The saying goes that copying is the highest form of flattery… well that must be the case, because the honest reason I created this site is because someone who I would love to flatter has their own blog, their own rambling of unnecessary thoughts which I found not only refreshing, but impressive. If I can keep up some sort of consistency with a public (although unknown) outlet, then I will have achieved a level of discipline that I can take with me into the future.
My aim with these posts are to engage my analytical and argumentative sides, and reach deeper into my mind, hoping to extract some sort of wisdoms from deep within. I cannot say exactly what these posts will be about: personal dilemmas, social justice, philosophical inquiries, and hopefully even mathematical insights.
Now, at this current moment, sitting in a field close to my home, there is so much going in and on around me. My muscles are still engaged from the 2200 meters of swimming I just finished doing, my intellect is excited at the prospect of this new outlet, and thankful that I have been staying on top of course work, and honestly have no work to do tonight (although I might brainstorm my Philosophy essay a little later). My emotional side is concerned with my best friend in San Francisco, V, who is so tangled up in the weeds of her boyfriend, and who is just continuing to invest herself deeper and deeper into a relationship which can only end in heartache, and my head is swimming in all the movement, the excitement, the still new feeling of freshness inside of me.
On Monday, my Philosophy professor mentioned that we ought to start thinking about our 5 page paper which is due in a little less than a month. Apparently about 10 days before the actual paper is due, she will give us a list of questions, but the second she mentioned that, my brain started roaming around to possibilities. The first one has to do with the two chapters of Raz that we read, which have to do with Authority and the State, and a Justification of Authority.
According to Raz, if authority is legitimate if it creates pre-emptive laws which depend on reasons we naturally come to ourselves through independent deliberation, and if we follow an authority because they are an authority, they are legitimate. Or, at least, that’s how I’m summarizing all three of his theses proposed in the texts we read. My question is a s follows, if these are the conditions for justifying the legitimacy of authority, then do major corporations, such as Apple, or even Target, brands universal to the modern American lifestyle, have legitimate authority over us?
I discussed this question with Quinn, my GSI (Graduate Student Instructor), and the qualm he immediately brought up was that companies like Apple don’t necessarily directly command us to do certain things. We, as a people, still use our own independent processes of deliberation to conclude which phones to buy, which laptops to use, and whether or not we want them. He told me that if I could come up with an example of a direct command, I might have a case, but such a prospect (although perhaps not impossible), seems difficult prima facie.
Using Apple as the easiest example, I notice that its products are created dependent on the needs (or desires) of its consumers. Now, if the function of an authority is to coordinate its people, then the laws it creates, the commands it puts forth, can be seen as products tailored to make society run smoother. Similarly, Apple’s products are also created to enable society to assimilate in a more coordinated way. In this way, are the ‘commands’ which an authority dictates analogous to the products, the phones and laptops, that Apple creates? Both are the means for solving a problem that society can not figure out on their own.
Of course, then there comes the idea of obligation. The Normal Justification Thesis entails that one follows an authority because they are an authority. Perhaps they are not the most efficient authority, but their job of coordination is better than if individuals were left to their own devices. Drawing back to my comparison, often times, users of Apple products use their iPhones and MacBooks simply because they are iPhones and MacBooks. If complying to commands without internal deliberation is to authority, then using Apple’s products without internal deliberation is to monopoly companies.
Obligation can stem from being a loyal customer, from being thrown into an iPhone plan at an early age by parents who want to communicate with you, or even subliminally from advertisements and their role of generating internal desire from within. Quinn steered me away from this essay topic as in the class, all we have considered is the question of what makes an authority legitimate, and not exactly at the concrete social structures, like advertisement and the media, which play a specific role in our considerations of the specific authorities at hand.
Now, while I think that I have the basis of an interesting essay I am almost positive that what my professor is looking for is more of a constructive analysis of the dialectic of Raz, or at least, that’s what Quinn told me.
I have an idea for another essay as well, but I think I shall conclude this post for now, and work on what my thesis could possibly be.