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PHL365 Final Exam study notes.docx

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University of Toronto St. George
Lloyd Gerson

PHL365 Final Exam study notes COMPARE DIFFERENT KINDS OF VIEWS AND PROVIDE EXAMPLES FROM THE READINGS FOR THE EXAM.  Whole course focused on “What is justice?”  We have a basic elementary framework where we decide that democracy and the majority is certainly never always right nor would it be just to force a minority to go along with whatever the majority says  We presuppose voluntary agreement because this is what makes people moral agents  Voluntariness is key  Moral agents: sub class of human beings who are capable of engaging in action  Things can only be unjust when they involve another moral agent  There is an injustice when someone does not hold up their end of the agreement and still takes what they no longer have a right to because they broke the agreement  You only have duties when you have an agreement between moral agents  Minimal property rights are required for mutual recognition of moral agents in agreements  Unjust vs. morally wrong  If you take seriously the idea of a moral agent then you take seriously the idea that a moral agent is free to do with their property what they like  Being cruel is not the same as committing an injustice  Moral agency as a default position – things become more complicated when other circumstances are introduced  We have an obligation to keep our contracts  Government made of up moral agents that impose on our lives against our wishes Libertarianism (Hospers and Nozick):  Hospers believes that the government should not interfere except for defense and the judiciary (against income tax)  Hospers is in favor of a minimal liberalist government  Argues that freedom is the highest political value  The government‟s function is to protect human rights – especially liberty  Every human being has the right to act in accordance with his or her own choices, unless those actions infringe on the liberty of others (similar to Mill‟s harm principle)  Nozick: right libertarianism – supports private ownership of land and other natural resources, as opposed to ownership by society  Nozick discusses patterned and non-patterned principles of justice  Patterned principle: selects a trait that directs the proper distribution of benefits and burdens – “To each according to …”  Nozick rejects all patterned principles of justice – he argues for a non-patterned, libertarian theory, which he calls the „theory of entitlement‟  Theory of entitlement: a distribution is just if everyone has that to which he is entitled  Nozick argues that we have a right to any possession as long as ownership does not in itself worsen anyone else‟s position  Minimal state is the most extensive state that can be justified, any more than this violates people‟s rights  Whatever arises from a just situation by just steps is itself just  Original acquisition of holdings, transfer of holdings from one person to another, rectification of injustice in holdings  If holdings are just, then distribution is just  Wilt Chamberlain example: he becomes wealthier because of his talent and people voluntarily pay more to see him – people would say that this seems fair and he deserves this (it is a just way of acquiring more wealth than others)  The only right is negative right  Nozick argues against those who claim he should give some of it up (those like Cohen) Socialism (Cohen)  Cohen: socialist argument against Nozick‟s entitlement theory of libertarianism  Cohen argues that such redistribution of wealth [that Nozick argues against], as socialism advocates, actually preserves human liberty by preventing the accumulation of vast power, which results in oppression of the poor  Cohen argues that people can fail to use their liberty well and volunteer to do things that are unjust (ex. slavery)  Can we really be sure of outcomes and end results? People can be mistaken  If we allow for unequal distribution, then those who have more than those with little will start to gain more power over them (not just more wealth, but more power being gained)  Eye lottery example from class: Cohen would argue that all sighted people would be placed in a lottery to give up one of their eyes to the blind persons in society in order to make an equal opportunity for vision for all (utilitarian view: a blind person is much worse off than a one-eyed person)  Cohen: state of equality achieved by force – eliminate dominance in society  Inequality in wealth reduces people‟s liberty  Absolute equality is the optimal state Conservative critique of Libertarianism (Van den Haag)  Van den Haag argues that conservatives ought to distance themselves from libertarians  Libertarians go to extremes in their naïve optimism about the market forces bringing about utopia  Van den Haag argues that conservatives are on more solid ground in their skepticism about progress and commitment to traditional institutions and values  In general he takes a very extreme view of libertarians saying that they oppose public courts, laws, police, armies, roads, parks, education, health (Hospers says there is still room for defense and the judiciary in a minimalist libertarian government – minimal government interference)  Anarchy not possible because whether or not its government, someone will attempt to gain power over others Justice as Pure Efficiency (Narveson)  Narveson: the rule that each person confining himself to actions that make no one worse off (Pareto efficient), proposed as a sufficient condition of justice  A more Pareto efficient society will be one in which people do better in relation to their expenditures of time and effort on trying to achieve whatever they want to achieve, insofar as they are less or not at all impeded in their pursuits by the impositions of others  Consider benefitting each other and not just harms  Pareto optimality can only be reached in a liberalist state (only 1 optimal state)  The only right is negative right John Rawls: A Liberal Theory of Justice (Welfare Libertarianism)  Rawls has many optimal states  Fundamentally egalitarian, seeks to justify the welfare state  Sets forth a hypothetical contract theory in which the bargainers go behind a veil of ignorance in order to devise a set of fundamental agreements that will govern society  Veil of ignorance ensures objectivity and impartiality in judgment because no one knows what social position they are going to be in (income, race, religion, profession, gender, etc.)  Justice as Fairness: the principles of justice are agreed to in an initial situation that is fair  Principles of justice: 1. Everyone will have an equal right to the most extensive basic liberties compatible with similar liberty for others 2. Social and economic inequalities must satisfy two conditions: i) They are to the greatest benefit of the least advantaged ii) They are attached to positions open to all under conditions of fair equality of opportunity  No one can be actively placed at a disadvantage  Rawls acknowledges that these principles of justice could not always be accepted in every society, but he believes that this conception of justice fits our reflective intuitions  Difference principle: permits inequalities so long as though inequalities still benefit the worst off members of society  Does not insist on perfect equality  Liberty can be restricted only for the sake of liberty  Everyone placed at an equal starting point (the original position)  Initial choice situation  There is no injustice in the greater benefits earned by a few provided that the situation of persons not so fortunate is thereby improved  Justice as fairness as an example of what Rawls calls contract theory (not a complete contract theory)  There are certain things we an all agree are unjust  We can reach an equilibrium of our principles and judgments coinciding  Collect together into one conception a number of conditions on principles that we are ready upon due to consideration to recognize as reasonable  From one extreme to another: Cohen-----Rawls: cooperation with a certain result-----Narveson: cooperation with no certain result  Narveson: desert has nothing to do with something being just or unjust to be taken away  Nozick and Narveson: the only right is negative right  Rawls has more (necessary to maintain the difference principle) than negative rights but it is unclear where they come from - it is impermissible to have any of these rights violated  Things in everyone‟s interest must be maintained and things not in everyone‟s interest should be eliminated  The problem with Rawls is that this is all highly theoretical – there is no way of proving his theory, there‟s not real life equivalent of an „original position‟ or veil of ignorance  Rawls says all reason is impartial and under the veil of ignorance your feelings are irrelevant, you do not know if you are going to be a risk adverse person or not  Rawls, Narveson, and Nozick all agree that someone born into a wealthy family does not deserve it, however Narveson and Nozick do not believe that this desert has anything to do with whether or not it is just to take the wealth away, in fact it would be unjust – the wealth is theirs, it should not be taken away to be redistributed Justice as Virtue: Changing Conceptions (MacIntyre)  Compares libertarian conceptions of justice and welfare liberal theories of justice, arguing that they are incommensurable with each other  Concludes by arguing that our society is made of fragments of different traditions, but we have no single coherent theory of justice to steer us through difficult times and issues  Depending on the circumstances person A or person B could end up agreeing with or opposing one another (views of justice)  Our pluralist culture possesses no method of weighing, no rational criterion for deciding between claims based on legitimate entitlement against claims based on need – these 2 types of claims are incommensurable  Desert has no place in either of these claims  Entitlements vs. needs  For what analysis of A‟s and B‟s position reveals once again is that we have all too many disparate and rival moral concepts, in this case rival and disparate concepts of justice, and that the moral resources of the culture allow us no way of settling the issue between them rationally  We are all rivals with incompatible conceptions of justice Sandel: Morality and the Liberal Ideal (Communitarian argument)  Sandel: communitarian  Rejects Rawls and Nozick, disputes liberal and libertarian ideals  He thinks the self comes out of the narrative of being in the community, rejects the idea of an unencumbered self  We need to reference common goods and ends  Focus on community values: supporting these is good and undermining them is bad (communitarian view)  Values: things that will contribute to your well being and happiness throughout your life (subjective and ordinal)  Community: sufficient amount of shared values in order to work towards a common project (ex. religious community)  Majority view? But even the majority does not have perfectly matched views  Sandel‟s communitarian view of justice seems quite problematic - he likes laws that restrain people  Morality is important for justice  Utilitarianism fails to secure individual rights – doesn‟t work as a foundation for liberalism  Our community is important and vital in shaping our sense of individual self  2 ethics: liberals and communitarians Gutmann: A Liberal Critique of Communitarianism  Defends Rawls  Argues that communitarianism has deep troubles of its own: wants us to live in Salem but not believe in witches  Gutmann concedes that liberalism has problematic aspects, but that the communitarians, in their effort to be distinctive, exaggerate these problems and fail to provide constructive rational alternatives  Rawls and liberalism makes it the fairest possible in a pluralist society  To say that you‟re a moral agent with values does not mean that you cannot have overlapping values  If we are to rely on history and our roots in community then we have a big problem; racism and sexism are major components of our history  Mainstream tradition is certainly not always moral or just  Not discounting the importance of community, still needed to better society  Don‟t look back to the past, look to the present  A possible blend of communitarians and liberals? Okin (Justice for women and in the family)  We cannot think to have a just society if we do not have just families because this is where we are expected to experience moral development and learn about justice  Family as a potential school for social justice  Wants to argue for a place for women in theories of justice  Problem with Rawls: rests on unexplained assumptions that family institutions are just  If families are to help form just individuals and citizens, surely they must be just families  In a just society, the structure and practices of families must give women the same opportunities as men to develop their capacities, participate in political power, influence social choices, and be economically secure Nathanson (Argues for a Welfare State)  A welfare state guarantees all citizens the resources needed for living a decent life  Accomplishes 3 major goals: - maximizes well-being by providing all with sufficient funds to minimize the suffering and deprivation that are caused by lack of resources (still allows for inequalities and imposes no unnecessary deprivations on anyone rich or poor) - adequately responds to the needs that people (humanly) deserve to have met by ensuring the resources required for a decent life for all (you are free to acquire more so long as you do not deprive anyone else for what they humanly deserve) - provides people with enough resources to generate positive liberty, the ability to act in accord with their goals, intentions, and desires (protect people from economic exploitation and political domination by the wealthy)  Nathanson agrees with Hospers argument about the welfare state overstepping but points out that the same argument he gives to justify the government‟s role in providing police protection are the same reasons why the government should provide all citizens with other resources for a decent life  Dependency on the government does not result in diminished moral character  Dependency is not a bad thing – the development of civilization depends on increasing people‟s dependency on one another  Welfare state undermining people‟s incentives to work? We do not know this for fact and we are talking about a guaranteed minimum – no limit set for the amount of wealth a person may acquire  It is not a requirement of our society that people must work in order to have a share of resources – if we are to assume this then we must assume that there is a guarantee of enough jobs for people and that those who work will earn enough to sustain a decent level of well-being  The demand that people work is only fair if they get a decent return for their labor Rescher (Pluralist Theory of Justice)  Suggests a cannon of claims as a material principle of distributive justice: distributive justice consists in the treatment of people according to their legitimate claims, positive and negative  Within this canon justice is not solitarily self sufficient – it is dependent on other aspects  Claims themselves are in large part grounded in positive law  “Giving each his own”  What he deserves as proportional to legitimate claims Vlastos (Justice and Equality)  Why do we want this sort of equality that redistributes money to give each person an equal chance in life? Because the human worth of all persons is equal, however unequal may be their merit  Need is the most important criterion for distribution  Intrinsic worth  you have rights  your needs are met  Though needs can differ, this does not entail an unequal distribution – Vlastos says that this is in fact the most perfect form of equal distribution  Unequal distribution of resources required to equalize benefits in cases of unequal need  Merit = all the kinds of valuable qualities or performances in respect of which persons may be graded – people can only be graded in respect to their equalities  Different from being valued as an individual - being valued as an individual is applicable only in relations of love  Recognize every person as having intrinsic value (problematic term)  You deserve things because you have natural rights as a human being and all human beings have intrinsic worth Scanlon (Commitment to Equality)  Argues that most of the reasons for a commitment to equality can be traced back to other fundamental values  Equality itself plays a limited role for opposing many forms of inequality  Alleviation of suffering (humanitarian concern)  An evil to treat people as inferior or make people feel as though they are inferior  Eliminating inequalities because it gives people an unacceptable degree of power over others  Some forms of equality are essential preconditions for the fairness of certain processes, and the aim of making or keeping those processes fair may therefore give us a reason to oppose inequalities (at least when they are very large)  The idea of a fair procedure can also provide another kind of reason for insisting on equality of outcomes  People ought to be equal in the levels of welfare they enjoy apart from differences in welfare resulting from their own free choices  Procedural fairness sometimes supports a case for equality of outcomes Parfit (Favors a Priority View)  Prioritarianism: holds that benefitting people matters more the worse they are  We should be concerned with aiding the needy, not making everyone equal  Non-comparative, and non-relativist – it‟s not about how much less people have than those who have more but helping people who do not have enough to begin with  Telic egalitarianism is open to the leveling down objection  Deontic egalitarianism covers only those that produce those goods (otherwise people have no claims)  On the priority view; except when it is bad for people, inequality does not matter  Compared to Rawls’ Difference Principle? – Similar but does not rank outcomes solely on the basis of overall well being – benefits to the worse off matter more than they do to those better off  For the utilitarian an increase of a thousand dollars could serve equal benefit to 2 different individuals with different well beings, but under the priority view the money should be given to the person who is worse off  Compared to the principle of utility (actions are only good as long as they promote happiness and pleasure, as opposed to bad actions that do not)? (from previous years exam) Rachels (On the concept of Desert)  Contractualism is not the only basis for justice – there is also desert  Argues that what people deserve always depends on their own past actions  Argues for the importance of desert as a criterion of justice  A person may be treated unjustly even if no rights are violated, it is because they have not been treated as they deserve to be treated  Desert can be both positive and negative (you can deserve to be treated well or badly)  Basis of all desert is people‟s past actions (what they have done, not what they will do)  No one is responsible for their natural/native endowments  Willingness to work may be a matter of luck but actually having worked is not and this is what generates a person‟s desert  Concept of desert not tied to talent or intelligence  Treating people as they deserve increases their control over their own lives and fortunes  Allows people to determine through their own actions, how others will respond to them  Addresses reverse discrimination – look to why the white and black student were treated differently and what from their past education contributed to the 20 point difference in their grades Fishkin (Criticism of Equal Opportunity)  Principle of equality of life chances  Fishkin argues that given the reality of unequal abilities in individuals and unequal conditions in families, a trilemma occurs (we can satisfy only 2 but not all 3 of the contemporary liberal policies)  1) Equal life chances for all citizens 2) Positions assigned by merit in fair competition 3) Family autonomy  We need to abolish the family in order to realize equal opportunity for children - devise a system of collectivized child rearing in order to offset the differential investments of families in their children THE MERITOCRACY REVERSE STRONG TRILEMMA DISCRIMINATION EQUALITY MERIT + - + EQUAL LIFE - + + CHANCES FAMILY + + - AUTONOMY  Merit: there should be widespread procedural fairness in the evaluation of qualifications for positions  Equality of life chances: the prospects of children for eventual positions in the society should not vary in any systematic and significant manners with their arbitrary native characteristics  Autonomy of family: consensual relations within a given family
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