The next topic on Haidt's list is Fairness. What's fair, what's not? Who gets how much and why? Should our life choices be determined by our level of competence? What if we are incompetent? Or, more to the point, what if we are incompetent in those things society currently values most? For which they are willing to put out the most recompense? Do those who work hardest deserve the most money?
Do we - should we - all get what's coming to us?
What exactly constitutes "working hard?" I'm willing to believe that CEO's work hard - that they eat, sleep, and breathe on their i-phones and spread sheets. But how does that hard work compare to someone running a jackhammer?
Do people who make the most money deserve the most money? And what does "making money" actually mean? What part of the money to be made is deserved by the people who make or deliver a product or service? What kind of quality is deserved by the people who buy or use it?
What does the "maker" of such money owe to the community in which it lives? Does the maker of the money live in a vacuum? Or is it a part of a social structure which enables the money-making to occur?
And what of those who can't "make money?" What of the untalented, the unproductive, the sick, the wounded? What is fair for them?
What, indeed, of those who are talented in ways that society doesn't at present value? What of the modern-day carriage-makers in an era of automobiles? What of the poets? What of the storytellers? Street-corner philosophers?
We like to think that in an older time there was a space for these folks. That they were few and far between and kind people in the villages and towns knew who they were and took a measure of care for them. Made a place for them.
But that's a myth. Any study of 19th century poor houses, work farms, and orphanages proves that. And poets? Storytellers? Street-corner philosophers? Usually they were run out of town.
Ursula K. Le Guin's posits an anarchist society, in which everyone does as they please and everything is free. Here it is assumed that most people will want to do something, and the opportunity for them to do whatever it is that they love, from theoretical physics to plumbing, is there for them. The people who love making clothes will make clothes, and those clothes are free to anyone who wishes to have them. The people who love to farm or produce foodstuffs will do so, and their products are also free for the taking. As is the case with all other products necessary for life and happiness. Here the artists are free to create, knowing that food, clothing and shelter are provided for them. It is even taken for granted that there will be those who choose to do nothing, and that there is a purpose, however undefined, for those unsociable souls. They, too, are provided for.
It is an inspiring vision of Utopia. But as Orville Clark, an old favorite philosophy professor of mine, used to tell us, the Greek word Utopia means the best place that is no place.
I don't know what's fair. I know there must be people out there who don't deserve jack shit, but I don't know them. I think some of them are CEO's. Some of them wield jackhammers. I think there are elements to what's fair that are not generally taken into account. And they consist of more than who works the hardest.