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1. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 46 > Issue: 4
David V. Axelsen, Lasse Nielsen

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Many policies hinge on determining whether someone’s situation is due to luck or choice. In political philosophy, this prevalence is mirrored by luck egalitarian theories. But overemphasizing the distinction between luck and choice will lead to tensions with the value of moral agency, on which the distinction is grounded. Here, we argue that the two most common contemporary critiques of luck egalitarianism, holding it to be harsh and disrespectful are best understood as illustrating exactly this tension. Elaborating on this conflict, we argue that it should lead us to modify how luck and choice are used in theories of justice.

2. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 46 > Issue: 4
Thomas S. Carnes

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This article brings an account of reasonable expectations to bear on the question of when unauthorized immigrants have a right to be regularized—that is, to be formally guaranteed freedom from the threat of deportation. Contrary to the current literature, which implicitly relies on a flawed understanding of reasonable expectations, this article argues that only those unauthorized immigrants who have both been tacitly permitted by the state despite lacking formal authorization and have remained long enough to develop deep social roots in the state have a right to regularization.

3. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 46 > Issue: 4
Sue Donaldson

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Many theorists of the ‘political turn’ in animal rights theory emphasize the need for animals’ interests to be considered in political decision-making processes, but deny that this requires self-representation and participation by animals themselves. I argue that participation by domesticated animals in co-authoring our shared world is indeed required, and explore two ways to proceed: 1) by enabling animal voice within the existing geography of human-animal roles and relationships; and 2) by freeing animals into a revitalized public commons (‘animal agora’) where citizens encounter one another in spontaneous, unpredictable encounters in spaces that they can re-shape together.

4. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 46 > Issue: 4
Matthew D. Kuchem

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In this paper I critique the concept of social groups deployed by Iris Marion Young in her well-known theory of the five faces of oppression. I contend that Young’s approach to conceptualizing social groups creates arbitrary and inconsistent categories, essentializes certain groups, and fails to take seriously the complexity of pluralism. I propose that Margaret Gilbert’s work in social metaphysics provides a more philosophically robust account of social groups that serves as a helpful corrective to Young’s approach. Gilbert’s account of “we”-ness, as well as her theory of the nature of individuals and collectivities, provides a helpful vantage point for critiquing Young’s project and its emphasis on the social process of differentiation in the formation of social groups.

5. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 46 > Issue: 4
Natasha McKeever

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In Sascha Settegast’s recently published article, “Prostitution and the Good of Sex” in Social Theory and Practice, he argues that prostitution is intrinsically harmful. In this article, I object to his argument, making the following three responses to his account: 1) bad sex is not “detrimental to the good life”; 2) bad sex is not necessarily unvirtuous; 3) sex work is work as well as sex, and so must be evaluated as work in addition to as sex.

6. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 46 > Issue: 4
Monica Mookherjee

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Amid now extensive debates about cosmopolitanism in political theory, this article explores the implications of Axel Honneth’s recognition theory for issues in international justice, not least the dire situation of poverty in the world. In contrast with a purely resource-distributive approach, the essay turns particularly to Honneth’s recent revival of the Lukácsian concept of reification as a process of self-distancing from the elementary humanity of others. Specifically, Honneth re-formulates reification as a failure of an elementary or ‘antecedent’ form of recognition. From the perspective of his theory, reification connotes the forgetfulness of others’ fundamental humanity. While Honneth takes such forgetfulness to become most readily apparent in dramatic violations such as the Holocaust, the article interprets his theory to explain, and eventually to challenge, the passive acceptance by many of dire material injustices. The article develops the implications of this challenge by interpreting from Honneth’s framework a duty to question international policies which tend to reify and objectify the least well off in the world, whilst remaining cognizant of the limits of de-reification to the more extensive, meaningful alleviation of poverty globally.

7. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 46 > Issue: 4
Patrick O'Donnell

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According to the “standard framing” of racial appeals in political speech, politicians generally rely on coded language to communicate racial messages. Yet recent years have demonstrated that politicians often express quite explicit forms of racism in mainstream political discourse. The standard framing can explain neither why these appeals work politically nor how they work semantically. This paper moves beyond the standard framing, focusing on the politics and semantics of one type of explicit appeal, candid racial communication (CRC). The linguistic vehicles of CRC are neither true code words, nor slurs, but a conventionally defined class of “racialized terms.”

8. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 46 > Issue: 4
Jonas Hultin Rosenberg

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The all-affected principle, by which all those affected by the policies of the state ought to be included in the demos governing it, is often considered prima facie attractive but, upon closer examination, implausible. The main alternative, according to which all those and only those affected by possible consequences of possible decisions ought to be included in the demos, is equally implausible. I suggest a reformulated principle: the demos includes all those affected by foreseeable consequences of decisions that the state has legal authority and capacity to take. This avoids the problems of the standard version and the main alternative.

9. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 46 > Issue: 4
Mark Silcox

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Certain sorts of disputes about principles of distributive justice that have occupied a great deal of attention in recent political philosophy turn out to be fundamentally unresolvable, when they are conducted in ignorance of whether an important subclass of basic social goods exists within any particular society. I employ the folktale ‘Stone Soup’ to illustrate how such distributional goods might come into existence. Using the debate about John Rawls’s Difference Principle as an example, I argue that a proper appreciation for the axiological status of these goods shows that disputes about principles (at least as these have been conducted within the Rawlsian tradition) should be relegated to a subsidiary status relative to other, more fundamental concerns about the ethics of economic distribution.

10. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 46 > Issue: 4

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11. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 46 > Issue: 3
Jeffrey Carroll

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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.

12. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 46 > Issue: 3
John Danaher

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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.

13. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 46 > Issue: 3
William A. Edmundson

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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.

14. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 46 > Issue: 3
Derrick Gray

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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.

15. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 46 > Issue: 3
Alan Rubel, Clinton Castro, Adam Pham

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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.

16. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 46 > Issue: 3
Alexander Schaefer, Robert Weston Siscoe

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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.

17. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 46 > Issue: 3
Willem J. A. van der Deijl

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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.

18. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 46 > Issue: 3
Sarah Vitale

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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.

19. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 46 > Issue: 2
Andrew T. Forcehimes, Luke Semrau

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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.

20. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 46 > Issue: 2
August Gorman

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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.