. The wealthy man comes back later with his daughter and attempts to bribe the traveling man to have him say they should call the relationship off. The traveling man refuses and, in the process, gives his assistant an important lesson about positive externalities.

DISCUSSION: Like all of our stories, this one is very well written and has the feel of being written by a very wise person, who just happens to also be a writer. It’s interesting the way each person who comes to pay for advice has a different question that allows the traveling man to expound upon a life lesson. Also, it seems like each question relates to the subtext of the thing going on in that person’s life as well. The story brings up an interesting point about the rare case of positive externalities. While they are typically associated with businesses pushing costs off to society, it can just as well be about a couple in love getting the benefit of the price paid for by their father.

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