FEB 25

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12: FEB 25


  • Hibbing, Chapter 4: Drunken Flies and Salad Greens (96-117) (21)
  • Sandel, C6 "The Case for Equality" Justice (141-151) (10)
  • Assigned today: SW2: Fair Contract Discussion and Writing Exercise

In-class content

Philosophical Moral Theories: Justice as Fairness

  • We already have an political / ethical theory, Libertarianism, that has a view of Justice. Now we add a contrasting theory, Rawls' theory of "justice as fairness". We'll briefly review the account in Sandel, 140-141, but I will also asking you to watch a couple of videos on Rawls for next class.
  • Today we will focus on fairness in private contracts (Rawls' gives us a "social contract" view.)
  • One thing that we can say today, is that fairness in both individual and social contracts might involve an abstract willingness to accept the outcome from either party's perspective.

Sandel, M C6 "The Case for Equality"

  • Note: We are only covering up to p. 151 today.
  • Problem of choosing principles of justice for a society
  • thought experiment: veil of ignorance - note: important that we know human psychology.
  • we would exclude both utilitarianism and libertarianism
  • Nature of a contract
  • fairness of contract may dep. on circumstances of execution
  • seems like it's about: the fact or the agreement or the benefits, but it wouldn't be fair to decline the lobsters after ordering them, saying you didn't get the benefit. And agreement itself isn't sufficient (toilet case).
  • The agreement is important because it is the basis of "reliance" (I relied on our agreement to incur costs to get the lobsters.)
  • Two main concepts underlying contracts:
  • autonomy (respecting the rationality of the parties to the contract)
  • reciprocity (of benefits/obligations)
  • Consent and Benefits -- examples of fair/unfair contracts
  • baseball card trade among diff aged siblings (undermines autonomy - taking adv of know/maturity diff)
  • contractor fraud in the leaky toilet case (undermines autonomy - old people lose touch. Can't take advantage.) (Can you hear Kant cheering in the background?)
  • Hume's home repairs -- no consent but still obligation. (Imagine a local example.)
  • Repair guy -- read 148 -- did the question create "reliance" and obligation. What if he fixed the car? Would benefit alone confer obligation. Take away: make things very clear, especially if you have limited funds!
  • Squeegee men -- potential for benefit to be imposed coercively
  • Point: Contract should be fundamentally fair and guarantee autonomy and reciprocity.
  • p. 151: Stop here for 2/25.
  • Two main principles
  • equal basic liberties for all
  • differences in social and economic equality must work to advantage of the least well off.
  • Justifying the Difference Principle
  • Why not be libertarian about it?
  • Concept of morally arbitrary criteria for distributing benefits of labor: birth, class, somewhat taken care of with equality of education and opportunity, but starting points are still different.
  • Even if you could solve that problem, you would still have the problem of relying on the moral arbitrariness of natural talent -- a "natural lottery"
  • Even if you could solve that problem, you'd have the arbitrariness of what the society values (try being a basketball player in the middle ages.
  • Rawls thinks he's found a form of egalitarianism that mediates between morally arbitrary distributions and overburdening the most talented members of the society.
  • Objections
  • diminished incentives
  • rewarding effort
  • In the end, Rawls view of justice does not involve rewards based on moral desert. odd result. In trying to avoid morally arbitrary features, he arrives at something like "respect for persons as fairness" as the morally relevant feature.

Small Group Discussion

  • Let's practice looking for fairness and justice in an individual contract. We'll use the case study for SW2 from Fall 2020.
  • Take some time to read the case. We will clarify anything that is confusing.
  • Then, in groups, try to assess the fairness and justice of different resolutions given the facts of the case and the concepts we have introduced. Let's see what we come up with.

Hibbing, Chapter 4: Drunken Flies and Salad Greens

  • History of research on finding personality traits that predict politcs: First, are authoritarian orientations identifiable as personality traits?
  • Nazi research - Erich Jaensch J and S type personalities; background of trying to understand WW2 atrocities; hypothesis of authoritarian personality Theordor Adorno, note quote at p. 100. F-scale for Fascism. No validity, but interesting for using non-political questions. Han Eysenck's work on "tenderminded/toughminded"; 1960's Glenn Wilson. conservatism as resistance to change and adherence to tradition. "C-scale"
  • 70's and 80s research on RWA - right wing authoritarianism. measure of submission to authority, willingness to restrict freedoms, harsh punishment, heightened hostility to out-groups. Sound familiar? Proud Boys, Oathkeepers
  • But, note: Hibbing et al assessment: 102: criticisms persist in effort to find an "authoritarian personality". But claim, "there is a deep psychology underlying politics"
  • 103: Personality Theory research: Big Five model:
  • openness to experience, ** p. 104
  • conscientiousness, ** p. 105
  • extroversion,
  • agreeableness,
  • neuroticism. Two of these (**) are relevant to political orientation. conscientiousness connected to research on "cognitive closure"
  • Spoiler Alert!"What Foundation is Your Morality Built?" 105ff: review of Haidt's Moral Foundations Theory (We will get to this next week from Haidt)
  • 108ff: Values theory of Shalom Schwartz. diagram at 109. 10 core values on axis of individual vs. collective welfare and group loyalty versus ind. pleasure. Diagram also looks like an ideological spectrum.
  • Why are political orientations connected to so many other preferences? Hibbing et. al. sceptical of theories that politics drive other prefs. Second possibility, broad orientations drive politics and prefs. Third (their pref), difference come from diffs on bedrock social dilemma and mesh with other choices.
  • PTC polymorphism (sensitivity to bitterness) linked to conservatism. Preliminary research from them suggesting that sensitivity to "androstenone" is correlated with acceptance of social hierarchies.

SW2 Stage 1: Resolving a Contract Dispute. (600 words)

  • Stage 1: Please write an 600 word maximum answer to the following prompt by March 4, 2021 11:59pm.
  • Advice about collaboration: I encourage you to collaborate with other students, but only up to the point of sharing ideas, references to class notes, and your own notes. Collaboration is part of the academic process and the intellectual world that college courses are based on, so it is important to me that you have the possibility to collaborate. It's a great way to make sure that a high average level of learning and development occurs. The best way to avoid plagiarism is to NOT share text of draft answers or outlines of your answer. Keep it verbal. Generate your own examples.
  • Prepare your answer and submit it in the following way:
  1. Do not put your name or any pseudonyms in the file or filename. You may put your student id number in the file.
  2. Put a word count in the file.
  3. In Word, check "File" and "Options" to make sure your name does not appear as author. You may want to change this to "anon" for this document.
  4. Format your answer in double spaced text in a 12 point font, using normal margins.
  5. Save the file in the ".docx" file format using the file name "FairContract". Do not add anything to the filename.
  6. Log in to courses.alfino.org. Upload your file to the Points dropbox.
  • Stage 2: Please evaluate four student answers and provide brief comments and a score. Review the Assignment Rubric for this exercise. We will be using all four areas of the rubric for this assignment. Complete your evaluations and scoring by TBD, 11:59pm.
  • To determine the papers you need to peer review, I will send you a key. Find your Saint and then review the next four (4) animals' work, looping to the top of the list if necessary.
  • Some papers may arrive late. If you are in line to review a missing paper, allow until TBD, 11:59pm, at the latest for it to show up. If it does not show up, go ahead and review enough papers to get to four reviews. This assures that you will get enough "back evaluations" of your work to get a good average for your peer review credit.
  • You will have an opportunity to challenge a back evaluation score of your reviewing that is out of line with the others.
  • Stage 3: I will grade and briefly comment on your writing using the peer scores as an initial ranking. Assuming the process works normally, I will give you the higher of the two grades. Up to 28 points.
  • Stage 4: Back-evaluation: After you receive your peer comments and my evaluation, take a few minutes to fill out this quick "back evaluation" rating form: [1]. Fill out the form for each reviewer, but not Alfino. Up to 10 points.
  • Back evaluations are due TBD, 11:59pm.