UCSD PHIL 167 - DWORKIN AND CRITICS (6 pages)

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DWORKIN AND CRITICS



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DWORKIN AND CRITICS

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Pages:
6
School:
University of California, San Diego
Course:
Phil 167 - Contemporary Political Philosophy
Contemporary Political Philosophy Documents
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1 LECTURE NOTES PHILOSOPHY 167 DWORKIN AND CRITICS 1 A taxonomy of views What do we owe one another One view is that we should always respect everyone s Lockean rights One respects a right by not violating it This Nozickian view is criticized by Amartya Sen Rights and Agency on the ground that we ought to promote overall nonviolation of rights This would be to treat rights as goals not side constraints Sen also disagrees with Nozick about what rights people have Sen suggests that morally fundamental rights are rights to capability or real freedom to achieve important human functionings John Rawls makes a different proposal as to the fundamental moral rights of individuals He proposes that people have rights 1 to equal basic liberties of democratic citizenship e g free speech and the right to vote and stand for office in free elections 2 to fair equality of opportunity all with the same native talent and the same ambition should have the same prospects for success in competitions for positions that confer social and economic benefits and 3 to social arrangements that maximize the long run social and economic benefits of the least advantaged These principles are nested 1 having strict lexical priority over the others and 2 having strict lexical priority over 3 These principles together are asserted to express the vision of a democratic society of free and equal citizens Rawls presents his view as a political conception of justice It is purported to be reasonable for us to accept given the diversity of ultimate ethical beliefs among reasonable citizens It is presented as a solution to the problem how can government be legitimate if people reasonably affirm different and opposed conceptions of the good and the right A legitimate government coerces people and imposes policies on them only in the name of principles that it would be unreasonable to reject Rawls supposes that a government can be legitimate even in a diverse society if the political conception of justice that is enforced attracts an overlapping consensus of all reasonable viewpoints that citizens affirm We agree to disagree about much including religion and ethics but we can agree on a political conception of justice if Rawls s arguments succeed Rawls opposes Nozick s libertarianism on the ground that respecting libertarian rights might lead to unacceptable consequences over the long run as the ways that individuals happen to exercise their Lockean rights can produce in the aggregate results that no one foresaw and intended and that perhaps no one would have wanted The ensemble of exercise of individual Lockean rights might lead to stalemate or might drive some unlucky persons to the wall or might lead to a permanent underclass whose prospects are as bleak as you might imagine In Rawls s original position people are imagined to choose principles based on how well they expect to fare in the society regulated by the principles chosen Rawls thinks that choice of Lockean rights would represent an unacceptable gamble with one s life prospects Rawls opposes utililitarianism institutions practices policies and acts should be chosen so as to maximize utility or aggregate human good for a similar reason he thinks the original position argument shows that utilitarianism would not be chosen as the basic framework of social cooperation under conditions that are fair One should notice that utilitarianism might justify a regime of Nozickian Lockean rights or something close to such a regime This would be so if instituting and enforcing a regime of Lockean rights would be the best strategy for maximizing aggregate human good in the long run On this conception rights are not morally fundamental but derived They are justified insofar as they are the best means for promoting utility Richard Epstein not a course author defends a regime of rights close to what Nozick recommends in this way as the best strategy for maximizing utility The utilitarian might defend a Rawlsian set of principles instead on the same basis The disagreement between the Epsteinlibertarian utilitarian and the Rawlsian utilitarian would be empirical not moral The issue is what rules and policies will work to promote utility in the long haul Of course the utilitarian might defend some different conception of rights and justice and reject both libertarianism and Rawlsianism The possibility that utilitarianism conceivably might prescribe a Rawlsian or a libertarian regime as means to maximizing utility does not gainsay the fact that the three views taken as fundamental moral principles are rivals Ronald Dworkin sides with Rawls against the utilitarian view that the basis of interpersonal comparison for a theory of justice should be utility happiness desire satisfaction or some alternate measure of the quality of an individual s life For Dworkin the proper measure of an individual s resource holdings for purposes of justice is what others would pay for what the individual has An equally important difference between Dworkin and Rawls is that the former holds that one s resources 2 include internal resources or talents as well as external resources such as material possessions Dworkin also presses hard on a distinction that is maybe latent in Rawls between choices and initial circumstances or option versus brute luck One is reasonably held responsible as it were not for the cards that fate has dealt but for how one plays one s hand Dworkin can be regarded as criticizing the difference principle on three grounds 1 there is no nonarbitrary way to define the worst off group and whatever arbitrary specification one makes will be consequential for choice of policy and 2 the difference principle is unfair in that it specifies too extreme a preference for gains to the worst off in competition to gains for better off groups and 3 it fails to incorporate personal responsibility into an account of justice in the right way According to Dworkin people in a society should be compensated by others in the society for defects in the unchosen circumstances they face An interesting feature of Dworkin s view is that personal talents and untalents qualify as unchosen circumstances In the ideal case initial circumstances are made equal for all But given a fair framework for voluntary interaction once circumstances are equalized people should be held responsible for the outcomes of their choices This means that the different voluntary choices that individuals make and the different option luck


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