Over at Bleeding Heart Libertarians, Jason Brennan criticises cartoon libertarians. Brennan is right in that it is better for someone to disagree with you for good reasons than for someone to agree with you for bad ones. Why? Because before we can say whether it would be better if others voted for X (even if for bad reasons), we must be able to antecedently determine if voting for X is really the right thing to do in the first place. Suppose one were, pace Aeon Skoble, to say:
That’s a good attitude w.r.t. one’s colleagues in a philosophy dept. But when violence is at stake? Surely not: it would be much better if large percentages of the electorate were cartoony proponents of Rothbardian NAP – then we’d, you know, kill and incarcerate far fewer people. When it comes to eschewing violence, it’s better to have people agree for wrong reasons
But how do we know that eschewing violence is what we are supposed to do? Once we abandon the disinterested search for truth, we become far more accepting of weak arguments that support positions we want to be true rather than evaluating them appropriately. We undermine the basis of the claim that libertarianism is better when we overestimate the dialectical force of bad arguments and fail to criticise them.Who are cartoon libertarians? You could be one if you are a libertarian and:
Ronald Dworkin died of leukemia on Valentines Day at the age of 81. He was the founder of the political philosophy Luck Egalitarianism as well as the founder of the jurisprudence theory Legal Interpretivism. As a legal positivist and a libertarian, I disagreed with him on a whole score of issues. Nevertheless, his views challenged my thinking on a number of fronts and I was forced to reconsider and improve my arguments in light of his work. To commemorate his death, I will repost an old post on his jurisprudential philosophy. Continue reading this post…
I feel that this is just awesome. Seriously! It is only in this age have we been able to do anything like this. There is a certain beauty to one person doing by himself what used to require a whole choir.
Previously, we established that some kind of initial contract or choice situation accurately modelled the moral reasons in favour of particular systems of social rules over other competing systems. There are an amazing variety of possible choice situations. There could be one consisting of different people with different antecedent preference orderings negotiating with eachother and coming to an agreement. There could be one where all parties antecedently were perfectly morally motivated and completely informed. All parties would antecedently agree and the result would be the equivalent of one person choosing. Then there could also be one where a self interested person chose from behind a veil of ignorance. Of course, each of these are still broad descriptions and there could be considerable variation in choice situations within each broad type. This week, we will narrow down the kind of choice situation to last one: Of a self-interested person behind the veil of ignorance. This post is already very long and space constraints prevent me from pursuing a full discussion of all the features of the veil of ignorance. The discussion for this will be broken up over a number of weeks.
Rawls’s veil of ignorance consists of multiple parts, and it may not necessarily be the case that one single set of reasons can account for all the parts. The central part of the veil of ignorance is the fact that people’s personal identities are kept hidden from the parties. The veil of ignorance obscures, among other things: people’s talents, preferences, proclivities, dispositions, race, gender, wealth, religious beliefs and other personal attributes.
A lot of things have happenned since the previous post and the post which I wanted to put up 4 days ago got delayed. There was a series of tragedies and the GRE caught up with me. There seems to be sufficient distance now for me to talk political philosophy and I just took my GRE. So, now, I will post this next overdue section of the series of posts.
Previously, I established that
insofar that a system of social rules benefits some member of society, there is a prima facie moral reason in favour of that system.
Where the term benefit is used to refer to any positively valenced thing we think we should get from engaging in social cooperation. i.e. by benefits I mean merely the “proper objects of social coordination” whatever that may turn out to be. The benefit could even be something like the opportunity or means to fulfill one’s antecedent moral duty or the protection or respecting of one’s natural moral rights.*
In this episode, we explore the argument as to why we should employ an initial contract or choice situation:
The original position is first and foremost a contract or choice situation. In order to start justifying the original position or any similar device, we need to start justifying why we use a choice situation. The idea is that since systems of social rules are better to the extent that they benefit everyone more, there is some contract situation which accurately models the reasons in favour of a system of rules. In order to show how this can be the case, I will first show how social rules are prima facie better to the extent that they benefit everyone more.
This is the Introductory post in a series of posts on Constructing the original position. Look here for the rest of the posts in this series
Hi all. I have finished the first draft of what is currently the third chapter of my thesis. Some time ago, in the comment threads, I proposed to Stillwater that once I finished my third chapter I would try to show how we could do moral and political philosophy by building a practicality requirement deeply into the premises. I also told James that I would show him an objectively true theory of Justice. Well, my third chapter basically does both (or so I claim). So, I have decided to post the first draft here on this site. Some of you guys expressed an interest in this project, and I hope that there is continuing interest in this. However, my chapter is 15000 words. If I were to post the whole chunk, most of you would lose interest before the very end. Now, even if I break up the chapter into 1000 word long posts, this will still take 15 weeks if I posted it once a week, by which time I probably would have to submit my thesis. I propose instead, that once people have finished with one post, even if they find that they have nothing to discuss, if they want to see the next post in the series, they send in a comment saying “next”. If I don’t hear any “next”s that means either that people are still digesting or not interested anymore. Each “next” comment brings the next post in the series one day closer. Otherwise, they are posted a week apart.
Before I start the series of posts, I would like to provide some background to the whole project. The original position,very roughly, is a kind of contract situation in which rational parties choose principles of justice from behind a veil of ignorance. Whichever principles are chosen in that situation are supposed to be the principles of justice. Much ink has been spilled over what exactly will be chosen in the original position. That topic, while interesting in its own right, is not the one of concern to us. What we want to know is: why would we think that the principles that are generated by the original position (OP) are the principles of justice? Why not some other contract situation? There are various feature of the OP that stand in need of justification. Let me list them out:
There are better and worse ways to raise money. When trying to raise money for a charitable cause, or when running charitable it is a good idea to be efficient. We don’t always have to be the most efficient, but when we see ourselves doing something drastically inefficient maybe we have to rethink things. Top of the list of inefficient ways to raise money is the:
These kids are very talented, it’s all heart warming and all, but it is extremely inefficient and the returns can become very uncertain. When you are spending more on marketing and fundraising than you bring in, you’ve got a serious problem. Even if the all the staff at Mediacorp had decided to waive all fees, it would still be very inefficient in principle. It would be a lot of effort for what was strictly a charity show for which viewership has been decreasing*.
Next on the list is: