Wednesday, April 22, 2009

I would agree with Mike that I'd like to go over both "sixes" in class.

I think Pogge is right that the way we go about stopping injustice does seem to carry some sort of moral weight. Is it a proper reading of Rawls/(Daniels) to say that his hypothetical contractors would not be able to take account of the "method" question? Also, can someone please explain to me the argument about why we owe something to those in the past?

I did find very compelling the arguments about future citizens of the planet. He frames it a new way. It no longer was merely that we are using/damaging the resources of those in the future, though this is an extremely important point. He argued that we actually shape the conceptions of the good that future people will have in virtue of the decisions we make. How we leave the world, the values we uphold, will change others lives. If we promote particular professions as important in this lifetime, for instance, it will become second nature to future generations that those lifestyles are the way to be. This is cool and frightening all wrapped up into one.

It is interesting the way Pogge puts into conversation a real world issue and a sophisticated discussion of rights. As I understand his conceptions, its more about having claims against coercive social institutions to promote some ends. Interestingly, he doesn't view legality as a necessary condition and instead argues that it might be harmful, echoing sentiments of past authors we've read. One question, though. Isn't there something about legality that gives a feel of permanence to rights? A guarantee that something will be there the next day? Now, I know that laws change and that cultural norms, for instance, can tend to last much longer. But isn't there some value to codification. Also, what constitutes a "coercive social institution?" Who all would this conception of rights give obligations to? Her argument seems very similar to Shrader-Frechette's from EJ when arguing that those who reap benefits from an unjust social order are obligated to work to "compensate" others when systems of injustice can't be easily fixed.


  1. I am equally confused by his bit about past participants. When reading that I was really hoping that I would find the answer on the blog but it seems thus far we have the same issue. What was rather fascinating to me was the way in which rights are being formed to show that there is no reason why rights have to be centered on the western ideals of individualism and autonomy. This effort to repackage rights in a way that makes it accessible to those who do not hold western values is a pretty nifty idea mostly because it seems that most of what we read tends to keep rights centered in either individualism or autonomy and instead tries to show how these would be compatible with other cultures. Pogge argues that this idea of opening up rights to being established and affirmed in different ways because of no longer being bound to the ideals of a certain culture with specific economic practices.

  2. As to the past comments, I think Pogge is examining the idea of legacy. For example, take those involved with the creation of the Constitution. Those individuals created within that document a project with a certain set of ideals such as freedom and liberty. Pogge is saying that those people, despite the fact they are dead, have the right of flourishment, in that their project should be maintained as close to their ideals as possible. If the United States had a sudden shift to a tyrannical dictatorship, Pogge would argue social institutions were being unjust to those involved with creating the Constitution. In the end, it is all about the idea of a legacy, in that if you can embody your ideals in some project or etc. that exists past your death, social institutions must abide by those ideals. If they don't, they are violating that individual's or group's flourishment in that their contribution to society is being changed against there will.

    Hopefully the above is: A)Correct; and B)Understandable!