I was just going to drop it, but now we're getting into the interesting stuff...
boboff wrote:However as Mike said, you have two sides to this, if you haven't "Got" are you lazy or deprived?
Something like 90% of the human race alive today will never
be as well-off as I am, no matter how
hard they work, simply I was lucky enough to be born in a wealthy, developed nation, with access to education and healthcare.
Sure, it did
take a fair bit of hard work to get to where I am today, but it also involved a heck
of a lot of luck. I was lucky to be born somewhere where I didn't die of an easily preventable medical condition before my 5th birthday. I was lucky never to have suffered malnutrition in childhood, with its life-long developmental impacts. I was lucky to have an IQ in the 95th percentile, access to a decent education, and parents who valued it. I was lucky that my cognitive "abnormalities" just happen to make me uniquely well-suited for a relatively well-paid and high-status profession that barely existed when I was born, and that the mental health issues arising from this not-entirely-unmixed blessing were relatively manageable. I could go on for quite some time in this vein... Or I could just link to the wiki pages for the Fundamental Attribution Error
and the Just World Fallacy
boboff wrote:I suppose the only thing I actually object to, in a fair society, is people resenting other people for what they have, that emotion is just so destructive.
I tend to take that view that any society in which someone can be born into either wealth or poverty is not fair. John Rawls wrote a rather extensive book on the subject (A Theory of Justice
), in which he argues (quite convincingly) that that fairness requires that people's opportunities should not depend on arbitrary factors, such as the conditions of their birth, or even their innate talents and abilities. Consider schooling: I breezed through school without breaking a sweat, and passed every exam I ever sat with basically no effort whatsoever. I even won the prize for my year for German, even though I absolutely hated the subject, didn't study at all
, and spent my entire time sat at the back of the class drawing. Other kids really put in a lot
of hard work and study, and yet didn't do nearly as well, simply because they didn't have my innate gifts. Is that fair? Rawls would argue not, and I would have to agree.
There is also rather a lot of evidence coming in from cognitive neuroscience that people don't (and indeed can't
) simply choose
whether to be "lazy" or not. Behaviours are acquired through a complex interplay of genetic, developmental, and environmental factors, and it seems there is very little role for what people usually call "free will". For example, there's some very interesting evidence that things such as IQ and motivation are influenced by both birth order and family size - with later siblings from larger families being less likely to succeed academically than early siblings, or those from small families. But that's maybe a topic for another day... But if you're interested, there's a very good BBC4 documentary which touches on the subject available on iPlayer: Justice: What's A Fair Start
? (The whole series
seemed rather good, but I haven't watched them all yet.)