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Two Genetic Arguments

Summary:
Consequentialism, Liberalism Some people think this is a good argument against school vouchers: Vouchers Are Racist1. Many the people who originally defended school vouchers decades ago did so because they wanted to reinforce racial segregation/prevent racial integration. [Corrupt semi-historian Nancy MacLean continually lies to the public that James Buchanan had this motive, but presumably some people actually did, even if historical documents show that Buchanan in fact supported integration.] 2. If some of the original supporters of school vouchers did so because they believed vouchers would reinforce racial segregation, then supporting vouchers is racist. 3. Therefore, supporting vouchers is

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Consequentialism, Liberalism

Some people think this is a good argument against school vouchers:

Vouchers Are Racist
1. Many the people who originally defended school vouchers decades ago did so because they wanted to reinforce racial segregation/prevent racial integration. [Corrupt semi-historian Nancy MacLean continually lies to the public that James Buchanan had this motive, but presumably some people actually did, even if historical documents show that Buchanan in fact supported integration.]

2. If some of the original supporters of school vouchers did so because they believed vouchers would reinforce racial segregation, then supporting vouchers is racist.

3. Therefore, supporting vouchers is racist.

On its face, this is a silly argument–after all, it could turn out that the original supporters were wrong. Perhaps vouchers turn out to actually reduce segregation. If we care about segregation, we’d want to check; we wouldn’t just assume the original supporters got the facts right.

But no matter. What I find odd is that certain people on the Left find the Vouchers Are Racist argument sound, but then at the same time do not accept this parallel argument:

Minimum Wage Laws Are Classist, Racist, and Eugenicist

1. The economists who first proposed minimum wage laws did so because they believed these laws would cause mass unemployment among whom they regarded as the dregs of society. They wanted to starve them out and thus improve the gene pool. [Unlike MacLean’s fictions about Buchanan, this is actually true. See  here and here.]

2. If the economists who first proposed minimum wage laws did so because they believed these laws would starve the poor, then supporting minimum wage laws is classist, racist, and eugenicist.

3. Therefore, supporting minimum wage laws is classist, racist, and eugenicist.

This second argument has the same structure as the first. The main difference is that premise 1 is clearly true in the second argument but not in the first. Still, many on the Left find the first compelling but the second argument not compelling. They can’t have it both ways. “Genetic arguments for me but not for thee!”

In fact, neither argument is any good, even if we suppose that premise 1 of the first argument is true. I wouldn’t use the second argument against current supporters of the minimum wage. Obviously, most current supporters of the minimum wage aren’t eugenicists who want to starve the poor and prevent them from reproducing; they just believe the early economists were mistaken about what minimum wage laws will do. Similarly, economists and philosophers who today support vouchers dispute whether vouchers increase racial segregation.

Jason Brennan
Jason Brennan (Ph.D., 2007, University of Arizona) is Robert J. and Elizabeth Flanagan Family Chair and Associate Professor of Strategy, Economics, Ethics, and Public Policy at the McDonough School of Business, and by courtesy, Associate Professor of Philosophy, at Georgetown University, and formerly Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Research, at Brown University. He specializes in political philosophy and applied ethics.

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