The last article I forgot to add was Rachel’s on Kant which only needs a response
The last article I forgot to add was Rachel’s on Kant which only needs a response
You will read each article it’s short and write a paragraph based on it. It’ s a reading response. This need not be a thorough summary, but instead should include thoughts and/or questions you had in relation to the test. After writing the paragraph after each article will have comment that will need a reply. Nozick -(read the ar ticle in attached files) Response – Comment – “After reading Robert Nozick’s “Distributive Justice”, I feel that this topic is quite new to me and also somewhat confusing. But if I’m not mistaken, for Nozick’s ideas: any distribution of “shares,” no mat ter how unequal, is only if it arises from a fair distribution through lawful means. : 1) The lawful means of appropriating something is not known under circumstances where the acquisition would not be to the detriment of others. 2) Voluntary transfer of o wnership of shares to others 3) Correction of past injustices in the acquisition or transfer of shares. In general, according to Nozick, anyone who obtains what he has through these means is morally entitled as long as they did not force others to against their will. Therefore, the rights theory of distributive justice “the distribution of holdings in a society is just if everyone in that society is entitled to what he has”.” Reply to comment above – Rawls -(read the article in attached files) Respons e – Comment -“Rawls’ two principles of justice propose fair systemic means of structuring a society, which involves affording everyone their basic liberties and addressing social and economic inequalities. It is crucial that these proposed principles are followed in “a serial order” to preserve the sanctity of equality and fairness. Here, the only time when social and economic inequalities are permissible is if everyone would be better off with these inequalities than the counterpart. Now, I believe th at these premises are well -positioned and sound. For example, if we imagine a society without hierarchies, as hierarchical positioning entails inequalities, then we can assume that everyone’s equal. However, this kind of equality is not beneficial to socie ty, as this premise assumes that everyone’s efforts, skills, intellect, and other personal assets are the same. Therefore, it is way better if a system allows inequalities that would render more considerable value for society as a whole. Rawls’ second prin ciple of justice allows this. Here, assume that person A obtains the position of CEO. Therefore, and thereafter, he is compensated with more money and with more power. If he converts these social and economic inequalities that initially favored him in a wa y that favors everyone else, then according to the principle, this is deemed as fair. Hence, if person A, in his tenure, generates value for the betterment of the corporation with increased social and economic gains, compared to when he was in a lower tier of hierarchical structure, this preserves the concept of fairness. Supported by these examples, I believe that Rawls has strong premises and his principles are almost free from flaws. “ Reply to comment above – Virtue ethics (read the article in atta ched files) Response – Comment -“There are many different character traits for virtues. In the reading, some of the example that is used are honesty, loyalty, generosity, courage, fairness, friendliness, moderation, reasonableness, etc. Honestly to me is very important, especially with family and friends. Especially when you get older and start dating. Meeting someone new maybe be scary in this century but you’ll never know who you’ll meet. If you’re serious about dating I feel like the talking stage, should be where you are honest about yourself. Being honest can give the other person trust in you. In the article, it says, “The honest person is someone who, first of all, does not lie.” I feel like in some ways it’s true but different people expect more than honesty.” Reply to comment above – Whistleblowing (read the article in attached files) Response – Comment -Whistle -blowing was never unethical or wrong thing to do, and instead it was always morally right to inform on things you think is illegal, unsafe, and unjust. But, I think what is not right is when you keep working on the very same company after y ou just report on them with the exception of course, that it is very big company or you just informing on your colleague. When you are informing on the entire company what I think will be right if you will inform after leaving the company, and that what I think will be ethical. If not for whistle -blowers many companies would still practice illegal, unsafe and fraudulent actions. The only reason an employee cannot report on his employer is when loyalty is specified in the contract other than that there is no obligations or laws from any sides that will prevent an employee to report on his employer. I do think that whistleblowers help to reshape company policies and government laws and there are definitely more benefits than harm with whistleblowing. The lat est whistle -blowing action is a former Facebook employee reporting on her employer stating that Facebook algorithm purposely harming the public especially teenagers with misinformation and among other things. If she is right, the company will change its po licies dramatically which will change how its algorithm will work in the near future. Reply to comment above – O’nelil on kant (read the article in attached files) Response Comment -There are similarities in Formula of the End in Itself by Kant and social contracts where we should “do to others as you would like others to do to you.” According to Kant, humans are considered as rational beings representing morality with the ability to freely choose, plan, and control their own lives, so our own ma xims should be respected. Importantly, everyone needs to know in advance the plan they are going to participate in and make their own decisions instead of using each other to achieve what they want. Therefore, people should not be treated like coercing, de ceiving and manipulating each other because then they are treating us as a means to their own ends and that is unethical and disrespectful. Humans should morally act in good faith instead of taking every action out of obligation (acting for will, not for c onsequences) Reply to comment above –
The last article I forgot to add was Rachel’s on Kant which only needs a response
136 CHAPTER 10 K ant and Respect for Persons Are there any who would not admire man? G!”#$%%! P!&” D'(($ M!)$%*”($, O RATION ON THE DIGNITY OF M AN +1486) 10.1. Kant’s Core Ideas Immanuel Kant thought that human beings occupy a special place in creation. Of course, he was not alone in thinking this. From ancient times, humans have considered themselves to be essentially different from all other creatures and not just dif/ ferent, but better. In fact, humans have traditionally thought themselves to be quite fabulous. Kant certainly did. On his view, human beings have an intrinsic wort or dignit that makes them valuable above all price Other animals, Kant thought, have value only insofar as they serve human purposes. In his Lectures on Ethics +1779-, Kant writes, But so far as animals are concerned, we have no direct duties. Animals188.8.131.52are there merely as me ans to an end. That end is man We may, therefore, use animals in any way we please. We don5t even have a direct dut to refrain from tor/ turing them. Kant did condemn the abuse of animals, but not because the animals would be hurt. He worried, rather, about us: He who is cruel to animals also becomes hard in his deal/ings with men.” When Kant said that human beings are valuable abov e all price this was not mere rhetoric. Kant meant that people are irreplaceable. If a child dies, this is a tragedy, and it remains tragic even if another child is born into the same family. On the other hand, mere thing are replaceable. If your printer breaks, then everything is fine so long as you can get another printer. People, Kant believed, have a dignit that mere things lack. KANT AND RESPECT FOR PERSONS 137 Two facts about people, Kant thought, support this judgment. First, because people have desires, things that satisfy those desires can have value for people. By contrast, mere thing have value only insofar as they promote human ends. Thus, if you want to become a better poker player, a book about poker will have value for you; but apart from such ends, those books are worthless. Or, if you want to go somewhere, a car will have value for you; but apart from such desires, cars have no value. Mere animals, Kant thought, are too primitive to have self/conscious desires and goals. Thus, they are mere things Kant did not believe, for example, that milk has value for the cat who wishes to drink it. But today we5re more impressed with the mental life of animals than Kant was. We believe that ani/ mals do have desires and goals. So, perhaps there are Kantian grounds for saying that animals are not mere things However, Kant5s second reason would not apply to ani/ mals. People, Kant said, have an intrinsic worth, i.e., dignit because they are rational agents, that is, free agents capable of making their own decisions, setting their own goals, and guid/ ing their conduct by reason. The only way that moral goodness can exist is for rational creatures to act from a good will that is, to apprehend what they should do and act from a sense of duty. Human beings are the only rational agents that exist on earth; nonhuman animals lack free will, and they do not guide their conduct by reason because their rational capacities are too limited. If people disappeared, then so would the moral dimen/ sion of the world. This second fact about people is especially important for Kant. Thus, Kant believed, human beings are not merely one valuable thing among others. Humans are the ones who do the valuing, and it is their conscientious actions that have moral worth. Human beings tower above the realm of things. These thoughts are central to Kant5s moral system. Kant believed that all of our duties can be derived from one ultimate principle, which he called the Categorical Imperative. Kant gave this principle different formulations, but at one point he expresses it like this: Act so that you treat humanity, whether in your own per/ son or in that of another, always as an end and never as a means only. 138 THE ELEMENTS OF MORAL PHILOSOPHYBecause people are so valuable, morality requires us to treat them always as an end and never as a means only What does this mean, and why should anyone believe it? To treat people as an en means, on the most super/ ficial level, treating them well. We must promote their wel/ fare, respect their rights, avoid harming them, and generally endeavor, so far as we can, to further the ends of others But Kant5s idea also has a deeper implication. To treat people as ends requires treating them with respect. Thus, we may not manipulate people, or us people to achieve our goals, no matter how good those goals may be. Kant gives this example: Suppose you need money, and you want a loan, but you know you cannot repay it. In desperation, you consider telling your friend you will repay it in order to get the money. May you do this? Perhaps you need the money for a good purpose so good, in fact, that you might convince yourself that the lie would be justified. Nevertheless, you should not lie to your friend. If you did, you would be manipulating her and using her merely as a means On the other hand, what would it be like to treat your friend as an en ? Suppose you tell the truth you tell her why you need the money, and you tell her you won5t be able to pay her back. Then your friend can make up her own mind about whether to give you the loan. She can consult her own values and wishes, exercise her own powers of reasoning, and make a free choice. If she then decides to give you the money for your stated purpose, she will be choosing to make that purpose her own. Thus, you will not be using her as a mere means to achieving your goal, for it will be her goal, too. Thus, for Kant, to treat people as ends is to treat them as beings who [can] contain in themselves the end of the very same action When you tell your friend the truth, and she gives you money, you are using her as a means to getting the money. However, Kant does not object to treating someone as a means; he objects to treating someone only as a means. Consider another example: Suppose your bathroom sink is stopped up. Would it be okay to call in a plumber to us the plumber as a means to unclogging the drain? Kant would have no problem with this. The plumber, after all, understands the situation. You are not deceiving or manipulating him. He may freely choose to unclog your drain in exchange for payment. Although you KANT AND RESPECT FOR PERSONS 139 are treating the plumber as a means, you are also treating him with dignity, as an end/in/himself.”Treating people as ends, and respecting their rational capacities, has other implications. We should not force adults to do things against their will; instead, we should let them make their own decisions. We should therefore be wary of laws that aim to protect people from themselves for example, laws requiring people to wear seat belts or motorcycle helmets. Also, we shouldn5t forget that respecting people requires respecting ourselves . I should take good care of myself; I should develop my talents; I should do more than just slide by. Kant5s moral system is not easy to grasp. To understand it better, let5s consider how Kant applied his ideas to the practice of criminal punishment. The rest of this chapter is devoted to that example. 10.2. Retribution and Utility in the Theory of Punishment Jeremy Bentham +174 183<- said that all punishment is mis/ chief: all punishment in itself is evil Bentham had a point. Punishment, by its nature, always involves inflicting some harm on the person punished. As a society, we punish people by mak/ ing them pay fines or go to prison, or even, sometimes, by kill/ing them. How can it be right to treat people in these ways? The traditional answer is that punishment is justified as a way of paying bac the offender for his wicked deed. Those who have committed a crime deserve to be treated badly. It is a matter of justice: If you harm other people, justice requires that you be harmed, too. As the ancient saying has it, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth According to the doctrine of Retributivism, this is the main justification of punishment. Retributivism was, on Bentham5s view, a wholly unsatisfac/ tory idea, because it advocates the infliction of suffering with/ out any compensating gain in happiness. Retributivism would have us increase, not decrease, the amount of misery in the world. Kant was a retributivist, and he openly embraced this implication. In The Critique of Practical Reason +1788-, he writes: When someone who delights in annoying and vexing peace/loving folk receives at last a right good beating, it is 140 THE ELEMENTS OF MORAL PHILOSOPHYcertainly an ill, but everyone approves of it and considers it as good in itself even if nothing further results from it. Thus, punishing people may increase the amount of misery in the world; but that is all right, for the extra suffering is borne by those who deserve it. Utilitarianism takes a very different approach. Acc ording to Utilitarianism, our duty is to do whatever will inc rease the amount of happiness in the world. Punishment is, on its fa ce, an evi because it makes the punished person unhappy. Thus, Bentham, a utilitarian, says, If [punishment] ought at all to be admitted, it ought to be admitted in as far as it promises to exclude some greater evil In other words, punishment can be ju stified only if it does enough good to outweigh the bad. And utilit arians have traditionally thought that it does. If someone brea ks the law, then punishing that person can have several benefit s. First, punishment provides comfort and gratification to victims and their families. People feel very strongly that some/ one who mugged, raped, or robbed them should not go free. Victims also live in fear when they know that their attacker has not been caught. Philosophers sometimes ignore this justifica/ tion of punishment, but it plays a prominent role in our legal system. Judges, lawyers, and juries often want to know what vic/ tims want. Indeed, whether the police will make an arrest, and whether the district attorney5s office will prosecute a case, often depends on the wishes of the victims. Second, by locking up criminals, or by executing th em, we take them off the street. With fewer criminals on t he street, there will be less crime. In this way, prisons protect so ciety and thus reduce unhappiness. Of course, this justification d oes not apply to punishments in which the offender remains free, such as when a criminal is sentenced to probation with community service. Third, punishment reduces crime by deterring would/be criminals. Someone who is tempted to commit a crime might not do so if he knows he might be punished. Obviously, the threat of punishment is not always effective; sometimes people break the law anyway. But there will be less misconduct if pun/ ishments are threatened. Imagine what would happen if the police stopped arresting thieves; surely there would be a lot more theft. Deterring crime thus prevents unhappiness. Fourth, a well/designed system of punishment might help to rehabilitate wrongdoers. Criminals often have me ntal and KANT AND RESPECT FOR PERSONS 141 emotional problems. Often, they are uneducated and illiter/ ate and cannot hold down jobs. Why not respond to c rime by attacking the problems that cause it? If someone is dan/ gerous, we may imprison him. But while we have him behind bars, why not address his problems with psychologic al therapy, educational opportunities, and job training? If one day he can return to society as a productive citizen, then bot h he and soci/ ety will benefit. In America, the utilitarian view of punishment was once dominant. In 19=4, the American Prison Association changed its name to the American Correctional Associatio and encouraged prisons to become correctional facilities Prisons were thus asked to correc inmates, not to punis them. Prison reform was common in the 19=0s and 1960s. Prisons offered their inmates drug treatment programs, vocational training classes, and group counseling sessions, hoping to turn them into good citizens. Those days, however, are long gone. In the 1970s, the newly announced war on drug led to longer and longer prison sentences for drug offenders. This change in Ameri/ can justice was more retributive than utilitarian in nature, and it resulted in vastly more prisoners. Today the United States houses around <.3 million inmates, giving it the highest incar/ ceration rate of any country, by far. Most of those inmates are in state prisons, not federal prisons, and the states that must operate those facilities are strapped for cash. As a result, most of the programs aimed at rehabilitation were either scaled back or eliminated. The rehabilitation mentality of the 1960s has thus been replaced by a warehousing mentality, marked by prison overcrowding and plagued by underfunding. This new reality, which is less pleasant for the inmates themselves, sug/gests a victory for Retributivism. 10.3. Kant’s Retributivism The utilitarian theory of punishment has many opponents. Some critics say that prison reform does not work. California had the most vigorous program of reform in the United States, yet its prisoners were especially likely to commit crimes after being released. Most of the opposition, however, is based on theoretical considerations that go back at least to Kant. 14< THE ELEMENTS OF MORAL PHILOSOPHYKant despised the serpent/windings of Utilitariani s because, he said, the theory is incompatible with h uman dig/ nity. In the first place, it has us calculating how to use people as means to our ends. If we imprison the criminal i n order to keep society safe, we are merely using him for the benefit of others. This violates Kant5s belief that one man o ught never to be dealt with merely as a means subservient to t he purpose of another Moreover, rehabilitation is really just the attempt to mold people into what we want them to be. As such, it violates their right to decide for themselves what sort of people they will be. We do have the right to respond to their wickedness by paying them bac for it, but we do not have the right to violate their integrity by trying to manipulate their personalities. Thus, Kant would have no part of utilitarian justifications. Instead, he argues that punishment should be governed by two principles. First, people should be punished simply because they have committed crimes, and for no other reason. Second, punishment should be proportionate to the seriousness of the crime. Small punishments may suffice for small crimes, but big punishments are necessary for big crimes: But what is the mode and measure of punishment which public justice takes as its principle and standard? It is just the principle of equality, by which the pointer of the scale of justice is made to incline no more to the one side than to the other. .2 .2 .2 Hence it may be said: If you slander another, you slander yourself; if you steal from another, you steal from yourself; if you strike another, you strike yourself; if you kill another, you kill yourself This is .2 .2 .2 the only principle which2 .2 .2 .2 can definitely assign both the quality and the quantity of a just penalty. Kant5s second principle leads him to endorse capital pun/ ishment; for in response to murder, only death is appropriate. In a famous passage, Kant says: Even if a civil society resolved to dissolve itself with the con/ sent of all its members as might be supposed in the case of a people inhabiting an island resolving to separate and scatter throughout the whole world the last murderer lying in prison ought to be executed before the resolu/ tion was carried out. This ought to be done in order that KANT AND RESPECT FOR PERSONS 143 everyone may realize the desert of his deeds, and that blood/guiltiness may not remain on the people; for other/ wise they will all be regarded as participants in the murder as a public violation of justice. Although a Kantian must support the death penalty in theory , she might oppose it in practice . The worry, in practice, is that innocent people might be killed by mistake. In the United States, around 130 death row inmates have been released from prison after being proved innocent. None of those people were actually killed. But with so many close calls, it is almost certain that some innocent people have been put to death and advo/ cates of reform point to specific, troubling examples. Thus, in deciding whether to support a policy of capital punishment, Kantians must balance the injustice of the occasional, deadly mistake against the injustice of letting killers live. Kant5s two principles describe a general theory of pun/ ishment: Wrongdoers must be punished, and the punishment must fit the crime. This theory is deeply opposed to the Chris/ tian idea of turning the other cheek. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus avows, You have heard that it was said, `An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.5 But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also For Kant, such a response to evil is not only imprudent, but unjust. What arguments can be given for Kant5s Retributivism? We noted that Kant regards punishment as a matter of justice. He says that if the guilty are not punished, justice is not done. That is one argument. Also, we discussed why Kant rejects the utilitarian view of punishment. But he also provides another argument, based on his idea of treating people as ends/in/ themselves This additional argument is Kant5s contribution to the theory of Retributivism. On the face of it, it seems unlikely that we could describe punishing someone as respecting him as a perso or as treat/ ing him as an end How could sending someone to prison be a way of respecting him? Even more paradoxically, how could executing someone be a way of treating him with dignity? For Kant, treating someone as an en means treating him as a rational being, who is responsible for his behavior. So now we may ask: What does it mean to be a responsible being? 144 THE ELEMENTS OF MORAL PHILOSOPHYConsider, first, what it means not to be such a being. Mere animals, who lack reason, are not responsible for their actions; nor are people who are mentally ill and not in control of them/ selves. In such cases, it would be absurd to hold them account/ able We could not properly feel gratitude or resentment toward them, because they are not responsible for any good or ill they cause. Moreover, we cannot expect them to understand why we treat them as we do, any more than they understand why they behave as they do. So we have no choice but to deal with them by manipulating them, rather than by treating them as rational individuals. When we scold a dog for eating off the table, for example, we are merely trying to trai him. On the other hand, a rational being can freely decide what to do, based on his own conception of what is best. Ratio/ nal beings are responsible for their behavior, and so they are accountable for what they do. We may feel gratitude when they behave well and resentment when they behave badly. Reward and punishment not trainin or other manipulation are the natural expressions of gratitude and resentment. Thus, in punishing people, we are holding them responsible for their actions in a way in which we cannot hold mere animals respon/ sible. We are responding to them not as people who are sic or who have no control over themselves, but as people who have freely chosen their evil deeds. Furthermore, in dealing with responsible agents, we may properly allow their conduct to determine, at least in part, how we respond to them. If someone has been kind to you, you may respond by being generous; and if someone is nasty to you, you may take that into account in deciding how to respond. And why shouldn5t you? Why should you treat everyone alike, regardless of how they have chosen to behave? Kant gives this last point a distinctive twist. There is, on his view, a deep reason for responding to other people in kind When we choose to do something, after consulting our own values, we are in effect saying this is the sort of thing that should be done . In Kant5s terminology, we are implying that our con/ duct be made into a universal law Therefore, when a rational being decides to treat people in a certain way, he decrees that in his judgment this is the way people are to be treated. Thus, if we treat him the same way in return, we are doing nothing more than treating him as he has decided that people are to be treated . If KANT AND RESPECT FOR PERSONS 145 he treats others badly, and we treat him badly, we are comply/ ing with his own decision. We are, in a perfectly clear sense, respecting his judgment, by allowing it to control how we treat him. Thus, Kant says of the criminal, His own evil deed draws the punishment upon himself.”This last argument can certainly be questioned. Why should we adopt the criminal5s principle of action, rather than follow our own principles? Shouldn5t we try to be better than he i ? At the end of the day, what we think of Kant5s theory may depend on our view of criminal behavior. If we see crimi/ nals as victims of circumstance, who do not ultimately control their own actions, then the utilitarian model will appeal to us. On the other hand, if we see criminals as rational agents who freely choose to do harm, then Kantian Retributivism will have great appeal for us. The resolution of this great debate might thus turn on whether we believe that human beings have free will, or whether we believe that outside forces impact human behavior so deeply that our freedom is an illusion. The debate about free will, however, is so complex, and so concerned with matters outside of ethics, that we will not discuss it here. This kind of dialectical situation is common in philosophy: when you study one matter deeply, you often come to realize that it depends on something else. And, unfortunately, that other thing often turns out to be as difficult as the set of problems you began with. The last article I forgot to add was Rachel’s on Kant which only needs a response 157 CHAPTER 12 V irtue Ethics The excellency of hogs is fatness, of men virtue. B!"#$%&" F'$"()&", P OOR RICHARD ’S ALMANACK *1736) 12.1. The Ethics of Virtue and the Ethics of Right Action In thinking about any subject, it matters greatly what questions we start with. In Aristotle-s Nicomachean Ethics *ca. 325 /.0.+, the central questions are about character. Aristotle begins by asking What is the good of man and his answer is an activity of the soul in conformity with virtue He then discusses such virtues as courage, self4control, generosity, and truthfulness. Most of the ancient thinkers came to ethics by asking What traits of char- acter make someone a good person? As a result, the virtue occu4 pied center stage in their discussions. As time passed, however, this way of thinking becam e neglected. With the coming of Christianity, a new s et of ideas emerged. The Christians, like the Jews, viewed God as a lawgiver, and so they saw obedience to those laws as the key to righteous living. For the Greeks, the life of virtue was inse parable from the life of reason. But Saint Augustine, the influe ntial fourth4 century Christian thinker, distrusted reason and be lieved that moral goodness depends on subordinating oneself to the will of God. Thus, when medieval philosophers discussed the virtues, it was in the context of Divine Law, and the theol ogical virtue of faith, hope, charity, and obedience occupied the spotlight. After the Renaissance period *189 1659+, moral phi loso4 phy again became more secular, but philosophers did not return to the Greek way of thinking. Instead, the Divine L aw was replaced by something called the Moral Law The Moral Law, which was 15: THE ELEMENTS OF MORAL PHILOSOPHY said to spring from human reason rather than from G od, was a system of rules specifying which actions are right. Our duty as moral persons, it was said, is to follow those rule s. Thus, modern moral philosophers approached their subject by aski ng a ques4 tion fundamentally different from the one asked by the ancients. Instead of asking What traits of character make someone a good person ? they asked What is the right thing to do? This led them in a different direction. They went on to develop theories, not of virtue, but of rightness and obligation: Ethical Egoism: Each person ought to do whatever will best promote his or her own interests. The Social Contract Theory: The right thing to do is to fol4 low the rules that rational, self4interested people would agree to follow for their mutual benefit. Utilitarianism: One ought to do whatever will lead to the most happiness. Kant’s theory: Our duty is to follow rules that we could accept as universal laws that is, rules that we would be willing for everyone to follow in all circumstances. And these are the theories that have dominated moral philoso4 phy from the 17th century on. Should We Return to Virtue Ethics? Recently, however, a num4 ber of philosophers have advanced a radical idea. Moral philos4 ophy, they say, is bankrupt, and we should return to Aristotle-s way of thinking. This was suggested by Elizabeth Anscombe in her article Modern Moral Philosoph *1<5_+. Anscombe believes that modern moral philosophy is misguided because it rests on the incoherent notion of a la without a lawgiver. The very con4 cepts of obligation, duty, and rightness, she says, are insepa4 rable from this self4contradictory notion. Therefore, we should stop thinking about obligation, duty, and rightness, and return to Aristotle-s approach. The virtues should once again take center stage. In the wake of Anscombe-s article, a flood of books and essays appeared discussing the virtues, and Virtue Ethics soon became a major option again. In what follows, we will first take a look at what Virtue Ethics is like. Then we will consider some reasons for preferring this theory to other, more modern ways VIRTUE ETHICS 159 of approaching the subject. Finally, we will consider whether a return to Virtue Ethics would be desirable. 12.2. The Virtues A theory of virtue should have several components; a statement of what a virtue is, a list of the virtues, an account of what these virtues consist in, and an explanation of why these qualities are good. In addition, the theory should tell us whether the virtues are the same for all people or whether they differ from person to person or from culture to culture. What Is a Virtue? Aristotle said that a virtue is a trait of charac4 ter manifested in habitual action. The word habitu a here is important. The virtue of honesty, for example, is n ot possessed by someone who tells the truth only occasionally or only when it benefits her. The honest person is truthful as a ma tter of course= her actions spring from a firm and unchangeable ch aracter.” But this does not distinguish virtues from vices, for vices are also traits of character manifested in habitual action. The other part of the definition is evaluative; virtues are good, whereas vices are bad. Thus, a virtue is a commendable trait of character manifested in habitual action. Saying this, of course, doesn-t tell us which traits of character are good or bad. Later we will flesh this out by discussing the ways in which some par4 ticular virtues are good. For now, we may note that virtuous qualities are those qualities that will make us seek out some4 one-s company. As Edmund L. Pincoffs *1<1 1<<1+ put it, Some sorts of persons we prefer= others we avoid. The prop4 erties on our list [of virtues and vices] can serve as reasons for preference or avoidance.” We seek out people for different purposes, and this affects which virtues are relevant. In looking for an auto mechanic, we want someone who is skillful, honest, and conscientious= in looking for a teacher, we want someone who is knowledgeable, articulate, and patient. Thus, the virtues of auto repair are dif4 ferent from the virtues of teaching. But we also assess people as people, in a more general way, so we also have the concept of a good person. The moral virtues are the virtues of persons as such. Thus, we may define a moral virtue as a trait of character, manifested in habitual action, that it is good for anyone to have. 169 THE ELEMENTS OF MORAL PHILOSOPHY What Are the Virtues? What, then, are the virtues? Which traits of character should be fostered in human beings? There is no short answer, but the following is a partial list; benevolence fairness patience civility friendliness prudence compassion generosity reasonableness conscientiousness honesty self4discipline cooperativeness industriousness self4reliance courage justice tactfulness courteousness loyalty thoughtfulness dependability moderation tolerance This list could be expanded, of course. What Do These Virtues Consist In? It is one thing to say, in gen4 eral, that we should be conscientious, compassionat e, and toler4 ant= it is another thing to say exactly what these character traits are. Each of the virtues has its own distinctive fe atures and raises its own distinctive problems. Let-s consider four e xamples. 1. Courage. According to Aristotle, virtues are midpoints between extremes; A virtue is the mean by reference to two vices; the one of excess and the other of deficiency Courage is a mean between the extremes of cowardice and foolhardiness— it is cowardly to run away from all danger, yet it is foolhardy to risk too much. Courage is sometimes said to be a military virtue because soldiers so obviously need to have it. But soldiers are not the only ones who need courage. We all need courage, and not just when we face a preexisting danger, such as an enemy soldier or a grizzly bear. Sometimes we need the courage to create a situ4 ation that will be unpleasant for us. It takes courage to apolo4 gize. If a friend is grieving, it takes courage to ask her directly how she is doing. It takes courage to volunteer to do something nice that you don-t really want to do. If we consider only ordinary cases, the nature of courage seems unproblematic. But unusual circumstances present more troublesome cases. Consider the 1< hijackers who murdered almost 3,999 people on September 11, 2991. They faced cer4 tain death, evidently without flinching, but in the service of an evil cause. Were they courageous? The American political com4 mentator Bill Maher implied that they were and so he lost VIRTUE ETHICS 161 his television show, Politically Incorrect. But was Maher correct? The philosopher Peter Geach wouldn-t think so. Courage in an unworthy cause he says, is no virtue= still less is courage in an evil cause. Indeed I prefer not to call this nonvirtuous facing of danger `courage.-” It is easy to see Geach-s point. Calling a terrorist coura4 geou seems to praise his performance, and we do not want to do that. But, on the other hand, it doesn-t seem quite right to say that he is not courageous after all, look at how he behaves in the face of danger. To resolve this dilemma, perhaps we should just say that he displays two qualities of character, one admirable *steadfastness in facing danger+ and one detest4 able *a willingness to kill innocent people+. He is courageous, as Maher suggested, and courage is a good thing= but because his courage is deployed in such an evil cause, his behavior is on the whole extremely wicked. 2. Generosity. Generosity is the willingness to give to others. One can be generous with any of one-s resources with one-s time, for example, or one-s money or one-s knowledge. Aris4 totle says that generosity, like courage, is a mean between extremes; It falls between stinginess and extravagance. The stingy person gives too little= the extravagant person gives too much= the generous person gives just the right amount. But what amount is just right? Another ancient teacher, Jesus of Nazareth, said th at we must give everything we have to the poor. Jesus consid4 ered it wrong to possess riches while other people are dying of starvation. Those who heard Jesus speak found h is teach4 ing too demanding, and they generally rejected it. Human nature has not changed much in the last 2,999 years ; today, few people follow Jesus-s advice, even among those who claim to admire him. On this issue, the modern utilitarians are Jesus-s moral descendants. They hold that in every circumstance it is our duty to do whatever will have the best overall consequences for everyone concerned. This means that we should be generous with our money until further giving would harm us as much as it would help others. In other words, we should give until we ourselves become the most worthy recipients of whatever money remains in our hands. If we did this, then we would become poor. 162 THE ELEMENTS OF MORAL PHILOSOPHYWhy do people resist this idea? The main reason may be self4interest= we do not want to become destitute. But this is about more than money= it is also about time and energy. Adopting such a policy would prevent us from living normal lives. Our lives consist of projects and relationships that require a considerable investment of money, time, and effort. An ideal of generosit that demands too much of us would require us to abandon our everyday lives. We-d have to live like saints. A reasonable interpretation of generosity might there4 fore be something like this; We should be as generous with our resources as we can be while still carrying on our normal lives. But even this interpretation leaves us with an awkward question. Some people-s normal live are quite extravagant think of a rich person who has grown accustomed to great luxuries. Surely such a person can-t be generous unless he is willing to sell his yacht to feed the hungry. The virtue of generosity, it would seem, cannot exist in the context of a life that is too opu4 lent. So, to make this interpretation of generosity reasonable our conception of normal life must not be too extravagant. 3. Honesty. The honest person is someone who, first of all, does not lie. But is that enough? Lying is not the only way of misleading people. Geach tells the story of Saint Athanasius, who was rowing on a river when the persecutors came row4 ing in the opposite direction; `Where is the traitor Athanasius?- `Not far away,- the Saint gaily replied, and rowed past them unsuspected.” Geach approves of the saint-s deception, even though he would disapprove of the saint-s telling an outright lie. Lying, according to Geach, is always forbidden; someone possessing the virtue of honesty will never even consider it. Honest people do not lie= so, they must find other ways of attaining their goals. Athanasius found such a way, even in his predicament. He did not lie to his pursuers= he merel deceived them. But isn-t deception dishonest? Why should some ways of misleading peo4 ple be dishonest, and others not? To answer that question, let-s think about why hone sty is a virtue to begin with. Why is honesty good? Part of the reason is large4scale; Civilization depends on it. Our abilit y to live together in communities depends on our ability to communicat e. We talk to one another, read each other-s writing, exc hange infor4 mation and opinions, express our desires to one ano ther, make VIRTUE ETHICS 163 promises, ask and answer questions, and much more. Without these sorts of exchanges, social living would be im possible. But people must be honest for such exchanges to work. On a smaller scale, when we take people at their word, we make ourselves vulnerable to them. By accepting what they say and modifying our behavior accordingly, we place our well4 being in their hands. If they speak truthfully, all is well. But if they lie, then we end up with false beliefs= and if we act on those beliefs, then we do foolish things. We trusted them, and they betrayed our trust. Dishonesty is manipulative. By contrast, honest people treat others with respect. If these ideas account for why honesty is a virtue, then lies and deceptive truth are both dishonest. After all, both types of deceit are objectionable for the same reasons. Both have the same goal; the point of lying and deceiving is to make the listener acquire a false belief. In Geach-s example, Athanasius got his persecutors to believe that he was not in fact Athana4 sius. Had Athanasius lied to his pursuers, rather than merely deceiving them, then his words would have served the same purpose. Because both actions aim at false beliefs, both can dis4 rupt the smooth functioning of society, and both violate trust. If you accuse someone of lying to you, and she responds by say4 ing that she did not lie she merel deceived you then you would not be impressed. Either way, she took advantage of your trust and manipulated you into believing something false. The honest person will neither lie nor deceive. But will the honest person never lie? Geach-s example raises the question of whether virtue requires adherence to absolute rules. Let-s distinguish two views; 1. An honest person will never lie or deceive. 2. An honest person will never lie or deceive except in rare circumstances when there are compelling reasons to do so. Despite Geach-s protest, there are good reasons to favor the second view, even with regard to lying. First, remember that honesty is not the only thing we value. In a specific situation, some other value might get priority for example, the value of self4preservation. Suppose Saint Athana4 sius had lied and said, I don-t know where that traitor is and as a result, his pursuers went off on a wild4goose chase. Now the 168 THE ELEMENTS OF MORAL PHILOSOPHY saint would get to live another day. If this had occurred, most of us would continue to regard Saint Athanasius as honest. We would merely say that he valued his own life more than the tell4ing of one lie. Moreover, if we consider why honesty is good, then we can see that Athanasius would have been justified in ly ing to his pur4 suers. Obviously, that particular lie would not hav e disrupted the smooth functioning of society. But wouldn-t it at least have violated the trust of the people who were pursuing him? The response is that, if lying is a violation of trust, then for lying to be immoral, the person you-re lying to must deserve your trust. But in this case, the saint-s pursuers did not deserve his trust, because they were persecuting him unjustly. Thus, e ven an hon4 est person may sometimes lie or deceive with full j ustification. 4 . Loyalty to friends and family. Friendship is essential to the good life. As Aristotle says, No one would choose to live with4out friends, even if he had all other good : How could prosperity be safeguarded and preserved w ith4 out friends? The greater our prosperity is, the gre ater are the risks it brings with it. Also, in poverty and a ll other kinds of misfortune men believe that their only refuge co nsists in their friends. Friends help young men avoid error= to older people they give the care and help needed to supple ment the failing powers of action which infirmity brings . The benefits of friendship, of course, go far beyond mate4 rial assistance. Psychologically, we would be lost without our friends. Our triumphs seem hollow without friends to share them with, and we need our friends even more when we fail. Our self4esteem depends in large measure on the assurances of friends; By returning our affection, they confirm our worth as human beings. If we need friends, then we need the qualities that enable us to be a friend. Near the top of the list is loyalty. Friends can be counted on. You stick by your friends even when things are going badly and even when, objectively speaking, you should abandon them. Friends make allowances for one another= they forgive offenses and refrain from harsh judgments. There are limits, of course sometimes only a friend can tell us the hard truth about ourselves. But criticism is acceptable from friends because we know that they are not rejecting us. VIRTUE ETHICS 165 None of this is to deny that we have duties to other people, even to strangers. But those duties are associated with different virtues. Generalized beneficence is a virtue, and it may demand a great deal, but it does not require the same level of concern for strangers as for friends. Justice is another such virtue= it requires impartial treatment for all. But friends are loyal to one another, so the demands of justice are weaker when friends are involved. We are even closer to family members than we are to friends, so we may show family members even more loyalty and partiality. In Plato-s Euthyphro, Socrates learns that Euthyphro has come to the courthouse to prosecute his own father for mur4 der. Socrates expresses surprise at this and wonders whether a son should bring charges against his father. Euthyphro sees no impropriety; For him, a murder is a murder. Euthyphro has a point, but we might still be shocked that someone could take the same attitude toward his father that he would take toward a stranger. A close family member, we might think, need not be involved in such a legal matter. This point is recognized in American law; In the United States, one cannot be compelled to testify in court against one-s husband or wife. Why Are the Virtues Important? We said that virtues are traits of character that are good for people to have. This raises the question of why the virtues are good. Why should a person be courageous, generous, honest, or loyal? The answer may depend on the virtue in question. Thus: Courage is good because we need it to cope with danger. Generosity is desirable because there will always be peo4 ple who need help. Honesty is needed because without it relations between people would go wrong in all sorts of ways. Loyalty is essential to friendship= friends stand by one another even when others would turn away. This list suggests that each virtue is valuable for a differ4 ent reason. However, Aristotle offers a general answer to our question he says that the virtues are important because the virtuous person will fare better in life. The point is not that the virtuous will always be richer= the point is that we need the vir4tues in order to flourish. 166 THE ELEMENTS OF MORAL PHILOSOPHYTo see what Aristotle is getting at, consider who w e are and how we live. On the most general level, we are soci al creatures who want the company of others. So we live in communiti es among family, friends, and fellow citizens. In this setti ng, such qualities as loyalty, fairness, and honesty are needed to int eract success4 fully with others. On a more individual level, we m ight have a job and pursue particular interests. Those endeavors mi ght call for other virtues, such as perseverance and industrious ness. Finally, it is part of our common human condition that we mu st some4 times face danger or temptation, so courage and sel f4control are needed. Thus, the virtues all have the same general sort of value; They are all qualities needed for successful living . Are the Virtues the Same for Everyone? Finally, we may ask whether a single set of traits is desirable for all people. Should we speak of the good person, as though all good people come from one mold? Friedrich Nietzsche *1:8 1<99+ thought not. In his flamboyant way, Nietzsche observes; How naive it is altogether to say; Man ought to be such4 and4such Reality shows us an enchanting wealth of types, the abundance of a lavish play and change of forms and some wretched loafer of a moralist comments; No> Man ought to be different He even knows what man should be like, this wretched bigot and prig; he paints himself on the wall and comments, “Ecce homo!” Behold the man ] There is obviously something to this. The scholar who devotes his life to understanding medieval literature and the profes4 sional soldier are very different kinds of people. A Victorian woman who would never expose a leg in public and a woman who sunbathes on a nude beach have very different standards of modesty. And yet all may be admirable in their own ways. There is, then, an obvious sense in which the virtues may differ from person to person. Because people lead different kinds of lives, have different sorts of personalities, and occupy different social roles, the qualities of character that help them flourish may differ. It is tempting to go even further and say that the virtues differ from society to society. After all, the kind of life that is pos4 sible will depend on the values and institutions that dominate a region. A scholar-s life is possible only where there are institu4 tions, such as universities, that make intellectual investigation VIRTUE ETHICS 167 possible. Much the same could be said about being an athlete, a priest, a geisha, or a samurai warrior. The character traits that are needed to occupy those roles will differ, and so the traits needed to live successfully will differ. Thus, the virtues will be different.To this, it may be answered that certain virtues will be needed by all people in all times . This was Aristotle-s view, and he was probably right. Aristotle believed that we all have a great deal in common, despite our differences. One may observe he says, in one-s travels to distant countries the feelings of recogni4 tion and affiliation that link every human being to every other human being Even in the most disparate societies, people face the same basic problems and have the same basic needs. Thus; Everyone needs courage, because no one *not even the scholar+ can always avoid danger. Also, everyone needs the courage to take the occasional risk. In every society, there will be some people who are worse off than others= so, generosity will always be prized. Honesty is always a virtue because no society can exist without dependable communication. Everyone needs friends, and to have friends one must be a friend= so, everyone needs loyalty. This sort of list could and in Aristotle-s hands it does— go on and on. To summarize, then, it may be true that in differen t socie4 ties the virtues are given different interpretation s, and different actions may be counted as satisfying them= and it may be true that the value of a character trait will vary from person to per4 son and from society to society. But it cannot be right to say that social customs determine whether any particular charac4 ter trait is a virtue. The major virtues flow from our common human condition. 12.3. Two Advantages of Virtue Ethics Virtue Ethics is often said to have two selling points. 1. Moral motivation. Virtue Ethics is appealing because it provides a natural and attractive account of moral motivation. Consider the following: You are in the hospital recovering from a long illness. You are bored and restless, and so you are delighted when Smith 16: THE ELEMENTS OF MORAL PHILOSOPHY comes to visit. You have a good time talking to him= his visit really cheers you up. After a while, you tell Smith how much you enjoy seeing him he really is a good friend to take the trouble to come see you. But, Smith says, he is merely doing his duty. At first you think he is only being modest, but the more you talk, the clearer it becomes that he is speaking the literal truth. He is not visiting you because he wants to or because he likes you, but only because he thinks he should do the right thing He feels it is his duty to visit you, perhaps because you are worse off than anyone else he knows. This example was suggested by the American philosopher Michael Stocker *1<8 +. As Stocker points out, you-d be very disappointed to learn Smith-s motive= now his visit seems cold and calculating. You thought he was your friend, but now you know otherwise. Commenting on Smith-s behavior, Stocker says, Surely there is something lacking here and lacking in moral merit or value Of course, there is nothing wrong with what Smith did. The problem is why he did it. We value friendship, love, and respect, and we want our relationships to be based on mutual regard. Acting from an abstract sense of duty or fr om a desire to do the right thin is not the same. We would n ot want to live in a community of people who acted only fro m such motives, nor would we want to be such a person ours elves. Therefore, the argument goes, theories that focus o n right action cannot provide a completely satisfactory acc ount of the moral life. For that, we need a theory that emphasi zes personal qualities such as friendship, love, and loyalty in other words, a theory of the virtues. 2. Doubts about the “ideal” of impartiality. A dominant theme in modern moral philosophy has been impartiality the idea that all persons are morally equal, and that we should treat everyone-s interests as equally important. The utilitarian theory is typical. Utilitarianism John Stuart Mill writes, requires [the moral agent] to be as strictly impartial as a disinterested and benevolent spectator The book you are now reading also treats impartiality as a fundamental ethical requirement; In the first chapter, impartiality was included in the minimum con4 ceptio of morality. It may be doubted, though, whether impartiality is really such a noble ideal. Consider our relationships with family and VIRTUE ETHICS 169 friends. Should we be impartial where their interests are con4 cerned? A mother loves her children and cares for t hem in a way that she does not care for other children. She is partial to them through and through. But is anything wrong wit h that? Isn-t that exactly the way a mother should be? Agai n, we love our friends, and we are willing to do things for them t hat we would not do for others. What-s wrong with that? Loving r elationships are essential to the good life. But any theory that emphasizes impartiality will have a hard time accounting for t his. A moral theory that emphasizes the virtues, however, can easily account for all this. Some virtues are partial and some are not. Loyalty involves partiality toward loved ones and friends= beneficence involves equal regard for everyone. What is needed is not some general requirement of impartiality, but an under4standing of how these virtues relate to one another. 12.4. Virtue and Conduct As we have seen, theories that emphasize right action seem incomplete because they neglect the question of character. Virtue Ethics remedies this problem by making character its central concern. But as a result, Virtue Ethics runs the risk of being incomplete in the other direction. Moral problems are frequently problems about what to do. What can a theory of vir4 tue tell us about the assessment, not of character, but of action? The answer will depend on the spirit in which Virtue Eth4 ics is offered. On the one hand, we might combine the best features of the right4action approach with insights drawn from the virtues approach we might try to improve Utilitarianism or Kantianism, for example, by supplementing them with a theory of moral character. This seems sensible. If so, then we can assess right action simply by relying on Utilitarianism or Kantianism. On the other hand, some writers believe that Virtue Eth4 ics should be understood as an alternative to the other theories. These writers believe that Virtue Ethics is a complete moral theory in itself. We might call this Radical Virtue Ethics. What would such a theory say about right action? Either it will need to dispense with the notion of right actio altogether, or it will have to give some account of the idea derived from the conception of virtuous character. 179 THE ELEMENTS OF MORAL PHILOSOPHYIt might sound crazy, but some philosophers have argued that we should get rid of such concepts as morally right action Anscombe says that it would be a great improvemen if we stopped using such notions. We could still assess conduct as better or worse, she says, but we would do so in other terms. Instead of saying that an action was morally wrong we would say that it was intoleran or unjus or cowardl terms derived from the vocabulary of virtue. On her view, such terms allow us to say everything that we need to say. But advocates of Radical Virtue Ethics need not reject notions such as morally right These ideas can be retained but given a new interpretation within the virtue framework. We could still assess actions based on the reasons that can be given for or against them. However, the reasons cited will all be reasons connected with the virtues . Thus, the reasons for doing some par4 ticular action might be that it is honest, or generous, or fair= while the reasons against doing it might be that it is dishonest, or stingy, or unfair. On this approach, the right thing to do is whatever a virtuous person would do. 12.5. The Problem of Incompleteness The main objection to Radical Virtue Ethics is that it is incom4 plete. It seems to be incomplete in three ways. First, Radical Virtue Ethics cannot explain everything it should explain. Consider a typical virtue, such as dependabil4 ity. Why should I be dependable? Plainly, we need an answer to this question that goes beyond the simple observation that being dependable is a virtue. We want to know why depend4 ability is a virtue= we want to know why it is good. Possible explanations might be that being dependable is to one-s own advantage, or being dependable promotes the general welfare, or dependability is needed by those who must live together and rely on one another. The first explanation looks suspiciously like Ethical Egoism= the second is utilitarian= and the third recalls the Social Contract Theory. But none of these explana4 tions are couched in terms of the virtues. Any explanation of why a particular virtue is good, it seems, would have to take us beyond the narrow confines of Radical Virtue Ethics. If Radical Virtue Ethics doesn-t explain why something is a virtue, then it won-t be able to tell us whether the virtues apply VIRTUE ETHICS 171 in difficult cases. Consider the virtue of being beneficent, or being kind. Suppose I hear some news that would upset you to know about. Maybe I-ve learned that someone you used to know died in a car accident. If I don-t tell you this, you might never find out. Suppose, also, that you-re the sort of person who would want to be told. If I know all this, should I tell you the news? What would be the kind thing to do? It-s a hard ques4 tion, because what you would prefer being told conflicts with what would make you feel good not being told. Would a kind person care more about what you want, or more about what makes you feel good? Radical Virtue Ethics cannot answer this question. To be kind is to look out for someone-s best interests= but Radical Virtue Ethics does not tell us what some4 one-s best interests are. So, the second way in which the theory is incomplete is that it cannot give a full interpretation of the virtues. It cannot say exactly when they apply. Finally, Radical Virtue Ethics is incomplete because it can4 not help us deal with cases of moral conflict. Suppose I just got a haircut a mullet the likes of which have not been seen since 1<<2 and I put you on the spot by asking you what you think. You can either tell me the truth, or you can say I look just fine. Honesty and kindness are both virtues, and so there are rea4 sons both for and against each alternative. But you must do one or the other you must either tell the truth and be unkind, or not tell the truth and be kind. Which should you do? If some4 one told you, Well, you should act virtuously in this situation that wouldn-t help you decide what to do= it would only leave you wondering which virtue to follow. Clearly, we need guid4ance beyond the resources of Radical Virtue Ethics. By itself, it seems, Radical Virtue Ethics is limited to plati4 tudes; be kind, be honest, be patient, be generous, and so on. Platitudes are vague, and when they conflict, we must look beyond them for guidance. Radical Virtue Ethics needs the resources of a larger theory. 12.6. Conclusion It seems best to regard Virtue Ethics as part of our overall theory of ethics rather than as being a complete theory in itself. The total theory would include an account of all the considerations that figure in practical decision making, together with their 172 THE ELEMENTS OF MORAL PHILOSOPHY underlying rationales. The question is whether such a theory can accommodate both an adequate conception of right action and a related conception of virtuous character. I don-t see why not. Suppose, for example, that we accept a utilitarian theory of right action we believe that one ought to do whatever will lead to the most happiness. From a moral point of view, we would want a society in which everyone leads happy and satisfying lives. We could then ask which actions, which social policies, and which qualities of character would most likely lead to that result. An inquiry into the nature of virtue could then be conducted from within that larger framework. The last article I forgot to add was Rachel’s on Kant which only needs a response Distributive Justice Robert Nozick From Anarchy, State, and Utopia, 149-182, with omissions. Copyright @ 1974 by Basic Books, Inc. Reprinted by permission of Basic Books, a subsidiary of Perseus Books Group, LLC. The minimal state is the most extensive state that can be justified. Any state more extensive violates people's rights. Yet many persons have put forth reasons purporting to justify a more extensive state. It is impossible within the compass of this book to examine all the reasons that have been put forth. Therefore, I shall focus upon those generally acknowledged to be most weighty and influential, to see precisely wherein they fail. In this chapter we consider the claim that a more extensive state is justified, because necessary (or the best instrument) to achieve distributive justice; in the next chapter we shall take up diverse other claims. The term "distributive justice" is not a neutral one. Hearing the term "distribution," most people presume that some thing or mechanism uses some principle or criterion to give out a supply of things. Into this process of distributing shares some error may have crept. So it is an open question, at least, whether redistribution should take place; whether we should do again what has already been done once, though poorly. However, we are not in the position of children who have been given portions of pie by someone who now makes last minute adjustments to rectify careless cutting. There is no central distribution, no person or group entitled to control all the resources, jointly deciding how t hey are to be doled out. What each person gets, he gets from others who give to him in exchange for something, or as a gift. In a free society, diverse persons control different resources, and new holdings arise out of the voluntary exchanges and actions of persons. There is no more a distributing or distribution of shares than there is a distributing of mates in a society in which persons choose whom they shall marry. The total result is the product of many individual decisions which the different individuals involved are entitled to make. Some uses of the term "distribution," it is true, do not imply a previous distributing appropriately judged by some criterion (for example, "probability distribution"); nevertheless, despite the title of this chapter, it would be best to use a terminology that clearly is neutral. We shall speak of people's holdings; a principle of justice in holdings describes (part of) what justice tells us (requires) about holdings. I shall state first what I take to be the correct view about justice in holdings, and then turn to the discussion of alternate views. Section 1 The Entitlement Theory The subject of justice in holdings consists of three major topics. The first is the original acquisition of holdings, the appropriation of unheld things. This includes the issues of how unheld things may come to be held, the process, or processes, by which unheld things may come to be held, the things that may come to be held by these processes, the extent of what comes to be held by a particular process, and so on. We shall refer to the complicated truth about this topic, which we shall not formulate here, as the principle of justice in acquisition. The second topic concerns the transfer of holdings from one person to another. By what processes may a person transfer holdings to another? How may a person acquire a holding from another who holds it? Under this topic come general descriptions of voluntary exchange, and gift and (on the other hand) fraud, as well as reference to particular conventional details fixed upon in a given society. The complicated truth about this subject (with placeholders for conventional details) we shall call the principle of justice in transfer. (And we shall suppose it also includes principles governing how a person may divest himself of a holding, passing it into an unheld state.) If the world were wholly just, the following inductive definition would exhaustively cover the subject of justice in holdings. 1. A person who acquires a holding in accordance with the principle of justice in acquisition is entitled to that holding. 2. A person who acquires a holding in accordance with the principle of justice in transfer, from someone else entitled to the holding, is entitled to the holding. 3. No one is entitled to a holding except by (repeated) applications of 1 and 2. The complete principle of distributive justice would say simply that a distribution is just if everyone is entitled to the holdings they possess under the distribution. A distribution is just if it arises from another just distribution by legitimate means. The legitimate means of moving from one distribution to another are specified by the principle of justice in transfer. The legitimate first "moves" are specified by the principle of justice in acquisition. Whatever arises from a just situation by just steps is itself just. The means of change specified by the principle of justice in transfer preserve justice. As correct rules of inference are truth-preserving, and any conclusion deduced via repeated application of such rules from only true premisses is itself true, so the means of transition from one situation to another specified by the principle of justice in transfer are justice-preserving, and any situation actually arising from repeated transitions in accordance with the principle from a just situation is itself just. The parallel between justice-preserving transformations and truth-preserving transformations illuminates where it fails as well as where it holds. That a conclusion could have been deduced by truth-preserving means from premisses that are true suffices to show its truth. That from a just situation a situation could have arisen via justice-preserving means does not suffice to show its justice. The fact that a thief's victims voluntarily could have presented him with gifts does not entitle the thief to his ill-gotten gains. Justice in holdings is historical; it depends upon what actually has happened. We shall return to this point later. Not all actual situations are generated in accordance with the two principles of justice in holdings: the principle of justice in acquisition and the principle of justice in transfer. Some people steal from others, or defraud them, or enslave them, seizing their product and preventing them from living as they choose, or forcibly exclude others from competing in exchanges. None of these are permissible modes of transition from one situation to another. And some persons acquire holdings by means not sanctioned by the principle of justice in acquisition. The existence of past injustice (previous violations of the first two principles of justice in holdings) raises the third major topic under justice in holdings: the rectification of injustice in holdings. If past injustice has shaped present holdings in various ways, some identifiable and some not, what now, if anything, ought to be done to rectify these injustices? What obligations do the performers of injustice have toward those whose position is worse than it would have been had the injustice not been done? Or, than it would have been had compensation been paid promptly? How, if at all, do things change if the beneficiaries and those made worse off are not the direct parties in the act of injustice, but, for example, their descendants? Is an injustice done to someone whose holding was itself based upon an unrectified injustice? How far back must one go in wiping clean the historical slate of injustices? What may victims of injustice permissibly do in order to rectify the injustices being done to them, including the many injustices done by persons acting through their government? I do not know of a thorough or theoretically sophisticated treatment of such issues. Idealizing greatly, let us suppose theoretical investigation will produce a principle of rectification. This principle uses historical information about previous situations and injustices done in them (as defined by the first two principles of justice and rights against interference), and information about the actual course of events that flowed from these injustices, until the present, and it yields a description (or descriptions) of holdings in the society. The principle of rectification presumably will make use of its best estimate of subjunctive information about what would have occurred (or a probability distribution over what might have occurred, using the expected value) if the injustice had not taken place. If the actual description of holdings turns out not to be one of the descriptions yielded by the principle, then one of the descriptions yielded must be realized. The general outlines of the theory of justice in holdings are that the holdings of a person are just if he is entitled to them by the principles of justice in acquisition and transfer, or by the principle of rectification of injustice (as specified by the first two principles). If each person's holdings are just, then the total set (distribution) of holdings is just. To turn these general outlines into a specific theory we would have to specify the details of each of the three principles of justice in holdings: the principle of acquisition of holdings, the principle of transfer of holdings, and the principle of rectification of violations of the first two principles. I shall not attempt that task here (Locke's principle of justice in acquisition is discussed below.)... . How Liberty Upsets Patterns It is not clear how those holding alternative conceptions of distributive justice can reject the entitlement conception of justice in holdings. For suppose a distribution favored by one of these non-entitlement conceptions is realized. Let us suppose it is your favorite one and let us call this distribution D 1; perhaps everyone has an equal share, perhaps shares vary in accordance with some dimension you treasure. Now suppose that Wilt Chamberlain is greatly in demand by basketball teams, being a great gate attraction. (Also suppose contracts run only for a year, with players being free agents.) He signs the following sort of contract with a team: In each home game, twenty-five cents from the price of each ticket of admission goes to him. (We ignore the question of whether he is "gouging" the owners, letting them look out for themselves.) The season starts, and people cheerfully attend his team's games; they buy their tickets, each time dropping a separate twenty-five cents of their admission price into a special box with Chamberlain's name on it. They are excited about seeing him play; it is worth the total admission price to them. Let us suppose that in one season one million persons attend his home games, and Wilt Chamberlain winds up with $250,000, a much larger sum than the average income and larger even than anyone else has. Is he entitled to this income? Is this new distribut i on D 2, unjust? If so, why? There is no question about whether each of the people was entitled to the control over the resources they held in D,; because that was the distribution (your favorite) that (for the purposes of argument) we assumed was acceptable. Each of these persons chose to give twenty-five cents of their money to Chamberlain. They could have spent it on going to the movies, or on candy bars, or on copies of Dissent magazine, or of Monthly Review But they all, at least one million of them, converged on giving it to Wilt Chamberlain in exchange for watching him play basketball. If D, was a just distribution, and people voluntarily moved from it to D 2, transferring parts of their shares they were given under D, (what was it for if not to do something with?), isn't D, also just? If the people were entitled to dispose of the resources to which they were entitled (under D,), didn't this include their being entitled to give it to, or exchange it with, Wilt Chamberlain? Can anyone else complain on grounds of justice? Each other person already has his legitimate share under D 1. Under D p there is nothing that anyone has that anyone else has a claim of justice against. After someone transfers something to Wilt Chamberlain, third parties still have their legitimate shares; their shares are not changed. By what process could such a transfer among two persons give rise to a legitimate claim of distributive justice on a portion of what was transferred, by a third party who had no claim of justice on any holding of the others before the transfer? To cut off objections irrelevant here, we might imagine the exchanges occurring in a socialist society after hours. After playing whatever basketball he does in his daily work, or doing whatever other daily work he does, Wilt Chamberlain decides to put in overtime to earn additional money. (First his work quota is set; he works time over that.) Or imagine it is a skilled juggler people like to see, who puts on shows after hours. Why might someone work overtime in a society in which it is assumed their needs are satisfied? Perhaps because they care about things other than needs. I like to write in books that I read, and to have easy access to books for browsing at odd hours. It would be very pleasant and convenient to have the resources of Widener Library in my back yard. No society, I assume, will provide such resources close to each person who would like them as part of his regular allotment (under DO. Thus, persons either must do without some extra things that they want, or be allowed to do something extra to get some of these things. On what basis could the inequalities that would eventuate be forbidden? Notice also that small factories would spring up in a socialist society, unless forbidden. I melt down some of my personal possessions (under D,) and build a machine out of the material. I offer you, and others, a philosophy lecture once a week in exchange for your cranking the handle on my machine, whose products I exchange for yet other things, and so on. (The raw materials used by the machine are given to me by others who possess them under D 1, in exchange for hearing lectures.) Each person night participate to gain things over and above their allotment under D,. Some persons even might want to leave their job in socialist industry and work full time in this private sector. I shall say something more about these issues in the next chapter. Here I wish merely to note how private property even in means of production would occur in a socialist society that did not forbid people to use as they wished some of the resources they are given under the socialist distribution D 1. The socialist society would have to forbid capitalist acts between consenting adults. The general point illustrated by the Wilt Chamberlain example and the example of the entrepreneur in a socialist society is that no end-state principle of distributional patterned principle of justice can be continuously realized without continuous interference with people's lives. Any favored pattern would be transformed into one unfavored by the principle, by people choosing to act in various ways; for example, by people exchanging goods and services with other people, or giving things to other people, things the transferrers are entitled to under the favored distributional pattern. 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. (But if some time limit is to be set on how long people may keep resources others voluntarily transfer to them, why let them keep these resources for any period of time? Why not have immediate confiscation?) It might be objected that all persons voluntarily will choose to refrain from actions which would upset the pattern. This presupposes unrealistically (1) that all will most want to maintain the pattern (are those who don't, to be "reeducated" or forced to undergo self-criticism"?), (2) that each can gather enough information about his own actions and the ongoing activities of others to discover which of his actions will upset the pattern, and (3) that diverse and far-flung persons can coordinate their actions to dovetail into the pattern. Compare the manner in which the market is neutral among persons' desires, as it reflects and transmits widely scattered information via prices, and coordinates persons' activities. It puts things perhaps a bit too strongly to say that every patterned (or end-state) principle is liable to be thwarted by the voluntary actions of the individual parties transferring some of their shares they receive under the principle. For perhaps some very weak patterns are not so thwarted. Any distributional pattern with any egalitarian component is overturnable by the voluntary actions of individual persons over time; as is every patterned condition with sufficient content so as actually to have been proposed as presenting the central core of distributive justice. Still, given the possibility that some weak conditions or patterns may not be unstable in this way, it would be better to formulate an explicit description of the kind of interesting and contentful patterns under discussion, and to prove a theorem about their instability. Since the weaker the patterning, the more likely it is that the entitlement system itself satisfies it, a plausible conjecture is that any patterning either is unstable or is satisfied by the entitlement s y s t e m. . . . Taxation of earnings from labor is on a par with forced labor. Some persons find this claim obviously true: taking the earnings of n hours labor is like taking n hours from the person; it is like forcing the person to work n hours for another's purpose. Others find the claim absurd. But even these, if they object to forced labor, would oppose forcing unemployed hippies to work for the benefit of the needy. And they would also object to forcing each person to work five extra hours each week for the benefit of the needy. But a system that takes five hours' wages in taxes does not seem to them like one that forces someone to work five hours, since it offers the person forced a wider range of choice in activities than does taxation in kind with the particular labor specified. (But we can imagine a gradation of systems of forced labor, from one that specifies a particular activity, to one that gives a choice among two activities, to ... ; and so on up.) Furthermore, people envisage a system with something like a proportional tax on everything above the amount necessary for basic needs. Some think this does not force someone to work extra hours, since there is no fixed number of extra hours he is forced to work, and since he can avoid the tax entirely by earning only enough to cover his basic needs. This is a very uncharacteristic view of forcing for those who also think people are forced to do something whenever the alternatives they face are considerably worse. However, neither view is correct. The fact that others intentionally intervene, in violation of a side constraint against aggression, to threaten force to limit the alternatives, in this case to paying taxes or (presumably the worse alternative) bare subsistence, makes the taxation system one of forced labor and distinguishes it from other cases of limited choices which are not forcings. The man who chooses to work longer to gain an income more than sufficient for his basic needs prefers some extra goods or services to the leisure and activities he could perform during the possible nonworking hours; whereas the man who chooses not to work the extra time prefers the leisure activities to the extra goods or services he could acquire by working more. Given this, if it would be illegitimate for a tax system to seize some of a man's leisure (forced labor) for the purpose of serving the needy, how can it be legitimate for a tax system to seize some of a man's goods for that purpose? Why should we treat the man whose happiness requires certain material goods or services differently from the man whose preferences and desires make such goods unnecessary for his happiness? Why should the man who prefers seeing a movie (and who has to earn money for a ticket) be open to the required call to aid the needy, while the person who prefers looking at a sunset (and hence need earn no extra money) is not? Indeed, isn't it surprising that redistributionists choose to ignore the man whose pleasures are so easily attainable without extra labor, while adding yet another burden to the poor unfortunate who must work for his pleasures? If anything, one would have expected the reverse. Why is the person with the nonmaterial or nonconsumption desire allowed to proceed unimpeded to his most favored feasible alternative, whereas the man whose pleasures or desires involve material things and who must work for extra money (thereby serving whomever considers his activities valuable enough to pay him) is constrained in what he can realize? ... Locke's Theory of Acquisition Before we turn to consider other theories of justice in detail, we must introduce an additional bit of complexity into the structure of the entitlement theory. This is best approached by considering Locke's attempt to specify a principle of justice in acquisition. Locke views property rights in an unowned object as originating through someone's mixing his labor with it. This gives rise to many questions. What are the boundaries of what labor is mixed with? If a private astronaut clears a place on Mars, has he mixed his labor with (so that he comes to own) the whole planet, the whole uninhabited universe, or just a particular plot? Which plot does an act bring under ownership? The minimal (possibly disconnected) area such that an act decreases entropy in that area, and not elsewhere? Can virgin land (for the purposes of ecological investigation by high-flying airplane) come under ownership by a Lockean process? Building a fence around a territory presumably would make one the owner of only the fence (and the land immediately underneath it). Why does mixing one's labor with something make one the owner of it? Perhaps because one owns one's labor, and so one comes to own a previously unowned thing that becomes permeated with what one owns. Ownership seeps over into the rest. But why isn't mixing what I own with what I don't own a way of losing what I ow n rather than a way of gaining what I don't? If I own a can of tomato juice and spill it in the sea so that its molecules (made radioactive, so I can check this) mingle evenly throughout the sea, do I thereby come to own the sea, or have I foolishly dissipated my tomato juice? Perhaps the idea, instead, is that laboring on something improves it and makes it more valuable; and anyone is entitled to own a thing whose value he has created. (Reinforcing this, perhaps, is the view that laboring is unpleasant. If some people made things effortlessly, as the cartoon characters in The Yellow Submarine trail flowers in their wake, would they have lesser claim to their own products whose making didn't cost them anything?) Ignore the fact that laboring on something may make it less valuable (spraying pink enamel paint on a piece of driftwood that you have found). Why should one's entitlement extend to the whole object rather than just to the added value one's labor has produced? (Such reference to value might also serve to delimit the extent of ownership; for example, substitute "increases the value of" for "decreases entropy in" in the above entropy criterion.) No workable or coherent value-added property scheme has yet been devised, and any such scheme presumably would fall to objections (similar to those) that fell the theory of Henry George. It will be implausible to view improving an object as giving full ownership to it, if the stock of unowned objects that might be improved is limited. For an object's coming under one person's ownership changes the situation of all others. new idea must convince to try it out; private property enables people to decide on the pattern and types of risks they wish to bear, leading to specialized types of risk bearing; private property protects future persons by leading some to hold back resources from current consumption for future markets; it provides alternate sources of employment for unpopular persons who don't have to convince any one person or small group to hire them, and so on. These considerations enter a Lockean theory to support the claim that appropriation of private property satisfies the intent behind the "enough and as good left over" proviso, not as a utilitarian justification of property. They enter to rebut the claim that because the proviso is violated no natural right to private property can arise by a Lockean process. The difficulty in working such an argument to show that the proviso is satisfied is in fixing the appropriate base line for comparison. Lockean appropriation makes people no worse off than they would be how? This question of fixing the baseline needs more detailed investigation than we are able to give it here. It would be desirable to have an estimate of the general economic importance of original appropriation in order to see how much leeway there is for differing theories of appropriation and of the location of the baseline. Perhaps this importance can be measured by the percentage of all income that is based upon untransformed raw materials and given resources (rather than upon human actions), mainly rental income representing the unimproved value of land, and the price of raw material in situ, and by the percentage of current wealth which represents such income in the past. We should note that it is not only persons favoring private property who need a theory of how property rights legitimately originate. Those believing in collective property, for example those believing that a group of persons living in an area jointly own the territory, or its mineral resources, also must provide a theory of how such property rights arise; they must show why the persons living there have rights to determine what is done with the land and resources there that persons living elsewhere don't have (with regard to the same land and resources). The Proviso Whether or not Locke's particular theory of appropriation can be spelled out so as to handle various difficulties, I assume that any adequate theory of justice in acquisition will contain a proviso similar to the weaker of the ones we have attributed to Locke. A process normally giving rise to a permanent bequeathable property right in a previously unowned thing will not do so if the position of others no longer at liberty to use the thing is thereby worsened. It is important to specify this particular mode of worsening the situation of others, for the proviso does not encompass other modes. It does not include the worsening due to more limited opportunities to appropriate (the first way above, corresponding to the more stringent condition), and it does not include how I "worsen" a seller's position if I appropriate materials to make some of what he is selling, and then enter into competition with him. Someone whose appropriation otherwise would violate the proviso still may appropriate provided he compensates the others so that their situation is not thereby worsened; unless he does compensate these others, his appropriation will violate the proviso of the principle of justice in acquisition and will be an illegitimate one. A theory of appropriation incorporating this Lockean proviso will handle correctly the cases (objections to the theory lacking the proviso) where someone appropriates the total supply of something necessary for life. A theory which includes this proviso in its principle of justice in acquisition must also contain a more complex principle of justice in transfer. Some reflection of the proviso about appropriation constrains later actions. If my appropriating all of a certain substance violates the Lockean proviso, then so does my appropriating some and purchasing all the rest from others who obtained it without otherwise violating the Lockean proviso. If the proviso excludes someone's appropriating all the drinkable water in the world, it also excludes his purchasing it all. (More weakly, and messily, it may exclude his charging certain prices for some of his supply.) This proviso (almost?) never will come into effect; the more someone acquires of a scarce substance which others want, the higher the price of the rest will go, and the more difficult it will become for him to acquire it all. But still, we can imagine, at least, that something like this occurs: someone makes simultaneous secret bids to the separate owners of a substance, each of whom sells assuming he can easily purchase more from the other owners; or some natural catastrophe destroys all of the supply of something except that in one person's possession. The total supply could not be permissibly appropriated by one person at the beginning. His later acquisition of it all does not show that the original appropriation violated the proviso (even by a reverse argument similar to the one above that tried to zip back from Zto A). Rather, it is the combination of the original appropriation plus all the later transfers and actions that violates the Lockean proviso. Each owner's title to his holding includes the historical shadow of the Lockean proviso on appropriation. This excludes his transferring it into an agglomeration that does violate the Lockean proviso and excludes his using it in a way, in coordination with others or independently of them, so as to violate the proviso by making the situation of others worse than their baseline situation. Once it is known that someone's ownership runs afoul of the Lockean proviso, there are stringent limits on what he may do with (what it is dif fi cu l t any longer unreservedly to call) "his property." Thus a person may not appropriate the only water hole in a desert and charge what he will. Nor may he charge what he will if he possesses one, and unfortunately it happens that all the water holes in the desert dry up, except for his. This unfortunate circumstance, admittedly no fault of his, brings into operation the Lockean proviso and limits his property rights. Similarly, an owner's property right in the only island in an area does not allow him to order a castaway from a shipwreck off his island as a trespasser, for this would violate the Lockean proviso… The fact that someone owns the total supply of something necessary for others to stay alive does not entail that his (or anyone's) appropriation of anything left some people (immediately or later) in a situation worse than the baseline one. A medical researcher who synthesizes a new substance that effectively treats a certain disease and who refuses to sell except on his terms does not worsen the situation of others by depriving them of whatever he has appropriated. The others easily can possess the same materials he appropriated; the researcher's appropriation or purchase of chemicals didn't make those chemicals scarce in a way so as to violate the Lockean proviso. Nor would someone else's purchasing the total supply of the synthesized substance from the medical researcher. The fact that the medical researcher uses easily available chemicals to synthesize the drug no more violates the Lockean proviso than does the fact that the only surgeon able to perform a particular operation eats easily obtainable food in order to stay alive and to have the energy to work. This shows that the Lockean proviso is not an "endstate principle"; it focuses on a particular way that appropriative actions affect others, and not on the structure of the situation that results. Intermediate between someone who takes all of the public supply and someone who makes the total supply out of easily obtainable substances is someone who appropriates the total supply of something in a way that does not deprive the others of it. For example, someone finds a new substance in an out-of-the-way place. He discovers that it effectively treats a certain disease and appropriates the total supply. He does not worsen the situation of others; if he did not stumble upon the substance no one else would have, and the others would remain without it. However, as time passes, the likelihood increases that others would have come across the substance; upon this fact might be based a limit to his property right in the substance so that others are not below their baseline position; for example, its bequest might be limited. The theme of someone worsening another's situation by depriving him of something he otherwise would possess may also illuminate the example of patents. An inventor's patent does not deprive others of an object which would not exist if not for the inventor. Yet patents would have this effect on others who independently invent the object. Therefore, these independent inventors, upon whom the burden of proving independent discovery may rest, should not be excluded from utilizing their own invention as they wish (including selling it to others). Furthermore, a known inventor drastically lessens the chances of actual independent invention. For persons who know of an invention usually will not try to reinvent it, and the notion of independent discovery here would be murky at best. Yet we may assume that in the absence of the original invention, sometime later someone else would have come up with it. This suggests placing a time limit on patents, as a rough rule of thumb to approximate how long it would have taken, in the absence of knowledge of the invention, for independent discovery. I believe that the free operation of a market system will not actually run afoul of the Lockean proviso.
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