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Application to Questions of Justice and Social Welfare: Conclusion Nanoethics Lecture V Roderick T. Long Auburn Dept. of Philosophy.

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Presentation on theme: "Application to Questions of Justice and Social Welfare: Conclusion Nanoethics Lecture V Roderick T. Long Auburn Dept. of Philosophy."— Presentation transcript:

1 Application to Questions of Justice and Social Welfare: Conclusion Nanoethics Lecture V Roderick T. Long Auburn Dept. of Philosophy

2 John Locke ( ) Natural Law theorist One of the chief inspirations of the American Revolution Essays on the Law of Nature (1664) Essay Concerning Toleration (1667) Two Treatises of Government (1689) Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690)

3 John Locke ( ) God’s will is the standard of morality But we don’t need divine revelation to discover his will We can figure it out by reason

4 John Locke ( ) Specifically, we can infer God’s purposes for human beings from the way he made us Since God made us essentially rational and social beings, he must intend us to live lives centered around reason and sociability

5 John Locke ( ) If God had intended humans to have dominion over other humans, he wouldn’t have given all humans the ability to think for themselves So God must intend for us all to have equal rights “Men are not made for one another’s uses.” (Ancestor of Kant’s imperative not to treat persons as mere means.)

6 John Locke ( ) Q: Does this apply to women too, or is this equality for men only? Locke: On the one hand, the existing subordination of women to men is the result of sin, not the decree of God On the other hand, one could plausibly defend such subordination by appeal to biological differences [In other words, Locke doesn’t give a straight answer – though later Lockeans would say yes, equality applies to both sexes]

7 John Locke ( ) Locke’s conclusion: no one can legitimately exercise authority over you without your consent Further conclusion: governments must rest on consent of the governed, and may legitimately be overthrown if they overstep their authority

8 Applying Locke’s Philosophy We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it – Thomas Jefferson, Declaration of Independence, 1776

9 What is the Basis of Private Property? Robert Filmer, Locke’s archenemy, had argued that all property in the realm belonged rightfully to the King Your farm, your tools, the clothes on your back – it’s all the King’s property, so OBEY! To combat this, Locke needed to develop a theory of property rights How do initially unowned things rightfully become owned? Robert Filmer ( )

10 Property Rights in General Utilitarian view: the right system of property rights is whichever one maximizes the general happiness It’s the job of economics to tell us which one that is (J. S. Mill, )

11 Property Rights in General Rawlsian view: the right system of property rights is whichever one most benefits the worst-off Again, it’s the job of economics to tell us which one that is

12 Property Rights in General Utilitarians and Rawlsians agree that promotion of the common good (whether aggregate or mutual) is the proper standard of property rights But some moral theorists think there are considerations of inherent property rights over and above concern with consequences

13 Locke on Property Rights God gave the entire earth to humankind in common But if it remained common property, you’d have to get permission from all the other joint-owners (the entire human race) before you could use any object We’d all starve to death!

14 Locke on Property Rights God would not have made us with bodily needs if he didn’t want us to satisfy them So it is not God’s will that we starve to death So God must intend us to appropriate, from the commons, goods for our own private use God favours private property

15 Locke on Property Rights By mixing our labour with previously unowned objects and so transforming them, we make them our own This is permissible so long as we don’t make others worse off by doing so

16 Locke on Property Rights Q: Doesn’t all appropriation diminish the amount available to others and so make them worse off? A: Since private land is more productive than common land, appropriation usually makes society as a whole better off

17 Locke on Property Rights Q: Why is private land more productive than common land? A: People are willing to put more effort into something if they know they’ll get to reap the benefits (Ancestor of Rawls’ Second Principle of Justice?)

18 Locke on Property Rights An individual creates value through homesteading previously unowned resources The product of is an extension of the producer and so cannot be appropriated without wrongly treating him as an object for others’ uses Hence private property is sacred

19 A Different View: Pëtr Kropotkin ( ) The value of a resource derives from its entire social context, to which everybody contributes So nobody has any more claim to it than anybody else Hence all resources should be shared; private property is forbidden Conquest of Bread (1892) Mutual Aid (1902)

20 A Different View: Pëtr Kropotkin ( ) Q: What of Locke’s worry that each user would have to get permission from the entire human race? A: Distinguish collective from communal ownership Collective: a group right to use Communal: an individual right (of each member) to use

21 Another View: Karl Marx ( ) All goods are produced by the workers But the workers don’t get to keep or sell the goods they produce The employer gives his employees only a part of the proceeds and keeps the rest for himself

22 Another View: Karl Marx ( ) What makes this possible? If the employees do all the work, why does the employer get a cut? Why can’t the workers ditch their boss and go off to produce goods on their own, for their own benefit?

23 Another View: Karl Marx ( ) Answer: the capitalist class has monopolised the means of production (land, factories, etc.) Even though it’s generally been the workers, not the bosses, who cleared the land and built the factories, they’re not allowed to use these means of production without the bosses’ permission

24 Another View: Karl Marx ( ) Solution: workers’ revolution Workers should seize the means of production and use them to produce for their own benefit Former bosses should become workers if they want a share of the product

25 Kropotkin vs. Marx Kropotkin : Hey, sounds great! Let the workers run their own factories autonomously! Radical, dude! Marx : Well, um … not completely autonomously, you know. Councils of workers will be coordinated under one big super-council that will determine work priorities and set wage rates for everybody.

26 Kropotkin vs. Marx Kropotkin : Oh. I get it. So it’s the same old oppression of the workers, just like nowadays, only with your gang running it. That totally sucks. Marx: Chill out, man. The workers get to vote on who runs the big super- council, so what’s the prob? Don’t be hatin’. It’s gonna be excellent. [Quotations not exact]

27 Yet Another View: Herbert Spencer ( ) Human happiness consists in the exercise of our faculties Morality accepts human happiness as the ultimate value Hence morality requires maximum scope for such exercise Social Statics (1851) Man vs. the State (1884) Principles of Ethics (1897)

28 Spencer on Freedom Law of Equal Freedom: each shall have freedom to do all that he wills, provided he infringes not the equal freedom of others [and for Spencer this does apply to women – as well as to children!] So no one can exercise legitimate authority over anyone else Law of Equal Freedom sounds like Locke and Rawls – but is much more radical

29 Spencer on Freedom Locke: no one can have authority over you unless you ACTUALLY consented Rawls: no one can have authority over you unless you WOULD consent behind the Veil of Ignorance

30 Spencer on Freedom Spencer: no one can have authority over you, PERIOD Coercive governments must be replaced by voluntary associations Any individual has the right to secede

31 Implications for Property If everybody has equal freedom to exercise their faculties, then everyone has an equal right to acquire and use external objects My keeping an item for myself is no violation of your freedom so long as you’re allowed to keep items for yourself too Thus the Law of Equal Freedom supports private property

32 But Land is an Exception If private ownership of land is permissible, then it would be permissible for the entire surface of the earth to become the private property of a few But when you’re on someone else’s property, you have to do whatever they say or else leave

33 Spencer on Land If the entire surface of the earth were private property, leaving wouldn’t be an option The non-owners would have to become slaves of the owners But slavery violates the Law of Equal Freedom

34 Spencer on Land 1. If private property in land were permissible, then in some circumstances slavery would be permissible 2. But there can be no circumstances in which slavery is permissible 3. Therefore: private property in land is not permissible

35 Spencer on Land But Spencer agrees with Locke, against Kropotkin and Marx, that private administration of land is more efficient Solution: society owns all land, but individuals rent land from society and administer it as their own, subject to society’s regulations All other property is private

36 Criticism of Spencer Benjamin Tucker: Spencer is right about the Law of Equal Freedom BUT if, as that Law requires, no group has any more authority than any other group, and any individual is free to secede from any group, what group collects “society’s” rent and determines “society’s” regulations? Tucker ( )

37 Tucker’s Solution Land should be private property But one has a just claim over land only so long as one is occupying and using it Thus charging rent is illegitimate: if you move off the land and allow someone else to move on, you’ve given up your property Tucker ( )

38 Tucker’s Solution So no one can own more land than he can personally occupy and use Thus no one could ever legitimately own land on which other people live Conclusion: Spencer’s nightmare scenario is impossible Tucker ( )

39 A Different Solution Voltairine de Cleyre ( ) (originally a follower of Tucker; later influenced by Kropotkin) Law of Equal Freedom tells against imposing a single uniform one- size-fits-all property system on the entire society Why not allow each local community to have its own property arrangements – private, communal, or whatever?

40 And the Debate Continues …


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