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Displaying: 1-20 of 48 documents

1. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 42 > Issue: 4
Sofia Jeppsson Accountability, Answerability, and Freedom
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It has been argued that we cannot be morally responsible in the sense required to deserve blame or punishment if the world is deterministic, but still morally responsible in the sense of being apt targets for moral criticism. Desert-entailing moral responsibility is supposed to be more freedom-demanding than other kinds of responsibility, since it justifies subjecting people to blame and punishments, is nonconsequentialist, and has been shown by thought experiments to be incompatible with determinism. In this paper, I will show that all these arguments can be resisted.
2. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 42 > Issue: 4
Brian Berkey Against Rawlsian Institutionalism about Justice
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One of the most influential claims made by John Rawls in A Theory of Justice is that the principles of justice apply only to the institutions of the “basic structure of society,” and do not apply directly to the conduct of individuals. In this paper, I aim to cast doubt on this view, which I call “Institutionalism about Justice,” by considering whether several of the prominent motivations for it offered by Rawls and others succeed in providing the support for the view that they claim. I argue that all of the motivations are problematic as grounds for accepting Institutionalism, at least in part because they, and the Institutionalist view that they are thought to support, seem to misconceive what our concern about justice is fundamentally a concern about.
3. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 42 > Issue: 4
Amir Saemi The Form of Practical Knowledge and Implicit Cognition: A Critique of Kantian Constitutivism
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Moral realism faces two worries: How can we have knowledge of moral norms if they are independent of us, and why should we care about them if they are independent of rational activities they govern? Kantian constitutivism tackles both worries simultaneously by claiming that practical norms are constitutive principles of practical reason. In particular, on Stephen Engstrom’s account, willing involves making a practical judgment. To will well, and thus to have practical knowledge (i.e., knowledge of what is good), the content of one’s will needs to conform to the formal presuppositions of practical knowledge. Practical norms are thus constitutive of practical knowledge. However, I will argue that the universality principles from which Engstrom derives the formal presuppositions of practical knowledge are reflectively and psychologically unavailable. As a result, they cannot help Kantian constitutivism provide an answer to moral realism's worries.
4. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 42 > Issue: 4
Brian Carey Justice for Jerks: Human Nature, Selfishness, and Noncompliance
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Recent debates about the relationship between ideal and nonideal theory have begun to focus on exploring the concept of political feasibility and the role that feasibility considerations should play in a theory of justice. In this article I argue that if there are facts that constrain what is feasible for human beings to motivate themselves to do, these facts ought to be understood as constraints on what justice can demand of us. I begin by explaining why our feasibility considerations must be sensitive to facts about motivational capacities. I then argue that taking motivational constraints seriously need not commit us to an overly concessive theory of justice.
5. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 42 > Issue: 4
Mark Piper Achieving Autonomy
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I argue that acting autonomously is often a far more difficult achievement than much of the recent literature on this topic would suggest. Several of the most influential autonomy achievement theories have low achievement thresholds, and there are conceptual and empirical reasons to hold that autonomy achievement ought to be viewed as having much higher thresholds in general. I consider and rebut a variety of reasons for keeping the autonomy achievement threshold low, and conclude with a brief word on the normative implications of my thesis.
6. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 42 > Issue: 4
Michael Fuerstein Democratic Experiments: An Affect-Based Interpretation and Defense
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I offer an interpretation and defense of John Dewey’s notion of “democratic experiments,” which involve testing moral beliefs through the experience of acting on them on a social scale. Such testing is crucial, I argue, because our social norms and institutions fundamentally shape the relationships through which we develop emotional responses that represent the morally significant concerns of others. Improving those responses therefore depends on deliberate alterations of our social environment. I consider deliberative and activist alternatives and argue that an experimentalist approach better models some prominent cases of social progress, such as the extension of marital rights to same-sex couples.
7. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 42 > Issue: 4
Caleb Yong Justice in Labor Immigration Policy
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I provide an alternative to the two prevailing accounts of justice in immigration policy, the free migration view and the state discretion view. Against the background of an internationalist conception of domestic and global justice that grounds special duties of justice between co-citizens in their shared participation in a distinctive scheme of social cooperation, I defend three principles of justice to guide labor immigration policy: the Difference Principle, the Duty of Beneficence, and the Duty of Assistance. I suggest how these principles are to be applied in both ideal and nonideal circumstances. Finally, I argue that the potential conflict between these principles has often been overstated, and propose priority rules for genuine cases of conflict.
8. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 42 > Issue: 4
Colin Hickey, Travis N. Rieder, Jake Earl Population Engineering and the Fight against Climate Change
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Contrary to political and philosophical consensus, we argue that the threats posed by climate change justify population engineering, the intentional manipulation of the size and structure of human populations. Specifically, we defend three types of policies aimed at reducing fertility rates: (1) choice enhancement, (2) preference adjustment, and (3) incentivization. While few object to the first type of policy, the latter two are generally rejected because of their potential for coercion or morally objectionable manipulation. We argue that forms of each policy type are pragmatically and morally justified (perhaps even required) tools for preventing the harms of global climate change.
9. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 42 > Issue: 4
Rebecca Kukla Whose Job Is It to Fight Climate Change?: A Response to Hickey, Rieder, and Earl
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book reviews
10. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 42 > Issue: 4
Jason Raibley George Sher, Equality for Inegalitarians
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11. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 42 > Issue: 4
Ann Murphy Catriona Mackenzie, Wendy Rogers, and Susan Dodds (eds.), Vulnerability: New Essays in Ethics and Feminist Philosophy
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12. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 42 > Issue: 4
Erik Magnusson David Benatar and David Wasserman, Debating Procreation: Is It Wrong to Reproduce?
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13. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 42 > Issue: 4
Liezl van Zyl Kevin Timpe and Craig A. Boyd (eds.), Virtues and Their Vices
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14. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 42 > Issue: 4
Books Received
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15. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 42 > Issue: 4
Index to Volume 42
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16. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 42 > Issue: 3
Eva Erman, Niklas Möller Why Democracy Cannot Be Grounded in Epistemic Principles
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In recent years, philosophers influenced by Peirce's pragmatism have contributed to the democracy debate by offering not simply a justification of democracy that relies on epistemic as well as moral presumptions, but a justification on purely epistemic grounds, that is, without recourse to any moral values or principles. In a nutshell, this pragmatist epistemic argument takes as its starting-point (1) a few fundamental epistemic principles we cannot reasonably deny, and goes on to claim that (2) a number of interpersonal epistemic commitments follow, which in turn (3) justify democracy in a fullfledged, deliberative sense. In light of the fact of reasonable pluralism, this freestanding (nonmoral) epistemic justification of democracy is allegedly superior to the mainstream, morally anchored liberal alternatives, because epistemic principles are universally shared despite moral disagreement. The pragmatist epistemic approach has been praised for being a valuable contribution to democratic theory, but few attempts have so far been made to systematically scrutinize the argument as a whole. The present paper sets out to do that. In particular, our investigation focuses on the underappreciated but central coherence form of the pragmatist epistemic argument: the central claim that in order to be an internally coherent believer, one must accept democracy. While we endorse the fundamental premise (1) for the sake of argument, our analysis shows that the argument fails in both of the two further steps, (2) and (3). More specifically, the epistemic principles are too weak to entail the suggested interpersonal epistemic commitments; and even if these epistemic commitments are granted, they are insufficient to ground democracy.
17. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 42 > Issue: 3
Lena Zuckerwise Vita Mundi: Democratic Politics and the Concept of World
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In this essay, I argue that Hannah Arendt’s concept of world is the site of democratic reality and possibility in her work. Contrary to the claims of many Arendt scholars that her theory of action is most relevant and useful to democracy, it is instead world that can “do” for democratic theory and politics that which action cannot. Unfettered with the pressures of Arendt’s public/private distinction, world has tremendous theoretical and political potential to change the terms of current debates in the field of democratic theory, and introduce new ways of bringing Arendt’s work into the present political moment.
18. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 42 > Issue: 3
Harrison P. Frye The Relation of Envy to Distributive Justice
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An old conservative criticism of egalitarianism is that it is nothing but the expression of envy. Egalitarians respond by saying envy has nothing to do with it. I present an alternative way of thinking about the relation of envy to distributive justice, and to Rawlsian justice in particular. I argue that while ideals of justice rightly distance themselves from envy, envy plays a role in facing injustice. Under nonideal circumstances, less attractive features of human nature may play a role in motivating the action necessary to push an unjust society in a more just direction.
19. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 42 > Issue: 3
Pietro Maffettone Should We Tolerate Benevolent Absolutisms?
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In this paper, I argue that the real problem with Rawls’s view of international toleration is that, properly understood, it seems not too inclusive, but not inclusive enough. I examine the standing of what Rawls calls “benevolent absolutisms.” According to Rawls, their lack of internal mechanisms of collective will-formation means that benevolent absolutisms cannot be seen as members in good standing of the Society of Peoples. I claim that if we accept the best reconstruction of Rawls’s argument for tolerating decent peoples, then The Law of Peoples does not provide conclusive reasons not to tolerate benevolent absolutisms.
20. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 42 > Issue: 3
Sarah C. Goff How to Trade Fairly in an Unjust Society: The Problem of Gender Discrimination in the Labor Market
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Social scientists disagree about the causes of the “wage gap” between male and female workers and, in particular, how much of the gap is due to differences in workers’ productivity. Understanding the underlying causes is important, insofar as this helps identify who is responsible for closing the gap. This information is particularly relevant for specifying the responsibilities of employers, who have dual social roles as economic actors and as citizens. In this paper, I begin with the assumption that many employers underestimate the qualifications of female job applicants in hiring and promotion decisions. I then describe a form of discrimination that occurs when many economic actors make this kind of correlated error in their judgments. I argue that an individual employer has responsibilities not to make these errors in judgment about female workers, due to the harmful impact on women’s opportunities. An employer also has duties not to exploit female employees, which occurs when he pays them lower wages than he would if other employers did not discriminate against them.