Rawls, Ghosting, and Honor

It used to be that breaking up by text message was considered a new low in social norms. Today, breaking up by text message is bordering on chivalrous in light of the popularity of ghosting. The ultimate defense of ghosting is Rawlsian. Its only defense is that it does not violate the negative liberties of another. In the last articles I wrote about the shift from the Rule of Moré to the Rule of Law. The former entailed a sense of honor and shame to enforce norms but in the current era honor is mostly dead and absent honor there is no reason to endure the sacrifice of discomfort that not ghosting someone entails. This sentiment was expressed best by the politician I work for who is often a perfect negative example of how not to be a good person.

Yes, his position is that, by virtue of its emphasis on negative liberties, that Rawlsian liberalism absolves him of any responsibility to be an honorable man. That sentiment applied to professional ghosting like he is doing breaks any social system. Even in a platonic context, less than a romantic one which isn’t as dangerous, it breaks society. It is a system where no one can trust anyone because in a Rawlsian system where only negative liberties matter honesty, reliability, and synonyms to those words are not the responsibilities of individuals. Of course, Rawls didn’t think through this and his opponents never thought to bring it up because it was taken for granted that keeping one’s word, especially in a professional setting, was considered ethical.

Rawls was a college professor and it would never have probably occured to him that a student of his could justify their cheating through his philosophy. Academic dishonesty does not violate the negative liberties of another. The idea that anything one does that does not violate the personal Lockean rights of another is morally okay is insane when taken to its logical conclusions. Nausbaum and the communitarians did not bring this up as a problem. In fact, one didn’t need virtue ethics for that basic level of honor; merely Kant’s position on lying. Something wholly deontological and modernist. Academic dishonesty is exploding in popularity and the current generation, for the same philosophical justifications they ghost, has few to no moral qualms about it.

While they don’t have honor, the ethics of the current generation aren’t libertarian but egocentric and self-pitied. They interpret negative liberties as including their right to comfort and that anything that is contrary to that is a violation of their rights. More or less, directly and indirectly, that’s why I got in trouble in college. Being on the spectrum, despite presenting no threat to anyone, I made people uncomfortable. The college would defend the comfort of their students while expecting no honor through an interpretation of Rawlsian liberalism. Which seems, on a level, woke until one considers that these weren’t trigger warnings or gender pronouns but years of active prejudice against someone, effectively, on account of their disability.

My getting in trouble rested, in large part, on the vestigial assumption that honor still exists. As written in an earlier article “my getting in trouble for platonic harassment in college is the result, partially, of rules that were made under the assumption that it was still, like, the 1990s and student life was a hot, sweaty, world of dating and parties where complaints about ‘creeps’ did not describe socially awkward people who were unpopular with their peers but warranted a heavy and immediate response without much mercy” Likewise, the school assumed that these involved normal human relations like normal friendships and normal dating. Their response, kind of, made sense if you assumed I lived a life like a stereotypical adolscent, college student, or adult and social morés were what they had been in the 1990s. While in some ways ableism has decreased, a college student being terrified of the social toxicity of somone with a disabiltiy like they’re a high school popular girl on steroids is a rather recent phenomenon. That level and kind of social anxiety is new but so is the complete shamelessness. They don’t have any honor.

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