Is Michael Phelps a Closet Rawlsian?

"I am lucky to have everything I have," Phelps said. "I'm lucky to have the talent I have, the drive I have, the excitement I have about the sport. I'm fortunate to have every quality I have."

Granted, Phelps is genetically gifted. But anyone who can put up with this regimen could stand to cut back some on the humility.

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Rawls is a failed Phelpsian

Phelps is expressing a common fine-sounding sentiment; it is a highly politic thing to say and to honestly believe about oneself and that's about it. But that doesn't stop philosophers from attempting to treat it as more than that.

It is as though a wife asked her husband, "does this dress make me look fat", the husband said, "no", and philosophers developed a theory of obesity based on that answer.

Rawlsianism and Luck

Rawlsianism and Luck Egalitarianism are different things anyway. Being as awesome as John Rawls is hard to fit into the framework of organizing social inequalities such that they benefit the worst off. Of course, his awesomeness is so great that he does benefit us all by his ability to swim real fast, but it's almost irrelevant when talking about amphibious ubermensch like he.

Surgical Rawlsianism

I have tried to figure out Rawls myself. I don’t see what’s to like. As far as I can tell his ideas are limited to economic and political matters and Rawls himself didn’t even think it made sense to apply it internationally, though many of his disciples did.

So these wise persons, blind to the future, figure out what kind of world they want and, not knowing what they will be, make sure everyone is sort of equal. (Veil of ignorance). I don’t care if other people have more money than I do. I like Donald Trump, he is cool and funny. I like seeing people driving around in big cars I can’t afford, because I don’t have to pay for them. Rawlsians don't complain about government operatives driving around in big cars. Who pays for that? If we are going to have a Rawlsian world, let’s go all the way. Tax hell out of Trump and cut a few of Phelps’s tendons.


In the Rawlsian argument,

In the Rawlsian argument, people under the veil of ignorance wish for equality not because they are jealous or have a desire for an egalitarian society at all, but because they are risk averse. The society resulting from the observance of the rules chosen under such criterion can very well be inegalitarian and have its share of Trumps, etc. I think your critic really misrepresent Rawls argument.

There are many flaws in his argument though... For some weird reason he assumes infinite risk aversion, but more fundamentally, the idea of risk aversion relates to individual preference, hence it requires knowledge about oneself and discards the whole premise of an ignorance veil.

A Fair world, A boring World with Rawls

Thank you for clarifying that. This does not explain the fact that Rawlsian arguments as they turn out in practices are always compatible with stultifying left liberal solutions. For example, is it worth the small chance that you wouldn’t have someone to buy you an Iron Lung if you got the chance to compete against another dude in a hotdog eating contest.

The wise men behind the veil have decided in advance that it is not fair for you to deny a pulmonary cripple the opportunity to have an iron lung. Therefore hotdog eating contests are forbidden.
I want to compete, you say, what is the connection? Tut tut, the world is zero sum. Just because the contest is important to you, you must consider that those hotdogs could have been sold and the proceeds used to make iron lungs instead of you eating them. Rawlsian thinking makes the world a hopeless morass.

Finally Equal

Whether or not it's really apropos to Rawls, I'm sure you'll like this:


The coming dystopia?

I prefer the version with

Reality Worse than Movie

The movie got it slightly wrong. Things are worse. The review said "Children are taught at school to achieve mediocrity, grade C is best, grade A is very bad. Adults are force fed TV with no stimulating content," In reality we have Olympics and political conventions which are giant infomercials. In school there is massive grade inflation. still in some schools only half of the students graduate. The future is now.