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One of the principal themes of Walzer’s critique of liberal capitalism

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One of the principal themes of Walzer’s critique of liberal capitalism  [#permalink]

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New post Updated on: 17 Jun 2020, 06:49
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Project RC Butler 2020 - Participate and win GMAT Club Tests.
Passage # 155 Date: 17-Jun-2020
This post is a part of Project RC Butler 2020. Click here for Details


1993 02 SECTION A 21-27

One of the principal themes of Walzer’s critique of liberal capitalism is that it is insufficiently egalitarian. Walzer’s case against the economic inequality generated by capitalism and in favor of “a radical redistribution of wealth” is presented in a widely cited essay entitled “In Defense of Equality.” The most striking feature of Walzer’s critique is that, far from rejecting the principle of reward according to merit, Walzer insists on its validity. People who excel should receive the superior benefits appropriate to their excellence. But people exhibit a great variety of qualities—“intelligence, physical strength, agility and grace, artistic creativity, mechanical skill, leadership, endurance, memory, psychological insight, the capacity for hard work—even moral strength, sensitivity, the ability to express compassion.” Each deserves its proper recompense, and hence a proper distribution of material goods should reflect human differences as measured on all these different scales. Yet, under capitalism, the ability to make money (“the green thumb of bourgeois society”) enables its possessor to acquire almost “every other sort of social good,” such as the respect and esteem of others.

The centerpiece of Walzer’s argument is the invocation of a quotation from Pascal’s Pensees, which concludes: “Tyranny is the wish to obtain by one means what can only be had by another.” Pascal believes that we owe different duties to different qualities. So we might say that infatuation is the proper response to charm, and awe the proper response to strength. In this light, Walzer characterizes capitalism as the tyranny of money (or of the ability to make it). And Walzer advocates as the means of eliminating this tyranny and of restoring genuine equality “the abolition of the power of money outside its sphere.” What Walzer envisions is a society in which wealth is no longer convertible into social goods with which it has no intrinsic connection.

Walzer’s argument is a puzzling one. After all, why should those qualities unrelated to the production of material goods be rewarded with material goods? Is it not tyrannical, in Pascal’s sense, to insist that those who excel in “sensitivity” or “the ability to express compassion” merit equal wealth with those who excel in qualities (such as “the capacity for hard work”) essential in producing wealth? Yet Walzer’s argument, however deficient, does point to one of the most serious weaknesses of capitalism—namely, that it brings to predominant positions in a society people who, no matter how legitimately they have earned their material rewards, often lack those other qualities that evoke affection or admiration. Some even argue plausibly that this weakness may be irremediable: in any society that, like a capitalist society, seeks to become ever wealthier in material terms disproportionate rewards are bound to flow to the people who are instrumental in producing the increase in its wealth.

1. ​​The primary purpose of the passage is to

(A) argue that Walzer’s critique of liberal capitalism is the cornerstone of Walzer’s thinking
(B) identify and to deprecate the origins of the intellectual tradition championed by Walzer
(C) present more clearly than does the essay “In Defense of Equality” the distinctive features of Walzer’s politico-economic theories
(D) demonstrate that Walzer’s critique of liberal capitalism is neither original nor persuasive
(E) outline and to examine critically Walzer’s position on economic equality


2. ​The author mentions all of the following as issues addressed by Walzer EXCEPT:

(A) proper recompense for individual excellence
(B) proper interpretation of “economic equality”
(C) proper level of a society’s wealth
(D) grounds for calling capitalism “the tyranny of money”
(E) exchangeability of money for social goods


3. ​​​​​​The passage provides sufficient information to answer which of the following questions?

(A) What weight in relation to other qualities should a quality like sensitivity have, according to Walzer, in determining the proper distribution of goods?
(B) Which quality does Walzer deem too highly valued under liberal capitalism?
(C) Which are the social goods that are, according to Walzer, outside the reach of the power of money?
(D) What practical steps does Walzer suggest be taken to relieve the economic inequality generated by capitalism?
(E) What deficiencies in Walzer’s own argument does Walzer acknowledge?


4. ​​The author implies that Walzer’s interpretation of the principle of reward according to merit is distinctive for its

(A) insistence on maximizing everyone’s rewards
(B) emphasis on equality
(C) proven validity
(D) broad conception of what constitutes merit
(E) broad conception of what constitutes a reward


5. ​​​The author’s interpretation of the principle that “we owe different duties to different qualities” (Highlighted) suggests that which of the following would most probably be the duty paired with the quality of veracity?

(A) Dignity
(B) Trust
(C) Affection
(D) Obedience
(E) Integrity


6. ​​​The author implies that sensitivity is not a quality that

(A) is essential in producing wealth
(B) wealthy people lack
(C) can be sensibly measured on a scale
(D) characterizes tyrannical people
(E) is owed a duty in Pascal’s sense


7. The argumentation in the passage turns importantly on the question of what should be the proper relation between

(A) “liberal capitalism” (line 2) and “bourgeois society” (lines 20-21)
(B) “reward” (line 8) and “recompense” (line 17)
(C) “sensitivity” (line 15) and “the ability to express compassion” (lines 15-16)
(D) “distribution of material goods” (lines 17-18) and “redistribution of wealth” (lines 4-5)
(E) “social goods” (line 37) and “material goods” (line 41)



Originally posted by pathy on 17 Jan 2020, 20:30.
Last edited by SajjadAhmad on 17 Jun 2020, 06:49, edited 4 times in total.
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New post 17 Jun 2020, 06:50
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+1 Kudos to posts containing answer explanation of all questions
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One of the principal themes of Walzer’s critique of liberal capitalism  [#permalink]

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New post 18 Jun 2020, 12:40
How answer for question 7 is (E) “social goods” (line 37) and “material goods” (line 41)? I thought the main argument and question was
"Is it not tyrannical, in Pascal’s sense, to insist that those who excel in “sensitivity” or “the ability to express compassion” merit equal wealth with those who excel in qualities (such as “the capacity for hard work”) essential in producing wealth? "
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One of the principal themes of Walzer’s critique of liberal capitalism  [#permalink]

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New post 25 Jun 2020, 00:35
Apeksha55 wrote:
How answer for question 7 is (E) “social goods” (line 37) and “material goods” (line 41)? I thought the main argument and question was
"Is it not tyrannical, in Pascal’s sense, to insist that those who excel in “sensitivity” or “the ability to express compassion” merit equal wealth with those who excel in qualities (such as “the capacity for hard work”) essential in producing wealth? "


SajjadAhmad, can you post the OAs for all questions?

I'm confused about Q7 myself. I chose E but thought it should be B!
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Re: One of the principal themes of Walzer’s critique of liberal capitalism  [#permalink]

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New post 30 Jun 2020, 08:32
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TarPhi wrote:
Apeksha55 wrote:
How answer for question 7 is (E) “social goods” (line 37) and “material goods” (line 41)? I thought the main argument and question was
"Is it not tyrannical, in Pascal’s sense, to insist that those who excel in “sensitivity” or “the ability to express compassion” merit equal wealth with those who excel in qualities (such as “the capacity for hard work”) essential in producing wealth? "


SajjadAhmad, can you post the OAs for all questions?

I'm confused about Q7 myself. I chose E but thought it should be B!



Hi TarPhi, Apeksha55

7. The argumentation in the passage turns importantly on the question of what should be the proper relation between

(A) “liberal capitalism” (line 2) and “bourgeois society” (lines 20-21)
(B) “reward” (line 8) and “recompense” (line 17)
(C) “sensitivity” (line 15) and “the ability to express compassion” (lines 15-16)
(D) “distribution of material goods” (lines 17-18) and “redistribution of wealth” (lines 4-5)
(E) “social goods” (line 37) and “material goods” (line 41)


Correct Answer : E,
Explanation: As mentioned in the passage: "Pascal believes that we owe different duties to different qualities.............What Walzer envisions is a society in which wealth is no longer convertible into social goods with which it has no intrinsic connection. Walzer’s argument is a puzzling one. After all, why should those qualities unrelated to the production of material goods be rewarded with material goods?"
The above lines imply Option E, since through the above lines we can infer that Waltzer tries to compare the deserving criteria for social goods and material goods.

Option B is incorrect since the author uses "recompense" to imply rewards as mentioned in the passage: "Each deserves its proper recompense, and hence a proper distribution of material goods should reflect human differences as measured on all these different scales.", which is again the reward of material goods. So there is no proper relation between the two as such.

Also on reading the passage, we can infer that the Waltzer was mostly divided between criteria for distribution of social goods and material goods and that it should depend on the different qualities that people have and the different duties they perform.

Thus, making D an apt choice.

Hope this helps.
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Re: One of the principal themes of Walzer’s critique of liberal capitalism  [#permalink]

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New post 30 Jun 2020, 21:45
Can some expert please explain the structure of passage and the primary purpose. I got the first 2 answers wrong. Really confusing passage!
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New post 01 Jul 2020, 10:55
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Krishchamp wrote:
Can some expert please explain the structure of passage and the primary purpose. I got the first 2 answers wrong. Really confusing passage!


Hi Krishchamp,

I am not an expert, but would be glad to help you out. Let me know if this helps:

P1: Author discusses how Walzer views capitalism. Walzer is against the economic inequality caused by capitalism. He believes that people should receive benefits related to their excellence. He believes that depending on each quality a person may possess such as intelligence, hard work, memory, he/she deserves a different reward. Walzer pays more attention to the rationality of rewards. Thus, according to him, a proper distribution of wealth (material goods as mentioned in the passage) is supposed to reflect the human differences. But in a capitalist society, people who make more money, often get to collect all the wealth in the society including both material and social.

P2: The second para continues the discussion from the 1st, and puts forth Walzer's view where Walzer quotes from Pascal’s Pensees and defines capitalism as a tyranny of wealth, where certain people get what others deserve. He advocates how capitalism destroys equality and believes in restoring genuine equality by limiting wealth to wealth, and that an ideal society is one, where wealth is no longer convertible into social goods with which it has no intrinsic connection.

P3: This para points that Walzer's argument is difficult to understand,and supports the same by questioning as to why should the qualities unrelated to material goods be rewarded with material goods. Is not not tyranny. From Pascal's point of view, is it not wrong to reward different qualities as "sensitivity” or “the ability to express compassion" with the same material reward. Walzer's argument though inadequate points towards a serious flaw in capitalism, that a capitalist gives importance to such kind of people, regardless of their wealth. People who make more wealth often lack social qualities and people who are genuine, usually lack some or the other advantages. Some people this flaw to be irremediable, since in any society like a capitalist society, wanting to become wealthier is bound to cause disproportionate distribution of wealth.


Now coming to question 1: From the analysis of the passage above, we can say that the primary purpose of the passage, is to present and examine Walzer argument and his position on economic equality and capitalism.
Thus making option E as a correct answer.


Hope this Helps.
Thanks.
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One of the principal themes of Walzer’s critique of liberal capitalism   [#permalink] 01 Jul 2020, 10:55

One of the principal themes of Walzer’s critique of liberal capitalism

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