1 The very act of trying to be logical and rational forces you to take an objective point of view and to at least question the validity of personal bias. A rational and logical ethics is an objective ethics rather than an ethics of unjustified favoritism toward any group or class. Joel Feinberg expressed the point this way:
The exclusion of arbitrariness and favoritism is part of what we mean when we characterize judgments as "moral." This explains why we fall naturally into objective modes of speech when we ascribe moral rights. ... when we ascribe moral rights, we speak not of deciding, but of discovering and reporting their existence ... because a right is a claim, and the basis of a claim is a reason, and when reasons are sufficiently cogent, they have a coercive effect on our judgments. When this is so, we feel that we have no more choice in making the judgment than we do when we report the findings of our senses about a matter of empirical fact ... (Joel Feinberg "Human Duties and Animal Rights" in On the Fifth Day edited by Richard Knowles Morris and Michael W. Fox p. 59.)
2 George Bernard Shaw corrected the Golden Rule by saying, "Do not do unto others as you would that they should do unto you. Their tastes may not be the same." "Maxims for Revolutionists" p. 436 in Plays by George Bernard Shaw.
3 Benjamin R. Tucker described such love as "a stifling of all natural attraction to that which is lovable and of all natural repugnance to that which is hateful,—a rigid, formal, heartless, soulless, and sort of unconsciously hypocritical joining of hands," in Benjamin R. Tucker and the Champions of Liberty, p. 167.
4 Robert Andelson, Imputed Rights, p. 59.
5 Robert Paul Wolff, The Autonomy of Reason p. 175.
6 Ibid. p. 155.
7 Ibid. p. 157.
8 Kurt Vonnegut Jr. satirically described a society that went to great lengths to enforce this kind of justice. The method used in this imaginary society is to impose handicaps on those people to whom nature has given advantages. The method described is logical but superficial. In Vonnegut's story, strong people are required to carry heavy weights, smart people are required to wear devices that emit irritating noises to prevent them from concentrating, handsome people have to wear masks or red rubber balls on their noses, and so on. However, even such extreme measures cannot bring about full equality. (see "Harrison Bergeron" in Welcome to the Monkey House)
9 John Rawls, A Theory of Justice p. 12.
10 Ibid. p. 302.
11 Ibid. p. 303.
12 Geoffrey Sampson, op. cit. p. 225.
13 Prolegometa to a Theory of Breakfast
For too long now mankind has allowed decisions to be determined by circumstances, personal tastes, and unexamined emotions. Decisions should be made philosophically, that is, abstractly, rationally, and systematically. We need to start anew and ask ourselves what is the first issue we must settle and how shall we settle it. Only when we have answered these questions can we proceed to ask what is the second issue we must face, and how do the principles arrived at affect this issue.
A little reflection will reveal that the first issue, and hence the most important issue, we must face is what to have for breakfast. It is this question, and this question alone, that the theory of breakfast as fairness is intended to answer.
The intuitive idea of breakfast as fairness is to view the allocation of breakfasts among generations from the point of view of people in the original position who don't know what generation they belong to and don't know their preferences for breakfast food. They know that when they get up in the morning they want to eat breakfast, regardless of their economic class, their religious and moral beliefs, or any other factors that might make one liberal intellectual different from another. The principles of fair breakfasts are the principles that would be agreed to by purely hypothetical people acting under a veil of ignorance as to their own values, tastes, personalities, and circumstances, but who are, nevertheless, perfectly rational and knowledgeable in the principles of economics, agriculture, sociology, psychology, and any other relevant sciences.
It might be argued at this point that no rational person who found himself in this situation would be presumptuous enough to make a decision until he knew all the relevant facts, found out what his and other people's preferences were, what food was available, and why people couldn't choose for themselves. But these considerations are not to the point, because we are not trying to determine what people will actually have for breakfast, but rather, what abstract principles should govern a society to ensure that everybody starts out the day with a good breakfast. What people will actually have for breakfast depends on the nonrational aspects of their lives such as their appetites, their tastes, their food supply, and so on.
What breakfast as fairness says is that the principles we should keep in mind when we evaluate the way breakfasts are allocated in our society are the principles that would be agreed upon by a group of busy-body, liberal philosophers who don't know who they are.
14 Robert Andelson, op. cit., p. 79.
15 Geoffrey Sampson, op. cit. p. 66.
16 Robert Andelson, op. cit., p. 103.
17 As Geoffrey Sampson aptly said in, Language and Liberty, p. 227:
If choice of job also were left open, we would have a society of fifth-rate novelists and poets for the short period before starvation set in.
18 Robert Andelson (op. cit., p. 86) makes the same point:
... for many minds it would seem as if a benevolent object is all that is required to put the stamp of legitimacy upon robbery as long as it is perpetrated through the taxing power of the state. This double standard will not stand the test of moral scrutiny: stealing does not cease to be stealing when it is authorized for philanthropic purposes by vote.
19 In The Stone Age Present, p. 88, William F. Allman reports:
Research with "evolutionary" models of Axelrod's computer tournament demonstrates that a world full of programs that are "naively nice"—that is, they merely cooperate all the time—are quickly pounced upon and wiped out by meaner programs.
20 I include a longer critique of punishment in Appendix B rather than here, so that the line of reasoning leading to the discovery of basic rights will not be obscured by the punishment issue.
21 David Ritchie, Natural Rights p. 122:
If you hang for everything that moves your indignation strongly, the criminal is tempted to get full value for the price he may have to pay, especially as murdered persons cannot appear as witnesses in court.
22 Randy Barnett makes the same point in The Structure of Liberty p. 186.
Those engaging in self-defense assume the risk that their actions will manifest an intention to violate the rights of another, even though this is not actually the case.
23 Ibid. p. 189.
24 Ibid. p. 192.
25 Ibid. p. 175.
26 Ibid. p. 187.
27 Ibid. p. 191.
28 Ibid. pp. 213-214.
29 Ibid pp. 291-292.
30 Murray N. Rothbard, For a New Liberty, page 23.
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