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Extra resources for An Introduction to Heidegger's Existential Philosophy
Race, class, and sex are ordinarily thought of as illustrations of this. Who your parents are is said to be arbitrary from a moral point of view; nobody deserves to have rich or poor parents or parents of a particular race. Likewise, the particular sex-determining chromosomes you receive upon conception seem arbitrary in the same way. What all these factors appear to have in common is that they are the consequence of contingencies – what Rawls calls “the arbitrariness of fortune” over which an individual has no control or choice.
What counts as procedurally fair is often linked to what is at stake in the competition. In many competitions, the basic requirements of procedural fairness are not deeply contested. Those requirements often reflect a general consensus, and have developed over time. Sometimes, of course, the rules or regulations governing a competition are found to be unfair and to violate procedural fairness. The clearest breaches of procedural fairness involve the exclusion of certain classes of persons from the competition.
Here I am disagreeing with Barry’s characterization of background fairness as relying on a preconceived notion of the “right result” of a competition. See Barry, Political Argument, p. 103. Rawls, A Theory of Justice, p. 73. I gloss over what precisely Rawls means here and whether it is consistent with what he says elsewhere. See in particular Thomas Pogge, Realizing Rawls (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1989), pp. 161–73. Ronald Dworkin, Law’s Empire (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1986), p.