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Lecture 15

Lecture 15 - Rawls & Kymlicka on Intuitionism

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Daniel Kofman

March 11, 2014 John Rawls – ATheory of Justice Critique of intuitionism • Intuitionism allows for a plurality of principles of maximum generality • But: “the priority problem”: you can’t adjudicate conflicts between principles, and different people have different “indifference curves” (graph – different acceptable trade- off between different values) • Can’t rule out intuitionism a priori. But if a constructivist procedure can do better, the proof will be in the pudding: does it generate a “better” outcome (single highest principle OR ranked plurality of principles) which capture our intuitions and thus achieve reflective equilibrium? • Equilibrium – when there’s a harmony between our theory and our intuition when applied to a multitude of cases • GHP – greatest happiness principle • Ch.2 Utilitarianism – utility holds that actions are right in proportion that they promote happiness (wrong, the reverse) • Single highest order principle (not intuitionism) • Intuitionism is a plurality of principle • Rawls & Kymlicka attack intuitionism • Pluralism – morality must be derived from higher order principles • Pluralists or intuitionists believe promoting utility is one of many principles (which at times, might yield to other principles) -Bentham – coined utilitarianism – usefulness is utility, related to happiness, which means pleasure minus pain (scientific method of calculating whether an action is right or wrong) -Mill – what makes a pig happy is not the same as what makes a human being happy. Higher pleasure vs. lower pleasures. Highest pleasure is happiness. • There should be 1 fundamental principle or a ranking among many principles (determinant order of precedence) – the rule between deciding between principles when they do coincide ought to be self-evident • Rawls – possibilities of going beyond intuitions – nothing irrational about intuition – must recognize possibility that there is no way to get beyond plurality principles. • Cannot avoid all intuition, but reduce reliance on intuition • Dealing constructively with the priority problem – either 1 overall principle, or order a plurality of principles • Constructivist procedure – the hypothetical contract – holds out hope of doing better • An artificial “state of nature” is stipulated – the “Original Position” (similar to state of nature) • But it’s unlike a state of nature in that a. No claim to be real or historical b. Parties are not fully “real” c. The real society – Canada or U.S. in the 20 or 21 centuries – is assumed to exist, along with its production of primary good and its Basic
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