Body Swappin'

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Marketplace reports on the first organ transplant arranged by MatchingDonors.com. I'm shocked, shocked to learn that the news was greeted with dismay by our official organ planners, who do Rawls one better by subjecting even our body parts to principles of distributive justice.

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  1. I’m waiting to see if my monitor will go fuzzy (hardware problems, don’t ask).

    Julian, I think a few weeks ago I serendipitously stubmled on a few interesting essays/rantings on your site about Rawls. And though I only browse this blog occasionally, I’ve seen more than a couple people accuse you of being insufficiently libertarian. Maybe they sense the samething I do: In your heart of hearts you really want to come over to the darkside and begin arguing for the virtues of our hippy-skippy Rawlsian world.

    Rawls of course sets out to refute utilitarianism *because* of *its* failure to recognize “the separatness of persons.” C’mon, stop worshiping the Market God for a second and join us in the Original Position. You know it’s rational. You know you want to. You know people — especially in the organ market — face up against a “background of coercion” — asymmetrical, one-sided, dominant- dominatned, master-slave relationships — and cannot make choices that can be meaningfully described as “free.” At least Rawls addresses such arbitrary, uncontrollable circumstances from the moral point of view.

    I know that perspective does not go over well here. Justice as Fairness evil. Justice as “got mine, up yours” is the only way to go!

  2. Frankly, I’m shocked too. But it’s like being shocked that any given blonde driving any given red Suburban will inevitably be on the cell phone and just as inevitably will cut you off, forcing you into the median with an illegal and unsafe lane change. You know it’s going to happen but every time it does you’re surprised and pissed all over again.

  3. Zane-
    I’m an unabashed Rawlsian libertarian, though in a later-Rawls Political Liberalism sense, rather than a ToJ sense. I accept enough of Sandel’s critique (Cribbed, NB, in large part from Nozick) that I’m not particularly sympathetic to the project of framing justice in opposition to contingency of any form.

  4. Julian,

    An “unabashed Rawlsian libertarian” — how odd. Yes, the essay I now remember reading dealt with Sandel’s famous critique of the original position, and I vividly recall you connecting it to Nozick. (Before posting I checked out your site again, briefly looking for the aforementioned piece but soon became side-track with the Nozick interview, which sounds familiar.) Apart from the valid argument that our values and attachments constitute who we are — our personal identity — the Original Position seems to offend my materialistic, anti-dualist sensibilities.

    Anyway, how one reconciles Rawls’ _Political Liberalism_ seems to me a bit of mystery. Though, I must take a moment to shamefully confess that I’ve never *actually* drudged through the all of the lectures in that book. Rawls published an updated version of “The Idea of Public Reason” in his book _Law Of Peoples_. I will probably end up buying Columbia’s reissue of _Political Liberalism_ (with an introduction from Martha Nussbaum) some time in the near future.

  5. Must. Fight. Veil. Of. Ignorance.

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