Monday, June 30, 2008

My Master's Thesis, Revisited.

What got me thinking about it was a post on MLW today, wherein the author referred to the late, renowned ethical philosopher John Rawls.

It just so happens that I wrote a Master's Thesis in which I referred extensively to Rawls'"A Theory of Justice," his dense and difficult masterpiece, published in 1971.
General Conception
All social primary goods - liberty and opportunity, income and wealth, and the bases of self-respect - are to be distributed equally unless an unequal distribution of any or all of these goods is to the advantage of the least favored.
I, in fact, replied to "philandrel," the author of the original piece, as follows:
Rawls was an inartful writer, and "A Theory of Justice" is hard-sledding...but the notion of "justice as fairness" is compelling, not only for it's historical continuity with the rich tradition of ethics stretching back to Aristotle, but also for it's insistent repudiation of 'utilitarianism.' Rawls reasoned that people do NOT naturally work to maximize their advantages, but rather to minimize their disadvantages. In the pursuit of that strategy, they are more likely to act in cooperative ways that benefit the collective.
He then replied:
Yeah, and It's Too Bad....To a significant extent, "A Theory of Justice" is a compendium of articles Rawls previously wrote, so the book doesn't go together well. As to your summary comment,

Rawls reasoned that people do NOT naturally work to maximize their advantages, but rather to minimize their disadvantages,

I REALLY LIKE IT! It puts Rawls in a nutshell. Left to summarize him myself, I would have droned on and never gotten him as clear. KUDOS!
by: philandrel @ Mon Jun 30, 2008 at 06:05:03 AM PDT
With perfect, 20/20 hindsight, I recalled:
Yeah, I only wish I'd been that parsimonious...when I wrote a painfully awkward, excessively wordy, cautiously inconclusive Masters' Thesis on Rawls in the context of journalistic ethics. It woulda changed everything...
(I continued in a subsequent post)...
Couple "Justice As Fairness" in that Maxi-min calculus ...with "the Precautionary Principle," and I think you'd have a decent foundation for the ethical dissemination of public information for the public good which, I would argue, was a pragmatic, plausible, defensible "telos" of the Press...and a sufficient reason for the protection afforded the Press by the Constitrution.
That's what I shoulda written, maybe even tried to write, but at the time didn't really KNOW as I know now, HOW to write...
Draw into this discussion the wisdom of the etho-biologist (okay, it's a neologism) Paul Shepard and his vastly accumulative interrogations of the ontogeny and philogeny of the complex, continuing, and syncretic interactions of physical and social human development into the so-called "modern" age. It all just slides right together, and

VOILA! The Master's Thesis I shoulda written 25 years ago...I wish they were ALL that easy...

now I goddadodat to my Diss...

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