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Social Theory and Practice

Volume 44, Issue 4, October 2018

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Displaying: 1-7 of 7 documents

1. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 44 > Issue: 4
Ingrid V. Albrecht Graveside and Other Asymmetrical Promises
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People who make graveside promises consider themselves bound by them, which raises the question of whether a promise can morally obligate a promisor directly to a promisee who cannot acknowledge the promise. I show that it can by using the theoretical framework provided by “transaction accounts” of promising. Paradigmatically, these accounts maintain that the creation of a promissory obligation requires that the promisee consent to the promise. I extend these accounts to capture promises made by proxy and self-promises, and conclude that we can make promises to absent promisees when we bear responsibility for their moral and personal development.
2. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 44 > Issue: 4
Markus Furendal Rescuing Justice from Indifference: Equality, Pareto, and Cohen’s Ethos
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G. A. Cohen has argued that egalitarian justice proscribes equality-upsetting economic incentives, but that individuals nevertheless are required to make a sufficiently large productive contribution to society. This article argues, however, that Cohen’s claim that justice is insensitive to Pareto concerns and simply is equality, undermines such a duty. In fact, Cohen cannot say that justice prefers a distribution where everyone is equally well off to one where everyone is equally badly off. Individuals hence cannot have a duty of justice to use their talents at a more productive level. This indifference risks removing Cohen’s egalitarianism’s appeal as an alternative to the Rawlsian position it challenges. Several ways of avoiding this problem are proposed and evaluated. Ultimately, it is argued that such a duty to contribute must instead be based on a concern for both equality and human flourishing. The ethos Cohen defends must hence be made pluralist, and encourage a commitment to both principles.
3. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 44 > Issue: 4
Adam Thomas Betz Epistemic Authority, Sovereignty, and Selective Conscientious Objection: A Critical Revision of McMahan’s Jus Ad Bellum Court
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This paper discusses some of the practical difficulties confronting Jeff McMahan’s proposal of a jus ad bellum court of experts for deciding the justice of war, and recommends two revisions. First, following the earlier proposals of Vitoria, Suarez, and Grotius, leaders could have a say in appointing judges to the ad bellum court; second, the court could be an organ of the International Criminal Court. Though significant practical challenges remain, these revisions make McMahan’s proposal fairer to democratic governments, and give the court a better chance for successful implementation in the prevailing Westphalian system of state sovereignty.
4. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 44 > Issue: 4
Dan Threet Mill’s Social Pressure Puzzle
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John Stuart Mill takes social pressure to be a serious threat to individuality, and his proposed limit to the “authority of society” in On Liberty is meant to restrain its force. This proposal creates practical and conceptual difficulties, though, because considerable social pressure can be produced as an unintended, cumulative effect of individuals simply exercising their own liberty. Existing scholarship largely underrates the degree to which this undermines the coherence of his ambitions. I argue that the puzzle cannot be resolved without rejecting part of his framework, even though his concerns about social pressure are not misplaced.
5. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 44 > Issue: 4
Nigel Pleasants The Structure of Moral Revolutions
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In the recent and not-too-distant past many of our parents, grandparents and forbears believed that a person’s skin colour and physiognomy, gender, or sexuality licensed them being regarded and treated in ways that are now widely recognised as blatantly unjust, disrespectful, cruel and brutal. But the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries have hosted a series of radical changes in attitudes, beliefs, behaviour and institutionalised practices with regard to the fundamental moral equality of what were once seen as different “kinds of people.” This paper explores the social structure of such “moral revolutions,” via the Wittgensteinian- and Kuhnian- inspired concepts moral perception, moral certainty, normal morality, and moral paradigm.
6. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 44 > Issue: 4
Federico Zuolo, Giulia Bistagnino Disagreement, Peerhood, and Compromise
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This paper addresses the problem of pluralism in democratic societies, by exploiting some insights from the debate about the epistemology of disagreement. First, by focusing on the permissibility of experiments on nonhuman animals for research purposes, we provide an epistemic analysis of deep normative disagreements. We understand that to mean disagreements in which epistemic peers disagree about both the substantive content of an ethical issue and the correct justificatory reasons for their contrary claims. Second, we argue for a compromise solution in which the reasons for reaching it are not prudential but grounded on the recognition of epistemic peerhood.
7. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 44 > Issue: 4
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