Tuesday, April 5, 2011

More pessimistic ethics and political philosophy

In an earlier post I gave some examples of when a hopeless situation in which internecine violence may likely result from seemingly innocuous situations (at least concerning the violation of rights and duties) such as mere intentions or avaricious use and abuse of the public commons. The realization of these situations seem to be a moral no man's land where morality fails to guide us and the situations may be seen as situations where all sides are permitted to destroy each other. There are no moral facts of the matter as to who is in the right and wrong etc.

But the examples I used was where there was an original sin, that is, either forming a credible intention to enslave others or the avaricious use and abuse of public commons. But the point may be generalized to include other kinds that have no original sin such as policies and institutions (either formal or informal) that are formed with good intentions and that have good reasons for their existence. Because all such public policies and institutions are imperfect, there are bound to be those who fall through the cracks and are unfairly hurt by even the best intentioned and reasonable policies.

Take the legal system itself. No matter how well intentioned and well constructed any legal system is, due to inherent epistemic and pragmatic limitations in any system, some will likely be unfairly treated (such as receive unfair sentences or even falsely convicted, etc). Some of those unfairly getting the shit end of the stick will be harmed worse than others.

From a contractarian perspective, in some sense these people may be seen as treated fairly if they would agree to the scheme of things in an original position; that is, they may voluntarily agree to the policies and institutions in place (and hence their results) because the benefits of such a system outweigh the small probability that they will be unfairly treated. When in fact they have been unfairly treated by the system, they have no right to complain if the system was operating as it was meant because they had tacitly agreed to the conception from that original position and must accept their fate if all means to vindicate them within the system has been exhausted even if they were still unfairly treated in the end.

However the damage done to someone who has been unfairly treated is relative and cannot be appreciated from an original position because the original position is by its nature blind to that plurality in perspective. I really don't know how to fix this fundamental problem with any political system.

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