PhiloMadrid - Pub Philosophy Meetings in Madrid

Friday, December 12, 2014

from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting at 6:30pm: Social Justice Warriors + NEWS

3 essays + 2 news items

Dear Friends,

This Sunday we are discussing: Social Justice Warriors.

However, we also have a long email today with three essays and two news
items, so without further ado:

---- From Encarna for TODAY FRIDAY:
Book Presentation at the Centro Segoviao Friday 12 December at 7:30pm --
Riaza by Elena de Frutos Manrique

----From Miguel
Estimado tertuliano,

Te informamos de próximas conferencias y otras noticias:

Conferencia en la Residencia de Estudiantes: (too late
for this one)
Conferencia CSIC:
Museo de las Matemáticas en la Escuela de Caminos de Madrid:
Algoritmos cuánticos:

Saludos cordiales,
Tertulia de Matemáticas

-----From Ruel
Hello Lawrence
The link to the short essay I wrote on Sunday's PhiloMadrid topic is:
Hope to see you and everyone on Sunday.

----From Ceit
Hi Lawrence, I have some remarks on my topic. Not that they will change
minds of those who have thought about it or enlighten those who haven't...
The term "Social Justice Warrior" feels like one which can open many
doors for discussion. Just defining what kind of justice is social and
good enough to fight for could fill a meeting by itself. What I find
most interesting about it, though, is that nobody is called a Social
Justice Warrior as a compliment. It's always said with snark and
sarcasm, referring to a person who doggedly insists on either drawing
attention to problems in society that are not considered very important,
or offering unacceptable solutions to those problems, insistently.
There is a good dollop on patronization slopped onto the phrase. It's
never said with outward trepidation or nervousness, but tossed about
recklessly like a toy or glob of something gross that will stick to
somebody and make them look silly. But why should anybody look silly
for caring about justice, of all things? Again, the name caller does
not think the sort of justice being fought for is important. It's
justice for people who are not in the same group: racial, national,
religious, etc. Injustices committed upon other groups don't really
affect us, so why should we care beyond signing a few internet petitions
or dropping a few coins into campaign cups? The Social Justice Warriors
have the tendency to rub noses is problems rather than just leave the
information in a visible place. They can be irritating, even if you
agree with them. The term implies that these people think they're
fighting some kind of "holy war". Many of them use phrases like, "We're
on the right side of history," which certainly sounds pompous and
stuffed with self-importance.
Still, using the phrase as an insult gives the impression that the
speaker really doesn't care for any kind of social justice, whether
asked for under reasonable terms or demanded shrilly. Being so
disdainful of people who insist that every human deserves respect does
not seem to jive with being a concerned citizen or somebody who wants to
have a stake in social progress, but members of many groups that present
themselves in that light are happy to sneer at "Social Justice
Warriors", as if the use of the insult showed them in a good and human
light. While we may have rational disagreements about implementing
justice in society, using the word as if it were a meaningless hobby
that had no impact on the population at large does not speak well of
one's character, in my opinion. It must be that the sarcasm is just too
sharp for my taste.


----From Lawrence
Social Justice Warriors

Slavery is cheap. Slavery is also profitable. Today we might not have
sailing ship criss crossing the Atlantic with human cargo from Africa to
the Americas but we do expect them to criss cross the Mediterranean on
their own in rusty buckets and leaky dinghies.

Sure, today there are old style slaves working in factories or building
sites, but the game has become more sophisticated. Maybe slavery has
always been a survival game with the consequent selection process, but
the game is always one of sophistication. The algorithm of the slave
game is something like: if you are a slave master persuade your slaves
that they are part of the big programme and their efforts are needed for
the big push towards utopia. If you are a slave try and redistribute
some of your master's wealth to make it look like legitimate ownership
and not theft.

Social justice (or rather injustice) is a function of this bigger game
of the majority employing their labour to accumulate wealth for their
owners. The concept of social justice wouldn't exist if people were paid
their fair due for their labour, companies were allowed to make a
legitimate return on investment (profit), governments protect the nation
from inequities and the legal system applied just laws.

Unfortunately, utopia does not exist, so even if we tried very hard to
achieve utopia we still fall short of the mark by virtue of the laws of
physics and biology. Biology does not do value judgements nor justice
its full time game is survival; thus neither utopia nor slavery have any
intrinsic value in our human game.

Thus social justice warriors would be that class of people who have a
strong sense of empathy, altruism, justice and charity for others. The
few who feel duty bound to stand up against those who exploit or oppress
the majority of people.

Except that there is a major issue with the philosophy of these worthy
warriors: basically they are reacting to the inequities of the system
(or game) introduced by those who practice social injustices. The mantra
is basically, wealth distribution, tax the rich, social welfare, more
schools or hospitals or whatever. Introduce minimum wages, welfare
handouts, and more social benefits. Basically, these warriors are trying
to solve yesterday's injustices and not trying to prevent the injustices
of tomorrow.

No matter how laudable these ideas are, the bottom line is still that
this kind of thinking is seriously flawed philosophy. It is flawed
firstly because, as I said, the rules of the game are those imposed by
those practicing social injustices. For example, although it has been
proven many times that minimum wages do make people better off than
having no minimum wages. But it is the concept of the "minimum" that is
philosophically offensive. It is offensive because we get the impression
that we testing how far we are allowed to practice injustice.

A less offensive approach is to establish a mechanism so that a type of
work is remunerated fairly and then top up a person's income to meet a
level that is socially adequate and acceptable. Thus what is a fair (or
reasonable for legal purposes) price for a certain job can be
established objectively and what is a fair income can also be set with
objective real time data. A minimum wage does not take into account the
cost of basic living in a society. But my point is not to offer an
alternative to the idea of minimum wage but to argue that by playing
(reacting) to the events of an unjust game our reaction will be as
flawed as the unjust game itself.

Minimum wages and fair salaries can be established objectively, but what
about wealth distribution? How does one go about redistributing wealth?
Not only do we have to account for the meaning of wealth, but we cannot
assume that all wealth is created through some sort of injustice. So the
task of establishing "what is legitimate wealth and what isn't" is an
arduous task in itself. On the other hand we can safely assume that
people with large amounts of wealth would also have the means to protect
it, especially from the standard tool of wealth distribution that is

But the evolutionary ratcheting of the injustice game requires a more
sophisticated approach: and that approach today invloves the concept of
choice. Whilst wealth and wages can easily be classified as slavery or
the product of injustice how can a choice of twenty different strawberry
jams be a product of slavery? At face value choosing a jar of jam is
quite easy, just pick the one that you like. But what happens when we
have to choose between strawberries, apricot, marmalade, ete etc do we
even have the time to know what we like? However, the exploitative part
does not come with the jam but with the fact that many of us neither
have the time nor the knowledge to assess the health effects of the
contents of the various jam jars. We might have the choice, but do we
really know what we are buying?

So if most of us have problems organise a perfect combination from a
menu-del-dia how are we expected to reach a perfect combination on the
best house to buy, personal insurance and, lately, health insurance and
in some countries the patient is also supposed to choose the treatment?
I do not mean that the alternative is better, far from it, but rather
exploiting our sense of choice to manipulate our sense of freedom is a
marvellous strategy in stealth that makes the Trojan horse look like a
lost pussy cat!

Think about it, why aren't we more educated in the health consequences
of the ingredients of a product rather on how sexy we look if we eat the
product? And why should we become so emotional when we come across free
offers or special offers if society was functioning at equitable
harmony? In an equitable society we should be asking are we receiving
value for money, is the price the product of exploiting someone in the
supply chain, will it cause me long term harm etc etc.

I chose slavery as an example of social injustice for two reasons:
firstly, it is such an extreme concept that this topic will take us to
the limits of our philosophy. We could also use as examples: debt
victims, working class, social outlaws, salaried workers, etc etc. The
point is that extremes stretch the system to the limits. Secondly,
slavery is the rock bottom tier of what is basically an issue in
economic justice.

Social injustice is basically an economic injustice since what matters
at the end of the day is the distribution of natural resources for
survival. Biological systems are first and foremost systems that rely of
the empirical dictates of nature. Speaking from personal observation, I
see very little social injustice against people who have abundant
wealth. Or maybe social justice warriors for well to do people are
called members of parliament, or at least some of them, anyway.

From a philosophical perspective, we have to grapple with the question
of "how far is our topic an epistemological one (access and processing
information, data and knowledge), and what role does economic theory
play in our topic?

My argument is that social justice is firstly an economic issue because
we are biological systems first. And secondly, the issue is not about
the amount of wealth nor the way to redistribute that wealth but rather
what social game can we invent to increase wealth that can be
distributed more equitably?

Best Lawrence

tel: 606081813 <>
PhiloMadrid Meeting
Meet 6:30pm
Centro Segoviano
Alburquerque, 14
28010 Madrid
Metro: Bilbao
Open Tertulia in English every Thursday from 19:30 to 21h at
The location has changed for this tertulia but I do not have the details

from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting at 6:30pm: Social Justice
Warriors + NEWS

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