Thursday, April 8, 2010

A Just Set Of Laws

What is justice? A modern philosopher, John Rawls, created a thought experiment concerning just this. How could lawmakers discern what would be the perfectly “just” set of laws for society? His experiment was thus: have the lawmakers create a set of laws knowing full well they will die upon implementing these “just” laws. Here's the rub.....they are told they will then be reincarnated with no knowledge of what position they will hold in this forthcoming society they alone have shaped.

Will they be part of the ruling class? Will they constitute the elite and hence own the means of production? Or will they perhaps be merely a “mediocre” member of the proletariat? This forces the committee to create laws which are fair for all classes, hence perfectly “just” laws. Without this “arrangement”, any potential lawmaker will tend to advocate laws which sweeten his position above that of others. Now, now! No need to judge him.....after all, this is largely unconscious. Furthermore, if you were in this position, you would almost certainly do the same as well. As would I.

Remember, much in life is a zero-sum-game and as such, somebody wins and somebody loses. How many of those in a position to make laws are going to do so predicated on that which is not advantageous to them? Few or none in my opinion.

The trouble with this thought experiment is it “forces” anybody in this position to disassociate from evolutionary group selection. Which is no doubt what most of us unconsciously gravitate toward. And why would we not? This is likely obvious to those that believe in evolution.

On the other hand, for those that do not believe in evolution as a means to explain our inherent selfishness, why might this be so? Satan? Who or what is Satan? Perhaps a metaphor for our penchant to be selfish? But what might this be? Evolutionary group selection?

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