in which Lord Cornwallis demonstrates how to do justice and fairness the Plushy way
Be polite and diplomatic, empathetic and kind. Have a personal moral code to govern all your social interactions, and listen to your conscience. Do as you would be done by. If we all followed these principles life would be pleasant and enjoyable for everyone. We would live free, in pursuit of peace and prosperity as we conceive them to be. Problems only arise when moral dictators pronounce themselves to be the self-appointed arbiters of all that is good and true, and proceed to denounce everyone who does not conform to their edicts.
Contrary to popular opinion, it is possible to derive a reasonable conception of the good without subscribing to popular theories of social justice. You don't have to do 'actively anti-racism' or 'decolonising the statues' or 'being a white ally' to be a good and kind person. Reasonable people can, and often do, disagree about what it means to be just or fair.
Disagreement on fundamental philosophical issues is not to be avoided or shunned. Disagreement is not scary. You won't melt if you disagree with someone, or they disagree with you. There is no need to shout or riot or defund the police. We are not going to end up in a state of violent conflict if we agree to disagree on the meaning of 'justice' or 'fairness'. Instead, we can embrace robust debate on philosophical ideas because intelligent debate has great potential to reveal new insights into how to enrich and give added meaning and value to our lives.
Satisfying the narrowly partisan Rawlsian definitions of ‘public reason’ may be a useful academic exercise for those who subscribe to Rawlsian egalitarian politics, but the Rawlsian concept of justice is not an agreed-upon compulsory default position. Nor did Rawls create some kind of universally-accepted starting point from which all philosophical inquiry must henceforth proceed. Rawls's starting point, known as the Original Position, depicts a beguiling image of John Lennon in the Garden of Eden, musing on the state of the ideal world. Our John is still innocent at this point, as God has not yet created the Woman or the Serpeant. So our John has no idea what the real world will turn out to be, or the position he will occupy within it. He muses:
Imagine no possessions
What principles of justice would you draft to govern your Imaginary society in which nobody wants to keep anything, and everyone wants to share so that we all have equal opportunities? Those principles of justice would be pure. They would impartially reflect fairness and equality. They would be unanimous.
Accordingly, the Rawlsian gate-keepers are now charged with excluding from the academic citadel anyone who does not do Rawls properly and follow the unanimously agreed principles of justice. This creates a safe space in which everyone can do social justice unanimously as Rawls commanded without running the risk of encountering anybody with the temerity to disagree. It's very hard to do unanimity properly, when some people beg to differ.
Thus the Rawlsian Warriors are empowered to cancel all the proles who have not studied Rawls - after all they will dictate what you should be reading and studying - and to judge who is or isn't doing Rawls properly. Thus all attempts to publish academic work outside the Rawlsian lines will be returned by the reviewers with the same comment:
The difficulty in trying to live free is that John Lennon was a very nice man and everyone wants to follow his teachings. Rawlsians do genuinely feel they are doing us all a favour, especially the neediest in society: crafting a better world, spreading the wealth around equally and fairly, expunging all those who disagree with them, just Imagine that.
Well, nobody is obliged to follow the musings of anybody else. We are all equal. This means that you can go your own way if you want to. It is not heretical to think for yourself. Thinking for yourself and forming your own opinions is not a brave or controversial thing to do, it's just a normal part of being a human creature with a pre-installed brain of your own. You are allowed to read books that are not on anybody's approved reading list. You don't have to show that you have carefully followed this or that famous academic who published a bunch of 'much cited but never read' impenetrable jargon. You don't have to decolonise if you don't want to. You can choose your own heroes. Appreciate history your own way.
There is no universal burden of proof placed by Society on anyone who prefers a different worldview from that endorsed by The Rawlsians. You don't have to defend yourself against charges of failing to do Rawls or doing Rawls wrong. Freedom of thought and and freedom of conscience allow us to create our own vision of the good life without subscribing to the dictates of Rawlsian social justice.
Nozick may have believed that in the New Rawlsian Normal we all have to 'comply or explain' (meaning do Rawls or else explain why you're not doing Rawls) but Nozick was wrong. The unfortunate man was labouring under the huge burden of being cast by Life as the opposite of Rawls, and it's not surprising that he felt compelled to comply or explain.
Poor deluded Nozick! Suggesting that we can 'freely choose' when Rawls had clearly explained that we must all go behind The Veil of Ignorance to fulfil the conditions of the Original Position and do fairness and justice that way! If Rawls was cast by Life in the role of God, and the Original Position is the Garden of Eden, and Nozick was cast in the role of trying to beguile us into choosing freely of the fruit of the lovely trees and just bite any apple we wish, including the apples from the Tree of Life, what did that make him? That casts Nozick in an even worse role than Ayn Rand! Being cast as a wicked witch is trying, but being cast as the Serpent is worse!
No wonder Nozick recanted on his death bed and promised to do Rawls better in the remaining hours of life left to him - it helped to redeem his legacy because now the main thing everyone knows about Nozick is that he recanted, embraced socialism and all forms of collectivism, disavowed individual liberty and freedom, and declared Rawls to be the winner of how to be a good person. Nozick denounced libertarianism and freedom, capitalism and all its evils, took the vaccine, and urged us all to keep wearing our masks and pay our taxes to help with wealth redistribution, plus a 5% surcharge to show support for Social Justice.
Well, sorry for Nozick's troubles but anybody would recant if cast in the role of the Devil and we must treat his advice in that light.
Now that we've come of age we don't have to follow Rawls, we can follow our own path and find our own way to be good people.
Scholar, Writer, Friend