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221. 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.
222. 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.
223. 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.
224. 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.
225. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 26
Rex Martin Fair Inequalities in Income: Cohen and Rawls
226. 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.
227. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 27
Amartya Sen The Idea of Justice: A Reply
228. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 27
Martin Gunderson Does the Human Right to Health Lack Content?
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The human right to health is crucial in the fight against global poverty. Health and an adequate standard of living are intimately connected. Poor health can make it difficult to overcome poverty, and poverty can make it difficult to attain good health. For the human right to health to be effective, however, it must have sufficient content to do the important normative work of rights. In the first part of this paper I give plausible arguments against the very existence of a human right to health based on its lack of content and extend this to other social rights such as the right to adequate income, housing and education. In the second part of the paper I provide a defense of human social rights, including the human right to health, by arguing that these human rights, though abstract, have enough content to function as rights.
229. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 27
Helga Varden Amartya Sen’s The Idea of Justice—Some Kantian Rejoinders
230. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 27
Deen Chatterjee Reciprocity, Closed-Impartiality, and National Borders: Framing (and Extending) the Debate on Global Justice
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Liberal nationalists have been hard pressed to respond to the normative demands of human rights and global impartiality in justifying special redistributive requirements for fellow citizens in a democratic polity. In general, they tend to support disparate standards of distributive justice for insiders and outsiders by favoring a relational approach to justice that affirms co-national preferences while not denying the importance of global impartiality. Following Sen and critiquing Rawls, I re-frame the debate by re-configuring the notion of relationality with a globalist tilt, with the hope of rescuing the discourse on global justice from its current stalemate.
231. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 27
Sean Donaghue Johnston John Stuart Mill on Health Care Reform
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In this essay, I explore John Stuart Mill’s theory of government and its application to the issue of health care reform. In particular, I ask whether Mill’s theory of government would justify or condemn the creation of a public health-insurance option. Although Mill’s deep distrust of governmental authority would seem to align him with Republicans, Tea Partiers, libertarians, and others, who cast the public option as a “government takeover” of “our” health care system, I argue that Mill offers good reasons for seriously considering some form of government-operated health insurance. For Mill theorizes government as having a positive as well as a negative role to play in people’s lives, and he explicitly endorses “public options” in different areas of life. According to his theory of government, a public health-insurance option would be just as long as it would meet the following two conditions: (1) it would not invade the “reserved territory” of individual liberty; and (2) “the case of expediency is strong.” I argue that a public option would in fact meet both of these conditions, and that Mill would have likely endorsed it as an effective solution to the current health care crisis in the United States.
232. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 27
David Schweickart Reading Legitimation Crisis During the Meltdown
233. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 27
Natalie Nenadic Sexual Abuse, Modern Freedom, and Heidegger’s Philosophy
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The sexual abuse of women and girls, such as sexual harassment, battery, varieties of rape, prostitution, and pornography, is statistically pervasive in late modern society. Yet this fact does not register adequate ethical concern. I explore this gap in moral perception. I argue that sexual abuse is conceptually supported by an ontology of women that considers a lack of bodily integrity as natural and by a sex-specific idea of freedom that considers sexual violations as liberating. This conceptual framework is pernicious because it supports abuse and interferes with our moral perception of harm, encouraging us to see harms as normal and as positive. I argue that Heidegger’s idea of philosophy and the resources of his epistemological and ontological project in Being and Time can help show the pernicious function of this conceptual framework and thus help us better understand this abuse.
234. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 27
Ryan Jenkins You’ve Earned It!: A Criticism of Sher’s Account of Desert in Wages
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Desert is a notion ubiquitous in our moral discourse, and the importance of its dictates is perhaps clearest when dealing with the distribution of material resources. George Sher has provided one account of desert in wages, answering the question, “How do workers deserve their wage?” Sher relies on the violation of preexisting “independent standards” that dictate how much of a certain good we think people are entitled to in general. When these standards are violated, they call for an offsetting response at a later point in time in order to restore the moral equilibrium. I argue that this formalization of desert is flawed at the theoretical level and that it has further difficulties when applied to wages in particular. Lastly, I offer some brief remarks about what I think are the criteria for establishing desert in wages.
235. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 27
James P. Sterba Putting Liberty and Equality Back Together Again: Responses to Alistair Macleod and Helga Varden
236. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 27
Alistair M. Macleod The Voluntary Transactions Principle and the Free Market Ideal
237. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 27
Nancy E. Snow Introduction
238. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 27
Jan Narveson, James P. Sterba Précis of Are Liberty and Equality Compatible?
239. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 27
Notes On Contributors
240. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 27
Matthew R. Silliman, David Kenneth Johnson Critical Thinking, Autonomy, and Social Justice
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In a fictional conversation designed to appeal to both working teachers and social philosophers, three educators take up the question of whether critical thinking itself can, or should, be taught independently of an explicit consideration of issues related to social justice. One, a thoughtful but somewhat traditional Enlightenment rationalist, sees critical thinking as a neutral set of skills and dispositions, essentially unrelated to the conclusions of morality, problems of social organization, or the content of any particular academic discipline. A second interlocutor, steeped in “critical” pedagogy of Paulo Freire, insists that the problem is the pose of neutrality itself. On this view, all honest and effective approaches to teaching must confront the hegemony of unjust relationships, institutions, and conceptual schemes. The third character attempts to resolve the tension between these two opposed camps.