Tuesday, February 01, 2005


It looks like Elizabeth Anderson has done it again. This is a follow up to her attack on natural rights, but now she's taking the tack that we don't deserve the fruits of out labors. I think Will Wilkinson sums up my complaints nicely.

And the answer is easy. The same way I can deserve a silver medal in Olympic tennis, even though I had so little to do with determining the existence of the Olypmics, or the rules of tennis, or the quality of my pool of competitors. My reward is fixed by a combination of my performance, chance, and the rules of the games. The existence of chance or my lack of responsibility for the rules simply does not bear on what I deserve in this context.

That is to say, there is no intrinsic value in any action itself, but rather the value comes from the subjective viewpoint of the person who is rewarding that action. Furthermore, given that I have no control over how my ware might be valued, I have no right to any particular wage or compensation for doing something, but rather only a right to compensation equal to the going rate.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Conjecturing that one deserves what they "earn" in their labors is like saying one deserves life because they aim towards it. If this were to be a true statement, this itself would be a moral indictment of the universe as a whole and its given rules, that the taking of a life by, say, a sudden catastrophe is immoral, especially if the given person was "earning" further life by living healthily. Similarly, one deserves only as much as one agrees to. To explain: entering into the working world, one agrees to abide by the rules that one cannot determine their own fruits. Even in a completely personal endeavor, one is not entirely free to decide their compensation. If we are to make absolute determinations of return in recompense for effort or investment, one would find the entire economic system unjust, and even with vague requirements for determining the morality of compensation, one still would find the world quite immoral and unfair. Moreover, if one is to be a contractarian, one would not have to look hard to find a manner of justification for taxation: the original intent for forming government, that of protecting oneself and their own assets. One manner of protecting oneself is paying taxes for welfare and other such programs as a form of insurance, as a protection in a proactive sense. This is basically the government attempting further protection of its citizens, as a government requires a healthy and happy populace to remain in power. By being born into this country, one enters involuntarily into a manner of contract, and one has two options if dissatisfied: seek a better contract, or attempt to change the current contract. Either way, the moment that taxation becomes immoral is when it goes against the central tenets of a given contract's terms, and this would only occur given a substantial change in the terms of the American contract, before this occurs, the government is in the right as long as it does not prevent you from leaving and entering into another contract with another country.

11:45 PM  

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