Response to Humanism and the Welfare State, Robert Davis

I’m one of those people who is neither a liberal or a conservative. I don’t believe with Gilbert that every child is born a little liberal or a conservative (with lower case) and I would say a pox on both their houses. To the extent that I accept the label, I use the word “Whig,” unlike Yon Hyack, I’m not an old Whig, I have to confess to being sort of a low Whig.

By “Whig”, I mean an individualist and for limited government. Do not get rid of the government – I don’t want to sell the sidewalks – but I believe in a limited government.

And I’m also not a religious Humanist. I am one of the ones called secular and I do not consider myself in that category, and it sometimes drives me up the wall to be around them, so you will see this in my analysis, I think.

A couple parenthetical remarks. First of all, about the last, the request that not get rid of the ban on political affiliation that Bob finished with.  I think this paper is an excellent example of why we should keep that rule. Because quite obviously very many of us could not go along with this program.

The program that he outlined would result, in my opinion, be so bad that I would call it wicked. I really couldn’t associate with a program that seriously politically advocated that kind of welfare system that he was enumerating. I’U go through one or two of those things in a minute.

I rather agree about Rawls. I think you can find a higher and better use of your time if you’re going to. read philosophy, social philosophy, than Mr. Rawls. He bases a lot of the book on this sentence that Bob brought out and emphasized, that justice is fairness. All over my copy I’ve annotated, I don’t know what that means. What does it mean to say “justice is fairness” – where have we gotten? I think we’ve used a synonym. And he doesn’t come back – at least I didn’t find him coming back and saying fairness is justice. As I read through, that seemed to be what he was saying.  It was a circular definition as far as I was concerned. I really think the entire rest of the book is rather insecure because of the inadequacy of that kind of definition. He probably should refrain from publishing it on that ground alone.

To discuss a little bit on welfare, I will say first of all that I don’t think Sherwin knew ,this.when he called and asked me to respond. I do speak from a personal history – my father died when I was a year old and my mother was a polio cripple, and I grew up on ADC. My viewpoints on welfare are ,obviously in part affected by that experience.