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1. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. 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.

7. 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.

8. 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.