PHLB09 Lecture 14
•A political language is a language that everyone can understand
•This is a language of reasons (not a language like French, or Swahili)…
•So this means that the reasons presented in it need to be reasons we can all understand...
•"I think people should not be allowed to play a panpipe on Tuesdays, because it offends the God
oNot everyone will have a grip on what you're explaining
oSome people won't believe this figure exists and will have a hard time indoctrinating your
speech into policy
•"I think people should not be allowed to play a panpipe on Tuesdays because it offends my basic
oNow more likely for people to agree with you, don't need to understand, but they can
•"I think people should be forced to play panpipes on Tuesdays because not doing so conflicts with
my religious values"
oSo what do we do?
oWe can go to war, try to kill everyone who opposed your beliefs
Rawls Political Conception of Justice
•How do you figure out which laws should be set?>
•Rawls: adopt the original position
•The original position is a way of thinking about society, where you are behind the 'veil of
•You know what CD each person in the society has;
•You know how much money each person has;
•...but you don't know which person you are
oHe thinks that in the long run, you will end up ultimately in a very risky position, where
your very own position may be violated. You need to think of the whole society. Main idea is
to protect your interests in the long run
•"I think only the rich should be allowed to vote"
•...under original position…
oYou don't know whether you're a poor or rich person, so you'd want to vote against this.
Of course, there's a chance you could be in the smaller rich demographic, but you can't know
that for sure.
•Results in decisions that, potentially, everyone can agree with
•All this provides grounds for what Rawls calls 'public reasoning':
oTerms of reasons need to be intelligible to everyone
oDecisions need to be of the sor t you might agree with, no matter who you are
•Without all this, Rawls thinks, we'll inevitably end up in a state of war
•Reason OP avoids war is because it achieves a Political Conception of Justice for the state
•Rules out unreasonable Comprehensive Doctrines
•An unreasonable CD is one that doesn't recognize the others have different CDs…
•Ex. People should be forced to play the panpipes on Tuesday
•Result: first pass
oWe want to be able to do what we like (L)