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1. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 46 > Issue: 3
Jeffrey Carroll In Defense of Strict Compliance as a Modeling Assumption
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Rawlsian ideal theory has as its foundational assumption strict compliance with the principles of justice. Whereas Rawls employed strict compliance for his particular positive purpose, I defend the more general methodological point that strict compliance can be a permissible modeling assumption. Strict compliance can be assumed in a model that determines the most just set of principles, but such a model, while informative, is not straightforwardly action-guiding. I construct such a model and defend it against influential contemporary criticisms of models that assume strict compliance.
2. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 46 > Issue: 3
John Danaher A Defence of Sexual Inclusion
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This article argues that access to meaningful sexual experience should be included within the set of the goods that are subject to principles of distributive justice. It argues that some people are currently unjustly excluded from meaningful sexual experience and it is not implausible to suggest that they might thereby have certain claim rights to sexual inclusion. This does not entail that anyone has a right to sex with another person, but it does entail that duties may be imposed on society to foster greater sexual inclusion. This is a controversial thesis and this article addresses this controversy by engaging with four major objections to it: the misogyny objection; the impossibility objection; the stigmatisation objection; and the unjust social engineering objection.
3. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 46 > Issue: 3
William A. Edmundson What Is the Argument for the Fair Value of Political Liberty?
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The equal political liberties are among the basic first-principle liberties in John Rawls’s theory of Justice as fairness. Rawls insists, further, that the “fair value” of the political liberties must be guaranteed. Disavowing an interest in fair value is what disqualifies welfare-state capitalism as a possible realizer of Justice as fairness. Yet Rawls never gives a perspicuous statement of the reasoning in the original position for the fair-value guarantee. This article gathers up two distinct strands of Rawls’s argument, and presents it in a straightforward sequence. Justice as fairness is contrasted to a competitor political conception of justice that is just like it but without the fair-value guarantee. A schema of the two-strand argument is presented in the Appendix.
4. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 46 > Issue: 3
Derrick Gray Rethinking Micro-level Exploitation
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This paper argues that, at least in the context of employment, we should reconsider the applicability of the dominant framework in the contemporary literature on exploitation, which views exploitation as a micro-level moral wrong. I present a novel argument showing that these micro-level theories share commitments inconsistent with taking exploitation seriously as a moral wrong. Given the difficulties these theories face, I argue that we should pursue a structural theory of exploitation, and I give a brief sketch of what such a theory might look like.
5. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 46 > Issue: 3
Alan Rubel, Clinton Castro, Adam Pham Algorithms, Agency, and Respect for Persons
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Algorithmic systems and predictive analytics play an increasingly important role in various aspects of modern life. Scholarship on the moral ramifications of such systems is in its early stages, and much of it focuses on bias and harm. This paper argues that in understanding the moral salience of algorithmic systems it is essential to understand the relation between algorithms, autonomy, and agency. We draw on several recent cases in criminal sentencing and K–12 teacher evaluation to outline four key ways in which issues of agency, autonomy, and respect for persons can conflict with algorithmic decision-making. Three of these involve failures to treat individual agents with the respect they deserve. The fourth involves distancing oneself from a morally suspect action by attributing one’s decision to take that action to an algorithm, thereby laundering one’s agency.
6. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 46 > Issue: 3
Alexander Schaefer, Robert Weston Siscoe Incoherent but Reasonable: A Defense of Truth-Abstinence in Political Liberalism
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A strength of liberal political institutions is their ability to accommodate pluralism, both allowing divergent comprehensive doctrines as well as constructing the common ground necessary for diverse people to live together. A pressing question is how far such pluralism extends. Which comprehensive doctrines are simply beyond the pale and need not be accommodated by a political consensus? Rawls attempted to keep the boundaries of reasonable disagreement quite broad by infamously denying that political liberalism need make reference to the concept of truth, a claim that has been criticized by Joseph Raz, Joshua Cohen, and David Estlund. In this paper, we argue that these criticisms fail due to the fact that political liberalism can remain non-committal on the nature of truth, leaving the concept of truth in the domain of comprehensive doctrines while still avoiding the issues raised by Raz, Cohen, and Estlund. Further substantiating this point is the fact that Rawls would, and should, include parties in the overlapping consensus whose views on truth may be incoherent. Once it is seen that political liberalism allows such incoherence to reasonable parties, it is clear that the inclusion of truth and the requirement of coherence urged by Raz, Cohen, and Estlund requires more of reasonable people than is necessary for a political consensus.
7. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 46 > Issue: 3
Willem J. A. van der Deijl A Challenge for Capability Measures of Wellbeing
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The measurement of wellbeing is among the central aims of the capability approach. I develop one particular challenge to the operationalizability of the approach in the context of wellbeing measurement. I argue that the capability approach is both committed to Individuation of Wellbeing—the view that the wellbeing contribution of different capabilities and functionings is person-dependent—as well as Rejection of Subjectivism—the view that wellbeing should not be conceptualized in terms of subjective judgments of preference-satisfaction or happiness. I argue that there is a tension between these two commitments that cannot be resolved in a viable way.
8. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 46 > Issue: 3
Sarah Vitale Beyond Homo Laborans: Marx’s Dialectical Account of Human Essence
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This article responds to the critique of productivist essentialism, which is the view that the human is the productive animal, made against Marx. The author argues against this view and holds that Marx introduces a dialectical account of human essence with the notion of species being in the 1844 Manuscripts, which he then develops in The German Idology. This account of essence includes a static and dynamic moment, and in capitalism, the dialectic of essence has resulted in the appearance of the human as the productive animal. Finally, the author argues that Marx’s critique of production and dialectical account of human essence allow us to better think the possibilities for a post-work future.
9. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 46 > Issue: 2
Andrew T. Forcehimes, Luke Semrau Relationship Sensitive Consequentialism Is Regrettable
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Personal relationships matter. Traditional Consequentialism, given its exclusive focus on agent-neutral goodness, struggles to account for this fact. A recent variant of the theory—one incorporating agent-relativity—is thought to succeed where its traditional counterpart fails. Yet, to secure this advantage, the view must take on certain normative and evaluative commitments concerning personal relationships. As a result, the theory permits cases in which agents do as they ought, yet later ought to prefer that they had done otherwise. That a theory allows such cases is a serious defect. We thus conclude that, in terms of how the theories handle personal relationships, agent-relative consequentialism fairs no better than its traditional counterpart.
10. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 46 > Issue: 2
August Gorman Depression’s Threat to Self-Governance
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Much of the literature on impairment to self-governance focuses on cases in which a person either lacks the ability to protect herself from errant urges or cases in which a person lacks the capacity to initiate self-reflective agential processes. This has led to frameworks for thinking about self-governance designed with only the possibility of these sorts of impairments in mind. I challenge this orthodoxy using the case of melancholic depression to show that there is a third way that self-governance can be undermined: an agent may fail to form the desire she most wants to act on.
11. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 46 > Issue: 2
Shane Gronholz Welfare: Does Thinking Make It So?
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According to what I call the judgment view about welfare, a subject S’s life is going well for S only if S judges that S’s life is going well for S. This means that a person’s welfare depends, at least in part, on that person’s own judgment about her welfare. According to this view, it is not possible for a person to have a life that is going well for her if she judges that it is not. In this paper, I challenge this view by showing that there can be cases where a person’s life is going well for her even if she does not judge that it is.
12. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 46 > Issue: 2
Richard L. Lippke Retributivism and Victim Compensation
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Given the desert-centric character of retributive penal theory, it seems odd that its supporters rarely discuss the undeserved losses and suffering of crime victims and the state’s role in responding to them. This asymmetry in the desert-focus of retributive penal theory is examined and the likely arguments in support of it are found wanting. Particular attention is paid to the claim that offenders, rather than the state, should supply compensation to victims. Also, standard retributive accounts of why the deserving should be punished are shown to support state-supplied victim compensation.
13. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 46 > Issue: 2
Nahshon Perez What Are Data Good for Anyway?: A Typology of Usages of Data in Contemporary Political Theory
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This article develops a typology of usages for empirical data in normative theorizing in ‎contemporary political theory. A typology of usages is indicated, providing definitions, ‘names’ and an analysis for each ‎usage, and points to the typical stage within political theory research for each usage. The typology is built in a casuistic methodology. It includes the following categories: (i) Spotlighting, (ii) Definition, ‎‎(iii) Conversion, (iv) Institutional clarity, (v) Theoretical clarity, and (vi) Theory improvement. The typology creates a novel toolbox that can be adopted by political theorists; and it clarifies the methods and achievements of data-sensitive political theory.
14. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 46 > Issue: 2
Tina Rulli Conditional Obligations
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Some obligations are conditional such that act A is morally optional, but if one chooses A, one is required to do act B rather than some other less valuable act C. Such conditional obligations arise frequently in research ethics, in the philosophical literature, and in real life. They are controversial: how does a morally optional act give rise to demanding requirements to do the best? Some think that the fact that a putative obligation has a conditional structure, so defined, is a strike against its being a genuine obligation. I argue that conditional obligations are to be expected in a moral theory that has moral options.
15. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 46 > Issue: 2
Rosa Terlazzo (When) Do Victims Have Duties to Resist Oppression?
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In this article, I first propose four guidelines that follow from understanding the project of assigning victims duties to resist oppression as an ameliorative project. That is, if we understand the project to be motivated by the urgent aim of ending or mitigating the harm that oppression imposes on the oppressed, I argue that we should focus on developing and assigning duties that satisfy what I call the ability, weighting, fairness, and overdemandingness guidelines. Second, I develop the duty to be a non-normative individual, which satisfies all four guidelines.
16. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 46 > Issue: 2
Chad Van Schoelandt Functionalist Justice and Coordination
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This article lays out the “functionalist” view according to which justice is a social technology for adjudicating competing claims, then defends the claim that any functional principles of justice must effectively coordinate the expectations of diverse members of society. From there, it argues that within the functionalist framework there cannot be any adequate conception of justice for society’s basic institutional structure or constitution under conditions of reasonable pluralism. It concludes by discussing the theoretical place of emergent legal and constitutional principles within a functionalist theory.
17. 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.
18. 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.
19. 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.
20. 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.