Nobody deserves anything
What schools of philosophy come to mind?

Nobody deserves anything
cortes
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Posted Jan 3, 2012 - 4:26 PM:
Subject: Nobody deserves anything

Given the proposition:

Nobody deserves anything.

What schools of philosophy come to mind?

The above obviously runs counter to the broad concept of justice which can be described a moral system defining what people deserve, what is equitable or fair.

There is the common observation that life is not fair, which some accept while others reject or at last abhor in a grudging acceptance.

And certainly many people desire justice, seek a world that is fair, even if they accept that it is impossible.

One can find hints of the above proposition in, of all places, Christianity though much depends on your interpretation.

So my question is this: which philosophers have explored this proposition before?

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Posted Jan 3, 2012 - 4:39 PM:

John Rawls's A Theory of Justice

Definitely deserves a read.
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Posted Jan 3, 2012 - 4:55 PM:


Warshed wrote:
John Rawls's A Theory of Justice Definitely deserves a read.

I am familar with John Rawls but I am stumped as to why you would nominate him as someone who has explored the propsition. He is, on the contrary, someone who has put forward arguments for the propostion that people do deserve something (a system of justice of a particular form and argued by a particular hypothetical).

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Posted Jan 4, 2012 - 1:26 PM:

I didn't mean to stump everyone so let me throw out one name that people might recognize: Machiavelli. It's probably an exageration to call Machiavelli a philosopher or to describe his ideas, expressed in The Prince, as a philosophy, but I can think of noone else who comes close to examining this proposition.

In fact, it is probably not too great an exageration to say that the vast prepondernace of political philosphy revolves around erecting an theory of justice, about who deserves what, who owes what to whom, and buttressing that theory as best as one can.

The commonly unexamined assumption seems to be that people deserve something.
discoveryii
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Posted Jan 4, 2012 - 1:36 PM:

Justice as Fairness, A Restatement, sections 20 to 22.


As far as people deserve something, I would not disagree. I think the emphasis is on the partitioning of what should be commonly held property and assets--a more cooperative endeavor in getting people what they have a right (hence, the political theory) to.
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Posted Jan 4, 2012 - 1:45 PM:

Jacques Ranciere might be some one who thinks along the lines you're after. In his On the Shores of Politics he examines what he calls the rallying power of hatred, which can, precisely through it's denial of what another group wants, achieve something like political solidarity. Furthermore, his political theory breaks from paradigms of distributive justice by advancing the argument that justice has nothing to do with what is deserved (where the subject is passive receiver of goods), but what is claimed (where the subject is an active participant in creating his or her social goods).

Hegemony Theorists like Chantal Mouffee and Erenesto Laclau are similar in that their focus is on creating the conditions under which a subject can participate in political life and form their political identity. This, rather than, as distributive theories of justice might have it, simply have take the identity, and hence the demands and what is 'deserved', for granted.

Neither would go so far as to say that 'no one deserves anything', but they do at least break from the heavy focus on 'deserving' and lay the accent on politics elsewhere (subject formation).

Otherwise, the only person who comes to mind that might fit the bill is Diogenes the Cynic.
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Posted Jan 4, 2012 - 2:07 PM:

discoveryii wrote:
Justice as Fairness, A Restatement, sections 20 to 22.


I think it's fair to say that justice and fairness are (or at least can be) treated as conceptually equivalent or interchangible. Rawls, as previously noted, obviously profers his own views on what is just and fair. But the purpose of this thread is not to examine his claims but to examine their negation.

As far as people deserve something, I would not disagree.


But I would, at least for the purpose of this thread. Please note that saying that nobody deserves anything is not logially equivalent to saying that everyone deservs nothing. Rather, I am exploring here the proposison that justice and fairness are valueless concepts.

I think the emphasis is on the partitioning of what should be commonly held property and assets--a more cooperative endeavor in getting people what they have a right (hence, the political theory) to.


One can, of course, patition things in many ways and such partitioing gives rise to the concepts of rights but there are alternatives to partitioning that entail surrendering the idea of rights. In fact, rights as a political concept are fairly recent though duty has a long history.
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Posted Jan 4, 2012 - 2:20 PM:

StreetlightX wrote:
Jacques Ranciere might be some one who thinks along the lines you're after. In his On the Shores of Politics he examines what he calls the rallying power of hatred, which can, precisely through it's denial of what another group wants, achieve something like political solidarity. Furthermore, his political theory breaks from paradigms of distributive justice by advancing the argument that justice has nothing to do with what is deserved (where the subject is passive receiver of goods), but what is claimed (where the subject is an active participant in creating his or her social goods).


I can see the connection that you are suggesting here. In the first case, this is interesting but a bit on the patholigical side and, as you note, not a general position. In the second case, this is a fine distinction between justice and desert but what I have in mind is a total negation, not merely against the other or against the passive receiver.

Interestingly, the Christian alternative to duty is love.

Hegemony Theorists like Chantal Mouffee and Erenesto Laclau are similar in that their focus is on creating the conditions under which a subject can participate in political life and form their political identity. This, rather than, as distributive theories of justice might have it, simply have take the identity, and hence the demands and what is 'deserved', for granted.

Neither would go so far as to say that 'no one deserves anything', but they do at least break from the heavy focus on 'deserving' and lay the accent on politics elsewhere (subject formation).




Laclau was a Marxist and Moufee was a Rawslian but your point is interesting.



Otherwise, the only person who comes to mind that might fit the bill is Diogenes the Cynic.


Yes, our old friend Diogenes is certainly in interesting character. I suppose his naturalism would qualify but it's not quite what I had in mind.
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Posted Jan 4, 2012 - 11:47 PM:

Cortes,

This won't help, but oh well.

My school of philosophy comes to mind. I don't think that personal responsibility exists and that "desert" as it relates to moral responsibility is merely the way to reward those that won the cosmic lottery. Indeed, I would almost suggest (if I knew anything about it) that the maxim "each according to his abilities, each according to his needs" is a reflection of the idea that we do not "deserve" things by virtue of merit or something similar, but rather that people are entitled to the satisfaction of needs by virtue of things beyond their control.
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Posted Jan 5, 2012 - 12:12 AM:

I thought you were talking about "Desert Theory", which definitely invokes Rawls, (who rejects the idea that anyone deserves anything based on some virtue). Maybe if you were a bit more clear on what you mean?

As far as Christianity, which has so many different incompatible positions regarding ethics, I can only guess you are thinking of something like Calvinism's "total depravity", (of mankind), and unconditional election? I get the feeling that Calvinism has been almost completely purged from modern Christianity, though, and replaced with a kind of humanistic virtue of individualism.
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