The Fallacy of “Social Justice”

Christopher Hurtado —  May 30, 2011 — 1 Comment
The Fallacy of “Social Justice” | Christopher Hurtado

Introduction

The political fallacy of “social justice” derives from the ethic of altruism, which derives from epistemological mysticism, which derives from a primacy of consciousness metaphysics. Therefore, in order to demonstrate the fallacy of “social justice,” one must first grasp the fallacies of altruism, mysticism and the primacy of consciousness.These fallacies will each be treated in turn below, ultimately demonstrating that “social justice,” originally a religious ideal, and now a secular one, is a political fallacy. Justice, objectively defined, negates the fallacy of “social justice.”

Metaphysics

The metaphysical fallacy at the root of “social justice” is the fallacy of the primacy of consciousness. According to this metaphysical fallacy, consciousness has primacy over existence. In other words, the universe is not self-existent; it is the product of divine consciousness, human consciousness, or both. In other words, God created the universe out of nothing and humans have the ability to mold their own reality, albeit to a lesser degree than God. But why is this fallacious? Didn’t God create the universe? And isn’t man’s reality subjective?

There can be no such thing as a consciousness out of which everything else originates, since a consciousness without anything of which to be conscious is a contradiction in terms. To be conscious implies something of which to be consciousness. Therefore, existence has primacy over consciousness. To be conscious is to be conscious of something. Therefore, God did not create the universe. If there is a God, he must be coeternal with the universe. Reality then, not God, is absolute. If there is a God, he must necessarily be conditioned by and related to reality.

Man’s reality, as God’s, is objective. Neither God nor Man can create something out of nothing. Each must deal with reality on its own terms. In the words of Francis Bacon, “Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed.” To create something means to bring about a previously inexistent arrangement of pre-existing materials. Metaphysically, it cannot mean anything else. A corollary of existence is identity. Since to exist is to be something as opposed to nothing, to exist is to be something of a particular nature with particular attributes.

Epistemology

The epistemological fallacy of mysticism derives from the metaphysical fallacy of the primacy of consciousness. If God created the universe, then one must necessarily look to him for knowledge. Any knowledge gained from experience is, at best, tenuous since a God that can create something out of nothing, can just as easily change the nature and attributes of an existent created by him, thereby breaking the law of identity. Such is the common conception of miracles. Someone who believes in the primacy of consciousness may also think it possible to learn from his own feelings i.e., his own consciousness.

The epistemological corollary of existence, identity, is that consciousness is the perception of existence. Therefore, not only man, but God himself, if he exists, must necessarily gain knowledge, whether directly or indirectly, from his experience of reality or by reason. In order to claim knowledge, man must first gain experience of reality through his senses, his only means of perception, and he must correctly identify reality by reason, his only means of cognition. If there is a God, and if he is a God of miracles who reveals truth to man, miracles and revelation must be redefined on the basis of reality.

Ethics

The ethic of altruism is derived from the metaphysics of the primacy of consciousness and epistemological mysticism. The idea that God has primacy over reality and that mysticism is a valid epistemological method leaves ethics up in the air. Based on the metaphysics of the primacy of consciousness, ethics is arbitrary, based on God’s will. And since God’s will is not sense-perceptible, how to know God’s will is left up in the air also. The only epistemological answer to the question of knowing God’s mind is mysticism and mysticism has already been invalidated as a method of cognition.

The ethic the mystics have chosen and attributed to divine command is the ethic of altruism. According to the ethic of altruism, man has no intrinsic worth as an individual. His only worth is manifest in society when, following this ethic, he sacrifices himself for the sake of others. According to the ethic of altruism, any action man performs in his own interest is evil. The same action performed for another, on the other hand, is moral. Thus, to live for the sake of others is moral, while self-preservation is evil. The standard of value of this ethic is “the collective,” divorced from its constituents.

The only ethic suitable to man, qua man, is the ethic of rational self-interest. And if there is a God, it must necessarily be the only suitable ethic for him, qua God. Because human life is, by its very nature, precarious, man must act to preserve it. As for God, if there is a God, self-preservation must also be of consequence to him. Self-preservation is the standard of value of the ethic of rational self-interest. To fail to follow this ethic, even if only part of the time can only lead to self-destruction. For man, this means death. For God, if there is a God, it necessarily means God ceasing to be God.

Politics

The only logical result of any attempt by man to put into practice the ethic of altruism on the level of society is the sacrifice of men for the sake of other men. The embodiment of the altruistic ethic in a political system is socialism. It is in a socialist political system that men attempt the perpetration of the political fallacy of “social justice.” It is not political equality that the propounders of “social justice” seek; it is metaphysical equality. These men attempt to use man-made institutions to counter the metaphysically-given differences of natural endowment and human volition by force.

The inevitable result of the evasion of reality attempted by the propounders of “social justice” is mass injustice. Since these men attempt to raise the standard of living of some men by razing the standard of living of others, injustice is the only possible outcome. Not only that, but they fight a losing battle since they sacrifice the producers in society for the non-producers. Such action is not sustainable. It defies reality. Typically, the result of this evasion is the creation by propounders of “social justice” of a war economy, whereby they sacrifice foreign nationals for the sake of their own populace.

Another tactic employed by these evaders of reality who seek “social justice” is killing vast portions of their own populace. Hitler, Stalin, and Mao are prime examples of seekers of “social justice.” And what were their results? Mass death – not only in international wars, but among their own populace. In fact, Hitler, Stalin, and Mao are responsible for the deaths of many more of their own populace than of any foreign populace. As for the standard of living they achieved, it reminds one of the words of Winston Churchill: “Socialism is the philosophy of … the equal sharing of misery.”

The only logical result of any attempt by God, if he exists, to put into practice the ethic of altruism, thereby sacrificing men for the sake of other men, is also mass injustice. We may not agree with what Hitler, Stalin, or Mao have done, but their actions are not contradictory to their beliefs. In fact, they faithfully executed the ethic they espoused, according to the metaphysics and epistemology they embraced. God perpetrating mass injustice, on the other hand, is problematic. This problem is commonly known as the problem of evil and it is a deathblow to a God conceived as good, yet who created evil.

The only rational way for man to live in society with other men is in accordance with the ethic of rational self-interest. Man’s right to act freely in society while abstaining from violating the right of any other man to act freely himself is derived directly from the moral principle of self-preservation. Man’s right to property is a corollary of his right to life. Since man must act to preserve his life, he must therefore have a right to the product of his labor. Without the right to the product of his labor, man is left without means for survival. If he produces and someone else disposes of his product, he is a slave.

The embodiment of the ethic of rational self-interest in a political system is laissez-faire capitalism. Laissez-fair capitalism is the only actual political system that fully respects an individual’s right to life, liberty, and property. And it is the only political system that has raised the standard of living, not only of the producers, but of all in its society to the degree that it has been implemented in the mixed economy of the United States in its 200 years of existence. To quote Churchill again, “The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings.”

The only other conceivable political system that respects individual rights is a system in which all men choose to share the product of their labor. A truly just God might call for men to orient themselves toward this ideal, but he would never force them. A just God would not evade reality. He would deal with it on its own terms. One can only imagine that in a society of gods, if there are gods, and if they are in society, all things would be common among them and this would be by their own choice. After all, what other choice would a plurality of gods have but to share the universe among them?

Conclusion

It is important to remember, in the context of individual rights vis-à-vis the fallacy of “social justice” that rights apply to actions, not consequences. The consequences of man’s actions are metaphysically given. They are the results of causality – the law of identity in action. Entities act in accordance with their nature, for they cannot act otherwise. There is no right to property other than the property one has earned, excepting, of course, property inherited from or gifted by someone else who earned it. There is no right to the property earned by another. This fallacy makes slaves of men.

Justice, properly defined, is the admission of the primacy of existence. It is dealing with reality on its own terms. Men must be recognized for what they are and treated as such. They are rational beings who must act to survive. Thus, “social justice” is antithetical to justice, and fallacious. Justice, objectively defined, negates the fallacy of “social justice.” The United States, as conceived by its Founding Fathers, is the only moral country in the history of the world. The solution to America’s and the world’s problems is not “social justice,” but the principles embodied in the U.S. Constitution.

Works Consulted

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Christopher Hurtado

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Christopher Hurtado is President and CEO of Linguistic Solutions and Adjunct Instructor of Philosophy and Political Science at Utah Valley University. He holds a BA in Middle East Studies/Arabic and Philosophy and an MA in Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies. He coauthored Vacation Spanish: A Survival Guide for Mexico, the Caribbean, Central & South America. He is married to children's book author and homeschool mom, Alysia Gonzalez. Together they have nine children. They are active in their church and in their community.

One response to The Fallacy of “Social Justice”

  1. I sympathize with people who see the inequalities in the world and look for ways to rectify them… But forcing “social justice” is a contradiction in terms since the very act of taking someone’s property or liberty away is in fact unjust. It’s not right to use unjust means to obtain a supposed just end. The only way to justly rectify inequality is through voluntary means.

    I enjoyed your article. Thank you!

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