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Displaying: 1-9 of 9 documents

1. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 46 > Issue: 1
Marc A. Cohen

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Data from the World Values Survey shows that generalized trust in Mainland China—trust in out-group members—is very low, but generalized trust in Taiwan is much higher. The present paper argues that positive interactions with out-group members in the context of Taiwan’s export-oriented economy fostered generalized trust—and so explains this difference. This line of argument provides evidence for Albert O. Hirschman’s doux commerce thesis, that market interaction can improve persons and even stabilize the social order. The present paper defends this point by separating two theses that Hirschman combines under that label, a countervailing forces thesis and a doux commerce thesis narrowly understood. These theses offer different explanations (or mechanisms) for how commerce could have those positive effects. The data about Taiwanese trust practices provides evidence for the latter.

2. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 46 > Issue: 1
Mollie Gerver

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Some claim that consent requires common knowledge. For a doctor to obtain consent, a doctor must know that her patient has given her permission to perform surgery, and her patient must know the doctor knows that he has given this permission. Some claim that such common knowledge requires communication, and so consent requires communication: the patient must tell the doctor he consents for both to know consent took place, and for both to know the other knows consent took place. I first defend the claim that consent requires common knowledge, responding to recent objections. I then argue that, though consent requires common knowledge, it does not always require communication. It does not require communication when the agent obtaining consent can infer common knowledge based on non-behavioral facts about the world.

3. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 46 > Issue: 1
Tim Heysse

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This article clarifies the recent epistemic rehabilitation of democracy and adds to it in two respects. First, I point out that the epistemic rehabilitation of democracy identifies an internal connection of democracy with normative truths—but only an external connection with substantial truth and correctness. Second, such an internal connection surfaces when we focus on the place of criticism in democracy. Criticism, however, presupposes pluralism and a recognition of the provisionality of decisions. So I, third, analyse prominent theories of truth and examine what conceptions of pluralism and provisionality they allow. This evokes a view emphasizing the unruly role of truth; criticism introduces a commitment to correctness, and this commitment to correctness underwrites the provisional nature of democratic decisions.

4. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 46 > Issue: 1
Keith Horton

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In this article I develop and defend what I call the ‘Epistemic Argument for Activism.’ According to this argument, some moral and political philosophers have certain features that give them epistemic advantages when tackling topics such as the moral status of certain practices, policies, and institutions (‘PPIs’). Because of these advantages, when these philosophers study those PPIs carefully they generally develop views about the moral status of those PPIs that have a number of enhanced epistemic properties. And because their views have such enhanced epistemic properties, these philosophers have distinctive, epistemic-based reasons to take activist steps in certain circumstances.

5. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 46 > Issue: 1
Erik Magnusson

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In law and common-sense morality, it is generally assumed that adults who meet a minimum threshold of parental competency have a presumptive right to parent their biological children. But what is the basis of this right? According to one prominent account, the right to parent one’s biological child is best understood as being grounded in an intimate relationship that develops between babies and their birth parents during the process of gestation. This paper identifies three major problems facing this view—the explanatory, adjudicatory, and theoretical problems—and explains how an alternative autonomy-based account is capable of avoiding them.

6. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 46 > Issue: 1
Joseph Mazor

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This article defends a novel type of institutionalized mass deliberation: Citizen Duty. Citizen Duty would legally require every citizen to engage in one day of diverse, moderated political deliberation prior to major elections. This deliberation would realize a variety of benefits, including wiser electoral decisions and a more respectful electoral process, while avoiding the dangers of citizen deliberation. A comparison with jury duty and with non-deliberative alternatives suggests that Citizen Duty’s substantial economic and liberty costs are justified. Finally, an examination of citizen attitudes towards politics and deliberation suggests that Citizen Duty is not as quixotic as it first appears.

7. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 46 > Issue: 1
Andrei Poama

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This article argues that, given the current pervasive uncertainty about the reliability of jury deliberation, we ought to treat it with epistemic humility. I further argue that epistemic humility should be expressed and enforced by turning jury deliberation from a mandatory rule of the jury trial to a waivable right of the defendant. I consider two main objections to my argument: the first one concerns the putative self-defeatingness of humility attitudes; the second objection points to the burdensomeness of granting an unconditional jury deliberation waiver to the defendant.

8. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 46 > Issue: 1
Lachlan Montgomery Umbers

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Most democracies disenfranchise persons with cognitive disabilities. Several democratic theorists have, for a range of reasons, recently argued that such restrictions ought to be abolished. I agree with such arguments. Some, however, have also expressed the hope that enfranchising such persons might give politicians more powerful incentives to attend to such persons’ interests. I argue that such hopes are likely to be disappointed. If we wish to ensure that such persons’ interests are taken seriously in the political process, we must consider reforms of other kinds. After considering several alternatives, I argue for a deliberative solution—a Citizens’ Assembly for the Cognitively Disabled, modeled upon the 2004 British Columbia Citizens’ Assembly on electoral reform.

9. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 46 > Issue: 1
Baldwin Wong

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Political liberals usually assume the coercion account, which argues that state actions should be publicly justified because they coerce citizens. Recently some critics object this account for it overlooks that some policies are non-coercive but still require public justification. My article argues that, instead of understanding coercion as particular laws or policies, it should be understood as the exercise of collective political power that shapes the basic structure. This revised coercion account explains why those ostensibly non-coercive policies are in fact coercive. Moreover, I argue that the alternative accounts suggested by critics fail, unless they assume the revised coercion account.