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1. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 46 > Issue: 1
Marc A. Cohen Generalized Trust in Taiwan and (as Evidence for) Hirschman’s doux commerce Thesis
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Data from the World Values Survey shows that generalized trust in Mainland China—trust in out-group members—is very low, but generalized trust in Taiwan is much higher. The present paper argues that positive interactions with out-group members in the context of Taiwan’s export-oriented economy fostered generalized trust—and so explains this difference. This line of argument provides evidence for Albert O. Hirschman’s doux commerce thesis, that market interaction can improve persons and even stabilize the social order. The present paper defends this point by separating two theses that Hirschman combines under that label, a countervailing forces thesis and a doux commerce thesis narrowly understood. These theses offer different explanations (or mechanisms) for how commerce could have those positive effects. The data about Taiwanese trust practices provides evidence for the latter.
2. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 46 > Issue: 1
Mollie Gerver Inferring Consent without Communication
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Some claim that consent requires common knowledge. For a doctor to obtain consent, a doctor must know that her patient has given her permission to perform surgery, and her patient must know the doctor knows that he has given this permission. Some claim that such common knowledge requires communication, and so consent requires communication: the patient must tell the doctor he consents for both to know consent took place, and for both to know the other knows consent took place. I first defend the claim that consent requires common knowledge, responding to recent objections. I then argue that, though consent requires common knowledge, it does not always require communication. It does not require communication when the agent obtaining consent can infer common knowledge based on non-behavioral facts about the world.
3. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 46 > Issue: 1
Tim Heysse Truth in Democratic Politics: An Analysis of Commitments
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This article clarifies the recent epistemic rehabilitation of democracy and adds to it in two respects. First, I point out that the epistemic rehabilitation of democracy identifies an internal connection of democracy with normative truths—but only an external connection with substantial truth and correctness. Second, such an internal connection surfaces when we focus on the place of criticism in democracy. Criticism, however, presupposes pluralism and a recognition of the provisionality of decisions. So I, third, analyse prominent theories of truth and examine what conceptions of pluralism and provisionality they allow. This evokes a view emphasizing the unruly role of truth; criticism introduces a commitment to correctness, and this commitment to correctness underwrites the provisional nature of democratic decisions.
4. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 46 > Issue: 1
Keith Horton Philosophy and Activism: The Epistemic Argument
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In this article I develop and defend what I call the ‘Epistemic Argument for Activism.’ According to this argument, some moral and political philosophers have certain features that give them epistemic advantages when tackling topics such as the moral status of certain practices, policies, and institutions (‘PPIs’). Because of these advantages, when these philosophers study those PPIs carefully they generally develop views about the moral status of those PPIs that have a number of enhanced epistemic properties. And because their views have such enhanced epistemic properties, these philosophers have distinctive, epistemic-based reasons to take activist steps in certain circumstances.
5. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 46 > Issue: 1
Erik Magnusson Can Gestation Ground Parental Rights?
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In law and common-sense morality, it is generally assumed that adults who meet a minimum threshold of parental competency have a presumptive right to parent their biological children. But what is the basis of this right? According to one prominent account, the right to parent one’s biological child is best understood as being grounded in an intimate relationship that develops between babies and their birth parents during the process of gestation. This paper identifies three major problems facing this view—the explanatory, adjudicatory, and theoretical problems—and explains how an alternative autonomy-based account is capable of avoiding them.
6. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 46 > Issue: 1
Joseph Mazor The Case for Citizen Duty
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This article defends a novel type of institutionalized mass deliberation: Citizen Duty. Citizen Duty would legally require every citizen to engage in one day of diverse, moderated political deliberation prior to major elections. This deliberation would realize a variety of benefits, including wiser electoral decisions and a more respectful electoral process, while avoiding the dangers of citizen deliberation. A comparison with jury duty and with non-deliberative alternatives suggests that Citizen Duty’s substantial economic and liberty costs are justified. Finally, an examination of citizen attitudes towards politics and deliberation suggests that Citizen Duty is not as quixotic as it first appears.
7. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 46 > Issue: 1
Andrei Poama Waiving Jury Deliberation: The Humility Argument
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This article argues that, given the current pervasive uncertainty about the reliability of jury deliberation, we ought to treat it with epistemic humility. I further argue that epistemic humility should be expressed and enforced by turning jury deliberation from a mandatory rule of the jury trial to a waivable right of the defendant. I consider two main objections to my argument: the first one concerns the putative self-defeatingness of humility attitudes; the second objection points to the burdensomeness of granting an unconditional jury deliberation waiver to the defendant.
8. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 46 > Issue: 1
Lachlan Montgomery Umbers A Citizens’ Assembly for the Cognitively Disabled
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Most democracies disenfranchise persons with cognitive disabilities. Several democratic theorists have, for a range of reasons, recently argued that such restrictions ought to be abolished. I agree with such arguments. Some, however, have also expressed the hope that enfranchising such persons might give politicians more powerful incentives to attend to such persons’ interests. I argue that such hopes are likely to be disappointed. If we wish to ensure that such persons’ interests are taken seriously in the political process, we must consider reforms of other kinds. After considering several alternatives, I argue for a deliberative solution—a Citizens’ Assembly for the Cognitively Disabled, modeled upon the 2004 British Columbia Citizens’ Assembly on electoral reform.
9. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 46 > Issue: 1
Baldwin Wong Public Reason and Structural Coercion: In Defense of the Coercion Account as the Ground of Public Reason
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Political liberals usually assume the coercion account, which argues that state actions should be publicly justified because they coerce citizens. Recently some critics object this account for it overlooks that some policies are non-coercive but still require public justification. My article argues that, instead of understanding coercion as particular laws or policies, it should be understood as the exercise of collective political power that shapes the basic structure. This revised coercion account explains why those ostensibly non-coercive policies are in fact coercive. Moreover, I argue that the alternative accounts suggested by critics fail, unless they assume the revised coercion account.
10. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 45 > Issue: 4
Amy Berg Incomplete Ideal Theory
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What is the best way to make sustained societal progress over time? Non-ideal theory done on its own faces the problem of second best, but ideal theory seems unable to cope with disagreement about how to make progress. If ideal theory gives up its claims to completeness, then we can use the method of incompletely theorized agreements to make progress over time.
11. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 45 > Issue: 4
Mavis Biss A Kantian Response to the Problem of Reception
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This paper addresses the problem of explaining the relationship between social recognition and justification of moral action, or “the problem of reception.” It is an especially acute and distinctive problem for agents who resist oppression by challenging established norms because action may be necessary even when good reception cannot be expected. I draw on recent work in Kantian ethics that acknowledges the conditions of socially embedded rational agency to argue that moral resisters’ misread actions may count as moral achievements, despite the fact that failed reception may frustrate the realization of moral ends, threaten moral confidence and inhibit rational flourishing.
12. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 45 > Issue: 4
Naima Chahboun Ideal Theory and Action-Guidance: Why We Still Disagree
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This article clarifies the disagreement concerning ideal theory’s action-guiding capacity through the unpacking of two underlying disagreements. The first concerns the threshold for action-guidance on the scales of empirical and normative determinacy; I argue that the dispute between critics and proponents of ideal theory is not about whether ideal principles offer some specific information, but about which information should count as action-guiding. The second concerns the task of normative principles; I argue that the different weight critics and proponents attribute to the risks associated with ideal theory may reflect diverging views on whether principles primarily generate or explain normative judgments.
13. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 45 > Issue: 4
Lina Eriksson Social Norms as Signals
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According to the signaling theory of social norms, people comply with social norms in order to signal that they have a low discount rate for future costs and benefits and thereby that they are reliable cooperation partners. But the theory does not take into sufficient account the fact that the signaling value of social norm compliance depends on how many other people that comply, and that the signaling value at high compliance levels (which is typical for social norms) is rather low. Therefore, although signaling can explain some compliance with social norms, it is unlikely to be the main explanation.
14. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 45 > Issue: 4
Michael Huemer Gun Rights as Deontic Constraints
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In earlier work, I argued that gun prohibition is unjustified because it violates an individual right to self-defense. Here, I defend that argument against objections posed by Nicholas Dixon and Jeff McMahan to the effect that the right of citizens to be free from gun violence counterbalances the right of self-defense, and that gun prohibition does not violate the right of self-defense because it renders everyone overall safer.
15. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 45 > Issue: 4
Brian Kogelmann Kant, Rawls, and the Possibility of Autonomy
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One feature of John Rawls’s well-ordered society in both A Theory of Justice (TJ) and Political Liberalism (PL) is that citizens in the well-ordered society, when adhering to the principles of justice governing that society, realize their full autonomy. This notion of full autonomy is explicitly Kantian. This constancy, I shall argue, raises problems. Though the model of the well-ordered society presented in TJ is arguably consistent with Kant’s notion of autonomy, the model of the well-ordered society presented in PL is not. The problem is that in the well-ordered society of PL people’s reasons for complying with the principles of justice are overdetermined in a problematic way. This raises the interesting question of acting from overdetermined motives in Kant’s system of ethics. In this paper I argue that regardless of which plausible interpretation of acting from overdetermined motives we adopt, the prospect of citizens realizing their full autonomy in Rawls’s PL are small. This is a serious defect of the theory.
16. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 45 > Issue: 4
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17. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 45 > Issue: 3
Ben Cross Intolerance and Argument Expression
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Most philosophers seem to think that argument expression is not normally a form of intolerance. Call this the ‘argument-friendly view’ of intolerance. In this article, I argue that the case for the argument-friendly view is much weaker than commonly thought. I consider three possible arguments for the argument-friendly view and conclude that all three fail. This leaves us with a choice: either reject the argument-friendly view, or accept it as a feature of the concept of tolerance which has no rational basis apart from our everyday usage of the term.
18. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 45 > Issue: 3
Joshua Cutts Herbert Marcuse and "False Needs"
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Herbert Marcuse’s claim that people may have superimposed “false needs” (vs. authentic “true needs”) has been criticized by a number of commentators. These critics argue that if all human needs are sociohistorically conditioned, as Marcuse believes, this effectively means that all needs are superimposed on us, and are thus, “false.” I defend Marcuse’s distinction by drawing attention to his expressed definition of false needs as those which perpetuate harm upon satisfaction. Marcuse’s distinction between true and false needs is not a reiteration of the distinction between needs and wants, as his critics claim, but is rather a recognition that in our society, we are forced to need things that ultimately do not lead to our individual (or collective) benefit.
19. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 45 > Issue: 3
Andrew Franklin-Hall What Parents May Teach Their Children
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Many liberals assume that, while children should not be rigidly indoctrinated, parents may raise them according to their own comprehensive values. Matthew Clayton, however, argues that the reasons for embracing antiperfectionism in politics also apply to parental authority. In this paper, I defend the perfectionist conception of childrearing. I claim that we cannot realistically foster a child’s sense of justice without embedding it in a comprehensive doctrine. Furthermore, I argue that since parents cannot avoid bearing some responsibility for their children’s intial orientation to comprehensive doctrines, they are justified in parenting according to their own views of the valuable and true.
20. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 45 > Issue: 3
Johannes Kniess Justice in the Social Distribution of Health
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How should we think, from the point of view of distributive justice, about inequalities in health and longevity? Norman Daniels’s influential account derives a social duty to reduce health inequalities from Rawls’s principle of fair equality of opportunity. This paper criticises Daniels’s approach and offers an alternative. To the extent that the basic structure of society shapes people’s opportunities to be healthy, we ought to think of ‘the social bases of health’ directly as a Rawlsian primary social good. The paper attempts to clarify the correct principle for its distribution, and its relationship to other goods that give rise to considerations of justice.