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Social Theory and Practice

Volume 41, Issue 1, January 2015

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1. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 41 > Issue: 1
Laura Papish, Promoting Black (Social) Identity
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I argue in this paper that we can develop a conception of black identity—one I call “black social identity”—that African Americans can unobjectionably encourage one another to adopt. I develop a view that retains much of what is attractive in identity politics, theories of collective identity, and the politics of mutual recognition, while avoiding the philosophical weaknesses associated with such views. To motivate my account, I also engage and criticize Tommie Shelby’s argument that black political solidarity requires only a “thin” black identity, one based on the shared experiences of, and vulnerability to, anti-black racism.
2. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 41 > Issue: 1
Emanuela Ceva, Political Justification through Democratic Participation: The Case for Conscientious Objection
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On a proceduralist account of democracy, collective decisions derive their justification—at least in part—from the qualities of the process through which they have been made. To fulfill its justificatory function, this process should ensure that citizens have an equal right to political participation as a respectful response to their equal status as agents capable of self-legislation. How should democratic participation be understood if it is to offer such a procedural justification for democratic decisions? I suggest that, in order to overcome the structural procedural disadvantages affecting the actual, effective opportunities that citizens who hold nonmainstream views have to exercise their right to political participation, the enhancement of such opportunities requires securing space for contestation. Against this background, I vindicate the (currently underestimated) role of conscientious objection as a form of political participation.
3. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 41 > Issue: 1
Joseph Lampert, Democratic Inclusion and the Governance of Immigration
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The standard view that democratic governance of immigration amounts to the self-rule of citizens to the exclusion of migrants stands in tension with the democratic logic of political inclusion suggested by the all-affected interests principle. However, while all who are affected by immigration and border control must be included in their governance, such inclusion claims must be differentiated according to the kinds of interests at stake if this principle is to preserve the democratic ideal of self-rule. In contrast to those who argue that the principle either requires a global demos or threatens to undermine stable democratic states, this article argues that the principle requires recognizing the interest people have in a viable democratic political order, and that territorial states are the contingent vehicle for this interest in contemporary circumstances. This insight provides a principled basis for differentiating the inclusion claims of citizens and potential immigrants. As members of democratic states, citizens are responsible for the decisions and actions of their state and hence for authorizing policies on immigration and border control, but they must do so via institutions that ensure accountability to potential immigrants on the basis of their affected interests.
4. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 41 > Issue: 1
Candice Delmas, The Ethics of Government Whistleblowing
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What is wrong with government whistleblowing and when can it be justified? In my view, “government whistleblowing,” that is, the unauthorized acquisition and disclosure of classified information about the state or government, is a form of “political vigilantism,” which involves transgressing the boundaries around state secrets, for the purpose of challenging the allocation or use of power. It may nonetheless be justified when it is suitably constrained and exposes some information that the public ought to know and deliberate about. Government whistleblowing should then be viewed, along the lines of civil disobedience, as a collective cognition- and legitimacy-enhancing device.
5. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 41 > Issue: 1
Cheryl Abbate, The Search for Liability in the Defensive Killing of Nonhuman Animals
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While theories of animal rights maintain that nonhuman animals possess prima facie rights, such as the right to life, the dominant philosophies of animal rights permit the killing of nonhuman animals for reasons of self-defense. I argue that the animal rights discourse on defensive killing is problematic because it seems to entail that any nonhuman animal who poses a threat to human beings can be justifiably harmed without question. To avoid this human-privileged conclusion, I argue that the animal rights position needs to both (1) deploy a new criterion of liability to defensive harm, and (2) seriously consider whether human beings themselves are liable to defensive harm in human-animal conflicts. By shifting the focus to whether humans are liable to defensive harm, we will find that in many situations of human-animal conflict, human beings are actually the ones liable to be harmed because they are often culpable or, to some degree, morally responsible for posing an unjust threat to nonhuman animals.
6. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 41 > Issue: 1
Alida Liberman, A Promise Acceptance Model of Organ Donation
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I aim to understand how the act of becoming an organ donor impacts whether it is permissible for a family veto to override an individual’s wish to donate. I argue that a Consent Model does not capture the right understanding of donor autonomy. I then assess a Gift Model and a Promise Model, arguing that both fail to capture important data about the ability to revoke one’s donor status. I then propose a Promise Acceptance Model, which construes becoming an organ donor as accepting a promise the state makes to you to use your organs. This model, which implies that family vetoes are impermissible, captures the data other models struggle to accommodate.
review essay
7. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 41 > Issue: 1
Gabriella Slomp, Limiting Leviathan: An Advice Book for Rulers?: Larry May on Thomas Hobbes
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book reviews
8. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 41 > Issue: 1
J. Jeremy Wisnewski, Thaddeus Metz, Meaning in Life
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9. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 41 > Issue: 1
John Baker, Joseph Fishkin, Bottlenecks: A New Theory of Equal Opportunity
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10. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 41 > Issue: 1
Thanks to Reviewers
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