Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Links

Just quickly: this makes me say, Tom Wilkinson, if you still have my copy of 'Inside The Whale', I want it back, and this makes me say, attributing to the decent left a belief in Texas oilmen as the engine of progress rather than the proletariat is inaccurate when it is clearly actually Tony Martin they had in mind.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Pietersen Vs. Thorpe

I've just been watching England comfortably beat Bangladesh in a one-day international, which wasn't particularly interesting of itself, mostly because it was so comfortable, but also because the TV in the MCR is buggered and so the picture flicks in and out in a rather frustrating fashion. What is at least more interesting is the debate over whether England should play Kevin Pietersen or Graham Thorpe in the middle order once the real business of the Ashes starts, which was brought up by Ian Botham when commentating on what was clearly a dead match, in what was frankly a bit of a shameless display, even for someone as belligerent as Beefy. I rather suspect that Botham would actually prefer Pietersen even if he wasn't his agent, just because of the style of player Pietersen is, and the style of player Botham was - both hard-hitting, aggressive, unafraid of winding people up - but because of the position Botham is in, it seems a bit inappropriate. Anyway, I don't think Pietersen should oust Thorpe, initially at least, and not solely because of Thorpe's undoubted qualities, but also because I think Pietersen, in a Test match against someone like the Aussies, in the current Test side, might be a bit of a liability, especially with Flintoff in the side as well.

Botham pointed to Pietersen's first class figures, which whilst impressive - an average in the low fifties, 21 centuries from less than 120 innings - is not, I think, evidence that he should be an automatic pick for the Test side. Graeme Hick, to think of another, potentially equally destructive player, for whom England were also desperately waiting to qualify, after all, has a slighly higher first class average, has routinely destroyed county attacks, yet never quite made it as an international batsman, despite clear class. Ramprakash might also be considered, a player not quite as attacking as either Pietersen or Hick, or with first class figures quite as impressive, but one who certainly appeared like he would make it at international level from his first class performances. Neither of these two players got off to the same sort of start as Pietersen, and he appears not to have the psychological fragility which undoubtedly played a significant part in Hick and Ramprakash's failures at Test level, judging by the way he dealt with the understandable hostility of South African crowds in the series there. Still, he is untested at the highest level, and whilst there is every reason to believe he one day will be a Test player, I am not sure that the cauldron of the first Test of an Ashes series is the best place to investigate the foundations of that reasoning.

This is in particular if he is to come in for Thorpe. Thorpe is now the only player, apart from Vaughan, in the England side to have ever had much success against the Australians: in 16 matches, he has scored over 1200 runs, at an average of over 45, marginally higher than his overall average, and that in a side which has been routinely hammered by them. Thorpe is a player who likes a scrap: at his best, he is capable of dogged defence in a way that few of the current side have ever had to be. He is unlikely to be able to take apart the Australian attack in the way that Pietersen seems to promise to be able to, but that is precisely his virtue in this England side, I think. England already have a number of players capable of hammering a bowler out of the attack - Flintoff most obviously, but also Trescothick, and even Vaughan when he's in the mood - and they don't need any more players who will either blaze a hundred in a session or get out going for an expansive cover-drive or a hoik over midwicket: they need a player who will grit down and block out overs, gradually rebuilding, when England are 50-3, as they undoubtedly will be at a number of points in this series. Thorpe has proved time and time again that he is capable of doing this, and doing it against the kind of bowling attack which it would be suicide to try and take the game to in any serious way. Maybe Bell and Strauss are capable of doing that, but they haven't, yet, against Australia, and that's why he should be in the side, at least for the first Test.

I think the clamour for Pietersen speaks of an overconfidence in the England camp about this series, which hasn't been helped by the poor showing of Australia in the various one-day matches - not that I'd rather that they'd steam-rollered all-omers so far, but simply that the best Test side in the world do not suddenly become awful because they lost a few mickey-mouse internationals, and a tour match in which they were clearly taking the piss. Anyone who thinks that Australia aren't favourites for the coming series is fooling themselves: England haven't won a Test match against Australia other than in a dead rubber since June 1997, and Australia's recent record is even better than England's. It is going to be hard to beat them, and if England are going to win, they are going to have fight and fight hard. Even in the series which England have won recently, and apparently won comfortably, other than in South Africa, Thorpe's ability to grind out runs has been integral to England's success: the second innings century at Bridgetown, a similar effort against New Zealand at Nottingham, and another in the first innings at Old Trafford against the West Indies, are all excellent examples. England may well have lost these matches without Thorpe, and if they would have struggled without him at times against sides of the calibre of New Zealand and the West Indies, there is every reason to believe that they will miss him against Australia. Pietersen's time will come, perhaps, maybe even probably, later in the Ashes, but it should not be judged to be on the 21st of July at Lords.

How To...

Give a political speech. The other half (really, I am working on a better euphenism) brought this set of links to audio files of the 100 greatest American political speeches to my attention a while ago, and I've been meaning to link to it for some time, but keep forgetting. I haven't listened to all of them, but the couple I have heard - in particular, Martin Luther King's 'I've been to the mountaintop', which is, I think, better than 'I have a dream': engaging and personal without being patronising, hopeful, even perhaps utopian, without being dishonest or ignorant about the resistance that will be encountered and the costs it will bring - are really good. The two Eisenhower speeches are also rather interesting, if only for the idea, laughable now, of a Republican president warning of the dangers of military industrial complex, and offering to share the benefits of nuclear power through an international organisation. Anyway, go, listen.

Mock political statements. Billmon does a head count in the aftermath of Karl Rove's apparent bandying-about of accusations of treachery, and finds that if liberals - in the pejorative American sense of the term - are some kind of fifth column, working to overthrow the Shining City on the Hill, the New Jerusalem is in serious trouble, because a fifth of its citizens want to bring it crashing to the ground.

Piss off your allies. Not satisfied with being unco-operative enough to leave them so in the dark about your security arrangements that they don't know the major road out of a city is blocked by trigger-happy troops, who then promptly riddle a car carrying a hostage and two secret service agents, who've just negotiated the hostage's release, with bullets, killing one of the agents and injuring both other occupants, the American government feels compelled to kidnap, from their territory, someone they are conducting investigations into without telling them anything about it, and send them to Egypt to be tortured. Unsurprisingly, the Italians are not best pleased: in fact, they're so unhappy, they've issued arrest warrants against 13 people, who they claim are CIA agents based at the consulate in Milan. I can't imagine Italian troops will be in Iraq much longer, and I can't imagine that that many other countries will be lining up to replace them, if this is the way that the Americans reward regimes which have made undoubted sacrifices to help them: Italian public opinion was never in favour of the war, and early on in the occupation, twenty or so Carabinieri were killed by a car-bomb.

Make questions of semantics into a critique of American foreign policy, via digressions into recent Italian history. Actually Existing asks how, if terrorists are those whose acts of violence are aimed at destabilisation through mass panic at the possibility of being the victim of such indiscriminate violence, the apparently targeted campaign, by large numbers of people, of the insurgents in Iraq could possibly be described as terrorist, since it is quite clearly targeted at the institutions of the nascent and cooperating state and the occupiers. I'm not sure that the distinction is anything like as sharp as Phil would like to draw it: I find it difficult to understand how the IRA - who he seems fairly clear were/are terrorists - were terrorists in his account when attacking the British Army, either in Northern Ireland itself or the mainland, since that seems much like the quasi-partisan campaign engaged in by the Brigate Rosse in Italy against the Italian state. One might say that almost any military action contains elements of terrorism, since military action usually aims, amongst other things, at sowing fear in the ranks of those it is aimed at, fear that they will be next to be targeted. To preserve the distinctiveness of the term, however, one might say that terrorism is the extension of the logic of battlefield outside of the social spaces that usually count as the battlefield: killing those who have surrended is terrorist, bombing those who are not actually engaged in acts intrinsically aiming at your harm is terrorist, and so on. By this logic, both sides in Iraq have engaged in terrorist activities, which turns the question to, who started it, and I think we all know the answer to that.

Friday, June 24, 2005

An Apology And An Attempt At Compensation

I know that, last Wednesday, I said there would likely be more blogging here since I'd finished my finals, and that, since Sunday, I have posted precisely sweet FA. I did start an internship on Monday, which keeps me away from non-work-related internet use from nine to five, and nothing's really caught my eye since then anyway, but still, 'tis remiss, and efforts to remedy it will be made, beginning now, with a little bit of linking and commenting on said links.

On Sunday, I linked to Will Wilkinson bashing Richard Layard and his utilitarianism (again), something which, as anyone who has read this blog for a while, I have not little sympathy with, as utilitarianism is, I am convinced, philosophically interesting but seriously, seriously wrong as a moral philosophy (morality is not about maximisation, and whatever it does aim at, it is not only happiness). Brad De Long has a go at showing that Layard is right here and here. I've been rather disparaging about De Long's philosophical pretensions before (here), and now I'm going to do it again (not that Will needs the help: he does a fairly good job of defending himself here).

In the first link, De Long represents Bentham as a preference satisfaction theorist and defends him on the grounds that preference satisfaction is a good moral theory, which a) as Brian Weatherson points out, is simply wrong about Bentham and b) comes up against the problem of really morally objectionable premises, which I have outlined before. He also makes the classic subjectivist mistake of assuming that because something makes us happy, that is what is good about it, rather than the fact it is good making us happy, in attempting to give a reply to Wilkinson's argument: I don't care about moral value x because it makes me happy, I care about moral value x because it's moral value x, and if I achieve the ends it prescribes, I will tend to be happy because I have achieved ends I care about.

In the second link, he has a go at dealing with Nozick's infamous experience machine (this is a thought experiment supposed to show the falsity of all experience based ethical theories, where we think about whether we would think it was right to spend our entire lives in a machine which prevented us from having any contact with the world at all, and instead provided us with experiences which would be valuable were they had in the real world, and which we believed were in the real world, in exactly the same way that we now believe our experiences are in the real world: to put it another way, do we, or do we not, go back into the Matrix?). He seems to think that reading a book counts as a kind of low-level experience machine, and the fact that we read books means that Bentham must be partly right.

Firstly, books are not anything like Nozick's experience machine: that radically falsifies our experience - we believe we're living out a life full of friendship, success in our goals, and so on, when in fact we're strapped into and kept alive by a machine and doing none of these things - whereas books, even at worst, produce a kind of immersion in an interior world which by virtue of its interiority always knows it is not the whole world (and which is achieved through an engagement with an object in the world which is not characterised by total falsification) . Second, even if books were anything like Nozick's experience machine, the fact that we don't spend out whole lives reading them indicates that they are no counter-example to the point it makes: genuine utilitarians have to believe that if our lives would contain more happy experiences spent wholly in the experience machine, as the thought experiment specifies, we are obliged to live our whole lives in the experience machine (indeed, the idea that we would not become aware of the non-veridicality of the experiences in the experience machine if we were not always in it is surely ridiculous).

Also, Scanlon comments in one of DeLong's posts, and that's worth reading just because it's Scanlon. Scanlon has written fairly extensively on the metric of value, which this is basically a discussion about, including what I take as the claim that preference satisfaction as a measure of value may contain a fatal paradox, because, if it says that only people's preferences can stand as the basis for claims about value, it can't affirm its own claims about the value of people's lives, as that is on the basis of something other than people's preferences, specifically, the claim that only people's preferences can stand as the basis for claims about value. He also makes a more conventional argument involving a religious fanatic really wants to work themselves to death to produce a monumental status of their God, or something similar, which is supposed to show, that since we think there's at least something wrong about that, and would attempt to prevent them from doing that, at least if it did actually kill them - let's suppose that's all they want, so at least mostly disarming the 'they'd want other things too, and that's what we care about' argument - we must think that there are other sources of value apart from preference satisfaction (the informed preferences argument is no good either, because the standards by which we judge the informed-ness of preferences look suspiciously like they are the standards by which we judge whether they aim at things which are, of themselves, good).

The Sharpener has a post up by Andrew of nontrivial solutions having a go at the welfare state because it provides incentives for what he takes to be morally bad things, in particular, abortion and divorce. Legalising abortion undoubtedly, in the sense that it removes a disincentive, provides an incentive to abortion. This is not an interesting claim. The interesting claims are the ones in the arguments over the morality, or otherwise, of abortion. If abortion's bad, then it would be bad - at least in the sense that it is likely to lead to an increase in the number of abortions, which might not be all the things we would want to consider - to remove a disincentive to abortion. No argument was provided even to this limited effect, limited because it doesn't discuss the undoubted costs, on the child, the parents, and society at large, of having unwanted children.

The divorce argument is just wrong-headed a similar way. The claim is that by increasing benefit to un-married parents, the incentives for divorce are increased. As in the case of abortion, insofar as this increases the number of divorces, and divorces are bad, this would be - in this sense - a bad thing. On the other hand, tying people in to loveless and/or abusive marriages is, by implication, since it is not discussed, no cost to be considered at all, just as the fact that parents who aren't living together might have costs they didn't have before, most notably, the cost of providing themselves with somewhere to live now they're not living in the former family home, is also ignored. Bah (textual representation of dismissive Italian hand gesture picked up from better half).

Stumbling and Mumbling is getting all het-up that Marx might win the Radio four philosophy poll. He wants Hume to win. I have to say that I find the critical acclaim heaped on Hume totally baffling: there is not a single philosophical position which he takes up that I can think of which is not clearly wrong or utterly banal. None of his work that I've read is half as well written as the Communist Manifesto either. I don't think Mill's a better philosopher than Marx either, even though I probably agree with Mill more, mainly because Marx is such a provocative thinker, in a way that neither Mill (now, anyway) or Hume are. As for Hobbes, well, any liberal - scrap that, anyone - who thinks well of who believes that we, as a matter of moral necessity, must concentrate all power in the hands of one person is a nutcase (and anyone who says anything about the dictatorship of the proletariat wll be reminded that the state, and so concentration of any legal coercive power in anyone's hands, supposedly withers away in the communist utopia, which, for all its impossibility, is a rather appealing moral vision).

On a slightly lighter note, a guest-poster at Ezra Klein's blog talks about why they think we are scared of zombies. Personally, I was quite uncomfortable being anywhere by myself for a not-insignificant period of time after seeing the remake of 'Dawn of the Dead' (seriously: that's the last non-comedy zombie film I ever see), and I think they're probably right: it's something to do with anonymity, and huge numbers.

Finally, this is an interesting and sensible take on the problems the left faces all on both sides of the Atlantic, I think (taking for granted that describing, in British terms at least, the current Labour Party as leftwing rather than say centrist, or even centre-right, would be misleading).

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Ramblings

First things first, it's f*cking ridiculously hot here. Just so you know.

Second thing: commenting on events in the world. England beat Australia in a one-day international, oh, about a minute ago (well, actually about an hour and a half ago now, but...), with Pietersen hitting 91 off 65 balls, and Harmison taking 5-33, which is pleasing, making it four losses in a row for the team who were supposed to match Bradman's Invincibles by going unbeaten through the tour, after they lost a twenty-20 game to England, a warm-up match to Somerset, and a full one-day international to Bangladesh, I repeat, a full one-day international to Bangladesh. I don't really have a firm opinion on whether Bangladesh should be playing Test Cricket - their performance in the two Tests earlier this year, and perhaps more importantly, in the two warm-up matches against counties, in England shows that they certainly shouldn't be playing in England early on in the season, if at all - but they appear to be coming of age as a one-day side, having already beaten India recently: still, they have provided a perfect opportunity for crowing at an Australian team, and therefore Australians collectively, which seems to have believed far too much of its own hype.

Third: Commenting on things other blogs have said.

Harry's Place asks about the rationale behind a blanket ban on smoking in public places, bringing up that staple beloved of Sun commentary on the matter, the Great British tradition of a pint and a fag. Despite - or perhaps because of - being a liberal (roughly), I couldn't give a monkeys about bleatings on the time-honoured theme of the rights of a free-born Englishman, because the relevant comparison here is asbestos - assuming that the apparent medical consensus on the dangers of passive smoking is correct. If passive smoking really is seriously bad for you, no-one should have to work in an environment in which people smoke, period, just like, since is asbestos is really bad for you, no-one should have to work in an environment with asbestos in it. I'm skeptical about the seriousness of the harms of passive smoking, but that's a different argument.

Majikthise has a little rant about the valorisation of high culture, drawing on utilitarian premises. Although I have good anti-traditionalist suspicions about the currently existing boundaries between high and low culture, and good anti-elitist suspicions about the rather hysterical claims that are made for the harm that low culture can do, the distinction exists, I think, in a non-descriptive sense, and a total swamping of high culture by low culture would be a bad, a genuine moral bad. Frank Kermode wrote on John Carey's argument to much the same effect as Majikthise's in the most recent LRB - Carey pulls back from endorsing the 'push-pin is as good as poetry if people like it as much' on literature, being a literature professor, apparently - and they are both bad arguments. Well, in fact they're more or less the same argument: what people like matters, and so if people like what is clearly crap, so be it. Take the argument to its logical conclusion and apply it to the activities of the American military in Guantanamo Bay: if they like doing them, that's something to be said in their favour (clearly not an all-things-considered judgement, but at least something to be said). It's clearly false, because, to any right-thinking person, torture is worse if people enjoy inflicting it: it is a moral bad to take pleasure from causing someone pain and humiliation, from degrading them. Utilitarians are a) just generally wrong, and b) even if they are right in some limited cases, they need another premise to pick out those cases.

Will Wilkinson continues to lay into Richard Layard's advocacy of utilitarianism as a guide for public policy, in generally a rather admirable manner. I think he misses a step in the argument here though, when he says this

Layard's larger problem is that he totally fails to grasp that the central problem of liberalism is how to accomodate and balance the pluralitiy of value conceptions of citizens in a cosmopolitan society. That Layard thinks he is in possession of the one true philosophy of value that allows him to rank other values is quite nice for Layard. But the very fact that I am spending my time writing a blog post disagreeing with Layard about utilitarianism demonstrates that not everyone agrees that his is the correct conception of value, or the correct standard for determining public policy. And the simple fact that we are having this disagreement, whether or not Layard is right about utilitarianism, is a reason not to accept utilitarianism as the sole arbiter of our public rules. Even if utilitarianism, or any comprehensive conception of value, is true, it cannot therefore be asserted as the legitimate basis of a just society as long as people reasonably reject it. None among us has the special authority to declare that ours is the public philosophy, and others will just have to live with it, like it or not.

I think he's right about this, but the last three sentences beg the question against the value-monist, as well as possibly being contradictory. Some account of justified disagreement is needed before we can claim that it would be illegitimate to impose, coercively, particular policies on people, because we do, correctly, coercively impose particular policies on people despite their disagreement, simply because their disagreement with that policy is not justified: consider, as an uncontroversial case, sociopaths. In particular, if utilitarianism were true - which of course it isn't - then the freedom which limits permissible coercion would be at best an instrumental value, and we wouldn't care about coercing people at all, other than as a source of happiness, so it can't be the case that even if utilitarianism is true, we could only impose policies which could not be reasonably rejected (unless the class of policies which could not be reasonably rejected was identical to the class of policies that a utilitarian would advocate, in which case the apparent restriction is redundant).

Pearsall tries to explain why he doesn't listen to lyrics, and in particular, why he doesn't really care about the rampant homophobia of a lot of Jamaican popular music. As someone who really cares about lyrics (if not to the exclusion of other things: I do really like some instrumental pieces of music) - for example, just picking something which fortitiously happens to be playing now, Morrisey's almost sickeningly sweet intonation of 'sweetness, sweetness I was only joking/when I said I’d like to smash every tooth/in your head/oh ... sweetness, sweetness, I was only joking/when I said by rights you should be/bludgeoned in your bed' at the beginning of 'Bigmouth Strikes Again' is nigh-on perfect - I find this odd, but interesting. It might be something to do with seeing music as describing, in some loose sense, the world, and lyrics mattering as part of that description, both in the sense of accuracy and in the sense of aptness. On the philosophers caring more about words because they need to express themselves well thing, I offer, as a contrary piece of evidence, the most influential work of English speaking political philosophy in the past fifty years, Rawls's 'Theory of Justice'. I have read it, and it is awfully written.

John Band offers, at the Sharpener, an interesting commentary on the recent moral panic about witchcraft rituals in the British Black community, spawned by a report in the aftermath of the discovery of the limbless and headless torso of a young black boy in the Thames which claims that there may be a flourishing trade in children for ritual murder in that community. In particular, one may wish to consider previous examples of moral panic about the allegedly murderous religious practices of marginalised and despised immigrant groups, and compare the two.

This Academic Life says some interesting things about Weber, but also illustrates that perhaps some people could do with taking the manichean quasi-metaphysical bullshit of George Lucas's pre-adolescent fantasies about as seriously as mildly entertaining but far from clever space operas deserve to be taken, i.e., considerably less seriously.

Fourth, obligatory Fafblog link. Just imagine George Bush saying, fear me, for I am the destroyer of worlds. Go on, you know you want to.

Lastly, periodical Billy Bragg plug. I saw him last night at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, and he was very good, very good indeed. This machine kills Fascists!

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Links

Andrew Bartlett has up a post about the role of public intellectuals in a democracy, which is quite interesting.

Crooked Timber advances the Babelfish theory of globalisation (and someone has an interesting pop at Habermas in the comments).

Elizabeth Anderson carries on writing about freedom. Today, freedom as related to the size/quality of your opportunity set, rather than freedom as absence of impediment.

Also, my exams are nearly finished now, so there might be some return to something like relatively regular and more substantive than one-sentence linking posting in the near-ish future.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Morning Linkage

The Head Heeb has a discussion of what we think the conditions for the correct application of the term apartheid are. My tuppence worth: a state which claims to be democratic, but systematically, through legal or quasi-legal institutions, excludes some group, defined on ethnic grounds, under its rule from participation in the common life, including, but not limited to, its political life, of that state, on the grounds of its ethnicity.

Stumbling and Mumbling asks whether it's possible to justify utilitarianism. My tuppence worth: it's not.

Jim Bliss plays Devil's Advocate over the proposed law banning incitement to religious hatred. My hopefully provocative question: since those who tend to oppose this legislation tend to draw a disanalogy with laws banning incitement to racial hatred by pointing to a distinction between what is chosen and what is unchosen, with race not being chosen and religion being chosen, does it matter whether sexual identity is chosen when considering laws against discrimination or incitement of hatred towards particular sexual identities?

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Locke And Property

Seeing as I wrote a little about Locke earlier today, I thought I might expand on it by saying something, relatively briefly - if for no other reason than I have to go to work in slightly more than an hour - on the pivotal part of his theory, his account of property rights. As I mentioned in the earlier post, Locke was primarily writing against a defender of absolute monarchy, Filmer, whose writings had been something of a propaganda success for the Royalists in the decade before the Glorious Revolution. The Two Treatises address first Filmer's positive theory, which basically claimed that since, according to the Bible, God had granted dominion over the whole world to Adam, all dominion must be inherited from Adam, meaning that only individuals could possess it, and then his attacks on the natural law/social contract theories of his opponents in the second Treatise. Filmer actually seems to have had a fairly good argument against such theories, which tended to, as Locke does, claim that the Earth was originally held in common, which consists of asking the relatively simple question, 'how did it end up being divided into pieces of property owned by individuals then?' This is basically the question which Locke is interested in answering in his theory of property rights.

Locke in fact makes the question even more radical, pointing out that if the world is owned in common, and the consent of all was required to take something from it, then we would starve to death, for we would not be able to take anything required for our sustenance, let alone appropriate pieces of land. This conclusion is clearly ridiculous, so no theory which held both that the world was owned in common, and that transfers of such common property had to be consented to by all those who held it, could possibly be sensible. Locke's solution is to reject the second premise, to deny that transfers of such common property required any consent at all. Although Locke actually focuses on a justification which seems to flow from self-ownership rights, which states that since I own my labour, I own the products of my labour, this can't really be doing all the work, because such a right could only come into play after I had a right to the thing I laboured on: a thief's investment of my money, or work on my land, does not entitle him to the profit from those activities, because he had no right to the thing which generated, in combination with his labour, the profit in the first place. What does the work in Locke's theory are two claims, one about the justification of the right to the world which all possess, and one about the productivity of labour.

The justification of the right to the world which all possess is God's command to go forth, prosper, be fruitful and multiply. God, who is benevolent, can hardly have granted all men such rights to the world as to make it impossible for them to legitimately use any part of it, because that would make them starve, which implies that the right must allow us to appropriate individual parts of the world, subject to the restriction that any appropriation must leave enough for others to go forth, prosper, be fruitful and multiply. The right in common is a use-right, not initially an exclusion-right. This is why we get the two provisos that Locke puts on acts of appropriation, that enough and as good must be left, and that nothing should be let go to waste, because if it became the case that there was not enough and as good left, then people without property would struggle to survive, while if things go to waste, they're not helping whoever has them prosper, be fruitful and multiply, and perhaps someone else could have put them to some use. The claim about the productivity of labour helps Locke, because if labour is as productive as he claims, then granting rights to what has been laboured on will make the world much more productive - about an hundred times, he thinks - and will make the satisfaction of the enough and as good proviso relatively easy, because many acts of appropriation actually increase the stock of goods available. However, the basic justification of property remains: if people do not have enough to live well - assuming that's a reasonable interpretation of God's alleged command - then any excessive holdings of property are unjustified. Locke's theory of property, for all its appropriation by libertarians, is relatively egalitarian: certainly if anyone is starving, and probably if anyone is suffering as a result of poverty, property is unjustified, because it must have violated the enough and as good proviso.

Or, at least it is until the invention of money: money, by allowing the accumulation of a good which does not spoil, removes the wastage requirement, and by making it possible to survive without property, because it is possible to labour for a wage, it also mitigates the enough and as good proviso. Money, it has been theorised, is a kind of secular version of the Fall for Locke, as it corrupts people by allowing them to violate the spirit, if not the letter, of the natural law, by accumulating more than they can use. It also leads to conflict, because when men could not justifiably take more than they could use from the common store, there was little to argue about, as everyone could relatively easily have enough, but when their appropriation is effectively unlimited, conflicts are much more likely. This proliferation of conflict once money is invented is what leads people to set up states, to agree to the social contract, because a common authority is needed to arbitrate in such conflicts, to decide where the just claim lies, and to uphold it.

Since this protection of their natural rights is what people consent to government for, the protection of property - in the wide sense of all one's natural rights - is what government is for (notice though, the accuracy of the Humean claim that the natural law is what is really doing the work here: since we are obliged to follow the natural law, we are obliged to obey any government which is upholding it, and so the issue of our consent effectively becomes otiose, although Locke might be consistently able to maintain his claim that taxation requires consent, simply because we would then be under arbitrary power, and arbitrary power violates our freedom). If a government were to violate someone's property, it would lose the authority it held on trust - Locke is very big on the idea of government as a trust - from the commonwealth formed by the social contract, and resistance would become legitimate, including armed resistance, as by violating rights, the government would have put itself in a state of war with the commonwealth. Locke is thus radical in at least two senses (his claims about toleration, an area in which he has an interestingly similar concern to Hobbes, are another perhaps), both in providing an explicitly limited theory of property rights, based, more or less, on those rights being good for everyone, and a ground of legitimacy for resistance to government, precisely on the grounds of this theory of property rights.

Social Contract Theory: Locke And Hobbes

Having written about Hume yesterday, I thought perhaps I might write a little about two of the theorists who are most clearly in his sights in his moral philosophy, Locke and Hobbes. Locke and Hobbes are interesting, perhaps because whilst both are philosophical quite fertile, their main works of political theory are rather transparently political polemics. Hobbes, a Royalist in exile in France in the aftermath of the English Civil War, wrote 'Leviathan', a defence of absolute government, if not monarchy, and Locke, a Whig, published, if not wrote, 'The Two Treatises On Government', a defence of limited government and a right of rebellion, in the aftermath of the Glorious Revolution. Their theories also share, structurally, rather a lot, most obviously the device of the social contract and of the state of nature, so, quite apart from more or less standing on opposite sides of an historically important political debate, comparison of them is potentially fruitful.

Locke, partly because he and Hobbes are seen as standing on opposite sides of this historical debate, is often thought to be writing against Hobbes, particularly because historically, the first Treatise of the two was lost through much of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. However, the rediscovery of the first Treatise makes Locke's target much clearer: it was Filmer, a now more or less forgotten apologist for the absolutism of the Stuarts on the basis of patriarchal rights, whose Biblical argument is systematically dismantled by Locke in the first Treatise and whose arguments against natural law theory addressed in the second. The only obviously anti-Hobbesian argument Locke makes in either of the two Treatises is a passage where he claims that claiming that people would establish an absolute monarch “is to think that Men are so foolish that they take care to avoid what Mischiefs may be done to them by Pole-Cats, or Foxes, but are content, nay think it Safety, to be devoured by Lions”, which is pleasingly succinct and dismissive, but hardly decisive, since Hobbes has a rather good explanation, on its own terms, of why it would make sense to establish an absolute monarch.

As has often been said, Hume, by challenging explicitly Hobbes's motivational assumptions and by pointing out that all governments rest on consent, is much better at showing Hobbes is wrong. Still, I think it is, despite Locke's unwillingness to engage directly with Hobbes, possible to show Hobbes's wrongness in a way that makes quasi-Lockean premises seem rather plausible. One of the main differences between Locke and Hobbes - indeed, the one from which one could plausibly argue all their differences flow - is their account of the state of nature and peoples' behaviour in it. Whilst in Hobbes's state of nature - the perhaps hypothetical state in which people existed before governments - life is, as is the staple of every undergraduate essay about him, 'nasty, brutish and short', in Locke's, at least until the invention of money, life is perhaps hard but not much more violent than life under a government. Now, the reason it is sensible in Hobbes's terms to establish an absolute monarch so as to exit the state of nature - in fact, the only way we could exit the state of nature - is that because people are basically greedy, capricious and proud, it is only if an absolute power is over them that they can be made to follow any rules at all: otherwise, it would never be in their self-interest to follow those rules, because there would be uncertain sanction attached to them, and so they wouldn't, meaning the rules were useless. Locke denies this, simply because his state of nature isn't like that: people are greedy, but not so greedy that life becomes a war of all against all.

One of the problems which all social contract theorists face is explaining both why and how people form societies, since they are asserting that legitimacy flows from that contract and therefore, it must have actually occurred, which means giving an explanation of how that might have happened. Because, if it didn't actually happen, it's hard to see where a social contract which derives its force from actual agreement to it could be deriving its force from, social contract theorists must have at least a quasi-empirical account of the actual social contract. Their state of nature needs to provide both the opportunity and the motivation to leave it, in short, which is where I think that Hobbes gets into difficulty. Hobbes's state of nature is exceptionally nasty: because it would always be irrational to risk getting suckered by someone, on Hobbes's account, it would always be irrational to make any bargain with anyone unless there was some overwhelming force one could rely upon to enforce compliance. Since the sovereign must be created by agreement, as precisely what gives them their absolute power is the submission of all to their authority, it would, on Hobbes's own account, always be irrational to attempt to create a sovereign, because you would risk being suckered.

Hobbes can't make the Humean argument that government could emerge from gradual, incrementally increasing, cooperation, for the same reason: gradual, incrementally increasing, cooperation would hold similar risks and so is ruled out on the same grounds. We could put this in game theoretical terms: although the state of nature is for Hobbes an assurance game, a situation in which it is best to cooperate, because the benefits of cooperation flow precisely from the impossibility of cooperation, except under an absolute sovereign (if we could organise ourselves without an absolute sovereign, then there would be no need to cooperate to form an absolute sovereign) it is impossible to cooperate to form an absolute sovereign. In the terms of the assurance game, which gets its name from the property of requiring assurance in order to reach the optimal outcome, we can never be assured.

This makes quasi-Lockean premises plausible because either we are still in the state of nature, or we managed to form a sovereign of some sort despite the fact that on Hobbes's own premises it is impossible to do so. If we are in the state of nature, since we don't live in a state of war of all against all, then Hobbes is wrong about the state of nature, and if we formed a sovereign of some sort, then whatever came before that can't have been as bad as Hobbes believed. Either way, we get the Lockean conclusion that the state of nature is relatively benign.

We can put this another way, rather than in terms of rational calculation. Hobbes, like Hume, collapses motivation and justification, not by undermining the idea that anything else could be the basis of justification, but by emphasising the compulsive aspect of obligation: it is only because we must do it that we are obliged, and since a must needs to be relative to our goals, which are simply morally empty desires, an obligation requires threatening us with vastly superior force. Yet, in the absence of vastly superior force, we must be obliged not to cooperate to form a vastly superior force, because there is no vastly superior force to compel us to do so in the face of the vastly superior force of the horrors of the state of nature, which obliges us not to cooperate. Thus, we are obliged not to form an absolute sovereign.

Locke though, if anything, faces the opposite problem. It's not hard for Locke to explain why we should want to form a sovereign of some kind: even if people are fairly good-willed, they will make some mistakes about the punishment of wrongs, even if those mistakes will not totally undermine any norms they adhere to, because of their good-willedness, meaning that there are possible benefits from forming a state. What's hard for Locke is to make real the requirement of consent, to make the formation of a state something that we can choose to do, rather than something that we must do. The reason that we owe the state allegiance, if in fact we do, is that it enforces the law of nature, rather than because we consent, because we would in fact only consent to a state which enforced the law of nature. Consent is basically epiphenomenal in Locke's theory, as can be seen from his difficulties with maintaining that those other than the original contractors have consented (those who accept property in a commonwealth consent, which is like saying, if I save you from drowning on the condition that you become my slave, you have consented to becoming my slave, especially when combined with the apparently contradictory claim that consent is necessary for any taxation, which together would imply that no-one can be deprived of property without their consent, unless it is inherited). So perhaps Hume was right, and social contract theories are rather dubious, since the conclusion here seems to be it's either hard to get the contract off the ground, or the contract itself isn't really doing any work.

Some Rafts For Your Drowning Brain

Pearsall has linked to me, saying my series of revision-related post are interesting -for which thanks - but also esoteric, which is probably fair. I haven't decided whom I'm going to inflict my ramblings about on the world today - Locke, or possibly Ronald Dworkin - but in a spirit of bringing enlightenment to the masses, here is a one sentence summary of each post (even if the sentences are rather long - look, it's hard to summarise a couple of thousand words in a single sentence without having an apparently ever-multiplying series of subclauses, OK):

All claims are freedom are claims about freedom of some sort of thing, and on the assumption that humans are the sort of thing with goals and plans, for a human to be free, they need to be able to choose and realise their goals and plans, which means allowing them to choose the set of rules they live under, since rules can both prevent and enable the the choice and realisation of goals and plans.

Given that humans should be able to choose the set of rules they live under, we need to think about the limits that should be set on their choice of a set of rules, for there are surely sets of rules which might strip people of their capacity to choose and realise their goals and plans, and in particular, we need to think about whether the criteria on which these limits are based are distinctively political, i.e., related to people's status as free and equal.

However, if there is something distinctively political about these criteria, that must mean, because the criteria are based on people's status as free and equal, and part of the point of being free must be the prospect of change, that these criteria might themselves shift over time, as freedom comes to be used and matter in different ways, that change itself a result of freedom.

The criteria shifting over time though, implies that truth, in a timeless, universal sense, is not a proper predicate of normative claims which could be part of the political on this account, because the validity predicate for the political is legitimacy, but because some have denied the wisdom of this abjuring from truth, a more comprehensive argument in favour of the position is required, one which can be supplied by Quine and Habermas, which effectively extends the idea of legitimacy as the proper validity predicate to all statements (I admit, this was definitely the most esoteric).

Returning to the idea of freedom as requiring some constraint, in Machiavelli's discussion of the best divisions of political power, we can see the idea that, contra Lord Acton's dictum - power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely - there is an incoherence in the idea of absolute power, as power requires something to act against, another power, and that indeed, in Machiavelli's ethical universe, it is precisely the lack of enough to struggle against that spells doom.

By looking at Hume's claims about the artificiality of justice, we can see that, on Hume's own criteria, the most plausible explanation is that justice, as the virtue of conflict resolution, is as natural a virtue as all the others, since conflict is fairly endemic to human life, which quasi-redeems natural law theorists like Locke.

I'm not sure if that makes it any easier: maybe not, but it makes it easier for me, so...

Friday, June 10, 2005

Hume And The Artificiality Of Justice

Hume is perhaps most famous for launching a series of attacks on reason, denying, for example, that morality was a matter of reason, and thus, along with his colleagues in the Scottish Enlightenment, ushering in solid British empiricism and ending the dominance of that funny Continental rationalism, in particular, perhaps, of natural law theory. I think that Hume's attacks only really work by stripping reason of any actual content, and thus settling the debates in his favour before they really start, but that's partly by the by here. Rather devle into Hume's epistemology, and the wisdom of claims like 'it is not contrary to reason to prefer the destruction of the whole world to the scratching of my little finger' - well, for one thing, if the whole world is destroyed, there won't be any little fingers to be scratched, so even on Hume's account it is irrational - I want to look at his account of justice, which does form part of his attack on rationalism, because it denies there is anything natural or rational about justice at all.

Hume claims that justice is an artificial virtue, made up of the observation of conventional property rights, which have nothing to be said for or against them apart from their character as solutions of collective action problems, and a practice of keeping promises, whose justification is similarly utilitarian. He effectively constructs an anthropology of the emergence of states in much the same way as natural law theorists like Hobbes or Locke, but denies that there is any determining element of reason or nature in the methods by which humans leave the state of nature. Specifically, he argues that because of justice's systematic character, it cannot be justified directly from the natural virtues of self-love or benevolence - which are of course not based on reason but the passions anyway - because if justice consisted in self-love, we would not obey it when it was not in our interests to do so, and if it consisted in benevolence, we would not obey it when it required actions like giving a rich miser property from a poor man, because the poor man could make better use of the property. Since justice does not flow directly from these, natural, virtues, and otherwise stands in want of both motivation and justification - which Hume effectively collapses - it cannot be a natural virtue. Thus the anthropological story comes in.

The anthropological story portrays justice as a solution to collective action problems, as I have already mentioned, in much the same way as Locke and Hobbes: conflict over possessions leads to uncertainty, which leads to less productivity and so less happiness. The collective action problem forms a kind of assurance problem, where although it is better for all to cooperate, it can be dangerous to cooperate when others defect, as it leaves you vulnerable to exploitation, but because conflict is not as endemic in Hobbes's state of nature - in which life is infamously 'nasty, brutish and short' - a gradual process of learning through isolated incidents of cooperation can eventually set up a set of institutions of justice. Hume's best example of this idea is of two men in a boat rowing: initially, they will not row together, and so the boat will go round and round in circles, but should they by accident take a stroke together, they will be able to see that they can both benefit from cooperation.

The important thing though is that Hume maintains that whatever institutions of justice are set up are effectively totally random: property rights are granted to those who have possessed things for a long time not because those who have possessed things for a long time should be given property rights, but because our minds naturally pass from the person to thing simply through the fact of long association. Likewise with inheritance: when a person dies, we naturally think of their close family, who after all have benefited from the property they had too, and so we pass their property on to the close family. This is what makes justice artificial for Hume, that there are no independent reasons for just institutions, that they are simply products of our fancies. This is not to say, for Hume, that justice does not acquire reasons for it: the experience of living in just institutions, through our benevolence and our self-interest, because we recognise that it creates benefits both for us and for others, generates support for those institutions. It is just that initially, there is nothing more than convention to be said in favour of it.

There's also another sense in which justice is artificial for Hume, though, which further undermines the natural law claim that justice is natural. Not only is justice not natural in the sense that it arises from convention, so that it would be nonsensical to speak of any obligation to be just before those conventions, but it arises from convention in quite specific circumstances. The circumstances in question are those of limited scarcity and limited altruism, because in a situation of abundance and perfect altruism, there would be no conflict, and so no need for conventions to prevent it, and in a situation of total scarcity or of perfect egoism, conflicts would be unresolvable, because nothing could compel people to obey the conventions which could, in another situation, resolve them. Although I think it is reasonable to be skeptical about the second half of this claim, simply because I don't collapse justification and motivation in quite the same way as Hume, the first half of it seems reasonable: justice does just seem to be the virtue of resolving conflicts amongst other values, which makes it artificial in a way, as it is not itself one of first-order values.

Hume's claims about the artificiality of justice could be made in another way, which is probably more realistic, yet undermines the attack on the rationalism of natural law theory. Rather than stress the anthropological story about the emergence of justice de novo as it were, we could stress the expansion of institutions of justice as family groups gradually grew in to minature societies. This would be more realistic, as it seems implausible that any group of any sort could last for any significant time without some institutions of something like justice, in particular promising, because even in relatively solidaristic groups like extended families, conflicts, and so justice as their solution, arise. Doing this though, would undermine the idea that justice is totally conventional, because it would not be prior to the existence of humans, assuming that humans have always lived in groups of some sort. However, undermining the idea that justice is totally conventional, at least in the historical sense of not having always existed in some form, undermines the critique of natural law theories, because there is a meaningful sense in which justice is natural: it has existed as long as humans have.

We could also make Hume's argument that justice lacks a motivation rather less radical, by, in line with his claim about justice being the virtue of resolving conflicts, pointing to the intrinsic conflict between the two motivations he accredits humans with, self-love and benevolence. Justice would then be motivated partly by self-love and partly by benevolence, as indeed Hume believes it is contemporarily, and would no longer be so radically inexplicable, which would clearly bolster the natural law arguments, because they would be able to attempt, at least, to explain justice motivationally. Neither of these arguments totally rescue the natural law theorists, because of Hume's argument against reason as a motivational basis for morality and because of his arguments against governments being based on consent (they're based on their usefulness, which is surely the only basis on which we would consent to them anyway, which would then undermine the importance of consent as an independent standard apart from their usefulness). But despite Hume's claims about the artificiality of justice, and the prominent place which that appears to take in his attacks on the rationalism of natural law theory, it's not actually that significant a threat to natural law theory, because there are relatively easy ways to interpret his arguments as not being particularly threatening to natural law theory.

Lord Acton's Dictum And Machiavelli

OK, so no-one suggested anything they might like me to write about, indicating perhaps a definite lack of interest in my decidedly overlong posts on political theory, but I'm going, stiff-upper lip and all, carry on regardless. In particular, as the title of the post suggests, write about Machiavelli and his views on corruption and power, not least because that topic has, in the past, been a fair banker for coming up on the history of political thought paper I'm taking. As I am sure everyone is aware - if only through the use of the word 'Machiavellian' - Machiavelli has a bit of a reputation as an apologist for advocacy of double-dealing, cheating, backstabbing and general being shifty and dishonest in the pursuit of power, which seems, for him, to be an end in itself. This would make him wholly unconcerned about Lord Acton's dictum, that 'power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely' because the acquisition of power is only goal around: corruption simply doesn't matter, because presumably you can be corrupt and continue to hold power.

For some time now, the almost unanimous academic consensus is that Machiavelli's reputation is not really deserved, a conclusion which I'm not going to dissent from. However, precisely because it is relatively easy to see, both from a historical perspective and from the texts themselves, how Machiavelli did acquire this reputation as an advocate of unprinciple Realpolitik, despite the fact that he actually does have some rather interesting ideas about the consequences of various distributions of power, I want to explore his thought through the lens of Lord Acton's dictum.

Lord Acton's dictum itself is perhaps most usefully understood as a core tenet of liberal constitutionalism, as a version of the doctrine of the separation of powers, that it is inherently dangerous to grant excessive authority to one part of a government as it will inevitably be abused, that checks and balances are required, simply because unchecked power inevitably leds to abuse. This is undoubtedly a common liberal idea: it appears in discussions of the tyranny of the majority, perhaps most sophisticatedly in De Tocqueville's ideas of atomisation and centralisation, and does a lot of the work behind the calls for limitations of the scope of democracy. Someone who, like Machiavelli, valorised the exercise of power simply for the sake of that exercise surely could not understand the idea that power might need to limited, it would seem. Yet, despite the rough truth of the claim that Machiavelli did valorise the exercise of power simply for its own sake, I think he holds a version of Lord Acton's dictum.

To see this, we need to look past what is probably his most famous work, 'The Prince', which is, at least on the surface, a handbook for autocrats on how to seize and maintain political power, and look - initially at least - at his 'Discourses On Livy', a kind of history of the Roman Republic, which then generalises from this history to give guidance on how to set up and maintain a free state. Apart from the parts on military tactics, something I will also return to, the largest part of this book is devoted to a discussion of how Rome's greatness in this period followed from an institutionally created but contained conflict between the aristocracy and the commoners, which argues that had this conflict not existed, Rome would not have remained a Republic for as long as it did. It is not wholly implausible to interpret this argument as a version of Lord Acton's dictum, as it looks like the central claim in it is that it is precisely because the power of both these groups was opposed by the power of the other that prevented either of them from seizing power and abusing it.

This is not quite the whole story though. Machiavelli's claim is more of a positve liberty style claim than the conventional interpretation of Lord Acton's dictum: rather than being checked in the sense of being constrained, power is strengthened by conflict, it requires it to be exercised properly. It's almost like the critique of the Hobbesian idea of liberty I made on Sunday: for Machiavelli, absolute power is almost - not quite, as his account of the fall of the Roman Republic is an account of the corrupting influence of nigh-on absolute power - an impossibility, because to be properly called power, power must have something to act against, must be opposed (the reason it is almost an impossibility is that whilst a state or person may acquire absolute power in the sense that they may rule the known world, as the Romans did - at least in Machiavelli's version - they can never wholly tame Fortuna, capricious Luck, which may undermine them at any point). This way of seeing the importance of constraint on power, of that constraint being empowering, undoes the first half of Lord Acton's dictum, because it denies that power, properly conceived, is corrupting: in fact, power, which is not absolute power, is enabling, both a necessary and a sufficient condition of ethical greatness.

This can be seen in another way if we look at Machiavelli's ethical theory, such as it is. It's almost Nietzschean, in ways, a nearly aesthetic criterion of glorious, memorable deeds. It has its limits: wilful, unnecessary violence is condemned, but basically because it is not thought of as the mark of someone in control, but rather someone driven by a gratuitous bloodlust, and so not remembered well. Romulus's murder of Remus, though, because it is integral to the foundation of Rome, is praiseworthy for Machiavelli: it shows a man unafraid, unbowed by circumstance, yet aware of how it closes off his options, of what he must do. One could almost state it as boldness in the face of necessity, which requires necessity just as much as it requires boldness. There must be something to be bold about, and so the idea of an opposition being required reappears.

The history of the Roman Republic offered by Machiavelli is full of such examples: his argument about the way that lengthening military commands was one of the causes of Rome's downfall could be taken as a case in point, for its claim is that the absolute power - within the sphere in question - that such lengthy military commands offered those who held them corrupted them and the men under them, created bonds of loyalty which over-rode those to the polis and granted unopposable power to the commanders (a state's military organisation was very important to Machiavelli, precisely because of the great power that military commanders exercised, both as containing potential for much glory and as containing potential for a state's ruin). It's a kind of civic republican argument, because the ability to dominate is clearly one case of holding absolute or unchecked power, but it is perhaps got at by a means that modern civic republicans would eschew, because of its undoubted commitment to violence, even if, through its positive analysis of power, it offers an interesting way of readin Lord Acton's dictum.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Political Theory And Epistemology: Quine, Habermas, And Cohen

Yesterday, I ended by claiming that a particular kind of challenge to Rawlsian theory, the one which claimed that Rawlsian theory fixes the boundaries between the political and the moral too firmly, too decisively, also has implications for the nature of validity claims in political theory, amongst other things. This is because if the boundaries aren't fixed, then the proper content of the political - and indeed the proper content of the moral - is not fixed either, and on a lot of understandings of the meaning of the predicate 'truth', claims whose validity varies like that just aren't true: something doesn't become not true just because we change our minds about it, yet the implication of the idea that the proper content of the political is not fixed is just that if we change our minds about it, then it changes. Rawls himself begins to acknowledge something like this when he says that reasonableness rather than truth is the proper validity claim to be applied to his theory in 'Political Liberalism', something for which he got, and continues to get, no little stick. How fair that stick is, more or less, is what I'll be writing about today: it's going to get epistemological, for which I apologise.

I'll begin by talking about probably the most impressive attack on the Rawlsian abjuring from truth, G. A. Cohen's 'Facts and Principles' (I'm taught by him, alright: I've been exposed to his ideas more than anyone else's apart from Rawls's, so he will inevitably figure in a lot of debates I'm interested in). 'Facts and Principles' attempts to show that any fact which we think supports any normative principle does so in light of another normative principle, the implication being that, if normative principles are grounded, they are grounded by some ultimate normative principle, which is self-evident, a priori, something like that. This is an attack on Rawls's abjuring from truth because it is an attack on his decision procedure, which utilises some relatively general facts, and its claim that it produces principles of justice, and indeed an attack on all decision procedures as creating, rather than revealing, principles of justice: principles of justice exist prior to such procedures, and are true if they are valid. I think that Cohen is wrong, partly because I find the quasi-Arendtian conception of politics in Rawls persuasive, and partly for prior epistemological reasons. Now, I've already talked about the quasi-Arendtian conception of politics, so to avoid repeating myself, I'm going to talk about the prior epistemological reasons.

Since it is where my resistance to Cohen begins, it's probably best to begin with Quine's 'Two Dogmas Of Empiricism'. In this paper from the fifties, Quine argues that the distinction between the analytic and the synthetic - the true by definition and the true by virtue of facts in the world, roughly, which are the two dogmas in question - doesn't hold, basically because it is impossible, without vicious circularity, to specify what it is that is meant by true by definition. Everything is both a matter of definition and the empirical evidence we have, even things like the law of the excluded middle, that things must either be true or false, and so there are situations - perhaps not situations we can imagine - in which an apparently unavoidable logical truth like the law of the excluded middle isn't true, because it is partly dependent on the interpretation of the empirical evidence we find most persuasive, gven our other beliefs. Truth then becomes, effectively, rather than a property of statements considered in isolation, a property of statements as part of system of belief: in the case of the law of excluded middle, it is because, in light of everything else we believe, it makes sense that is is true.

Now, it might seem totally ridiculous to think that something as fundamental as the idea that statements are either true or false is dependent on it being compatible with the best interpretation of the rest of our beliefs, and so Quine must be wrong. But the thought that it is totally ridiculous to doubt the truth of the law of the excluded middle is perfectly compatible with Quinean epistemology, because it is such a key part of our system of belief that calling it into to doubt would call more or less every other belief we have into question, and since the truth of our beliefs is supposed to depend on their fit with our other beliefs, given the excellent fit of that particular belief with all our other beliefs, it would be ridiculous to doubt it, given those other beliefs. This is not, though, to say that it would not be ridiculous to doubt it given some other set of beliefs, and because the wisdom of doubting one particular belief is relative to the set of beliefs as a whole, we can't make the claim, on the basis of our current beliefs, that it would never be ridiculous to doubt the law of the excluded middle.

I think there's another way of putting Quine's point, which Habermas has used. The two dogmas which Quine attacks - the idea of the synthetic and of the analytic - are supposed to represent empirical and a priori knowledge, knowledge gained through our experiences and knowledge gained through pure reason. We could see these forms of knowledge as knowledge typical of humans as embedded in the world and of humans as external to the world respectively, as an in-itself and a for-itself, as object and subject. Part of Habermas's critique of much contemporary European is based on a critique of the adoption of these two standpoints as mutually undermining, and leading to contradiction and confusion. The idea is that when we look at the world as a for-itself, it becomes very difficult to understand how we gain access to it, how it is that we can verify that this is actually how things are in the world, since we are separated, distant, from it. Conversely, though, when we look at the world as an in-itself, because we are so thoroughly attached to it, although this is undoubtedly how the world appears to us, we have no external point of view from which to verify that this is how it is, no point from which the contingencies of the world might not be distorting our perceptions of it. Either we have no grip on the world, or we have no Archimedean point from which to be sure that we are not victims of total mistake.

Not only this, though, but the two perspectives also undermine each other, for when we look at ourselves from the point of view of the for-itself, we seem to be objects in the world, a kind of in-itself, and when we look at ourselves from the point of view of the in-itself, we seem not to be objects in the world, but subjects, different from simple objects in the world, a kind of for-itself. Both points of view are intrinsically unstable, for they both require the other, which then contradicts them (one can generate the kinds of paradoxes which Hobbes's account of freedom is subject to when considering the radical subject and its relation to the world, for example, as appear, I think, in Sartrean existentialism). Habermas's proposed solution is to give up both, and to move to a kind of pragmatism, rather like Quine's: everything has to have presuppositions, but when we considered something else, we can call into question the presuppositions of what was initially considered, a freedom which can only exist in constraint.

This escapes the dualisms of subject and object because the presuppositions are given by intersubjective agreement, agreement which gives itself its own grounds, much as Quine's set of beliefs sets the conditions by which any individual belief is to be assessed: everything can both be considered as given and as contingent, just not simultaneously. Habermas claims that this also undermines as whole set of associated dualisms - the free-will/determinism one, most obviously - as well as showing the falsity of an awful lot of contemporary European thought, because they rely on shifting from one of the two points of view to the other without acknowledging it - they involve themselves in what he calls a performative contradiction (for example, if Foucault's claim that all discourses are totalising instruments of power is true, then not only is his own discourse a totalising instrument of power, it is hard to see what he is opposing this claim to, from where he is getting the normative weight that this claim bears, because for one thing, the idea that being subject to a totalising instrument of power is bad or wrong is surely part of a discourse as well) but this is by the by here.

The relationship of these ideas to Cohen's claims about the fact-dependence or otherwise of ultimate normative principle is what is important now. The point is, if Cohen is right, and ultimate normative principles are totally fact-independent, neither Quine nor Habermas can be right, because, relatively simply in Quine's case and perhaps slightly more complicatedly in Habermas's, if any individual belief has its validity tested against its fit with all our other beliefs, then surely, at least in principle, some change in our factual beliefs could alter the truth or otherwise of a given principle. Cohen doesn't actually offer an argument against either (he discusses holism very briefly, in what I consider to be a totally inadequate way), merely offering a kind of phenomenological account of our processes of moral reasoning, which is, I admit, very persuasive in its simplicity, and since he doesn't offer an argument against the views he is arguing against, I think it's fair to dismiss his challenge until he does. So Rawls is vindicated, at least in this sense, against Cohen, if he can consistently adopt these kinds of epistemological positions.

I think he can, and that in fact he does, more or less. As I've already stressed, the Original Position is supposed to model the debate of principles of social regulation between people conceived of as free and equal, yet that surely implies some kind of indeterminacy in their conclusions in exactly the same way as Quine and Habermas's epistemologies do. In the face of that kind of indeterminacy, it would be bizarre to claim truth in the neo-Platonic sense that Cohen wants him to. This is not to dismiss Cohen's non-meta disagreements with Rawls - as my piece yesterday showed, I think he's probably right about those - but at a meta-level, I think Rawls is right: not only in his conception of the political, but also in his more broad epistemological commitments. Epistemology seems to tell us how to categorise normative claims, but not their whole content, and in this particular case, it seems to be telling us that Cohen's kinds of truth-claims just don't exist.

Unfortunately - or fortunately - there's nowhere obvious to go from this kind of conclusion, so I'm not sure what I might write about tomorrow, if indeed I will write anything at all. If anyone has any suggestions, I'm doing papers in Contemporary Political Philosophy - otherwise known as Cohen and his disagreements with Rawls - Political Theory from Machiavelli to Burke, and Contemporary European Social and Political Thought, as well as a core Political Theory paper, so I'd in principle be happy to write on any of those things. That said, I might come up with something all by myself.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Moral Philosophy And Political Philosophy

Yesterday, I ended by offering a defence of Rawls (and much post-Rawlsian political theory) against the claim that it takes the politics out of political theory, by claiming that it at worst relocates the Arendtian concept of action to a non-political, public sphere, because the idea that democracy requires limits is far from as strange as some postmodernist theorists would have us believe. In particular, I pointed to a distinction between a political conception of the good and a comprehensive conception of the good utilised by Rawls, where a political conception of the good is one which accepts that people treated as free and equal will end up holding differing comprehensive conceptions of the good, and further claims that to fail to accept those differences is to fail to treat people as free and equal, thus requiring that, within limits, a political conception must be accessible, without substantial distortion, to as many comprehensive conceptions as possible.

This effectively creates something of a distinction between moral and political philosophy: the comprehensive doctrine which we affirm, and thus believe is true, is a piece of moral philosophy, because it answers the question 'how should one live?', while the political doctrine which we also affirm, but has substantially less scope than our comprehensive doctrine, is a piece of political philosophy, because it answers the question 'how should we live together?'. For Rawls, that distinction is quite sharp: it is permeable, I think, because it's hard to see where other than moral philosophy he is getting his foundational premise that we ought to be treating people as free and equal, but that's about all he lets through. What I want to write about today is a number of attacks on that sharp distinction, arguments which claim that the distinction is either non-existent, because politics absorbs much more of what Rawls thinks is moral or ethical, or that Rawls fixes it when it should be left to move, according to the content of the things on either side of the distinction. We can call these two challenges the perfectionist and the progressive challenges respectively: the perfectionist sees the task of politics as the moral perfection or at least improvement of humans, as opposed in part to the Rawlsian idea of non-coercion/dominance, and the progressive sees a dogmatism about where the distinction lies in Rawls which they think is counter to the claim about human freedom. Of course, there is a challenge - made by Nozick and other crazies - that politics absorbs much less than Rawls thinks it does, but they're mad, so I'm going to ignore them (if you want an argument, they fail to understand what non-domination/coercion might mean completely).

Now, there is a whole literature in post-Rawlsian political theory about an issue which is often referred to as perfectionism, which most notably surfaces in debates between Rawlsians and communitarians - like MacIntrye, for example - and between Rawlsians and ethical liberals - like Raz - but my perfectionism is wider in scope than this. My perfectionism includes not just these debates, but also a tangential debate, about the scope and nature of (political/social) justice, which has been going on between radical egalitarians, most notably G. A. Cohen, which collapses the parts of the distinction between individuals having and behaving according to just motivations and individuals operating in a structure which is just. In my terms, this is perfectionist because it does not see an in-principle distinction between politics and morality: if it would be unjust to aim at a particular goal in politics, there is no immediate reason to think that it would not also be unjust to aim at it one's private life.

Indeed, I think that Cohen's attacks on Rawlsian schemes of justice are in some ways the most interesting, and the most likely to be persuasive, because the reasons for which Rawlsians want to reject them are distinctly under-theorised in the discourse they are part of: the quasi-Arendtian way of putting the distinction which I canvassed yesterday, of a distinction between politics and the public and morals and the private, between a sphere securing freedom and a sphere of necessity, just isn't there in that discourse, yet I think that is what is sort of being appealed to. To see this, the substance of Cohen's disagreement with Rawlsians becomes important.

The disagreement turns on what the scope of Rawls's difference principle is. The difference principle states that, subject to the priority of maximum liberty compatible with equal liberty, with the value of the liberties held constant, for all, and fair equality of opportunity, inequalities in, roughly, income and wealth, should be arranged for the long-term benefit of the least well-off. Rawls restricts the application of this principle to, again roughly, the legal coercive structure of society, so that individual economic actors’ motivations and behaviour is not subject to it. It is thus consistent with the Rawlsian version of the principle to exploit one's market position to demand wages which do not maximise the take of the worst-off, as long as the tax structure grants the worst-off the largest take possible given the demands of those with skills in high demand. Cohen challenges this, most clearly by appealing to a quasi-historical claim about Sweden. The claim is that the Swedish with skills which were in high demand (hereafter, 'the talented', as long as that is not taken to imply any claims about desert) came to think that the demands the Swedish state made on them, on behalf of the less well-off, were excessive, and refused to produce as more unless they received a larger share of the social product: they effectively held the worst-off to ransom for more of the social product against the prospect of withdrawing some of their labour.

Against this, Rawlsians have, it seems to me, remarkably little consistent defence. Rawls initially appeals to the deep and pervasive effects of the legal coercive structure of a society as justifying the restriction of the difference principle to that structure, but Cohen's example clearly disarms this claim: the worst-off in Sweden were made substantially worse off by the refusal by the talented to work at the then current rates. Clearly, the individual motivations of all the members of a collectivity can make a difference to the prospects of members of that collectivity, so Cohen's claim that if the difference principle is a principle of justice, then we should act with at least some regard to it even within a legal coercive structure which respects it, stands.

Another defence has been made, most notably by Andrew Williams, on grounds of the impossibility of knowing whether individuals were acting with some regard to the principle in their choices of occupation, rates of pay, and hours worked. Williams, however, struggles both to show that such a publicity requirement is a genuine requirement of justice - the most plausible reason it might be is to prevent us being suckered by others who aren't behaving justly, and yet justice seems to require us to be suckers sometimes, as with cases of hiring practices in racist societies - and that we wouldn't be able to tell, in any sense which mattered, whether people were making the sacrifices required by having some concern for the worst-off in their quasi-private economic decisions - for example, we seem to be able to tell whether, on a camping trip where burdens and goods are divided according to the principle 'from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs', burdens and goods are being divided properly despite the principle's ineliminable vagueness.

So Rawls and Rawlsians are vulnerable to this perfectionist challenge from Cohen - and a whole set of other perfectionist challenges - and I think we can see why if we look at what I called the progressive challenge. To understand the progressive challenge, we need to understand, I think - and this might be contentious - the Rawlsian method of deriving what Rawls calls principles of justice. The progressive, recall, argues that Rawls's boundaries between the political and the moral are too firm, too fixed, and need to be more open to shifting, according to the content of the political and the moral, that we should not close the door to change about what constitutes the political and the moral (which is why I have called them the progressive). Rawls's theory as a whole works by asking what principles of social regulation we would come to in a notably artificial decision procedure, called the Original Position. The point of the Original Position, I think - and this is where the contention comes in, perhaps - is to model the interaction of free and equal persons coming to rules of social regulation which all can accept, which are justified to all (this is why the debate with Cohen is also a debate about the nature of justice: Rawlsians take some such decision procedure to decide what justice is - something which plausibly publicity flows from, as surely a mark of rules which are acceptable to all is that they could be made public - whereas Cohen disagrees, for sophisticated reasons I will take up tomorrow).

Now, if we are modelling the interaction of citizens conceived of as free and equal, and whatever rules can be justified to all are the rules which we should be living under, then, since part of seeing citizens as free and equal is taking their differences seriously, when what divides them changes, the rules which can be justified to all may well change too. Indeed, Rawls's attempts to preserve a sphere of quasi-Arendtian action somewhere other than politics in some sense, perhaps only make sense on the assumption that people will change their minds, that the bounds of the political will be forced to shift as the content of the moral does, for it would be certainly be distinctly odd not to expect the content of the moral to shift, yet that would seem to shift the content of the moral ideas of freedom and equality which Rawls must be basing his idea of the political on. Further, clearly, in such a discussion, moral reasons are going to be adduced in favour of political positions, as it's not clear what else could justify such positions, even if they are moral reasons which are accessible to more than one moral conception, and there is not obviously any way in principle of deciding beforehand which reasons are going to justify which positions.

These two claims seem to threaten the starkness of the boundary Rawls draws between the political and the moral, because they show the impossibility of drawing such a distinction in any thorough-going, timeless manner. However, they also threaten perfectionist claims, in one sense at least, because whilst they make the boundary between the political and the moral much more permeable, that can work both ways: moral claims which once had political force could lose that force, and quite properly lose it, just as they can gain it. We could come to think differently about the matter, and that would, under certain conditions, simply be the end of it: as free and equal, we would have decided, and anything else would be domination. This calls into question ideas of Truth (that capital 't' is deliberate) in political philosophy, and in particular the relationship of principles and facts, by making rightness in political philosophy more or less just procedural, rather than substantive, questions which I will take up tomorrow.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Recompense For Surliness...

a philosophy joke! Here, right at the end of this post about women and blogging or something.

Also, a cricket-related joke/amusing story/thing (from cricinfo's potted biography of Sid Barnes):

In a match in England in 1948 after a strong appeal had been turned down by A. Skelding, the umpire, a dog ran on to the field. Barnes captured the animal and carried it to Skelding with the caustic comment: Now all you want is a white stick.

Not very much recompense in either really. Oh well.

Books Meme

Pearsall has gone and passed this book meme thing on to me, so...

Total number of books I've owned:

it's probably creeping up towards the thousand mark: at a rough guess, seven, eight, hundred. I read a lot - probably more than I ever have done at university - when I was a child - fourteen, fifteen years of books every Christmas and birthday, and of spending significant proportions of any money I had on them, add up - and I still read quite a lot, so I have accumulated rather a lot (for which I apologise to my parents, as the majority of them are all still in their houses, creating clutter).

Last book I bought:

I think it was China Mieville's 'King Rat', about which I have already written. Not the last thing I read, but probably the last thing I bought.

Last book I read:

'The Human Condition', by Hannah Arendt. Revision, revision, revision. See the horribly lengthy post below for a relatively brief discussion of its contents. It's surprisingly readable, and quite interesting.

Five books that mean a lot to me:

Gah! Mean a lot to me in what sense? As a novel-reader, as someone generally interested in humanity, as someone specifically interested in a particular sub-set of philosophy, what? I reject your attempt to impose an identity on me! OK, quasi-philosophical rant over: I'll be good, and try.

Graham Greene's 'The Human Factor'. A brilliant and somehow very English novel about trying to live your life out in quiet that could have only been written by a lapsed Catholic.

OK, I tried, and either the fear of up-coming exams is getting to me, or philosophy has swallowed me whole, but I still keep wanting to deconstruct the question to work out what the hell it is asking me, so that's all you're getting.

Five people:

Bah, dunno. In a philosophical sulk now. Sorry. If you want to do it, do it, and say I sent it to you. Note to people who write these things: the Fahrenheit 451 book meme was better because it was more focused, so you knew what you supposed to be thinking about.

The Proper Scope Of Democracy: Rousseau, Arendt And Rawls

I ended my post yesterday by arguing that it was only with something like the idea of freedom as non-domination that a principled (as opposed to unprincipled, in the sense of 'the worst form of government, apart from all the others') defence of democracy could be given, because only that idea of freedom could explain what was wrong with having rules chosen by someone else. I also mentioned that further work would be needed to work out exactly what that conception of democracy implied, and noted that G. A. Cohen has argued that at least one account of what it implies seems to require the end of politics, because in order to avoid domination of individuals' wills by others or circumstance, measures would have to be taken which would in effect settle all major political issues. This idea of what is required by democracy - in the sense of having rules which all consent to - of what a system protecting the freedom of not being dominated would look like, is what I'm going to write about today.

I'm going to start with Rousseau, because I think - although my history of political thought is relatively weak - that Rousseau is about the first thinker to think consistently about what it would take to make each individual free in the sense of not being dominated (my sense of the Renaissance civic republicans, from Machiavelli, is that they were concerned with creating polities in which men - and I do mean men - could become great, could achieve a kind of Nietzscheian excellence, rather than ensuring that all were free, although they did see that as a kind of useful byproduct: the relation seems to have been that unfree men became corrupt, and corrupted those around them, preventing them being great). For more than one person, living in the same social system, to not be dominated, it has to be the case that non-domination is not a zero-sum game, that my not-being-dominated does not result in your being-dominated (this is obviously true of any account of freedom which seeks to make all free). This means that there must be a threshold over which one is not dominated, that there is a set of goods or rights that one can have or exercise that would ensure that you are not dominated. Because domination is relational - it is not a property one can have in isolation - this implies limits on the differentials between bundles of goods and rights, given some quasi-empirical claims about the ways in which domination operates and human purposes (if I don't care what happens to me, then I can't be dominated, because none of my purposes can be threatened by the features of anything else: this is roughly the Stoic position, I think, which finds freedom in withdrawal from the world).

In particular, for Rousseau, one of the main ways that domination operated amongst humans as social animals was through vanity and pride: because social esteem was taken to be such an important good by people in society, they could become dominated by its pursuit, and if the mechanisms of its distribution distributed it differentially, the distribution could be highly dominating. Social esteem then had to be distributed equally, to avoid domination, and that meant for Rousseau a rough equalization of income and wealth, as well as a concern for one's state as a whole and all of its citizens rather than oneself and your acquaintances as individuals. If either of these conditions were not fulfilled, the state would not be ruled by the General Will proper, as that Will would have ceased to exist, and it would cease to be a democracy.

Thus, we can see in the first theorist to really think about freedom as non-domination for all, that this concern includes some restrictions on what a democracy can do. For Rousseau, the General Will literally cannot will something which would be non-democratic, which would disolve itself, precisely because it would be non-democratic, it would disolve itself: it must aim at the common good, and if it does not, it is not the General Will, and has no proper claim to legitimacy any more. Thus, Cohen's critique has some bite, at least in terms of it making sense to think that certain material conditions need to be fulfilled in order for a society to be capable of making genuinely democratic decisions, or, to put it another way, that certain kinds of decisions cannot be democratic, that certain kinds of considerations cannot be brought into the forum. I think this idea can be explored, in two rather different ways, by looking at the work of two rather different theorists, Hannah Arendt and John Rawls.

Hannah Arendt is perhaps most famous for her claim about the banality of evil on seeing Eichmann's trial, but amongst political theorists, what she's probably best known for is 'The Human Condition', an immensely stimulating and suggestive quasi-historical discussion of the decline of freedom. She thought that freedom only really existed in political action, understood in a perhaps slightly peculiar sense. Political action was for Arendt action in a setting in which humans were seen as radically free and equally so, in particular not constrained by means-end relationships or by biological necessity, which were properly seen as work and labour respectively. Action requires plurality, in the sense of individuals not being identical, because something so radically free "would be an unnecessary luxury… if men were endlessly reproducible repetitions of the same model", and it requires plurality, in the sense of there being more than one person there, because it wouldn't be public, it would disappear, without the confirmation of others having seen it from a different perspective. Plurality and radical freedom kind of go together for Arendt: unless we're radically free, then we're not plural, because we've lapsed into a kind of essentialism, which may apply differently to different individuals, but still makes them instances of a type, and so no longer different in her strong sense, and unless we're plural, we're not radically free, because we're not different enough, unpredictable enough, to be properly free.

It's not entirely clear from Arendt's discussion in 'The Human Condition' what limits the conditions of plurality and freedom put on action beyond the requirement that humans do not enter its spheres as simpe animals - and hence unfree, because constrained by biological necessity - or as craftsmen - and hence again unfree, because constrained by the quasi-Platonic form of what they are crafting: to put it another way, it's not clear what kinds of things would actually count as free. I think that in fact she's involved in a paradox, rather similar to the Hobbesian one I mentioned yesterday, but that's by the by for the current discussion in a way: what's interesting is the way in which she, like Rousseau, sees some kinds of concerns, some kinds of motivations, as intrinsically corrupting of public political life, and hence limits the scope of democracy. Because action, and so politics, and so democracy, requires plurality and freedom, Arendt argues that law-making, at least in a constitutional sense, is not political. Further, she argues that a private sphere is required by the political: “[a] life spent entirely in public… becomes… shallow” because “it loses the quality of rising into sight from some darker ground which must remain hidden if it is not to lose its depth in a very real, non-subjective sense”. So in order for politics to operate as politics, it must be the case that there is a private sphere - a sphere in which non-public concerns are catered for - most probably created by law which is itself non-political.

To argue the same point differently, not only must we not bring non-public concerns to the forum, but we must be sure that our non-public status is secure in order to be free in the forum: we must not be dominated by the fear that we might lose our ability to continue our private life. One could also draw a concern about the dominating capacity of the political from Arendt's discussion of promising and forgiving, which are supposed to place some kinds of bounds on the consequences of the political. There are limits then even on this apparently radically free idea of democracy. This is interesting, because it ties into a discussion - or better, a criticism - of Anglo-American political theory in the aftermath of the work of John Rawls, beginning with 'A Theory of Justice' and more or less ending more or less twenty years later with 'Political Liberalism'. The criticism, most usually laid by postmodernists of some stripe, is that Rawls takes the politics out of politics by deciding everything before we start doing politics, in roughly the Arendtian sense of confronting our plurality and deciding what to do with it, because he specifies the liberties we should have, and the goals at which a society should aim. But in light of the discussion of Arendt, we might see Rawls as limiting politics to its proper sphere: we need the security provided by his theory of justice, so that we can deal with our plurality freely, without fear of loss of private status. Remember, further, that Arendt thought that law-making, in a constitutional sense at least, was not a political matter, that the political could not set its own boundaries: we could see Rawls as engaged in that kind of task.

Although Rawls doesn't really see himself as engaged in that kind of task - at least not in the Arendtian terms - I don't think it's a particularly strained interpretation of his work, particularly in 'Political Liberalism'. 'Political Liberalism' draws on a distinction between a comprehensive and a political doctrine of the good, arguing that when we treat citizens as free and equal, we can only properly draw on a political doctrine of the good, one that presupposes that citizens are free and equal, and will hence disagree about comprehensive doctrines of the good, because if we are to gain their consent for a political arrangement, it must be done in a way compatible with their freedom and equality. Political theory is thus distinct from moral theory, at least insofar as we are treating people as free and equal: it is not seeking a right answer, but an answer on which we can pragmatically agree, under certain conditions - the Original Position, Rawls would argue - which make sure that agreement is uncoerced. It is seeking legitimacy, a virtue which only makes sense in terms of the idea that people have the right to make up their own minds, and a mark of which will be that it respects that right in other areas, that people will be free elsewhere and free in the sense that they will differ (or else, if we would all properly come to the same conclusion, why would we need a right to make up our own minds, or indeed to be free at all). Thus we come back to Arendt: Rawls perhaps shifts the location of the site of action, of politics, in comparison to Arendt, but not so much as some criticisms suppose.

So, this defence of democracy, coming from a right of non-domination, of autonomy, puts boundaries on democracy and maybe just not purely procedural ones - like, you can't strip people of their right to vote - but fairly substantive ones. Radical democrats with Marxist backgrounds have, for example, not totally implausibly, claimed that private ownership of property is undemocratic. I wonder what George Bush would think of that. Tomorrow, or again, perhaps tonight, I think, more on the boundaries between moral and political theory, in particular, two critiques of Rawls which question the boundaries between the two.