If you are Itzhak Perlman and you announce a concert in which you will play the Beethoven Violin Concerto, nobody complains “But you already played that once, why are you playing it again?” If you are Barbra Streisand and you start singing People, nobody grumbles “that again! Why don't you sing something new?” So if you are a philosopher and you have what you think is a really good idea and you write it up and publish it somewhere, you ought to be able to come back to it and explain it again without generating a chorus of complaints, right? Fat chance!
Well, as I was taking my morning walk today, pushing as hard as I could to get my heart rate up and all that, I thought to myself, “Why don’t you write a blog post today about your critique of the concept of an inequality surplus, which lies at the heart of John Rawls’s theories and also is taken for granted by virtually all modern sociology, economics, and political theory?” when I got home, I went to the search facility on my blog and sure enough, it turns out that I have already explained that idea three or four times in the last 13 years.
Now I think this is a genuinely important and powerful argument, and one to which I have never read or heard a satisfactory response. It is as close as I am ever going to come to Beethoven’s Violin Concerto or, for that matter, to the Queen of the Night aria from The Magic Flute. But I devoted a whole blog post to the idea just one year ago.
If you go back and take a look at my blog post on October 11, 2020 you can find out what I am talking about. That post generated a long series of comments, almost all of which (with the exception of those posted by somebody who identifies himself or herself as “purple library guy”) seemed completely to miss the point of my argument, so maybe it would not be so bad if I play Beethoven’s Violin Concerto again.