SPONTANEOUS ORDER AND CIVIL SOCIETY - Kosmos

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SPONTANEOUS ORDER AND CIVIL SOCIETY - Kosmos

SPONTANEOUS ORDER AND

CIVIL SOCIETY

Mark LeBar

Ohio University

All Rights Reserved


A BRIEF RECAP...

๏Last time I argued that material equality is not

what we should want from Government (even if

we really care about poverty)

๏If we really care about poverty, we should

think instead about how to make sure people

have enough (for some minimum)

๏Then we can think about what that minimum

should be, and what social arrangements will

be most successful in bringing it about

2


A BRIEF RECAP...

๏I suggested that we might think instead about a

kind of moral equality, namely equality of authority

๏But I didn’t explain what that is

๏I will come at it negatively first, by giving an

example of inequality of authority

๏Then I will begin to characterize what a society

realizing equality of authority might be like

3


EQUALITY OF AUTHORITY

๏Consider the

authority a

monarch exerts

over his or her

subjects

4


EQUALITY OF AUTHORITY

๏A monarch claims the authority to obligate

subjects just by an exercise of will

๏But the subject has no equal authority to

obligate the monarch by an exercise of will

➡ The difference (inequality) in their

authorities to obligate each other is the

form of moral inequality that is our point of

departure

5


EQUALITY OF AUTHORITY

๏We no longer believe in monarchies, so why

bother?

๏Even without monarchs, we retain these

inequalities in authority in other forms

➡ What these forms look like now, and what are

the alternatives, will be the subject today and

Wednesday

๏As a way humans can relate to each other, they

are just as problematic in any form 6


EQUALITY OF AUTHORITY

The task for today is to see how the idea of

spontaneous order might offer an alternative, and

help us get a grip on equality of authority

This is the kind of order Howie touched on

earlier in connection with I, Pencil

We’ll see how spontaneous order is connected

to the idea of civil society

This is a framework for the voluntary

associations Brad spoke about last night 7


THE BIG PICTURE

Equality of

Authority

Civil Society

Spontaneous Order

Government


WHAT IS “SPONTANEOUS

ORDER”?

๏Start with the idea of an “order”:

➡For our purposes, simply a pattern we can detect

๏Orders, or patterns,

originate in two ways:

➡Made orders are orders

that are established

intentionally, by the

work of some mind

✓An army is a good

example

9


SPONTANEOUS ORDERS

➡ Whereas grown orders occur spontaneously

➡ That is, not as the product of design or aim

๏ Where do we find spontaneous (grown)

orders?

➡ In nature:

✓ Snowflakes

✓ Crystals

✓ Evolution

10


SPONTANEOUS ORDERS

➡ In human society:

✓ Natural languages

‣ Esperanto vs. English

✓ Money

✓ Culture!

✓ Fine and performing arts

11


A CRUCIAL CLARIFICATION

๏ Spontaneous orders are not the

product of deliberate, rational design

and goal-setting

๏ That does not mean that deliberate,

rational, design and goals do not enter

into them

➡ They enter in with the decisions

and actions of particular agents

within the order

➡ Rather than pertaining to the

outcome or nature of the order

itself 12


SPONTANEOUS SOCIAL

INSTITUTIONS

๏Adam Smith was the first to notice how important

institutions in social and political life are examples of

spontaneous order

๏Smith made the case that the division of labor is

responsible for producing wealth, yet is by no one’s

design

๏The division of labor is what Smith identifies as the

feature of human social organization most responsible

for wealth and prosperity

13


SPONTANEOUS SOCIAL

INSTITUTIONS

“The certainty of being able to exchange all that

surplus part of the produce of his own labor,

which is over and above his own consumption,

for such parts of the produce of other men's

labor as he may have occasion for, encourages

every man to apply himself to a particular

occupation, and to cultivate and bring to

perfection whatever talent or genius he may

possess for that particular species of

business.” (Wealth of Nations, I.2.3)

14


SPONTANEOUS SOCIAL

INSTITUTIONS

➡Smith’s important

point: this division of

labor is “not originally

the effect of any

human wisdom”

➡Instead, it is produced

as by an “invisible

hand”

15


SPONTANEOUS ORDERS

๏ The absence of a single purpose or goal

accounting for their order and organization

accounting for spontaneous orders has

important practical benefits

➡ Howie emphasized the economic payoff

๏ But this feature of them also has important

moral benefits

➡ This is the payoff in equality of authority

16


QUALIFICATION


Made orders need not exemplify inequality of authority

➡ We can voluntarily agree to enter made orders, and

when we do, our own choice to do so is an exercise

of authority

✓ Examples: agreements for common goals

✓ So there is nothing wrong with made orders per se

They are important parts of our lives!


The problem arises with the unilateral imposition of

authority

➡ The top-down command that subordinates must

pursue a common goal

17


SPONTANEOUS ORDER AND

EQUALITY OF AUTHORITY

๏ Two important features of spontaneous

social orders relative to made orders

(1)The authority structure of orders

(2)The standing of those not in command

18


MORAL ADVANTAGES (1)

๏ Made orders are realized as an aim or goal

imposed by authority

➡ The aims of the order are commands to

those not doing the ordering

➡ A command obligates a subordinate to act in

accordance with some particular goal or end

➡ This can be an important and problematic

form of inequality of authority

✓ As exemplified by the relation between a

monarch and subjects

19


MORAL ADVANTAGES (1)

๏ This is precisely what we object to in

monarchy

➡ But it occurs wherever there is a top-down

command structure claiming the unilateral

authority to obligate

๏ But spontaneous orders lack this “top-down”

authority

➡ They implement social relations reflecting

equality of authority to obligate

➡ That is an important moral advantage for

spontaneous orders over made orders

20


MORAL ADVANTAGES (2)

๏ The second major difference:

➡ People are treated differently in made vs.

spontaneous social orders

✓ Adam Smith remarked on this difference as

a matter of how we think about what we

should want from Government:

21


SMITH’S OBSERVATION

“The man of system, on the contrary, is apt to be very wise in his own

conceit; and is often so enamored with the supposed beauty of his own

ideal plan of government, that he cannot suffer the smallest deviation

from any part of it. He goes on to establish it completely and in all its

parts, without any regard either to the great interests, or to the strong

prejudices which may oppose it. He seems to imagine that he can arrange

the different members of a great society with as much ease as the hand

arranges the different pieces upon a chess–board. He does not consider

that the pieces upon the chess–board have no other principle of motion

besides that which the hand impresses upon them; but that, in the great

chess–board of human society, every single piece has a principle of

motion of its own, altogether different from that which the legislature

might choose to impress upon it. If those two principles coincide and act

in the same direction, the game of human society will go on easily and

harmoniously, and is very likely to be happy and successful. If they are

opposite or different, the game will go on miserably, and the society must

be at all times in the highest degree of disorder.”

— The Theory of Moral Sentiments (Part VI) 22


MORAL ADVANTAGES (2)

➡ The “man of system” in the made order sees

those he is commanding as “chess pieces”

➡ In a spontaneous order the fact that the

“chess pieces” can think for themselves —

and should be entitled to do so — is what

creates the order in the first place

➡ Spontaneous orders display the equal

authority of the people participating in them

in a way made orders do not

➡ In this sense they are societies organized by

civility rather than by authority

23


CIVIL SOCIETY

๏ What do I mean by “civil society”?

➡ The contrast is with political society

✓ A political society is organized around a

common goal or goals, imposed from the

top-down

✓ In that sense it is a made order

✓ And in that sense it fails to realize equality

of authority

24


CIVIL SOCIETY


What do I mean by “civil society”?

➡ Civil society is a spontaneous order

✓ Setting of goals is distributed, as opposed to being

imposed top-down

✓ This implements equality of authority

That’s the kind of equality we should care about!

➡ Composed of people associating into communities

and associations of all kinds

The voluntary associations Toqueville spoke of

Made and spontaneous

✓ An association of associations!

25


IMAGES OF CIVIL SOCIETIES

๏ John Stuart Mill’s “experiments of living” (in On

Liberty (chapter III)

➡ Valuable as expressions of individuality

➡ Essential constituents of human happiness

and progress

➡ Note that the very idea of an “experiment”

suggests that, while some may succeed, there

will be failures

➡ Mill thinks this is a cost we can’t really avoid

26


IMAGES OF CIVIL SOCIETIES

๏ Robert Nozick’s “utopia” (in Anarchy, State, and

Utopia)

➡ No one society can be the best society for

everyone to live in

➡ Instead: a society of heterogeneous societies

➡ The best “filter device” for determining which

forms of social organization are good for people

to live in is having people actually try them out

➡ The necessary condition is that people be able to

enter if they are admitted, and able to leave when

they want to

27


CIVIL SOCIETY AND

GOVERNMENT

๏ Civil societies need a framework of general rules

➡ Rules aim to allow a spontaneous order in human

interactions to emerge and evolve

✓ They are not directed at realizing any specific social

arrangements as a goal

✓ Instead, constraints on individuals ensure that each

can claim space and authority to exercise judgment

and discretion, and pursue his or her own ends

✓ This allows for us to be equal in authority

28


DISCUSSION GROUPS

๏ 3 tasks:

➡ 1. Find an example (besides monarchy) of

a made order with unequal authority to

obligate.

➡ 2. Identify a spontaneous alternative.

➡ 3. Problems or concerns with the

spontaneous alternative?

29


SPONTANEOUS ORDER AND

CIVIL SOCIETY

Mark LeBar

Ohio University

All Rights Reserved

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