How should the police prioritize cases and decide whether or not to continue them?
They should do it rationally and intelligently, within the scope of their available resources, taking into account the full relevant context, giving priority to the most serious instances of initiation of physical force against others. This, of course, is philosophy -- i.e., broad philosophical guidance. The details of concrete implementation of the principles would be an implementation issue rather than an issue of basic philosophy, assuming that the implementation is done in a manner that is consistent with the philosophy (referring to the philosophy of Objectivism in this context). There isn't necessarily a "one size fits all" solution for all implementations, nor can any philosophy prescribe the full details of all reinforcing implementations. Philosophy cannot replace the work of specialists in each field, nor can the work of specialists proceed intelligently and effectively without a guiding, integrating philosophy. (See "Philosophy" in The Ayn Rand Lexicon.)
In an [O]bjectivist society, how would cases like missing persons be decided?
In conjunction with the headline form of the question, this formulation appears related to police work. Under Objectivist guidance, the first question to ask would be whether the missing persons case is appropriately a police matter or not. As I see it, this depends on the nature of the case, i.e., who is missing (child, adult, someone very old and infirm, someone from a mental institution who might be a threat to others, etc.), and how they became missing (e.g., kidnapped? Fell off a cliff? Lost in the woods, snow or ocean? Wandered away from a mental institution or nursing home? Disappeared suddenly, without any warning or trace, highly uncharacteristically so, leaving behind valuable unattended property? Etc.) Additional factors to consider would be who is making the missing person report, what is his relationship to the victim, and so on. Again, the police are concerned primarily with issues of physical force, i.e., crimes. There are private agencies available to conduct private investigations and searches if it isn't an appropriate case for the police.
If there is a concern about police workloads and not following up legitimate criminal cases due to excessive workload, an Objectivist society should be able to alleviate that potentiality through increased funding for the police (under voluntary government financing) or redistributing workloads between different police departments, forming cooperative relationships between different police agencies, etc. An Objectivist society, founded on free markets, strictly limited government and voluntary government financing, should be able to afford the minimal government that would be needed to handle cases involving initiation of physical force against others. The kind of cash-strapped city governments that are so common today would cease to be a problem if the functions of government were cut back to just the three essential functions that Objectivism identifies. (See "Government" in The Ayn Rand Lexicon.)
answered Jul 10 '13 at 00:22
Ideas for Life ♦