September 27, 2012
The Principle of Fairness
- Where I receive benefits from the state, fairness requires that I take on my share of the burden
- This burden includes restrictions on my freedom, including obeying the law
Benefits and Burdens
- Benefits: Peace, order, security provided by a functioning legal system
- Burdens: Obeying the law
- It would be unfair to disregard the burdens, so do not “free ride”
Receiving and Accepting Benefits
- If others force benefits on me, am I obligated to reciprocate?
Benefits and Fairness
- I have a duty of fairness to do my part only if I ACCEPT the benefits
- Problem: How can we not accept the benefits the state provides?
- Therefore, fairness principle is flawed
- Power to issue and enforce binding commands
Who should rule?
- What sort of government is best?
- Rule by whom?
- Monarchy/tyranny (the one)
- Aristocracy/oligarchy (the few)
- Polity/democracy (the many)
- Political power should be distributed equally
- Every citizen should have the right to an equal say
What is democracy?
- Rule (Kratos) by the many (Demos)
- Collective self rule
- Government of, for, and by the people
- Historically unpopular view
Origins of Democracy
- Ancient Athens 508 – 322 BC
- Decisions made by majority vote in an assembly of all citizens
- Open debate and subsidized participations
Features of Athenian Democracy
- Culturally homogeneous How Democratic was Athenian Democracy?
- More democratic than ours
- Less democratic than ours
o Excluded women and slaves
Key Features of Modern Representative Democracy
- Universal rights to vote and stand for office
- Elected representatives make decisions
- Elections are free, frequent and fair
- Freedom of speech; independent media
- Freedom of association
- Independent judges
Participation in Representative Democracies
- Is more participation desirable?
- Is direct democracy possible in large nation states?
Plato (427 – 347 BC) Against Democracy
- Democracy is ruled by the many
- The many are selfish, ignorant and unpredictable
- Many are unqualified to rule
The Craft Analogy
- Consider jobs requiring a lot of skill
- Pilots, architects, medical doctors
- Health of the body and the state
The Philosophers Should Rule
- Philosophy = love of wisdom
- Political decision makers should have judgment, skill, and knowledge
- Ruling is a skill attainable only by the few
- Philosophic training: acquiring knowledge of the human good
- Philosophers do not want power
o They realize that the alternative is unacceptable
Are there Political Experts?
- Is there expert knowledge applicable to ruling?
- Even so, how does the ruler know what is in people’s interests?
- Ask the people what they want
- Should any group be given absolute power?
- Problem of trust
Plato Against Corruption
- Educate rulers to be concerned for the common good
- Rulers possess no private property
- Rulers are denied family ties
- Are there likely to be many volunteers? The Principle of Fairness
a) Objects to burden sharing
b) Can’t justify limits to individual freedom
c) Condemns free riding
Two Types of Reason for Valuing Democracy
- Intrinsic reasons
- Instrumental reasons
First Intrinsic Reason: Self-Rule
- Democracy embodies a commitment to freedom or self-rule