Monday, April 23, 2012

Determinism and success

I talked about determinism in this post about Battlestar Galactica: The Plan. Michael Kinsley gives me the opportunity to relate it to the real world with this post about Mitt Romney's life.

In my BSG post, I make the point that my life as a man born to middle class white parents in Memphis during the 80s is much different than the life of a woman born to working class parents in Iran during the 50s. In the popular American sense of the term success, I have a much better chance at being successful than that woman. And Mitt Romney, being born to an upper class family, had a much better chance at being successful than I did. And both my odds and Romney's odds were pre-determined. We had no control over the circumstances we were born into. Thus, as Michael points out, it's kind of odd the way Romney and conservatives talk about individualism in relation to success.

Also like I said in that post, it's not all completely pre-determined. Mitt Romney wasn't simply destined to be the Republican nominee for president. I wasn't purely destined to be a poli sci grade writing this post. And you weren't completely destined to be reading this post while you sit where you are right now. We all made choices that led to these places. But those choices were heavily influenced by things beyond our control. Having an understanding of this is part of why I'm a liberal.

I don't believe it's fair to assume everyone has complete control over the outcome their lives. We can't all be Mitt Romney. Thus, when things don't end up going well, I think as a society we should do what we can to help people out. And we shouldn't praise people like Romney like we do at the expense of others just because he was given great odds from the beginning and managed to not screw it up.

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