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Luck totalitarianism and the "accidents of nature"
PGA Weblog ^

Posted on 07/06/2012 1:28:18 PM PDT by ProgressingAmerica

As I set out to read John Rawls' words, this was what struck me more than anything else - "natural lottery". So yet another progressive thinks we need a centrally planned state. Big deal. What sets Rawls apart is that he charted a whole new course and formulated a whole new conception, which is still being taught in universities to this day. In "A Theory of Justice", on page 73, Rawls writes the following:

Free market arrangements must be set within a framework of political and legal institutions which regulates the overall trends of economic events and preserves the social conditions necessary for fair equality of opportunity. The elements of this framework are familiar enough, though it may be worthwhile to recall the importance of preventing excessive accumulations of property and wealth and of maintaining equal opportunities of education for all. Chances to acquire cultural knowledge and skills should not depend upon one’s class position, and so the school system, whether public or private, should be designed to even out class barriers.

While the liberal conception seems clearly preferable to the system of natural liberty, intuitively it still appears defective. For one thing, even if it works to perfection in eliminating the influence of social contingencies, it still permits the distribution of wealth and income to be determined by the natural distribution of abilities and talents. Within the limits allowed by the background arrangements, distributive shares are decided by the outcome of the natural lottery; and this outcome is arbitrary from a moral perspective. There is no more reason to permit the distribution of income and wealth to be settled by the distribution of natural assets than by historical and social fortune.

Hows this for a dangerous tyrannical idea? If you're born into the wrong family, you should be punished for it. There is of course more, I hope others will follow the various links and read on. Rawls doesn't fully lay out his thoughts on the "natural lottery" in A Theory of Justice under that specific banner, watch the language shift. Like all progressives, they play word games. Later on in the book, he develops his thoughts under the concept of "desert".[By "moral desert", he means what you've earned. Think of the phrase "get one's just deserts and get one's just reward(s)"] He uses other phrases as well, which I will bring up. What he's doing is striking at the very heart of "earning" and "private property" by questioning the very beginnings of life at the individual level. Let's use a real life example:

Because Bill Gates was born to a middle class family, he had a garage with which to start his business and build his dreams, while elsewhere there are people being born who are so poor they don't even have a garage. Ergo, Bill Gates didn't really "earn" what he earned. It's there for the taking! Government can come in and distribute it, government MUST come in and distribute it as these are ill gotten gains. It's the natural lottery. I did not overstate this. On page 310 Rawls writes the following:

There is a tendency for common sense to suppose that income and wealth, and the good things in life generally, should be distributed according to moral desert. Justice is happiness according to virtue. While it is recognized that this ideal can never be fully carried out, it is the appropriate conception of distributive justice, at least as a prima facie principle, and society should try to realize it as circumstances permit.

Now justice as fairness rejects this conception. Such a principle would not be chosen in the original position. There seems to be no way of defining the requisite criterion in that situation. Moreover, the notion of distribution according to virtue fails to distinguish between moral desert and legitimate expectations.

And again: (page 274)

no one deserves his place in the distribution of natural assets any more than he deserves his initial starting place in society.

See. Bill Gates didn't earn that garage, therefore he didn't earn what he worked his entire life to build. He was simply born, he had no "legitimate expectation" to that garage. There are children in slums who also have realistic and legitimate expectations of all kinds, which is why we need distributive justice. The Wikipedia page for Desert(philosophy) doesn't cite chapter, page, and words as I have done, but does note the same conclusion.

Now of course, what this ignores is the wishes of Bill Gates' parents. What Rawls' is doing is restarting everybody's lives on day one. Parents have the right to work their entire lives and can do anything they wish with their earnings, except pass it on to their children. That just won't work and it must be stopped. On page 88, Rawls makes clear what he means by justice as fairness:

The social system is not an unchangeable order beyond human control but a pattern of human action. In justice as fairness men agree to avail themselves of the accidents of nature and social circumstance only when doing so is for the common benef it. The two principles are a fair way of meeting the arbitrariness of fortune; and while no doubt imperfect in other ways, the institutions which satisfy these principles are just.

And from page 86:

First we may observe that the difference principle gives some weight to the considerations singled out by the principle of redress. This is the principle that undeserved inequalities call for redress; and since inequalities of birth and natural endowment are undeserved, these inequalities are to be somehow compensated for.

Now keep in mind, Rawls wrote all of this in the early 70's. There are different variations of this theme, of being a beneficiary of something you "didn't earn". Father Michael Pfleger has a similar view, but he applies it to the whole of society:

Unless you are willing to give up the benefits, then you must be responsible for what was done in your generation! ‘Cause you are the beneficiary of this insurance policy!

One would wonder if Pfleger would've hung Stalin's children for all those people that he murdered en mass. Or, should successful blacks in America also give up what they didn't earn? Of course, while Rawls is plotting and schemeing against the successful people around him, he doesn't say a word about his own parents who were successful themselves, and passed on their earnings to him. He was the beneficiary of the very thing he detests, I wonder if he ever held himself to the same standard.

Now I don't immediately know where the roots of what Pfleger said go back to, but the point is the same. These are poisonous ideals aimed at the destruction of private property and thus, individual liberty. The goal is the creation of a "well ordered society"(Rawls' phrase) and in the end you and I would end up suffering because of it.

TOPICS: Education
KEYWORDS: progressingamerica

1 posted on 07/06/2012 1:28:22 PM PDT by ProgressingAmerica
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To: ProgressingAmerica

They eschew God only to strive to become “Gods” themselves other other people....

Sounds like a complete misunderstanding of what they are supposed to believe in and that is “Natural Order”.

Free Markets follow the same sort of cycles as lifeforms do, but they want to manipulate and control those because they see their “order” as being “more superior” to the order that is inherent in nature.

Bunch of Hypocrites that claim to believe in the Darwinist principles only to cast them away a short time later as they grasp for control over things like the hand of an obsessively meddling god that strives to meddle so much in the lives and affairs of other men that it would make God himself blush.

2 posted on 07/06/2012 1:34:27 PM PDT by GraceG
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To: ProgressingAmerica
I believe it was Dick Gebhardt who coined the phrase "won life's lottery" while he lined his pockets.
3 posted on 07/06/2012 1:42:39 PM PDT by E. Pluribus Unum (Government is the religion of the sociopath.)
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To: ProgressingAmerica
Seldom will you read a more frightening, destructive idea.

According to Rawls, you are to be punished for being talented or enterprising. Of course, you should be automatically ruined if you're parents gave you an edge, but even if you make it by your own efforts you have an unfair advantage...

This is sick on a level that words fail me to describe.

4 posted on 07/06/2012 1:42:59 PM PDT by stormhill
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To: ProgressingAmerica

“Harrison Bergeron” by Kurt Vonnegut

5 posted on 07/06/2012 2:29:53 PM PDT by expat2
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To: Silentgypsy; skinkinthegrass; RichardMoore; Little Ray; Madame Dufarge; Eye of Newt; AdvisorB; ...

If anybody wants on/off the revolutionary progressivism ping list, send me a message

6 posted on 07/06/2012 2:33:48 PM PDT by ProgressingAmerica (What's the best way to reach a you tube generation? Put it on you tube!)
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To: GraceG

The Obsolete man from the twilight zone. This episode centered on Wordsworth’s useless faith in the meaningless word “God”. This is Rod Sterling’s vision of a Fabian socialist society.

7 posted on 07/06/2012 2:40:31 PM PDT by cripplecreek (What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul?)
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To: E. Pluribus Unum

Thanks I didn’t know about that. From what I can find, he said those words in 1995 in regard to some tax plan he was proposing:

Page 5, third column on the right, paragraph 4.

8 posted on 07/06/2012 2:48:41 PM PDT by ProgressingAmerica (What's the best way to reach a you tube generation? Put it on you tube!)
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To: GraceG
"They eschew God only to strive to become “Gods” themselves other other people...."

So convinced of their limited Leftist perspective as absolute, thus their righteousness.

Some might will argue about our righteousness, but then ours is based on God's word. What is theirs based upon? Ultimately they lose.

9 posted on 07/06/2012 2:52:20 PM PDT by rockinqsranch (Dems, Libs, Socialists, call 'em what you will, they ALL have fairies livin' in their trees.)
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To: ProgressingAmerica

The only way that Rawls’ “Theory of Justice” could be translated into practice is at the barrel of a gun.

The only way we can ever be free of the machinations of those who would try to implement Rawls’ ideas is with the barrel of a gun.

10 posted on 07/06/2012 3:15:14 PM PDT by Noumenon (I will not pay the Obama jizya.)
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To: ProgressingAmerica
Other than flattering many of his colleagues' conceits, Rawls got his success from coming up with a whiz-bang construct that impressed people. In old Brit parlance, he was a "mechanic." In other words, a guy in love with his shiny new intellectual tool, that he invented, and the other prestigious tools in the toolbox.

In his case, the shiny tool is the "original position." In a nutshell, it means a fantasy-place where we make desisions on our life paths while being denied any data upon which to make our decision. He then uses a snazzy game-theory method, the "minimax" criterion, without explaining why minima and maxima would make sense in the absense of any data. His underlying metaphysical premise is the old fave of the liberal academician: randomness. How we can decide that randomness is correct without any data upon which to base this assumption? No answer.

Methodologically, he got away with it because mainstream statistics assumes that an event for which we have no data has a 50/50 chance of occurring. That's what makes the math work. But, it's only a methodological assumption. It's not an axiom, and has never been justified as such; it's only a convenient assumption. Great for a professional statistician, but not quite so for a philosopher.

Because he has to smuggle in assumptions that implicitly contradict the very conditions of his "original position" to make his schema work, Rawls' "original position" is just another burst of sophistry. Like other sophistries, it's used to justify positions arrived at earlier - pre-judgements, if you will. One of the findings of classic symbolic logic is that a contradition can be used to "prove" anything.

11 posted on 07/06/2012 5:57:11 PM PDT by danielmryan
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To: danielmryan
One more thing, which isn't meant as a knock against Rawls specifically: it's a general warning. The line between "let's assume" and "let's pretend" is blurry. "Why is this assumption justified?" is always in season.
12 posted on 07/06/2012 7:51:50 PM PDT by danielmryan
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