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Student Loan Forgiveness 2: Fairness

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While people will be angry if student loans are cancelled and might believe this anger proves this would be unfair, this sort of “reasoning” has it backwards. While people should be angry at unfairness, anger does not prove that something is unfair. People can, obviously enough, be angry about things that are fair and even things that are unfair in ways advantageous to them—yet not as unfair in their favor as they might wish. As such, as was discussed in the previous essay, it is no surprise that arguments from anger against student loan cancellation are flawed. People also use the concepts of fair and unfair when engaged in moral masking. This is a rhetorical technique in which a person uses moral language to create the appearance that they are making moral claims or arguments when they are not. In most cases, those using this technique are concealing their own self-interest, desires, or feelings about the matter behind a mask of morality. The rhetorical advantage is that the person seems to have more laudable motivations or reasons than simple expressions of their wants and feelings. To illustrate saying “I would resent it if other people had their student loans cancelled” is probably less persuasive than saying “student loan cancellation would be unfair.” Being a professional philosopher, I would be remiss if I did not mention that there are philosophical theories in which moral claims are expressions of emotions or preferences. While this oversimplifies things, on such views saying, “student loan cancellation is unfair” would be means something like “I don’t like student loan cancellation” or even “student loan cancellation yuck!” Crudely put, there would be nothing more to ethics than these feelings or preferences. Fortunately, even if these views of ethics are correct, we could still have a meaningful debate about whether student loan forgiveness is fair in terms of considering the quality of the arguments advanced in favor of the various positions. There are. . .

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News source: A Philosopher's Blog

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