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Philosophy 2203E
Charles Middleton

READINGS WEEK 3 CHAPTER 3 LIBERAL EQUALITY INTUITIONISM AND UTILITARIANISM  Limits to the way individuals can be legitimately sacrificed for the benefit of others  Treat people as equals we must protect them in their possession of certain rights and liberties  Rawls, political theory was caught between two extremes: utilitarianism on the one side and an incoherent jumble of ideas and principles on the other  Second option intuitionism which is little more than a series of anecdotes based on particular intuitions about particular issues  Unsatisfying alternative to utilitarianism  Have two features: 1. They consist of a plurality of first principles which may conflict to give contrary directives in particular types of cases 2. They include no explicit method, no priority rules for weighing those principles against one another  Rawls sets himself – to develop a systematic political theory that structures our different institutions  We cannot take for granted that there must be a complete derivation of our judgments of social justice from recognizable ethical principles  The only way therefore to dispute intuitionism is to set forth the recognisability ethical criteria that account for the weights which, in our considered judgments we think appropriate to give to the plurality of principles PRINCIPLES OF JUSTICE  General conception of justice consists of one central idea: all social primary goods – liberty and opportunity, income and wealth and the bases of self respect – are to be distributed equally unless an unequal distribution of any or all of these goods is to the advantage of the least favored  We treat people as equals not by removing all inequalities but only those which disadvantage someone  Inequalities are allowed if they improve my initially equal share, but are not allowed if, as in utilitarianism they invade my fair share  Giving the less well off a kind of veto over inequalities  However, this general conception is not yet a full theory of justice for the various goods being distributed according to that principle may conflict  Need a system of priority amongst the different elements o First Principle; each person is to have an equal right to the most extensive total system of equal basic liberties compatible with a similar system of liberty for all o Second Principle; social and economic inequalities are to be arranged so that they are both - To the greatest benefit of the least advantaged and - Attached to offices and positions open to all under conditions of fair equality of opportunity  First priority Rule (Liberty): the principles of justice are to be ranked in lexical order and therefore liberty can be restricted only for the sake of liberty  Second Priority Rule (Justice over Efficiency or Welfare): this second principle of justice is lexically prior to the principle of efficiency and to that of maximizing the sum of advantages and fair opportunity is prior to the difference principle  These principles form the special conception of justice  Equal liberties take precedence over equal opportunity which takes precedence over equal resources  Inequality is only allowed if it benefits the least well off  Difference principle – governing the distribution of economic resources  Assumption that civil and political rights should have priority is widely shared in our society  Argues that his theory better fits our considered intuitions concerning justice and that it gives a better spelling out of the very ideals of fairness that the prevailing ideology appeals to  Rawls argues that his principles of justice are superior because they are the outcome of a hypothetical social contract  Each person calls the original position has a rational interest in adopting Rawlsian principals for the governing of social cooperation INTUITIVE EQUALITY OF OPPORTUNITY ARGUMENT  Rawls also requires equality of opportunity in allotting positions, he denies that the people who fill the positions are thereby entitled to a greater share of society’s resources  Ideology of equal opportunity seems fair – ensures that people’s fate is determined by the choices rather than their circumstances  Our fate should not be privileged or disadvantaged by such morally arbitrary factors as the racial or ethnic group we were born into  Success or failure will be the result of our own choices and efforts  Individuals to have unequal shares of social goods if those inequalities are earned and deserved by the individual  The base of the prevailing view is that people’s fate should be determined by their choices – by their decisions they make about how to lead their lives – not by the circumstances which they happen to find themselves in  Only recognizes differences in social circumstances while ignoring differences in natural talents  This is an arbitrary limit on the application of its own central intuition  No one deserves to benefit from their natural talents but it is not unfair to allow such benefits when they work to the advantage of those who were less fortunate in the natural lottery. This is precisely what the difference principle says  The prevailing view of equality of opportunity is unstable and we should recognize that our place in the distribution of natural talents is morally arbitrary  Difference principle says that all inequalities must work to the benefit of the least well off  Nothing in this argument explains why the difference principle applies to all inequalities rather than just to those inequalities which stem from morally arbitrary factors SOCIAL CONTRACT ARGUMENT  Social contract arguments thought to be weak because they seem to rely on very implausible assumptions  Thy ask us to imagine a state of nature before there is any political authority  Contracts only create obligations if they are actually agreed to, we can say that a certain agreement is the contract that people would have signed in some state of nature and so is a hypothetical contract  Thus the idea of a social contract seems either historically absurd (if its based on actual agreement) or morally insignificant (if its based on hypothetical agreement)  We invoke the idea of a state of nature not to work out the historical origins of society, or the idea of historical obligations of governments and individuals but to model the idea of the moral equality of individuals  The idea of a state of nature does not represent an anthropological claim about the pre- social existence of human beings but a moral claim about the absence of natural insubordination amongst human beings  Anarchists believe that people can never come to have legitimate authority over others, and that people can never be legitimately compelled to obey such authority  Since these liberals we not anarchists the pressing question was to explain how people born free and equa
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