Monday, March 09, 2009

Circular reasoning works because...

Philosophy of Law

People have different conceptions of an egalitarian society. K. Nielsen's conception is rather radical. His vision has a marxist flavour to it, and involves getting rid of all social classes, and redistributing wealth around the world.

I found this theory rather annoying. The way our prof presented it, the system was based on the premise that the world will offer abundant resources. And in my mind, if the resources are abundant, then of course you could reach equality. The reasoning seemed somewhat circular.

I mean, if you consider that material inequality is caused by the scarcity of resources, or the perceived scarcity of resources, then the minute you eliminate this scarcity, then you eliminate one of the causes of inequality. And it will be like saying that "In a world without inequality, there will be equality." The rest is just figuring out a way to distribute the wealth, which is what most of the theory is about. (And yes, I do realize that most of the inequality comes from the uneven redistribution of wealth, and having a theory about the redistribution of wealth is good, and might be a step towards equality.)

Of course, it is admitted that this conception is rather utopian, and it should somewhat excuse the initial flaw. Methinks the real theory should be finding a way to achieve a sustainable exploitation of resources, and to distribute them equally. Thus, the eradication of scarcity (or of the perception of scarcity) will bring equality.

On the other hand, some people say that we currently produce enough resources to fulfill the needs of all human beings. (no, I don't have a source for that, it's just something one hears, and I don't feel like looking it up either) So assuming the Earth does produce enough for everyone, then basing a theory on an idea (or ideal) of "abundance" seems like an attempt to overcome the obvious non-applicability of the theory.

It would be like saying "Right now, we don't have equality, because the resources are scarce, but IF the resources were to be plenty, then we'd be equal."
But what if the Earth does produce enough? This is does not seem to be something that Nielsen (or my prof, since my knowledge of Nielsen's theory only comes through my prof) considers, since the conception is qualified as being utopian, and being such, it means that the initial condition of plentifulness are non-existent.

In which case, it makes for very nice philosophical considerations, but we're arguing into the void, as we are ignoring the problem of the non-practical-applicability of the theory by presuming its non-practical-applicableness. (Or, in better English, it cannot be applied in practice, because it has not been made to be applicable in practice, since it --supposedly-- deals with an ideal of plentifulness that doesn't exist)

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