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Social Theory and Practice

Volume 41, Issue 3, July 2015

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Displaying: 1-10 of 10 documents


1. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 41 > Issue: 3
Eric Entrican Wilson, Kant and the Selfish Hypothesis
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One of the major debates of early modern philosophy concerned what David Hume called “the selfish hypothesis.” According to this view, all human conduct is motivated by self-love. Influential versions can be found in the writings of Hobbes, Mandeville, the Jansenists, and La Rochefoucauld. Important critics of this view included Butler, Shaftesbury, Hutcheson, Rousseau, Hume, and Smith. My essay argues that we should add Kant to this list of critics. I propose that Kant knew about this important debate and responded to it. More specifically, I propose that he responded at two different levels. At one level, Kant sided with the critics, arguing for the reality of genuine fellow feeling. At another level, he concluded that everyone was arguing about the wrong thing. All the critics of the selfish hypothesis seek to vindicate common morality, but Kant thought this required establishing the possibility of human freedom. He believed that instead of arguing about whether we are capable of responding in a genuinely compassionate or sympathetic way to other people, we should be arguing about whether we are capable of responding in a nonmechanical way to the demands of morality. Looking at Kant’s practical philosophy from this underexplored perspective sheds new light on his doctrines of respect and moral worth. It renders both more interesting and intelligible, and it illuminates the direct connection between these doctrines and the fundamental concerns of his entire critical project.
2. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 41 > Issue: 3
Anthony R. Reeves, Standard Threats: How to Violate Basic Human Rights
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The paper addresses the nature of duties grounded in human rights. I contend that rather than being protections against harm, per se, human rights largely shield against risk impositions to protected interests. “Risk imposition” is a normative idea requiring explication, but understanding dutiful action in its terms enables human rights to provide prospective policy guidance, hold institutions accountable, operate in nonideal circumstances, embody impartiality among persons, and define the moral status of agencies in international relations. Slightly differently, I indicate a general understanding of dutiful action that permits human rights to see to the tasks of an institutional morality.
3. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 41 > Issue: 3
Andrew J. Pierce, Authentic Identities
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Authenticity has played a central role in modern philosophical discourse, where it has often been interpreted individualistically. But concerns about authenticity also arise in relation to questions of group membership, and become especially pressing in the case of minority and disadvantaged groups. In this essay, I develop an alternative conception of authenticity based upon the intersubjective relation of trust. This relational conception is better equipped to make sense of both individual and collective authenticity, which, I ultimately argue, are two sides of the same coin.
4. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 41 > Issue: 3
Thomas Mulligan, On the Compatibility of Epistocracy and Public Reason
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In “epistocratic” forms of government, political power is wielded by those who possess the knowledge relevant to good policymaking. Some democrats—notably, David Estlund—concede that epistocracy might produce better political outcomes than democracy but argue that epistocracy cannot be justified under public reason. These objections to epistocracy are unsound because they violate a viability constraint: they are also fatal to democracy and all other plausible political arrangements. Moreover, there is a problem with the public reason framework itself—a problem that can only be solved by providing a better definition for what makes an objection to a political arrangement a “reasonable” one.
5. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 41 > Issue: 3
Rafeeq Hasan, Rawls on Meaningful Work and Freedom
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In this article, I criticize Rawls’s well-ordered society for failing to secure a right to meaningful work. I critically discuss five technical Rawlsian ideas: self-respect, social union, the difference principle, the powers and prerogatives of office, and fair equality of opportunity. I then claim that radical restructuring of the workplace conflicts with Rawls’s individualistic understanding of freedom. Briefly drawing on Hegel, an under-recognized historical influence on Rawls, I then correct Rawls by arguing for a conception of freedom that is internally related to broader solidaristic values associated with meaningful work.
6. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 41 > Issue: 3
James Christensen, Fair Trade, Formal Equality, and Preferential Treatment
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In this paper I criticize the claim that fair trade entails a commitment to an ideal of formal equality according to which all members of the trade regime are to receive and offer equal, or uniform, treatment. I first elaborate on the idea of formal equality and its rationales, identify several positive arguments for departing from formal equality, and respond to a number of objections to “special and differential treatment” for poor countries. I then consider in more detail one specific element of formal equality in the trade regime, namely, the principle of reciprocity. Several distinct reciprocity principles are identified, none of which, I argue, should be regarded as a requirement of fairness. Next I consider a more recent interpretation of formal equality that requires trading countries to “harmonize” domestic laws and policies. I argue that harmonization is not required by fairness.
7. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 41 > Issue: 3
Rutger Claassen, Financial Crisis and the Ethics of Moral Hazard
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The 2008 global financial crisis raises ethical as much as financial questions. Moral outrage centered on the imbalance between banks (too big to fail) profiting from excessive risk-taking in good times and taxpayers suffering the costs in bad times. The paper analyzes this imbalance in terms of ethical theory. It first develops a rights-based framework to answer questions about the moral obligations of states and banks towards each other. It then criticizes standard economic thinking, which de-moralizes the phenomenon of moral hazard. Moral hazard between states and banks arises in a context that cannot be interpreted as normal economic contracting, but should rather be characterized as governed by an implicit social contract giving rise to moral obligations.
book reviews
8. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 41 > Issue: 3
Leo Zaibert, Jeffrey Blustein, Forgiveness and Remembrance:Remembering Wrongdoing in Personal and Public Life. Reviewed by Leo Zaibert
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9. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 41 > Issue: 3
Shelley Wilcox, Peter W. Higgins, Immigration Justice. Reviewed by Shelley Wilcox
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10. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 41 > Issue: 3
Matt Stichter, Paul Bloomfield, The Virtues of Happiness: A Theory of the Good Life. Reviewed by Matt Stichter
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