A Workshop on John Rawls
Jhongli, Taoyuan 32001
The Graduate Institute of Philosophy
Keywords: Buford (Thomas Buford); intentional community/intentional communities;
Kant (Immanuel Kant); obligations; outer space/extraterrestrial space; peace; political philosophy; Rawls (John Rawls); rights; transparency/accountability.
§1. Introductory Remarks
... the limits of the possible are not given by the actual, for we can to a greater or lesser extent change political and social institutions, and much else.
– John Rawls (Rawls, 2001: 5)
We have become more powerful than any force of nature.
– Al Gore (Gore, 2006: 300)
To what extent is universal peace (stable world peace) politically feasible? How and when may world peace be achieved? With help from John Rawls (1921-2002), we look at these questions. We piece together Rawls’s various revisions of his own work and present a new and original scheme of five (not two) principles of a revised Rawlsian “justice as fairness” original position, listed in lexical priority. This “Revised Rawls” is then used as a springboard toward developing our own alternative position. Rawls’s conception of “fairness” leaves out, in an important way, the injustices of nature. We show that “almost now” is the opportune time for “almost universal peace” via implementation of our non-controversial PFIT (Peaceful, Free, Intentional, Transparent physical-social technology) proposal. Technological humans have become a force of nature. The presentation consists of nine sections, as follows:
§1. Introductory Remarks
§2. Rawlsian Basics
§3. Alternative Original Positions
§4. Alternative Approaches to Theory Construction
§5. A Revisionist Rawls, and an Alternative Position
§6. Historical Dynamics and the “Force of Nature” Position
§7. Technology Today to Implement Principles Zero and One
§8. An Evolutionary Implementation of the Principles
§9. Closing Remarks
§2. Rawlsian Basics
According to the distinguished philosopher, Martha Nussbaum: John Rawls “is the most distinguished moral and political philosopher of our age.” (Nussbaum, 2001) John Rawls (1921-2002) is known for his theory of “justice as fairness” based on his methodology of the “original position.” The “justice as fairness” idea is that of a just society perceived as a system of cooperation, publicly transparent, which is fair to all its free and equal citizens. In Rawls’s initial A Theory of Justice (1971) [TofJ], he focuses on the domestic dimensions of a just society. The “original position” idea is that of a kind of original or first step to help us engage in fair or impartial deliberation about the principles and structures of a just society. In said thought experiment, one attempts to modify the principles and structures, and the conditions of the original position, while taking into account other relevant considerations such as the empirics of the actual world, until they coordinate to produce a reasonable political conception.
Rawls later said that his initial TofJ was flawed or confused in that he there failed to understand the proper role of a political conception in his theorizing. (Rawls, 1999: 179-180) Herein we will try to take seriously the distinction Rawls makes between a "political conception" and "comprehensive doctrines." A political conception addresses persons only with respect to, or at the level of, citizenship. However, comprehensive doctrines, whether religious or secular, address the full range, or deep levels, of one’s personhood and relationships. Rawls says that his TofJ should have attempted to formulate a political conception rather than a comprehensive doctrine. For Rawls, it is possible for numerous comprehensive doctrines to live together in a single society (with a common political conception). It may be possible to formulate a reasonable political conception without first formulating and justifying a comprehensive doctrine or paying too much attention to metaphysics.
§3. Alternative Original Positions
Rawls has formulated more than one original position; e.g., he analyzed (1) the conditions of a just society (in TofJ, 1971); and, (2) the conditions of decent relations between societies (in The Law of Peoples, 1999 [LofP]). In alternative thought experiments in the form of original positions, there can be alternative topics to be deliberated and alternative parties to the deliberation. Likewise, the “veil of ignorance” (explained below) is modifiable. Rawls is here influenced or inspired by Kant, who argued that reasonable moral decisions and authentic autonomy are closely related. Authentic autonomy and reasonable moral decisions are difficult in that we too easily become confused by our own passions and perspectives. We may passionately feel or firmly think that our decision was fair only later to change our mind.
So in TofJ, Rawls drapes each party in the original position with a “veil of ignorance”; here this means that each party does not know which person (citizen) she is representing in the dialogue. Citizens will vary in passions, perspectives, skills, abilities, personalities, religions, luck, etc. With fairness in mind, the parties are deliberating for the purpose of formulating and agreeing to the domestic principles of justice. The veiling of the parties in the original position is meant to help provide a fair “state of nature” for rational deliberation and thus a hopeful basis for constructing a reasonable theory that can move us toward a more nearly just society. The persons in the original position are to reach unanimous agreement in their choice of principles. “Therefore, we can view the choice in the original position from the standpoint of one person selected at random.” (Rawls, 1971: 139) In the following section, we will compare the TofJ and LofP original positions and more; we will describe in some detail how the different theories (TofJ and LofP) are constructed differently.
§4. Alternative Approaches to Theory Construction
The original position (including the veil of ignorance) is only part of a Rawlsian approach to theory construction; we have already seen that, according to Rawls, alternative original positions are desirable. In this section, we will see that Rawls also believes, more generally, that alternative approaches to theory construction are called for.
In §31 of TofJ, Rawls outlines the four-stage sequence he uses to construct his domestic theory (“justice as fairness”). But at (Rawls, 2001: 48) he provides the following short summary: “In the first stage, the parties adopt the principles of justice behind a veil of ignorance. Limitations on knowledge available to the parties are progressively relaxed in the next three stages: the stage of the constitutional convention, the legislative stage in which laws are enacted as the constitution allows and as the principles of justice require and permit, and the final stage in which the rules are applied.”
It is now time to mention major principles arrived at in the “justice as fairness” original position – as revised by Rawls in (Rawls, 2001: 42-44, 48):
● Each person has the same indefeasible claim to a fully adequate scheme of equal basic liberties, which scheme is compatible with the same scheme of liberties for all: freedom of thought and liberty of conscience; political liberties (for example, the right to vote and to participate in politics) and freedom of association, as well as the rights and liberties specified by the liberty and integrity (physical and psychological) of the person; and finally, the rights and liberties covered by the rule of law.
● Social and economic inequalities are to satisfy two conditions: first, they are to be attached to offices and positions open to all under conditions of fair equality of opportunity; and second, they are to be to the greatest benefit of the least-advantaged members of society (the difference principle).
According to Rawls, the first of the two principles has priority; it establishes basic liberties and a just constitution. The second applies to social and economic justice in the background institutions, where fair equality of opportunity has priority over the difference principle. Taken together, these are sometimes viewed as Rawls’s “two principles and two priorities”; however we will see below that Rawls will add more principles and priorities to the original position. In the meantime, here is a simplified outline of the “justice as fairness” four-stage sequence:
1. Original Position: Establish the two principles above.
2. Constitutional Convention: Incorporate the first principle above.
3. Legislative Stage: Incorporate the second principle above.
4. Administrative Stage: Apply the rules.
As previously stated, Rawls has formulated more than one theory. We have just described his TofJ approach to theory construction with respect to establishing a just domestic society. But his LofP approach to theory construction with respect to establishing decent relations between societies is another matter. In LofP, Rawls is able to imagine various kinds of societies, some of whom may be “well-ordered” enough to become members of a cooperative system of peoples that includes constitutional democracies and decent non-democracies. Rawls does not believe that any decent non-democracies presently exist, but he does not want to rule out the possibility that they may exist in the future.
Rawls compares his two (TofJ and LofP) original positions in three respects, as follows (Rawls, 2001: 40): 1. In TofJ, the parties represent individual citizens; actual citizens often subscribe to comprehensive doctrines. In LofP, the parties represent peoples (societies); peoples (as peoples) often do NOT subscribe to comprehensive doctrines. (Specifically, a constitutional democracy as such subscribes to a political conception and does NOT subscribe to a comprehensive doctrine.) 2. (TofJ:) An individual’s fundamental interests as such have to do with their individual conception of the good, such as the pursuit of their happiness. (LofP:) A society’s fundamental interests as such have to do with its conception of justice, such as receiving proper respect from other peoples. 3. In TofJ, the parties are selecting the principles of a just structure or political conception for a domestic society. In LofP, the parties are selecting the principles of the Law of Peoples for direct and mutual use by all well-ordered peoples.
Another difference between the 1971 TofJ original position and the 1999 LofP original position is that the veils of ignorance differ. In the 1999 LofP original position, the veil seems lighter in that the parties know they are not representing any society whatsoever, but only well-ordered peoples. One may be tempted to say more, that each party also knows if they are representing a constitutional democracy, on the one hand, or a decent non-democracy, on the other. If you have recently read LofP for the first time, you may say this is obviously the case. Further reflection, however, may suggest otherwise. Rawls has us imagine an original position representing constitutional democracies. He has us imagine another original position representing decent non-democracies. With respect to the Law of Peoples, the results from their respective original positions are identical. Herewith let us now suggest, given such results, that one can imagine the same results if both sets of parties had been deliberating in a single original position under a common veil of ignorance. (Of course, whether Rawls has correctly transcribed the results in each case is yet another matter!)
Given all that has been said so far, we can see that the four-stage sequence used in TofJ is not the sequence of theory construction that Rawls would find appropriate for his LofP. The LofP sequence is simple and direct by comparison: 1. In the original position, decide on the principles or rules of the Law of Peoples. 2. Have all well-ordered peoples endorse and follow said Law of Peoples.
§5. A Revisionist Rawls, and an Alternative Position
Rawls accomplished much, but one wonders if his last years had not been in illness or if he had lived longer, he might have worked more miracles or at least tied up a few loose ends. Certainly, as he himself demonstrated, he was open to alternative original positions and methodological approaches. Next below we will try, briefly, to piece together his various revisions of his own work to give us a “Revisionist Rawls.” This will then be used as a springboard or point of departure toward developing our own alternative position.
After consulting with the Rawlsian scholar, Samuel Freeman, the following new and original scheme is presented as the five (not two) principles of a revised Rawlsian “justice as fairness” original position, listed in lexical priority:
0. Metabasic rights. [Rawls credits R. G. Peffer (1990) for this principle.]
1. Basic liberties.
2. Equal opportunity.
3. Just assistance (A. just savings; and, B. duty of assistance).
4. Difference principle or permissible inequalities.
Principle 1 here corresponds to the principle one of §4 above. Principles 2 and 4 here correspond to the single principle two of §4 above. Principles 0 and 1 are incorporated at the Constitutional Convention and principles 2, 3, and 4 are incorporated at the Legislative Stage. We have reconstructed two Rawlsian principles into one as principle 3; according to Rawls, principle 3 is different from the others in that there are circumstances under which it would in whole or in part (there are two parts: principle A; principle B) terminate or, rather, be temporarily suspended; but in any case, it is lexically prior to principle 4. The principles A and B of principle 3 have no lexical priority relation to each other so far as our reading of Rawls can determine. The principle A corresponds to the just savings principle mentioned in various parts of TofJ, including §44; however Rawls does not like his 1971 version of §44; he may or may not have been satisfied with his 1999 version of §44. The principle B corresponds to the duty of assistance mentioned in various parts of LofP, including §15. With respect to principle 4 as listed immediately above, Rawls is particularly identified with the difference principle; but Rawls admitted that some seem to prefer an alternative principle of permissible inequalities.
Rawls endorses principle zero (called above “0. Metabasic rights”) as lexically prior to all others (Rawls, 2001: 44, n.7). Only principle zero and principle one are incorporated as soon as possible into his theory construction sequence (i.e., immediately at the Constitutional Convention stage). Principle zero, Rawls says, requires “that basic needs be met, at least insofar as their being met is a necessary condition for citizens to understand and to be able fruitfully to exercise [principle one:] their basic rights and liberties.”
Rawls’s great inspiration, Immanuel Kant,
formulated a cosmopolitan conception, the “
We have used the word “tension” – but in either Kant or Rawls, is there really any conflict or tension between the cosmopolitan and non-cosmopolitan conceptions as formulated? Does it not make more sense to simultaneously pursue the commonwealth of ends and the law of peoples instead of viewing them as antagonistic? Or alternatively, might the law of peoples be a necessary pre-developmental stage if we are eventually to arrive at a (justice as fairness) cosmopolitan world? (To be sure, at least in the case of Rawls, we might have to get Rawls to modify his language here and there, and possibly a few details, to iron out the apparent tension.)
At times it does indeed seem obvious that Rawls would like us to aspire to attempt to formulate the original position of a cosmopolitan and omni-temporal (“eternal”) political conception. The idea seems to be that given said original position, we will be able to see more clearly the political structure which is most appropriate for any societal context in any stage of history. This paper so aspires – even should our results turn out, at best, to be only partially successful.
On the last page of the last section of both the 1971 and 1999 versions of TofJ, we find Rawls speaking of the “eternal” original position; here are his words: “Without conflating all persons into one but recognizing them as distinct and separate, it [the “eternal” original position] enables us to be impartial, even between persons who are not contemporaries but who belong to many generations. Thus to see our place in society from the perspective of this position is to see it sub specie aeternitatis: it is to regard the human situation not only from all social but also from all temporal points of view. The perspective of eternity ... is a certain form of thought and feeling that rational persons can adopt within the world.” (Rawls, 1971: 587)
To attempt to set up such an omni-temporal original position, we may find it wise to attempt to see history as dynamic and as potentially developmental. When we read Rawls, we may find his own more limited formulations as (philosophically) eloquent descriptions of static objects in “reflective equilibrium.” Amartya Sen criticizes his teacher for this “culmination outcomes” approach which fails to fully appreciate the historical dynamics of development and freedom; see, e.g., (Sen, 1999: 27-39, 112-118). Arguably, the air of Rawls’s high philosophical mountain is too thin for the needed vitality of historical dynamism. Or, to put it another way, Rawls’s original positions are stuck in time, in Hume’s world of moderate scarcity. On occasion Rawls seems genuinely afraid of wealth (whether within a world of moderate scarcity or beyond it) as a detriment to proper political structures and virtuous human relations.
In addition, Rawls’s conception of “fairness” leaves out, in an important way, the injustices of nature. So, as we seek to formulate our new original position, we will need to broaden our perspective to include both the physical and the social world. Indeed, our political conception must widen beyond society to include environment. It will need to encompass not only new social structures (social technologies and inventions) but also new physical structures (physical technologies and inventions). Like it or not, our advanced technologies make us a force of nature. Technology, at least potentially, allows us to literally remake our physical-social environment. So now that we are outside the Rawlsian box, we have a broader and more realistic perspective from which to attempt to develop our dynamic “force of nature” original position or political conception.
§6. Historical Dynamics and the “Force of Nature” Position
There are numerous alternative approaches to the “periodization” of human history. As we consider the dynamics of humanity’s past, present, and future, we will want to try to make our periodization both accurate and relevant for the task at hand. Our belief is that the periodization formulated below is NOT controversial; in any case, it was inspired by Kenneth E. Boulding (Boulding, 1964).
PERIOD I: Before 3500BCE
Preglobal Consciousness (Preglobalizational Developments)
Era of Precivilization (Nomadic Tribes; Agricultural Communities)
Hunting and Farming
“Make-do” Technology (languages, sticks, etc.)
PERIOD II: 3500BCE–2000CE
Global Consciousness (Globalizational Developments)
Era of Civilization (Cities; Empires)
Trade and War
“Inventive” Technology (writings, guns, etc.)
PERIOD III: After 2000CE
Postglobal Consciousness (Postglobalizational Developments)
Era of Transcivilization (Intentional Communities)
(Peace and Freedom? This question is addressed in §7 below.)
“Force-of-nature” Technology (computers, nanomeds, etc.)
For the moment, let us assume that advanced (physical-social) proactive “force of nature” technologies have the capacity to provide an environment of stable peace and evolving freedom which will also allow all persons and peoples therein to live beyond moderate scarcity in great wealth. (Later, in §7 below, we will show that this assumption turns out to be non-controversial.) If this is the case, then a great moral-political imperative for our time is not so much whether we can more justly rearrange the chairs on the deck of the ship, but how quickly or slowly we will build new ships (intentional communities) not possible with previous technology.
Thus the new issue for our new time is not so much the old moral-political issue of moderate scarcity (Rawls’s principles 2, 3, and 4 – i.e., #2 equal opportunity, #3 just assistance, and #4 permissible inequalities). Rawls made a philosophically heroic effort to solve a hugely difficult long-standing moral-political problem. Fortunately, given our unprecedented level of technology, the actual philosophical moral-political task in our day (at the practical level) is easier than Rawls imagined. By focusing on the moral-political principles zero and one, we can guide our physical-social technology to evolutionarily realize the two principles at deeper and deeper levels over time while making the other principles effectively obsolete. For the sake of clarity, here are the two principles zero and one (based on §5 and §4 above):
0. The Principle of Metabasic Rights
Each person has the same indefeasible claim to a fully adequate scheme of equal metabasic rights, which scheme is compatible with the same scheme of rights for all: These rights include the rights required to meet basic needs, at least insofar as their being met is a necessary condition for citizens to understand and to be able fruitfully to exercise their basic liberties (see the principle of basic liberties).
1. The Principle of Basic Liberties
Each person has the same indefeasible claim to a fully adequate scheme of equal basic liberties, which scheme is compatible with the same scheme of liberties for all: These liberties include freedom of thought and liberty of conscience; political liberties (for example, the right to vote and to participate in politics) and freedom of association, as well as the rights and liberties specified by the liberty and integrity (physical and psychological) of the person; and, the rights and liberties covered by the rule of law.
§7. Technology Today to Implement Principles Zero and One
This section is adapted from previous work; see, e.g., (Tandy, 2011). The purpose of this section is to defend the claim that advanced (physical-social) proactive “force of nature” technologies have the capacity to provide an environment of stable peace and evolving freedom which will also allow all persons and peoples therein to live beyond moderate scarcity in great wealth. We will find that this claim turns out to be non-controversial. As we shall see, Postglobalizational Developments or Consciousness III encourages us to use our new “Force-of-nature” Technology to establish a peaceful and free environment of intentional communities.
First however we comment on related matters that are also related to the two moral-political principles: To wit, we have a right to live in an environment of stable peace and evolving freedom. The autonomous rights of that individual person (call her “Lou”) imply your individual rights too. (Otherwise, an assertion of rights is an assertion about power, not about rights.) Thomas Buford (Buford, 1984: 187) points out that: “For Lou to have a moral right to do x, someone else is morally obligated to act or refrain from acting regarding x if Lou wants that person to do so.” On the one hand, “where there is an obligation there is not necessarily a right.” On the other hand: “Wherever there is a right to something there is a corresponding duty or obligation to [attempt to] honor that right.” Thus the interactive perspective of individual moral rights, properly understood, views persons as social beings instead of as egoistical atoms. Buford elaborates (Buford, 1984: 189-190):
● “First, the practice of rights presupposes that all participants accept and follow rules that are social in character.”
● “Second, the practice of rights enmeshes one in a social structure. ... Such autonomy, when it is present, always exists within some social structure.”
● “Third, the practice of rights necessarily involves acceptance of authority and subordination to that authority. ... [We are] obligated to do the best that we know [as in the rule: “one should not kill other people”] and submit to its authority.”
● The “practice of rights occurs only within a society [of mutual obligations].”
● “If I have the right to speak freely in a town meeting, you are obligated to allow me that freedom. But you would not want to congratulate yourself on your generosity in allowing me to speak. ... [Rights] are accorded you by right, not by my generosity.”
● Accordingly: “Respect for the rights of others does not involve loyalty or friendship.” Yet: “In love and friendship we often [so to speak] give up rights and subordinate and sacrifice ourselves. We do such things willingly.”
Based on Rawls and on Buford, we may now articulate some of our findings with respect to individual (moral) rights and intentional (voluntary) communities: Authentically choosing one’s individual rights to life and liberty carries analogous implications for one’s relation to others. The individual rights we identify with life and living mean we have mutual-obligations not to kill each other – our societal environment ought to be one of stable peace devoid of violence, killing, and war. The individual rights we identify with living and liberty mean we have mutual-obligations to insure freedom of thought, of expression, of association, and to pursue happiness. Thus, our mutual-obligation society of individual rights includes the right to live in peaceful and free communities.
To what extent may one give up such individual rights? It seems that there are two ways which one may (so to speak) give up one’s individual rights and do so reasonably: (1) One way may be seen as related to the concept of “Intentional Communities” (in this section below we will speak of a “Society of Intentional Communities”). That is to say, with respect to certain group relationships, one may freely choose to give up rights and subordinate and sacrifice oneself; in this case one may later choose to (so to speak) take back or restore one’s rights again. (2) A second way may be seen as related to the concept of “Society” (in this section below we will speak of a “Society of Intentional Communities”). That is to say, a second way to reasonably (so to speak) give up an individual right is by seeing that one was mistaken in viewing it as a right; at first one may think that one has the right to egotistically steal and kill as one chooses, only to later apprehend (say, per Rawls) that the “might makes right” view is mistaken.
Thus it seems that individual (moral) rights and intentional (voluntary) communities are mutually implicated and supportive in our quest for a just or good society (Buford, 1984: 191). By forming intentional communities, “we distinguish ourselves from the rest of society in order to achieve those objectives we personally believe best. We set about to realize our dreams. Within the groups we form by right we can experience the love, warmth, sympathy, and fellow feeling we want.” “What kind of social relations best support the living of the good life? They are those in which the rights of individuals are protected. Since rights can exist only in the context of a society, that society must allow for the formation of families and groups [intentional communities] to promote the realization of objectives the individuals believe best.”
If we have individual rights to a peaceful and free society of intentional communities, then we have a mutual-obligation to create and sustain such a world society. Heretofore our history has not given us a peaceful and free world of intentional communities. As history has shown, attempting to produce desirable ends by undesirable means is not the way to learn about rights and obligations or to create and sustain a world peaceful and free. Below we will present desirable (Consciousness III) means to achieve desirable (Consciousness III) ends. We will want, while staying afloat, to devolve our dangerous dinghies and build better boats, sound ships that sail peaceful and free.
Presently we will proceed to show that Consciousness III “force of nature” technologies have the capacity to provide a Consciousness III environment of stable peace and evolving freedom. In the process, we show this claim to be non-controversial. We will begin first by discussing a feasible physical (green habitat) technology; then we will discuss a feasible social (treaty organization) technology, finding that the two technologies combined result in a peaceful, free, prosperous environment of green habitat communities.
It has been said that if your prediction of far-future technological capacities does not sound like science fiction, then your prediction is wrong. Accordingly, please momentarily assume that the following vision (which may sound like science fiction) is indeed realistic. You can then later critically examine the notes and references to independently decide for yourself.
The astounding capacity of future technology can be glimpsed at by taking a non-controversial look at the future of extraterrestrial O’Neill Habitats and of molecular Drexler Technology (and their eventual melding together).,  We say non-controversial because the controversy in each case is over when, not if. Thus for present purposes we can overcome this dispute by simply talking non-controversially about these kinds of capacities in the far future (bypassing timeline predictions of near or far). Abundant extraterrestrial resources will be used to construct greener-than-earth, self-sufficient, self-replicating O’Neill Habitats (not to be confused with space stations!) in orbit around planets and suns. Accordingly, barring catastrophe, it seems highly likely that in the long run almost all of our multitudinous offspring will be permanently living and working somewhere in the universe other than on planet Earth. Indeed, molecular Drexler Technology is NOT required for construction and development of extraterrestrial O’Neill Habitats (“SEG communities”) – it just makes the task easier.
Historically one of the reasons that Terrestrial civilizations of old engaged in wars against each other was to gain more territory, and the power and glory that came with empire. (Human-caused global warming, human-made weapons of mass death and destruction, and a human-crowded global village did not yet exist.) As life grew denser on planet earth, the environment on which each organism depended increasingly consisted of other living things. But the development of advanced O’Neill Habitats (Sustainable Extraterrestrial Greener-than-earth communities, or SEGs) in orbit around a planet or a sun will mean multiple, self-reproducing biospheres; "unlimited free land” (freely available territory); and, the realistic possibility of intentional (i.e., voluntary) communities for all persons. Instead of remaining in the community or culture of one's birth, one will be realistically free to experiment living in one kind of community or another. New kinds of cultures and communities will be enabled by the new extraterrestrial technology.
According to (Carter and Dale, 1974: 12): “Most of the progressive and dynamic civilizations of mankind started on new land – on land that had not been the center of a former civilization.” The following metaphorical insights have been widely quoted by SEG experts: "The Earth was our cradle, but we will not live in the cradle forever." "Space habitats [SEGs] are the children of Mother Earth." According to Carl Sagan, our long-term survival is a matter of “spaceflight or extinction”; all civilizations become either space-faring or extinct. According to the “mass extinction” article in The Columbia Encyclopedia (6th ed.): “The extinctions, however, did not conform to the usual evolutionary rules regarding who survives; the only factor that appears to have improved a family of organisms’ chance of survival was widespread geographic colonization.”
Now below we will discuss a feasible social (treaty organization) technology. We will find that the two technologies (green habitat and treaty organization) combined result in a peaceful, free, prosperous environment of green habitat communities. The Treaty Organization is to serve two functions: (1) as gateway between planet earth and peaceful space – this includes enforceably banning weapons and weapons-making from extraterrestrial space; and, (2) as midwife to an evolving Extraterrestrial Society.
(Gateway Between Planet Earth and Peaceful Space)
The Treaty Organization (TO) would serve as gateway between planet earth and peaceful space – this includes enforceably banning weapons and weapons-making from extraterrestrial space.
As explained above, eventually there will be many Extraterrestrials, few Terrestrials. We can understand the practical or special interests that might prevent us from banning weapons and their manufacture from today's Earth. Indeed, someday there might be analogous practical or special interests in extraterrestrial space unless we engage in foresight today to proactively and enforceably ban weapons and their manufacture from extraterrestrial space.
On the one hand, our political interests today may constrain us in our present time and place. But, on the other hand, our political interests today may free us with respect to future times and places (e.g., our extraterrestrial future). What this means is that today we have a realistic prospect of proactively establishing the legal structure and enforcement powers needed for a world at stable peace in extraterrestrial space.
If we wait until later, we may not be so free to "do the right thing" and establish stable peace in extraterrestrial space. Extraterrestrial space is immense; it is all of the universe except for a single small planet. Eventually it might even become feasible to extend stable peace to planet Earth and thus the entire universe.
It is our belief that the suggested Extraterrestrial Space Treaty Organization (TO) will make a fine gift to our offspring and, by the way, help present Earthlings as well. But if we want a good world at stable peace (whether that world be Terrestrial Civilization or Extraterrestrial Transcivilization), it would seem we must be willing to unblinkingly face up to the following questions: Is stable peace possible if each person or each people is passionately convinced that their worldview is basically good and correct – and that other worldviews are evil or bad or incorrect? If we could enforceably prevent each and every person from killing any person over a conflict (say, a conflict of worldviews), would we do so? If so, how would we resolve our conflicts fairly or justly?
One advantage we have in facing up to these difficult questions is that we can use our imaginations to futuristically view ourselves as Extraterrestrials living in intentional communities (SEGs or O’Neill Habitats). We can further assume that a political structure there and then exists that we describe as a good world at stable peace. These Extraterrestrials of the future have liberties and technologies that Terrestrials do not have today. Yet humans today have the ability and perhaps the practical political will – via the TO proposal – to help insure humanity’s non-extinction and promote human flourishing in a free and prosperous world at stable peace in extraterrestrial space (almost all of the universe).
If today's Terrestrials are to produce such an extraterrestrial Treaty Organization (including effective enforcement provisions), how many Peoples or States are required? More specifically, how many persons or peoples would accept or endorse a Space Treaty that effectively and enforceably bans weapons and their manufacture from extraterrestrial space? In this context (a good and practical legacy to our offspring), we should think we should be diligent enough to rally enough supporters. For example, TO might be signed originally by, say, twenty Peoples or States (including most of the "major" ones). But the Treaty would be strongly effectively enforced by TO’s Agency for a Better Cosmos (ABC) – NOT by Peoples/States – against ALL and EVERYONE, whether or not they sign the Treaty. Once in force, we would expect many others to sign on – since the Treaty applies to them even if they do not sign it. Sooner or later the Treaty really would have to be strongly effectively enforced by the ABC against all and everyone, because eventually persons and communities will permanently settle in extraterrestrial space. (Such a Treaty also offers hope and inspiration to those of us of the present.)
Okay, you may say, this is a reasonable enough start, but what other liberties, responsibilities, and political structures would be appropriate for the Extraterrestrial World? So far, what we presumably have is a partial prototype for an Extraterrestrial World at stable peace. But what about conflicts and the plurality of deeply held religious and philosophic worldviews?
(Midwife to an Evolving Extraterrestrial Society)
The Treaty Organization (TO) would serve as midwife to an evolving Extraterrestrial Society.
What seems to us both practical and fair in this context is to think in terms of an Extraterrestrial Society of Intentional Communities. The previous analyses are suggestive. Each Intentional Community would have to work within the framework of peace established immediately above and as articulated in more detail below as “PFIT”; given such an Extraterrestrial Society framework of requirements, consider now the following with respect to Intentional Communities:
Each person is free to found new (intentional) communities. Each Community would determine its own membership requirements. Each Community would have its own culture of liberties and responsibilities; a member would generally be free to leave the community. A mechanism or set of mechanisms would be established to insure that each member is fully and properly informed of their liberty to leave the (intentional) community. (We suppose some communities might still allow their members the possibility of experiencing serious physical pain – but they would also allow a member to voluntarily leave their community. Too, we suppose banning animal cruelty and serious animal pain would be desirable and feasible. At least at first, this might mean with respect to animals that only domestic or farm animals would be allowed permanent residence in extraterrestrial space?)
Note that some ("hermit") communities would consist of only one person. On old Terra, it was often difficult or impossible to leave one's community – sometimes expulsion effectively meant the individual's death. The sustainable prosperous context of the Extraterrestrial Society of Intentional Communities is radically different. If in the unlikely event this turns out not to be the case, then TO may not work exactly as envisioned by us. But whatever the case may be, the TO would have to be realistically flexible and convincingly knowledgeable of all relevant technology including on the cutting-edge and perhaps too the merely imaginable.
So at the level of the Society (of Communities) we have: (1) Peace: Weapons, weapons-making, and violence (including animal cruelty and serious animal pain) are strongly effectively enforceably banned (and so-called “research” would not be permitted as a way to get around the ban); and, (2) Freedom: Every individual person is fully aware of and fully informed of their general liberty to leave their community. This too is strongly effectively enforced. The Society and the Communities necessarily work closely together for the purpose of practical coordination to help prevent potential conflicts; in particular, the Society and the Communities necessarily work closely together to fully insure the liberties and responsibilities associated with both Peace and Freedom. Also note that since there is "unlimited free land,” this fact will additionally help prevent some old terra-style conflicts and resolve or manage others (this would include some old-style civil conflicts).
At the level of Communities (in the Society) we have: (1) Intentionality (voluntariness): Within the good-faith transparent enforcement of Society's basic principles of peace and freedom, each Community has wide latitude for experimentation. Although there is a general liberty of members to leave the (intentional) Community, this does not necessarily relieve such persons from certain good-faith responsibilities to the Community; and, (2) Transparency (accountability): Each Community must strongly, effectively, and transparently help enforce the Society's basic principles of peace and freedom.
We believe the political theory or moral-political approach we have invented above with respect to TO is unique and original. The “PFIT” (Peaceful, Free, Intentional, Transparent) framework here presented differs from the Law of Peoples conception of John Rawls in that TO is meant to be structured so as to necessarily ultimately generate an Extraterrestrial Law of Persons. Yet TO takes seriously the distinction Rawls makes between a "political conception" and "comprehensive doctrines." A political conception or model addresses persons only with respect to, or at the level of, citizenship. However, comprehensive doctrines or worldviews, whether religious or secular, address the full range, or deep levels, of one’s personhood and relationships. In our "Society of Communities" theory, Society corresponds to a political conception or model, and Communities represent numerous comprehensive doctrines or worldviews.
“Is stable peace possible if each person or each people is passionately convinced that their worldview is basically good and correct – and that other worldviews are evil or bad or incorrect?” If you can sincerely and in good faith agree to our TO political conception (our approach above), the answer to this question appears to be YES, such stable peace is possible. If you can at most only agree to our TO approach as a temporary compromise, then the answer may be NO.
That is to say: Persons of Comprehensive Doctrine X may be passionately convinced that their worldview is basically good and correct – and that other worldviews are evil or bad or incorrect. Likewise, persons of Comprehensive Doctrine Y may be passionately convinced that their worldview is basically good and correct – and that other worldviews are evil or bad or incorrect. YET if X persons, Y persons, and other persons (holding numerous differing comprehensive doctrines) can sincerely and in good faith agree to our TO political conception (our approach above), then stable peace is possible. Otherwise, they may consider agreeing to TO only as a temporary strategic compromise (thus ultimately open to future use of force and violence).
Accordingly, a major part of our TO or PFIT political conception is that the Treaty must be strongly effectively enforced by TO’s Agency for a Better Cosmos (ABC) – NOT by Peoples/States – against ALL and EVERYONE, whether or not they sign the Treaty. "If we could enforceably prevent each and every person from killing any person over a conflict (say, a conflict of worldviews) would we do so? If so, how would we resolve our conflicts?" If you can sincerely and in good faith (instead of merely as a temporary compromise) agree to our TO approach above, then stable peace in extraterrestrial space seems both possible and desirable. This approach, so we believe, realistically outlines a structure of stable peace for world Society and local Communities in extraterrestrial space – pointing toward conflict management in the new framework and encouraging subsequent projects to invent needed specifics.
According to TO, the architectures of extraterrestrial settlements will have to be PFIT (Peaceful, Free, Intentional, Transparent). Indeed, the architectures of all extraterrestrial structures will have to be congruent with PFIT. TO, via TO’s ABC (Agency for a Better Cosmos), will proactively enforce the PFIT requirements. TO and ABC will have to be on the cutting edge of such changing technologies if they are to successfully fulfill their missions. PFIT preplanning and PFIT retrofitting of PFIT extraterrestrial settlements and structures will be an ongoing task.
§8. An Evolutionary Implementation of the Principles
In §7 above we looked at physical (green habitat) technology and at social (treaty organization) technology. We defended the claim that, combined, these two advanced proactive “force of nature” technologies have the capacity to provide an environment of stable peace and evolving freedom which will also allow all persons and peoples therein to live beyond moderate scarcity in great wealth. We found that the claim turns out to be non-controversial. Indeed, these technologies – referred to above as Technology Today – were within our Research and Development capabilities even prior to the present century (see note one).
Also worthy of consideration is Technology Tomorrow, meaning that the moral-political principles zero and one require us to also attempt to pursue incipient or embryonic projects not now fully within our grasp (not yet within our Research and Development capabilities) – see, e.g.: (Tandy, 2007); (Tandy, 2009); (Tandy, 2010). However we shall not pursue such Technology Tomorrow matters within the present paper. The development of freedom (including technologies that promote our evolving rights and obligations) is presumably a never-ending task, but the present paper must come to an end.
We can view the relation of today to tomorrow as a process of emergence; what we do and fail to do today makes a difference. Within Technology Today and Technology Tomorrow we can also view each project as a dynamic evolutionary process influenced for good and ill by our decisions. The TO or PFIT project as specified above is meant to be structured so as to necessarily ultimately generate an extraterrestrial law of persons. That next stage (an extraterrestrial law of persons) remains for future construction. It will emerge by implementing the extraterrestrial PFIT, which is a treaty of terrestrial peoples (states).
The implementation of PFIT (Peaceful,
Free, Intentional, Transparent) physical-social technology is a step in the
evolutionary ladder, and there are steps within PFIT too, since it cannot
magically appear full-grown overnight. But at some point it seems we will have
to confront the great question of a cosmopolitan
No doubt we shall have to make up the evolving-emerging details as we move along. Providing a broad outline or proactive agenda is important and necessary; however, micromanaging the future in advance (as, historically, some tyrants have tried) is undesirable and even dangerous. But one reasonable question to consider now, with the initiation of PFIT, is “How much will it cost and who will pay for it?” There are indeed alternative answers or solutions possible here, as professional diplomats and treaty-makers will tell us – even as we also ask: “Can we afford not to do it?” Or, to put it another way: Does not some version of principle three (“just assistance”) come into play here? Principle three is the duty, under certain conditions, of justly assisting (A) future generations; and, (B) burdened societies. We may want to say that the Terrestrial System (Earth) has a duty to assist future generations (via PFIT) in order to assist itself (via PFIT) by preventing and overcoming its terrestrial burdens. This is a very special kind of reciprocity!
Our generation is privileged with the unique responsibility of taking the first PFIT step. Once the first PFIT step has been taken, then the additional hundreds or thousands of steps over many decades or centuries may proceed quickly or slowly. The first step is to pen and sign the PFIT treaty, thus enforceably banning weapons and weapons-making from extraterrestrial space. The first step is perhaps the most important one, and it requires no financial fees or Tobin taxes.
§9. Closing Remarks
Almost now is the opportune time for almost universal peace. Enforceably banning weapons and weapons-making from all of the universe (except for a single small planet) is politically feasible, morally desirable, and practically within our signature-signing hands. But if we wait too long, we may not be so free to “do the right thing.”
When wise persons learn the Way, they practice it with zest.
When mediocre persons learn of the Way, they are indifferent.
When foolish persons learn of the Way, they laugh mockingly.
If they did not laugh, it would not be worthy of being the Way.
– Daodejing, 41
We thank the philosophy department of
Associate Professor of Humanities, and
Senior Faculty Research Fellow in Bioethics
Charles R. 1999, Political Theory and International Relations:
With a New Afterword by the Author,
Kenneth E. 1964, The Meaning of the Twentieth Century: The Great Transition,
Thomas O. 1984, Personal Philosophy: The Art of Living.
Jimmy. 2005, Our Endangered Values: America’s Moral
Carter, V. and Dale, T. 1974, Topsoil and Civilization.
Daniels, N. [Editor].
1975, Reading Rawls: Critical
Studies on John Rawls' A Theory of Justice,
K. Eric. 1987, Engines of Creation,
Ford, B. J. 2009, “Culturing Meat For The Future: Anti-Death Versus
Anti-Life,” In Tandy, C. [Editor] (2009), Death
And Anti-Death, Volume 7: Nine
Hundred Years After St. Anselm (1033-1109),
Freeman, Samuel [Editor].
Freeman, Samuel. 2007, Rawls,
Garreau, Joel. 2011, and earlier: See <www.garreau.com>.
Gore, Al. 2006, An
Inconvenient Truth: The Planetary Emergency of Global Warming and What We Can
Do About It,
Hall, J. Storrs. 2005, Nanofuture: What's Next for
Heppenheimer, T. A. 1977, Colonies
Hornyak, Gabor L. et al.
2008, Introduction to Nanoscience,
Kowal, C. T. 1988, Asteroids,
Their Nature and Utilization,
J. S. 1997, Mining the Sky,
Martin, R. and Reidy, D.
[Editors]. 2006, Rawls's Law
of Peoples: A Realistic
Millennium Project: The Millennium Development Goals. 2011, and earlier: See <http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/index.shtml>.
Millennium Project: The State of the Future. 2011, and earlier: See <http://www.millennium-project.org/millennium/2011SOF.html>.
Nussbaum, Martha. 2001, “The Enduring Significance of John Rawls,” Chronicle of Higher Education July 20, 2001. (The Chronicle Review section; limited access availability at <http://chronicle.com/article/The-Enduring-Significance-of/7360>).
Gerard K. 2000, The High Frontier: Human Colonies in Space (3rd
R. G. 1990, Marxism, Morality, and Social Justice,
Pogge, Thomas. 1989, Realizing Rawls,
Pogge, Thomas. 2006, “Do Rawls’s Two Theories of
Justice Fit Together?” In Martin, R. and Reidy, D. [Editors], 2006, Rawls's Law of Peoples: A Realistic Utopia?,
Pogge, Thomas. 2007, John Rawls: His Life and Theory of Justice,
Ratner, Mark A. and
Ratner, Daniel. 2002, Nanotechnology: A Gentle Introduction to the Next Big
Rawls, John. 1971, A Theory of Justice [TofJ],
Rawls, John. 1999, The Law of Peoples [LofP],
Rawls, John. 2001, Justice as Fairness: A Restatement, E. Kelly [Editor],
Richardson, Henry S. 2011, and earlier: “John Rawls,” Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy <http://www.iep.utm.edu/rawls/>.
Rosin, C. 2011, and earlier: The Institute for Cooperation in Space (website): See
Seg-communities. 2011, and earlier: See <www.ria.edu/seg-communities>.
Amartya. 1999, Development as Freedom,
Space Quotes to Ponder. 2011, and earlier: See <www.spacequotes.com>.
Spaceflight or Extinction. 2011, and earlier: See <www.spaext.com>.
Spaceset. 2011, and earlier: [Bibliography] See <http://spaceset.org/p.bib.mm>.
G. Harry. 1979, The Third Industrial Revolution,
Tandy, Charles. 2009,
"Entropy and Immortality," Journal of Futures Studies, Volume
14, Number 1 (August 2009). (ISSN 10276084). (Pages 39-50).
Tandy, Charles. 2010, 21st Century Clues:
Essays in Ethics, Ontology, and Time Travel,
Tandy, Charles. 2011, “Extraterrestrial Turning Point: From Man-unkind to Meridian-kind?” Applied Ethics Review (April 2011, Vol. 50, pp. 27-72). (ISSN 1028-2483).
Ulmschneider, P. 2006, Intelligent Life in the Universe, Principles and
Requirements Behind Its Emergence
Ulmschneider, P. 2009, “O’Neill-Type Space Habitats and
the Industrial Conquest of Space,” In Tandy, C.
[Editor] (2009). Death And Anti-Death, Volume 7: Nine Hundred Years After St. Anselm (1033-1109),
Williams, Linda and Adams, Wade. 2006, Nanotechnology Demystified,
Lesley and Flynn, Daniel. 2011, “Bill Gates backs Tobin tax, G20
unconvinced” (This is a Reuters.com article, dated
About the author
Dr. Charles Tandy received his Ph.D. in
Philosophy of Education from the
 “Extraterrestrial O’Neill Habitats” (or “SEG
communities”) – See, for example: (A) P. Ulmschneider, “O’Neill-Type Space
Habitats and the Industrial Conquest of Space,” Chapter 16 in Charles Tandy
(editor), Death And Anti-Death, Volume 7 (
 “Molecular Drexler Technology” – Molecular
nanotechnology’s founder and founding book is K. Eric Drexler, Engines
of Creation (New York: Anchor Press, 1987). This book is available free
on the internet. Also see, for example: (A) Judith
F. Aznar, Nanoscience
Education, Workforce Training, and K-12 Resources. (