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Week 11 Lecture/Reading Notes (Philosophy 341)

by: Hannah James

Week 11 Lecture/Reading Notes (Philosophy 341) Philosophy 341

Marketplace > University of Wisconsin - Madison > PHIL-Philosophy > Philosophy 341 > Week 11 Lecture Reading Notes Philosophy 341
Hannah James
GPA 4.0
Contemporary Moral Issues
Dan Hausman

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About this Document

These are the notes from lectures and readings for week 11 (11/10 and 11/12).
Contemporary Moral Issues
Dan Hausman
Class Notes
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This 0 page Class Notes was uploaded by Hannah James on Monday November 16, 2015. The Class Notes belongs to Philosophy 341 at University of Wisconsin - Madison taught by Dan Hausman in Fall 2015. Since its upload, it has received 52 views. For similar materials see Contemporary Moral Issues in PHIL-Philosophy at University of Wisconsin - Madison.


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Date Created: 11/16/15
Weel Eleven Readings John Rawls A Theory of Justice 0 The Role of Justice 0 Justice is the first Virtue of social institutions I People possess inviolability founded on justice that society cannot override I For this reason justice denies that the loss of freedom for some is made right by a greater good shared by others I It does not allow that the sacrifices imposed on a few are outweighed by the larger sum of advantages enjoyed by many 0 Therefore in a just society the liberties of equal citizenship are taken as settled the rights secured by justice are not subject to political bargaining or to the calculus of social interests 0 The only thing that permits us to acquiesce in an erroneous theory is the lack of a better one analogously an injustice is tolerable only when it is necessary to avoid an even greater injustice I Being first Virtues of human activities truth and justice are uncompromising 0 These propositions seem to express our intuitive conviction of the primacy of justice 0 To this end it is necessary to work out a theory of justice in the light of which these assertions can be interpreted and assessed I I shall begin by considering the role of the principles of justice I Let us assume a society is a selfsufficient association of persons who recognize certain rules of conduct as binding and who for the most part follow them 0 These rules specify a system of cooperation designed to advance the good of those taking part in it I Then although a society is a cooperative venture for mutual advantage it is typically marked by a con ict as well as by an identity of interests I There is an identity of interests since social cooperation makes possible a better life for all than any would have if each were to live solely by his own efforts 0 There is a con ict of interests since persons are not indifferent as to the greater benefits produced by their collaboration are distributed for in order to pursue their ends they each prefer a larger share I A set of principles is required for choosing among the various social arrangements which determine this division of advantages and for underwriting an agreement on the proper distributive shares 0 These principles are the principles of social justice they assign rights and duties in the basic institutions of society and define the appropriate distribution of the benefits and burdens of social cooperation I The Subject of Justice 0 While many things are just and unjust our topic is social justice I For us the primary subject of justice is the basic structure of society the way in which majors institutions distribute rights duties and advantages 0 Major institutions define a man s rights and duties and in uence his life prospects I The notion is that the structure contains social positions men are born into I Different positions have different expectations of life determined in part by the political system as well as by economic and social circumstances 0 In this way the social institutions favor some starting places over others 0 These are especially deep inequalities I Not only are they pervasive but they affect men s initial chances in life 0 But the inequalities cannot possibly be justified by an appeal to the notions of merit or desert I These inequalities presumably inevitable in any society to which the principles of social justice must apply 0 These principles regulate the choice of a political constitution and the main elements of the economic and social system 0 The justice of a society depends on how fundamental rights and duties are assigned and on the economic opportunities and social conditions in the classes of society 0 The Main Idea of the Theory of Justice 0 Aim is to present a theory of justice that furthers the broad idea of social contracts 0 The principles of justice are to regulate all social contracts I Specify the social cooperation that can be entered into and the forms of government that can be established I This way of regarding the principles of justice I shall call justice as fairness 0 Men are to decide in advance and together how they are to regulate their claims against one another and what is to be the foundation charter of their society 0 In justice as fairness the original position of equality is the state of nature in the theory of the social contract I No one knows his place in society his class position or social status or his fortune in the distribution of natural assets and abilities etc I In this way the principals of justice are chosen behind a veil of ignorance no one favors his own condition 0 Justice as fairness begins with the choice of the principles of justice then a society can choose a constitution enact laws etc based on these principles 0 A society can call itself just if its laws and social contracts adhere to the principles of justice that would be chosen beyond the veil of ignorance 0 Men are concerned with individual rights and duties in the veil of ignorance namely their own they don t want them violated I Thus it seems that the principle of utility is incompatible with the conception of social cooperation among equals for mutual advantage 0 The people in the initial situation would choose two principles I 1 Requires equality in the assignment of basic rights and duties I 2 Holds that social and economic inequalities for example inequalities of wealth and authority are just if they result in compensating benefits for everyone and in particular for the least advantaged members of society Thus utilitarianism may be expedient but it is not just 0 The two principles seem to be a fair basis on which those more fortunate in their social position which we cannot be said to deserve could expect the willing cooperation of others when a scheme necessary condition of the welfare of all 0 O The Original Position and Justification 0 We have to ascertain which principles it would be rational to adopt given the contractual situation I This connects the theory of justice with the theory of rational choice 0 One should not be mislead by the unusual conditions of the original position as it is simply a method to exclude bias when defining principles of justice 0 The principles decided in the original position would convince us of our current assumptions and to remove our doubts when we are unsure of what action to take example of religious intolerance vs wealth and inequality 0 Re ective equilibrium When a description of the initial situation expresses reasonable conditions and yields principles which match our refined considered judgments I Equilibrium because our principles and judgments coincide 0 Classical Utilitarianism 0 In utilitarianism there is no reason in principle why the greater gains of some should not compensate for the lesser losses of others or more importantly why the violation of the liberty of a few might not be made right by the greater good shared by many 0 The strictness of common sense perceptions of justice is useful in limiting injustice but the utilitarian believes that to affirm this strictness as a first principle of morals is wrong I They say that just as it is rational for one man to maximize the fulfillment of his system of desires it is right for a society to maximize the net balance of satisfaction taken over all of its members 0 The idea of utilitarianism needs one legislator to distribute happiness throughout society I This concept does not take seriously the distinction between persons Chapter II The Principles of Justice 0 Two Principles of Justice 0 1 Each person is to have an equal right to the most extensive scheme of equal basic liberties compatible with a similar scheme of liberties for others 2 Social and economic inequalities are to be arranged so that they are both a reasonably expected to be to everyone s advantage and b attached to positions and offices open to all I Injustice then is simply inequalities that are not to the benefit of all this conception is extremely vague and requires interpretation Social primary goods things that every rational man is presumed to want normally have a use whatever a person s rational plan of life Natural goods health and vigor intelligence and imagination possession is in uenced by the basic structure they are not so directly under its control Imagine a hypothetical initial arrangement in which all the social primary goods are equally distributed everyone has similar rights and duties and income and wealth are evenly shared I This state of affairs provides a benchmark for judging improvements 0 If certain inequalities of wealth and differences in authority would make everyone better off than in this hypothetical starting situation then they accord with the general conception 0 Fair Equality of Opportunity and Pure Procedural Justice 0 O O A trial is an example of imperfect procedural justice may follow the laws and principles while still getting the wrong result Gambling is perfect justice because if the bets are fair the money distributed will be fair The role of the principle of fair opportunity is to insure that the system of cooperation is one of pure procedural justice I Unless it is satisfied distributive justice could not be left to take care of itself even within a restricted range Now the practical advantage of pure procedural justice is that it is no longer necessary to keep track of the endless variety of circumstances and the changing relative positions of particular persons I One avoids the problem of defining principles to cope with the enormous complexities which would arise if such details were relevant I Thus the acceptance of the two principles constitutes an understanding to discard as irrelevant as a matter of social justice much of the information and many of the complications of everyday life 0 The Tendency to Equality O The Principle of Redress In order to treat all persons equally and to provide equality of opportunity society must give attention to those with fewer assets and to those born into the less favorable social positions The difference principle is not of course the principle of redress I It does not require society to try to even out handicaps as if all were expected to compete on a fair basis in the same race I But the difference principle would allocate resources in education say so as to improve the longterm expectation of the least favored 0 If this end is attained by giving more attention to the better endowed it is permissible otherwise not 0 Thus although the difference principle is not the same as that of redress it does achieve some of the intent of the latter principle I It transforms the aims of the basic structure so that the total scheme of institutions no longer emphasizes social efficiency 0 No one deserves his greater natural capacity nor merits a more favorable starting place in society But of course this is no reason to ignore much less to eliminate these distinctions I Instead the basic structure can be arranged so that these contingencies work for the good of the least fortunate difference principle 0 Thus it is incorrect that individuals with greater natural endowments have a right to a cooperative scheme that enables them to obtain even further benefits in ways that do not contribute to the advantages of others I We do not deserve our place in the distribution of native endowments any more than we deserve our initial starting place in society Robert Nozick Distributive Justice 0 Minimal state is the only state that can be justified any more than necessary violates people s rights 0 The Entitlement Theory 0 The subject of justice in holdings contains three main parts I The original acquisition of holdings I The transfer of holdings I The Principal of Rectification 0 The following would be true in a just society I 1 A person who acquires a holding in accordance with the principle of justice in acquisition is entitled to that holding 2 A person who acquires a holding in accordance with the principle of justice in transfer from someone else entitled to the holding is entitled to the holding 3 No one is entitled to a holding except by repeated applications of l and 2 0 If a distribution was unjust now or in the past then the principle of rectification must be applied I The principle uses historical information about previous situations and injustices and yields a description of holdings in the society explains how to right a wrong distribution of the past 0 A distribution is just if it arises from another distribution by legitimate means I If a good has been distributed by the means above he or she is entitled to them I If each person s holdings are just then the total set of distributions is just 0 How Liberty Upsets Patterns 0 How can distribution be considered just Wilt Chamberlain example I Distribution would require constant interference in people s lives 0 Also there s no way to redistribute happiness I Why punish a man who needs to work more to be happy to see a movie and to leave unimpeded the man who can be happy without working more watching a sunset Dan Hausman amp Michael McPherson Some Notes on Libertarianism 0 Libertarianism is a political program and a philosophical position 0 It has a distinct identification of justice and view on rights and cuties justice cannot violate rights 0 Justice requires that one not interfere with the pursuits of individuals unless those pursuits themselves violate rights 0 Libertarians imply that duties are almost always negative duties not to interfere not duties to assist help etc 0 Libertarians not against charity they just believe no one should be forced to do it 0 The philosophical libertarian39s commitment to liberty is in principle independent of any consequences for human welfare However Libertarians make it to be the case that protecting freedom makes people better off


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