Sunday, May 04, 2008


Got a large dose of Rawls in Moral Philosophy, with a passing reference to Nozick either there or in the Introduction course. They both propose abstract theories that fall apart if you look at them too close, it seems to me.

Nozick posits that just acquisition of property is the primary value. But even he admitted that probably no property being held today can be judged to be justly held throughout it's history. Not to mention that it isn't at all apparent why that should be the primary concern, anyway.

Rawls' theory of a notional state in which a "pure" system of justice can be imagined seems hopelessly wishful. For every ten philosophers you can get at least eleven opinions. The idea that there could be a place where any number of intelligent, self-interested people would unanimously agree to anything is simply preposterous. Of such things are modern philosophies made:

Rawls vs. Nozick: "... is the choice that many professors of philosophy would stick us with. Shallow, abstract egalitarianism vs. shallow (well not as shallow), abstract libertarianism--some choice! Here's the right choice, according to David Schaefer: Don't bother with either of them! Neither talks about 'human nature,' by which David means real people and real human problems. When Berry students go to graduate school, they sometimes write me complaining: 'Why didn't you tell us about Rawls?' My only response: 'I didn't have the heart.' My only question to David: If Rawls is shallow, boring, and not a very good writer, why have you written so many pages on him? (Link to this Entry. Comments. Add Your Comments.)"

(Via No Left Turns.)

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