by Dish Staff
You could call [Elizabeth’s take] a “moral libertarian” version of Rawls’s veil of ignorance. We don’t know what our daughter might decide to do when she is of age. She might decide to have sex for money. Therefore, we should examine our political (and moral) attitudes with a view to who would be most harmed by them – and the person most harmed by a morally condemnatory attitude is the daughter who decides to have sex for money, and would be condemned for it.
As with Rawls’s own perspective, this makes perfect sense if you take the existing distribution is a given – in Rawls’s case, of wealth; in Nolan Brown’s, of life choices. If you don’t assume that – if you assume instead that redistribution of wealth will lead to less production of wealth overall, or that a permissive moral attitude will lead to an increase in objectively poorer life choices – then you can’t blithely say that the only thing that matters is harm reduction for those who make those choices. You have to weigh the costs on all sides of the equation. This much should be obvious.
But I still think Nolan Brown’s critique has teeth, because she’s drawing a distinction between the daughter as thought experiment and the daughter in reality.
And Elizabeth responds:
I’m guessing not many people take forklift-driving positions because they just adore the work. People take jobs as forklift drivers for the same reason people take jobs in porn—to make a living—and we don’t hear complaints that this situation exploits forklift drivers because they are under economic pressure to accept dangerous work. Yet according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, there are about 85 deaths and 34,900 serious injuries related to forklifts each year, with 42 percent of these involving the forklift operator being crushed by a tipping vehicle. How many people are killed each year by porn?