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Displaying: 1-20 of 45 documents


1. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 40 > Issue: 4
Edward Hall Contingency, Confidence, and Liberalism in the Political Thought of Bernard Williams
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This paper offers a systematic examination of the political thought of Bernard Williams by explaining the relation between his political realism and critical assessment of modern moral philosophy and discussing how his work illuminates the debates about the nature and purpose of political theory. I argue that Williams’s realism is best read as an attempt to make ethical sense of politics, and as an attempt to explain how we can continue to affirm a kind of liberalism, without recourse to the moralized presuppositions that he insists we must jettison. I begin by outlining Williams’s claims about the limits of philosophy and his conception of confidence. I then address his understanding of the relationship between historical and philosophical inquiry and his contention that historical understanding can foster a kind of confidence in some of our contemporary commitments. I conclude by showing how this leads Williams to articulate a defense of liberalism that is compatible with his skepticism about modern moral philosophy and his ancillary critique of political moralism. In this sense, Williams’s work has important implications for political theory and the study of politics more generally because it enables us to articulate a defense of liberalism that has marked advantages over the “high liberalism” that most contemporary liberal political philosophers defend and shows how we might develop a political theory that does not begin by asserting universal moral foundations but which, despite this, avoids reverting to a crude postmodern antifoundationalism.
2. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 40 > Issue: 4
Christian Barry, Gerhard Øverland The Implications of Failing to Assist
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In this essay we argue that an agent’s failure to assist someone in need at one time can change the cost she can be morally required to take on to assist that same person at a later time. In particular, we show that the cost the agent can subsequently be required to take on to help the person in need can increase quite significantly, and can be enforced through the proportionate use of force. We explore the implications of this argument for the duties of the affluent to address global poverty.
3. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 40 > Issue: 4
Saba Fatima Liberalism and the Muslim-American Predicament
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The underlying objective of this project is to examine the ways in which the exclusionary status of Muslim Americans remains unchallenged within John Rawls’s version of political liberalism. Toward this end, I argue that the stipulation of genuine belief in what is reasonably accessible to others in our society is an unreasonable expectation from minorities, given our awareness of how we are perceived by others. Second, using the work of Lisa Schwartzman, I show that Rawls’s reliance on the abstraction of a closed society legitimizes the exclusion of citizens with marginal social locations. And finally, applying Charles Mills’s critique of ideal theory, I argue that Rawls’s idealization of a posture of civic friendship detracts from a discussion of equally significant societal values while sustaining existing social hierarchies.
4. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 40 > Issue: 4
Adam Omar Hosein Immigration: The Argument for Legalization
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Many liberal democracies have large populations of “unauthorized” migrants, who entered in contravention of immigration laws. In this paper, I will offer a new argument for allowing long-resident unauthorized migrants to transfer to “legal” status, which would allow them to live and work legally in their country of residence, without fear of deportation. I argue that legalization is required to secure the autonomy of these migrants, and that only by securing their autonomy can the state exercise authority over them legitimately. I also respond to popular objections to legalization and illustrate the distinctive policy implications of my approach.
5. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 40 > Issue: 4
Nicholas Parkin Pacifism, Supreme Emergency, and Moral Tragedy
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This paper develops and defends a new way for pacifists to deal with the problem of supreme emergency. In it I argue that a supreme emergency in which some disaster can only be prevented by modern war is a morally tragic situation. This means that a leader faced with a supreme emergency acts unjustifiably in both allowing something terrible to occur, as well as in waging war to prevent it. I also argue that we may have cause to excuse from wrongdoing the agents who must choose an unjustified action in a supreme emergency.
6. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 40 > Issue: 4
Cristian Pérez Muñoz Essential Services, Workers’ Freedom, and Distributive Justice
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This article examines the normative implications of the essential service argument commonly used to justify restrictions on workers’ freedom to withhold their labor. The essential service argument states that essential service workers should not be allowed to strike because this form of collective bargaining can likely inflict imminent and substantial harm on society at large. This paper argues that if the provision of essential services justifies limitations on freedom to strike, then restrictions on occupational freedom can be justified for the same purpose. I illustrate this point by considering the case of compulsory service programs as recruiting tools for health workers.
book symposium: simon keller, partiality
7. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 40 > Issue: 4
Jörg Löschke Partiality, Agent-Relative Reasons, and the Individuals View
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8. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 40 > Issue: 4
Monika Betzler Personal Projects and Reasons for Partiality
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9. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 40 > Issue: 4
Simon Keller Response to Löschke and Betzler
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book reviews
10. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 40 > Issue: 4
Paul Robinson John W. Lango, The Ethics of Armed Conflict: A Cosmopolitan Just War Theory
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11. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 40 > Issue: 4
Catherine Frost Omar Dahbour, Self-Determination without Nationalism: A Theory of Postnational Sovereignty
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12. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 40 > Issue: 4
Books Received
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13. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 40 > Issue: 4
Index to Volume 40
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14. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 40 > Issue: 3
Andrés Luco The Definition of Morality: Threading the Needle
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This essay proposes and defends a descriptive definition of morality. Under this definition, a moral system is a system of rules, psychological states, and modes of character development that performs the function of enabling mutually beneficial social cooperation. I shall argue that the methodologies employed by two prominent moral psychologists to establish a descriptive definition of morality only serve to track patterns in people’s uses of moral terms. However, these methods at best reveal a nominal definition of morality, since moral appraisers may be ignorant about the referents of their moral terms. I propose a real definition of morality that characterizes moral systems as a natural kind—more precisely, a copied kind. I explain what it takes for a moral system to satisfy this definition, and I identify the sorts of evidence needed to distinguish moral systems from value systems of other kinds.
15. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 40 > Issue: 3
Michael Kates Individuals and the Demands of Justice in Nonideal Circumstances
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Ought some individuals be required to do more to combat injustice simply because others have done less? My thesis in this paper is that in order to answer thisquestion in a theoretically compelling manner, it is necessary to distinguish the social obligations that citizens have towards one another in virtue of their institutional ties or special relationships from the natural duties that all persons share simply in virtue of their status as equal moral agents. What justice demands of individuals in nonideal circumstances will ultimately depend, I argue, on the comparative scope or range of application of these two different types of moral requirement.
16. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 40 > Issue: 3
Christie Hartley Two Conceptions of Justice as Reciprocity
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Social cooperation based on reciprocity is the cornerstone of many theories of justice. However, what is central to social cooperation based on reciprocity? How does basing social cooperation on reciprocity structure and constrain theories of justice? In this paper, I consider what is central to reciprocity. I argue that the purpose of reciprocal exchange among persons is important for determining the appropriateness of reciprocal exchanges and that sustaining mutually advantageous relations is not always the point or the only point of reciprocity. This has important implications for theorizing about justice. I show this by outlining two conceptions of justice as reciprocity.
17. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 40 > Issue: 3
Robert S. Taylor Illiberal Socialism
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Is “liberal socialism” an oxymoron? Not quite, but I will demonstrate here that it is a much more unstable and uncommon hybrid than scholars had previously thought and that almost all liberals should reject socialism, even in its most attractive form. More specifically, I will show that three leading varieties of liberalism—neutralist, plural-perfectionist, and deliberative-democratic—are incompatible with even a moderate form of socialism, viz., associational market socialism. My paper will also cast grave doubt on Rawls’s belief that justice as fairness is consistent with liberal socialism.
18. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 40 > Issue: 3
Rebecca Reilly-Cooper The Importance of What Citizens Care About
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This paper aims to strengthen the liberal theory of public justification defended by John Rawls and his followers, by arguing that advocates of political liberalism can have more to say about how citizens can come to endorse and give priority to liberal justice than has been commonly supposed. The political conception of the person, complete with the two powers of moral personality, contains within it all the resources we need to illustrate why reasonable persons would have at least one good reason to endorse and uphold liberal justice, and to make it regulative of their pursuit of their conceptions of the good. This is achieved by citizens’ feelings of care and affective concern toward their higher-order interests—their sense of justice, and their conception of the good.
19. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 40 > Issue: 3
David Birks Moral Status and the Wrongness of Paternalism
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In this paper, I consider the view that paternalism is wrong when it demeans or diminishes the paternalizee's moral status (the Moral Status Argument). I argue that we should reject the Moral Status Argument because it is both too narrow and too broad. It is too narrow because it cannot account for the wrongness of some of the most objectionable paternalistic interventions, namely, strong paternalistic interventions. It is too broad because it is unable to distinguish between wrongful paternalistic acts that are plausibly considered more wrong than other wrongful paternalistic acts.
20. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 40 > Issue: 3
Will Jefferson, Thomas Douglas, Guy Kahane, Julian Savulescu Enhancement and Civic Virtue
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Opponents of biomedical enhancement frequently adopt what Allen Buchanan has called the “Personal Goods Assumption.” On this assumption, the benefits of biomedical enhancement will accrue primarily to those individuals who undergo enhancements, not to wider society. Buchanan has argued that biomedical enhancements might in fact have substantial social benefits by increasing productivity. We outline another way in which enhancements might benefit wider society: by augmenting civic virtue and thus improving the functioning of our political communities. We thus directly confront critics of biomedical enhancement who argue that it will lead to a loss of social cohesion and a breakdown in political life.