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Arts & Letters Daily


Role exchange test

Due to the emotional component in value decisions, people sometimes prescribe action for other people which they would find entirely unacceptable for themselves. Consequently it is desirable to apply the role exchange test to determine the acceptability of the underlying principles. Suppose a person argues that ‘no able-bodied man should receive welfare allowance for himself or his family.’ Such a person might be asked to consider the following situation ‘Suppose you were a technician at the James Bay Power Development site before it was damaged. You might be laid off for a whole year due to the damages at the site. Since you were laid off in the middle of winter along with nine hundred other men, you fail to get another job for several months. Should your family go hungry just because you were laid off due to no fault of your own?’ At this point the discussant might be ready to qualify his statement. He might even concede that there might be numerous circumstantial situations where a so-called ‘able-bodied person’ might be in need of welfare allowance and therefore should receive it.

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