Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Rawls: Consequentialist

I hate to piggy-back on the celebrated Professor Leiter, but this piece by David Rose in the CSM really is the dumbest thing I've read in a long while. Yes, the consequentialist / nonconsequentialist distinction is botched; yes, Rose has no idea about legal theory, recent or otherwise; yes, Rose gets Rawls stupendously, horrifically wrong. But the best part has to be that Rose's own argument is a consequentialist one!

Would someone please write a note to the to the CSM giving Rose the beat-down he has earned. Thanks in advance.

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

There should be a prize for finding factually correct sentences in that pile of horse shit. How did this happen?

Anonymous said...

i love how he writes off the kantian influence as: 'It should be noted, however, that Rawls’s framework also has important nonconsequentialist elements'.

is the dumbass' claim really 'if it supports something, it is consequentialist'?

Paul Gowder said...

In the guy's defense, it seems fairly obvious that he's trying for something like Nozick's critique of "patterned" conceptions of justice/fetish of side-constraints. And that's what he means by "consequentialist," he just is confused about his terminology.

And his argument's stupid. But I don't think he really means that Rawls was a consequentialist in the sense that half-educated people understand the term of art.

Paul Gowder said...

Oh dear. I made that comment after opening the page, searching for the word "Rawls," and reading from there.

Then I scrolled back. To the part where he actually defined consequentialism.

He really does think Rawls is a consequentialist as literate people use the term.

Fuck.

I take it all back. He's just a blithering idiot.

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Anonymous said...

But, as Scanlon showed right after TJ came out, you can give A Theory of Justice a consequentialist interpretation — since the way that the two principles work is by ranking overall states of affairs, you can define a conception of the good in a distribution-sensitive way and a maximizing conception conjoined with that theory of the good would generate the results generated by the two principles.

You can't say that the fact that what justifies the two principles is a contract renders it nonconsequentialist, or else Harsanyi's contract argument for utilitarianism yields a (!) nonconsequentialist utilitarianism.

CTS said...

good grief. It looks as though one can only vote for 'liking' the piece. (I did not try, as it was unclear to me how it works.)

A colleague of mine - in economics - persists in telling students that Rawls was a utilitarian.

Dr. Killjoy said...

This is all well and good, but the real question is that if Rawls has nice argument, then must he view also mine only if he can view also mine?

Anonymous said...

Anon 5:26 is right. The guy clearly has a Scanlonesque reading of Rawls in mind. I don't know how the rest of you idiots missed that.

Anonymous said...

A friend of mine in a Leiter top-ten ranked department wrote an MA thesis on why Rawls was a consequentialist.

Anonymous said...

Anon 6:56 and others defending the article,

Did you read it? I could care less whether Rawls might be construed as a consequentialist. I do care that someone who has no clue regarding anything in philosophy or law is writing widely-read and execrable material ostensibly treating those subjects in an informed manner. A quick read through the article should lead you to the same conclusion, as it rightfully led Paul Gowder - which he noted above.

Anonymous said...

The guy's no doubt a blithering idiot.

The point is just that you can't simply say "everyone knows that Rawls's theory of justice is not consequentialist" to show that.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:56's misreading of Anon 6:56's post is almost as egregious as Rose's article...

Anon 6:56 said...

Thank you, Anon 9:14.

Anonymous said...

Agree with Anon 7:29 and 9:14. Also just pointing out that Rawls has been interpreted as consequentialist certainly does not amount to a defense of that terrible article.

Anonymous said...

Not only did Scanlon show how to consequentialize Rawls' theory, Dreier has shown how to consequentialize every theory. So, Rose's anti-consequentialist attitudes really just shows that he hates morality and people who care about it.

ian said...

Also interesting that the whole thing is suggesting that we should be suspicious of Elena Kagan as a Supreme Court justice, because we don't want consequentialist justices, but doesn't give any evidence whatsoever that she is a consequentialist.

Anonymous said...

As a consequentialist, I find this paper ridiculously misinformed, and based on a reading of the consequentialism which is superficial and naive. Out of all the gems contained in this paper, the part I like best is when he suggests that having a free society depends on having a non-consequentialist moral system. "America is the world’s best example of a free society in large part because for the first 160 years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, nonconsequentialist moral reasoning dominated American legal ethics." I simply don't see how he purports to derive that conclusion.
Piece of rubbish.

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