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1. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 48 > Issue: 3
Elvira Basevich Self-Respect and Self-Segregation: A Du Boisian Challenge to Kant and Rawls
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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.
2. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 48 > Issue: 3
Matteo Bonotti, Andrea Borghini, Nicola Piras, Beatrice Serini Learning from COVID-19: Public Justification and the Ontology of Everyday Life
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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.
3. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 48 > Issue: 3
Todd Calder Evil and Feminist Ethics: A Modified Cardian Theory of Evil
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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.
4. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 48 > Issue: 3
Daniel Engster, Matt Edge Street Level Bureaucracy, Casework and Justice
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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.
5. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 48 > Issue: 3
Preston Greene The Real-Life Issue of Prepunishment
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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.
6. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 48 > Issue: 3
Stephen John, Joseph Wu “First, Do No Harm”?: Non-Maleficence, Population Health, and the Ethics of Risk
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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.”
7. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 48 > Issue: 3
Chris Lyon Can Social Groups Be Units of Normative Concern?: Normative Individualism, Futurity, Causality, Social Ontology
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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.
8. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 48 > Issue: 3
Fabian Wendt The Project Pursuit Argument for Self-Ownership and Private Property
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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.
9. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 48 > Issue: 2
Bruce Baum On the Political Sociology of Intersectional Equality and Difference: Insights from Axel Honneth’s Recognition Theory
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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.
10. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 48 > Issue: 2
Samuel Director Sober Thoughts on Drunken Consent: Intoxication and Consent to Sexual Relations
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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.
11. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 48 > Issue: 2
Daniel Koltonski But I’ve Got My Own Life to Live: Personal Pursuits and the Demands of Morality
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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.
12. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 48 > Issue: 2
Lars J. K. Moen Making Sense of Full Compliance
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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.
13. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 48 > Issue: 2
Jake Monaghan Broken Windows, Naloxone, and Experiments in Policing
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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.
14. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 48 > Issue: 2
Shin Osawa Social Promotion of Meaningful Work as a Project of Democratising Society: A Liberal Perfectionist View
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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.
15. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 48 > Issue: 2
Tom Parr Automation, Unemployment, and Taxation
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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.
16. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 48 > Issue: 2
Sergei Sazonov Private Duty Creation in Theories of Distributive Justice
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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.
17. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 48 > Issue: 1
Janosch Prinz Introduction to the Special Issue on Realist and Pragmatist Approaches to Democratic Legitimacy
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18. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 48 > Issue: 1
Ugur Aytac Political Realism and Epistemic Constraints
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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.
19. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 48 > Issue: 1
Samuel Bagg Realism against Legitimacy: For a Radical, Action-Oriented Political Realism
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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.
20. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 48 > Issue: 1
Ilaria Cozzaglio Legitimacy between Acceptance and Acceptability: A Subjects-First View
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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.