I define gruntwork as the kind of work almost no one would prefer to do if they had a choice, but which a number of people greater than “almost no one” must perform if society’s stability is to be maintained.
I assume gruntwork exists. Examples include: Trash collection, dish washing, crop harvesting, and so on. Basically, the stuff we typically call “unskilled labor.”
I define “egalitarianism” in this post as the principle that each person should be able to do the kind of work they prefer, if they are able to perform it. The extent to which this concept of “egalitarianism” matches normal useage of the term is open for discussion of course.
I assume that almost no one is unable to do anything they would prefer other than gruntwork.
So here’s the argument:
Suppose (for a conditional proof) that egalitarianism is the rule. In other words, it is enacted and followed by society.
If gruntwork exists, then some number of people greater than “almost no one” must do it in order for society to continue to function.
If almost everyone would prefer to do non-gruntwork, and almost everyone is able to perform non-gruntwork which they would prefer, (and, remember, egalitarianism is the rule,) then almost everyone will perform non-gruntwork.
If almost everyone will perform non-gruntwork, then almost no one will perform gruntwork.
So: If gruntwork exists, then almost no one will perform it.
But more than “almost no one” must perform gruntwork if society is to maintain stability.
So: If gruntwork exists, then society will not maintain stability.
Gruntwork does exist.
Hence: Society cannot remain stable.
The conclusion of all of the above is this:
If egalitarianism is the rule, then society cannot remain stable.
On the assumption that “society cannot remain stable” is a bad thing, it seems to follow that egalitarianism is untenable.
The reasoning is valid unless I’m missing something. So the question is, which assumption(s) is/are wrong?
Am I right to assume gruntwork exists? The argument has no punch unless gruntwork in some sense necessarily exists. Does it?
One way it might not exist is if it is all automated. We’ve had discussions about that before of course. Even if it were all automated, though, we’re still left with the weaker conclusion “So long as gruntwork is not automated, egalitarianism is untenable.” Are we okay with that, or is that, too, a conclusion we’d like to reject if possible?
Are there other ways gruntwork could be made not to exist? Can a non-coercive incentive structure make erstwhile gruntwork preferable enough to enough people that it is no longer gruntwork (by the definition of gruntwork given above?)
Am I right that almost no one is unable to do anything they prefer other than gruntwork? Or are there more people than I would like to believe who, whatever they might prefer, are incapable of doing anything they prefer other than gruntwork?
Is the concept of “egalitarianism” used in this argument an important one? Or is the definition of it such that the conclusion of the argument isn’t as significant as it sounds?
(Is there a name for this problem? Like, the “Who will do the dishes?” problem?)