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Social Philosophy Today

Volume 26, 2010
The Public and The Private in the Twenty-First Century

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Displaying: 1-15 of 15 documents

1. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 26
John Rowan Introduction
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part i: public and private
2. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 26
Jean Harvey Authentic Social Justice and the Far Reaches of “The Private Sphere”
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The one sphere of life where a claimed right to privacy is most sympathetically received is in the inner realm of the mind. I will look briefly at Joseph Tussman’s claim that a government is not only entitled but morally required to be concerned with and involved in the minds of the nation’s citizens. I then further explore reasons why the realm of the mind matters not only morally but politically. There are consequentialist reasons, but more interestingly there are non-consequentialist reasons on the basis of which I introduce the concept of “authentic social justice.” In particular, there are relevant insights to be gainedby reflecting on forms of oppression that are subtle but serious in nature, forms that involve neither violence nor the use of law.
3. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 26
Brook J. Sadler Public or Private Good? The Contested Meaning of Marriage
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Addressing controversy over same-sex marriage, I defend the privatization response: disestablish civil marriage, leaving the question of same-sex marriage to private organizations; detach civil rights from erotic affiliation; and grant legal equality through the mechanism of civil unions. However, the privatization response does not fully address one key conservative argument to the effect that (heterosexual) marriage constitutes a public good of such importance that civil society has a sustaining interest in it. I acknowledge the legitimate, even profound, values or goods that marriage promotes, but contend that they are compatible withhomosexuality. Further, I argue that marriage is neither necessary nor sufficient for sustaining the goods that inhere in modern marriage. Thus, it is not clear that marriage is the best way for the state to promote these goods. Finally, I suggest that the core goods of marital commitment are moral and are not the proper subject of state regulation.
4. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 26
Norman Arthur Fischer How the Shadow University Attack on First Amendment Defense of Private Speech Paved the Way for the War Party Attack on First Amendment Defense of Public Speech
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My topic is the parallels between attacks on free speech by the U.S. war party, and attacks on free speech by what Charles Alan Kors and Harvey Silverglate have called “the shadow university”; and the blindness to these parallels of that part of the left and right that is not libertarian on free speech and due process.
part ii: ownership and liberalism
5. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 26
Richard Oxenberg Locke and the Right to (Acquire) Property: A Lockean Argument for the Rawlsian Difference Principle
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The purpose of my paper is to show the derivation of what is sometimes called the ‘new liberalism’ (or ‘progressive liberalism’) from the basic principles of classical liberalism, through a reading of John Locke’s treatment of the right to property in his Second Treatise of Government. Locke’s work sharply distinguishes between the natural right to property in the ‘state of nature’ and the societal right to property as established in a socio-economic political system. Whereas the former does not depend on the consent of others, it is qualified by strict limits on the amount of property that may be rightly acquired. The societal right to property lifts these limits but is justified only under the principle of universal consent. This principle, I argue, implies the Rawlsian difference principle; i.e., that the regulation and distribution of property must be such as would elicit the freely proffered consent of society’s least advantaged members.
6. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 26
Jari Niemi Do Arguments Against Self-Ownership Imply Anything Regarding the Equalisandum Debate?
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In this paper I pursue a possibility that some versions of arguments addressed against the libertarian notion of self-ownership have some definitive implications regarding the equalisandum debate carried out by egalitarians. I have in mind specifically the kind of approach that challenges self-ownership as a morally fundamental value through some inventive counterexamples. So, while I shall argue that the negative arguments against self-ownership are conclusive, my primary attempt is to demonstrate that such arguments can be employed to say something interesting about the equalisandum debate itself; namely, that resources cannot function as the desirable equalisandum, and that there are some reasons for preferring capabilities over welfare as the desired currency for egalitarianism.
7. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 26
Sean Johnston Conceptions of the Good and the Ubiquity of Power: John Stuart Mill Responding to John Rawls
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According to John Rawls, the liberalism of John Stuart Mill is “comprehensive” and not “political” because it promotes the idea of individuality as a more or less universal conception of the good. Rawls’s political liberalism, in contrast, does not promote any one particular conception of the good over others. Instead, it aims to guarantee for citizens the capacity for a conception of the good. I argue, however, that Mill’s liberalism is “comprehensive” because power is ubiquitous, i.e., because there are social and “nonpolitical” forms of power that political liberalism is not equipped to deal with. It is impossible to guarantee the capacity fora conception of the good without providing a point of resistance to the social and nonpolitical deployment of power. Thus, if liberalism is going to be able to guarantee the capacity for a conception of the good, it must become “political” in aim but “comprehensive” in scope.
part iii: applied ethics
8. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 26
Jordy Rocheleau Combatant Responsibility for Fighting in Unjust Wars: A Defense of a Limited Moral Equality of Soldiers
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Just war theory has traditionally presupposed what Michael Walzer calls the moral equality of soldiers: that combatants on all sides have an equal right to kill, such that the soldier is not blameworthy for fighting for an unjust cause. The theory of moral equality has come under increasing attack by Jeff McMahan and others who argue that soldiers are responsible for killing for an unjust cause. I agree with McMahan that soldiers cannot be justified in serving injustice, such that there is no full moral equality. Moreover, the common excuses of ignorance and duress cannot exculpate many soldiers. However, I argue that when one considers the force of legal authority and the bonds of patriotism, combined with ignorance and duress, most soldiers are excused. Because of the rarity of exceptions and the consequences of holding soldiers accountable, I conclude that we should presuppose the equal blamelessness of combatants.
9. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 26
Matthew Silliman Ethispheres and the Shifting Locus of Moral Concern
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This dialogue explores several paradoxes of moral philosophy as applied to environmental ethics. Specifically, it argues that apparently competing approaches to moral theory are less adversaries than complementary perspectives arising in response to varying historical challenges, and that the relatively recent development (at least in European thought) of an ethisphere is an appropriate and necessary response to current moral problems, in principle compatible with moral concerns arising from earlier perspectives. The conversants explore the idea of an ethisphere as a set of moral relations emerging naturally from geo-historical developments in the interdependency of life on earth, made poignant by imminent threats to ecosystemic health. In the process, they defend the idea of ecosystemic health itself as a meaningful and chartable moral fact, against a charge of errant anthropocentric projection.
10. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 26
Joseph A. Stramondo How an Ideology of Pity Is a Social Harm to People with Disabilities
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In academic philosophy and popular culture alike, pity is often framed as a virtue or the emotional underpinnings of virtue. Yet, people who are the most marginalized and, hence, most often on the receiving end of pity, assert that it is anything but an altruism. How can we explain this disconnect between an understanding of pity as a virtuous emotion versus a social harm? My paper answers this question by showing how pity is not only an emotion, but also a power relation. Using the ideas of Sartre’s Anti-Semite and Jew, I explain how pity is understood as harmful by the one pitied because he is acutely aware of how it obscures his unequal power relation to the pitier and denies the pitier’s role in creating this domination. This is all done with an eye toward what I see as the quintessential class of people who are harmed by pity: people with disabilities.
11. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 26
Geoffrey Karabin Seeking Subsistence Beyond Death: The Ethical Implications of an Egotistic Drive for Personal Survival
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The Spanish philosopher Miguel de Unamuno and the American social scientist Ernest Becker see death as humanity’s fundamental anxiety. My essay explores the ethical ramifications attendant upon making that anxiety a well-spring of human activity. More specifically, I am interested in humanity’s effort to escape death via the secular milieu of social remembrance. Does such an effort produce a vista where the other exhibits an intrinsic value? Alternatively, does the other become a mere means in light of one’s project of self-preservation? Pursuing such questions, this reflection will explore both positive and negative responses. It will take up the Columbine school shootings in reference to the latter and a notion of protest with regard to the former. The treatise will culminate with a discussion of Unamuno’s ethics of irreplaceability and its potential to engender a universal human respect while also endorsing one’s commitment to her concrete individuality.
part iv: nassp book award: gerald cohen
12. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 26
Will Kymlicka In Memory of G. A “Jerry” Cohen (1941–2009)
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13. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 26
Alistair M. Macleod G. A. Cohen on the Rawlsian Doctrine of the Basic Structure as Subject
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In his recent book Rescuing Justice and Equality (Harvard University Press, 2008), G. A. Cohen returns to the defense of his critique of the Rawlsian doctrine of the “basic structure as subject.” This doctrine provides the centerpiece of what Rawls has to say about the domain of distributive justice—that is, about the sorts of things judgments of distributive justice are about and about the ways in which these judgments are interconnected. From the extensiveness of Cohen’s critique of this doctrine, it seems clear that he wants to take a very different view of the boundaries and contours of this domain. However, despite the characteristic clarity and precision with which he describes the Rawlsian doctrine and despite the trenchancy of his criticisms, it is still a matter of some difficulty determining the respects in which he and Rawls are actually in disagreement.
14. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 26
Rex Martin Fair Inequalities in Income: Cohen and Rawls
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15. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 26
Helga Varden Rescuing Justice and Equality—A Critical Engagement
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