Tuesday, December 29, 2020

A Bridge Between Simantism and Legitimism

In simantism, it is assumed that whenever you experience something, it is as it appears to you. The sunset that you see really is beautiful. That sunset can turn into an ugly thing, or you can come to believe that it was ugly all along. What you experienced was beautiful, and referred to a deeper simantic word that might serve you beauty or ugliness in the future, altering your understanding of the deeper simantic word.

If you perceive a law, you might be uncertain as to whether it is valid or not. For instance, in some city, there is an ordinance against people sleeping on the streets. This was passed in an above-board way, according to the city's charter. But we might still wonder if it was valid. On the one hand, that is something that is hard on the people who have nowhere else to sleep. On the other hand, a city only has so many resources to deal with people who sleep on the streets. That city may have had some problems with people who slept on the street, so they threw up their hands and said "Let's ban sleeping on the streets". But then, how can we let ourselves think that we only have limited resources, when it comes to human well-being? Shouldn't we try harder? But then, maybe that's true, but maybe sometimes you just can't.

I could think through each of these considerations and as I went through the list go back and forth as to whether the ordinance was valid. Certainly it's valid as far as being legal, since it got on the books in a legal way. But the deeper validity, of whether it is just, I don't know. But I can try to form an opinion, and whether I try hard or barely try, I will perceive the law as either basically just or basically unjust. I will see it as being valid just for existing, and sometimes as a just law, as well.

The law that I experience in any moment is either just or unjust. It really is that, just like a sunset really is beautiful or not. I am always 100% right about that direct perception, even if that perception ends up betraying me. Maybe I think the law is just, but then talk to someone who sleeps on the streets, who breaks my sense that it is just, a breaking which to me is a kind of betrayal, something that is an insult to trust. Or I think the law is unjust, but then talk to the city council and find that opinion of unjustness (that incontrovertibly true experience of the law as unjust) as being untrustworthy, after I hear their perspective.

So then legitimism asks "what could possibly make something really be valid?" Can things validate themselves? Can things be created or built to be valid, and if so, how?

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