|Unit Director and Lecturer:
|Additional Seminar Instructors:
||Dean Machin & Ana Jordan
||First Semester 2005 -2006
|Day and Time:
||Wednesdays at 12.10pm
||Lecture Theatre 2
The course runs during the first semester. Lectures take place on Wednesdays at 12.10pm, in Lecture Theatre 2. Seminars take place at times to be arranged. Normally there are no seminars during week 6 or week 12 which are set aside for essay-return tutorials.
You can contact the lecturer and the instructors by email. Alternatively, come along to their office hours. (Office hours will be advertised at the beginning of the semester.) Please make sure to check your email account regularly for announcements regarding this course.
Credit and Assessment
PHIL 20012 carries 20 credits. In order to obtain the credit you must:
- attend the weekly seminars
- deliver at least one satisfactory presentation in a seminar
- submit 2 essays (of not more than 2,500 words) by the deadlines of 4th November & 9th December 2005
- pass (or make a fair attempt at passing) an examination in the summer term.
The summative assessment for this course is by examination only. Coursework (two essays and a presentation at a seminar) is also assessed, for formative and diagnostic purposes, with feedback provided by the seminar instructor during the 6th week. While your coursework assessment will not officially count towards the final mark, it is registered in an end-of-semester report.
This course is taught by a combination of lectures and seminars. Each student receives one weekly lecture and a seminar. There are also essay-return tutorial for all students during weeks 6 and 12. The lectures provide the background information and guide you through the main arguments and positions. The more informal seminars are intended to allow students to raise questions, make comments, and generally contribute to discussions.
- Is acceptance of authority compatible with autonomy?
- Does Rawls's original position describe the conditions under which principles for governing the basic structure of a society should be chosen? Why?
- How does Rawls argue for the difference principle? Do you find his arguments convincing?
- What, if anything, should egalitarians aim to equalise?
- Are we unfree if we cannot each give 25 cents to Wilt Chamberlain?
- Do people own themselves? What, if anything, follows about private property?
- Is Rawls committed to controversial metaphysical claims?
- Can liberals reply adequately to the charge that they presuppose an unrealistic individualistic view of the self?
- What do you think is the best justification of democracy?
- Are there any cultural rights?
Two recent textbooks, either of which would be a sound investment, are, Jonathan Wolff, An Introduction to Political Philosophy and Jean Hampton, Political Philosophy. Another recent book worth considering is Adam Swift, Political Philosophy: A Beginner's Guide for Students and Politicians. Many important recent articles are collected in Robert E. Goodin and Philip Pettit (eds) Contemporary Political Philosophy: An Anthology. The most important modern text is John Rawls, A Theory of Justice (Princeton and Oxford, 1971).
Items marked * are essential reading for a topic. Other items should be useful to your understanding of the topic. BUT, if you can't find anything on the reading list (because everything has gone from the library) then use your initiative and read some thing else on the topic. From this page there is a link to the lecture handout for each week. At the start of the course the pages linked to will be last year's handouts. The course is in a new format this year, and these will be replaced as the course proceeds.
Lecture 1: Autonomy, Authority and Democracy
*R. P. Wolff: In Defence of Anarchism
*Joseph Raz: "Authority and Justification", Philosophy and Public Affairs
14:1 (Winter 1985) pp. 3-29, also in Joseph Raz ed., Authority.
*Christopher McMahon: "Autonomy and Authority", Philosophy and Public Affairs
16:4 (Fall 1987) pp. 303-328.
Green: 'Commitment and Community' in Joseph Raz (ed) Authority
A. John Simmons: Moral Principles and Political Obligations
A. John Simmons: "Associative Political Obligations"; Ethics,
Christopher McMahon: Authority and Democracy
Chs 2 and 4
- Can we give an account of why we have an obligation to obey our (legitimate) governments?
- In particular, is an obligation to obey our (legitimate) government consistent with our own individual autonomy?
- What is authority?
- Wolff's argument
- Raz's response
- Summary and next week
Part 2 What is an authority?
- An authority has a right to be obeyed and people have a duty to obey it.
- Orders from a legitimate authority are reasons which pre-empt further deliberation.
- Authorities give you reasons to act which are typically independent of the content of the authoritative command.
Problem of political authority
- NOT just the issue of whether you ought to do what the state tells you.
- It is the issue of whether you ought to do what the (legitimate) state tells you, just because the state tells you.
Part 3 Voluntarism
- Political obligation is an obligation that is taken on voluntarily.
- You can create obligations for yourself by making promises you are then obliged to fulfil.
- In a similar way, you are obliged to obey your legitimate government because you have consented to be governed.
- Cannot have happened in distant past, since even the actual consent of my ancestors couldn't make me have obligations.
- No action performed by every person today that constitutes unambiguous consent to be governed.
- We have not actually consented to be governed, so this cannot found any obligation to obey.
- Since actual consent is implausible, a substitute is sought, an action which constitutes tacit consent.
- Locke says enjoying the benefits of government generates a political obligation, because it constitutes tacit consent. Examples are travelling on the public highway, or lodging safely.
- Tacit consent may be withdrawn by avoiding the benefits of government, or ultimately emigrating from the country.
Problems with tacit consent
- Actions said to constitute tacit consent often not genuinely voluntary: travelling on a road or staying in a lodging inescapable.
- Emigration to withdraw consent is not a realistic option for most people.
- So tacit consent doesn't really look like consent at all. Very unlike a promise.
- The idea is that any rational adult would consent to government if genuinely consulted.
- Very clearly no longer consent. Has nothing to do with voluntarily acquiring obligations.
- In such a theory the true grounds of obligation lie in the reasons for thinking a form of government is a good idea.
- We will return to this idea when we study Rawls.
Part 4 Fairness
- Principle of fairness: If you receive benefits under a legitimate shared cooperative scheme, then as a matter of fairness you are under obligations to support and or respect that cooperative scheme.
- NOT the same as tacit consent based on benefits received.
- Idea is that because you have received benefits, you are obliged to do your part.
- For example, you have received the protection of the police, and the NHS, so you are obliged to pay taxes.
- Might work with parents
- Doesn't seem to work with a public address system (see Nozick ASU pp93ff).
- Difficult to see how the benefits of the state can impose an obligation so strong.
Part 5 Wolff's argument
- Conceptual premise: Legitimate authority is the morally justified right to command.
- Moral premise: Each individual is under a moral duty to take responsibility for his or her acts.
In Wolff's own words:
'The responsible man is not capricious or anarchic, for he does acknowledge himself bound by moral constraints. But he insists that he alone is the judge of those constraints. He may listen to the advice of others, but he makes it his own by determining for himself whether it is good advice.' (RP Wolff p13)
Part 5 Wolff's argument
- Conceptual premise: Legitimate authority is the morally justified right to command.
- Moral premise: Each individual is under a moral duty to take responsibility for his or her acts.
- Conclusion: Each individual is morally required to make up his or her own mind concerning how to act on any expert advice or orders that are issued.
Conclusion in Wolff's words
The individual should not just obey an order 'without making any attempt to determine for himself whether what is commanded is good or wise'. Wolff p 14
Wolff's sinking ship example (p16)
- Wolff thinks you might do what an authority orders. But you don't do it because it is what the authority orders.
- You might obey the orders of the captain of a sinking ship, but you obey because you judge it will be harmful not to comply.
- So although you obey you do not accept captain's commands as authoritative.
'The defining mark of the state is authority, the right to rule. The primary obligation of man is autonomy, the refusal to be ruled. It would seem, then, that there can be no resolution of the conflict between the autonomy of the individual and the putative authority of the state.' p18
Part 6 Raz's response
'All authoritative directives should be based, in the main, on reasons which already independently apply to the subjects of the directives and are relevant to their action in the circumstances covered by the directive.' (Raz p125)
The Dependence thesis
- The basic idea is very simple:
The decisions of a government or any other authority should for the most part be based on reasons that already apply to us.
Normal justification thesis
'the normal and primary way to establish that a person should be acknowledged to have authority over another person involves showing that the alleged subject is likely better to comply with reasons which apply to him (other than the alleged authoritative directives) if he accepts the directives of the alleged authority as authoritatively binding and tries to follow them, rather than by trying to follow the reasons which apply to him directly.' (Raz p129)
Normal justification thesis
The acceptance of legitimate authority gives you a better chance of acting on the reasons which already apply to you.
Part 6a Worries about Raz's response
- Seems to work for experts like the doctor and the captain.
- May be areas of government it works for:
- Collective needs
- Problems of collective decision
- But this is not all the government does.
- Deep moral disagreement with the government e.g. conscientious objector.
- Might think decisions of governments are NOT generally more reliable in such cases.
- You might think even a generally reliable authority has blind spots - such as the tendency of certain governments to go to war in the Middle East.
- In such cases the normal justification thesis fails.
- Not clear you have any obligation to obey.
Part 7: Summary
- Looked at consent theories of political obligation: actual, tacit and hypothetical.
- Looked at fairness or reciprocity accounts.
- Moved on to the debate over authority and autonomy, concentrating on Wolff and Raz.
- Worried that there were particular areas such as moral disagreement where Raz's arguments don't apply.
Start looking at Rawls.
- We begin with his 'Original Position' - the hypothetical contract that plays such an interesting role in his theory.
Lecture 2: Rawls's Theory of Justice (1) The Original Position
* John Rawls: A Theory of Justice, Ch. 1 and Sections 24 and 26
Andrew Levine: Engaging Poltical Philosophy, Ch. 5
Ronald Dworkin: Taking Rights Seriously, Ch.
Samuel Freeman: "Introduction", in Samuel Freeman (ed.) The Cambridge Companion to Rawls
Stephen Mulhall and Adam Swift: Liberals and Communitarians, Introduction
Jon Mandle: What's Left of Liberalism, Chs 2 and 3
Kukathas and Pettit: Rawls, Ch. 3
Will Kymlicka: Contemporary Political Philosophy, pp. 50-76.
- Today we are not focusing on a particular philosophical issue.
- We aim to understand, and critically assess, John Rawls's theory of justice.
- Outline of the theory of justice
- The original position
- The role of the original position
4a) The hypothetical contract
4b) Dworkin's view
- Summary and next week
Part 2 Outline of the theory of justice: the aim
- Aim of the theory is to find principles of justice.
- The principles are to apply to the 'basic structure' - the institutions and processes - that form the basis of society.
- The principles are to provide 'a way of assigning rights and duties in the basic institutions of society and they define the appropriate distribution of the benefits and burdens of social cooperation.' Rawls 1971 p4
Outline: the 'original position'
- Rawls argues that the principles that should govern the basic structure of society are those that would be chosen in an imaginary 'original position'.
- In this position, rational agents choose principles behind a 'veil of ignorance'.
- The 'original position' thus looks like a hypothetical contract.
Outline: the principles p302
- 1 [Liberty 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.'
- 2 'Social and economic inequalities are to be arranged so that they are both:(a) [Difference principle] to the greatest benefit of the least advantaged, consistent with the just savings principle, and (b) [Opportunity principle] attached to offices and positions open to all under conditions of fair equality of opportunity.'
Outline: the principles simply
- 1 Liberty principle: first, guarantee a substantial and equally distributed set of basic liberties.
- 2 Opportunity principle: second, ensure genuine equal opportunity.
- 3 Difference principle: third, distribute 'primary goods' such as income and wealth to the greatest benefit of the least advantaged.
Part 3: The original position
- Parties in the original position are to decide unanimously on principles of justice.
- They each hold 'the same rights in the procedure for choosing principles; each can make proposals, submit reasons for their acceptance, and so on.' p19
- Rawls imposes 5 very important constraints on the parties in the original position.
Constraint a) The circumstances of justice 126-30
- The circumstances of justice obtain:
- i) Moderate scarcity: Not such superabundance of goods that anyone can get whatever they want, nor so much scarcity that society could not exist.
- ii) People mutually disinterested: People have differing aims and purposes in life, plus differing philosophical and political ideals and differing religious beliefs.
Constraint b) Formal constraints 130-36
- The principles chosen must meet 'the formal constraints of the concept of right':
- They must be general: cannot single out particular people for special treatment.
- They must be universal, applying to everyone.
- They must be able to order conflicting claims.
- They are the final court of appeal.
- They are capable of being made public: ultimately they must be known and understood by all.
Constraint c) The veil of ignorance 136-42
- Parties choose principles behind the 'veil of ignorance'. Parties don't know:
- Their wealth, role or class.
- Their natural assets, such as intelligence, strength, creativity and so on.
- Their generation.
- Their idea of the good life, such as religious beliefs or political ideals.
Rawls (1971) 18-19
- 'The aim [of the veil of ignorance] is to rule out those principles that it would be rational to propose for acceptance, however little the chance of success, only if one knew certain things that are irrelevant from the standpoint of justice. For example, if a man knew that he was wealthy, he might find it rational to advance the principle that various taxes for welfare measures be counted unjust; if he knew that he was poor, he would most likely propose the contrary principle.'
Constraint d) Rationality 142-50
- Each tries to advance his or her own interests, and seeks the most efficient way to do so.
- They accept an account of the 'primary goods', such as rights, liberties, power opportunities, income, wealth, health, vigour, intelligence, imagination, self-respect.
- They are not envious. They do not mind someone else being better off than them, provided they are as well off as they can possibly expect.
Constraint e) Restricted choice 122-24
- The parties are restricted to choosing principles from a list of alternatives, which Rawls says comes from the history of human reasoning about such things.
- List p122 includes classical utilitarianism, maximising average utility, various perfectionist principles and some mixed ones.
- List omits distribution according to need or to desert, and libertarianism. Rawls discusses libertarianism 65-72, desert 103-4, 310-315.
Original position central to Rawls's theory
- The specification of the OP choice situation is such that whatever principles are chosen from the OP choice situation must be just principles.
- Rawls writes: 'We want to define the original position so that we get the desired solution. If a knowledge of particulars is allowed, then the outcome is biased by arbitrary contingencies'. (1971 p141)
Part 4: The role of the original position
- Epistemological - Imagining what would be chosen in the OP a useful way to discover what justice requires.
- Justificatory - Just as Hobbes and Locke's contract theories try to justify our obligations to government, the OP justifies the two principles of justice using a hypothetical contract.
- Explicatory - Maybe just useful demonstrative tool allowing Rawls to lay out neatly the assumptions underlying his principles of justice.
Part 4a) The hypothetical contract
- Not like a real contract.
- Real contract: actual people sit down to discussion, complete with interests and life plans and prejudices and various failures of rationality.
- Each person signs up to such a contract because overall, given interests and life plans and so on, he or she thinks the contract will benefit him or her.
Rawls's hypothetical contract
- Doesn't really happen, so hypothetical.
- Contractors are idealised in terms of rationality and lack of certain knowledge.
- Choice from OP unanimous. He writes: 'we can view the choice in the original position from the standpoint of one person selected at random. If anyone after due reflection prefers a conception of justice to another, then they all do, and a unanimous agreement can be reached.' (1971 p139)
- Does the hypothetical choice of the two principles in the OP show us that we owe any allegiance to the two principles?
- Problem whether the original position justifies the acceptance of the two principles of justice.
- Remember our worries about hypothetical contracts last week.
Objections to the OP
- 1 Veil of ignorance. Some people think the point of political bargaining is to use what you have - talent, money and so on - to bargain for what you can get.
- 2 Envy. People in the OP are not envious. Real people are, of course, they don't like others having more than they do.
Defence of Rawls
- 1 Veil. Forces you to disregard things that are 'arbitrary from a moral point of view'. Arguably true that such things should be disregarded.
- 2 Envy. An unadmirable human characteristic. Rawls admits people are envious, but thinks inadmissible reason to frame principles of justice.
Rawls on the OP: contract
- P75 Independent argument for two principles. Says this not strictly count, since only argument for the principles comes from the original position.
- Sustains alternative arguments, such as the argument from reflective equilibrium. Says the two principles must satisfy reflective equilibrium.
Rawls on the OP: more to say
- p18 'The idea here is simply to make vivid to ourselves the restrictions that it seems reasonable to impose on arguments for principles of justice, and therefore on these principles themselves.'
- p138 'To say that a certain conception of justice would be chosen in the original position is equivalent to saying that rational deliberation satisfying certain conditions and restrictions would reach a certain conclusion.'
Role of the Original Position
- Epistemological: captures the imagination and so a good way to approach thinking about the principles of justice.
- Explicatory: explains neatly Rawls's thinking.
- Justificatory: is if you accept the assumptions embodied in the OP, and the need for some sort of contract.
Part 4b) Dworkin's view
- Dworkin argues that the fundamental root of Rawls's theory is equal concern and respect.
- Dworkin thinks this explains why Rawls tries to use a contract at all, AND why Rawls shapes the OP as he does.
Three types of political theory:
- Goal-based: identifies an overriding goal and structures society to pursue that goal.
- Duty-based: identifies a duty or duties and structures society in pursuit of that/those.
- Rights-based: identifies a right or rights and structures society to respect that/those rights.
Dworkin on Rawls
- Rawls's theory must be rights-based:
- Need unanimous agreement in OP: everyone must be consulted, and has a veto, so can protect themselves.
- Explains the veil. Some considerations relevant to principles, because protected by rights. Some irrelevant, because not appropriately protected by rights.
Equal concern and respect
- Dworkin says Rawls's most basic commitment, embodied in the OP, is basic concern and respect.
- In the OP, parties are perfectly equal.
- Principles of justice turn out to be what would be chosen by people when perfectly equal, and unable to bring undue influences to bear behind the veil.
- Outline of Rawls's theory of justice
- Original position:
- Interpreting the five constraints
- The role the OP plays in Rawls's theory
- Hypothetical contract
- Saw not easy to dismiss out of hand. Certainly in so far as we are all committed to equal concern and respect, Rawls's views have a potentially powerful grip.
Rawls's Difference Principle:
- How to interpret it.
- Attacks on it.
Lecture 3: Rawls's Theory of Justice (2) The Difference Principle
* John Rawls: A Theory of Justice, Ch 2. and Section 45
Philippe Van Parijs: "Difference Principles", in Samuel Freeman ed. The Cambridge Companion to Rawls
Brian Barry: Theories of Justice, Ch 6 and Appendix C
G.A. Cohen: "Where the Action Is", Philosophy and Public Affairs, 1997
G. A. Cohen: 'The Pareto Argument for Inequality', Social Philosophy and Policy, 1995
Christopher Bertram: 'Principles of Distributive Justice, Counterfactuals and History', Journal of Political Philosophy I, 3 (1993)
John Harsanyi: "Can the Maximin Principle Serve as a Basis for Morality", American Political Science Review, (69) (1975), pp. 594-606.
- Again, we aim to understand, and critically assess, John Rawls's theory of justice.
- Today we focus on the two principles of justice, particularly the notorious Difference Principle.
- Last week
- The principles
- How the parties in the OP arrive at the Difference Principle
- Independent argument for the DP
- Summary and next week
Part 2: the principles p302
- 1 [Liberty 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.'
- 2 'Social and economic inequalities are to be arranged so that they are both:
- (a) [Difference principle] to the greatest benefit of the least advantaged, consistent with the just savings principle, and
- (b) [Opportunity principle] attached to offices and positions open to all under conditions of fair equality of opportunity.'
The principles simplified
- 1 Liberty principle: first, guarantee a substantial and equally distributed set of basic liberties.
- 2 Opportunity principle: second, ensure genuine equal opportunity.
- 3 Difference principle: third, distribute 'primary goods' such as income and wealth to the greatest benefit of the least advantaged.
The liberty principle
- Involves equal distribution of certain specific liberties, NOT overall liberty.
- Specific liberties include: political liberty (to vote and be eligible for office), freedom of speech and assembly, liberty of conscience and freedom of thought, freedom of the person and the right to hold personal property, freedom from arbitrary arrest and seizure.
- p61 'These liberties are all required to be equal by the first principle, since citizens of a just society are to have the same basic rights.'
Principle 2: the equality of opportunity element
- Equality of opportunity is a moral demand.
- It 'expresses the conviction that if some places were not open on a basis fair to all, those kept out would be right in feeling unjustly treated .... not only because they were excluded from certain external rewards of office such as wealth and privilege, but because they were debarred from experiencing the realization of self which comes from a skilful and devoted exercise of social duties.' (p84)
- The liberty principle takes priority over the second principle
- And the equal opportunity element of the second principle takes priority over the difference principle element of the second principle.
Principle 2: the difference principle element
- DP concerns the distribution of 'primary goods' in society. Rawls writes of 'income and wealth'.
- DP says inequalities in 'primary goods' are only justified if they benefit the worst off.
- Rawls thinks of the worst-off in terms of a representative member of class 'unskilled workers', or the average income of those with less than the median income.
The benefit of inequalities
- R thinks inequalities can benefit the worst-off:
- 'the greater expectations allowed to entrepreneurs encourages them to do things which raise the long-term prospects of the labouring class. Their better prospects act as incentives so that the economic process is more efficient, innovation proceeds at a faster pace, and so on. Eventually the resulting material benefits spread throughout the system and to the least advantaged.' (p78)
- Rawls thinks inequalities which benefit the worst off will benefit everyone.
- He believes in 'chain connection': 'if an advantage has the effect of raising the expectations of the lowest position, it raises the expectations of all positions in between. For example, if the greater expectations for entrepreneurs benefit the unskilled worker, they also benefit the semiskilled.' (p80)
- Chain-connection might not always hold.
Implementation of the DP
- Remember the DP is not to be implemented directly.
- The DP is one of the principles which will govern the basic structure of society.
- Rawls intends us to choose say a legal system, property laws, market versus economic planning, types of firms, and so on that we expect will most benefit the least advantaged. Within this structure, citizens pursue the good as they see fit.
Part 3: How the parties choose the difference principle
- R gives two sorts of arguments for the DP:
- 1 The DP will be chosen over the other available options in the original position.
- 2 The DP has certain positive advantages or intuitive plausibility.
- This part look at 1, look at 2 in Part 4.
The parties' options
- Maximise overall wellbeing in society (utilitarianism). But may end up a slave.
- Full out gamble of maximax - make the best possibility as good as possible and hope to turn out to be Bill Gates, or better. Could lose out.
- Rationality of these options depend on:
- i) odds of coming out sufferer.
- ii) attitude to risk.
Both of these unknown to you behind the veil of ignorance.
The maximin strategy
- Rawls thinks the parties in the OP, with everything that they will ever have on the line, will be risk-averse and seek to maximise the minimum.
- That is, they will seek to make the worst that could happen to them once the veil lifts and they have to live by the principles they have chosen as good as possible.
- Harsanyi points out maximin mad in everyday life.
- In OP you have reason to be risk-averse:
- Absolutely everything that you will ever have or be is at stake. Rawls quite right that alternative choice rules can lead to intolerable outcomes - you might end up a serf or a slave.
- You are deciding under great uncertainty. You have no information behind the veil to calculate the probabilities of ending up well or badly off. (For more discussion see Harsanyi).
The two principles generate a stable cooperative society:
- a) Parties can rely on each other to obey principles, since nobody is asked to accept lesser liberty for sake of greater good of others.
- b) The principles affirm everyone's good, secure their liberty, and everyone benefits cooperatively. Society governed by the two principles will be stable. (p177).
- c) The two principles publicly express people's respect for each other. Citizens have a sense of own and each other's value and so enjoy better cooperation.
Part 4: Independent argument for the DP
- Rawls gives an argument for the DP in Ch 2 and pp150-2 of A Theory of Justice.
- Rawls writes of 'interpreting' and 'preparing the way for', the second principle, but he is at the least offering considerations in support of it.
- These considerations might appeal to the parties in the OP. But they might also appeal to anyone. So this argument can be read as independent of the argument from the original position.
- Cohen calls this the 'Pareto Argument for Inequality'.
Ch 2 Argument for equality
- Ch 2 argues from equality of opportunity, which most people accept, to complete equality.
- Rawls proceeds by ruling out all allegedly acceptable grounds of equality. By the end, he has claimed that natural talents and abilities, social circumstances, accidents and good fortune are all 'arbitrary from a moral point of view'. They should not be allowed to influence the distribution of primary goods.
- Remember the veil of ignorance similarly prevents decisions being made on grounds that are 'arbitrary from a moral point of view'.
Reason to move away from equality
- It would be irrational to insist on maintaining equality if everyone could do better by abandoning it.
- By 1 giving incentives to greater effort and development of talent and 2 putting resources into the hands of those best able to make productive use of them, we can make EVERYONE better off than under a strictly equal distribution.
- So we should move from strict equality to the DP.
Rawls's own words
'It may be expedient but it is not just that some should have less in order that others may prosper. But there is no injustice in the greater benefits earned by a few provided that the situation of persons not so fortunate is thereby improved.' (p14)
Rawls's own words
- 'the parties start with a principle establishing equal liberty for all ... But there is no reason why this acknowledgement should be final. If there are inequalities in the basic structure that work to make everyone better off in comparison with the benchmark of initial equality, why not permit them?' (S26 p151)
Part 5 Criticisms: ambiguity
- Interpretation 1: Make the worst-off as well off as possible, and stop there.
- 'In order to make the principle regulating inequalities determinate, one looks at the system from the standpoint of the least advantaged representative man. Inequalities are permissible when they maximize, or at least all contribute to, the long-term expectations of the least fortunate group in society.' (p151)
Ambiguity in the DP
- Interpretation 2: continue to be concerned with next worst-off person, and so on.
- Where close-knitness fails, 'in a basic structure with n relevant representatives, first maximise the welfare of the worst off representative man; second, for equal welfare of the worst-off representative, maximise the welfare of the second worst-off representative man, and so on until the last case which is, for equal welfare of all the preceding n-1 representatives, maximise the welfare of the best-off representative man.' (p83)
- Rawls thinks they both come to the same thing. He thinks 'chain-connection' holds:
- However inequalities improve the size of the cake, by giving incentives to talents, or putting resources in hands of brilliant entrepreneurs, the economy is such that all will benefit.
- Might not hold, but Rawls thinks it usually holds, so the two options above come to the same thing. Important to remember in reading Rawls that he thinks inequalities make EVERYONE better off.
Cohen against the Pareto argument for inequality
- Cohen thinks if people are truly motivated by a sense of justice, as Rawls claims, there is no need to move away from perfect equality.
- Society is capable of producing at the higher level, making the bigger cake, or we couldn't do it with unequal income and wealth.
- Cohen says the only reason inequality is necessary to increase production is to bribe the talented to make them work hard, be creative, fulfil their potential.
Cohen against the Pareto argument for inequality
- Cohen thinks we shouldn' bribe the talented, since Rawls has already argued that talents are morally arbitrary, and shouldn't bias the distribution of primary goods.
- Rawls does claim everyone in his society will be motivated by a sense of justice, which involves not wishing to have more than others. Cohen says if the talented are so motivated, they won't hold out for greater rewards.
Possible responses for Rawls
- 1 The reply 'people just aren't motivated like that, so we have to bribe them' no good for Rawls. He thinks one of the virtues of his theory is that everyone is motivated by a sense of justice.
- 2 Van Parjis suggests we are not bribing the talented, but putting resources of society in hands of those best able to use them. But this only suggests we let experts make expert decisions, not that we have to pay them more to do so.
Possible responses for Rawls
- 3 Liberty and equal opportunity principles limit you to setting the tax and transfer system so that the best results ensue when members of society follow own interests about type and amount of work.
- Not clear you infringe LIBERTY by limiting pay.
- Rawls does think free choices of occupation morally important. Encourages realisation of self and equal respect.
- Not clear we have to pay, say, a top surgeon huge amounts to achieve this realisation of self and equal respect.
The DP is too egalitarian
- Libertarians like Nozick think Rawls's criticism of utilitiarianism ' that it fails to take seriously the differences among persons - is inconsistent with the difference principle, which uses the talents of the better off as a resource for others.
- Nozick's positive theory says that people own themselves, and their talents, and in direct opposition to Rawls thinks that people are entitled to the fruits of their talents.
- We will examine this when we do Nozick.
The DP has outrageous implications
- Harsanyi claims, for example, the DP implies the bright should be given no higher education so we can spend huge sums for minimal gains to the retarded.
- Misunderstanding: Rawls wants us to identify a single worst-off group in society - in terms of income, wealth and social standing - and organise the basic structure of society so that they are as well off as possible. Rawls thinks this will benefit everyone.
- Rawls clearly thinks that educating the talented and developing their talents fully will benefit everyone.
- Heart of Rawls's theory:
- OP especially veil of ignorance and rationality constraints.
- The liberty and opportunity principles.
- The difference principle:
- Difficulties in interpretation.
- Criticisms, especially that it should be more egalitarian.
- Egalitarianism, in particular, the debate over a question I have skated over this week:
- WHAT is it that should be equally distributed:
- Resources, or Outcomes?
- Jack and Jill on desert island. Do we give them half the land each, disregarding the fact that Jill-s a better farmer and can grow more food? (Equalising resources.) Or do we give more land to Jack so they end up with about the same amount of food each? (Equalising outcome.)
Lecture 4: Equality and Egalitarianism
Amartya Sen: 'Equality of What?', in S. McMurrin ed. The Tanner Lectures on Human Values vol. 8 and in his Choice, Welfare and Measurement
Ronald Dworkin: 'What is Equality?' parts one and two, Philosophy and Public Affairs 10 (1981)
G. A. Cohen: 'On the Currency of Egalitarian Justice', Ethics 99 (1989)
Elizabeth Anderson: 'What is the point of equality?', Ethics, January 1999, 287-337
Veronique Munoz-Darde: 'Is the family to be abolished then?' in the Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society Vol XCXIX part 1 1999.
- Should a just society aim for equality?
- In particular, WHAT should a just society aim to equalise?
- Last Week
- What to equalise
2a Equality of opportunity
2b Equality of welfare
2c Equality of resources
- What is the point of equality?
- Summary and next week
Part 2: What to equalise? Rawls:
- DP distributes 'primary goods' such as: rights, liberties, powers, opportunities, income, wealth, health, vigour, intelligence and imagination. (p62)
- Liberty principle distributes: political liberty (vote and be eligible), freedom of speech and assembly, liberty of conscience and freedom of thought, freedom of the person and the right to hold personal property, freedom from arbitrary arrest and seizure. (p61)
Categories of egalitarian theory
- Equality of opportunity
- Equality of welfare
- Equality of resources
Part 2a) Equality of opportunity
- General idea that people's fates - how well their lives go - shouldn't be affected by their circumstances.
- Life shouldn't go less well because you were born poor, or are of a particular race, sex or sexuality.
- Usually taken to require political equality.
Equal opportunities uncontroversial
- Almost nobody in Western world officially denies political equality and equality of opportunity.
- Opponents would have to believe in some kind of caste society, where those born into higher castes have greater opportunities, due to natural or God-given rights of an aristocracy, or some such thing.
- In actual society, anti equal opportunity thinking lingers: think about some manifestations of racism, sexism etc.
Equal opportunities not go far enough
- Leaves room for a lot of inequality:
- Inequalities of income or prestige justified as long as there is open competition in the awarding of the positions that provide these benefits.
- Differences in success still allowed to depend on aspects of us that we don't seem to deserve.
- People's natural talents vary hugely, and some gifted people earn much more than others. As Rawls says, these differences are morally arbitrary.
- Over equalising welfare or resources.
- Jack and Jill on desert island:
- Equalise resources: Give half the land each, although Jill is a better farmer and can grow more food, and Jack needs more food.
- Equalise outcome: Give more land to Jack so they each end up with enough food to avoid hunger.
Part 2b Equality of welfare
- Welfarists think you should aim to equalise outcomes: pleasure (hedonic welfare) or preferences (preference satisfaction).
- Intuitive appeal: welfare is what really matters to people. Since people care about how their lives turn out overall, if you are equalising anything, it should be welfare.
Problem a) Offensive tastes
- Some tastes morally reprehensible whether bring welfare or not.
- Cohen says some take pleasure in discriminating against or restricting the liberty of others.
- Dworkin says an egalitarian political theory can't compensate unhappy anti-egalitarians. Imagine paying out to compensate someone who unhappy because she thinks she ought to be the queen and rule everyone.
Problem b) Expensive tastes
- Louis sets out to develop a taste for plover's eggs and expensive claret, and then can't be happy without these delicacies.
- Compare Jude, who is happy with a simple life. Should we give Louis more resources?
- Jude becomes interested in bullfighting and wants to travel to Spain. Jude would still have less money than anyone else. Should he have it?
- If our concern is welfare, what is the difference between Jude and Louis?
Problem c) Welfare deficits that can't be compensated
- Some sources of welfare seem to have nothing to do with the government.
- Take religious guilt. Destroy point of religious burden to compensate for guilt, and regarding guilt as bad luck incompatible with viewing religion as matter of conviction people adhere to because it is right. (Scanlon's example)
Problem d) Deeply personal concerns
- Charles wants Mary to marry him. She refuses, and Charles is devastated. Not clear point of political equality to compensate Charles.
- Dworkin examples: Charles wants life on Mars found, or a species preserved. Not clear government should compensate Charles for the natural world not turning out as he wanted.
Problem e) Handicaps and Tiny Tim
- We assume handicaps deserve compensation.
- Cohen example: Tiny Tim paralysed and needs expensive wheelchair. We give one, without asking what welfare level Tim is reduced to.
- Suppose Tim has a happy disposition, and so a high welfare level. Do we still give a wheelchair?
- Suppose Tim asks for an expensive violin instead?
- Cohen thinks welfare level unimportant in compensating for disability. We can't assume the disabled suffer low welfare. The deaf in particular seriously object to this kind of assumption.
Problem f) Bad welfare converters
- There are people who translate resources into welfare inefficiently.
- They may be chronically depressed, or just unable to decide what they want from life, or pursue any plan for the length of time necessary for success. They may just not want to work.
- Many are disinclined to compensate such people. They have less as a result of their own choices.
The common themes
- In welfare egalitarianism, every source of welfare is counted equally, which is counterintuitive.
- Some sources of welfare are nothing to do with the political system - personal.
- The overall value of people's lives not easy to define as enjoyment or preference satisfaction. Louis would rather have expensive tastes, even though they are difficult to satisfy.
- Equality of welfare doesn't hold people responsible for choices.
Part 2c Equality of resources
- Intuitive idea people have fair share and then up to them what they do with that fair share - decide what adds to their welfare and pursue it.
- Move to try to integrate equality and responsibility. No compensation for bad converters.
- Political system not have to make decision about acceptability or otherwise of certain sources of welfare. Louis can pursue expensive tastes.
Dworkin's resource egalitarianism
- We should equalise the set of resources (material goods and certain natural talents or disabilities) that people need to have a chance at living the life they'd like to live.
- Equalise effects of brute luck but not option luck:
- Brute luck: factors that influence how well your life goes that you are not responsible for and which are not chosen by you.
- Option luck: factors you're not responsible for, but are in some way chosen by you e.g. gambling.
- People value resources differently, because different views of the good life require different resources.
- Dworkin suggests we rate resources by deciding how much people would be willing to give up to get a particular resource. This is the opportunity cost of that resource. In theory a market does this.
- Envy test: Distribution must be so that everyone prefers his resources to everyone else's.
The hypothetical auction
- Conceive of people beginning from a position of equality, with equal purchasing power - the auction and insurance scheme.
- The auction: Envisage shipwreck on deserted island with abundant resources. Everyone starts with equal purchasing power and bids for resources. Auction results must meet envy test.
The insurance scheme
- People insure against low income resulting from their place in the natural talent distribution.
- Handicap: Assume everyone would buy insurance against handicap and compensate accordingly through tax and redistribution.
- Talents: Calculate most would insure against not attaining a modest income. Tax and redistribution at this level. Dworkin thinks it will be higher than that at which welfare payments are currently made in the US and UK.
Some inequality will remain
- Can end up with a fairly unequal distribution of actual stuff. The distribution is supposed to reflect people's choices.
- Dworkin discusses example of Adrian who works hard and does well. Dworkin points out that people don't envy his overall bundle of work plus extra stuff - they weren't prepared to choose the hardworking life to get the stuff.
- So when you consider the situation accurately, the new distribution still passes the envy test.
Tension in the theory
- Dworkin says the requirements of equality in the real world pull in opposite directions:
- 1 Distribution of resources at any one point must be ambition sensitive - reflect cost to others of choices people make, and allow gains like Adrian's.
- 2 Distribution of resources at any one point must not be endowment-sensitive i.e. affected by differences in ability.
- This will always make for some indeterminacy in what is an equal distribution of resources.
Part 3: What is the point of equality?
- Anderson criticises 'Luck egalitarianism':
- 1 Excludes some citizens from enjoying social conditions for freedom on spurious ground that the loss is their fault.
- 2 Makes the basis of citizens' claim on each other the fact that some are inferior.
- 3 In attempting to make people take responsibility for choices, makes demeaning and intrusive judgements of people's capacities and dictates to them appropriate uses of their freedom.
- '....mean-spirited, contemptuous, parochial vision of a society.....' (Anderson p308)
Anderson's 'Democratic Equality'
- Guarantee to all law-abiding citizens effective access to social conditions of their freedom.
- Seek to oppose oppression: help e.g. vulnerable caretakers, gays reveal identity publicly, disabled reconfigure public spaces that work against them.
- Concern with socially imposed inequalities, solved by social change. Not concerned with supposed injustices of nature.
- Anderson wants to assert equal moral worth of people and seek a social order where people stand in relations of equality.
- Suppose you are in a car accident that's your fault. You damage your leg and your son is killed.
- We don't seek to compensate the awful loss of your son, but do give you surgery on your leg, regardless that the accident was your fault.
- This is because the best health you can get is an entitlement, necessary to function as an equal citizen in a democratic state, and escape oppressive relationships.
Democratic equality and earlier worries:
- Anderson can explain why Tim gets his wheelchair, but not the Stradivarius.
- Anderson can also explain why exploitative or oppressive relationships are bad even among the relatively privileged. Rich girl who is a carer for her gran, but is denied access to university education her brothers get. Still unfair sexism.
- Similarly worrying if someone, however rich, must fear attack or suffer shame motivated by his race or sexuality.
- Understood that there is a serious issue about what an egalitarian should seek to equalise.
- Equal opportunity almost everyone favours.
- Equality of welfare. Intuitive but problems like expensive tastes and bad welfare converters.
- Equality of resources more promising. Get your fair share, but up to you what you do with it. So you can benefit from hard work. Difficult to make distribution not depend on talents.
- Anderson: focus on existing egalitarian politics.
- We have still to examine the arguments of the unabashedly inegalitarian.
- We start this with Nozick, next week. He argues that we own ourselves, including our talents, so we are in a strong way entitled to the fruits of those talents. The starving have no claim of justice on, say, David Beckham's income, although they might have a claim of charity.
Lecture 5: Nozick on Freedom
* Nozick: Anarchy, State and Utopia, Ch 7 essentially reprinted in Robert E. Goodin and Philip Pettit eds, Contemporary Political Philosophy: An Anthology. Focus on the sections titled 'Historical principles and end-result principles', 'Patterning' and 'How liberty upsets patterns'. Think about the Wilt Chamberlain example.
GA Cohen: 'Robert Nozick and Wilt Chamberlain: how patterns preserve liberty' in his Self-Ownership, Freedom and Equality
Hillel Steiner: An Essay on Rights Ch 2 'Liberty' introductory section and section A only pp. 6-21.
Ian Carter: A Measure of Freedom Ch 1 'The concept of overall freedom' pp. 11-30.
Two books which are generally useful on Nozick are:
J Wolff: Robert Nozick: Property, Justice and the Minimal State, Polity Press, 1991
J Paul: Reading Nozick, Blackwell, 1981
- Aim to understand and critically assess Nozick’s views:
- Today we look at Nozick’s criticism of ‘patterned’ distributions
- This is Nozick’s version of the claim that equality is not compatible with liberty.
- 1 Last week
- 2 Nozick’s Argument
- 3 First response: Why see freedom as the prime social value?
- 4 Second response: Reject Nozick’s claims about motivations.
- 5 Third response: What type of freedom is undermined by the imposition of patterns?
- 6 Summary and next week
Part 2: Nozick’s Argument
- Nozick says that any theory of distributive justice will be:
- i) Either a historical or a current time-slice theory.
- ii) Either patterned or unpatterned.
i) Historical theories
- A principle of distribution is historical if it implies that ‘whether a distribution is just depends upon how it came about’ (Nozick p153)
– Property should only be transferred through voluntary transactions.
– Property should be distributed according to the hours people work.
- The past circumstances or actions of people can create differential entitlements to things.
i) Current time-slice theories
- Current time-slice principles hold ‘that the justice of a distribution is determined by how things are distributed (who has what) as judged by some structural principle(s) of just distribution’ (p153).
– Property should be distributed exactly equally.
– Property should be distributed so that happiness is immediately maximised.
- Only need to look at who has what now. Any two structurally identical distributions are equally just.
ii) Patterned theories
- •A principle of distribution patterned ‘if it specifies that a distribution is to vary along with some natural dimension, weighted sum of natural dimensions, or lexicographic ordering of natural dimensions’. (p156)
– Property should be proportional to moral desert, or amount worked, or IQ, or needs, and so on.
- Individuals ranked according to some dimension, and get corresponding share of resources.
ii) Unpatterned theories
- By contrast, unpatterned principles of distribution do not pick out some particular dimension and say that distributions of property should vary in proportion to it.
– Strictly egalitarian theory – desert, amount of work, IQ and so on don’t matter; everyone still gets the same share.
- Pick any distribution you think fair, call it D1. This might be an exactly equal distribution.
- Suppose Wilt Chamberlain, a great basketball player, signs a contract that says he gets 25 cents from price of each ticket for home games. People come along to watch, putting their 25 cents in the Wilt Chamberlain box.
- After 1 season Wilt Chamberlain has $250,000, much more than anyone else.
- The new distribution, D2, cannot be unjust because everyone is entitled to their holdings under D1, and many freely chose to give their 25 cents to Chamberlain.
- ‘If the people were entitled to dispose of the resources to which they were entitled (under D1), didn’t this include their being entitled to give it to, or exchange it with, Wilt Chamberlain?’ (p161)
- Nozick says third parties have no cause for complaint, since their situation hasn’t changed.
- Nozick says the general point is: ‘no end-state principle or distributional patterned principle of justice can be continuously realized without continuous interference with people’s lives. … To maintain a pattern one must either continually interfere to stop people from transferring resources as they wish to, or continually (or periodically) interfere to take from some persons resources that others for some reason chose to transfer to them.’ (p163)
Part 3: First response
- Why see freedom as the prime social value?
- Nozick thinks we should prioritise liberty over equality, but this needs more argument in favour of liberty.
- It isn’t clear freedom is the most important value. What about wellbeing? We might have aims other than freedom in dividing up goods.
- There will always be a problem of how to weigh or compare different basic values like freedom, wellbeing, knowledge, beauty and so on.
Part 4: Second response
- Reject Nozick’s claims about motivations.
- Nozick thinks people living within a ‘pattern’ will always want to use their property in ways which will undermine the continuation of the ‘pattern’.
- But this might not be true. Perhaps in an egalitarian society, people will not be willing to give away money in a way that would create massive inequalities. People might want to keep to the pattern.
- ‘The people in Nozick’s state of nature are intelligible only as well-socialized products of a market society. In the contrary socialist conception, human beings have and may develop further a (non-instrumental) desire for community, a relish of cooperation, and an aversion to being on either side of a master/servant relationship.’ (Cohen p29)
- Key premise: people’s wishes and concerns are, at least in part, a product of the society in which they grew up.
- 'How much equality would conflict with liberty in given circumstances depends on how much people would value equality in those circumstances. If life in a cooperative commonwealth appeals to them, they do not have to sacrifice liberty to belong to it.’ (Cohen p29)
- If people want to stick to the pattern, you don’t need to keep interfering in their lives to maintain the pattern. No need for laws to prevent people from doing what they do not do anyway.
Part 5: Third response
- Nozick thinks freedom will be infringed, because the following might be necessary to maintain a pattern:
- a) Taxation and expropriation (coercively taking resources from some people, to pay for public services, or give to other people).
- b) Restrictions on what people can do with their property e.g. planning restrictions or forbidding everyone to give their property to one powerful person.
Problems with the concept ‘freedom’
‘I am free to become a ballerina.’
True: I am free to become a ballerina
- There are no laws preventing me becoming a ballerina.
- There are ballet schools, and dance companies, and theatres, and companies that make ballet shoes and so on – the institutions necessary to support being a ballerina exist.
- If I did passionately want to be a ballerina, my family and friends would be supportive (if a bit surprised).
False: I am not free to become a ballerina
- Ballet requires long training. How will I support myself?
- Ballet requires training from a very young age. I’m 28, which is much too late to become any good.
- Ballet requires certain skills such as strength, suppleness, ability to work extremely hard at physical training and so on which I almost entirely lack.
- I don’t want to be a ballerina. If ballet were banned, my life would not be affected.
- Is banning ballet an infringement of my freedom?
- I do like sailing. Sailing being banned would be a big disaster for me. Would banning sailing be an infringement of my freedom?
- Suppose there is good reason for the ban, like freak weather conditions making sailing dangerous. Is the ban still an infringement of my freedom?
Compare: ‘I am free to drive where I like.’
– I can physically drive, and I have a licence and car.
– There are roads and maps and so on so that I can generally get to places I want to go to.
– There are laws that forbid certain actions – I am forbidden to drive on the right side of the road, and park across people’s drives and so on.
– There are good prudential reasons for avoiding certain actions – concern for safety of myself and others.
- Nozick thinks taxation and restrictions on what people can do with their property are important (unjustifiable) restrictions on their freedom.
- If good reason for law, less clear the law is an infringement of freedom:
– If good reason for banning sailing, might not infringe my freedom to ban it.
- Some restrictions on my options might increase my overall freedom:
– The fact that nobody is supposed to drive on the right limits my options but helps me get places safely, so increasing my overall freedom.
Nozick’s conception of freedom
- Cohen says Nozick has ‘rights-definition of freedom’: a person’s freedom is being unimpeded in doing what he has a right to do.
- Fishermen have no right to trample on the land, so gain no freedom by being allowed to. Landowner loses freedom because prevented from doing what has a right to do.
- If freedom is defined this way each and every person has less freedom under a patterned system than they would under Nozick’s favoured free market system.
Back to Wilt Chamberlain
- Cohen says Chamberlain fans really get pleasure of watching game minus 25 cents minus the disbenefit of the power acquired by Chamberlain.
- ‘Among the reasons for limiting how much an individual may hold, regardless of how he came to hold it, is to prevent him from acquiring, through his holdings, an unacceptable amount of power over others: the Chamberlain transaction looks less harmless when we focus on that consideration.’ (p25)
- Cohen points out Nozick can’t assume that the rights people are given under D1 are unrestricted. ‘Whatever principles underlie D1 will generate restrictions on the use of what is distributed in accordance with them.’ (Cohen p28)
- An egalitarian distributional policy wouldn’t say ‘You each get x%, but you can do whatever you like with it, and we will not tax you, even if you all give a lot to one person, and he starts using his power and control over many resources to force everyone to work for minimal wages.’
Nozick on limiting opportunities
- ‘Other people’s actions may place limits on one’s available opportunities. Whether this makes one’s resulting action non-voluntary depends upon whether these others had the right to act as they did.’ (Nozick p267)
- Nozick admits my actions might cause harm to third parties, and can certainly limit their options. He still thinks everyone has a right to give 25 cents to Chamberlain, whatever harm might ensue.
The full implications of Nozick’s view
- Nozick thinks everyone has a natural right not to work for any other.
- He thinks that even in modern capitalist society everyone counts as entitled to work for no one if they choose.
- Nozick thinks even people who take a job they hate for poor wages rather than starving choose freely. Actions of others limit their options, but since others had the right to act as they did, the freedom of the poor is not infringed.
Summary of 3rd criticism of Nozick
- i) Patterned systems only inevitably restrict overall freedom on ‘rights-definition of freedom’. If use other conceptions of freedom, patterns might promote overall freedom.
- ii) ‘Rights-definition of freedom’ neither attractive or plausible account of freedom. We will think about how Nozick’s positive theory might help justify his conception next week.
- iii) ‘Rights-definition of freedom’ presupposes the existence of justified property rights. Question-begging.
- We have looked at Nozick’s argument that patterned distributions always interfere with liberty, using the deceptively simple Wilt Chamberlain example.
- 1 Why promote liberty above everything else?
- 2 Why assume people won’t themselves be motivated to maintain equality?
- 3 Nozick is advancing certain liberties at the cost of other important liberties.
- Nozick’s positive ‘entitlement theory’.
- We will look at the rights of self-ownership that Nozick thinks grounds his views about freedom.
Lecture 6: Nozick on Self-Ownership and Property
* Nozick: Anarchy, State and Utopia, Ch 7 essentially reprinted in Robert E. Goodin and Philip Pettit eds, Contemporary Political Philosophy: An Anthology. Focus on the first sections where Nozick outlines his 'Entitlement theory' of justice and the final section where he discusses Locke's theory of acquisition.
Locke: Second Treatise, Ch 5. Since Nozick and most other theorists in the area comment on Locke, you might want to remind yourself what he says.
G. A. Cohen: 'Self-Ownership, World-Ownership and Equality', in F. Lucash (ed.) Justice and Equality Here and Now
G.A.Cohen: Self Ownership, Freedom and Equality (contains the item above and much else).
Hillel Steiner: An Essay on Rights, ch 7
Will Kymlicka: Contemporary Political Philosophy, pp. 95-125
Jeremy Waldron: The Right to Private Property Ch 7 'Historical entitlement: some difficulties' pp. 253-283
M Otsuka: Libertarianism Without Inequality, Ch 1 'Self-Ownership and Equality' pp. 11-40.
- Aim to understand and critically assess Nozick’s views:
- Today we look at Nozick’s positive views: the ‘Entitlement Theory’.
- Last week
- Nozick’s Entitlement Theory
- Nozick on self-ownership
- Cohen on initial acquisition
- Nozick on rights
- Otsuka on the compatibility of self-ownership and equality
- Summary and next week
Part 2: Nozick’s Entitlement Theory
- Principle of transfer: whatever is justly acquired can be justly transferred.
- Principle of just initial acquisition: account of how people come to initially own the things that can then be transferred.
- Principle of the rectification of injustice.
Implications of the entitlement theory
- N’s slogan ‘From each as they choose, to each as they are chosen.’ p160
- Implications pretty extreme. N thinks only the minimal state is justified, so there is no liberal redistribution scheme. The only legitimate tax is to maintain institutions necessary for free exchange e.g. police and justice system.
- Even so, N thinks the wage slave is free. Nobody, not even somebody in great need, has a claim of justice on the huge earnings of Wilt Chamberlain.
- Kymlicka identifies two arguments in ASU:
1) The intuitive argument from the Wilt Chamberlain example, depending on intuitions about liberty. We criticised this last week.
2) The argument from self-ownership. This week we study this.
Part 3: Nozick on self-ownership
- Idea familiar from Locke: ‘every Man has a Property in his own Person. This no Body has any Right to but himself’ (2nd Treatise S27.
- N’s views on self-ownership and private property do closely parallel Locke, but their views are NOT the same. N is more extreme.
Nozick links SO and property
- ‘[When people tax you or force you to work, this] makes them a part owner of you; it gives them a property right in you […] End state and most patterned principles of distributive justice institute (partial) ownership by others of people and their actions and labour. These principles involve a shift from the classical liberals’ notions of self-ownership to a notion of (partial) property rights in other people.’ p172
SO has intuitive appeal
- Cohen: ‘if I am the moral owner of myself, and therefore of this right arm, then, while others are entitled to prevent it from hitting people, no one is entitled, without my consent, to press it into their own or anyone else’s service, even when my failure to lend it voluntarily to others would be morally wrong.’ (Self-ownership, world ownership and equality p109)
Locke on initial acquisition
- Locke says communally owned things become privately owned by an individual if:
i) the individual labours on the materials and
ii) the following provisos are met:
(a) enough and as good is left for others and
(b) the individual does not leave the objects to spoil.
Nozick on initial acquisition
- Nozick thinks things come to be privately owned from being unowned if:
i) Action [unspecified, to do with self-ownership] and
ii) the following proviso is met: others’ conditions are not worsened by the acquisition.
Nozick’s crucial proviso
- ‘The crucial point is whether appropriation of an unowned object worsens the situation of others.’ p175
- ‘Someone may be made worse off by another’s appropriation in two ways: first, by losing the opportunity to improve his situation by a particular appropriation … ; and second, by no longer being able to use freely … what he previously could.’ p176
Nozick’s proviso is weak
- N’s proviso ‘does not include the worsening due to more limited opportunities to appropriate.’
- ‘Someone whose appropriation otherwise would violate the proviso still may appropriate provided he compensates the others so that their situation is not thereby worsened.’ p178
Part 4: Cohen on initial acquisition
- Cohen accepts self-ownership, remember.
- Cohen also agrees that if appropriation is harmless, it is hard to criticise.
- Cohen: ‘But there is no comparable presumptive narrative tie between any person and any part or portion of the external world.’ p112
- Cohen thinks N’s proviso will not work.
- Jack might be materially better off but worse off in other ways.
- Suppose Jill seizes all the land. She is a good organiser and pays Jack a decent salary from the abundant amount of food they grow together. Both of them materially better off than when they first washed ashore.
- Jack is worse off in that he is in Jill’s power. She makes the big decisions, and it is not clear that his increased material welfare compensates him.
- Jack might be materially worse off relative to some other possible arrangement.
- Suppose Jack is a better organiser than Jill. BOTH would be better off, even considering only material wellbeing, if Jack had grabbed first.
- N also seems to allow Jill, as first grabber, to own the land. Jack, the better organiser, contributes more to their food production, but Jill takes the lion’s share of the produce, because Jack is forced to work for her or starve.
- Perhaps the island, and the planet, are communally owned.
- N assumes world initially unowned.
- If island communally owned, Jack and Jill have to negotiate. If one of them has important skills, may negotiate bigger share. But even if one of them is disabled, so long as the island is communally owned, likely to be able to negotiate at least a subsistence living.
- No reason to give first grabber any status at all.
- N says things come into the world already attached to people having entitlements over them.
- Cohen says this is false ‘since people create nothing ex nihilo, and all external private property either is or was made of something that was once no one’s private property.’ (p119)
Part 5: Nozick on rights
- ‘Individuals have rights, and there are things no person or group may do to them (without violating these rights).’ ASU page ix
- ‘Side constraints upon action [i.e. rights] reflect the underlying Kantian principle that individuals are ends and not merely means; they may not be sacrificed or used for the achieving of other ends without their consent. Individuals are inviolable.’ ASU p31
SO and treating people as ends
- Self ownership supposed to be an elaboration of the idea of treating people as ends not means.
- N feels that real SO requires the ability to shape your life in some substantial way. You need private property, because you can’t do much without it.
- N, in agreement with R, thinks that different people are distinct individuals with distinct claims, so there are limits to the sacrifices you can make one person make for others. Seems right.
Nozick’s slant on treating people as ends
- N, and libertarians generally, is concerned with with non-interference rights.
- But to treat people as ends plausibly involves positive assistance. You might think universal education absolutely crucial for treating people as ends, since it is crucial to substantive self-determination, but N doesn’t allow taxation to pay for it.
- N very concerned with self-determination, but won’t allow everyone to have it. The wage slave who can’t afford to educate his children, and then his children, will lack it.
- So arguably N doesn’t have a good interpretation of treating people as means.
Part 6: Otsuka on the compatibility of SO and equality
- Otsuka argues that the apparent conflict between SO and equality is an illusion.
- N could only be convincing about unlimited rights in private property if no resources were used to produce the property, which is almost never true.
- ‘Taxation of earnings from labor is on a par with forced labor.’ (Nozick p169).
- But taxation can’t literally be forced labour. Whatever your rights over the worldly resources you use to earn income, they are not as full as your right of ownership over yourself.
Otsuka’s egalitarian proviso
- Otsuka says we should allow private property only according to an alternative proviso: ‘You may acquire previously unowned worldly resources if and only if you leave enough so that everyone else can acquire an equally advantageous share of unowned worldly resources.’ p24
- On this reading, self-ownership is perfectly compatible with an egalitarian distribution of resources. Egalitarian proviso seems much more likely to license private property than Nozick’s.
- Looked at Nozick’s entitlement theory, particularly Nozick’s theory of initial acquisition of unowned goods.
- Studied Cohen’s three problems with Nozick’s theory of acquisition.
- Criticised Nozick’s derivation of SO and private property from the Kantian requirement of treating people as ends.
Next week: Rawls
- Rawls worries about his hypothetical contract.
- Look at Rawls’s later attempt to make sense of accepting his modified, but still liberal, theory in a modern democratic state.
- Broad problem for liberal theories, which aim to tolerate conflicting conceptions of the good. What is a liberal to say to someone whose conception of the good is anti-liberal, and who hates being forced to live in a liberal state?
- Rawls makes his theory less abstract and more political.
Lecture 7: Political Liberalism
* John Rawls: 'Justice as Fairness: Political not Metaphysical' in Philosophy and Public Affairs 14, no, 3 (1985) and in Milton Fisk ed. Justice
* John Rawls: 'The Domain of the Political and Overlapping Consensus' in Robert E. Goodin and Philip Pettit eds, Contemporary Political Philosophy: An Anthology
* John Rawls: Political Liberalism, Introduction and ch. 1
Jeremy Waldron: 'Theoretical Foundations of Liberalism' in his Liberal Rights, and in Philosophical Quarterly, 37 (1987)
Jean Hampton: 'The Moral Commitments of Liberalism', in Copp, Roemer and Hampton (eds) The Idea of Democracy.
- We seek to critically assess Rawls’s later political philosophy.
- In particular, we will study the problem of how to have a secure and stable democracy when there are a plurality of conflicting conceptions of the good.
- Last week
- Reminder: Worries about Rawls’s Theory
- The problem for Rawls
- Rawls’s Political Liberalism
- Summary and next week
Part 2: Worries about Rawls’s Theory
- Hypothetical nature of the contract – whether it could ever justify anything.
- Generally abstract nature of the theory, with idealised agents, and so on.
- Could the Theory of Justice ever be implemented in a modern democratic state?
- R addresses some of these problems in Political Liberalism, and articles on your reading list.
Part 3: Rawls’s new challenge
- Conflict exists: In any democratic society there are many different and conflicting conceptions of the good.
- Conflict is reasonable and enduring: it is not that people who disagree are unreasonable. People will not come to agreement if they are reasonable and rational enough and given long enough to think about it.
- Any political theory for a democratic society must take account of this.
The ‘burdens of reason’
- (Rawls ‘The Domain of the Political and Overlapping Consensus’ Section 2)
- a) Bearing of evidence on case may be conflicting, complex and hard to assess.
- b) May disagree about weight of different considerations.
- c) All our concepts are vague and subject to hard cases – must rely on judgment and interpolation within some range where reasonable people may differ.
The ‘burdens of reason’
- • d) Total experience to date shapes how we assess evidence and weigh moral and political values, so citizens will differ.
- e) Different kinds of normative considerations of different force on both sides and difficult to make overall assessment.
- f) Any system of social institutions can admit only a limited range of values, so people are forced to hard decisions.
So conflict will endure
- So very unlikely that conscientious and fully reasonable people will arrive at the same conclusion, after free discussion and reflection.
- ‘To see reasonable pluralism as a disaster is to see the exercise of reason under the conditions of freedom itself as a disaster.’ (Political Liberalism pxxiv-xxv)
- Political consensus a serious problem in any democratic society, since no free democratic regime could force everyone to think the same.
What Rawls needs
- Political liberalism p xviii ‘The problem of political liberalism is to work out a conception of political justice for a constitutional democratic regime that the plurality of reasonable doctrines – always a feature of the culture of a free democratic regime – might endorse.’
- Political conception that can accommodate different religions, values – money, family, helping others, changing the world and so on. This what democratic equal and free country seeks.
- Worth noting that Rawls gives two different but interlinked reason:
- 1 In earlier papers: it isn’t justifiable to use state power coercively to decide on a doctrine that isn’t provable. This is why R says he wants his political theory to be political not metaphysical – not based on claims to universal truth.
- 2 Later work: reasonable people can reasonably disagree so unreasonable for society to use coercive power to decide.
Part 4: Rawls’s political liberalism
- To simplify, Rawls’s new approach has two parts:
- 1 Separate the political sphere from the moral sphere.
- 2 Look for ‘overlapping consensus’.
- I will take these in turn.
Separate political and moral spheres
- ‘Political liberalism sees its form of political philosophy as having its own subject matter: how is a just and free society possible under conditions of deep doctrinal conflict with no prospect of resolution?’ (PL pxxviii)
- So the sphere of political values is different. It is still a moral conception, but it is applied only to the political – the political, social and economic institutions i.e. the basic structure of society.
- Applying moral values to the political is special.
Political values separate from conceptions of the good
- Idea is we can accept political values from the point of view of many different comprehensive conceptions of the good, with their differing moral stances.
- Political Liberalism ‘offers no specific metaphysical or epistemological doctrine beyond what is implied by the political conception itself. … citizens themselves … view the political conception as derived from, or congruent with, or at least not in conflict with, their other values.’ (p10-11)
The relation of political and private
- ‘I assume all citizens to affirm a comprehensive doctrine to which the political conception they accept is in some way related. But a distinguishing feature of a political conception is that it is presented as freestanding and expounded apart from, or without reference to, any such wider background.’ (PL p12)
- Political conception NOT a simple matter of an application of a general moral conception. All general moral conceptions come from particular comprehensive views of the good.
- ‘We start, then, by looking to the public culture itself as the shared fund of implicitly recognized basic ideas and principles. We hope to formulate these ideas and principles clearly enough to be combined into a political conception of justice congenial to our most firmly held convictions.’ (PL p8)
- Look at what people publicly believe, to find common strands. Collect settled convictions and try to arrange ideas and principles implicit in them into coherent conception of justice.
Independent of comprehensive conceptions again
- ‘to attain such a shared reason, the conception of justice should be, as far as possible, independent of the opposing and conflicting philosophical and religious doctrines that citizens affirm. In formulating such a conception, political liberalism applies the principle of toleration to philosophy itself.’ (PL p9-10)
- Works if we manage to shape the deeper bases of agreement embedded in the public political culture of a constitutional regime into one coherent view.
- ‘Thus, political liberalism looks for a political conception of justice that we hope can gain the support of an overlapping consensus of reasonable religious, philosophical, and moral doctrines in a society regulated by it.’ (PL p10)
- Once we get it, we have a publicly recognised point of view that is the same for each citizen that all can use to see whether their political and social institutions are just.
The two aspects together
- Political sphere different from moral, so can affirm different moral and political values.
- This why many people with different conceptions of the good can sign up to one particular political conception of justice – overlapping consensus.
- Resulting regime will be stable: ‘those who grow up in a society well-ordered by it … develop a sufficient allegiance to those institutions … , so that they normally act as justice requires, provided they are assured that others will do likewise.’ (The Domain of the Political and Overlapping Consensus p276)
Relation to Theory
- ‘This organising idea is that of society as a fair system of social cooperation between free and equal persons viewed as fully cooperating members of society over a complete life.’ (PL p9) This is similar to Theory.
- Still thinks the two principles of justice should govern the basic structure of society. They are guidelines for how the basic institutions are to realize the values of liberty and equality.
The original position
- OP ‘is introduced in order to work out which conception of justice … specifies the most appropriate principles for realizing liberty and equality once society is viewed as a fair system of cooperation between free and equal citizens.’ (PL p22)
- ‘In sum, the original position is simply a device of representation: it describes the parties, each of whom are responsible for the essential interests of a free and equal person, as fairly situated and as reaching an agreement subject to appropriate restrictions on what are to count as good reasons.’ (P58 DPOC)
The original position and overlapping consensus
- The OP generates the overlapping consensus.
- OP acts as ‘unifying idea by which our considered convictions at all levels of generality are brought to bear on one another so as to achieve greater mutual agreement and self-understanding.’ (P58 DPOC)
- This overlapping consensus presumably involves the two principles of justice, and Rawls thinks it will involve the ideals of freedom and equality.
Summary (PL p44)
- ‘three conditions seem to be sufficient for society to be a fair and stable system of cooperation between free and equal citizens who are deeply divided by the reasonable comprehensive doctrines they affirm. First, the basic structure of society is regulated by a political conception of justice; second, this political conception is the focus of an overlapping consensus of reasonable comprehensive doctrines; and third, public discussion, when constitutional essentials and questions of basic justice are at stake, is conducted in terms of the political conception of justice. This brief summation characterises political liberalism and how it understands the ideal of constitutional democracy.’
The problem for Rawls
- Can you really separate the moral and political spheres?
- Can you do this so that people with as widely different views of the good life as we do find in democratic society could all freely sign up to the two principles of justice, freedom and equality, and willingly support them all their lives?
Private public divide
- If you have a view of political sphere as just a framework for cooperation that lets us all get on with what’s most important, seems okay.
- But obviously BEST position if you are a liberal morally too, and in your private life value liberty, equality and tolerance. Then you morally endorse your political system wholeheartedly.
- This is what Rawls really hopes for. But by his own arguments, many in Western democracy won’t be in that position.
Liberalism a comprehensive conception of the good
- Can’t have a political conception independent of a comprehensive conception of the good life, because people with differing conceptions of the good differ on the nature of morality and the value of liberal values like autonomy.
- Liberal neutrality springs from a particular comprehensive conception of the good life that values autonomy, individual liberty and so on.
- But some people just don’t value such things. Liberals have a MORAL disagreement with them.
Two views on overlapping consensus
- 1 It arises out of what people happen to believe in a particular society. Then it has scope for being genuinely neutral.
- Rawls clear he doesn’t want this.
- 2 Say something positive about what that overlapping consensus will involve. It ought to generate the two principles and involves valuing freedom and equality. Then it is not neutral and some people will oppose – and that opposition will endure, for the reasons Rawls gives.
- Perhaps best we can get is: Liberal state the ideal state. It can’t be imposed on people, because we, as liberals, value the free adherence to a state embodied in a democracy.
- So we can only have the ideally just state when an overlapping consensus naturally forms, and people willingly and democratically adopt such values. Not universally applicable – R seems to accept.
- (In Theory a law is just if it fits in with the two principles of justice, but not legitimate in a particular state until it has been duly enacted by the appropriate institutions.)
Wider problem for liberalism
- Strongly embedded in our world-view that liberal values are just. Democracy, equality and the protection of individual freedom are necessary components of any just state.
- But this springs from a particular comprehensive doctrine of the good, not shared by all. If we truly value democracy, then we value people governing themselves. Then those who reject liberal values must be taken SERIOUSLY.
- Liberal neutrality is strictly limited.
- Looked at the problem of stable government in the face of enduring pluralism.
- Seen this is a deep problem for all liberals given the liberal commitments to individual autonomy and tolerance.
- Not clear that a liberal can do more than advocate liberalism where people will willingly support it.
- Might hope that in time, with greater education, more people will come to value individual autonomy and tolerance – liberal values.
- Extended criticism of liberalism, in particular the liberal ideal of the self as divorced from the values it holds, and the community it lives in, and able to criticise those values from some neutral position.
- This will strike a chord with some of your worries about the original position.
Lecture 8: Communitarian Critics of Liberalism
Michael Walzer: Spheres of Justice, Ch. 1
Michael Sandel: 'The Procedural Republic and the Unencumbered Self', in Shlomo Avineri and Avner de-Shalit (eds.), Communitarianism and Individualism
Charles Taylor: 'Atomism', in Shlomo Avineri and Avner de-Shalit (eds.), Communitarianism and Individualism
Amy Gutmann: 'Communitarian Critics of Liberalism', in Shlomo Avineri and Avner de-Shalit (eds.), Communitarianism and Individualism.
- We seek to understand the communitarian attack on liberalism.
- In particular, we will study the communitarian criticisms of the liberal conception of the self, and rights and choice conceived of as prior to society.
- 1 Last week
- 2 What communitarianism is
- 3 Communitarians on the self
3a Liberal response
- 4 Communitarians on equality
4a Liberal response
- 5 Summary and next week
- Commitment to freedom.
- Commitment to equality.
- Belief that state’s role is to enhance freedom and equality.
- Commitment to legitimacy of the state, in the eyes of those subject to its rules. (Legitimacy secured vie a mechanism of consent e.g. elections.)
- ‘Reason’, which is common to everyone, is or ought to be the guiding tool of decision-making and governance.
Communitarianism in general:
- Set of theories that tend to define themselves in opposition to liberalism in these ways:
- Freedom that liberals describe is empty and unnecessarily universalising.
- Impossible to define the self prior to her ends.
- Whatever principles we share emerge from community debate and discussion, they are culturally embedded.
- The terms of the debate, over which principles of justice we might like, are themselves culturally specific.
- Community is intrinsically rather than instrumentally valuable.
Two strands in communitarian thinking
- Criticism of the liberal conception of the self
– Look at Sandel and Taylor, who think the liberal conception of the ‘unencumbered’ self is nonsense, and that this has profound implications for societal ties, rights and choice.
- 2 Walzer on equality
– Applying communitarian view on liberal mistakes more widely. Walzer thinks that in misunderstanding the self and the nature of goods, liberals have too simplistic a conception of what it is to aim at equality.
Rawls on the priority of right over good
- Theory of Justice:
– OP ideally rational agents, subject to veil of ignorance and constraints on rationality. Parties can choose ideally fair principles while ignorant of their comprehensive conceptions of the good.
– Right prior to good.
- Political Liberalism:
– Divide political and moral spheres so that your political public views might be different from your private moral ones.
– Right can be separated from good.
Sandel against the ‘unencumbered self’
- Sandel says the liberal vision of the self comes from a Kantian view: that we will the moral law qua participants in pure practical reason, not due to any of the particularities of us. The subject is prior to its ends, what it thinks of as good, so can have conception of right prior to the good.
- Liberal thinks there’s a distinction between the values I have and person I am. I have no constitutive ends – ends that are crucial to my identity
- For the liberal, our capacity to choose ends most essential to our personhood, not the ends we have.
Thin vision of the self
- Sandel on the liberal self: ‘Only if the self is prior to its ends can the right be prior to the good. Only if my identity is never tied to the aims and interests I may have at any moment can I think of myself as a free and independent agent, capable of choice.’ (p19)
- But in fact people are bound by moral ties prior to choice, ties so strong that questioning them could put the self at stake. So we can’t make sense of our moral and political lives in this way.
Choice impossible or worthless in the OP
- The people in the OP are imagined without encumbrances like gender, race, religion, class, values etc. But this is not a good way to imagine people deliberating about justice, because there is no self without ends. Can’t separate me from the values I hold in any meaningful way.
- Someone free of these encumbrances not ideally rat but without character and moral depth. ‘For to have character is to know that I move in a history I neither summon nor command, which carries consequences none the less for my choices and conduct.’ (Sandel p23)
Communitarians on the difference principle
- Sandel thinks sharing presupposes a moral tie, not just mutual cooperation. He says the DP ‘requires, but cannot provide, … some way of seeing ourselves as mutually indebted and morally engaged to begin with.’ (p23)
- Only because we do share extraordinarily strong ties to other members of our communities that any claims of distributive justice have force. These ties are not just values I happen to have or obligations I voluntarily incur or natural duties owed to human beings as such.
Communitarians on choice
- Liberals exalt human reason – exalt choice and institute rights to protect individual choices – autonomy.
- Taylor, like Sandel, attacks the liberal self. He criticises ‘atomism’, denying that people are self-sufficient alone.
- Actually man is a social animal. People are dependent on each other and the communities in which they live to live fulfilling lives.
- Choice is a capacity that must be developed in society. Choice alone an empty thing if no valuable things to choose, or no way of evaluating what is and isn’t valuable. This dependent on your personal history.
Communitarians on rights
- To give a right to a person is to say the person has a moral claim on us not to interfere – because the right protects some valuable human capacity.
- Rights are instituted to protect individual choices, but a valuable capacity for choice can only be developed in society.
- So no sense to liberal claim that rights bind unconditionally, while a principle of belonging or obligation doesn’t. If rights protect a capacity that can only develop when bound to a community, principle of belonging looks primary.
- What’s really important is autonomy in one’s most important commitments, and this only develops in society.
- Taylor ‘the free individual of the West is only what he is by virtue of the whole society and civilization which brought him to be and which nourishes him…’ (p45)
Summary of communitarians on the self
- Communitarians think the self is partially constituted by the ends it has, and so it can’t be separated from those ends.
- Any principle of distributive justice presupposes strong moral ties in society that liberals ignore.
- Since the capacity for choice that rights are supposed to protect cannot develop except when the self has values and is bound into a community, it is not clear that rights can be the first stop for a political theory.
- We don’t want to set just any comprehensive conception of the good in the place of liberalism.
- Generally, communitarians think you are committed to your community, you have very strong moral ties, including obligations to it.
- For example, your rights can be sacrificed for the sake of the common good.
- Well maybe some rights under certain circumstances, but how far do we want to take this?
Liberalism and oppression
- Liberalism is a response to oppression.
- Liberalism is fundamentally a rejection of the belief that anyone knows better than you what is in your interests, what harms you, what you should believe, and feel, and want.
- Liberals want to give you the freedom to think about and develop your beliefs about the good life.
- Whatever we said last week, the liberal is trying to prevent some people imposing their beliefs on others. Liberal ideal still has a strong attraction.
- So maybe communitarianism best thought of as indicating liberalism needs modified, and not something we want to replace liberalism wholesale.
- Liberals should take more account of the embeddedness of the self in the community and of the incredible value of the moral ties we do have with our community.
- There seems to be room for this in interpreting the difference principle, but the idea of the original position remains a problem.
The liberal self
- Amy Gutmann says the self is neither totally free of its ends nor totally encumbered by them.
- Even if the OP is impossible, the self can reflectively examine even very deeply held beliefs piece by piece, and come to have a deeper, subtler and more coherent understanding of itself and its moral views.
- We can deliberately develop our own capacity for choice, considering alternative ways of life and the value of our previous choices, albeit within a community.
- So the liberal reflective agent is possible.
Walzer on distributive justice
- Walzer thinks liberals have too simplistic a conception of distributive justice, springing from their simplistic views of the self, and goods.
- Walzer argues: ‘that the principles of justice are themselves pluralistic in form; that different social goods ought to be distributed for different reasons, in accordance with different procedures, by different agents; and that all these differences derive from different understandings of the social goods themselves – the inevitable product of historical and cultural particularism.’ (p6)
Walzer on goods
- Rejects simplistic liberal account of goods.
- Distributive justice is concerned with social goods.
- The meaning (value) of social goods is social and historical in character.
- There is no set of objective goods, because different things have different values in different societies at different times.
Dominance versus Monopoly
- Dominant: if those who have a good, because they have it, can command a wide range of other goods.
- Monopoly: when single individual or group successfully hold a good against all rivals – a way of owning or controlling social goods in order to exploit their dominance.
- Groups produce ideologies about their claim to monopolise particular dominant goods:
- Aristocracy: claiming breeding and intelligence, monopolising land and reputation.
- Divine supremacy: claiming to know the word of God, monopolising grace and office.
- Meritocracy: claiming talent, monopolising education and training.
- Free exchange: risk takers, monopolising movable wealth.
Over-concerned with monopoly
- Poltical philosophers tend to argue that a particular dominant good should be available to more people.
- Fail to recognising the historical cycling of what happens to be the dominant good in a particular society at a particular time.
- Eg Rawls trying to recognize but constrain the monopoly power of the talented. Need continual state intervention and then state power becomes dominant. State power itself a social good.
Should oppose dominance
- Need to think more long-term, and oppose dominance.
- We should allow natural complexity of distribution. Imagine a society of goods monopolistically held (they always will be). If no particular good is generally convertible, no one group can hold almost every good.
- It doesn’t matter to us if someone monopolises control of flowers, or confetti, so long as such goods are not dominant.
The Open-ended Principle
- Walzer’s formal theory:
- ‘No social good x should be distributed to men and women who possess some other good y merely because they possess y and without regard to the meaning of x. (p20 italics in original.)’
What Walzer means
- Walzer wants you to be unable to turn family reputation and wealth into political power; or secure your children power through good education and a place in the priesthood; or make people believe you (politically or religiously, say) because they fear you.
- Walzer says you have to get such goods by appropriate means, in the correct sphere.
- Different distributive systems for different goods. Get inequality and injustice when little systems get corrupted and a few people or groups start getting more than they should, by underhand means.
Complex, but might be right
- Sounds a bit vague, but his thesis is that you can’t have a simple principle of distribution.
- ‘But complexity is hard: how many goods must be autonomously conceived before the relations they mediate can become the relations of equal men and women? There is no certain answer and hence no ideal regime.’ (p28)
- Other systems, liberal and libertarian alike, are too simplistic. Their vision of equality is an advance, but never more than temporary.
- History of our society does seem to show different goods valued differently at different times, commanding real power at different times.
- Not clear can’t look at a particular society, see what it values, and aim to equalise them. To some extent resource egalitarianism does this.
- Might think some things valuable independently of what society chooses, and perhaps prior to society. So society as a whole could be wrong about whether some things are really valuable. Think about the claim that our society over-values youth and beauty.
- Communitarian objections to liberal self.
- Development of view to criticise liberal exaltation of choice independent of context, undermining the liberal priority of rights.
- Development of a particular liberal view – Michael Walzer on equality.
– Communitarian argument for more complex view, valuing community and local decisions.
– Liberalism got far too simplistic a picture of goods, and hence of distributive justice.
- Justifying democracy.
- We tend to assume that democracy is obviously the best system of government, and only a democratic state is just.
- We will look at particular accounts of the value of democracy, and see that there are serious problems with many of them.
Lecture 9: Justifying Democracy
Thomas Christiano: 'An Argument for Democratic Equality', in Thomas Christiano ed. Philosophy and Democracy
Brian Barry: 'Is Democracy Special?', in B. Barry (ed.) Democracy, Power and Justice
Michael Walzer: 'Philosophy and Democracy', in Thomas Christiano (ed.), Philosophy and Democracy
Richard Arneson: 'Democratic Rights at the National Level', in Thomas Christiano (ed.), Philosophy and Democracy.
- Investigate how to justify democracy as a method of rule.
- Particularly important even just to understand that there is a serious debate here, given our common assumption that only democracy is just.
- 1 Last week
- 2 The problem
- 3 Instrumental defences
- 3a Problems
- 4 Intrinsic defences
- 5 Summary and next week
- ‘Demos’ means ‘the people’, but this is ambiguous in Greek between ‘everyone’, and ‘the low vulgar masses’.
- Democracy means different things to different people:
– Majority rule
– Idea of democratic equality – involves higher ideals.
- The core idea is that the people rule themselves.
- Who are the people who rule? Do they rule by unanimous or majority decision?
- How do the people rule? Do they rule directly, or by electing representatives? How is a house of representatives to be arranged?
- Who are the people who are ruled? What is involved in ruling oneself, and are rules I have made binding on me in the same way that rules made by other people can bind me?
Deeper worry 1: Who are to be ruled?
- Problem no majority decision can answer. We have to decide who counts and who doesn’t count as part of the people before any general decision rule can work.
- This matters, if you are part of a national minority, or someone living on a contested border.
Worry 2: Why should the majority rule?
- General idea that everyone’s in the majority most of the time, and in the minority sometimes. Should get tempered, and fair, decisions.
- But deep sociological cleavages in modern societies, make for persistent minorities.
- Tyranny of the majority: ‘No minority can be, or should be, expected to acquiesce in the majority’s trampling on its vital interests.’ (Barry p38)
- Reason often given for constraints on simple majority rule.
Worry 3: Is majority rule a sensible choice?
- Majority decision seems right for some issues, like friends deciding to go to the cinema or the pub.
- If one of the friends has a medical emergency, you don’t want a vote, you want a doctor.
- If two of your friends liked the cinema, and were always overruled, it seems decent of the group to go to the cinema sometimes, for their friends. Moves away from simple majority rule.
- Plato notoriously anti-democratic in the Republic. Thinks experts, philosopher-kings, should rule.
Intrinsic vs Instrumental
- 1 Democracy is instrumentally valuable: valuable for its consequences.
– E.g. democracy a good thing because what people value is most clearly revealed and implemented by democratic governments.
- 2 Democracy is intrinsically valuable: valuable independently of its consequences.
– E.g. democracy a good thing because, regardless of whether it’s good at implementing what people value, it accords everyone equal political status.
- Distinction sometimes blurred, but it’s useful.
Arneson’s instrumental defence
- The primary function of democratic rights is to safeguard more fundamental rights, which are requirements of justice: ‘Democratic rights are justified in a given institutional setting just to the extent that they serve this function better than do alternative feasible arrangements.’ (p95)
- Can only exercise power over others without consent if it best promotes fulfilment of the fundamental rights of people – Arneson seems to count even one vote as an exercise of power.
No special procedural rights
- ‘My position is that there are no special procedural rights determinable by examining our intuitions about inherently fair procedures (supposed to be independent of our convictions about the substantively fair outcomes that procedures work to reach).’ (p98)
- Arneson concerned with the outcome: ‘The position I am defending is that what constitutes fair procedures depends entirely on which of the available sets of procedures would produce morally best outcomes.’ (p103)
- The benevolent tyrant would be best. Impossible, so democracy a second-best solution.
- ‘If majorities likely to coalesce under majority rule are presumed competent to block political policies that would violate their own rights, the danger in majority rule is rights violations inflicted on minorities and the danger in any form of minority rule is rights violations inflicted on the majority. Ceteris paribus, the latter is worse.’ (p99)
- But can limit majority by reference to whether, say constitutional limits best protect fundamental rights.
Democracy really protect fundamental rights?
- Does it promote equality? Either welfare or opportunity?
- Not obviously. It depends on how the system works out. If a democratic system is a relatively unrestrained majority rule, then it might make distinctly inegalitarian laws.
- Remember this view is concerned with the consequences of democracy, not aspects intrinsic to it.
Freedom and choice?
- Maybe democracy ensures freedom and choice in general is promoted. Perhaps why Wolff and Nozick might prefer democracy?
- Idea is that so long as there isn’t a set minority group that’s outvoted on every issue, democracy is likely to promote freedom. Any individual will be given more opportunities by a democracy.
- Not clearly true. Depends again on the system and the choices of particular democracies.
- How important is choice?
The democratic peace thesis
- Developed democracies tend not to make war on each other. So democracy allows us to avoid all the problems of war, like famine.
- Is this because they are democracies?
- Developed democracies make war on other (weaker) peoples. Is this good?
Part 4 Intrinsic defences
- Arguably democracy guarantees:
– 1 A certain sort of freedom
– 2 A certain sort of equal treatment
- Many forms of equality and freedom democracy will NOT guarantee: equal wealth and happiness, freedom to choose how to live your life and do what you want.
- Democracy DOES guarantee:
– 1 You will have freedom to express your political preferences among the options available for voting.
– 2 You will stand on formally equal footing to everyone else in the country in expressing that political preference.
- Christiano thinks there is more to democracy than a makeshift decision procedure. He says we can’t derive democracy from some sort of principle of fair compromise, because we may conflict about what is fair.
- He writes: ‘In sum, the principle of fair compromise cannot provide a rationale for democracy since it cannot explain why disagreement must be handled by procedural compromise.’ (p43)
- Christiano says we can’t think of politics as consensus alone – need a normative intrinsic defence.
Christiano’s argument (pp47ff)
- 1 Justice requires individuals be treated equally with regard to their interests.
- 2 There’s a special category of interests that are deeply interdependent – interests in the collective properties or features of a society, such as education, property and exchange laws, and a system of defence.
- 3 These interests can generally only be served through a collectively binding procedure.
- 4 Principle of equal consideration of interests requires equality of means for participating in deciding on the collective properties of society. Democratic decision making is the embodiment of this equality of resources.
Democracy embodies equal consideration of interests
- ‘The only publicly accessible way to implement equal consideration of interests is to give each citizen the means for discovering and pursuing his or her own interests. The only reasonable implementation of such a principle must be in the equal distribution of resources for making collective decisions.’ (Christiano p54)
- Democracy can’t guarantee equality of welfare, for familiar reasons. We can give people equal resources for advancing their own interests. These are political rights – to vote, to collect and demonstrate and write to your MP or for the media, and to stand for office.
First problem for Christiano
- Remember I suggested that voting is sensible when peoples interests, or preferences, conflict – such as when deciding on an evening’s entertainment.
- But when the issue is of right, voting is no longer sensible, as when you need to make a medical decision.
- What do we do when there is conflict in a democracy that is not mere conflict of interests?
Democracy and conflict over justice
- Christiano agrees that disagreements over conceptions of justice are a problem. In best interests of everyone that the right conception prevails, not what is most popular.
- But Christiano argues that disagreements over justice involve conflict of important interests. Basically saying we can’t, in collective decision-making, divorce issues about interests from issues about what is right.
Interests in conceptions of justice
- 1 Everyone has an interest in recognition – being taken seriously by others.
- 2 Conceptions of justice often reflect disproportionately the interests of those who advance them. This is natural.
- 3 You would be alienated and distanced from a social world not in accordance with any of your sense of justice. Interest in sense of membership.
- 4 If you are to be rationally persuaded, arguments must take account of your views – social discussion must take everyone’s views into account.
- These 4 interests ‘are interests that are assured by giving each an opportunity to advance his or her own conception of justice in a world where there is uncertainty about the truth of any particular conception.’ (p58)
Your interest in democratic decision-making
- Christiano denies possibility of any political experts, such as Plato’s philosopher-kings. This is not just because there are no experts in human affairs, but also because you are the final arbiter of your own interests.
- We need to include people, not dictate to them. People have an interest in being involved in collective decision-making, to help work out their own interests, and interact with others. A just outcome imposed on you that you have had no part in cannot be entirely good for you, in the way that a good outcome you have had a part in making is.
Second problem for Christiano
- What if a democratic society disagrees over the most fundamental principle of Christiano’s conception of democracy: that we should give equal consideration to people’s interests?
- Cannot be solved by democratic decision making as Christiano conceives it, since this defines democratic decision-making.
- Christiano moves outwith the concerns of a state, to an explicitly normative assertion – he says the principle of equal consideration of interests is right.
- His view: ‘avoids these problems because it is grounded on an appeal to the truth, or correctness, of the principles of equal consideration and democratic equality, whereas the latter appeals to consensus and the need to resolve every disagreement fairly. Some may object to the appeal to truth in political theory, but my contention is that such an appeal is essential to any coherent normative political theory.’ (p60-1)
Weaknesses of the answer
- Some, such as Walzer, reject appeal to truth in politics.
- Walzer: ‘Truth is one, but the people have many opinions; truth is eternal, but the people continually change their minds. Here in its simplest form is the tension between philosophy and democracy.’ Walzer says that the people’s claim to rule does not rest on truth: ‘They are the subjects of the law, and if the law is to bind them as free men and women, they must also be its makers.’ He admits that this: makes ‘law a function of popular will and not of reason as it had hitherto been understood…’ (pp261-2)
Strengths of the answer
- How else could we argue that democracy is good?
- So long as we reject the idea that democracy is merely consensus – since a majority can agree to outrageous decisions – at some point we have to say something that cannot be reduced to what the people think. This is very like the problem of liberal neutrality we saw Rawls struggle to deal with.
- Christiano’s principle ‘we should give people equal consideration of their interests’ is not terribly strong, and looks eminently morally defensible.
- If a democrat can’t assert this, what can he assert?
- So Christiano has a reasonable case that this, admittedly normative, claim captures the core of democracy.
- Worries about instrumental defences:
– Does democracy really tend to protect more fundamental rights?
– Should we really hand over rule to a benevolent tyrant if he or she could protect more fundamental rights better?
- So we moved on to intrinsic defences:
– There is something good about democracy regardless of outcome. We considered worries, but this looked like a possible story.
- Can a liberal society, committed to tolerance and freedom, accommodate immigrant minorities with vastly different views? What are we to do about national minorities such as native tribes and invaded nations?
- There are no clear answers. The issue is hotly debated across the world, and is something any educated adult should think about.
Richard Arneson: ‘Democratic rights at the national level’ in Thomas Christiano (ed.) Philosophy and Democracy.
Thomas Christiano: ‘An argument for democratic equality’ in Thomas Christiano (ed.) Philosophy and Democracy.
Michael Walzer: ‘Philosophy and Democracy in Thomas Christiano (ed.) Philosophy and Democracy.
Lecture 10: Multiculturalism
*Kymlicka: Contemporary Political Philosophy (SECOND EDITION ONLY) ch 8
Chandran Kuthakas: 'Are there any cultural rights'? in Political Theory 20 (1) (1992) 105-139
Kymlicka: Multicultural Citizenship
Charles Taylor: 'The Politics of Recognition' in Taylor and Gutmann, Multiculturalism and 'the politics of recognition?
Brian Barry: Culture and Equality: an Egalitarian Critique of Multiculturalism
David Miller: On Nationality Ch 3 gives you comparable issues of national attachment.
Understand what multiculturalism is, and what multiculturalist policies are.
Worry about what liberalism requires ? some people claim multiculturalist policies are incompatible with liberalism.
1 Last week.
2 What is Multiculturalism?
3 Kymlicka: multiculturalism as a response to nation-building.
4 Kukathas: multiculturalist policies demanded by individual rights and the right of free association.
Broadly: societies involving many cultures: distinguished by ethnicity, religion, skin colour, language, gender, sexual orientation or other.
Such societies not particularly new (Jewish and other religious minorities or divisions in many European states for centuries).
Maybe ?culture? in ?multicultural society? is misleading. Basic idea of a society containing multiple identity-shaping outlooks, concerns and conceptions of ?the good life? (rather than simply multiple ?mere preferences?)
More narrowly: Kymlicka uses word specifically for a plurality of ethnocultural groups ?such as immigrants, national minorities, indigenous peoples, racial groups and ethnoreligious groups? (Kymlicka 2002, p. 335).
Note this excludes gender-based or sexuality-based groups, which Kymlicka deals with separately. Since we don?t have time, we?re not going to rule out such groups here.
What does multiculturalism mean?
Policies aimed at recognising or respecting the multiple ethnocultural groups within a multicultural society.
A multicultural society has two or more cultural communities:
Monoculturalist policies seek to assimilate these communities either wholly or substantially into its mainstream culture.
Multiculturalist policies would welcome and cherish the differences, and respect the cultural demands of the separate communities.
E.g. freedom of religion in the UK
Freedom of religion: state not pass laws explicitly requiring or disallowing certain religions, but has implications for other laws too:
Sikh requirement to wear a turban conflicts with:
- (a) laws requiring motorcyclists to wear helmets
- (b) laws requiring builders to wear hard hats on building sites
- (c) the policeman?s requirement to wear a helmet.
Do these laws violate Sikh?s right to freedom of religion?
Are we to accept arranged marriages? If one or both partners is unwilling?
What are we to say about the French banning of the Muslim hijab in state schools?
The two hierarchies
There are TWO powerful hierarchies in every Western democracy.
Economic hierarchy: requires the familiar 'politics of redistribution'.
Status hierarchy: requires a new 'politics of recognition'
(Kymlicka 2002, pp. 332-333, paraphrasing Fraser 1998; 2000)
The economic hierarchy
Focus on socio-economic injustices rooted in socio-economic structure of society.
Remedy is economic restructuring such as income redistribution, reorganizing division of labour, or regulating investment decisions.
Targets of public policies are classes or classlike collectivities defined economically by a distinctive relation to the market or the means of production.
Aim is to reduce group differences.
The status hierarchy
Focuses on cultural injustices, rooted in social patterns of representation, interpretation and communication, including:
- cultural domination: being subject to patterns of interpretation associated with another culture.
- nonrecognition: being rendered invisible in the authoritative communicative practices of one's culture.
- disrespect: being disparaged in stereotypic public cultural representations or in everyday life interactions.
Remedy is cultural or symbolic change to increase value of disrespected identities and cultural products of maligned groups, or positively value cultural diversity.
Targets are status groups, defined by relations of recognition in which they enjoy lesser esteem, honour, prestige and so on than other groups.
Aims to affirm group differences.
Which lack worse?
'If you were a black parent, would you care more about ensuring your child achieve an average income or about ensuring your child was not subject to racial epithets? If you were the parent of a gay teenager, would you choose a school that would maximize that child?s economic prospects, or a school that would minimize his stigmatization and persecution?' (Kymlicka 2002, p. 367).
Multiculturalism in politics new
Seen how attempts to reduce difference cause injustice:
Individual liberty: recognitional disadvantage can limit individual liberty as severely as material disadvantage - eg can't stand for parliament because black/female, no less than because poor.#
Individual desert: don't deserve extra or lesser political rights, standing or status because of my skin colour, religion or nationality.
Equality: often seeking a basic equality of opportunity. Elizabeth Anderson concerned about such issues - look back to lecture 4.
What to do? 1: Benign neglect
State should pass no laws actively harassing a group, but should not positively support a group.
Can amount to harassing a group. Majority thinks law is impartial, but minority disagrees.
E.g. motorbike helmet law and Sikh religious needs.
Many gay people feel excluded from their culture. Few discriminatory laws, but invisible in national media, school curricula etc. Fear attack and prejudice if open. Think about how they must feel every time the government introduces new measures to help 'the family'. They don't count, and they feel they should.
What to do? 2: State supports vulnerable groups
To treat people equally, might need to treat them differently, in recognition of their differences.
(a) allow some groups exemption from general rules e.g. Sikh turban case both on motorbikes and in building trade.
(b) allow some groups self-government e.g. devolution for Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Native American tribes, the Amish.
(c) offer some groups special status or grants e.g. educating people about ways of life, having special language policies like supporting the Welsh language in Wales. Subsidies for immigrants to put on traditional plays, perhaps in English, perhaps in their own language.
Problem for liberalism
Liberals have traditionally treated justice as a case of everyone being equal under the law. This was a reaction to a feudal history where people were treated very differently. Long after genuinely feudal times a peasant would just not have been able to pursue a nobleman for rape, say.
Liberals worry that suddenly treating people differently under the law again - giving exemptions and special support - is backsliding.
Many groups are internally illiberal, such as isolationist religious groups. They restrict their members? ability to question group tenets, e.g. may restrict their education, and often take traditional family roles e.g. may go so far as to restrict women to the home.
Genuine worry about the power of some cultural groups with lobbying influence out of proportion to numbers. Also divide between elite of a cultural group and the masses.
Kymlicka: liberalism demands multiculturalism
Kymlicka: have to distinguish good from bad minority rights claims.
2 kinds of right group might claim:
- i) Internal restrictions on intra-group relations: rights against own members, designed to protect from internal dissent.
- ii) External restrictions on inter-group relations: rights of group against larger society designed to protect group from external pressures.
Liberals sceptical of i), but can give ii) to protect group from economic/political power of majority.
Multiculturalism as a response to nation-building
Why should justice, especially liberal justice, demand special treatment for particular groups? And what treatment is required?
Kymlicka's answer: multiculturalism is a response to majority nation-building. Good multiculturalist policies protect ethnocultural minorities from majority nation-building.
All states implement policies that promote the majority culture. Benign neglect impossible.
E.g. official institutions in the UK use English. The state supports certain schools, churches, certain arts, favours certain sorts of organisation.
These policies affect the whole society. They inevitably privilege members of the majority culture. Policies are thought of to help the majority culture, and usually considered only from the point of view of the majority culture.
Historically many Western governments have deliberately promoted integration - often to promote equality of opportunity, solidarity, trust and deliberative democracy. Think of the impact of all children going through the same education system - although presumably the intended benefits of that policy are also clear.
But some groups, for a long time, have rejected idea that they should see their life chances tied up with the societal institutions organized to suit the majority's culture.
Kymlicka's division of ethnocultural groups
Kymlicka points out there are many different sorts of ethnocultural minorities, subject to different pressures from majority nation-building. We need to examine the protections different sorts of groups need. Kymlicka's second interesting idea.
Kymlicka talks about five sorts of groups, of which I will cover two. In your reading, do pursue his stuff on isolationist religious groups, metics and African-Americans, because the differences are very interesting.
Groups formed functioning societies in their historic homeland prior to incorporation into larger state.
Sub-state nations: don?t currently have a state, but once did, or seek such a state. E.g. Quebecois, Catalans, Flemish, Irish, Scots and Welsh. Seek some form of self-government.
Indigenous peoples: people whose traditional lands have been overrun by settlers. E.g. Native Americans, Inuit, Maori. Typically seek ability to maintain certain traditional ways of life while participating on own terms in the modern world. May also need redress for past wrongs.
Kymlicka thinks national minorities are due:
Redress for past wrongs
Some form of self-determination, which will usually give:
- Protection from effects of majority nation-building.
- Opportunity to indulge in own nation-building e.g. use of own language which has historically been very important to such groups and ability to promote own art and literature; traditional forms of government such as tribal council.
Formed by decisions of individuals and families to leave homeland and move - usually for economic or political reasons.
Immigrants traditionally tried to integrate. Have tried to renegotiate terms of integration, to get tolerance and support to maintain some aspects of their ethnic heritage - e.g. food, dress, recreation, religion.
Kymlicka clearly thinks demands of immigrant groups are relatively modest.
Thinks liberals must ensure that the common institutions immigrants face respect, recognise and accommodate the identities and practices of immigrants as much as the majority.
We also need to ensure state policies pressuring immigrants to integrate are fair. Perhaps they need to learn the majority language, but why should they give up traditional dress if they don't want to?
Majority nation-building in a liberal democracy legitimate if:
a) no groups of long-term residents are permanently excluded from membership.
b) pressure to integrate should be 'thin' - institutional and linguistic. Shouldn't require adoption of customs, religious beliefs or lifestyles. Conception of national identity and national integration should be pluralist and tolerant.
c) national minorities allowed to engage in own nation-building.
Kukathas' denial of group rights
Kukathas also a liberal. Also thinks liberalism can do justice to minority needs - but do justice to interests of groups using individual rights. No need to give groups rights. In fact, shouldn't give groups rights.
Kukathas deny should attach fundamental moral claims to groups that affect behaviour and shape loyalties and identity, because such groups not fixed and unvarying entities in moral and political universe.
'Often, these interests [of existing groups] exist, or take their particular shape, only because of certain historical circumstances or because particular political institutions prevail and not because they are a part of some natural order.' (Kukathas p111)
For a liberal, groups only matter to the extent that affect lives of individuals.
How are we supposed to think about the right of a nation to be self-determining and so deal fairly with national minorities?
Kukathas: freedom of association demands multicultural policies
Liberal believes individuals should be free to associate and live by the terms of such associations.
So Kukathas wants to let cultural groups live the way of life they choose, given a right of exit:
'Cultural communities may be regarded as voluntary associations to the extent that members recognize as legitimate the terms of association and the authority that upholds them. All that is necessary as evidence of such recognition is that members choose not to leave.' (p116)
This allows illiberal groups
Kukathas thinks liberal should allow internally illiberal groups.
E.g. Kukathas thinks the Old Order Amish of Wisconsin right to live by traditional ways including not sending children to public school beyond 8th grade. Similarly for gypsy children.
In short, Kukathas thinks a liberal society needn?t be made up of liberal communities, so long as members have a right of exit from minorities.
Is this liberal?
Arguably yes. Familiar tension in liberal view:
Liberal values tolerance of different ways of life, and individuals' free choice of how they want to live. So should allow such groups.
Liberal also values things often denied to some members of cultural minorities: sexual equality, education, individual liberty, etc.
There is NO easy answer to which we should prioritise when they come into conflict.
Kukathas' measures seem extreme, and right of exit weak. Could you leave a group if you never saw your family, perhaps including your children, again?
If you have been denied education, your abilities to make reasoned choices are limited, and your choice not to leave is suspect. If a group denies members education, and access to outside sources of information like the media, internet and so on, that makes me VERY uneasy.
So I favour Kymlicka?s view. Minorities in liberal societies deserve many protections, but not everything they ask for.
VERY difficult issues
Very vexed question how much we liberals are entitled to limit illiberal groups who choose to live in our liberal society.
Then it is clearly an EXTREMELY vexed question what we liberal nations are entitled to do to limit illiberal nations on the other side of the world.
Now see why so many nations of the world are so opposed to what they see as Western, and particularly US, nation-building on a world scale.
Multiculturalism and liberalism:
Kymlicka: good multiculturalist policies protect cultural minorities from majority nation-building, appropriate to sorts of cultural minorities.
Kukathas: the right to free association requires liberal societies to tolerate illiberal minorities with right of exit.
Major point to take away: existence of serious moral problems with no obvious solutions.