B1 Intermediate 13825 Folder Collection
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When we finished last time,
we were looking at John Stuart Mill's
and his attempt
to reply
to the critics
of Bentham's utilitarianism
in his book Utilitarianism,
Mill tries to show
that critics to the contrary, it is possible
within utilitarian framework to distinguish between higher and lower
pleasures, it is possible to make
qualitative distinctions of worth,
and we tested of that idea
with the Simpsons
in the Shakespeare excerpts
and the results of our experiment
seemed to call into question
Mill's distinctions
because a great many of you
reported
that you prefer the Simpsons
but that you still consider Shakespeare
to be the higher for the worthier pleasure
that's the dilemma
with which our experiment confronts Mill.
what about Mill's
attempt to account
for especially weighty character
of individual rights and justice in chapter five of utilitarianism?
he wants to say that individual rights
are worthy
of special respect
in fact he goes so far as to say that justice is the most sacred part
and the most incomparably binding part of morality
but the same challenge
could be put
to this part of Mill's defense
why
is justice
the chief part
and the most binding part of our morality? well he says because in the long run
if we do justice and if we respect rights,
society as a whole
will be better off in the long run.
well what about that?
what if we have a case where making an exception and violating individual rights actually will
make people
better off in the long run is it all right then?
to use people?
and there's a further
objection
that could be raised against
Mill's case for justice and rights
suppose the utilitarian calculus in the long run works out as he says it will
such that respecting people's rights
is a way of making everybody better off in the long run
is that the right reason
is that the only reason
to respect people?
if the doctor goes in
and yanks the organs from the healthy patient who came in for a checkup
to save five lives
there would be adverse effects in the long run
eventually people would learn about this
and would stop going in for checkups
is it the right reason
is the only reason
that you as a doctor
won't yanked the organs out of a healthy patient
that you think
well if I use
him in this way
in the long run
more lives will be lost?
or is there another reason
having to do with intrinsic respect for the person as an individual
and if that reason matters
and it's not so clear
that even Mill's utilitarianism
can take account of it
fully to examine these two
worries or objections
to Mill's defense
we need to we need to push further
we need to ask
in the case of higher or worthier pleasures
are there theories of the good life
that can provide independent moral standards
for the worth of pleasures?
if so what do they look like?
that's one question
in the case of justice and rights
if we suspected that Mill is implicitly leaning on notions of human dignity or respect for
persons that are not, strictly speaking,
utilitarian
we need to look to see whether there are some stronger theories of rights
that can explain
the intuition
which even Mill shares
the intuition
that the reason for respecting individuals and not using them
goes beyond
even utility in the long run.
today we turn
to one
of those strong theories of rights
strong theories of rights say
individuals matter
not just as instruments to be used for a larger social purpose
or for the sake of maximizing utility
individuals
are separate beings with
separate lives
worthy of respect
and so it's a mistake
according to strong theories rights, it's a mistake
to think about justice or law
by just getting up preferences
and values
the strong rights theory we turn to today
is libertarianism
libertarianism
take individual rights seriously
it's called libertarianism because it says the fundamental individual right
is the right to liberty
precisely because we are separate individual beings
we're not available
to any use
that the society might
desire or devise. precisely because we're individual
separate human beings
we have a fundamental right to liberty
and that means
a right
to choose freely
to live our lives as we please
provided we respect other people's rights
to do the same
that's the fundamental idea
Robert Nozick
one of the libertarian philosophers we read
for this course puts it this way
individuals have rights
so strong and far-reaching are these rights
that they raise the question of what, if anything
the state may do.
so what does libertarianism say
about
the role of government
or of the state
well there are three things that most
modern states do
that
on the libertarian theory of rights
are illegitimate
are unjust
one of them
is paternalist legislation
that's passing laws that protect people from themselves
seat belt laws for example
or motorcycle helmet laws
the libertarian says
it may be a good thing if people wear seat belts,
but that should be up to them
and the state
the government
has no business coercing them, us
to wear seat belts
by law
its coercion
so no paternalist legislation
number one. number two
no morals legislation
many laws
try to promote
the virtue of citizens
or try to give expression
to the moral
values
of the society as a whole.
libertarians say that's also
a violation of the right to liberty
take the example of, well a classic example of legislation offered in the name of promoting
morality traditionally,
have been laws that prevent
sexual intimacy
between
gays and lesbians
the libertarian says
nobody else is harmed
nobody else's rights are violated
so the state should get all of the business entirely
of trying to promote virtue
or to enact morals legislation.
and the third kind of law
or policy
it is ruled out
on the libertarian philosophy
is any taxation
or other policy
that serves the purpose
of redistributing income or wealth
from the rich to the poor
redistribution
is a kind of, if you think about it
says libertarianists, a kind of coercion
what it amounts to is theft
by the state
or by the majority
if we're talking about a democracy
from people who happen to do very well and earn a lot of money
now Nozick and other libertarians allow that there can be a minimal state
that taxes people for the sake of
what everybody needs
the national defense
police force
judicial system to enforce contracts and
property rights
but that's it.
Now I want to get your reactions
to this third
feature
of the libertarian view
I want to see
who among you
agree with that idea and who disagree
and why
and just to make a concrete and to see what's at stake
consider the distribution of wealth
in the united states.
The united states is among the most
In-egalitarian societies as far as distribution of wealth,
of all the advanced democracies
now is this just
or unjust
well what is the libertarian say
the libertarian says
you can't know just from the facts
I just given you
you can't know whether that distribution
it's just or unjust.
you can't know just by looking at a pattern or a distribution or a result
whether it's just or unjust
you have to know how it came to be
you can't just look at the end state or the result
you have to look at two principles
the first he calls justice in acquisition
or in initial holdings
and what that means simply is
did people get the things they use
to make their money
fairly
so we need to know
was there justice in the initial holdings, did they steal the land or the factory or the
goods that enabled them to make all that money?
if not,
if they were entitled to whatever it was that enabled them to
gather the wealth
the first principle is met.
the second principle is
did the distribution arise
from the operation of free consent
people buying and trading on the market
as you can see the libertarian idea of justice
corresponds to a free market
conception of justice
provided
people
got what they used
fairly
didn't steal it
and provided
the distribution results from the free choice of individuals' buying and selling things
the distribution is just
and it's not
it's unjust.
so let's, in order to fix
ideas for this discussion, take
an actual
example
who's wealthiest person
in the united states, wealthiest person in the world
Bill Gates, it is, you're right. here he is.
you'd be happy too
now, what's his net worth?
anybody have any idea?
that's a big number
during the Clinton years remember there was a controversy, donors, big campaign contributors
were invited to stay overnight in the Lincoln bedroom at the white house
I think if you contributed twenty five thousand dollars or above
someone figured out
at the median contribution
that got you invited to stay a night in the Lincoln bedroom
Bill Gates could afford to stay in the Lincoln bedroom every night for the next sixty six
thousand years
somebody else figured out
how much does he get paid on an hourly basis
and
so they figured out since he began Microsoft
suppose the worked about fourteen hours per day
a reasonable guess
and you calculate
this is net wealth
it turns out
that his rate of
pay
is
over
a hundred and fifty dollars not
per hour,
not per minute
a hundred and fifty dollars, more than a hundred and fifty dollars per second
which means
which means
that if on his way to the office
Gates noticed a hundred-dollar bill on the street
it wouldn't be worth his time to stop and pick it up
now most of you would say
someone that wealthy
surely we can tax them
to meet
the pressing needs
of people who lack of education or lack enough to eat
or lack decent housing
they need it more than he does
and if you were a utilitarian
what would you do? What tax policy would you have
you'd redistribute in a flash wouldn't you
because you would know
being a good utilitarian
that taking some, a small amount, he's scarcely going
to notice it, but it will make a
huge improvement in the lives and in the welfare of those at the bottom
but remember
the libertarian theory says
we can't just add up
and aggregate preferences and satisfactions
that way
we have to respect
persons
and if he earned that money fairly
without violating anybody else's rights
in accordance with the two principles of justice in acquisition and justice in transfer, then
it would be wrong
it would be a form of coercion
to take it away
Michael Jordan is not as wealthy Bill Gates
but he did pretty well for himself
you want to see Michael Jordan?
there he is
his income alone
in one year was thirty one million dollars
and then he made another forty seven million dollars in endorsements for Nike and other
companies
so his income
was
in one year seventy eight million
the require him to pay
say a third of his earnings
to the government
to support good causes
like food and health care and housing and education for the poor
that's coercion
that's unjust
that violates his
rights
and that's why
redistribution is wrong.
Now, how many agree with that argument
agree with the libertarian argument that
redistribution for the sake of
trying to help the poor is wrong?
and how many disagree with that argument?
all right let's begin with those who disagree?
what's wrong with the libertarian case against
redistribution?
I think these people like Michael Jordan have received,
we're talking about working within the society
they received a larger
gift from the society and they have a larger obligation
in return to give that through distribution
you know you can say that Michael Jordan may work just as hard as someone who works
you know
doing laundry twelve hours, fourteen hours a day
but he's receiving more
I don't think it's fair to say that you know
it's all on his
inherent hard work. All right
let's hear from defenders of libertarianism
why would it be wrong in principle
to tax the rich to help the poor.
My name is Joe and I collect skateboards.
I've since bought a hundred skate boards and live in a society the hundred people
I'm the only one with skateboards suddenly everyone decides they want skateboard they
come into the house to take my, they take ninety nine of my skateboards. I think that is unjust
now I think in certain circumstances, it
becomes necessary to overlook injustice and perhaps condone that injustice
as in the case of the cabin boy being killed
for food if people are on the verge of dying
perhaps it is necessary
to overlook that injustice but I think it's important to keep in mind
they were still committing injustice
by taking people's belonging or assets. Are you saying that taxing Michael Jordan say at thirty
three percent tax rate
for good causes
to feed the hungry
is theft
I think it's unjust, yes I do believe it's theft, but perhaps it is necessary
to condone that theft.
But it's theft. Yes.
why is it theft, Joe?
because
why is it like your collection of skateboards?
it's theft because
or at least
in my opinion and by the libertarian opinion
he earned that money fairly
and
it belongs to him and so take it from him
is by definition theft.
alright let's see if there is
who wants to reply to Joe?
yes go ahead
I don't think this necessarily a case in which you have ninety nine skateboards and
the government, or you have a hundreds skateboards and the government is taking ninety nine of them
it's like the
it's like you have more skateboards than there are
days in the year, you have more skateboards than you're going to be able to use your entire lifetime
and the government is taking
part of those. And
I think that if you're operating in society
in which the government
in which the government doesn't redistribute wealth
that that allows for people to amass so much wealth
that people who haven't started from
the equal footing in our hypothetical situation,
that doesn't exist in our real society,
get undercut for the rest of their lives.
so you're worried that if there isn't some degree of redistribution if some are left at
the bottom
there will be no genuine equality of opportunity
alright. the idea that taxation is theft,
Nozick takes that point one step further
he agrees that it's theft
he's more demanding than Joe, Joe says it is theft,
maybe in an extreme case it's justified
maybe a parent
is justified in stealing a loaf of bread
to feed his or her hungry family
so Joe is a what? What would you call yourself a compassionate quasi libertarian?
Nozick says, if you think about it
taxation
amounts
to the taking of earnings
in other words it means
taking
the fruits
of my labor
but if the state has the right
to take my earnings or the fruits of my labor,
isn't that morally the same
as according to the state
the right
to claim
a portion of my labor?
So taxation actually
is morally equivalent
to forced labor
because forced labor
involves the taking
of my leisure, my time, my efforts
just as taxation
takes the earnings
that I make
with my labor.
And so for Nozick
and for the libertarians
taxation for redistribution
is theft as Joe says,
but not only thing left
it is morally equivalent
to laying claim
to certain hours
of a person's life
and labor
so it's morally equivalent to forced
labor
if the state has a right to claim the fruits of my labor
that implies that it really
has an entitlement
to my labor itself
and what is forced labor?
forced labor
Nozick points out
it's what? it's slavery
because
if I don't have the right, the sole right
to my own labor
then
that's really to say that the government or the
political community
is a part owner in me
and what does it mean for the state to be a part owner in me?
if you think about it
it means
that I am a slave
that I don't own myself
so what this line of reasoning brings us to
is the fundamental
principle
that underlies the libertarian case for rights
what is that principle?
it's the idea
that I own myself
it's the idea
of self-possession
if you want to take rights seriously
if you don't want to just regard people as collections of preferences
the fundamental moral idea
to which you will be lead
is the idea
that we are the owners or the proprietors of our own person
and that's why
utilitarian goes wrong
and that's why it's wrong to yank the organs from that healthy patient
you're acting as if
that patient belongs to you or to the community
but we belong to ourselves
and that's the same reason
that it's wrong to make laws to protect us from ourselves
or to tell us how to live
to tell us what virtues
we should be governed by
and that's also why it's wrong
to tax
the rich to help the poor even for good causes even to help those who are displaced by the
hurricane
Katrina
ask them to give charity
but if you tax them
it's like forcing them to labor
could you tell Michael Jordan he has to skip next
week's games and go down to help the people
displaced by hurricane Katrina?
morally it's the same
so the stakes are very high
so far we've heard some objections
to the libertarian argument
but if you want to reject it
you have to break into this chain of reasoning which goes
taking my earnings
is like
taking my labor
but taking my labor
is making me a slave
and if you
disagree with that
you must believe in the principle of self-possession
those who
disagree
gather your objections
and we'll begin with them next time.
anyone like to take up that point? yes
I feel like when you live in a society
you give up that right, I mean technically, if I want to personally
and kill someone because they offend me, that is self-possession. Because
I live in a society I cannot do that
Victoria, are you questioning
the fundamental premise of self-possession? yes.
I think that you don't really have self-possession if you choose to live in a society because
you cannot just discount the people around you.
we were talking last time about libertarianism
I want to go back to the arguments for and against the redistribution of income
but before we do that
just one word about the state
Milton Friedman the
libertarian economist
he points out
that many of the functions
that we take for granted
as properly belonging to government, don’t
they are paternalist. one example he gives is social security
he says it's a good idea
for people to save for their retirement
during their earning years
but it's wrong
it's a violation of people's liberty
for the government to force
everyone
whether they want to or not
to put aside some
earnings today
for the sake of their retirement. If people want to take the chance
or if people want to live big today and live
a poor
retirement
that should be their choice they should be free
to make those judgments and take those risks
so even social security
would still be at odds with the minimal state
that Milton Friedman
argued for
it's sometimes thought that
collective goods like police protection and fire protection
inevitably create the problem of free riders unless their publicly provided
but there are ways to
prevent free riders, there are ways to
restrict even seemingly collective goods like fire protection
I read an article
a while back about a private fire company the Salem Fire corporation in Arkansas
you can sign up with this Salem Fire Corporation
pay a yearly subscription fee,
and if your house catches on fire
they will come and put out the fire
but they won't put out
everybody's fire,
they will only put it out
if it's a fire
in the home of subscriber
or if it starts to spread
and to threaten
the home of a subscriber
the newspaper article told the story of a homeowner who had subscribed
to this company in the past
but failed to renew his subscription his house caught on fire
the Salem Fire Corporation showed up with its trucks
and watched the house burn.
Just making sure that it didn't spread
the fire chief was asked
well he wasn't exactly the fire chief I guess he was the CEO
he was asked
how can you stand by with fire equipment
and allow a person's home to burn?
he replied once we verified there was no danger to a member's property
we had no choice
but to back off
according to our rules. If we responded to all fires, he said, there would be no incentive
to subscribe
the homeowner in this case tried to renew his subscription at the scene of the fire
but the head of the company refused
you can't wreck your car, he said, and then buy insurance for it later
so even public goods that we take for granted as being within the proper province of government
can, many of them, in principle
be isolated, made exclusive to those who pay.
that's all to do with
the question of collective goods
and the libertarian's injunction against
paternalism
let's go back now to the
arguments about redistribution
now, underlying
the libertarian's case
for the minimal states
is a worry about coercion, but what's wrong with coercion?
libertarian offers this
answer to coerce someone
to use some person for the sake of the general welfare
is wrong
because
it calls into question the fundamental fact
that we own ourselves
the fundamental moral fact
of self-possession or self ownership
the libertarian's argument against redistribution
begins with this fundamental idea that we own ourselves
Nozick says
that if
this is society as a whole
can go to Bill Gates
or go to Michael Jordan
and tax away a portion
of their wealth,
what the society is really asserting
is a collective property right
in Bill Gates
or in Michael Jordan
but that violates
the fundamental principle
that we belong to ourselves
now we've already heard a number of objections
to the libertarian argument
what I would like to do today
it's to give
the libertarians among us
a chance to answer the objections
that have been raised
and some have been some
have already identified themselves have agreed to
come and make the case
for libertarianism to reply to the objections that have been raised
so raise your hand if you are among the libertarians who's prepared to stand up
for the theory and response to the objections
you are? Alex Harris. Alex Harris who
he's been a star on the web blog, alright Alex
come here stand-up
we'll create a libertarian corner over here
and who else other libertarians
who will join
what's you're name? John.
John Sheffield, John, and who else wants to join
other brave libertarians who are prepared
to take on yes
what's your name
Julia Roto, Julia come
join us over there
now while the,
team libertarian
Julia, John, Alex
while team libertarian is gathering over there
let me just summarize
the main objections that I've heard
in class and on the web site
objection number one
and here I'll come down too, I want to talk to team libertarian over here
so objection number one
is that
the poor need the money more
that's an obvious objection
a lot more
than
than do
Bill Gates and Michael Jordan
objection number two
it's not really slavery to tax
because
at least in a democratic society
there's not a slave holder
it's congress
it's a democratic, you're smiling Alex, you're already a confident you can reply to all of
these
so taxation by consent of the governed is not coerced
third
some people have said don't be successful
like Gates
owe a debt to society for their success that they repay by paying taxes
who wants to respond to the first one the poor need the money more all right
you're John
John all right John
what's the answer, here I'll hold it.
alright
the poor need the money more, that's quite obvious
I could use money you know I certainly wouldn't mind if Bill Gates gave me a million dollars
I mean
I'd take a thousand
but at some point
you have to understand that the benefits of redistribution of wealth don't justify the
initial violation of the property right
if you look at the argument the poor need the money
more at no point in that argument you contradict the fact that we extrapolated from agreed
upon principles that people own themselves
we've extrapolated that people have property rights and so whether or not it would be a
good thing or a nice thing
or even a necessary thing for the survival of some people
we don't see that that justifies the violation of the right that we logically extrapolated
and so that also I mean
they're still exist this institution of
of individual philanthropy, Milton Freidman makes this argument
alright so Bill gates can give to charity if he wants to
but it would still be wrong to coerce him
exactly
to meet the needs of the poor.
are the two of you happy with that reply?
anything to add? alright
Go ahead, Julie? Julia, ya, I think I could also ass
I guess I could add that
there's a difference between needing something and deserving something. I mean in an ideal society everyone's
needs would be met
but here we're arguing what do we deserve as a society
and the poor don't
deserve
the benefits that would flow from taxing Michael Jordan to help
them. Based on what we've come up with here, I don't think
you deserve something
like that. Alright let me,
push you a little bit on that Julia
the victims of hurricane Katrina
are in desperate need of help
would you say that they don't
deserve
the help that would come
from the federal government through taxation.
okay that's a, difficult question
I think
this is a case where they need help not
deserve it, but
I think again if you hit a certain level of
of requirements to reach sustenance, you're going to need help, like if you don't have food or place
to live
that's a case of need. So need is one thing
and dessert is another. exactly
who would like to reply?
Come back to that first point
that he made about the property rights of the individual
the property rights are established and enforced by the government
which is
a democratic government and we have representatives
who enforce those rights,
if you live in a society that operates under those rules
then it should be up to the government
to decide
how
those resources that come about through taxation are distributed because it's through the consent of the governed
and if you disagree with it
you don't have to live in that society where
that operate. Alright, good so, and tell me your name.
Raul
Raul is pointing out actually Raul is invoking
point number two
if the taxation is by
the consent of the governed
it's not coerced
it's legitimate
Bill Gates
and Michael Jordan are citizens of the United States, they get to vote for congress and they
get to
vote
their policy convictions
just like everybody else
who would like to take that one on? John?
Basically what the libertarians are
objecting to in this case is the middle eighty percent deciding what the top ten percent
are doing for the bottom ten percent with wait wait wait,
John, majority, don't you believe in democracy?
well right but at some point,
don't you believe in the, I mean, you say eighty percent ten percent, majority, majority
rule is what? majority!
exactly but, in a democracy aren't you for democracy? Yes I'm for democracy but, hang on,
democracy and mob rule are not the same thing. Mob rule? mob rule. But in an open society, you have recourse
to address that through your representatives
and if the majority of the consent
of those who are govern doesn't agree with you
then you know, you're choosing to live in the society
and you have to operate under what
the majority of the society concludes
Alright, Alex, on democracy, what about that? The fact
I have, you know, one five hundred thousandth of a vote for one representative in congress
is not the same thing as my
having the ability to decide for myself
how to use my property rights. I'm
a drop in the bucket
and you know while.. You might lose the vote
exactly and they might take? and I will, I mean I don't have
the decision right now of whether not to pay taxes if I don't get locked in jail or
they tell me to get out of the country. Now Alex,
let me make a small case for democracy
and see what you would say.
why can't you
we live in a democratic society with freedom of speech
why can't you take to the hustings,
persuade your fellow citizens
that taxation is unjust and try to get a majority?
I don't think that people should be, should have to convince two hundred and eighty million others
simply in order to exercise
their own rights, in order to not have their self ownership violated. I think people should be
able to do that without having to convince
two hundred eighty million people. Does that mean you're against democracy as a whole?
No I just believe in a very limited from democracy whereby we have a constitution that
severely limits
the scope of what decisions
can be made democratically
Alright so you're saying that democracy is fine
except where fundamental rights are involved, and
I think you could win if you're going on the hustings
let me add one element to the argument you might make
maybe you could say, put aside the economic debates
taxation
suppose the individual right to religious liberty were at stake
then
Alex you could say on the hustings,
surely you would all agree
that we shouldn't put the right to individual liberty
up to a vote
yeah that's exactly right
and that's why we have constitutional amendments and why we make it so hard to amend our constitution.
so you would say
that the right to private property
the right of Michael Jordan to keep all the money he makes
at least
to protect it from redistribution
is that same kind of right
with the same kind of weight
as the right to freedom of speech
the right to religious liberty, rights that should trump
what the majority wants
absolutely the reason why we have a right to free speech is because we have a right
to own ourselves, to exercise our voice
in any way that we choose.
alright, good.
alright who would like to respond to that argument about
democracy being, alright there stand up
I think comparing religion and economics, it's not the same thing
the reason why Bill Gates was able to make so much money is because we live in an economically
and socially stable
society
and if the government didn't provide for the poorest ten percent
as you say,
through taxation then
we would need more money for police to prevent
crime and so either way there would be more taxes taken away to provide what you guys calling
and then necessary things
that the government provides. What's your name? Anna.
Anna let me ask you this
why
is the fundamental right to religious liberty
different
the right Alex asserts
as a fundamental right
to private property
and to keep what I earn
what's the difference between the two?
because you wouldn't
have
you wouldn't be able
to make money, you wouldn't
be able to own property
there wasn't socially like if society wasn't stable.
and that's very different from religion that's like something personal, something you can practice on your own
in your own your own home
whereas like me practicing my religion isn't going to affect another person, whereas if I'm poor
and I'm desperate,
I might commit a crime to feed my family
and that can affect others. Okay thank you
would it be wrong for someone
to steal a loaf of bread
to feed
his starting family
is that wrong?
I believe that it is. let's take let's take a quick poll of the three of you, you say yes it is wrong.
it violates
property rights it's wrong.
even to save the starving family? I mean there there definitely other ways around that
and by justifying
now hang on hang on before you laugh at me
before
justifying the act
of stealing
you have to look at
violating the right that we've already agreed exists, the right of self-possession and the
possession of
I mean, your own things we agree on property right. Alright, we agree it's stealing
so property rights are not the issue, alright so why is it wrong to steal even to feed your starving family?
sort of the original argument that I made in the very in the very first question
you asked, the benefits
of an action
don't justify,
don’t make the action just
well what would you say Julia?
Is it right to
steal a loaf of bread to feed a starving family or to steal a drug that
your child needs to
to survive
I think I'm okay with that honestly, even from the libertarian standpoint, I think that
okay saying
that you can just take money arbitrarily from people who have a lot to go to this pool of people who need
it
but you have an individual who's acting on their own behalf
to kind of save themselves
I think you said
from the idea of self-possession they are also in charge of protecting themselves and keeping themselves alive
so therefore even from a libertarian standpoint that might be okay
Alright that's good, that's good. Alright
what about number three up here
isn't it the case
that the
successful, the wealthy
owe a debt, they did do that all by themselves they had to cooperate with other people
that they owe a debt to society and that that's expressed in taxation. DO you want to take that on Julie?
okay this one, I believe that
there is not a debt to society in a sense that how did people become wealthy? they did something that society valued
highly
I think that society has already been providing for them
if anything I think it's everything is cancelled out, they provided a service to society
and society responded by somehow they got their wealth
well be concrete, in the case of Michael Jordan, some,
I mean to illustrate your point
there were people who helped him make money, teammates
the coach
people taught him how to play,
but those you're saying, but they've all been paid for their services
exactly
and society derived a lot of benefit and pleasure from watching Michael Jordan play
and I think that that's how he paid his debt to society
good, who would, anyone like to take up that point?
I think that there's a problem here
that we're assuming that a person has self-possession when they live in a society
I feel like when you live in a society you give up that right. I mean if I wanted
personally
to kill someone because they offend me that is self-possession.
Because I live in a society, I cannot do that
I think it's kind of an equivalent to say,
because I have more money I have resources that that could save people's lives
is it not okay for the government to take that from me?
it's self-possession only to a certain extent because I'm living in a society where I have
to take account of people around me. so are you questioning, what's your name? Victoria.
Victoria, are you questioning
the fundamental premise of self-possession?
Yes. I think that you don't really have self-possession if you choose to live in a society
because you cannot just discount the people around you.
Alright I want to quickly get a response
of
the libertarian team
to the last point.
the last point
builds on,
well maybe it builds on Victoria's suggestion that we don't own ourselves
because it says
that Bill Gates is wealthy
that Michael Jordan makes a huge income
isn't wholly
their own doing
it's the product of a lot of luck
and so we can't claim that they
morally deserve
all the money they make.
who wants to reply to that, Alex?
You certainly could make the case that
it is not, that their wealth is not appropriate to the goodness of their hearts
but that's not really the more the morally relevant issue. the point is that
they have received what they have through the free exchange of people who have given them
their holdings usually in exchange for providing some other service.
good enough
I want to try to sum up what we've learned from this discussion but first let's thank
John Alex and Julia for a really wonderful job,
toward the end of the discussion just now
Victoria challenged
the premise of this line of reasoning this libertarian logic
maybe, she suggested, we don't own ourselves
after all
if you reject
the libertarian case against redistribution
there would seem to be
an incentive
to break into the libertarian line of reasoning
at the earliest, at the most modest level
which is why a lot of people
disputed
that taxation
is morally equivalent to forced labor
but what about
the big claim
the premise, the big idea
underlying the libertarian argument,
is it true that we own ourselves
or
can we do without that idea
and still of avoid
what libertarians want to avoid
creating a society and an account of Justice
where some people
can be
just used
for the sake
of other people's welfare
or even for the sake
of the general good
libertarians combat the
utilitarian idea
of using people
as means
for the collective happiness
by saying the way to put a stop to that utilitarian logic of using persons
is to resort to the intuitively powerful idea
that we are the proprietors of our own person
That's Alex and Julia and John,
and Robert Nozick
what are the consequences
for a theory of justice
and an account of rights
of calling into question
the idea of self-possession
does it mean that we're back to utilitarianism
and using people
and aggregating preferences
and pushing the fat man off the bridge?
Nozick doesn't
himself,
fully develop the idea of self-possession he borrows it from an earlier philosopher
John Locke
John Locke
accounted
for the rise of private property
from the state of nature
by a chain of reasoning very similar to the one that Nozick and the libertarians use
John Locke said
private property arises
because
when we mix our labor
with things
unowned things
we come to acquire a property right in those things
the reason?
the reason is that we own our own labor
and the reason for that
we're the proprietors the owners
of our own person
and so in order to examine
the moral force of the libertarian claim that that we own ourselves
we need to turn
to the English political philosopher John Locke
and examine his account of private property
and self ownership
and that's what we'll do next time
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Justice: What's The Right Thing To Do? Episode 03: "FREE TO CHOOSE"

13825 Folder Collection
Zenn published on April 19, 2013
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