Rawls, redistribución de órganos e ingeniería psíquica

En episodios anteriores (El ocaso de Rawls I, II y III) ya tuvimos ocasión de desmontar las teorías Rawlsianas – centrándonos al menos en A Theory of Justice y The Law of Peoples -. Posiblemente la reformulación del primer libro en Political Liberalism pueda salvar algo parecido a la Justicia como Equidad, pero eso será acaso objeto de artículos futuros.

Este artículo únicamente viene a poner el dedo sobre problemas de dimensiones épicas para el marco de A Theory of Justice. Concretamente, lo que argumentaré será que la Justicia como Equidad puede llegar a permitir, para lograr la justicia- a los agentes redistribuir órganos de los menos a los más necesitados, y si se pudiese, de practicar algún tipo de ingeniería psíquica, alterando los fines de cada individuo de la sociedad, de forma que por su propia voluntad busquen satisfacer los intereses del grupo más desfavorecido. Si la razón para permitir desigualdades era que eso incentivaría una mayor productividad y por tanto que los que están peor saldrían ganando, en principio parece que la mejor situación posible para una sociedad sería una donde todos sus miembros trabajan para el colectivo, sin producir menos por falta de incentivos. La ingeniería psíquica es lo que permitiría, hipotéticamente, lograr tal cosa.

Pero uno podría decir, ¿Acaso no tiene Rawls un Primer Principio de Libertad que es lexicográficamente anterior al Segundo, de manera que las libertades básicas no pueden violarse nunca, por ningún motivo? Y el derecho a que no le manipulen a uno mismo, que tus entrañas y tu mente (Tú, a fin de cuentas) estén a disposición plena del resto de la sociedad parecería ser uno que deba estar en el Primer Principio.

Por tanto, lo que tendría que demostrar es que el Primer Principio no cubre esas cosas. Al hacerlo, quedarán bajo el amparo del Segundo, que sí exige la redistribución orientada a mejorar las condiciones de vida de los desfavorecidos.

A tal efecto, nos valdremos del libro de Loren Lomasky Persons, Rights and the Moral Community (p. 135-141)

Según Rawls las habilidades que tiene la gente son moralmente arbitrarias, el resultado de una lotería natural neutral:

The extent to which natural capacities develop and reach fruition is affected by all kinds of social conditions and class attitudes. Even the willingness to make an effort, to try, and so to be deserving in the ordinary sense is itself dependent upon happy family and social circumstances (Rawls)

A lo que Lomasky responde:

The Rawlsian argument for the moral permisibility of distributing economic goods according to a socially derived criterion, the difference principle, does not rest on a claim that there is some characteristic peculiar to property such that it and it alone falls under the public aegis; rather, the entire realm of the morally arbitrary is subject to collective determination. That, however, includes everything that individuates one person from another: physical attributes, character, intelligence, and relations to property. Indeed, even the ends that persons have will be regarded as arbitrary. That A comes to devote himself to end E1 and B to E2 will be the product of a myriad of causal factors that have, on the Rawlsian account, no inherent moral significante. Only the bare deontological ego stripped of all its attachments and everything that sets it off as distinct from other egos remains as nonarbitrary. If nothing that is tainted by the stain of moral arbitrariness can be allowed behind the Rawlsian veil, then persons can bring to the contractual process only their existence as persons.

Some theories that profess to be liberal perceive no problem with affirmation that all dispositions of property reside ultimately in the collectivity. Yet the implications of Rawls’ informal argument extend far beyond property, as commonly conceived. Everything that in fact individuates one person from another becomes common property: “We see then that the difference principle represents, in effect, an agreement to regard the distribution of natural talents as a common asset” (p. 101 ATOJ)

Rawls does not explicitly list personal conceptions of the good as also being common assets, but that is the clear implication of his argument. If A’s virtuosity as a pianist is a talent that does not, in a morally privileged sense, belong to A, if it can properly be harnessed for the good of everyone, then A’s commitment to pursue a life in music is equally a social asset.

In pursuit of the elimination of what is morally arbitrary, Rawls has, unfortunately, undercut the supporting structures on which a viable liberalism must rest. It is arbitrary that A has the abilities, character and projects that he does, and thus it is arbitrary that A has reason to pursue those ends which are his rather than those end which are B’s. Rawls would preclude A from demanding a liberty to serve those ends which are distinctively his own because Rawls will not grant that the contingent facts carry moral weight that is prior to and determinate of justice in social arrangements. […] A has no ends that rightfully are his, and A deserves no liberty, until the social unit adjudicates what those ends and liberties shall be. […]

To be sure, Rawls does not advocate brainwashing and corrective neurosurgery in the collective interest. Persons will be allowed to keep the ends that they have along with their distinguishing abilities and character: “It does not follow that one should eliminate these distinctions. There is another way to deal with them. The basic structure can be arranged so that these contingencies work for the good of the lesat fortunate.” (p. 102 ATOJ).

“It does not follow that one should eliminate these disctinctions” – but neither does it follow that one should not. It is probably the case that any vast social program of altering men’s minds and bodies, shaping ends and abilities to fit a collective design, will be counterproductive. The least well off will have their condition worsened that made better. On grounds of efficiency it might be better to leave ends where they may lie. But if totalitarian psychoengineering flunks a cost-benefit analysis, that is a fortuitous accident and one that is largely a function of available technology. Rawls can take little comfort from its practical unfeasability. It would be a strange irony if the philosopher most insistent on the rejection of appeal to which is morally arbitrary had to rest a claim for noninterference with that which is central to the integrity of project pursuers on the (temporary) abscence of handy means to mold men’s souls.

It might be argued that Rawls is not vulnerable in this respect because the maximum equal liberty principle rules out any such interference with personality. […]

The objection fails. It does not explain why societal meddling with the character a person happens to have counts as a violation of liberty while the exercise of ultimate control over property holdings a person happens to have does not. More crucial, it fails to note that any appeal to the formally derived principles of justice is logically inadmissible in this context. What is now under consideration is Rawls’ informal argument, intended to make convincing the claim that whatever emerges from behind the veil is an adequate representation of our intuitive sense of justice. It would be blatantly circular to introduce at this point a principle whose moral accepatbility is being scrutinized. Why should we subscribe in wide reflective equilibrium to the difference principle? The informal argument places the principles of maximum equal liberty in jeopardy. If contingencies can be socially controlled to work for the benefit of the least well off, then the ends that persons contingently have must also be placed in the pot of social assets. In the attempt to render credible one of his two principles, Rawls inadvertently pulls the rug out under the other.

Luego argumenta Lomasky que el principio de libertad no logra salvar a Rawls porque éste no cubre aquello que es moralmente arbitrario, que es el argumento que usa para defender el segundo.

Rawls defiende las libertades cubiertas por el primer principio así

Thus we distinguish between the aspects of the social system that define and secure the equal basic liberties and the aspects that specify and establish social and economic inequalities. Now it is essential to observe that the basic liberties are given by a list of such liberties. Important among these are political liberty (the right to vote and to hold public office) and freedom of speech and assembly; liberty of conscience and freedom of thought;
freedom of the person, which includes freedom from psychological oppression and physical assault and dismemberment (integrity of the person); the right to hold personal property and freedom from arbitrary arrest and seizure as defined by the concept of the rule of law. These liberties are to be equal by the first principle. (Rawls, S11, A Theory of Justice)

¿Pero por qué esas libertades? Pues si nos vamos a la sección 13.4 de Justice as Fairness: a Restatement:

A list of basic liberties can be drawn up in two ways. One is historicaI; We survey various democratic regimes and assemble a list of rights and liberties that seem basic and are securely protected in what seem to be historically the more successful regimes. Of course, the veil of ignorance means that this kind of particular information is not available to the parties in the original position, but it is available to you and me in setting up justice as fairness. We are perfectly free to use it to specify the principles of justice we make available to the parties. A second way of drawing up a list of basic rights and liberties is analytical: we consider what liberties provide the political and social conditions essential for the adequate development and full exercise of the two moral powers of free and equal persons (§7.1). Following this we say: first, that the equal political liberties and freedom of thought enable citizens to develop and to exercise these powers in judging the justice of the basic structure of society and its social policies; and second, that liberty of conscience and freedom of association enable citizens to develop and exercise their moral powers in forming and revising and in rationally pursuing (individually or, more often, in association with others) their conceptions of the good. Those basic rights and liberties protect and secure the scope required for the exercise of the two moral powers in the two fundamental cases just mentioned: that is to say, the first fundamental case is the exercise of those powers in judging the justice of basic institutions and social policies; while the second fundamental case is the exercise of those powers in pursuing our conception of the good. To exercise our powers in these ways is essential to us as free and equal citizens.

Las libertades básicas son aquellas que  son necesarias para perseguir nuestra concepción particular de lo que es bueno. El primer método de Rawls para hallarla debería incluir la propiedad privada sobre los medios de producción: en los regímenes más exitosos se reconoce. Él la descarta. En la segunda, la analítica, deben asegurarse los derechos necesarios para desarrollar los “dos poderes morales de las personas libres e iguales” que según la S 7.1 son

(i) One such power is the capacity for a sense of justice: it is the capacity to understand, to apply, and to act from (and not merely in accordance  with) the principles of political justice that· specify the fair terms of social  cooperation.

(ii) The other moral power is a capacity for a conception of the good: it is the capacity to have, to revise, and rationally to pursue a conception of the good. Such a conception is an ordered family of final ends and aims which specifies a person’s conception of what is of value in human life or,  alternatively, of what is regarded as a fully worthwhile life. The elements on such a conception are normally set within, and interpreted by, certain comprehensive religious, philosophical, or moral doctrines in the light of which, the various ends and aims are ordered and understood.

¿Y no es necesaria la propiedad privada más allá de la personal para, en el caso de ciertas personas, conseguir esto?

Con este breve apunte lo que quiero decir es:

  • Rawls da un argumento para defender el principio de libertad: concretamente, que sus libertades básicas son necesarias para desarrollar los dos poderes morales de las personas libres e iguales.
  • Rawls da otro argumento para el segundo principio: distribuir equitativamente aquello que sea moralmente arbitrario.
  • Si aceptamos el segundo argumento, aceptamos que los fines de los individuos, así como el hecho de disponer de cuerpos sanos son hechos moralmente arbitrarios, por lo argumentado por Lomasky. Entonces estaríamos justificando el principio de diferencia… pero también la redistribución de órganos y la ingeniería psíquica salvo que eso quede excluido del cálculo político, protegido por el primer principio.
  • Si aceptamos que tener un cuerpo sano y tener ciertos fines queda protegido por el primer principio, estamos aceptando que algunas arbitrariedades morales no debe ser redistribuidas. La cuestión pasa a ser cuáles, y por qué.
  • Lo único que parece salvar a Rawls de un escenario distópico es que el principio de libertad evita estas cosas. Pero a la vista de lo anterior, la argumentación rawlsiana parece ser: en principio partimos de la igualdad, todo es redistribuible y lo que, si se redistribuye, da lugar a situaciones inaceptables, lo metemos en el primer principio. Por tanto, si las personas tras el velo de ignorancia no están de acuerdo en que todo lo moralmente arbitrario se redistribuya, no llegarán a un acuerdo sobre qué meter en el primero y segundo principio. Tendrían que ponerse de acuerdo sobre qué arbitrariedades morales admitir y cuáles no.
  • Y uno no podría apelar a “Es de sentido común y toda persona razonable aceptaría las arbitrariedades que admite Rawls y rechazaría las que rechaza Rawls (la propiedad privada, por ejemplo” porque existen muchas personas razonables que discrepan.
  • Llegamos, por otra vía, a algo que ya dijimos en artículos anteriores: que el resultado de la posición original depende de qué se entiende por persona y qué concepciones morales de partida tienen las personas tras el velo.
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2 Responses to Rawls, redistribución de órganos e ingeniería psíquica

  1. Pingback: The Non-Non Libertarian FAQ | Nintil

  2. Pingback: Why I am not a Bowmanite neoliberal, and why that doesn’t matter | Nintil

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