"Lo and behold, the great philosopher’s number was listed right there, next to those of mere mortals. But who should be the one to call Rawls?"


"No one volunteered for this daunting task. So Anjan nominated me. 'You should talk to him,' he said, 'because you guys have a lot in common.' The idea that a world-famous political philosopher would have anything in common with an obscure high school sophomore struck me as ridiculous. Still, a part of me was flattered by Anjan’s suggestion that I should be the one to call Rawls. So I let him persuade me. With trembling fingers, I dialed Rawls’ number, half-hoping that he wouldn’t be home. It turned out that Rawls was home. Somehow, I managed to work up the courage to explain who I was and ask my question [about an argument they wanted to make in a high school debate]. Rawls listened carefully, and then modestly admitted that he simply hadn’t thought about that issue before. Still, he stayed on the phone with me and talked about it for more than half an hour. I didn’t get much out of him that would be useful for the tournament. He really hadn’t thought about our issue before. Nonetheless, I was moved by Rawls’ thoughtfulness and even more by his willingness to treat a lowly high school student as an equal and take my questions seriously. He didn’t become impatient even when I took issue with one of his points. I still think that most of Rawls’ major ideas were probably wrong, brilliant though they undoubtedly were."
Writes lawprof Ilya Somin in "A Road to Freedom," which I'm noticing this morning because Somin is calling attention to Rawls's 100th birthday, which was yesterday. See "Happy 100th Birthday, John Rawls!/Today is the 100th birthday of the most influential political philosopher of the second half of the twentieth century" (Reason). 
Somin also calls attention to a commemoration of Rawls by Larry Solum (at Legal Theory Blog). Excerpt:
Rawls... spoke at the Association of American Law Schools annual meeting in New Orleans.... [Cass] Sunstein and Rawls engaged in an important exchange on the relationship between the ideas of public reason and overlapping consensus and Sunstein's similar notion of incompletely theorized agreement. After the lunch following the lecture, I remember that Rawls expressed a desire to gamble but no one else wanted to go! This moment haunts me still — surely I could have found time to accompany Jack (as he was known to his friends) to the Riverboat Casino for a few hours. Time passes. It is now the 100th anniversary of John Rawls birth....

I would especially love to see comments that connect Rawls's "Theory of Justice" to the topic of gambling. 

Also, feel free to imagine fictional scenarios that parallel Solum's missed opportunity: You're in some city where you intersect with a famous person who wants to do something that you wouldn't do if your usual travel companion suggested it, but you really ought to do because you'd have the chance to spend more time with this famous person.  How would that go?

And I'd love to hear about times when you were a high school student and you got some real conversation time with an eminent person you were surprised would talk to you at all.

[Author: [email protected] (Ann Althouse)]


Tags: Law, Gambling, Time, New Orleans, Philosophy, Jack, Conversations, Rawls, John Rawls, Ilya Somin, Association of American Law Schools, Sunstein, Ann Althouse, Anjan, Solum, Larry Solum

Source:  http://althouse.blogspot.com/2021/02/lo-and-behold-great-philosophers-number.html



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