The Unpredictable Nature of Our Actions

While I want to believe Walzer’s theory claiming that we stand up for justice whenever we see oppression in the world, I think it contradicts a lot of the other compelling literature we have read throughout the semester. While it might be nice if Walzer’s claims were true, I believe he over-generalizes and over-ascribes people’s actions to their morals and beliefs. Walzer suggests, “It’s not the case, however, that people carry around two moralities in their head, two understandings of justice, for example, one of which is brought out for occasions like the Prague march while the other is held in readiness for the debates soon to be joined on taxation or welfare policy.” I would suggest that people’s actions in the situations are less dependent on a constant, unchanging set of morals, and instead, more dependent on the context and what they themselves have at stake in the situation.

In The Unthinkable Revolution in Iran and in Shah of Shah’s, we are shown that small events like a newspaper being distributed sparked key moments in the Iranian Revolution, and we are introduced to the concept of viability, which explains why people were wary to join protests or demonstrations until they could imagine the revolution actually achieving its goals. Similarly, when Professor Malekzadeh asked in class which of us would participate in a revolution, most students needed more information before being able to even try to predict their behavior in such a situation. Along the same lines as Kurzman’s argument in The Unthinkable Revolution in Iran, I believe our beliefs and preferences are constantly changing, and it is impossible to predict exactly how we will respond to any given situation.  While our actions might suggest a shift towards universal trust in liberal democracy, which might seem to confirm Walzer or Fukiyama’s theories, I think our actions in any given situation cannot be explained or predicted to the extent Walzer suggests.

1 thought on “The Unpredictable Nature of Our Actions

  1. I totally agree with this. After all that we’ve read about unprecedented polarization, violence, and disorder, is it possible that inherent tendencies towards justice and other positive moral values can really win out? He seems to overlook the possibility of anomalies and “anti-explanation” in relation to his own theory.

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