In the TED lecture titled How to make hard choices, speaker Ruth Chang argues that making hard choices bring out the best in you. Chang describes hard choices as a set of alternatives which are comparable to each other when it comes to benefits. In short, none of the alternatives available to us is overall better than the other because each alternative has its own positives. Chang cautions that we assume lack of information gives birth to hard choices when in reality they are simply hard because all alternatives are comparable in value. Chang adds that values are not something scientifically quantifiable like real numbers. Thus, hard choices are not always quantifiable because some characteristics such as love and kindness do not belong to scientific realm which emphasizes measurement (Chang).
Chang is thankful for the fact that in life we are not always faced with choices in which there are clear best alternatives because in such a world, we will simply become slave to reasons. Facing hard choices help us better understand ourselves and even create reasons on our own. When we can create reasons, we are freer in making choices than when we are given reasons which to follow. Chang believes hard choice enable us to create our own destinies. Thus, when faced with hard choices, instead of comparing alternatives and trying to assess their respective values, we should use our own reasons to guide us (Chang).
Chang calls those who let reasons guide them as drifters. Drifters are those whose destinies are written by the world. They let emotions such as greed and fear as well as rewards guide them. They cannot become distinct individuals like those who create their own reasons in the face of hard choices (Chang).
As I watched the speech, it was clear to me that Chang wants the audience to realize they are losing their identity. They often use the criteria set by the society to measure themselves which may also be the reason they get confused in the faces of hard choices. They do not do what may make them happiest or most content but instead what may lead to better economic and/or social status in the society. In short, Chang encourages people to listen to their inner voices instead of paying attention to what the world says or expect them to become.
While the speaker does make a good argument of doing what you want to do, her advice is not practical for many. There may be some who can afford to listen to personal voice but the circumstances are not always ideal for most. In addition, people have different personalities such as attitude towards risk. Chang reminds us she first became lawyer and then chose to be a philosopher but in reality, this may not be the best option for those especially when they have limited financial resources. Some of the analogies made by Chang were also weak such as deciding between cereal and donut. While it is true that some aspects are non-quantifiable such as taste but there are aspects which are quantifiable such as calories and nutritional content. In other words, hard choices may or may not be quantifiable.
I also disagree with Chang that hard choices usually involve alternatives with comparable value. This argument contradicts Chang’s other claim that hard choices involve alternatives whose values cannot be compared because they do not belong in a scientific realm. If values cannot be measured, how does one conclude that the values are comparable?