Re: Mating Mind (was: Diamond, Miller, Gould, Darwin)

Date: Fri Jun 30 2000 - 22:33:55 MDT

Robin Hanson summarized some of his current writing:

> Ordinary intuitions about "fairness" may be less than commonly assumed about
> equal outcomes, and more about how well success correlates with genetic
> fitness. It can thus seem fair that the most attractive witty athletic
> folks to get more mates and money, but seem unfair that the rich can buy
> better education for their children. Makeup can seem fair, while breast
> implants seem unfair.

>From what I have of late heard about moral and political philosophy, the
reigning school of thought, led by Ronald Dworkin, posits exactly the
converse. That is, Dworkin claims that benefits we accrue by dint of chance
or of "immutable characteristics" (he apparently assumes genetic attributes
can not be re-engineered) are exactly those that ought rightly be subject to
redistribution. Those benefits that we accrue by dint of choice we can
rightly retain.

I happen to think Dworkin's distinction untenable, but nonetheless it seems
to have a great deal of appeal to professional philosophers. Query whether
it jibes with lay persons' moral intuitions. To judge what common folks say
about trust-fund kids, I suspect that Dworkin may have done a good job
of--please pardon my editorial usage--rationalizing envy.

T.0. Morrow

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