There is an old philosophical story named after John Buridan who was a French priest and philosopher in the 14th century that somewhat describes the present situation of the budget "Super Committee" in Washington, D.C. The name of the story is "John Buridan's Donkey". It is actually a satire on John Buridan's philosophy of moral determinism which stated that God always encourages virtue and punishes evil and therefore man can determine his reward and punishment through his deeds. John Buridan's critics argued that the rewards and punishments are mainly the result of random events because without random events there can be no truly free will. Their position was that there is no intervention by God since He is not interested in limiting free will through rewards and punishments that would set limits on the free will of man in making choices.
Buridan claimed that man can exercise his free will by delaying his courses of action regarding good versus evil and thinking about the morality of his actions beforehand and that a moral person who is faced with alternative courses of action by the very definition of a "moral person" must always choose the greater good and for this reason be rewarded for his choice through the satisfaction of having done the right thing as well as other potential rewards both spiritual and temporal as judged appropriate by God.
His critics seized upon his exercise in free will through delay and moral reasoning by using the story of the donkey which they named after him. There are some minor variations in the story but the gist of it is that there is a donkey and on one side of him there is a bushel of oats and on the other side there is a bushel of rye. The donkey is very hungry but since the oats and the rye are equidistant from where he is standing and the donkey not possessing much by way of the power of reasoning, the subsequent long delay in choosing which one to eat results in the donkey's untimely death by starvation.
This problem of Buridan's donkey stated in terms of mathematics goes "A discrete decision based upon an input having a continuous range of values cannot be made within a bounded length of time", that is to say, that given this particular problem there can be no time limit in making the choice and this doesn't bode well for the unfortunate donkey since the choice can be made at any time approaching infinity. In digital electronics the problem is called "metastability" or "unstable equilibrium" which involves the amount of time of a system can remain stable. In metastable states, the circuit may be unable to settle into a stable "0" or "1" logic level within the time required for proper circuit operation. As a result, the circuit can act in unpredictable ways, and may lead to a system failure.
Hmmm, "inability to make a logical moral decision before the time runs out and serious consequences such as a system failure as a result". If that doesn't sound like the "Super Committee" problem then I don't know what does. I just hope that they make a decision for the "greater good" before the final gavel sounds or else we may have to relieve John Buridan of the donkey and rename it something else... like "John Boehner's Ass".
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