Transcript: G.A. Cohen on Justice and Publicity | Mar 25, 2001

A slate with two Doric columns reads "G.A. Cohen. Oxford University. 'Rescuing Justice from Constructivism: Justice and publicity.'"

[applause]

G.A. continues
G.A. Cohen stands behind a wooden lectern in a university classroom, in front of large chalkboards filled with hand-written text.
G.A. is in his late sixties, clean-shaven, with tousled white hair. He's wearing glasses, a gray suit, blue shirt, and gray tie.

A caption appears on screen. It reads "G.A. Cohen. Oxford University. 'Justice and publicity.'"

G.A. walks around as he speaks, and says THIS WILL BE MY ATTEMPT
TO REPRESENT ESSENTIAL
ASPECTS OF CONTINENTAL
PHILOSOPHY.
BUT BEFORE I DO
SO A LITTLE JOKE.
NO, IT'S A TRUE
STORY, SUPPOSEDLY,
WHICH HAS SOMETHING TO DO
WITH CONTINENTAL PHILOSOPHY.
AND IT OCCURRED
ABOUT 30 YEARS AGO
AT A MEETING OF THE AMERICAN
PHILOSOPHICAL ASSOCIATION.
A HUGE PLENARY SESSION WITH
ABOUT 500 PHILOSOPHERS
IN THE HALL, AND TWO OR
THREE AT THE PODIUM,
ONE OF WHOM WAS A
DEDICATED HERMENEUTOPHILE.
HERMAN YOU TO FILE THE
BABY'S NAILS TONIGHT OR ME?
ANYWAY.

[chuckles]

G.A. continues YEAH, SOMETIMES EVEN WHEN
IT SINKS IN IT'S NOT FUNNY.
BUT ANYWAY.

[laughter]

G.A. continues AND THAT'S WHY WE HAVE
THIS GOD DAMN LIST.
YOU KNOW, THERE
IS THIS BOOK,
YOU KNOW, WHAT TO DO WHEN
YOU FUCK UP, RIGHT,
WHEN YOU TRY TO MAKE
PEOPLE LAUGH
AND YOU DON'T SUCCEED.
AND ALL THESE DIFFERENT
IT'S VERY INTERESTING,
AND SOME PEOPLE HERE MUST
BE OLD ENOUGH
TO REMEMBER
MILTON BERLE.
IF YOU EVER SEE
AN OLD TAPE,
IF THEY EXIST OF HIS
TELEVISION HUMOUR,
WHENEVER HE TELLS A JOKE,
AND WHILE THE AUDIENCE
IS LAUGHING HE
SAYS, "I WAS."
I NOTICED THAT.
IT'S INVARIABLE.
SO HE SAYS, YOU KNOW,
SO I SAID TO HIM,
IF YOU COULD
STICK IT THERE,
YOU COULD STICK
IT ANYWHERE.
AND THEN THEY'RE ALL
ROARING, AND HE'S GOING,
"I WAS," RIGHT?
AND I THINK THAT
IT'S A FRAGMENT
OF THE NEXT STORY.
I WAS WALKING DOWN - JUST
IN CASE THEY DIDN'T LAUGH,
HE'S GOT THIS THINGY.
WELL, I DON'T HAVE THEM,
ALL OF THEM BECAUSE,
YOU KNOW...
ANYWAY, THIS IS THIS
AMERICAN PHILOSOPHICAL
MEETING ABOUT
30 YEARS AGO,
AND THERE'S THIS RANKING,
YOU KNOW, CONTENDER,
BIG SHOT AMERICAN
HERMENEUTIC PHILOSOPHER.
AND HE SAYS TO THE
AUDIENCE, YOU KNOW,
FOR A LONG TIME WE'VE
BEEN TALKING ABOUT
THE HERMENEUTIC CIRCLE.
AND PEOPLE SAY TO US, THEY
DON'T KNOW WHAT WE MEAN.
AND LATELY, I'VE COME TO
THINK THAT THEY'RE RIGHT.
SO FROM NOW ON, I'M NOT
GOING TO TALK ABOUT
THE HERMENEUTIC
CIRCLE ANYMORE.
I'M GOING TO TALK ABOUT
THE HERMENEUTIC SPIRAL.
AT WHICH POINT A LITTLE GUY
FROM THE BACK YELLS OUT,
NOW I GET IT!

[laughter]

G.A. continues WELL, THAT WAS THE
SUPPOSEDLY TRUE STORY,
AND HERE IS THE
CONSTRUCTION.
THIS TAKES PLACE AT SOME
MIDWESTERN AMERICAN COLLEGE.
GOOD EVENING, LADIES
AND GENTLEMEN,
I'M HARRY HENDERSON, THE
PRESIDENT OF DUCK
CHEESE COLLEGE, AND
WE'RE VERY, VERY
HAPPY TO HAVE WITH
US THIS EVENING,
TO GIVE THE FIRST ANNUAL
O'REILLY LECTURES,
PROFESSOR LUDWIG HOFFMAN,
OF DUSSELDORF
METROPOLITAN AREA
UNIVERSITY.
AND HE'LL BE GIVING THE
FIRST CEDRIC O'REILLY
MEMORIAL LECTURES.
PROFESSOR HOFFMAN,
SOME OF YOU WILL KNOW,
IS THE AUTHOR OF A NUMBER
OF VERY DISTINGUISHED
WORKS BEGINNING WITH HIS -
[speaking German]
WHICH WAS CALLED
HAGEL AND HAGEL,
A COMPARATIVE ACCOUNT.

[laughter]

G.A. continues HIS QUICKLY FOLLOWED BY,
WHAT'S SO GREAT ABOUT
FREEDOM ANYWAY?"
AND IF I MAY QUOTE
FROM HIS GREAT WORK,
WHAT'S SO GREAT ABOUT
FREEDOM ANYWAY?
NO, YOU MUST NOT QUOTE,
PRESIDENT HENDERSON,
I WILL DO IT MYSELF.
AND I KNOW THE PASSAGE
YOU HAVE IN MIND.
NO GREATER FREEDOM CAN BE
IMAGINED FOR A MAN THAN
ABSOLUTE BLIND SUBMISSION
TO AN UNJUST LAW.

[laughter]

G.A. continues THE ABILITY TO PICK AND
CHOOSE HOW TO, SAY,
TO SELECT, TO
HAVE AN OPTION,
IS THE MEREST CAPRICE.
AND BLIND SUBMISSION TO A
JUST LAW SMACKS TOO MUCH
OF RATIONALITY TO BE
SUFFICIENTLY REMOVED
FROM CHOICE TO
COUNT AS FREEDOM.
UNWILLING ENSLAVEMENT
TO A COOL TYRANT
IS THE SAFEST
FORM OF LIBERTY.
WELL, IT'S A GREAT
PRIVILEGE AND PLEASURE
THAT PROFESSOR HOFFMAN
COULD BE HERE ON
THE OCCASION OF HIS LECTURE,
AND THEREFORE WAS ABLE
TO DO THAT IN MY STAID.
HE, OF COURSE, WROTE
THE LATER WORK,
FREEDOM IN THE LIGHT
OF... I'M SORRY,
THE ONES I LAUGH AT ARE
THE ONES I MADE UP TODAY.
HE LATER WROTE ANOTHER WORK
CALLED
FREEDOM IN THE
LIGHT OF BONDAGE
AND
MANY OTHER FINE WORKS
OF PHILOSOPHY AND
COGNATE DISCIPLINES.
PROFESSOR HOFFMAN HAS
CHOSEN - BY THE WAY,
THIS STUFF IS MY LECTURE,
NOTHING TO DO WITH HOFFMAN.
PROFESSOR HOFFMAN
HAS CHOSEN,
AS THE TOPIC
OF HIS LECTURE,
NINE TYPES OF
MORAL CONCERN.
PROFESSOR HOFFMAN.

[applause]

G.A. continues PRESIDENT HENDERSON,
Mrs. O'REILLY,
COUSIN SARAH O'REILLY
FROM ARIZONA,
ALL THE OTHER O'REILLYS,
AND THE NON-O'REILLYS.
LADIES AND
GENTLEMEN - WHAT,
YOU HAVE A
QUESTION ALREADY?
YEAH, WELL, YOU SAID ALL
THE REILLYS AND ALL
THE NON-REILLYS, SINCE
EVERYBODY HERE IS EITHER
A REILLY OR A NON-REILLY,
WHY ARE YOU SAYING
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN?
YOU'VE ALREADY
ADDRESSED US.
IN A DIFFERENT GUISE.
HOWEVER, THANK YOU FOR
HELPING ME TO FILTER
THIS STUFF PURE.
NOW, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN,
AS PRESIDENT HENDERSON
KINDLY SAID, THE TOPIC
OF MY LECTURES IS NINE
TYPES OF MORAL CONCERN.
AND BEFORE I GET
INTO THE SUBSTANCE,
HOW TO SAY THE MEAT,
THE GUTS OF MY LECTURE,
AND OF OUR TOPIC, BEFORE I
ADDRESS OUR TOPIC PROPER,
DIRECTLY, SO TO SAY, I
MUST INTRODUCE A CERTAIN
VOCABULARY, A TERMINOLOGY,
A NOMENCLATURE,
OR AS I WAS ABLE TO PUT
IT IN MY LECTURES
AT DUSSELDORF CENTRAL
COLLEGE, WHICH IS NOT,
AS YOU KNOW, THE SAME
AS MY OWN INSTITUTION.
YOU WE ARE THE
METROPOLITAN AREA.
I CALL IT A -

[speaking German]

[laughter]

G.A. continues WHICH SIMPLY MEANS
VOCABULARY, TERMINOLOGY,
OR NOMENCLATURE.
YOU COULD SAY, AS THE
FRENCH DO, NOMENCLATURE,
WHICH IS ALMOST SIMILAR,
BUT DIFFERENT FROM
THE SOVIET.
IN ANY CASE...
IN THIS VOCABULARY TO
DENOTE THE NINE TYPES
OF MORAL CONCERN, LET US
DISCUSS THE MATTER
OF VOCABULARY.
YOU COULD CALL IT A
PRELIMINARY MATTER.
THERE ARE OTHER PRELIMINARY
MATTERS WE ARE
NOT GOING TO DISCUSS.
ON THE OTHER HAND, MAYBE
WE SHOULD DISCUSS
ALL PRELIMINARY MATTERS.
WHAT IS THE SENSE
OF THE MEETING?
SO BEFORE WE GET
DOWN TO BRASS TACKS,
AND WE DO NOT WANT TO
CONFUSE THE DIFFERENT TYPES
OF MORAL CONCERN
WITH EACH OTHER,
WE WILL AVOID THIS
PREDICAMENT OF -
[speaking German]
WHERE THEY ALL COME
TOO MUCH TOGETHER,
ONE ON TOP OF THE OTHER,
OR MAYBE EVEN TWO.
SO HERE ARE THE TECHNICAL
TERMS WHICH I HAVE CHOSEN
FOR THE PURPOSE OF
DISTINGUISHING,
ONLY IN A
PRELIMINARY WAY.
THIS IS NOT YET THE
SUBSTANTIVE PART
OF THE LECTURE,
BUT THESE ARE -
IN FACT IT'S NOT THE
SUBSTANTIVE PART
OF ANY LECTURE.
I BETTER KEEP MY -
HERE ARE THE TERMS
WHICH I AM ARROGATING
FOR THIS PURPOSE.
WE MUST DISTINGUISH
AMONG MORAL CONCERN
A, MORAL CONCERN B,
MORAL CONCERN C, D, E,
F, G, H, AND J.
NOW, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN,
YOU WILL HAVE NOTICED
THAT IN APPROPRIATING,
THAT IS TO SAY
[speaking German]
AND TAKING AND
APPROPRIATING THESE
LETTERS FOR THE NOBLE
PURPOSE OF DENOTING
THE DIFFERENT TYPES
OF MORAL CONCERN,
YOU MAY HAVE NOTICED
THAT I DID NOT USE -
I DELIBERATELY
REFRAINED FROM USING,
IT WAS NO ACCIDENT,
THE LETTER I.
AND THIS OMISSION
WAS DELIBERATE.
THAT IS BECAUSE WHEN WE
COME TO ONE OF OUR -
THE ACCENT'S GOING
RUSSIAN NOW,
I BETTER GET SOME
CONTROL HERE.
WHEN WE COME TO ONE OF
OUR NINE TYPES OF
MORAL CONCERN, NAMELY
MORAL CONCERN G,
WE FIND IT
DIVIDES ITSELF.
IT DIVIDES ITSELF
IN A MOVEMENT OF -
[speaking German]
INTO TWO SUBTYPES,
WHICH I SHALL CALL G
LITTLE ROMAN NUMERAL I,
AND G LITTLE
ROMAN NUMERAL II,
IN THE SENSE THAT II
IS A ROMAN NUMERAL.
NOW, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN,
IF I WERE TO HAVE USED
THE LETTER I TO NAME A FULL
TYPE OF MORAL CONCERN,
THERE WOULD BE A LIVELY
DANGER THAT WE MIGHT CONFUSE
A MERE SUBTYPE OF
MORAL CONCERN, G I,
IMPORTANT IN
ITS OWN RIGHT.
I DO NOT WISH TO DIMINISH
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE
SUBTYPE AS SUCH, BUT THERE
WOULD BE A LIVELY DANGER
THAT WE WOULD BE CONFUSING
A MERE SUBTYPE OF MORAL
CONCERN WITH A FULL SCALE
MAJOR TYPE OF MORAL
CONCERN THAT IS I.
WELL, SO MUCH,
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN,
I HOPE YOU'RE STILL WITH
ME FOR CLARIFICATION
OF TERMINOLOGY.
NOW, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN,
IT IS NATURALLY IMPOSSIBLE
TO COVER THE WHOLE
OF OUR TOPIC
IN A SET OF
25 LECTURES.

[laughter]

G.A. continues I'M AFRAID IT'S
DOWNHILL FROM HERE.
BUT MAYBE NEVERTHELESS
WE CAN, HOW YOU SAY,
TICKLE THE SURFACE
OF THE MATTER.
AND HERE, AT THE VERY
BEGINNING OF
THE SUBSTANTIVE
PART OF MY LECTURE,
BEFORE WE GO INTO SPECIFIC
TYPES OF MORAL CONCERN
SUCH AS A OR D -

[laughter]

G.A. continues OR G LITTLE ROMAN NUMERAL
I, OR FOR THAT MATTER,
G LITTLE ROMAN NUMERAL II.
I MUSTN'T PUSH IT TOO FAR,
I'LL GO OVER THE EDGE.
I WISH TO PUT FORWARD,
BEFORE WE START STUDYING
ANY ONE IN PARTICULAR,
A UNIVERSAL TRUTH ABOUT
EVERY CASE OF MORAL
CONCERN WITHOUT EXCEPTION.
WE HAVE, IN ANY CASE
OF MORAL CONCERN,
BE IT A OR
WHATEVER IT MAY BE,
WE HAVE ON THE ONE HAND,
THE CONCERNED PERSON.
HE WHO SHOWS CONCERN.
HE WHO PROJECTS OR
DIRECTS CONCERN.
AND ON THE OTHER HAND, IN
THE FRAME OF THE EXACTLY
SAME RELATIONSHIP,
BUT AT THE OTHER POLE,
THE CONCERNEE.
HE AT WHOM OR TOWARDS WHOM
THE CONCERN IS PROJECTED
OR DIRECTED.
THE RECIPIENT
OF THE CONCERN.
PARADOXICALLY,
WITHIN THE STRUCTURE
OF JUST ONE
RELATIONSHIP.
NOW, LADIES AND
GENTLEMEN, AS I SAY,
THIS ESSENTIAL BIPOLARITY
OF MORAL CONCERN APPLIES
TO EVERY CASE OF MORAL
CONCERN WHATSOEVER WITHOUT
EXCEPTION, WITH THE
SOLE EXCEPTION -

[laughter]

G.A. continues OR SELF-CONCERN,
EGO CONCERN.
OR AS I EXPRESSED IT IN MY
DUSSELDORF GIRLS' COLLEGE
COMMENCEMENT ADDRESS.

[laughter]

G.A. continues SORRY, I THOUGHT
OF THAT ONE TODAY.
THE CASE OF
AUTO CONCERN.
THE CASE OF ICH MICH AND
NOBODY ELSE IS HERE CONCERN.
WHERE WE HAVE,
AGAIN, AS ALWAYS,
EVEN HERE SO THE
CONCERNED PERSON,
HE WHO SHOWS CONCERN, HE
WHO PROJECTS OR DIRECTS
CONCERN, AND THEN
VERY CLOSE BY,
WE HAVE THE
CONCERNEE.
HE AT WHOM OR TOWARDS
WHOM THE CONCERN
IS THROWN OR DIRECTED.
AND YET, WHEN WE LOOK AT
THE MATTER MORE CLOSELY,
WE FIND THAT THEY ARE
ONE AND THE SAME PERSON.

[applause]

G.A. continues PROFESSOR HOFFMAN
HAS KINDLY AGREED
TO TAKE QUESTIONS.
PROFESSOR LOOSELINK.
YEAH, I HAVE A QUESTION,
OR AT LEAST I THINK
I HAVE A QUESTION.
NOW, LET ME SEE FIRST
IF I'VE GOT YOU RIGHT.
IF I GOT YOU RIGHT, YOU
SPOKE OF THE UNIVERSAL
BIPOLARITY OF
MORAL CONCERN,
THEN EVERY CASE
OF MORAL CONCERN,
THERE'S ON ONE HAND THERE'S
THE CONCERNED - I KNOW
I'M SIMPLIFYING, BUT YOU
SAY IN EVERY CASE OF MORAL
CONCERN THERE IS ON THE ONE
HAND THE CONCERNED PERSON,
AND ON THE OTHER
THE PERSON -
YES, I COULDN'T HAVE
PUT IT BETTER MYSELF.

[laughing]

G.A. continues WELL, I'M JUST WONDERING,
AGAINST THAT BACKGROUND,
THAT IS, MY WONDERING IS
UNFOLDING ON THE HORIZON
OF WHAT YOU SAID
YOU SAID, RIGHT?
I WAS JUST WONDERING,
HOW YOU WOULD DEAL WITH
THE CASE OF MORAL CONCERN FELT
BY A PERSON FOR A HORSE?
MORAL CONCERN FELT BY A
PERSON FOR A HORSE...
HMM...
MORAL CONCERN, WELL,
IT IS A PUZZLING CASE,
BUT LET'S TAKE IT SLOWLY
IN STAGES, HOW TO SAY.
IN SUCH A CASE -

[laughing]

G.A. continues I'M SORRY.
IN SUCH A CASE, WE HAVE
THE CONCERNED PERSON.
YOU SAID IT WAS A PERSON
FEELING FOR A HORSE.
YEAH, WELL, I MEAN WE COULD
GO ON TO A HORSE FEELING
FOR A HORSE LATER.
BUT I'M JUST STARTING
THE ANTI-LOW, YOU KNOW?
YES, SO WE HAVE THE
CONCERNED PERSON.
HE WHO FEELS CONCERN, HE
WHO PROJECTS CONCERN.
SO FAR SO GOOD, I THINK.
I MEAN, I THINK - BUT
ON THE OTHER HAND,
WE HAVE... A HORSE.
AH...
PROFESSOR HENDERSON -

[whispering]

G.A. continues PROFESSOR HOFFMAN
HAS KINDLY AGREED
TO ANSWER PROFESSOR
LOOSELINK'S QUESTION
AT THE BEGINNING
OF HIS NEXT LECTURE.
OKAY, THIS IS
THE NEXT LECTURE.
I SEE I FORGOT A
LINE HERE.
THAT WAS A GOOD LINE.
HE SAYS, MORAL CONCERN
FELT FOR A HORSE -
THE CHALLENGER SAYS MORAL
CONCERN, AND HOFFMAN SAYS,
ARE YOU SURE IT'S
A HORSE?
ANYWAY...
SO HE SAYS, I RETURN TO
PROFESSOR LOOSELINK'S QUESTION.
IN SUCH A CASE, I HAVE
MANAGED TO IDENTIFY
THE SOLUTION TO
THIS PROBLEM.
WHAT WE HAVE IS A CASE, NOT
OF MORAL CONCERN PROPER,
BUT QUASI CONCERN,
DEMI CONCERN.
YOU COULD ALSO SAY
HONESTLY, PSEUDO CONCERN.
AH, ARE THERE ANY FURTHER
QUESTIONS BEFORE -
YES, I WOULD LIKE TO
ASK A QUESTION.
WHAT ABOUT THE CASE
OF MORAL CONCERN
FELT FOR A COW?
MORAL CONCERN
FELT FOR A COW.
WELL, THAT'S A HORSE
OF A DIFFERENT COLOUR.
THAT'S THAT.

[applause]

G.A. continues THESE, HOW TO
SAY LOLLIPOPS,
ARE THEY A GIFT
FROM A WELL WISHER?
CAN ANYBODY EXPLAIN
WHY THEY'RE HERE?
OKAY, RIGHT.
DOES EVERYBODY -
WHAT WAS THAT?
DON'T START MAKING
JOKES, RIGHT,
THIS IS A SERIOUS
ACADEMIC OCCASION.
TODAY, I'M GOING TO TALK
ABOUT - I DON'T WANT TO
DO THIS; THE OTHER STUFF
IS SO MUCH MORE FUN.
BUT WELL, GOTTA
DO IT, OKAY.
THERE'S AN OLD SLOGAN
WHICH SAYS JUSTICE MUST
NOT ONLY BE DONE, BUT
BE SEEN TO BE DONE.
SO FOR EXAMPLE, NOT ONLY
MUST THE RIGHT PERSON
BE CONVICTED,
WHICH IS JUSTICE,
BUT IT MUST BE MANIFEST IN
THAT SENSE OF SEEING
THAT IT'S THE RIGHT
PERSON THAT'S CONVICTED.
AND COURT PROCEDURES
ARE DESIGNED PARTLY
IN ORDER TO
ENSURE THAT.
I DON'T KNOW IF
ANYBODY'S DONE THIS,
BUT IT SEEMS TO ME YOU
COULD DO A STUDY OF COURT
PROCEDURES WHICH CONTRASTED
ONES WITH THE HIGHEST
PROBABILITY OF SECURING
JUSTICE IN THE SENSE
OF FINGERING THE RIGHT PERSON
AND LETTING OFF THE WRONG,
YOU KNOW, CONVICTING
THE RIGHT PEOPLE.
AND COURTS LIKE OURS,
WHICH ARE NOT SUPPOSED
TO PROBABILIFY THAT.
IF IT'S TRUE, THAT THEY
ALSO OPERATE ON THE
CONSTRAINT JUSTICE MUST
BE SEEN TO BE DONE.
I MEAN, CERTAIN
RULES OF EVIDENCE,
I DON'T KNOW ANYTHING
ABOUT THE LAW,
MAYBE I'M TALKING ABOUT
SOMETHING WHICH IS
A VERY FAMILIAR THEME,
BUT WHETHER OR NOT IT IS,
MY POINT IS THAT YOU
CANNOT SO MUCH AS SAY
JUSTICE MUST NOT ONLY BE
DONE BUT BE SEEN TO BE DONE
WITHOUT IMPLYING THAT
JUSTICE COULD BE DONE
WITHOUT BEING SEEN TO
BE DONE, AND THEREFORE,
IN SOME RELEVANT AND
IMPORTANT SENSES FOR
MY PURPOSES, JUSTICE LACKS
THE PROPERTY OF PUBLICITY.
THE VERY FACT THAT IT'S A
DESIDERATUM THAT JUSTICE
NOT ONLY BE DONE BUT SEEN
TO BE DONE TELLS AGAINST
THE SUGGESTION THAT
IT'S CONSTITUTIVE
OF A PRINCIPLE OF JUSTICE
THAT IT SHOULD ALWAYS BE
POSSIBLE TO TELL WHO
IS CONFORMING TO IT,
AND WHO IS NOT.
SO THE OLD SLOGAN
IMPLIES...
THAT IT IS POSSIBLE FOR
THERE TO BE JUSTICE
AND INJUSTICE WHICH
ARE NOT SEEN TO BE DONE.
WHICH ARE, THAT IS, NOT
PUBLICLY MANIFEST AS SUCH.
NOW, THAT IMPLICATION
OF A SLOGAN IS PRETTY
OBVIOUSLY TRUE.
BUT RAWLSIAN CONSTRUCTIVISM
ON A STANDARD VIEW
OF ITS IMPLICATIONS, ACCORDING
TO WHICH IT'S A DOCTRINE
THAT PUTS A PREMIUM
ON PUBLICITY,
HAS TO DENY THAT
OBVIOUS TRUTH.
BECAUSE IF CONSTRUCTIVISM
REQUIRES THAT SATISFACTION
OF PRINCIPLES OF JUSTICE
MUST BE PUBLICLY CHECKABLE
FOR THEM TO COUNT AS
PRINCIPLES OF JUSTICE...
THEN THE OBVIOUS TRUTH
THAT YOU CAN HAVE JUSTICE
THAT NOBODY REALIZES IS
THERE FOR VARIOUS REASONS,
IS DENIED.
IN SHORT, SINCE WHAT THE
CONSTRUCTIVIST PROCEDURE
PRODUCES IS CLAIMED BY
CONSTRUCTIVISTS TO
BE A SET OF PRINCIPLES
OF JUSTICE -
AND THAT'S MY
FIGHT WITH THEM.
MY FIGHT IS NOT HERE
WITH THE PRINCIPLES
THEY SAY ARE VALIDATED
BY THIS PROCEDURE.
BE THAT AS IT MAY, AS
FAR AS I'M CONCERNED.
I'M SAYING IF THESE
PRINCIPLES ARE ONES THEY
CHOOSE AS FUNDAMENTAL
PRINCIPLES OF REGULATION,
THEY CAN'T BE
PRINCIPLES OF JUSTICE.
BUT IF WE HAVE TO CALL THEM
PRINCIPLES OF JUSTICE,
AND A PUBLICITY
REQUIREMENT INFLUENCES
THEIR SHAPE, JUST BECAUSE
IT INFLUENCES THE SHAPE
OF ALL THINGS CONSIDERED
BEST RULES OF REGULATION...
THEN WHAT RECEIVES THAT
INFLUENCE ISN'T JUSTICE.
I HAVEN'T PUT
THIS VERY WELL.
CONSTRUCTIVISM MUST SAY
THAT IT BELONGS TO
THE NATURE OF JUSTICE IN
CERTAIN CONTEXT AT LEAST
THAT IT CANNOT ONLY BE
DONE BUT BE SEEN TO BE DONE.
AND THAT CONTRADICTS THE
OLD SLOGAN'S IMPLICATION.
SO THE SLOGAN SUGGESTS A
FURTHER GAP THAT CAN OPEN
BETWEEN THE OUTPUT OF
CONSTRUCTIVISM AND JUSTICE.
NOW, THERE'S SOME EXCELLENT
COMMENTS BY ROBERT NOZICK
WITH WHICH I COMPLETELY
AGREE ON THE SLOGAN.
AND THIS VERY SIMPLE
PARAGRAPH OF NOZICK'S
IS ENOUGH TO DESTROY
CONSTRUCTIVISM
FROM MY POINT OF VIEW.
HE SAYS, JUSTICE MUST
NOT ONLY BE DONE
BUT BE SEEN TO BE DONE.
YET WHAT SHOULD OCCUR WHEN
WHAT CAN BE DEPENDABLY
SEEN AND RECOGNIZED IS
LESS COMPLEX THAN
FULLY ADEQUATE
JUSTICE REQUIRES?
THE INTERPERSONAL FUNCTION
OF ASSURING OTHERS THAT
JUSTICE IS BEING DONE, OR
THAT PRINCIPLES ARE BEING
FOLLOWED MIGHT NECESSITATE
FOLLOWING PRINCIPLES
THAT ARE LESS SUBTLE AND
NUANCED THAN WHAT JUSTICE
WOULD REQUIRE, BUT
WHOSE APPLICATIONS
AND MISAPPLICATIONS CAN
SOMETIMES BE CHECKED
BY OTHERS.
I MEAN, FINE-GRAINED
RESOLUTIONS OF NORMATIVE
QUESTIONS REQUIRE
FINE-GRAINED NORMATIVE RULES.
AND THEY CAN REACH SUCH
A FINE GRAIN THAT
THEY LOSE THEIR AUTHORITY,
THEY'RE HARD TO LEARN,
THEY'RE HARD TO TEACH,
THEY'RE HARD TO REMEMBER,
AND SO FORTH.
SO THERE'S A REASON FOR THE
RULES WE SUBSCRIBE TO
IN SOCIETY TO HAVE CERTAIN
SIMPLICITY CHARACTERISTICS,
FOR EXAMPLE.
FOR TEACHABILITY, AND
PORTABILITY IN THE HEAD
OF THE PEOPLE THEY'RE
SUPPOSED TO APPLY TO.
THAT COULD NEVER AFFECT
WHAT JUSTICE IS,
IT SEEMS TO ME.
BECAUSE WE START OUT WITH
A CONCEPTION OF JUSTICE THERE,
AND SAY HOW CLOSE CAN
WE GET TO IT GIVEN
WE HAVE THESE
EXOGENOUS,
INDEED, FACTUAL,
CONSTRAINTS?
NOZICK GOES ON IN A
PARAGRAPH WHICH YOU DON'T
HAVE ON THE HANDOUT.
THUS THERE CAN BE A
CONFLICT BETWEEN FINE
TUNING A PRINCIPLE TO A
SITUATION AND PRODUCING
PUBLIC CONFIDENCE
THROUGH THE PRINCIPLE.
THE MORE FINE-TUNED
THE PRINCIPLE,
THE LESS EASILY CAN ITS
APPLICATIONS BE CHECKED
BY OTHERS.
ON THE OTHER HAND,
BEYOND A CERTAIN POINT OF
COARSENING, A PRINCIPLE
MAY FAIL TO INSPIRE CONFIDENCE,
NOT BECAUSE IT
CANNOT BE CHECKED,
BUT BECAUSE ITS APPLICATION
NO LONGER COUNT AS DESIRABLE.
ACTUALLY, A VERY GOOD
EXAMPLE OF THIS IS GIVING
MARKS TO KIDS, RIGHT?
WELL, GETTING MARKS
FROM OLD PEOPLE.
WHICHEVER WAY YOU
WANT TO LOOK AT IT.
BUT...
SOME MARK DIFFERENTIATIONS
ARE GOING TO BE TOO GROSS,
AND SOME ARE GOING
TO BE TOO FINE.
I MEAN, IF ALL YOU
GET IS EITHER A OR B,
IT'S TOO GROSS.
BUT IF YOU CAN VARY ACROSS
THE SCALE FROM ZERO TO 100
IN TENTHS IT'S TOO FINE
BECAUSE NOBODY
WOULD HAVE ANY
CONFIDENCE.
IF I GET 3.97, WHAT
CONFIDENCE WOULD I HAVE
WITH THE PERSON WHO PUT ME
THERE RATHER THAN AT 3.98,
WHICH MY FRIEND GOT.
WHAT CONFIDENCE WOULD I
HAVE THAT THEY WOULD
BE ABLE TO JUDGE THAT
FINELY, RIGHT?
SO THERE ARE ALL KINDS OF
ELEMENTARY POINTS ABOUT
HOW HUMAN BEINGS INTERACT,
WHAT THEIR COGNITIVE
ABILITIES ARE, AND STUFF, WHAT
THEIR MOTIVATIONS MIGHT BE,
WHICH WILL AFFECT THE
SHAPE OF PRINCIPLES.
AND PRINCIPLES
THUS AFFECTED,
DON'T SEEM TO ME TO BE
PRINCIPLES OF PURE JUSTICE.
THEY SEEM TO BE WHAT YOU
GET WHEN YOU ABSOLUTELY,
SENSIBLY ALLOW SUCH
CONTINGENCIES TO AFFECT
WHAT - SORRY, TO AFFECT
WHAT RULES OF REGULATION
YOU SELECT.
YOU WANT TO HAVE THE
RULES OF JUSTICE,
BUT THEN YOU WANT TO
TAILOR THEM AND SHAPE THEM
IN WAYS THAT RESPECT
THESE CONTINGENCIES.
SO THIS IS AN ILLUSTRATION
OF THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN
PRINCIPLES OF SOCIAL
REGULATION AND
PRINCIPLES OF JUSTICE.
SOUND PRINCIPLES OF SOCIAL
REGULATION WILL OFTEN NEED
TO RESPECT A PUBLICITY
REQUIREMENT THAT WOULD BE
OUT OF PLACE FOR
PRINCIPLES OF JUSTICE
THAT APPLY TO THE
SAME DOMAIN.
BECAUSE PUBLICITY HAS
NOTHING TO DO WITH JUSTICE.
I MEAN, I CAN'T SAY
PUBLICITY HAS NOTHING TO DO
WITH JUSTICE; I MEAN,
THERE ARE COMPLICATED
WAYS IN WHICH IT IS.
I MEAN, IT'S UNJUST TO
CONVICT SOMEBODY UNDER
A LAW THAT HE COULD NOT
HAVE BEEN AWARE OF.
SO THERE'S A PUBLICITY
REQUIRED THERE.
I'M NOT SAYING THERE'S
NO RELATIONSHIPS -
I MEAN, I DID SAY IT,
BUT IT'S FALSE.
YOU'RE ALLOWED TO SAY
SOME FALSE THINGS.
BUT IT'S ABSURD TO THINK
PUBLICITY IS INTEGRAL
TO WHAT JUSTICE IS.
C, CONSIDER THE
REQUIREMENT OF STABILITY.
THIS IS THE REQUIREMENT
THAT PRINCIPLES ONCE
INSTITUTED SHOULD HAVE
A PROPENSITY TO LAST.
NOW, THAT'S A VERY
SENSIBLE MAXIM, ISN'T IT?
YOU KNOW, I MEAN I GUESS
FOR AT LEAST TWO REASONS
WE NORMALLY, NOT ALWAYS,
WE MIGHT SOMETIMES
WANT TO SET IN TRAIN AN
EVOLUTIONARY PROCESS,
BUT NORMALLY, WE DO WANT
THE PRINCIPLES WE ARE
INSTITUTING TO LAST.
PARTLY BECAUSE WE DON'T
WANT TO HAVE TO RAISE
THE ISSUE AGAIN SOON.
AND PARTLY BECAUSE
WELL, IN MANY CASES,
IN MANY CASES BECAUSE WE
EXPECT FUTURE CONDITIONS
TO BE SUFFICIENTLY SIMILAR
TO THE ONES THAT PREVAIL NOW,
THAT IF
WE'RE RIGHT NOW,
WE'LL BE RIGHT IN A HUNDRED
YEARS' TIME, AS WELL.
SO IT'S ENTIRELY
UNDERSTANDABLE THAT
CONSTRUCTIVIST CHOOSERS
SHOULD WANT THE PRINCIPLES
THAT THEY CHOOSE
TO BE STABLE.
IT'S CLEARLY A REQUISITE
OF WISE SOCIAL CHOICE.
OUTSIDE SPECIAL CONTEXT,
IT IS UTTERLY POINTLESS
TO CHOOSE PRINCIPLES
TO WHICH PEOPLE
WILL NOT CONTINUE
TO CONFORM.
BUT TO TREAT THE EVIDENT
DESIDERATUM OF STABILITY
AS A CONSTRAINT ON WHAT
JUSTICE MAY BE THOUGHT TO BE
AS A REQUIREMENT THAT
PRINCIPLES QUALIFY
AS PRINCIPLES OF JUSTICE
ONLY IF ONCE INSTITUTED
THEIR RULE HAS A PROPENSITY
TO LAST IS ABSOLUTELY ABSURD.
I CAN CONTEMPLATE
SOMEBODY MOUNTING,
TRYING TO MOUNT SOME KIND
OF COUNTER CASE AGAINST ME
ON THE PUBLICITY FRONT.
BUT ON THE STABILITY
FRONT, I BELIEVE
THAT THEY ARE COMPLETELY
DEAD IN THE WATER.
HOW COULD IT CONCEIVABLY
BE IN A CONSTRAINT
IN WHAT JUSTICE MEANS THAT
PRINCIPLES OF JUSTICE
HAVE A PROPENSITY TO LAST?
IT WOULD MEAN WE COULDN'T
SAY SUCH ENTIRELY
INTELLIGIBLE THINGS AS THIS
SOCIETY IS AT THE MOMENT JUST,
BUT IT'S LIKELY TO
LOSE THAT FEATURE VERY SOON.
JUSTICE IS SUCH A
FRAGILE ACHIEVEMENT.
AND AGAIN, IF WE SAY -
WE COULDN'T SAY SOMETHING
LIKE THIS: WE DON'T WANT
SOCIETY TO BE JUST ONLY
FOR THE TIME BEING; WE
WANT ITS JUSTICE TO LAST.
YOU COULDN'T SAY THAT.
YOU COULDN'T BE EXPRESSING
A HOPE AND BETRAYING
A FEAR AS TO WHETHER JUSTICE
WILL LAST IF IT'S BUILT INTO
SOMETHING BEING A SET
OF PRINCIPLES OF JUSTICE
THAT THEY LAST.
THIS IS A CASE WHERE ONE
REALLY HAS TO DISTINGUISH
A NORM FROM A CONCEPT IN
THE FOLLOWING SENSE THAT -
I MEAN, IF YOU SAY TO
SOMEBODY WHO HASN'T DONE
MUCH PHILOSOPHY, WOULD
STABILITY BE A PART OF JUSTICE?
THEY MIGHT SAY YES
BECAUSE OF COURSE
YOU WANT JUSTICE
TO CONTINUE.
I'M NOT DENYING THAT.
BUT WHAT I'M SAYING IS,
IF YOU WANT JUSTICE
TO CONTINUE, AND
FEAR IT MIGHT NOT,
THEN YOU CAN'T BELIEVE THAT
JUSTICE IS SOMETHING
WHICH BY NATURE IS STABLE,
AND LASTS AND CONTINUES.
WE DON'T WANT JUSTICE TO
BE PERMANENTLY AT RISK.
LET ME READ WHAT I'VE
GOT HERE BECAUSE
IT WAS A SLIGHTLY
COMPLICATED THOUGHT,
AND I DID EXPRESS IT,
BUT THIS WILL PUT
IT A DIFFERENT WAY.
THE REASONABLENESS OF
SEEKING PRINCIPLES THAT
WILL OR CAN ENDURE MIGHT
MISTAKENLY BE THOUGHT
TO SUPPORT THE CONSTRUCTIVIST
DOCTRINE THAT JUST PRINCIPLES
MUST BE STABLE.
IN FACT, IT REFUTES
THAT DOCTRINE.
OF COURSE WE DON'T
WANT JUSTICE
TO BE PERMANENTLY AT RISK.
THE VERY COHERENCE OF THAT
FEAR SHOWS THAT STABILITY
IS NOT A FEATURE
OF JUSTICE ITSELF.
SO CONSTRUCTORS MUST
SEEK STABILITY.
AND RAWLSIANS MUST
THEREFORE CLAIM THAT
STABILITY IS A REQUIREMENT
THAT JUSTICE SATISFIES,
AND THAT'S A GOOD
REASON FOR REJECTING
THE CONSTRUCTIVIST
VIEW OF JUSTICE.
THIS PROPENSITY TO...
TRY TO ANALYZE A VIRTUE,
WHICH IS WHAT JUSTICE IS...
BY REFERENCE TO RULES
WHICH WOULD BE ADOPTED
UNDER THE INSPIRATION OF
THE VIRTUE, GETS THINGS...
IT SEEMS TO ME,
BACKWARDS.
YOU'VE GOT TO HAVE A
CONCEPTION OF WHAT
THE VIRTUE IS IN
ORDER TO FRAME RULES
WHICH PROMOTE THE VIRTUE.
I KNOW THAT'S VAGUE SO LET
ME GIVE YOU AN EXAMPLE.
THE VIRTUE OF LOYALTY.
LOYALTY IS A VIRTUE.
SUPPOSE FOR A CERTAIN
ORGANIZATION,
LOYALTY IS EXTREMELY
IMPORTANT.
SO THEY FORMULATE
RULES OF LOYALTY.
NOW, ITS MEMBERS MIGHT
REASONABLY JUDGE
THAT A CANDIDATE SET OF
RULES SHOULD BE REJECTED
BECAUSE THEY'RE TOO
DEMANDING, RIGHT?
YOU DON'T COUNT AS
LOYAL UNLESS BLAH.
SO DEMANDING THAT THEY
WOULD READILY BE FLOUTED
WITH THE RESULT THAT
LOYALTY, AS SUCH,
NOT MERELY AS DEFINED BY
THE RULES IN QUESTION,
BUT LOYALTY IN ANY
GROSSLY OBSERVABLE SENSE,
WOULD BREAK DOWN.
YOU SEE, THEY WOULD BE
REJECTING SUCH RULES,
NOT AT ALL BECAUSE THEY
DON'T FORMULATE WHAT
LOYALTY IS, BUT SIMPLY
BECAUSE THEY ARE TOO
DEMANDING, AND THEREFORE
COUNTERPRODUCTIVE, RIGHT?
PEOPLE AREN'T MADE OF PURE
MORAL CLAY, SO THEREFORE,
YOU DON'T WANT THE RULES
YOU IMPOSE ON THEM TO BE
TOO TOUGH FOR THEM TO LIVE
UP TO BECAUSE THEN THEY WON'T,
AND THEN YOU WON'T HAVE THE
ORDER THAT RULES SUPPLY.
SO YOU CHOOSE A LESS
DEMANDING RULE.
LESS DEMANDING PRECISELY
IN THE SENSE WHAT
MAKES IT LESS
DEMANDING?
WHAT MAKES IT COUNT AS LESS
DEMANDING - SORRY, YEAH...
IS SIMPLY THAT IT REALIZES
THE REQUIRED VIRTUE
TO A LESSER EXTENT.
THEY MIGHT BE THE WRONG
LOYALTY INSPIRED RULES
OF REGULATION PERHAPS JUST
BECAUSE THEY EXPRESS
WHAT LOYALTY IS BETTER
THAN LAXER RULES WOULD.
AND ALL THAT APPLIES
MUTATIS MUTANDIS
TO JUSTICE AND RULES
OF SOCIAL REGULATION.
AND NOW I'M GOING
TO READ WHAT'S IN D.
JUST AS INTELLIGENTLY
FORMULATED RULES OF LOYALTY
MUST TAKE STABILITY
INTO ACCOUNT,
AND THEREFORE CANNOT BE
EXPECTED TO SPECIFY WHAT
LOYALTY IS, SO RULES THAT
ARE OPTIMAL FROM THE POINT
OF VIEW OF JUSTICE,
AS MUCH JUSTICE
AS IS REASONABLE TO
GO FOR AND GET,
MUST TAKE STABILITY
INTO ACCOUNT,
AND FOR THAT VERY REASON,
CAN'T BE EXPECTED
TO SPECIFY WHAT
JUSTICE IS.
THE FINAL PIECE OF THIS
PRESENTATION IS PART OF
A RESPONSE TO THE ANDREW
WILLIAMS CRITIQUE
OF MY POSITION THAT I TALKED
ABOUT IN THE FIRST LECTURE.
AND PROFESSOR HOFFMAN HAS
ROBBED US OF THE TIME
FOR ME TO REITERATE IT.
WILLIAMS DEFENDS THE THESIS
THAT PRINCIPLES OF JUSTICE
HAVE TO BE PUBLIC
IN THREE SENSES.
HE HAS A SLOGAN WHICH
YOU'VE GOT THERE IN E:
JUSTICE MUST BE SEEN
IN ORDER TO BE DONE.
WHICH ISN'T THE SAME AS
JUSTICE MUST NOT ONLY
BE DONE BUT BE
SEEN TO BE DONE.
THIS CONTRADICTS
THAT SLOGAN.
BECAUSE WHAT HE REALLY
MEANS IS THAT IT DOESN'T
COUNT AS JUSTICE UNLESS
IT'S VISIBLE AS SUCH.
TO BE DONE, TO BE THERE,
FOR SOMETHING TO BE JUST,
IT'S REQUIRED THAT IT
SHOULD BE MANIFEST
THAT IT'S JUST.
HE BELIEVES, MORE
PARTICULARLY...
THAT THE RULES OF
THE BASIC STRUCTURE,
OR THE RULES OF JUSTICE,
MUST BE PUBLIC
IN A THREEFOLD SENSE.
NOW, THESE THREE
REQUIREMENTS OF PUBLICITY
AND JUSTICE ARE ALL
DEFINED WITHIN THE CONCEPT
OF COMMON KNOWLEDGE.
SO COMMON KNOWLEDGE IS
THE CONDITION WHERE
YOU KNOW THAT P, AND I
KNOW THAT YOU KNOW THAT P,
AND YOU KNOW THAT YOU
KNOW THAT I KNOW THAT P,
AND ALL THE WAY UP.
IN OTHER WORDS, A FULLY
SHARED APPREHENSION,
AND A SHARING OF THE
SHARING, AND SO FORTH.
THAT'S WHAT COMMON
KNOWLEDGE IS.
IF WE ALL, IN CANADA,
KNEW THAT BAFFIN ISLAND
IS IN THE NORTHERN
PART OF CANADA,
BUT NONE OF US KNEW THAT
THE OTHERS KNEW IT,
THAT WOULDN'T BE
COMMON KNOWLEDGE.
IF YOU WERE PROFESSOR
HOFFMAN, YOU WOULD SAY,
WE NEED ANOTHER TERM,
UNIVERSAL KNOWLEDGE.
BUT WHAT DO WE NEED IT FOR,
I JUST SAID WHAT IT IS,
YOU KNOW?
SO THAT'S EXERCISED IN
THE STATEMENT OF EACH
OF THE THREE CONDITIONS.
AND THE THREE CONDITIONS
ARE THAT INDIVIDUALS
ARE ABLE - NOTICE THE
MODALITY - ARE ABLE TO.
IT'S NOT REQUIRED FOR THEM
TO BE RULES OF JUSTICE
THAT PEOPLE ACTUALLY
HAVE COMMON KNOWLEDGE
IN THE SPECIFIED SENSES,
BUT COMMON KNOWLEDGE
MUST BE ATTAINABLE.
SO THE THREEFOLD SENSE;
INDIVIDUALS MUST BE ABLE
TO ATTAIN COMMON
KNOWLEDGE OF THE RULES,
THE GENERAL APPLICABILITY
OF THE RULES,
OF THE PARTICULAR
REQUIREMENTS OF THE RULES,
AND OF THE EXTENT TO WHICH
INDIVIDUALS CONFORM
TO THOSE REQUIREMENTS.
NOW, THE FIRST
REQUIREMENT I FIND,
NUMBER ONE, THAT IS,
GENERAL APPLICABILITY.
KNOWLEDGE OF THE RULES
GENERAL APPLICABILITY,
I DON'T KNOW
WHAT THAT MEANS.
I SUPPOSE IT MEANS THAT
INDIVIDUALS ARE ABLE
TO ATTAIN COMMON KNOWLEDGE OF
WHAT THE RULES SIMPLY ARE.
BY CONTRAST WITH TWO, WHICH
DEMANDS POSSIBLE COMMON
KNOWLEDGE OF WHAT THE
IMPLICATIONS ARE.
NOT ACTUAL COMMON
KNOWLEDGE.
BUT POSSIBLE COMMON
KNOWLEDGE OF WHAT
THE IMPLICATIONS OF THE RULES
ARE FOR PARTICULAR CASES.
I'M SORRY, THIS IS THE
PART OF THE - YEAH.
I'M NOT GOING TO CHALLENGE
THE FIRST REQUIREMENT.
I DON'T THINK IT'S
VERY IMPORTANT.
BUT I'M GOING TO CHALLENGE
BOTH THE SECOND AND THE THIRD.
AND I SUBJECT EACH OF THE
SECOND AND THE THIRD
REQUIREMENTS TWO
TYPES OF CRITICISM,
ALTHOUGH NOT IN THE
MATERIAL I'M GOING
TO PRESENT THIS EVENING.
I'M JUST GOING TO PRESENT
A LITTLE BIT OF THE CRITIQUE.
I WANT TO SHOW BOTH THAT
THESE ARE NOT REQUIREMENTS
THAT JUSTICE MUST SATISFY,
AND THAT THE EGALITARIAN
ETHOS THAT I CLAIM JUSTICE
REQUIRES SATISFIES THEM
TO A GREATER EXTENT
THAN WILLIAMS ALLOWS.
IN OTHER WORDS, HE
EXAGGERATES THE EXTENT
TO WHICH IT IS INDISCERNIBLE
WHETHER PEOPLE
ARE BEHAVING UNDER
THE PROMPTINGS
OF AN EGALITARIAN ETHOS.
NOW, WE GO TO H.
WHY DOES WILLIAMS INSIST
ON THESE CONDITIONS?
IT IS BECAUSE HE THINKS
THAT A CERTAIN IDEAL
OF SOCIAL UNITY THAT IS
INTEGRAL TO JUSTICE
IS UNACHIEVABLE IN THE
ABSENCE OF PUBLICITY.
AND NOW I'M JUST READING
FROM THE HANDOUT.
ITEMS THAT CANNOT BE
PUBLICLY REGULATED
ARE THEREFORE OUTSIDE
THE WRIT OF JUSTICE
HOWEVER PROFOUND
THEIR EFFECTS MAY BE.
AND THAT IS BECAUSE JUSTICE IS
A COOPERATIVE ENTERPRISE.
THE COOPERATORS IN WHICH
MUST KNOW THAT OTHERS
ARE COOPERATING.
THEY ARE BOUND BY JUSTICE
TO COOPERATE ONLY
WHEN THEY KNOW THAT
OTHERS ARE COOPERATING.
SOMETHING THAT I'VE
MENTIONED IN EARLIER
LECTURES AS A MAJOR MOTIF
IN THIS CRITIQUE OF ME.
SINCE THE RULES OF AN
EGALITARIAN ETHOS CANNOT
BE STATED IN A FORM THAT
ENABLES INDIVIDUALS
TO KNOW WITH ANY PRECISION
HOW THEY APPLY TO THEIR
OWN CASE, AND TO KNOW
WHETHER OTHERS ARE COMPLYING
WITH THEM, SUCH RULES CANNOT
BE RULES OF JUSTICE.
SO WHAT HE'S SAYING IS THAT
CONSIDERED AS CANDIDATES
FOR RULES OF JUSTICE,
RULES WHICH LACK
THE PUBLICITY PROPERTY ARE
DEFEATED BY THEIR FAILURE
TO SOLVE WHAT'S CALLED AN
ASSURANCE PROBLEM IN GAME
THEORY, WHICH MEANS THE
PROBLEM OF KNOWING SIMPLY,
THE PROBLEM OF KNOWING
THAT OTHER PEOPLE
ARE GOING TO BE BEHAVING
IN A CONFORMING WAY.
NOW, TO BEGIN WITH, AND I
THINK THIS IS MAYBE NOT
AT THE HEART OF THE
MATTER, I'M BACK TO F.
IT'S A POINT OF
SOME INTEREST,
BUT MAYBE NOT CENTRAL
TO OUR DISPUTE.
THERE'S AN AMBIGUITY
IN CONDITION THREE,
IN THE CONDITION WHICH SAYS PEOPLE MUST BE ABLE
TO ATTAIN COMMON
KNOWLEDGE OF THE EXTENT
TO WHICH INDIVIDUALS ARE
CONFORMING TO THE RULES.
THERE'S AN AMBIGUITY IN
THREE WHICH I'LL
NOW PROCEED TO EXPLAIN.
WILLIAMS UNWISELY
RESOLVES IN FAVOUR
OF A PARTICULARLY STRONG
VERSION OF THREE.
BECAUSE IF I UNDERSTAND
HIM CORRECTLY,
HE MEANS CONDITION THREE
TO BE TAKEN DISTRIBUTIVELY
RATHER THAN MERELY
COLLECTIVELY.
NOW, THAT'S A
TECHNICAL DISTINCTION,
BUT IT'S QUITE
EASY TO EXPLAIN.
WHAT HE MEANS IS, HE
MEANS CONDITION THREE
TO BE TAKEN THIS WAY.
THAT IS, WITH RESPECT TO
AT LEAST MOST INDIVIDUALS,
IT MUST BE
POSSIBLE TO KNOW,
AT ANY RATE UNDER
FAVOURABLE CONDITIONS
OF INFORMATION, HOW MUCH
EACH OF THOSE INDIVIDUALS
CONFORMS TO THE
REQUIREMENTS OF JUSTICE.
IN OTHER WORDS, IT WON'T
SUFFICE IF WE KNOW
THAT 98 PERCENT OF THE
PEOPLE CONFORM TO
THE REQUIREMENTS OF JUSTICE,
BUT DON'T KNOW WHICH
OF THE 98 PERCENT
THEY ARE.
HE THINKS, HE SO INTERPRETS
CONDITION THREE THAT
IT'S NOT SATISFIED IF WE KNOW
THAT THERE IS 98 PERCENT
CONFORMITY TO A RULE,
BUT WE DON'T KNOW WHO
BELONGS TO THE 98
PERCENT AND WHO BELONGS
TO THE 2 PERCENT.
AND IT SEEMS TO ME THAT
THIS IS AN UNJUSTIFIABLY
STRONG REQUIREMENT.
BECAUSE, AS I SAY,
WHY SHOULD KNOWING
THAT 98 PERCENT CONFORM,
THIS IS IN F,
ON THE BASIS OF REASONABLE
BELIEFS ABOUT HUMAN NATURE
AND SOCIALIZATION, OR
ON THE BASIS OF CAUSAL
INFERENCE NOT BE ENOUGH,
EVEN WHEN WE DON'T
KNOW WHO CONFORMS
AND WHO DOESN'T.
WHY DO I HAVE TO KNOW WHO
IS DOING THE CONFORMING
IN ORDER TO BE ASSURED IN A
WAY THAT WILL MAKE IT FAIR
TO PUT THE BURDEN OF
JUSTICE ON ME AS WELL?
WHY ISN'T IT JUST ENOUGH
IF I KNOW THAT
ALMOST EVERYBODY IS?
LET ME GIVE YOU AN
ILLUSTRATION...
OF THE CAUSAL
INFERENCE POINT.
BED-SITTING ROOMS ARE
ROOMS PEOPLE LIVE IN
IN A COMMUNAL HOUSE.
THE PLACE SEEMS SO ENGLISH,
OR AT LEAST BRITISH.
AND SO WE IMAGINE 15
TENANTS OF BED-SITTING
ROOMS IN A LARGE HOUSE WHO
SHARE THE USE OF ITS LARGE
REFRIGERATOR, IN WHICH
EACH PERSON KEEPS
PROVISIONS IN A
SEPARATE, UNLOCKED BOX.
BY AND LARGE, NOBODY
TAKES ANYBODY'S FOOD.
ANYBODY ELSE'S FOOD.
BUT ONLY BY AND LARGE.
FROM TIME TO TIME, A
TENANT FINDS THAT SOME
OF HER STOCK IS MISSING.
BUT TENANTS RARELY
RETALIATE BY TAKING
SOMEBODY ELSE'S FOOD,
BECAUSE THEY BELIEVE
IF THEY DO THEN THE
CONVENIENT ARRANGEMENT FROM
WHICH THEY ALL BENEFIT
WILL BEGIN TO UNRAVEL.
SO THEY DON'T STEAL FROM
SOMEBODY ELSE WHEN
THEY'VE LOST BECAUSE
THERE'S A SUFFICIENTLY
SMALL NUMBER OF THEM
THAT ONE FURTHER SHAKE
MIGHT HAVE BAD
CONSEQUENCES.
SO EVERYONE KNOWS - THIS
IS FUNCTIONING PRETTY WELL,
AND EVERYONE KNOWS
THAT MOST PEOPLE CONFORM
TO THE DON'T TAKE
FROM OTHERS RULE,
OTHERWISE THERE WOULD
BE A LOT MORE MISSING.
AND NONE WOULD CONFORM
UNLESS THEY BELIEVED THAT.
IN THIS PARTICULAR CASE,
YOU DO NEED TO KNOW ABOUT
THE CONFORMITY, BUT
NOBODY KNOWS
WHO THE
NON-CONFORMERS ARE.
WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO?
MORNING, HARRY, DID YOU
ENJOY MY BACON - OH.
ANYWAY.
SO ANYWAY, WITH RESPECT
TO AN EGALITARIAN ETHOS,
I AGREE THAT ITS RULES
CANNOT BE FORMULATED
IN CRISP TERMS.
BUT IT DOESN'T FOLLOW -
THIS IS A DIFFERENT POINT -
THAT ONE MAY NOT KNOW
THAT THERE IS OR IS NOT
A SOCIETY-WIDE, GOOD-FAITH
EFFORT TO, FOR EXAMPLE,
FORESWEAR MARKET MAXIMIZING
IN FAVOUR OF THE RESTRAINT
THAT AN EGALITARIAN
ETHOS PRESCRIBES.
NOW, I'M SAYING IF THE
POINT OF PUBLICITY
IS TO SOLVE IN
ASSURANCE GAME PROBLEM,
AND THEREBY TO ESTABLISH
THE DESIRED SOCIAL UNITY,
KNOWLEDGE OF WIDESPREAD
GOOD FAITH EFFORT
BY INDIVIDUALS AT LARGE
SHOULD SURELY SUFFICE,
EVEN IF ONE CANNOT SORT OUT
THE VAST MAJORITY OF GOOD
FAITH EFFORT MAKERS FROM A
MINORITY OF BACKSLIDERS.
THIS IS NOT TO CONCEDE THAT
SUCH KNOWLEDGE MUST BE POSSIBLE
IF THE RELEVANT
RULES ARE TO QUALIFY
AS RULES OF JUSTICE.
I THINK THAT'S
BANANAS AS WELL.
BUT SIMPLY TO INSIST THAT
SURELY KNOWLEDGE THAT PEOPLE
IN GENERAL ARE BEHAVING
ACCORDING TO THE RULES
WITHOUT KNOWING WHO
IS SHOULD SUFFICE
FOR HIS ASSURANCE
PURPOSES.
NOW, CONSIDER ONCE AGAIN
A CAMPING TRIP WHICH I
REFERRED TO BEFORE, WHICH
PROCEEDS COMMUNISTICALLY
UNDER UNDERSTANDINGS OF
MUTUALITY AND FORBEARANCE
THAT CANNOT BE
FORMULATED CRISPLY.
NO ONE CAN SAY JUST HOW BIG
A BIT HAS TO BE FOR
ONE TO BE ABLE TO SAY,
I'VE DONE MY BIT.
NEVERTHELESS THAT ALL OR
MOST DEVOTE GOOD FAITH
EFFORT CAN BE
TRANSPARENTLY KNOWN, RIGHT?
NOBODY KNOWS WHAT
JUSTICE REQUIRES.
THEY'RE ALL
EGALITARIANS.
THEY CAN FINGER CERTAIN
THINGS AS BEYOND
ANY POSSIBLE EGALITARIAN
PALE, SO TO SPEAK.
AND BEYOND THAT THEY DON'T
KNOW, AND THEY DON'T CARE.
THEY DON'T NEED TO KNOW
WHETHER EXACTLY THIS
IS THE LIMIT OR
SOMETHING ELSE.
THEY JUST NEED TO MAKE A
KIND OF GENERAL
GOOD FAITH EFFORT.
THAT'S HOW PEOPLE
FUNCTION.
NOW, IT MAY BE MORE
DIFFICULT TO KNOW ABOUT
GOOD FAITH EFFORT ON A
LARGER SOCIAL SCALE,
BUT THAT'S NOT
WILLIAMS' ARGUMENT.
HIS ARGUMENT IS THAT A
KNOWABILITY CONDITION,
FAR STRONGER THAN WHAT
KNOWLEDGE OF GOOD FAITH
EFFORT SATISFIES MUST BE
SATISFIED IF THE PURSUIT
OF THE EQUALITY
AND SOCIAL UNITY,
WHICH IS WHAT
HE TALKS ABOUT,
IS TO BE HARMONIZED.
HE THINKS YOU CAN'T CALL IT
A RULE OF JUSTICE UNLESS
YOU ARE IN A POSITION
TO TELL EXACTLY WHAT
IT PRESCRIBES, AND
THEREFORE WHO IS LIVING
UP TO IT OR NOT.
AND AS I INDICATED - WELL,
I'M NOT SURE IF I USED
THIS EXAMPLE - WELL,
ANYWAY, HERE IT GOES.
A DEVELOPMENT OF THE WORLD
WAR II IN BRITAIN EXAMPLE,
WHICH I THINK I TALKED
ABOUT IN THE FIRST LECTURE.
HERE, A SOCIAL ETHOS
INDUCED PEOPLE
TO SACRIFICE PERSONAL
INTERESTS FOR THE SAKE
OF THE WAR EFFORT.
AND WHERE EVERYONE
WAS EXPECTED,
AS A MATTER OF
JUSTICE, TO DO HIS BIT.
IT'S ABSURD TO SUPPOSE THAT
THE AMOUNT OF SACRIFICE
THEREBY REQUIRED COULD HAVE
BEEN PRECISELY FORMULATED.
I MEAN, IT'S
AN INSANE IDEA.
IT'S LIKE SAYING, I'LL TELL
YOU EXACTLY HOW FAR AWAY
A RESTAURANT OF THIS
QUALITY HAS TO BE
FOR IT TO BE BETTER TO
GO TO THIS CLOSER ONE,
WHICH OF THIS QUALITY.
IT'S A DEEP FACT THAT WE
TRADE DIFFERENT VALUES
OFF AGAINST EACH
OTHER, RIGHT?
I'M DELIBERATELY USING
A CASE THAT DOESN'T
COME FROM MORALITY OR
NORMATIVE STUFF,
BUT FROM RATIONALITY, WHERE
I THINK MANY THINGS GO ON
THAT PEOPLE DON'T TOLERATE
WHEN WE TURN TO NORMATIVE STUFF,
BUT WHICH WE
SHOULD TOLERATE, RIGHT?
NOBODY'S GOING TO BUST
THEIR HEAD THINKING
THERE'S SOME CORRECT
ANSWER TO HOW, YOU KNOW,
WHETHER LIVING IN TORONTO
IS WORTH AN HOUR AND
A HALF OR HOUR AND 35
MINUTES OR WHAT, RIGHT?
IT'S NOT UNMYSTERIOUS
WHAT WE THEREFORE DO.
I'M NOT SAYING THERE IS
NO CONCEPTUAL PRESSURE
TO SAY, WELL, THERE MUST
BE, SURELY, A LINE,
OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT
BECAUSE THERE IS
A VERY DEEP PHILOSOPHICAL
PROBLEM THERE,
CALLED THE PROBLEM OF THE
SORITES PARADOX WHICH GOES,
IF THIS ISN'T
IT, WHAT ABOUT,
ET CETERA, ET CETERA,
ET CETERA.
BUT I'M SAYING THAT
WHEN WE'RE DOING
POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY,
WE SHOULDN'T FORGET ABOUT
WHAT WE WOULD OTHERWISE
CONSIDER RATIONAL
AND APPROPRIATE.
AND I JUST DON'T SEE WHY
A LEVEL OF PRECISION
THAT ONE COULD NEVER GET
WITH RESPECT TO EVALUATION
OF SUCH THINGS AS,
ALMOST ANYTHING -
WHAT PAINTING TO BUY,
WHAT CLOTHES TO WEAR -
SHOULD SUDDENLY BE SUBJECT
TO SOME KIND OF PRECISION
REQUIREMENT WHEN WE COME
TO THE DOMAIN OF JUSTICE.
I'VE GOT HARDLY
ANY MORE POINTS.
THE LAST THING
ON THE HANDOUT...
WILLIAMS SAYS, ALTHOUGH
COHEN MAY BE CORRECT THAT
WE CAN VERIFY EXCESSIVE
SELF-SEEKING BY THOSE
WHO BENEFIT MOST FROM
THE PRESENT INCOME
DISTRIBUTION, IT IS QUITE
POSSIBLE THAT IN TYPICAL CASES,
WE WILL LACK A
SUFFICIENTLY PRECISE PUBLIC
STANDARD BY WHICH TO
JUSTIFY OR CRITICIZE
EACH OTHER'S SELF-SERVING
BEHAVIOUR.
WELL, SUPPOSE THAT
AS WILLIAMS CLAIMS,
VERIFIABILITY
APPLIES AT MOST TO
EXCESSIVE SELF-SEEKING.
YOU CAN ONLY PARTITION
A SET INTO, WELL,
PERHAPS INTO THOSE WHO ARE
EXCESSIVELY SELF-SEEKING,
AND THOSE OF WHOM YOU
DO NOT KNOW WHETHER
THEY ARE AS MUCH AS
EXCESSIVELY SELF-SEEKING.
YOU CAN SAY IF HE HAS
100 MILLION dollars, THEN BLAH,
BUT YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT
HAPPENS AT 80,000 dollars, RIGHT?
WE ARE NEVERTHELESS ON
THE VIEW HE DEFENDS,
NOT TO CONDEMN EVEN EXCESSIVE
SELF-SEEKING AS UNJUST,
SIMPLY BECAUSE WE CAN'T
VERIFY WHAT'S GOING ON
IN LESS CONSPICUOUS
CASES.
AND THAT SEEMS TO BE
A STUPID PROCEDURE.
WHY SHOULD JUSTICE BE
SILENT WHERE IT CAN SPEAK,
EVEN IF IT CANNOT
ALWAYS SPEAK.
SO THERE IS MORE STUFF
ALONG THESE LINES,
AND I WILL COME NOW TO A
KIND OF CLOSE BECAUSE
A FRIEND OF MINE, A SPANISH
PHILOSOPHER, PAULA CASAL...
KNOWING THAT I WAS
WORKING ON THIS STUFF,
WELL, HAVING READ
SOME OF THIS STUFF,
SENT ME A SUPPORTIVE
PARAGRAPH WHICH BEARS
READING, AND THEN
I'D LIKE TO SAY,
JUST GIVE A RECONSTRUCTION
OF THE PARAGRAPH
AND THEN PIPE DOWN
AND TAKE QUESTIONS.
SHE SAYS... I THINK I WENT
IN THE WRONG DIRECTION.
THE REQUIREMENT
OF PUBLICITY,
OR THE IDEA THAT WE SHOULD
KNOW HOW MUCH
WE ARE REQUIRED TO DO,
ARE NOT ALWAYS
DECISIVE CONSIDERATIONS.
THEY ARE DEFINITELY NOT
DECISIVE IN THE CASE
OF OUR ENVIRONMENTAL
DUTIES.
WE KNOW THERE ARE GOING TO
BE MANY FREE RIDERS WHO
WILL CONTINUE TO
POLLUTE AND TO DESTROY
THE OZONE LAYER.
THAT DOES NOT EXEMPT
US FROM OUR DUTIES.
NEITHER CAN THE FACT THAT
WE DON'T KNOW HOW MUCH
WE ARE SUPPOSED TO DO OR HOW
MUCH OTHER COOPERATORS
ARE GOING TO DO.
WHATEVER IT IS THAT WE
THINK PEOPLE SHOULD DO
FOR THE ENVIRONMENT,
WE CAN ALSO APPLY
TO INCENTIVE PAYMENTS.
SO I THINK SHE'S
MAKING THREE POINTS.
AND THIS IS NOT
IN THE HANDOUT,
BUT IT TRIES TO CONCENTRATE
EVERYTHING THAT I WANT
TO SAY AGAINST THIS PUBLICITY
IS IT VISIBLE TO EVERYBODY?
AGAINST THIS
PUBLICITY CLAIM.
I SAY AN OBLIGATION OF
JUSTICE BINDS EVEN IF,
CONTRARY TO WILLIAMS'
ASSURANCE REQUIREMENT,
THERE IS WIDESPREAD
FAILURE TO DISCHARGE IT.
I'M NOT SAYING
THAT'S ALWAYS TRUE,
BUT IT COULD BE TRUE.
THERE ARE PLENTY OF
OBLIGATIONS OF JUSTICE
WHICH DON'T REQUIRE FOR
THEIR INTEGRITY THAT
OTHER PEOPLE SHOULD ALSO
BE SHARING THE BURDEN.
AND IT BINDS EVEN IF
CONTRARY TO WILLIAMS'
CONDITION NUMBER THREE,
ONE CANNOT TELL HOW MUCH
FAILURE THERE IS TO
DISCHARGE THAT OBLIGATION.
AND IT BINDS EVEN IF
CONTRARY TO HIS CONDITION TWO,
ONE CANNOT TELL WITH
ANY PRECISION WHAT THE RULE
IMPOSING THE OBLIGATION IS
ASKING ONE TO DO.
NOW, HE ARGUES, THIS
ISN'T ON THE BLACKBOARD,
THAT JUSTICE REQUIRES
ASSURANCE - YOU KNOW,
YOU'VE BEEN AN INCREDIBLY
ATTENTIVE AUDIENCE,
I KNOW THAT, AND I'VE BEEN
MOVED BY HOW ATTENTIVE
YOU'VE BEEN, SO I'M
ACTUALLY GOING TO DICTATE
THIS SLOWLY BECAUSE I
KNOW SOME OF YOU
WILL WANT TO HAVE IT.
WILLIAMS WOULD ARGUE THAT
JUSTICE REQUIRES ASSURANCE,
WHICH REQUIRES
THAT ONE BE FALSE,
WHICH RUNS THAT
TWO BE FALSE,
WHICH REQUIRES THAT
THREE BE FALSE,
AND HE IS
MULTIPLY WRONG.
NOW, I COULD HARDLY IMAGINE
A LESS RHETORICALLY
RINGING CLIMAX THAN THAT
LITTLE PIECE OF DICTATION.
BUT THERE YOU ARE.
THANK YOU VERY MUCH.
WE CAN TAKE SOME QUESTIONS.
LET'S HAVE SOME QUESTIONS.

[applause]

G.A. continues
Classical music plays as the end credits roll.

Comments and queries, email: bigideas@tvo.org

Telephone: (416) 484-2746.

Big Ideas, TVONTARIO, Box 200, Station Q, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. M4T 2T1.

Producer, Wodek Szemberg.

Associate Producer, Mike Miner.

Sound, Horst Mueller.

Executive Producer, Doug Grant.

A production of TVOntario. Copyright 2001, The Ontario Educational Communications Authority.

Watch: G.A. Cohen on Justice and Publicity