Philosophy 1010Y (01)
Wednesday April 4th 2012
Peter Andersen (B00572488)
3. What is Robert Nozick??™s ???Wilt Chamberlain??? example supposed to show Does it succeed Why or Why not Be sure to consider the objections by Rauls and Nielsen.
At first glance, the Wilt Chamberlain example seems to be flawless. However four criticisms have been made by the work of John Rauls and Kai Nielsen. I will argue two of these criticisms that are the most relevant to the example. Justice in Transfer remains just as long as it is voluntary and meets a special rule (The Lockean Proviso)
The Wilt Chamberlain example is supposed to show justice in holdings (justice in acquisition and justice in transfer). Justice in Acquisition states that ownership is the default condition whenever something is claimed and meets the Lockean Proviso. In the original acquisition of a holding there must be ???enough and as good??? left of the thing left for others (Nozick, p175). Justice in Transfer is the transfer of one??™s holdings to another in a voluntary transaction. Before explaining the Wilt Chamberlain example I will first explain the Lockean Proviso fully. The Lockean Proviso states that natural resources can be owned by the first person to acquire it, however they must leave ???enough and as good??? for others, for the next person to claim. One way of looking at this is that the first person to claim would have to leave half for others and the next following person would have to leave half of that half for others. However eventually there will not be enough left over for someone, therefore making it impossible to meet the Lockean Proviso. The other way of looking at it is that the original owner of the land must be willing to share or sell some of their land in a way of stating that not just one person can own the entire space of land. ???Thus a person may not appropriate the only water hole a desert an charge what he will. Nor may he charge what he will if he possesses one, and unfortunately it happens that all the water holes dry up except for his.???(Nozick, 130) This quote proves the Lockean Proviso, although it is not morally right, one has only acquired on of the water holes and left plenty for others. Coincidently all of the water holes have dried up except for person A??™s but they are still obligated to continue drinking from it and to not share it with others, even though they will eventually die because of dehydration.
In D1 fans would receive the same amount of entertainment as they would in D2, however Wilt has decided that he will only play if his financial demands are met. D2 states that everyone who buys a ticket, 25 cents of their ticket will solely go into Wilt??™s pocket in exchange for him playing basketball. This is greedy of Wilt, however distribution remains just. At the end of the season a total of 1 million people come out to home games to see Wilt play. Wilt now has far more than any other player on the team with an extra $250,000. Initially this does not seem fair to the rest of the players on the team, however they have all agreed upon their own contracts, therefore making it fair. The other players are not entitled to the same type of contract as Wilt because they don??™t play on the same level. In many ways this is much like a Capitalist Society. Only through hard work will the other players have the right to have the same financial compensation as Wilt Chamberlain. It was the fans choices to spend their money on basketball tickets; they could have easily spent their money on food or other types of entertainment. But they chose to spend their money on tickets to watch the great Wilt Chamberlain play basketball. Therefore the transfer of their holdings (money) was a voluntary act. Nozick insists that this is a fair distribution because he insists that voluntary transfer is always fair.
There are 4 criticisms of Nozick, however I find only two to be relevant in the Wilt Chamberlain example. The first is that ???We do not deserve our natural talents or abilities.??? (Rauls Theory of Justice) John Rauls believes that the principles of justice should be chosen by people who only know the most general facts about the world. These people know nothing about themselves such as their race, degree of wealth or natural ability. These principles will decide the type of political system and economy these individuals live in. Because they know nothing about themselves they will choose principles that will be the most fair because they could end up being the wealthiest or the poorest. The people would choose their principles that would maximize equal liberty over equal opportunity. With regards to the Wilt Chamberlain example, if Wilt did not know that he had his ability or talent, he would not allow for one player to be paid much higher than the rest and he would strive for equal liberty.
The other criticism is ???Chamberlain does not merely acquire much more money. He argues capital and therefore economic power over others. Capitalist acts between consenting adults, if they become sufficiently widespread lead to severe imbalances in power.??? (Nielsen, 329) In a capitalist society people are rewarded for their hard work. In my opinion Wilt Chamberlain does not deserve to have any more economic power over those who actually make a difference in society, such as doctors or firefighters. This may perhaps be the beginning of the era where pro athletes are paid way more than what they do for society. Yes Wilt Chamberlain is exciting to watch play basketball but I believe that he does not deserve economic power over everyone, however with the amount of entertainment he provides over his teammates he may deserve to acquire more money because his entertainment value is higher. This is where political democracy comes into play. Capitalist acts lead to a more widespread distribution.
In conclusion I agree that Robert Nozick successfully shows Justice in Transfer and that distribution after this remains to be just as long as principles in the justice of holdings are met as well as the Lockean Proviso. The distribution of money between Wilt Chamberlain and his teammates is fair because separately they all agreed on their own contracts with the team. Also that the transfer of holdings from the fans to Wilt is just because the fans voluntarily bought tickets to go see Wilt play and were willing to spend the extra money to be entertained by him.
???Distributive Justice??? ??“ Robert Nozick
Steven M, Cahn et al, eds.
Reason at Work, 3rd ed.
Orlando, FL: Hardcourt Brace & Company
???A Theory of Justice??? ??“ John Rauls
Reason at Work 3rd ed.
Edited by Steven M. Cahn et al.
Orlando, FL: Hardcourt Brace & Company,
???A Moral Case For Socialism??? ??“ Kai Nielsen
?© Critical Review 3, no3