Social Theory and Practice
ONLINE FIRST ARTICLES
Articles forthcoming in in this journal are available Online First prior to publication. More details about Online First and how to use and cite these articles can be found HERE
March 15, 2023
Democracy, Epistocracy, and the Voting Age
first published on March 15, 2023
Should voting rights be conditional upon competence? Proponents of epistocracy think so, but most political theorists dismiss this view. At the same time, the practice of disenfranchising citizens below a certain age is widely endorsed. This paper raises a challenge for proponents of the voting age. Drawing on a revised version of Estlund’s influential account, I argue that electoral inequality is justifiable only if all qualified points of view can accept that it promotes the epistemic reliability of democratic procedures. This condition rules out epistocracy, but it also implies that the voting age is harder to justify than commonly assumed.
Pleasures of the Flesh
first published on March 15, 2023
I give an argument for veganism by drawing parallels between a) bestiality and animal fighting, and b) animal product consumption. Attempts to draw principled distinctions between the practices fail. The wrong-making features of bestiality and animal fighting are also found in animal product consumption. These parallels give us new insight into why popular objections to veganism, such as the Inefficacy Argument, are inadequate. Because it is often difficult to enact significant life changes, I hope that seeing the parallels between animal product consumption and acts we are already so strongly motivated to avoid can help us abstain from animal products.
March 14, 2023
Francesco Stellin Sturino
Deepfake Technology and Individual Rights
first published on March 14, 2023
Deepfake technology can be used to produce videos of real individuals, saying and doing things that they never in fact said or did, that appear highly authentic. Having accepted the premise that Deepfake content can constitute a legitimate form of expression, it is not immediately clear where the rights of content producers and distributors end, and where the rights of individuals whose likenesses are used in this content begin. This paper explores the question of whether it can be plausibly argued that Deepfake content involving the likenesses of real individuals violates the rights of these individuals.
Political Liberalism and Reasonable Disagreement
first published on March 14, 2023
On the standard version of political liberalism, the exercise of political power is legitimate only if it is justifiable to all reasonable persons. Correspondingly, reasonable disagreement about the moral doctrines underlying a law makes that law not justifiable to all reasonable persons. In this paper, I argue that political liberals are committed to understanding reasonable disagreement as being rational, rather than praiseworthy disagreement between morally reasonable person because other conceptions of reasonableness commit them to an incoherent triad of claims.
Göran Duus-Otterström, Edward A. Page
Why Victims of Unjust Harm Should Take Priority over Victims of Bad Luck
first published on March 14, 2023
It is sometimes suggested that victims of unjust harm should take priority over victims of other forms of harm. We explore four arguments for this view: that victims of unjust harm experience greater suffering; that prioritizing victims of unjust harm would help prevent unjust harm in the future; that it is good for perpetrators that their victims be prioritized; and that it is impersonally better that victims of unjust harm are prioritized. We argue that the first three arguments fail but that the fourth argument succeeds. Moral agents have a reason to prioritize victims of wrongdoing because this secures the impersonal value of corrective justice. However, this reason can be activated differently for different agents depending on how they are situated relative to the wrongdoing, and it may be outweighed by other factors, such as the extent of the harm that could be alleviated.
March 9, 2023
Free Speech and the Legal Prohibition of Fake News
first published on March 9, 2023
Western European liberal democracies have recently enacted laws that prohibit the diffusion of fake news on social media. Yet, many consider that such laws are incompatible with freedom of expression. In this paper, I argue that democratic governments have strong pro tanto reasons to prohibit fake news, and that doing so is compatible with free speech. First, I show that fake news disrupts a mutually beneficial form of epistemic dependence in which members of the public are engaged with journalists. Second, I contend that laws against fake news enhance rather than thwart personal autonomy. If these suggestions are plausible, then the same considerations about truth and autonomy that underpin the value of free speech give us strong reasons to prohibit fake news.
March 8, 2023
The Right to Family Unification for Refugees
first published on March 8, 2023
A handful of scholars have offered explanations for why states with otherwise restrictive immigration laws should relax their demands for people applying to immigrate for family reasons. However, much less has been said about the family unification rights of refugees. This paper extends the existing discussion on family-based immigration to refugees, arguing that: (1) states have stronger duties to reunite refugee families; (2) some refugees should be entitled to reunite with their “extended” family; (3) refugee family reunion should not be subject to financial conditions; and (4) the right to family reunion is especially strong for refugee children.
January 27, 2023
Olle Blomberg, Björn Petersson
Team Reasoning and Collective Moral Obligation
first published on January 27, 2023
We propose a new account of collective moral obligation. We argue that several agents have a moral obligation together only if they each have (i) a context-specific capacity to view their situation from the group’s perspective, and (ii) at least a general capacity to deliberate about what they ought to do together. Such an obligation is irreducibly collective, in that it does not imply that the individuals have any obligations to contribute to what is required of the group. We highlight various distinctive features of our account. One such feature is that moral obligations are always relative to an agential perspective.
December 8, 2022
Pharmaceutical Patents and Vaccination Justice
first published on December 8, 2022
The production of vaccines for COVID-19 has been far from ideal in terms of meeting world demand, thereby mitigating the infections and deaths caused by the pandemic. Part of the reason production has been inefficient is that those pharmaceutical companies that own the vaccine do not have sufficient productive capacity to meet demand. Resultantly, many have advocated for waiving patent rights to the vaccine so it can be massively produced worldwide. Pharmaceutical companies and their advocates have opposed this waiving of patent rights. In this article, I respond to the arguments that oppose waiving patents and contend that there is a case for temporarily waiving them. Mainly, I present a negative argumentative strategy that upholds the view that patents ought to be waived. However, in light of my arguments, the absence of positive reasons to withhold the patents implies that there are positive views for temporarily waiving them.
September 1, 2022
Three Control Views on Privacy
first published on September 1, 2022
This paper discusses the idea that the concept of privacy should be understood in terms of control. Three different attempts to spell out this idea will be critically discussed. The conclusion will be that the Source Control View on privacy is the most promising version of the idea that privacy is to be understood in terms of control.
August 27, 2022
Marx, Communism, and Basic Income
first published on August 27, 2022
Should Marxists support universal basic income (UBI), i.e., a regular cash income paid to all without a means test or work requirement? This paper considers one important argument that they should, namely that UBI would be instrumentally effective in helping to bring about communism. It argues that previous answers to this question have paid insufficient attention to a logically prior question: what is Marx’s account of communism? In reply, it distinguishes two different accounts: a left-libertarian version that associates communism with the freedom to live and work how one wants, and a perfectionist version that associates communism with the overcoming of alienated labour and self-realisation in work. It argues that UBI would make steps towards the left-libertarian account but not the perfectionist account. Ultimately, then, the question “should Marxists support basic income?” is shown to partly depend on which account of communism Marxists want to bring about.
August 20, 2022
Grant J. Rozeboom
Roles, Rousseau, and Respect for Persons
first published on August 20, 2022
Why does respect for persons involves accepting that persons have responsibilities, and not just authority, for their lives and interactions? I show how we can answer this question with a role-based view: respect for persons is an attitude of recognizing others for a social role they occupy. To fill in a role-based view, we need to describe the practice into which the pertinent role figures. To do this, my account draws on the Rousseauian idea of inflamed amour-propre. Roughly, respect for persons is an attitude of recognizing persons for the role they occupy in a social practice that helps solve the problem of inflamed amour-propre.
August 16, 2022
The Dependency Challenge to (Dispositional) Theories of Domination
first published on August 16, 2022
In this article, I defend two claims about domination. The first is that dispositional theories, which hold that domination obtains just in case one has the ability to interfere with another, are not compelling in accounting for the domination of persons with severe cognitive disabilities. This is because these accounts fall victim to, what I call, the dependency challenge. The second claim is that exercise theories of domination, which hold that domination obtains only when one has actually interfered with another, more plausibly account for the domination of persons with severe cognitive disabilities.
How Far Can Political Liberalism Support Reforms in Higher Education?
first published on August 16, 2022
According to a standard picture in the educational policy and educational ethics literature, justice requires significant alterations to higher-education arrangements, in order to equalize opportunity and benefit badly-off social groups. I argue that, if political liberalism is correct, then a range of higher-education reforms favored by the standard picture lack support. After canvassing the standard picture (section 2), I explain why political liberalism entails that some institutions have a special status that prohibits certain kinds of interventions on them (section 3), and I explain why this means that political liberalism cannot vindicate the standard picture (sections 4 and 5).
August 13, 2022
The Political Representation of Nonhuman Animals
first published on August 13, 2022
This article provides a survey of the emerging debate on the political representation of nonhuman animals. In Section 1, I identify some of the reasons why the interests of animals are often disregarded in policy-making, and present two arguments why these interests should be considered. In Section 2, I introduce four institutional proposals that have been discussed in the relevant literature. Section 3 attempts to make explicit the underlying logic of each proposal (i.e. which specific problems it wants to tackle). Section 4 discusses some of the main normative pros and cons of each proposal.
August 12, 2022
Reconciliation or Anticipation?
Reasonable Hope beyond Rawls
first published on August 12, 2022
What may democratic citizens hope for? In order to answer this question, this article takes its cue from John Rawls’s notion of reasonable hope. Rawls is acutely aware of a tension we face in demarcating the limits of hope in democratic politics, yet fails to resolve it: hope should allow us to critically distance ourselves from the existing social world, yet not be entirely disconnected from it. In order to do justice to both desiderata, I propose to distinguish between individual and collective levels of reasonable hope, with democratic institutions and practices mediating between the two.
August 5, 2022
Republicanism and/or Relational Egalitarianism?
first published on August 5, 2022
What is the relationship between republicanism and relational egalitarianism? According to Andreas Schmidt, republicanism, in particular Pettit’s theory of republicanism, is able to capture some relations as objectionable which relational egalitarianism cannot, to wit, relations of mutual domination. This shows that relational egalitarianism is inadequate. In this paper, I explore the relationship between republicanism and relational egalitarianism and argue, first, that Schmidt is wrong. Relational egalitarianism, on a plausible understanding, does object to relations of mutual domination. I then argue that relational egalitarianism, unlike republicanism, is able to capture why some relationships involving racism are objectionable. I end the paper by arguing that we should not see the views as competitors: republicanism, on a plausible understanding, provides a necessary condition of what it means to relate as equals (i.e. non-domination), whereas relational egalitarianism provides necessary and jointly sufficient conditions of what it means to relate as equals.
Jelena Belić, Zlata Božac
Structural Injustice, Shared Obligations, and Global Civil Society
first published on August 5, 2022
It is frequently argued that to address structural injustice, individuals should participate in collective actions organized by civil society organizations (CSOs), but the role and the normative status of CSOs are rarely discussed. In this paper, we argue that CSOs semi-perfect our shared obligation to address structural injustice by defining shared goals as well as taking actions to further them. This assigns a special moral status to CSOs, which in turn gives rise to our duty to support them. Thus, we do not have full discretion when deciding whether to join collective actions or not. Under certain conditions, we can even be forced by others to do our share.
July 31, 2022
Maria Paola Ferretti
Fake News and the Responsibilities of Citizens
first published on July 31, 2022
This article argues that citizens are responsible for the way they participate in political communication and debate, including for the quality of the pieces of information they post or disseminate on social media. This view contrasts with approaches that prioritise institutional responsibility in combating misleading information. Instead, in the article’s perspective, public and private institutional interventions are justified only when they aim at sustaining citizens in upholding their epistemic duties and contribute to an environment that facilitates responsible communicative exchanges.
June 8, 2022
The Project Pursuit Argument for Self-Ownership and Private Property
first published on June 8, 2022
The article argues that persons should be conceived as self-owners and entitled to acquire private property within justifiable property conventions because they should be able to live as project pursuers. This is the ‘project pursuit argument’. It leads to a conception of self-ownership that is stringent, but weaker than standard libertarian notions of self-ownership, and to an understanding of private property as a convention that has to meet a sufficientarian threshold in order to be justifiable.
June 7, 2022
Daniel Engster, Matt Edge
Street Level Bureaucracy, Casework and Justice
first published on June 7, 2022
Most contemporary justice theories focus on the basic structure of society but pay relatively little attention to the implementation of laws and policies at the street-level. As agents of the basic structure, social caseworkers and street-level bureaucrats are, however, potentially in a unique position in the fight to deliver justice at the coalface of social inequality. Introducing a paradigm of ‘Justice as Action’, we explore how street-level bureaucrats can work with both citizen-clients and, indeed, political philosophers, to promote justice. Although the Justice as Action paradigm does not involve entirely abandoning ideal justice theories, we show how it provides a potential method for paying heed to the objections of political realists about the need to direct attention to the concerns of people ‘now and around here’ if we are to produce both meaningful political theory and meaningful political action. Our conclusion is that it is essential for front-line workers and street-level bureaucrats and political theorists to have more conversations with one another than they currently do in order to advance their shared cause.
June 1, 2022
Self-Respect and Self-Segregation
A Du Boisian Challenge to Kant and Rawls
first published on June 1, 2022
In this article, I develop W. E. B. Du Bois’s concept of double consciousness to demonstrate the limitations of Kant’s and Rawls’s models of self-respect. I argue that neither Kant nor Rawls can explain what self-respect and resistance to oppression warrants under the conditions of violent and systematic racial exclusion. I defend Du Bois’s proposal of voluntary black self-segregation during the Jim Crow era and explain why Du Bois believes that the black American community has a moral right to assert its self-respect by mitigating its exposure to racial violence and animus in a white-controlled polity.
May 29, 2022
Evil and Feminist Ethics
A Modified Cardian Theory of Evil
first published on May 29, 2022
Claudia Card has developed a very helpful and highly-regarded theory of evil action. However, the theory isn’t able to distinguish between evil action and complicity in evil deeds as she intends. As a result, some actions which seem to be merely wrongful turn out to be evil on her account. The root problem is Card’s failure to recognize the importance of relationships for evil action. The solution is to draw on the work of other feminist ethicists, most notably Nel Noddings and Eva Kittay, and append a relational component to Card’s theory of evil.
April 15, 2022
What Is Meaningful Work?
first published on April 15, 2022
This paper argues that two orthodox views of meaningful work—the subjective view and the autonomy view—are deficient. In their place is proposed the contributive view of meaningful work, which is constituted by work that is both complex and involves persons in its contributive aspect. These conditions are necessary due to the way work is inherently tied up with the idea of social contribution and the interdependencies between persons. This gives such features of the contributive view a distinct basis from those found in existent accounts of meaningful work.
March 8, 2022
Private Duty Creation in Theories of Distributive Justice
first published on March 8, 2022
Historical entitlement theories of property rights, which claim that individuals can acquire moral property rights over natural resources by appropriating them, traditionally face a strong objection: it is widely implausible that a single individual can unilaterally impose duties on everyone around him and yet, apparently, this is exactly what such theories allow. In this essay, I argue that the same problem appears in all other theories of distributive justice and if this problem was a reason to reject historical entitlement theories, it would also be a reason to reject all rival theories. Which means that as long, as one is committed to any theory of distributive justice at all, she, at the risk of inconsistency, cannot rely on the aforementioned objection to criticize historical entitlement theories.
March 5, 2022
Social Promotion of Meaningful Work as a Project of Democratising Society
A Liberal Perfectionist View
first published on March 5, 2022
In this article, I argue that the state should promote meaningful work, defending a liberal perfectionist politics for this purpose. To construct my argument, I critically engage with Andrea Veltman’s view that the state should not promote meaningful work because it infringes on autonomy in people’s choice of work. I argue that authentically meaningful work achieved in the context of this autonomy requires flourishing liberal democracy, but such democracy calls for the state’s promotion of meaningful work. Carole Pateman’s insight that workplace democracy nurtures people’s political agency informs my argument. I also address objections concerning state neutrality and empirical validity.
Sober Thoughts on Drunken Consent
Intoxication and Consent to Sexual Relations
first published on March 5, 2022
Drunken sex is common. Despite how common drunken sex is, we think very uncritically about it. In this paper, I want to examine whether drunk individuals can consent to sex. Specifically, I answer this question: suppose that an individual, D, who is drunk but can still engage in reasoning and communication, agrees to have sex with a sober individual, S; is D’s consent to sex with S morally valid? I will argue that, within a certain range of intoxication, an individual who is drunk can give valid consent to have sex with an individual who is sober.
March 4, 2022
Broken Windows, Naloxone, and Experiments in Policing
first published on March 4, 2022
The practice of equipping police officers with naloxone has generated controversy within the profession. I adjudicate the disagreement in this article. I diagnose the dispute as rooted in a philosophical account of professional, role-based obligations. Parties to the debate appear to agree that what the police are permitted to do is determined in part by the (disputed) essential goal of the police profession. Instead, I argue that we should make room for “experiments in working.” Finally, I argue that naloxone use by police is an experiment in working that falls squarely within the tradition of order maintenance policing.
On the Political Sociology of Intersectional Equality and Difference
Insights from Axel Honneth’s Recognition Theory
first published on March 4, 2022
This article contends that Axel Honneth’s critical social theory provides a compelling general framework with which to map out the political sociology of social equality in a way that takes due account of class-based inequalities, social identity differences, and ecological challenges of contemporary globalized societies. Honneth joins an emphasis on equal respect for all—a core aspect of equality in modern democratic societies—with an account of social esteem recognition—which establishes evaluative distinctions among people—in a way that illuminates the interplay of equality and difference. This is so, I argue, even though Honneth himself has focused on struggles for recognition and social freedom rather than equality, and despite some notable limitations of his political sociology.
March 3, 2022
Automation, Unemployment, and Taxation
first published on March 3, 2022
Automation can bring the risk of technological unemployment, as employees are replaced by machines that can carry out the same or similar work at a fraction of the cost. Some believe that the appropriate response is to tax automation. In this paper, I explore the justifiability of view, maintaining that we can embrace automation so long as we compensate those employees whose livelihoods are destroyed by this process by creating new opportunities for employment. My contribution in this paper is important not only because I develop a theoretical framework that we can use to resolve this urgent policy dispute—a dispute that has been discussed extensively by labour economists, tax lawyers, and policymakers, but largely neglected by political philosophers—but also because my analysis sheds lights on a wider range of controversies relating to the moral and political importance of unemployment.
Lars J. K. Moen
Making Sense of Full Compliance
first published on March 3, 2022
The full compliance assumption has been the focus of much recent criticism of ideal theory. Making this assumption, critics argue, is to ignore the important issue of how to actually make individuals compliant. In this article, I show why this criticism is misguided by identifying the key role full compliance plays in modelling fairness. But I then redirect the criticism by showing how it becomes appropriate when Rawls and other ideal theorists expect their model of fairness to guide real-world political practice. Attempts to establish institutions conforming to this ideal could have undesirable consequences and might even undermine fairness itself.
March 2, 2022
But I’ve Got My Own Life to Live
Personal Pursuits and the Demands of Morality
first published on March 2, 2022
The dominant response to Peter Singer’s defense of an extremely demanding duty of aid argues that an affluent person’s duty of aid is limited by her moral entitlement to live her own life. This paper argues that this entitlement provides a basis not for limiting an affluent person’s duty of aid but rather for the claim that she too is wronged by a world marked by widespread desperate need; and the wrong she suffers is a distinctive one: the activation of a duty of aid so demanding that it dominates her life, crowding out her own valuable projects and involvements.
February 23, 2022
Stephen John, Joseph Wu
“First, Do No Harm”?
Non-Maleficence, Population Health, and the Ethics of Risk
first published on February 23, 2022
Screening for asymptomatic disease is a routine aspect of contemporary public health practice. However, it is also controversial, because it leads to overdiagnosis and overtreatment, with many arguing that programmes are “ineffective,” i.e., the “costs” outweigh the “benefits.” This paper explores a more fundamental objection to screening programmes: that, even if they are effective, they are ethically impermissible because they breach the principle of non-maleficence. In so doing, it suggests a new approach to the ethics of risk, justifying a concern with how policies affect individuals’ absolute ex-ante prospects. Part 1 sets up the tension between screening and non-maleficence. Part 2 introduces and motivates a novel interpretation of the non-maleficence principle, “ex-ante Do No Harm,” which resolves this tension. Part 3 defends and clarifies this principle by discussing its relationship to the ex-ante Pareto principle. Part 4 discusses the worry that risk estimates are too “subjective.”
February 3, 2022
Can Rawlsian Containment of Hateful Viewpoints Be Effective?
first published on February 3, 2022
While most of the literature has attempted to justify harsh and soft containment given some fundamental commitments of political liberalism, I focus on how justified forms of containment can in themselves be deemed effective. This article shows that a reading of Rawls allows for a comparison of different containment practices based on their capacity to protect the stability of liberal democracies under serious threat. And, in making it possible to compare harsh and soft containment, I evaluate immediate stability gains against citizens’ judgements about their liberal democratic institutions.
December 22, 2021
For an Agonistic Element in Realist Legitimacy
first published on December 22, 2021
The article shows that an uncritical view of domination is a weakness of current accounts of realist legitimacy and it argues that an agonistic supplement can help overcome that weakness. Two accounts of realist legitimacy are discussed: the moral minimum account and the acceptance account. In each case, certain modifications of the argument are needed to establish a distance from moralism, but these modifications create an indifference to domination. The incorporation of an agonistic principle into realist legitimacy can solve this problem. The agonistic case for effective possibilities for contestation endows realist legitimacy with a critical stance towards arrangements that are unresponsive to criticism on the part of those who are subject to them without, however, introducing a moralist argument.
December 21, 2021
Realism against Legitimacy
For a Radical, Action-Oriented Political Realism
first published on December 21, 2021
This article challenges the association between realist methodology and ideals of legitimacy. Many who seek a more “realistic” or “political” approach to political theory replace the familiar orientation towards a state of (perfect) justice with a structurally similar orientation towards a state of (sufficient) legitimacy. As a result, they fail to provide more reliable practical guidance, and wrongly displace radical demands. Rather than orienting action towards any state of affairs, I suggest that a more practically useful approach to political theory would directly address judgments, by comparing the concrete possibilities for action faced by real political actors.
December 20, 2021
Peter J. Verovšek
A Realistic European Story of Peoplehood
The Future of the European Union beyond Williams's Basic Legitimation Demand
first published on December 20, 2021
The divisions emanating from the Eurozone crisis have led political realists to argue that European identity should be conceived of via “basic legitimation demand” (Williams) that prioritizes the creation of order in backward-looking, non-utopian terms. In contrast, I suggest that Europe would do better by building an ethically-constitutive “story of peoplehood” (Smith) that looks both backward and forward. I argue that the EU should build on the ideals drawn from the continent’s shared past as well as its desire to retake control from the global economic forces that threaten democratic political sovereignty in the twenty-first century.
December 19, 2021
Legitimacy between Acceptance and Acceptability
A Subjects-First View
first published on December 19, 2021
Political realists argue that the concept of political legitimacy should be linked to subjects’ beliefs, while still offering normative guidance. In this article, I suggest doing so by referring to the concepts of acceptance and acceptability. I argue that a regime is legitimate if its power is accepted by subjects, provided that such acceptance meets the requirements of acceptability: subjects’ beliefs about the regime’s legitimacy need to successfully satisfy three requirements—coherence, fact-sensitivity, and politics-sensitivity—via entering public debate. I rely on pragmatism to investigate the link between subjects’ beliefs and their experience of facing political authority.
December 18, 2021
Political Legitimacy as a Problem of Judgment
What Distinguishes Moralist, Realist, and Pragmatist Approaches?
first published on December 18, 2021
This paper examines the differences between moralist, realist, and pragmatist approaches to political legitimacy by articulating their largely implicit views of judgment. Three claims are advanced. First, the salient opposition among approaches to legitimacy is not between “moralism” and “realism.” Recent realist proposals for rethinking legitimacy share with moralist views a distinctive form, called “normativism”: a quest for knowledge of principles that solve the question of legitimacy. This assumes that judging legitimacy is a matter of applying such principles to a case at hand. Second, neither Rawls nor Habermas is a normativist about political legitimacy. The principles of legitimacy they proffer claim to express rather than adjudicate the legitimacy of a liberal-democratic regime, and thus cannot solve the question of legitimacy at a fundamental level. But perhaps we should question the normativist aspiration to theoretically resolving the problem to begin with. My third claim is that a “pragmatist” approach enables us to rethink political legitimacy more deeply by shifting focus from the articulation of principles to the activity of judging. Implicit in Rawls’s and Habermas’s theories I then find clues towards an alternative account of judgment, in which the question of legitimacy calls not for theoretical resolution but for ongoing practical engagement.
December 14, 2021
Political Realism and Epistemic Constraints
first published on December 14, 2021
This article argues that Bernard Williams’ Critical Theory Principle (CTP) is in tension with his realist commitments, i.e., deriving political norms from practices that are inherent to political life. The Williamsian theory of legitimate state power is based on the central importance of the distinction between political rule and domination. Further, Williams supplements the normative force of his theory with the CTP, i.e., the principle that acceptance of a justification regarding power relations ought not to be created by the very same coercive power. I contend that the CTP is an epistemic criterion of reflective (un)acceptability which is not strictly connected to the question of whether people are dominated or not. I show that there are cases of non-domination that fail the epistemic requirements of the CTP.
December 4, 2021
Janosch Prinz, Enzo Rossi
Financial Power and Democratic Legitimacy
How to Think Realistically about Public Debt
first published on December 4, 2021
To what extent are questions of sovereign debt a matter for political rather than scientific or moral adjudication? We answer that question by defending three claims. We argue that (i) moral and technocratic takes on sovereign debt tend to be ideological in a pejorative sense of the term, and that therefore (ii) sovereign debt should be politicised all the way down. We then show that this sort of politicisation need not boil down to the crude Realpolitik of debtor-creditor power relations—a conclusion that would leave no room for normative theory, among other problems. Rather, we argue that (iii) in a democratic context, a realist approach to politics centred on what Bernard Williams calls ‘The Basic Legitimation Demand’ affords a deliberative approach to the normative evaluation of public debt policy options.
October 27, 2021
What Are We Talking About, When We Talk About Dehumanization?
first published on October 27, 2021
In this article, three new concepts of dehumanization are proposed in order to distinguish clearly between three different kinds of phenomena that are frequently conflated and misrepresented in current research: subjective dehumanization, detrimental conditions, and objective dehumanization. The article offers (i) a more fine-grained understanding of these three kinds of dehumanization phenomena, which in turn (ii) illuminates new strategies for conflict prevention. This is achieved through a process of conceptual engineering, where the boundaries of our concepts are redrawn, so they are better suited for the dealing with the phenomena in question.
September 25, 2021
Weddings and Counter-Stereotypic Couples
first published on September 25, 2021
In this article, I argue that opposite-sex couples planning weddings have a duty to make their choices in ways that undermine the harmful norms that lead to most women taking their husband’s last names when they marry, and most weddings being extremely expensive. This duty, however, is not a duty to significantly reduce the prevalence of those norms, since doing so is generally not in the power of individual couples. Rather, it is a duty to provide observing couples around them with new live options for their own weddings.
For Better or for Worse
When Are Uncertain Wedding Vows Permissible?
first published on September 25, 2021
I answer two questions: (1) what are people doing when they exchange conventional wedding vows? and (2) under what circumstances are these things morally and rationally permissible to do? I propose that wedding pledges are public proclamations that are simultaneously both private vows and interpersonal promises, and that they are often subject to uncertainty. I argue that the permissibility of uncertain wedding promises depends on whether the uncertainty stems from doubts about one’s own internal weakness of will and susceptibility to temptation or from the expectation that external circumstances might change. I then explain why uncertainty is a prima facie challenge for unconditional wedding vows, and I offer a solution: rational wedding vows are unconditional in their content but implicitly conditional in their structure; the spouse pledges to act in certain ways unconditionally, so long as they remain in the spousal role. I respond to objections to my view (including Elizabeth Brake’s claim that the permissibility of unilateral divorce undermines an understanding of wedding vows as promises), and conclude with some suggestions about what marrying couples should do to ensure permissible pledges.
September 24, 2021
Informed Altruism and Utilitarianism
first published on September 24, 2021
Utilitarianism is a consequentialist theory that assigns value impartially to the well-being of each person. Informed Altruism, introduced in this article, is an intentionalist theory that relegates both consequentialism and impartiality to subordinate roles. It identifies morally right or commendable actions (including collective actions such as laws and policies) as those motivated by a sufficiently informed intention to benefit and not harm others. An implication of the theory is that multiple agents may perform incompatible actions and yet each be acting rightly in a moral sense.
September 23, 2021
Kevin Todd Mintz
Paying Attention to the Mouse Behind the Curtain
Dilemmas of Disability Justice in a Lawsuit against Disney
first published on September 23, 2021
Is it possible that justice requires giving people with disabilities like autism sufficient opportunities to pursue a flourishing life by promoting accessibility at theme parks and other places of public accommodation? I explore this question by analyzing the ethical issues at play in a series of disability lawsuits against Disney Parks and Resorts. Drawing on the work of Martha Nussbaum and Chiara Cordelli, I argue that Disney has an obligation of justice to provide these plaintiffs with their requested disability modification. I further articulate how public accommodations other than Disney should accommodate disabled customers, sometimes with government assistance.
Christopher W. Love
The Epistemic Value of Civil Disagreement
first published on September 23, 2021
In this article, I argue that the practice of civil disagreement has robust epistemic benefits and that these benefits enable meaningful forms of reconciliation—across worldview lines and amid the challenging information environment of our age. I then engage two broad groups of objections: either that civil disagreement opposes, rather than promotes, clarity, or else that it does little to help it. If successful, my account gives us reason to include civil disagreement among what Mill calls “the real morality of public discussion,” a fact that should stir us to take more seriously the decline of civility in contemporary life.
September 21, 2021
Positional Consumption and the Wedding Industry
first published on September 21, 2021
Recent decades have seen substantial increases in the average amount of money spent on wedding ceremonies in economically developed countries. This article develops an account of wedding expenditure as a form of positional competition where participation involves purchasing services in a market. The main emphasis is on the role that conspicuously expensive weddings can play in enabling certain kinds of signalling, most notably the signalling of commitment to a personal relationship and a distinct signalling of personal wealth. The analysis seeks to demonstrate how wedding expenditure is both similar to but distinct from the positional consumption associated with markets in other goods and services. While much of the work in this article is descriptive, it aims to complement more normatively engaged work on the moral status of marriage, and on the proper evaluation and response to excessive positional consumption.
September 18, 2021
Why Does Class Matter?
first published on September 18, 2021
This article explores an under-examined theme, which is who or what is the working class and what is wrong with the situation that members of this class share. It argues that class divisions impose a unique harm for a diverse and interdependent group within capitalist societies both in spite and because of differences among group members. Class matters not just because it creates economic groups in which some are rich and others are poor, but because competition creates conditions that militate against solidarity, toward cleavage and conflict. Class is a constraint on collective self-determination and, therefore, a source of domination.
September 4, 2021
Can Social Groups Be Units of Normative Concern?
Normative Individualism, Futurity, Causality, Social Ontology
first published on September 4, 2021
In social justice theory, it seems both important, but also potentially normatively and metaphysically suspect, to treat social groups as units of normative concern. This is also the source of much current controversy surrounding social justice politics. I argue that normative individualism is a (correct) metaethical clarification, but not necessarily a binding guide for all other (non-metaethical) normative theory or practice in the way we might assume. Supra-individual social entities can, in fact, be the irreducible subjects of concern in valid normative evaluations or prescriptions, owing to future-relevant causal properties. However, this idea is complex and requires careful elucidation. I address likely objections pertaining to group definitions, social ontology, conceptions of causation, counterfactuals, and the non-identity problem.
June 22, 2021
An Institutionalist Reframing of the Religion and Public Reason Debate
first published on June 22, 2021
Responding to the preceding four articles, this piece presents a theologically-informed ‘institutionalist’ perspective on the debate within political liberalism over religion and public reason. Institutionalism calls for greater attention to the normative purpose and structural design of political institutions in order better to frame what political deliberation in a liberal democracy should look like. Eschewing any ‘idealization’ of citizens, and favouring an ‘argumentative’ account of democratic deliberation, it explores what public reasoning should consist in when viewed as an empirical practice occurring within actual political institutions. Five features of my account of institutionalism are outlined, followed by three implications of that account for the religion and public reason debate.
June 19, 2021
On the Parity between Secular and Religious Reasons
first published on June 19, 2021
The contributors to this Special Issue all suggest that Christianity is compatible with political liberalism. In this paper, I first illuminate the grounds of this compatibility. I then focus on one distinctive—yet unexplored—premise of the compatibility argument. This is the thought that religious and secular reasons are essentially on a par, in terms of their contribution to public reasoning. I critically examine Christopher Eberle’s claim that, as their epistemological status is equivalent, both secular and religious reasons may play a decisive role in justifying coercion-related state policies, including in contexts of war.
June 18, 2021
Christian Reconciliation through the Public Use of Reason
first published on June 18, 2021
Christian political theologians have usually taken one of two approaches to the purpose of political order: agonist or perfectionist. Either political order should seek a civic peace between opposing forces or advance the full human good. Both approaches face difficulties, so I propose a middle-way: Christian reconciliationism. This political theology holds that political order should seek reconciliation between diverse moral perspectives. With perfectionism, reconciliationism aims to establish the political order as a moral order, but with agonism, reconciliationism rejects attempts to use the political order to promote the full human good. It thereby avoids the vices of both approaches.
June 17, 2021
The Challenge of Healthcare for Consensus Public Reason
first published on June 17, 2021
This article argues that religious and other "non-public" reasoning can have a legitimate and beneficial role in justifying health-related resource allocation decisions affecting individuals, subpopulations and whole communities. Section I critically examines Norman Daniels’s exclusion of such reasoning from such justifications. Section II shows the inadequacy of Daniels’s approach to healthcare as a matter of basic justice, arguing that consensus public reason is indeterminate in certain areas of healthcare policy, including the use of life-sustaining resources and issues related to risk and responsibility. Section III shows how resource allocation decision-making can appropriately incorporate religious and "non-public" reasoning via the medical professional practice of collaborative deliberation.
June 12, 2021
Can Christians Join the Overlapping Consensus?
Prospects and Pitfalls for a Christian Justification of Political Liberalism
first published on June 12, 2021
The success of political liberalism depends on there being an overlapping consensus among reasonable citizens—including religious citizens—upon principles of political morality. This paper explores the resources within one major religion—Christianity—that might lead individuals to endorse (or reject) political liberalism, and thus to join (or not join) the overlapping consensus. I show that there are several strands within Christian political ethics that are consonant with political liberalism and might form the basis for Christian citizens’ membership of the overlapping consensus. Nonetheless, tensions remain, and it is not clear that Christians could wholeheartedly endorse the political conception or give unreserved commitment to political liberal ideals.
Christopher J. Eberle
Supreme Emergency, Respect, and Restraint
first published on June 12, 2021
John Rawls’s articulation of what makes for justice in war includes one of his most interesting, yet least discussed, assessments of religion and state coercion. Rawls claims that “the duties of the statesman in political liberalism” are incompatible with adherence to “the Catholic doctrine of double effect” when that doctrine precludes the deliberate targeting of innocent and harmless human beings in a “supreme emergency.” I explicate Rawls’s argument in favor of that claim, articulate various theological objections, and assess some proposed restrictions on the justificatory role of religious reasons in the light of that disagreement.
April 23, 2021
Jeppe von Platz
The Injustice of Alienation
first published on April 23, 2021
I articulate and defend a Rousseauvian theory of alienation and argue that thus construed non-alienation is a requirement of justice. On the Rousseauvian account, alienation is a process whereby social and economic conditions produce a particular sort of moral-psychological failure (alienated persons). Alienation is undesirable in itself, but it also makes the alienated person miserable, wicked, and unfree. Since our social and economic conditions are chosen, we should choose those that do not have these undesirable consequences.
April 22, 2021
The Procedural Value of Compromise
first published on April 22, 2021
Compromise is a valuable decision-making procedure. This article argues that its value lies in the norms of reciprocity and consent. Reciprocity structures the practice of concession-giving. Compliance with this tacit rule expresses an ethos of mutual concern and achieves a shared sense of fairness. Consent is a useful safeguard against asymmetric deals and makes compromise morally binding. The procedural value of compromise gives us important reasons to choose this method for resolving conflicts.
April 21, 2021
Aaron J. Yarmel
On Choosing Where to Stand
Selecting a Social Movement Approach
first published on April 21, 2021
When selecting approaches to pursuing social change, activists commonly evaluate the merits of individual approaches without considering the distributions of approaches already in their movements. This is a problem. I argue, from both general considerations about the division of cognitive labor and empirical evidence from sociology, that some distributions of approaches are better for movements than others and that activists can and should change these distributions for the better rather than for the worse.
April 20, 2021
Aylon R. Manor
Experiments in Living
Moral versus Epistemic Polycentricity
first published on April 20, 2021
A number of liberal and libertarian philosophers make the moral case for laissez-faire polycentricity—a political order centered around voluntary association. Some of these philosophers further present epistemic arguments in favor of polycentric forms of organization. Initially, one might think that the epistemic arguments reinforce the moral ones, resulting in a philosophically robust case for laissez-faire polycentricity. This paper argues against this conclusion. Through examining the intersection between epistemic considerations and institutional arrangements, I show that the epistemic arguments point away from laissez-faire polycentricity and toward alternative forms of polycentric order.
Entry by Birth Alone?
Rawlsian Egalitarianism and the Basic Right to Invite
first published on April 20, 2021
This article argues that citizens have a basic right to invite family members and spouses into their society on the basis of Rawlsian egalitarian premises. This right is argued to be just as basic as other recognized basic rights, such as freedom of speech. The argument suggests further that we must treat immigration and family reunification, in particular, as central issues of domestic justice. The article also examines the implications of these points for the importance of immigration in liberal domestic justice and suggests avenues for further research on the interplay of considerations of justice towards citizens and non-citizens.
April 17, 2021
The Real-Life Issue of Prepunishment
first published on April 17, 2021
When someone is prepunished, they are punished for a predicted crime they will or would commit. I argue that cases of prepunishment universally assumed to be merely hypothetical—including those in Philip K. Dick’s “The Minority Report”—are equivalent to some instances of the real-life punishment of attempt offenses. This conclusion puts pressure in two directions. If prepunishment is morally impermissible, as philosophers argue, then this calls for amendments to criminal justice theory and practice. At the same time, if prepunishment is not imaginary, then the philosophers who reject it cannot claim that their view is supported by common sense.
April 16, 2021
Self-Determination as the Ground and Constraint for the Right to Exclude
An Answer to the Boundary Problem
first published on April 16, 2021
In this article, I show how the principle of democratic self-determination can answer the boundary problem by both grounding and constraining a people’s right to exclude potential immigrants. I argue that a people has the qualified right to exclude insofar as it respects the self-determination claims of outsiders. I analyze the concrete implications of the requirement to respect the self-determination claims of outsiders in the cases of (a) long-term residents, (b) refugees, and (c) brain drain. Sometimes the only way for a people to respect the self-determination claims of outsiders will be by including, rather than excluding, them as members.
April 14, 2021
Rutger Claassen, Lisa Herzog
Making Power Explicit
Why Liberal Egalitarians Should Take (Economic) Power Seriously
first published on April 14, 2021
In this paper we argue that liberal-egalitarian theorists of justice should take power, especially economic power, seriously and make it explicit. We argue that many theories of justice have left power implicit, relying on what we call the “primacy of politics” model as a background assumption. However, this model does not suffice to capture the power relations of today’s globalized world, in which the power of nation states has been reduced and material inequality has sky-rocketed. We suggest replacing it by a “political economy” model that emphasizes the possibility of self-reinforcing cycles. Doing so has direct implications for how to theorize justice, not only on the non-ideal, but also on the ideal level.
April 13, 2021
Elias L. Khalil, Alain Marciano
The Poverty of the Self/Other Dichotomy
first published on April 13, 2021
The category “other-regarding preferences” is a catch-all phrase based on a self/other dichotomy. While the self/other might be useful when the motive is self-interest or altruism, it fails when the motive involves bonding. This article identifies three motives that involve bonding: i) the preferences regarding friendship and community; ii) the preferences that amalgamate communal bonding with self-interest; and iii) the preferences for distinction and status. These three types of preferences unify the self and other—usually aided by ceremonies of gift exchange and celebratory prizes. This article offers a more complete taxonomy of preferences and, corollary, structures of exchange.
April 10, 2021
Structural Injustice and the Duties of the Privileged
first published on April 10, 2021
Structural injustice is injustice produced by largescale social structures and processes that create systemic disadvantages for large groups of people. Individuals have duties to counteract structural injustice. These duties are more demanding for people privileged by unjust social structures than for non-privileged individuals, even when the latter have equal ability to contribute. What explains this? I review and reject two common explanations, i.e., the Reparation Account and the Restitution Account. I offer a third view, the Domination Account; it holds that the privileged have more demanding duties because they pose a constant threat of domination to non-privileged individuals by virtue of their structural positions.
February 16, 2021
Matteo Bonotti, Andrea Borghini, Nicola Piras, Beatrice Serini
Learning from COVID-19
Public Justification and the Ontology of Everyday Life
first published on February 16, 2021
Liberal democracies across the world have responded to the COVID-19 pandemic by implementing measures that significantly curtail the rights and liberties of individual citizens. These measures must receive public justification in order to be politically legitimate. By combining analytical political philosophy with ontology in an original way, in this article we argue that liberal democratic governments have so far failed to adequately justify these measures, since they have not systematically targeted the scholarly study of COVID-19 in everyday environments, consequently implementing rules that are epistemically unsound and not publicly justified, at least not fully.
February 9, 2021
Joseph A. Stramondo
Bioethics, Adaptive Preferences, and Judging the Quality of a Life with Disability
first published on February 9, 2021
Both mainstream and disability bioethics sometimes contend that the self-assessment of disabled people about their own well-being is distorted by adaptive preferences that are only held because other, better options are unavailable. I will argue that both of the most common ways of understanding adaptive preferences—the autonomy-based account and the well-being account—would reject blanket claims that disabled people’s QOL self-assessment has been distorted, whether those claims come from mainstream bioethicists or from disability bioethicists. However, rejecting these generalizations for a more nuanced view still has dramatic implications for the status quo in both health policy and clinical ethics.
Must Egalitarians Condemn Representative Democracy?
first published on February 9, 2021
Many contemporary democratic theorists are democratic egalitarians. They think that the distinctive value of democracy lies in equality. Yet this position faces a serious problem. All contemporary democracies are representative democracies. Such democracies are highly unequal: representatives have much more power than do ordinary citizens. So, it seems that democratic egalitarians must condemn representative democracies. In this paper, I present a solution to this problem. My solution invokes popular control. If representatives are under popular control, then their extra power is not objectionable. Unfortunately, so I argue, in the United States representatives are under loose popular control.
February 4, 2021
Still Thin but Thicker than Thin
A Solution for Adjudicating Disputes in Polycentrism
first published on February 4, 2021
Political institutions in a diverse social landscape struggle with what I call the ‘initial problem’ of securing universal agreement across a domain. This has led to interest in polycentric models, which devolve a polity’s governmental authority into smaller jurisdictions, eliminating the need for agreement across the polity. The three most developed polycentric models in political philosophy mistakenly assume that there will not be disagreement between jurisdictions. When such disagreement does occur—a natural byproduct of diversity—the initial problem returns when adjudicating the dispute. I propose a solution to adjudicating disputes that avoids the continual return to the initial problem.
January 31, 2021
Beneficiary Pays and Respect for Autonomy
first published on January 31, 2021
This paper proposes that the “beneficiary pays principle” may be grounded in a brand of respect for autonomy. I first argue that on one understanding, such respect implies that as far as we are not morally required to make some sacrifice in service of some purpose, we each have (pro-tanto) legitimate authority to ourselves decide the purposes for which we should make sacrifices. I then argue that the problem with retaining benefits realized by imposed sacrifices, which the victim was not required to make in order to realize the benefits in question, is that doing so is disrespectful of the victim’s autonomy.
January 28, 2021
Political Realism and Political Reasons
first published on January 28, 2021
Some people, we may call them realists, endorse the priority thesis. This thesis says political reasons (distinct from moral, prudential, aesthetic, economic, and other kinds of reason) have normative priority whenever we assess political situations. Any putative political reasons, I argue, must satisfy an autonomy condition and an identity condition. I argue that no realist account of political reasons shows such reasons are distinct and autonomous as of yet. One account, the practice-based account, may have the wherewithal to show political reasons are distinct. I also say some things about the relations between identity, autonomy, and priority.
January 20, 2021
Michael Da Silva
The Traces Left Behind
On Appropriate Responses to Right Acts with Wrong Features
first published on January 20, 2021
Fulfilling one’s all-things-considered duty sometimes requires violating pro tanto duties. According to W. D. Ross and Robert Nozick, the pro tanto-duty-violating, wrong-making features of acts in these cases can leave ‘traces’ of wrongfulness that require specific responses: feeling compunction for the wrongfulness and/or providing compensation to the negatively affected person. Failure to respond in the appropriate way to lingering wrong-making features can itself be wrongful. Unfortunately, criteria for determining when traces remain are largely lacking. In this piece, I argue for three necessary conditions for the existence of a trace: ‘The Non-Consequentialist Duty Condition,’ ‘The Identity Condition,’ and ‘The Ratio Condition.’
January 16, 2021
What’s Wrong with Stereotypes?
The Falsity Hypothesis
first published on January 16, 2021
Stereotypes are commonly alleged to be false or inaccurate views of groups. For shorthand, I call this the falsity hypothesis. The falsity hypothesis is widespread and is often one of the first reasons people cite when they explain why we shouldn’t use stereotypic views in cognition, reasoning, or speech. In this essay, I argue against the falsity hypothesis on both empirical and ameliorative grounds. In its place, I sketch a more promising view of stereotypes—which avoids the falsity hypothesis—that joins my earlier work on stereotypes in individual psychology (2015) with the work of Patricia Hill Collins on cultural stereotypes (2000). According to this two-part hybrid theory, stereotypes are controlling images or ideas that enjoy both a psychological and cultural existence, which serve a regulative social function.
December 8, 2020
Josh Milburn, Sara Van Goozen
Counting Animals in War
First Steps towards an Inclusive Just-War Theory
first published on December 8, 2020
War is harmful to animals, but few have considered how such harm should affect assessments of the justice of military actions. In this article, we propose a way in which concern for animals can be included within the just-war framework, with a focus on necessity and proportionality. We argue that counting animals in war will not make just-war theory excessively demanding, but it will make just-war theory more humane. By showing how animals can be included in our proportionality and necessity assessments, we provide a crucial first step towards developing an animal-inclusive account of just-war theory.
November 19, 2020
Guy Aitchison, Saladin Meckled-Garcia
Against Online Public Shaming
Ethical Problems with Mass Social Media
first published on November 19, 2020
Online Public Shaming (OPS) is a form of norm enforcement that involves collectively imposing reputational costs on a person for having a certain kind of moral character. OPS actions aim to disqualify her from public discussion and certain normal human relations. We argue that this constitutes an informal collective punishment that it is presumptively wrong to impose (or seek to impose) on others. OPS functions as a form of ostracism that fails to show equal basic respect to its targets. Additionally, in seeking to mobilise unconstrained collective power with potentially serious punitive consequences, OPS is incompatible with due process values.
November 7, 2020
Jonas Hultin Rosenberg
The All-Affected Principle Reconsidered
first published on November 7, 2020
The all-affected principle, by which all those affected by the policies of the state ought to be included in the demos governing it, is often considered prima facie attractive but, upon closer examination, implausible. The main alternative, according to which all those and only those affected by possible consequences of possible decisions ought to be included in the demos, is equally implausible. I suggest a reformulated principle: the demos includes all those affected by foreseeable consequences of decisions that the state has legal authority and capacity to take. This avoids the problems of the standard version and the main alternative.
November 5, 2020
Distributional Goods and Principles of Justice
first published on November 5, 2020
Certain sorts of disputes about principles of distributive justice that have occupied a great deal of attention in recent political philosophy turn out to be fundamentally unresolvable, when they are conducted in ignorance of whether an important subclass of basic social goods exists within any particular society. I employ the folktale ‘Stone Soup’ to illustrate how such distributional goods might come into existence. Using the debate about John Rawls’s Difference Principle as an example, I argue that a proper appreciation for the axiological status of these goods shows that disputes about principles (at least as these have been conducted within the Rawlsian tradition) should be relegated to a subsidiary status relative to other, more fundamental concerns about the ethics of economic distribution.
Axel Honneth’s Cosmopolitanism
The "Forgetfulness" of Global Poverty as a form of Reification
first published on November 5, 2020
Amid now extensive debates about cosmopolitanism in political theory, this article explores the implications of Axel Honneth’s recognition theory for issues in international justice, not least the dire situation of poverty in the world. In contrast with a purely resource-distributive approach, the essay turns particularly to Honneth’s recent revival of the Lukácsian concept of reification as a process of self-distancing from the elementary humanity of others. Specifically, Honneth re-formulates reification as a failure of an elementary or ‘antecedent’ form of recognition. From the perspective of his theory, reification connotes the forgetfulness of others’ fundamental humanity. While Honneth takes such forgetfulness to become most readily apparent in dramatic violations such as the Holocaust, the article interprets his theory to explain, and eventually to challenge, the passive acceptance by many of dire material injustices. The article develops the implications of this challenge by interpreting from Honneth’s framework a duty to question international policies which tend to reify and objectify the least well off in the world, whilst remaining cognizant of the limits of de-reification to the more extensive, meaningful alleviation of poverty globally.
November 3, 2020
When Code Words Aren’t Coded
first published on November 3, 2020
According to the “standard framing” of racial appeals in political speech, politicians generally rely on coded language to communicate racial messages. Yet recent years have demonstrated that politicians often express quite explicit forms of racism in mainstream political discourse. The standard framing can explain neither why these appeals work politically nor how they work semantically. This paper moves beyond the standard framing, focusing on the politics and semantics of one type of explicit appeal, candid racial communication (CRC). The linguistic vehicles of CRC are neither true code words, nor slurs, but a conventionally defined class of “racialized terms.”
October 31, 2020
Prostitution and the Good of Sex
A Reply to Sascha Settegast
first published on October 31, 2020
In Sascha Settegast’s recently published article, “Prostitution and the Good of Sex” in Social Theory and Practice, he argues that prostitution is intrinsically harmful. In this article, I object to his argument, making the following three responses to his account: 1) bad sex is not “detrimental to the good life”; 2) bad sex is not necessarily unvirtuous; 3) sex work is work as well as sex, and so must be evaluated as work in addition to as sex.
October 30, 2020
Matthew D. Kuchem
Young, Gilbert, and Social Groups
first published on October 30, 2020
In this paper I critique the concept of social groups deployed by Iris Marion Young in her well-known theory of the five faces of oppression. I contend that Young’s approach to conceptualizing social groups creates arbitrary and inconsistent categories, essentializes certain groups, and fails to take seriously the complexity of pluralism. I propose that Margaret Gilbert’s work in social metaphysics provides a more philosophically robust account of social groups that serves as a helpful corrective to Young’s approach. Gilbert’s account of “we”-ness, as well as her theory of the nature of individuals and collectivities, provides a helpful vantage point for critiquing Young’s project and its emphasis on the social process of differentiation in the formation of social groups.
October 28, 2020
David V. Axelsen, Lasse Nielsen
Harsh and Disrespectful
Rescuing Moral Agency from Luck and Choice
first published on October 28, 2020
Many policies hinge on determining whether someone’s situation is due to luck or choice. In political philosophy, this prevalence is mirrored by luck egalitarian theories. But overemphasizing the distinction between luck and choice will lead to tensions with the value of moral agency, on which the distinction is grounded. Here, we argue that the two most common contemporary critiques of luck egalitarianism, holding it to be harsh and disrespectful are best understood as illustrating exactly this tension. Elaborating on this conflict, we argue that it should lead us to modify how luck and choice are used in theories of justice.
October 27, 2020
Thomas S. Carnes
first published on October 27, 2020
This article brings an account of reasonable expectations to bear on the question of when unauthorized immigrants have a right to be regularized—that is, to be formally guaranteed freedom from the threat of deportation. Contrary to the current literature, which implicitly relies on a flawed understanding of reasonable expectations, this article argues that only those unauthorized immigrants who have both been tacitly permitted by the state despite lacking formal authorization and have remained long enough to develop deep social roots in the state have a right to regularization.
July 24, 2020
Beyond Homo Laborans
Marx’s Dialectical Account of Human Essence
first published on July 24, 2020
This article responds to the critique of productivist essentialism, which is the view that the human is the productive animal, made against Marx. The author argues against this view and holds that Marx introduces a dialectical account of human essence with the notion of species being in the 1844 Manuscripts, which he then develops in The German Idology. This account of essence includes a static and dynamic moment, and in capitalism, the dialectic of essence has resulted in the appearance of the human as the productive animal. Finally, the author argues that Marx’s critique of production and dialectical account of human essence allow us to better think the possibilities for a post-work future.
July 20, 2020
Willem J. A. van der Deijl
A Challenge for Capability Measures of Wellbeing
first published on July 20, 2020
The measurement of wellbeing is among the central aims of the capability approach. I develop one particular challenge to the operationalizability of the approach in the context of wellbeing measurement. I argue that the capability approach is both committed to Individuation of Wellbeing—the view that the wellbeing contribution of different capabilities and functionings is person-dependent—as well as Rejection of Subjectivism—the view that wellbeing should not be conceptualized in terms of subjective judgments of preference-satisfaction or happiness. I argue that there is a tension between these two commitments that cannot be resolved in a viable way.
July 19, 2020
Alexander Schaefer, Robert Weston Siscoe
Incoherent but Reasonable
A Defense of Truth-Abstinence in Political Liberalism
first published on July 19, 2020
A strength of liberal political institutions is their ability to accommodate pluralism, both allowing divergent comprehensive doctrines as well as constructing the common ground necessary for diverse people to live together. A pressing question is how far such pluralism extends. Which comprehensive doctrines are simply beyond the pale and need not be accommodated by a political consensus? Rawls attempted to keep the boundaries of reasonable disagreement quite broad by infamously denying that political liberalism need make reference to the concept of truth, a claim that has been criticized by Joseph Raz, Joshua Cohen, and David Estlund. In this paper, we argue that these criticisms fail due to the fact that political liberalism can remain non-committal on the nature of truth, leaving the concept of truth in the domain of comprehensive doctrines while still avoiding the issues raised by Raz, Cohen, and Estlund. Further substantiating this point is the fact that Rawls would, and should, include parties in the overlapping consensus whose views on truth may be incoherent. Once it is seen that political liberalism allows such incoherence to reasonable parties, it is clear that the inclusion of truth and the requirement of coherence urged by Raz, Cohen, and Estlund requires more of reasonable people than is necessary for a political consensus.