Social Question

josie's avatar

Where do stupidity and incompetence fit into the Progressive notion of social justice?

Asked by josie (27502points) January 23rd, 2013

The Current version of social justice theory is that everybody whose life sucks is that way because they are a victim of a system, and not that they may be truly stupid, ineffective, incompetent and worthless.
But direct observation makes it evident that some people are in fact stupid, ineffective, incompetent and worthless.
Where do they fit into the framework of social justice theory?
Or do they?

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16 Answers

CWOTUS's avatar

Leadership, apparently.

Blackberry's avatar

Some people are stupid, and some are unlucky due to some circumstances that may be out of their control.

It’s not one or the other lol.

Imadethisupwithnoforethought's avatar

In the middle ages, many believed that the unattractive were cursed by God because they had a moral failure.

In modern society, some assume that the poor have suck lives because they are stupid, ineffective, incompetent and worthless.

I, as a progressive believe that this is middle aged thinking. Not all ugly people are morally corrupt, not all poor people lack industriousness or intelligence. Some ugly people are morally corrupt, some poor people are dumb or lazy.

The goals of progressives has never been to make everybody equal, but just to PROGRESSIVELY make everybody’s lives better over time.

I wonder when talking with people who tend to identify as conservative or libertarian if they are able to see the fine distinctions when I am talking about something. I say some people, sometimes. They talk about everybody, all the time. It is like we are thinking in different languages.

SavoirFaire's avatar

Once again, you ask a question that you know perfectly well is misleading and inaccurate. I’m frankly surprised at you, @josie, as you are a much better thinker than this. Questions of this nature ought to be beneath you. Nevertheless, I will point out things of which you are already aware for the benefit of anyone you might be fooling with your dishonesty.

First, there is no such thing as the current version of social justice theory. People who are interested in what is sometimes referred to as “social justice” have various views about what precisely this entails, and the topic is approached from a variety of philosophical viewpoints. There is not even a single “progressive” notion of social justice. To pretend that it is a monolithic enterprise, then, is simply foolish.

Second, no particular theory of social justice holds that everyone in disadvantageous circumstances is there in virtue of having been victimized by a system. Nor does any theory of social justice deny that individual failings may lead a person into an unfavorable condition. The question is what to do about it when such situations arise: how far, and how hard, ought we allow people to fall?

It is in the early stages of addressing this question that we find the most overlap in theories of social justice, and in which we find the kind of statements your question so blatantly misrepresents. That is to say, most theories of social justice start by recognizing the existence of moral luck: we are born into a world without an even playing field—something that surely cannot be our own fault—and there’s not much that can be done to change that.

Given that it is neither possible nor desirable to ensure equality of outcome, then, those interested in social justice are typically interested in exactly how we might have meaningful equality of opportunity. If you ask a dog, a fish, an elephant, a penguin, and a monkey to climb a tree, you’re going to get different results. You can claim the test is fair in virtue of being the same for everyone, but this is a rather thin and unsatisfying notion of fairness.

This is the point Rousseau makes in his political works about the fact that the mere act of setting up a society is already one of picking winners and losers. All institutions involve a structure in which some talents are placed above others, and this decision is more artificial than we typically realize from our perspective within the system. Since the social contract is meant to be for the benefit of all, however, something should balance this loss.

Theories of social justice can accept the existence of class differences, and they can accept that those who are “stupid, ineffective, incompetent, and/or worthless”—whether absolutely or just relative to the structure of society—will not be at the top of whatever hierarchy exists. What social justice theorists tend to argue is just that those at the bottom should not be forced to a life not fit for human beings—especially if they are on the bottom merely because someone has to be. For that is a clear case of moral luck.

Self_Consuming_Cannibal's avatar

Stupidity and incompetence doesn’t even belong in the same sentence as the word progress.

Al Sharpton is a prime example of stupidity and incompetence and worst of all he tries to convince others that are dumb enough to believe him that they are victims, rather than trying to motivate them to make the changes their lives need to get better.

ragingloli's avatar

Nice strawman.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I am in a pretty good position in life: smart, financially secure, competent, and capable. Heck, I’m even healthy. I’d like to think I got this way because I did it all but I cannot.
My parents gave me good genes. My mother was able to teach me how to read at a very early age. My parents believed that education was important and forced me to do school work I had 2 parents. We lived in a house that was warm and a neighborhood that was safe. My father worked and my mother stayed home and raised us (until she died at an early age.) . I /(my father) was able to afford to send me to one of the best engineering schools in the country. How much of that was my doing? In school, I did very well. I worked, I studied, I avoided drugs, I did not get girls pregnant, I behaved. I made the most of the “gifts” my parents gave me.
Not everyone starts with such “gifts”. I did not get married until I could afford it and did not have children until we had a house and could afford it .
I gave my kids the same gifts I was given. Now it is their turn to be successful.

I figure half of what I have is nature/nurture from my parents the other half is from my effort.

If I were king I would require a pregnancy license before another child is delivered. And I’m a liberal ! Don’t get me started.
That “sage” Michael Jackson said: “If you can’t feed the baby. then don’t have a baby.”
I’m willing to help you if you were dealt a bad hand. But if you were given good cards and played them wrong, it’s on you.

SavoirFaire's avatar

“Some people are born on third base and go through life thinking they hit a triple.”
—Barry Switzer

Response moderated (Flame-Bait)
LuckyGuy's avatar

@SavoirFaire My thinking exactly. On the other hand, there are people born on third base who run toward second and want to be compensated for it. .

Its a good think I am not king. I made a list a while ago stating what I would do to end poverty. I’d be assassinated in a week.
One of the biggest (if not the biggest) source of poverty in the US? Kids having kids, having kids, having kids. I’d address that first.

burntbonez's avatar

How would you address that, @LuckyGuy?

LuckyGuy's avatar

@burntbonez I’m a liberal and am willing to help the downtroddn and those who need a hand. I’d give everyone one free throw. But if you can’t afford the second child, the only support you will get from the government is an abortion or having your tubes tied after delivery. The other half of the DNA donation would have to pay a maintenance fee – the price of the surgery. If he cannot, he will get a free vasectomy.
Furthermore in NYS the age of consent is 17. If a 21 year old has sex with a 16 year old it is called Rape 3rd. I would demand a paternity test for every female under the age of 17 and prosecute the guys to the fullest extent of the law. The case is easy to prosecute. All the DA needs is DNA and two birth certificates. They can squirt these cases out like cookies. Do it! Take these serial impregnators off the streets.
That, my friend, is how I would stop kids having kids having kids.
And that is why I would be assassinated within two weeks.

Paradox25's avatar

Wow, so people who supposedly fail at the game of life are worthless?! I figure you’re not serious and just tempting to stir the pot on here.

burntbonez's avatar

@LuckyGuy I thought you would give a pragmatic answer instead of a pie in the sky answer. Or at least, I hoped you would.

Kraigmo's avatar

If the social justice theory (of which i directly know nothing of, but indirectly know lots about) you mention is almost-true, it needs to be tweaked to include the factors you mention. The theory needs to be altered to match known reality.

I’m not sure if this relates or not, but these kinds of theories can cause direct harm when put into action. For example, the typical American mental/emotional counseling therapeutic model makes no room for “fault” or “Illogic”. Everything is to be approached non-judgmentally, they say.

I see why they do that: it helps to lower the walls of the participants. But unfortunately, it creates a situation where a relatively sane person and a relatively crazy person are treated as intellectual and emotional equals, thus fueling the crazy person’s self centered misconceptions even further.

I wonder if there’s similar damage caused by the social justice theory when it is used as a the basis for a decision or program.

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