In a recent post, I took issue with Jason Brennan's claim that "You might be a cartoon libertarian if: 1. You think the term “social justice” has no definite meaning in philosophy today." One point that came up in the discussion thread was the suggestion that the BHL folks, who are (I think) all or mostly academic philosophers, are unfairly prejudiced against other people who are not.
Apropos of which, I have two simple questions for Jason or any of the others associated with the BHL blog:
1. Do you believe that the derivation of the rule that, as one of you put it, "lies
at the heart of John Rawls’s theory of social justice," is more intellectually defensible than any of the items on Jason's list of criteria for recognizing a cartoon libertarian? Is his derivation of the minimax rule more defensible than the claim that "Ayn Rand’s critiques of Kant or Plato (or any philosopher, for that matter) are insightful." Than the claim that “'social justice' has no definite meaning in philosophy today." Than the claim that "there are no involuntary positive duties to others."
If the answer is that you think Rawls' argument is more defensible than any of those, I would be happy to argue the matter with you. When I raised the question with Zwolinski and Tomasi in a recent exchange, I got a response which I interpreted as implying that they were unwilling to defend Rawls.
Supposing you are not willing to defend Rawls, at least to that limited extent, the obvious next question is:
2. Would you be willing to describe Rawls as a "cartoon liberal?"
Preferably online or in print.
If the answer to both questions is "no," I do not see how you can defend yourself against the charge that you have a double standard, treat arguments made by academic philosophers, at least famous ones, with more respect than arguments made by other people—even when both are equally bad.
Which is not, I think, consistent with justice in the ordinary sense of the term.
P.S. Thinking about this in response to comments, I concluded that I had overstated my argument. Jason did not say that Rand was a cartoon libertarian, although for all I know he thinks she is, he said that you might be a cartoon libertarian if you think certain of her writings are insightful. Applying the same standard to him, the question I should have asked is whether he would be willing to say that:
You may be a cartoon liberal if you think Rawls' argument for the minimax principle deserves respect.
Jason has now responded
to this (and my previous post criticizing me) on his blog.