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Outed! I am a SJW…

So, I guess it turns out I’m a “social justice warrior.” At least, that’s what an angry emailer called me. (On the same day, I was also called a “cuckservative,” so I’m on a roll!)

All because, in this podcast on EconTalk, talking with my good friend Russ Roberts, I said the following:

Well, there are institutions that we can judge about their performance behind the veil of ignorance, or, as Montesquieu talks about slavery, separate from individual acts. And the test is that: Does it satisfy the test that if I didn’t know what my position in the society was, I would say, ‘Yes.’ That’s the sort of society that produces a set of outcomes that I think are consistent with justice. Now, it may still be true that there’s no way of getting there; it’s not obvious whether redistribution is just because of the [incentive]┬áproblems that it causes. But I don’t think that social justice is a nonsense concept. Hayek said it was like a moral stone. But that’s one of the reasons that I write for Bleeding Heart Libertarians. I actually think that our side–whatever that means–should take the problem of social justice a little more seriously. And that’s one of the reasons that I’m so interested in this appalling institution of slavery–was that it was constructed by people who themselves were interested in justice. And who made a defense that, when you look at its complexity and the logic of its construction, is actually pretty hard to attack directly if you grant the premises.

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Author: Mike Munger
  • onehsancare

    This needs more context . . . .

  • “There are institutions that we can judge about their performance behind the veil of ignorance, or, as Montesquieu talks about slavery, separate from individual acts. […] That’s the sort of society that produces a set of outcomes that I think are consistent with justice.”

    I have to say I was quite confused during that segment of your interview. How can there be two concepts of justice: one concerned with aggregate outcomes (social/macro justice) and one concerned with individual acts (micro/traditional justice)?
    If the two concepts agree, then one is probably redundant.
    More likely they disagree, in which case how can they simultaneously be just?

    Concretely, what bothers me with the macro concept, is that I don’t think it can translate to the micro level. So let’s say that a macro injustice was committed, who is responsible? Who should make reparations? Who acted wrong? In practice, the answer that tends to come from social justice advocates is nobody and everybody, which tends to become whoever we choose to arbitrarily pick on.

  • A. Alexander Minsky

    Since you don’t identify as a conservative, it is inconsistent for the the alt-right to label you a “cuckservative.” Though consistency is not always a strong suit for those on the alt-right.

    • Libertymike

      How about some examples of such inconsistent self-identified alt-righters?

      • A. Alexander Minsky

        Most alt-righters post under pseudonyms, so I don’t have a whole lot of names to offer you. If you spend some time on the comment boards at alt-right web sites, you will quickly see what I am talking about.

  • LLC

    Couldn’t we also say that pretty much anything and everything is hard to attack directly if we grant the premises?

    • murali284

      No, because sometimes the conclusions don’t follow even if you grant the premises. Also sometimes certain aspects of the argument (perhaps a fundamental premise, or maybe a mid-level premise, or maybe a particular sort of move) have unpalatable consequences. Reductios are examples of the latter sort.

      • LLC

        Granted. That’s why I said “pretty much” instead of “literally”.