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Rawls' Critique of Intuitionism March 6, 2014

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University of Ottawa
Teva Vidal

Rawls Critique of Intuitionism March 6, 2014 Read Kymlicka Chapters 2-3 (and 1) • About blindness, indifference to distribution of utility Rawls’critique of utilitarianism • Utilitarianism leads to counter intuitive results (slavery, torture, etc. might be permissible if aggregate good could be maximized by doing so), because it doesn’t take individuals seriously • Utilitarianism imagines a social spectator (Sidgwick) as if good is being maximised for a single amorphous agent, whereas actually some individuals’welfare is being sacrificed for the sake of others (Kymlicka) Refining theories by testing them with situations • Intuitions are not necessarily the last word • Rawls: the goal is to achieve harmony between theory and intuitions, which creates a satisfactory equilibrium • Intuition will always play some role Rawls’critique of intuitionism (a normative theory) • Makes a general assumption from a lower level intuition- makes a higher principle that involves lower ones; for example, “don’t hit someone’s face” and “don’t kick someone’s leg” could be grouped together into “don’t harm others” • Utilitarianism, consequentialism can put these higher principles under even higher ones: maximise happiness • By trying to group these together, you’ll get to a plurality of highest order principles; attempts to go further are wrong like utilitarianism, become too trivial and uninformative, ex: do the right thing • Plurality of values echoed byAristotle and the prof • principles could be whole sentences How to adjudicate between highest order principles conflicts with intuitionism; intuitionists would use intuition to see which takes precedence. Rawls thinks one can go beyond intuition. Intuition allows for a plurality of principles of maximum generality. But priority problem: how do you decide in conflicts of principles Intuitionists can only rely on intuition: there is no way to adjudicate conflicts between highest order principles except by further intuitions; Rawls: “we can do better” • if a method works, and it is intuitively acceptable, reflected equilibrium is reached. The method has been tested, it’s useful, and it’s informative Different theorists or citizens will have different rankings between values (ex: between equality and utility, which can each be represented by distinct indifference curves (graph demonstrating equally preferable combinations between two values), and intuitionism cannot offer any reason for a higher order preferences of one of these indifference curves over another. An example of an indifference curve was given contrasting equality on the y axis with general utility (welfare) on the x axis What trade off would be equally preferable?Anything northeast of the curve because both principles are increasing • some curves are flatter, some less so • fl
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