Lou Marinoff described one definition of Justice as "doing the right thing at the right time." He continued by explaining that it means you have to define "right thing".
There are at least eleven ways of being right.
- deontology - rules tell us what is right and wrong
- teleology - The end justifies (or sanctifies) the means
- virtue ethics - goodness comes from virtues, which are like habits
- humanistic existentialism - what we choose to do determines what we value
- nihilistic existentialism - "God is dead." And we killed him. So all moral bets are off
- analytic ethics - "Goodness" cannot be defined or analyzed
- correlative ethics - every right entails an obligation, and vice-versa
- sociobiology - ideas of "right" and "wrong" are motivated by our genes
- feminist ethics - women have different moral priorities: e.g. ethics of caring
- legal moralism - if it's legal, it's ethical
- meta-ethical relativism - each situation has its own unique ethical dimension
Aeons ago, Clay asserted that power-laws existed in blogs and that it was in-equal but fair. Maybe he is basically being a deontologists with a bit of legal moralism thrown in. The rules are fair so it's OK. Marko (a philosopher among other things) asks the question, "So the interesting question this raises is: What are the principles if satisfied that would show the blogging world to be a just institutional structure? And the meta-level question: How would we justify these principles to each other?" I know that Marko is an expert on "justice" and my simple explanation above is far to simple, but this dialog about whether blogs are fair, good or just forces us to examine what we mean by fair, right and just. I think that in order for us to justify these principles, we might need to define Virtue. (Since defining "right" is so difficult.) According to Lou:
Aristotle said that Virtue is the Golden Mean between two extremes. It was all about balance. "Rational" comes from "ratio". The idea was to triangulate from two extremes of vice. For example, Courage is the mean between cowardice and rashness.
I know Dave Winer likes the word "triangulation"
and the blogs are good at that. Is it possible that blogs can help us get out of the echo chamber
and achieve the Aristotelian Virtue of the Golden Mean? (I know many people disagree with this, but I continue to believe as I argued in my Emergent Democracy paper
that this is possible.) danah expresses her opinion that blogs are not an equalizing technology and that it is the a technology for the privileged
. To her, fair (and probably just) isn't about having rules that are difficult to game, but rather about being available and designed to promote equality. She is probably more of a teleologist with a bit of correlative ethics and feminism thrown in. (Sorry, just playing with the labels a bit. Don't mind me.)
To finally tie it into the discussion about technological determinism vs social constructivism, I think we need to be aware that we have an active effect on how the architecture of this technology evolves. I don't think we can yet "show the blogging world to be a just institutional structure", but rather we can try to determine what is just and strive to make the blogging world into something we feel is just. This requires us to dive into some of the questions that even Aristotle didn't answer. What is right? What is just? Hopefully the tools themselves will help guide this discussion, but rather than be nihilistic or deterministic, I think we should be actively involved in a dialog that best represents a consensus of our views. In order for this to be just, we must try be as inclusive as possible of everyone and on this I agree with danah. The tool is not yet inclusive. I think that blogs are right in many ways, but are far from right in many others. How can we try to make blogs as right and just as possible. I think that this is the question that faces us today.