Principle of Fairness: Relation of Consent to Justness (Part 2 of 2)

The final take on the concept of Consent is one that hopes to gain the scale ability both in terms of size of groups as well as the daunting task of long term commitments. In this form the act of consenting lasts only as long as a person feels they would rather be in the deal than not, accepting benefits in full knowledge of the deal, which includes the benefits and the negatives. In Layman’s once again this is the idea that you pay for what you like and not for what you don’t. The payment does not have to be monetary but that’s the simplest way to understand the concept.

Returning to the pub for a real world example we have the group decide that if anyone wants to be part of the group they just need to pay for a pitcher when it comes to be their turn. In this system they can safely get larger or smaller and anyone can be part of the deal for any length of time. A person who decides that they’d like to be a part of the deal for a few years can decide at a later date that this setup is no longer working for them. Indeed the act of losing members while raising the financial investment per member also lengthens the time between purchases. In this system nobody is expected to invest beyond their own interests and nobody is punishable for breaking away, assuming that at no point do they receive the benefits of the service without putting in for the negatives.

This system is self regulating and in that manner it is useful in all situations. Take a nation of a million fold, they decide together that anyone in the nation may decide on what they do or do not want their tax money to go towards. However anything they do not invest in they cannot reap the benefits of. So those who refuse to pay into the taxes for health care would not be able to get it without paying during their checkups, those who don’t pay into the education system could not send their children without paying, the same would be said for all the various services across the nation.

Under the assumption that people will pay for what they need, the services will become more well funded as more people require them which will cause the services (under proper management) to expand and accommodate the larger numbers. As less people desire a service the funding will cut back and likewise the number of persons using that service cuts back. Services that few or no people desire, for example biological weaponry, would eventually fall apart from lack of funding. Taxes likewise would rise and fall in accordance with the services that people actively desire.

This also addresses an argument raised by Robert Nozick, who equated taxation to forced labor. In Nozick’s example taxation is a forced system that all parties within a nation (or group) agree upon by living in that area or being a part of that system. However as established earlier this implied agreement is not a consistent nor effective form of contract and indeed there must be a much more interactive and dynamic system to provide the least unjust (ideally entirely just) system possible.

This form of taxation is no longer forced, it becomes more of a subscription based investment system. Anyone who does not agree with a certain project can designate their funding to not be used in that project. Under an honest and open governing body this creates a nation where there would be no reason to feel that taxes are a negative factor. It is my strong opinion that the negative attitude towards taxation is not towards the nature of taxing itself but the rather global nature of unreasonable taxation. Every current nation has large sums of money spent on projects that a vast majority of its people do not agree with nor would they pay into if they had an actual choice. Unfortunately taxation is an ultimatum in modern civilizations rather than an actual choice. So while I strongly disagree that any taxation equates to forced labor I would agree with Nozick that modern day itineration’s of taxation however do.

There is are problems with this system however. We must assume that any civilization under this system would be entirely populated by sound minded individuals with each person having a sufficient level of education to help guide their decisions. We also require that there be no false advertising in what projects actually do when applying for what a citizens taxes should go towards. Both of these assumptions are quite unreasonable when looking at all current and past nations, indeed it might be impossible to begin a system such as this without starting an entirely new society comprised of either persons who had proper education, civic pride, and proper cognitive functioning or a society of persons who have never been indoctrinated into any of the current or past civilizations. The latter is an obvious impossibility without the extreme step of taking a large clutch of infants and placing them somewhere, and the former is highly difficult given the nature of modern nationhood (massive countries covering every habitable inch of the Earth).

Another issue that is raised by this system is to whether or not one must have consent under certain situations. If a person is currently carrying a pathogen that has a 100% mortality rate, is spread through various high traffic means like air or contact, and they live near or could get near a populated area is it unjust to restrain them? While it is true a properly functioning person would likely quarantine themselves for those who won’t is it fair to place them under containment until either a cure is found or they die? It was already established before that one cannot coerce others into an agreement and that they must accept the deal once understanding both the positive and the negative involved but in this sort of incident is that a set of rules that must be adhered to?

In this instance all four possible views of consent above seem to fall short. While it may seem improper (and uncomfortably utilitarian) to harm one or few to protect many it also seems obvious that in situations like this that a blind faith approach to fairness and justice could very quickly lead to incredibly bad outcomes. While it seems like an unlikely situation previous real world events, historically there have been 18 major plagues that have cost hundreds of millions of lives. The Black Death alone killed upwards of 75 million people.

These are extreme cases, but they must be addressed before they become an actual issue again. It may be required that there be a formula for all the most common situations, as with the fourth version of consent and to supplement it with a separate by similar doctrine for extreme circumstances. Laws in Physics break down whenever explaining a super massive or super small object(s), it would seem unreasonable to assume that any principle of command would likewise require special rules or supporting principles in extreme situations either large or small.

— So that’s it. If you notice anything or have any questions feel free to drop them by me. It’s due on Wednesday so I still have time to edit it.

By | 2009-03-15T16:45:20+00:00 March 15th, 2009|Journal|Comments Off on Principle of Fairness: Relation of Consent to Justness (Part 2 of 2)

Principle of Fairness: Relation of Consent to Justness (Part 1 of 2)

Since the dawn of the first civilizations, and likely before, there was the question of how to most effectively govern. Whereas a migrating people can place distance between them and those they disagree with the nature of sedentary societies places us in the position of addressing problems and addressing them in the fairest possible manner. There have been no less than 50 globally recognized forms of governing bodies, each has attempted to address this problem, from Adhocracy to Timocracy the goal has been to provide the most efficient form of government. To provide the most appreciated environment with the least amount of resources and to cause the lowest possible levels of dissent amongst the citizens. Few things end a governing body quicker than a nation of unhappy citizens. The goal of this paper is to discuss one important problem, known as the Principle of Fairness, this is a problem of when actions or situations are just and likewise when all parties have officially recognized and agreed to the actions or situations. Likewise while discussing this issue it will establish some Locke’s and Nozick’s principles and show how they can be used in much broader ways than previously proposed.

The first important venture is to establish what exactly the Principle of Fairness is: If a group of persons (any number above 1) are engaged in a mutually beneficial, cooperative venture, which requires restrictions of their liberties , then all those who have submitted to the restrictions are entitled to the following benefits so as to make the agreement fair:

· All in the agreement must receive the benefits.

· All parties must be made better off by the entire deal.

· If the above two do not detail your interaction with the deal then the agreement has nothing to do with you.

· Finally you cannot be forced (or coerced in any manner) into the deal. IE. All parties must consent.

Some important conundrums need to be immediately addressed before moving on. Preconceived notions of right and wrong may need to be placed aside to freely examine this topic. It is possible to create a situation where slavery would fit into the above stipulations, which places those supporting it in a tough spot. I a set of guidelines can be treated in a manner where they become unjust then those guidelines require further detail and examination before they can be properly used in a civilization.

For example if a farmer has copious supplies of food while nearby citizens are on the brink of starvation the farmer could provide the citizens with a deal that they will sign on as slaves and work at the whims of the farmer. In return they will be fed when necessary so as to not die. In this example all parties agree fairly, each is better off by the deal, and there is no force or coercion involved in the deal. So in this way slavery can be a fair agreement in at the very least one case.

Secondly we must address the situation of justness, or justice, as these are topics that become highly subjective. For the sake of uniformity I will use the definition of justice in holdings defined by Nozick. It has three stages (or principles): Firstly is the principle of acquisition, for acquisition to be just it essentially must be gained from nature and be something nobody else has ever owned before. Likewise if using personal skills to convert a piece of nature you are establishing that it is yours, for example carpentry turns wood (a natural resource) into a structure (a personal good) this is a concept championed by Locke and is known as the "Theory of Property". Second is the principle of transfer which is just iff (if and only if) it is done voluntarily. This principle and all others used in this paper will assume a state of properly functioning cognition. Thirdly is the principle of rectification which requires the prompt repair of previous unjust acquisitions or transfers. Such as giving a merchant the money they undercharged you after a transaction.

Now that we’ve established a definition of justice, which while designed for transactions of goods, does well in all situations involving just interactions we can move on to the four most prominent definitions of consent.

· They honestly assert to everybody that they want to be in the deal.


· Consent is when you accept the benefits in full knowledge of the deal.


· By Enjoying the benefits they consent to the negatives.


· They would rather be in the deal than not and they accept the benefits in full knowledge of the deal (In Layman’s; Only pay for the services you agree with).

The issue of honesty is one that is brought up both by Rawls in the "Theory of Justice" and by Nozick in "Anarchy, State, and Utopia." For Rawls it was covered by the hypothetical Original Position, in essence this places those establishing an agreement in a position of full cognitive range but removes their personal selfishness that leads to unequal distribution of essential resource (IE. Primary Goods). This paper will assume a similar position to show that even at a near best case scenario these systems may come up short.

There is a level of omniscience that is required for a being to earnestly assert a decision without unknowingly placing themselves in a position that they would not retrospectively have entered. It is not unusual for a person to enter into an agreement without realizing the full extent of their involvement in the deal. Be it from overlooking fine print in a contract or more reasonably being easily distracted.

For example, if there was a group of friends at a bar that decided they wanted to drink pitchers of beer for the rest of the night and that it would be best if all of them one after one another paid for a pitcher. This way for the cost of one pitcher (per person) they would get a return of five pitchers. On the surface this is a pretty fair trade. However in this agreement one of the people did not realize that they would have to pay for a pitcher. Perhaps they misunderstood or perhaps the decision for each person to pay was an implied cost of entering into the deal. By this definition of consent they have entered into the deal and have thus agreed to the position of purchasing a pitcher when it becomes their turn however equally so they appear to be a victim of circumstance.

Further still it could simply be a case of cultural differences. During a trip to Japan I decided that it would be nice of me to clean up the dining area after we ate. To a casual onlooker the response looked like I had beaten their first born. This was a simple case of cultural differences, whereas in the west it is implied that such a deed is a courteous act, in the east it can come off as insulting for the guest to clean the owners home.

This form of consent only functions properly in a position where absolutely nothing is implied, because humans are lacking omniscience all parts of the agreement must be laid out bluntly. Likewise this definition is victim of carelessness, accidental omissions can greatly affect the final decision of party members.

This problem is addressed by the second definition in which consent is only achieved when the member has not only asserted that they accept the deal but likewise they have accepted it with full knowledge of the deal. The goal here is to eliminate the necessity of an impossible trait (namely omniscience) by creating an agreement where all unmentioned information is superfluous to whether or not the member will agree to the decision.

Returning once more to the pub we look at the same situation but this time following the second definitions take on consent. This time it was made absolutely certain that everyone knew they would have to make a financial investment into the deal. They would buy in a clockwise order and continue until the end of the night. Everyone gives a very obvious form of consent such as verbal or written and the participation begins. What happens however when they reach the end of the night and one person has purchased less than anyone else? Or perhaps they go in such a manner that one person never buys one. In either case one member (at the very least) always comes out better than the rest of the group, they have all the gains of the investment, with less or none of the negatives.

This particular problem is merely a nuisance in these small numbers however the litigation required when dealing with millions of people could be nearly impossible. Indeed the most common form of this agreement, known as a loophole, is the cause of more than a billion dollars annually of lost income for the US government. Whenever a rule set does not work on the micro level and cannot function on the macro (or vice versa) it requires reworking.

Once again this problem is addressed by the third definition of consent. If a member enjoys the benefits they are consenting to the negatives, by consenting to the negatives one must assume that those negatives will befall them. So now the parties are honestly joining in the agreement, they are doing so with full knowledge of the deal, and finally they are doing so with full consent of the negatives of the deal. On first glance this appears to be a pretty solid deal. However just as the previous form of consent was weak depending on the size of the party, this particular formation is weak when examining it over a period of extended time.

Again at the pub we have a group that has agreed upon buying pitchers for the group, each has accepted that it will be a financial investment, and whenever someone doesn’t pay equally to the rest they start off the series of buys the next time the group returns. However the deal is made so that each is contractually bound to return to this setup every night for the next 5 years. There is absolutely no coercion and all members enter into the agreement with full understanding of the positives and negatives they will be receiving as a result of the deal. However a year or two into the deal one of the members has a change of heart. Let’s say that the member has recently become a parent and must be home (and sober) to properly take care of their child at night. At the point of original agreement they could very well have had no idea that they would be becoming a parent, they did not knowingly consent to a situation that they would soon have to break.

Indeed it is not at all uncommon for people to regret a decision after a certain amount of time under the ramifications of that agreement. Intuitively the new parent is more a victim of circumstance than an unjust or unfair dealer in the agreement. As before, a system that does not function properly in a reasonably present situation, such as the one outlined above, is not a system that should be adhered to. It should be examined and refined to more completely cover all possible outcomes and to produce the least amount of situations where someone is placed unknowingly into an unjust, unfair, or otherwise punishable position.

  To be continued and finished tomorrow. I just noticed that it was going on pretty long. I have to reach 4k words with this essay, it is currently 19 words below 2k. So this is going to be quite difficult without either having an epiphany or BSng…the latter of which I am not a big fan of doing.

By | 2009-03-14T22:27:36+00:00 March 14th, 2009|Journal|Comments Off on Principle of Fairness: Relation of Consent to Justness (Part 1 of 2)

Inanition and You

  Well to be fair it’s more a case of Inanition and myself however referencing old posters or instructional videos tends to get a laugh from people old enough to appreciate how terrible the particular thing one is referencing was.

  I looked today at the word of the day and found that it was oddly appropriate. For those that read this post at a later time the word is Inanition which is defined by the friendly folks at as:

inanition \in-uh-NISH-uhn\, noun:
1. The condition or quality of being empty.
2. Exhaustion, as from lack of nourishment.
3. Lack of vitality or spirit.

  For those that might be curious as how this pertains to the current state of affairs on this side of the internet it’s pretty simple. I have chronic insomnia which anyone that knows me has a pretty good knowledge of, last night I was blessed with 2 hours of sleep (between the hours of 10 PM and 12 AM). It was certainly an unpleasant event but it’s better than nothing.

  However! This is not supposed to be a random blog (folks get enough of that on facebook and twitter) and there was another point that arose today that fits the wonderful word of the day. Currently in the US political sphere (always a sphere) there is much banter about earmarks and while I am not here to berate or support earmarks there is something that has aggravated the hell out of me with the entire martyr march of folks who are against it.

  Whenever a politician (like say John McCain since he’s the particular one I saw ranting) banters on about the cost of a project, like for instance, 1 million dollars for research into a locust like insect that has in the words of a USA Today Reporter:

Sometimes the migration involves only small bands. Their numbers, however, gradually increase over several years and may reach densities of 100 per square yard — outbreak proportions. Then the crickets migrate in hordes (ten to fifty thousand) to foothills, rangeland, and crops. The high densities may persist for 5 to 20 years. At the peak of the 1938 infestation, Mormon crickets wiped out 19 million acres in 11 states.

mormon-cricketRun George! The Cricket is coming for you!
(Source: Web.Mit.Edu)

  Now when he says that we are spending 1 million dollars on research it sounds like a money sink and in fact anyone who doesn’t take the 8.23 seconds of time opening their Firefox and Googling (should officially be a verb soon) the topic of Mormon Crickets returns some startling information (that is pretty much unanimous). These insects in particular can start out relatively unassuming and grow to massive proportions utterly devastating the surrounding landscape (and you know…food supplies). In 2000 these devious little bastards cost the state of Utah alone 22 million dollars in damage that means that a single state (you know of the 50 we have) lost 22 times the cost of this bill because of a similar bill not going into effect sooner than 2000 and addressing the issue. In 2003 these little guys caused at least 25 million dollars. So over the course of a single presidential term we lost 47 times the cost of this bill.

  Indeed the quality of our politicians (in uncomfortably large amounts) and there motivations are in a state of Inanition. They lack substance and are frankly utterly wasteful uses of the television frequencies that they transmit over (for CSPAN and such). Telling someone the cost of a bill means absolutely nothing without equally telling the estimated return on that investment. When someone hears 1 million dollars in expenditures they feel cheated until they realize that it could have already potentially saved them almost 50 million dollars. I’m quite certain if just about any of John McCain’s(and to be fair anyone else he just happened to be the one I saw ranting) complaints would fall utterly flat if we examined the estimated return on the investments. I’m relatively confident that even the lowest expected return would still be quite promising for a good deal of the planned expenses on the bill.

  If we overlook potentially outbreak (I like the word pandemic but I think that’s misused) prone insects to roam free without any sort of research or control we risk losing a whole lot more than monetary resources. Indeed if large quantities of crop lands were lost I’m sure that people would be all the more used to the term Inanition because they’d be suffering from it.

  It will be the smallest of things that fells the largest of things with the utmost grace and swiftness, the second we assume that size denotes importance is the second we surrender to the most deadly of adversaries.

By | 2009-03-13T15:39:52+00:00 March 13th, 2009|Journal|Comments Off on Inanition and You

of Dreaming

I dream
of dreaming
feeling fantasy
overtake me

I dream
of resting
watching worlds
whose beauty
best me

So why now
do I find
my wake
taking hold
of me

I dream
of dreaming
of 8 hours
of ivory towers
of frailty
turned to majesty
oh how I miss
utter bliss
of dreaming

By | 2009-03-13T14:49:40+00:00 March 13th, 2009|Journal|Comments Off on of Dreaming

Literally Unfathomable

  While some people might argue and say that they can indeed visualize the following I imagine most people would agree that you are only visualizing the most ambiguous features as the grandiose nature of the entire thing is just wild. The following update is inspired in massive part by Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s book Death by Black Hole: And Other Cosmic Quandaries. In fact you will find a section in the book (near the middle) that discusses the following in very entertaining detail, he has a spunky writing style that I’m envious of at times. However as is common here…I am digressing so back on topic.

  For those that don’t know Satellites that are launched into space have two basic functions (permit this gross simplification), you have satellites that orbit the Earth and generally you have satellites (or as one reader reminded me: “Deep Space Probes” for the latter) that are launched as far as we can possibly get them to take pictures of all of the most amazing things in the universe. Before I go further to give you an idea of the distances we are talking here is an image from Voyager 1, it’s called “pale blue spot” or something like that. This is a picture of the Earth, yes that massive orb beneath your feet. It’s one of the most inspirational images I have ever seen:


Credit (for image edits):

  I apologize for the large nature of the image but I feel seeing it like this helps keep with the flow and give you a second to just take it in. That right there is a dot amongst a sea of grain and color that represents everything you have ever physically come into contact with and indeed everything you can reasonably plan to physically touch in one lifetime. Quite humbling for me and part of the reason I’m so interested in space travel. I want to see every little dot.

  Anyways the point of this is to illustrate the massive distance that these objects travel and indeed that do not even have the fuel necessary to make the distance. Anyone who has spun in a tea cup or a merry-go-round has noticed that the faster the object spins the more their body tries to launch itself at the speed of a tomahawk missile into the nearest hardest object (seriously why do I always hit something like a steel fence). Essentially this sort of thing happens on an absolutely massive scale in space, as an object passes by a massive object, if it doesn’t crash into the object it’ll slingshot via gravitational centrifugal force at very high speeds (the more massive the object the faster the slingshot).

  NASA scientists do a bit of magic by sling shooting satellites passed every planet in the solar system to get them soaring out of our Galaxy. This sort of math and accuracy is so utterly amazing that NASA scientists seriously deserve a special day where they all get cake or something. I can barely keep my calendar straight.

  At any rate this is only the beginning when looking at the magnificent power of gravity and centrifugal force. In the center of Galaxies like our own there are gargantuan (see Massive) black holes that kick so much ass and take so many names that they can launch entire suns at nearly the speed of light.

  So think about that for a moment, imagine something the size of our sun speeding passed our Solar System at nearly the speed of light? Or try to imagine something that absolutely gargantuan soaring passed our solar system at really any speed, it would be an event that would likely be impossible to forget (possibly for very tragic reasons).

  This sort of thing seems literally unfathomable, to visualize something essentially a million (That’s 1,000,000) times the size of Earth traveling at speeds that are essentially invisible to the naked eye (for the exception of the blanket of light that would probably cause many confused people to defecate themselves).

  It’s food for thought, it reminds us how utterly miniscule we are, and I will go on the record as saying that is in no way a bad thing. We may mock ants but there are quite a few that could quite easily kill a full grown human, humanity has the amazing potential to take its small size and do things on the grandest of scales. We just need to set aside our petty and inconsequential bickering and try to look at the bigger picture.

  Otherwise all that will remain is a pale blue dot on the vast galactic canvas.

By | 2009-03-12T13:22:41+00:00 March 12th, 2009|Journal|Comments Off on Literally Unfathomable