Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Rawls and talents: second reflection

2. There is no necessary guarantee that qualities that are found to be talents in a certain culture will be Rawlsian talents. Rawlsian talents are incompatible with Walzer's idea that the movement of social goods must be determined by their meaning (as found within a culture). For the conjunction of the following two propositions violates the idea that social goods are moved according to their meaning:

1. it is part of the meaning of some social goods (e.g. esteem) that they are allocated to the most talented

2. talents are not traits to which certain cultural meanings are attached, but they are Rawlsian talents

For if talents are Rawlsian talents, then whether they are talents or not depends on facts about possible distributions of primary goods in society. So the allocation of goods such as esteem depends on facts about possible distributions of primary social goods in society. This establishes what Walzer would call a "dominance" of the good "primary social good" over the good "esteem":the allocation of esteem depends (ultimately) upon the allocation of primary social goods.

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