Monday, April 27, 2009

Mike asks some good questions, and I have a couple more. On the issue of manifesto rights, though, I thought he was chastising the term manifesto (and the categorization of social/economic rights there) rather than endorsing it. He seems to be critiquing other authors who try to dismiss those rights as such.

When reading about his conception of rights, I wrote that "his conception of rights makes demands I like." Like most notes I make, I'm not entirely sure what I meant here, but I think I was primary happy about three moves he made. First, the concept of offical disespect is important. Coercive institutions can't display an official disrespect (which may take different forms). Three is something significant about the role of institutions/systems which goes beyond isolated incidents of injustice and, given that, special attention needs to be paid to these abusive. Second, his conception requires that citizens not be indifferent. This is an approach I've seen authors in many of my classes take and I think its incredibly important. Its so easy to criticize "the state" or "the man" and immediately point a finger somewhere. It would be horrible to assume that there aren't others doing things that have much worse ramifications for the lives of the poor than the everyday citizen. However, there are also others who are doing a whole lot more to prevent/stop that injustice. Not merely as citizens, but as people, we should recognize when a fundamental afront to justice is occurring and act to rectify the harm. Finally, I think its an interesting move to answer the libertarians by claiming that his conception is strictly negative--we have a duty not to support coercive systems that fail to protect rights. This meshes well with his claim that there can be additional moral components on top of the baseline moral requirements.

To be honest, I struggled a bit with the third and fourth chapters and would like to go over them. I understand the point of chapter three--that we shouldn't allow loopholes that undermine the basis of our moral system, and that sometimes we arrange society in a way that does, in fact, undermine our moral convictions--but I'm not sure I understand the examples he gives.

The fourth chapter is good. It really focuses on the extent to which we are being hypocritical by asserting that there are basic moral requirements required in a national order but not in the global order. I don't know enough Rawls/(Daniels) to see how they would respond here, but it could be an interesting discussion I think. Is Rawls really contradicting himself, or is he merely not spending enough energy here given how large his project alread is? Or is Pogge ignoring potential points of refutation? I'd also like to go over the distinctions between contextualism/non-contextualism/universalism some.

Finally, I am compelled by his argument that the "bad leaders" argument isn't sufficient. I found the objection originally to be quite good, given that it isn't just that "it's their fault." Rather, he treats the argument well by extending it to a question of inevitability--if there are bad leaders in power, won't they just continue to steal? Insofar as we support those leaders by continuing an economic system where corporations go in and deal with dictators, we are culpable. I also never thought about the fact that we don't allow debt relief for decisions that dictators made when others came in to power. These issues really complicate the social justice questions and seem to require unique/novel answers.

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