I finished Binmore's Natural Justice and am thinking about taking on the longer two volume work. I probably won't. Binmore has a writing style of a game theorist, and I doubt I would make it through two long volumes of the style. It is not opaque writing, but it has habits that I find uncongenial. Chief among them is the supposition that a diagram is a proof or even an argument. I need the narrative argument. It is a style, I would say, of understanding. At the more basic level, Binmore argues for a view that cooperation and fair allocations arise on their own given moderately favorable circumstances, that notions of fairness involve wider applications of distributive patterns (and rules) which are natural equilibria for smaller groupings. I have not put that at all well. It is a very Humean and Darwinian approach to justice and political theory. The discussion of game theory in connection with political theory was, albeit breif, fascinating. Thankfully, there was a manageable bibliography and note system for the book.
The variation in social organization and circumstances of human life suggest that, to the extent, political and moral thinking is not delusional, it must be strongly conditioned by happenstance of time and place. The notion of political values as cultural values is what is involved. Binmore gives some response to accusations of relativism, and in the brief address gets things largely right. The underlying point, for me, is the inadequacy of Kantian and like idealisms. The rules which do any work of governing social life are not usefully universal, and so not universalizable. A bugbear I suppose, but the anti-Kantian approach is what led me to read the book in the first place.
Cooperation and social organization, which ends up entailing something about political theory or justice, have to be the result (or instantiation) of ordinary processes. Can't be that a moral sense and contructed on conern for justice are just born it, like eye color. We don't get to justice or political theory because such ideas come at some age of their own, like wisdom teeth. The notions come into play because of the ways in which people live together, the dynamics of success of the pre-existing (and existing) social groupings. Because those social groupings are multivalent, and remain subject to variation and adaption, they seem unlikely to be dependant on an independently existing set of rules, actual or hypothetical. It is easier to see the sisters before one's self and accomdate to the local group, in competition against other groups and so on, than to find a set of imminant set of rules remaining at hand following exile.