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Social Theory and Practice

Volume 43, Issue 2, April 2017

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1. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 43 > Issue: 2
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2. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 43 > Issue: 2
Alberto G. Urquidez, Jorge Garcia and the Ordinary Use of "Racist Belief"
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Wittgenstein’s “grammatical method” analyzes multiple uses of language across contexts of use, with the aim of identifying differences and dissolving conceptual confusion. This paper uses Wittgenstein’s method to undermine Jorge L. A. Garcia’s volitional account of racism. Garcia claims that his theory accommodates the ordinary use of terms like “racist belief.” However, he did not consider whether such terms might have multiple uses/meanings. My paper identifies three uses of “racist belief” that escape Garcia’s analysis. Consequently, philosophers should take Wittgenstein’s advice to heart: do not assume that target-terms have a single use, but “look and see” whether they do.
3. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 43 > Issue: 2
Lior Erez, Anti-Cosmopolitanism and the Motivational Preconditions for Social Justice
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Abstract: This article reconstructs the political motivation argument against cosmopolitanism, according to which the extension of social justice beyond bounded communities would be motivationally unstable, and thus unjustified. It does so through an analysis of the stability problem, and a reconstruction of the three most prominent anti-cosmopolitan arguments—Rawlsian statism, liberal nationalism, and civic republicanism—as solutions to this problem. It then examines, and rejects, three prominent objections, each denying a different level of the argument. The article concludes that the civic republican version of the argument is the most plausible, and implications for cosmopolitanism are considered.
4. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 43 > Issue: 2
Matt S. Whitt, Felon Disenfranchisement and Democratic Legitimacy
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Philosophers have long criticized policies that deny voting rights to convicted felons. However, some have recently turned to democratic theory to defend this practice, arguing that democratic self-determination justifies, or even requires, disenfranchising felons. I review these new arguments, acknowledge their force against existing criticism, and then offer a new critique of disenfranchisement that engages them on their own terms. Using democratic theory’s “all-subjected principle,” I argue that liberal democracies undermine their own legitimacy when they deny the vote to felons and prisoners. I then show how this argument overcomes obstacles that cause problems for other critiques of disenfranchisement.
5. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 43 > Issue: 2
Martijn Boot, Problems of Incommensurability
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This essay discusses implications of incommensurability of values for justified decision-making, ethics and justice. Under particular conditions incommensurability of values causes what might be called ‘incomplete comparability’ of options. Some leading theorists interpret this in terms of ‘imprecise equality’ and ‘imprecise comparability.’ This interpretation is mistaken and conceals the implications of incommensurability for practical and ethical reasoning. The aim of this essay is to show that, in many cases, incommensurability prevents the assignment of determinate weights to competing values. This may have problematic consequences for a complete and impartial justification of decisions concerning conflicting values to the extent that they depend on the need of weighing them.
6. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 43 > Issue: 2
Franz Mang, Public Reason Can Be Reasonably Rejected
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Public reason as a political ideal aims to reconcile reasonable disagreement; however, is public reason itself the object of reasonable disagreement? Jonathan Quong, David Estlund, Andrew Lister, and some other philosophers maintain that public reason is beyond reasonable disagreement. I argue this view is untenable. In addition, I consider briefly whether or not two main versions of the public reason principle, namely, the consensus version and the convergence version, need to satisfy their own requirements. My discussion has several important implications for the debate on public reason.
7. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 43 > Issue: 2
Desiree Lim, Selecting Immigrants by Skill: A Case of Wrongful Discrimination?
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It has been suggested that states have no right to directly discriminate against would-be immigrants on grounds of race or sex. However, while the discourse on cases of wrongful discrimination has largely focused on discrimination on grounds of gender, race, and sexual orientation, states frequently engage in discrimination of a different kind when it comes to admissions and naturalisation policies. It is assumed that the anti-discrimination principle does not include cases of talent-based discrimination, and that these fall well within the rights of states. I wish to suggest, to the contrary, that selecting immigrants on the basis of talent is a form of wrongful discrimination. First, with reference to Deborah Hellman’s expressive theory of discrimination, I explain what is wrongful about particular forms of state discrimination between would-be migrants. Next, I tackle the issue of immigrant selection on grounds of talent, which I refer to as ‘talent-based selection’. Unlike gender or race-based selection, it is generally not regarded as wrongful discrimination, for the reason that it does not express disrespect in the same way that sexist or racist selection criteria does. I argue that this assumption is mistaken, as talent-based discrimination does involve the expression of disrespect. In the present context, it has the expressive effect of reproducing demeaning stereotypes about low-skilled foreigners. Finally, I anticipate four objections to my conclusion.
8. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 43 > Issue: 2
Chrisoula Andreou, Advantage, Restraint, and the Circumstances of Justice
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I focus on the mutual advantage conception of justice and on a related Humean argument according to which “the circumstances of justice” obtain only when there is a conflict of ends, a suitable level of scarcity, and rough equality of power. I add to the challenges facing the argument by using a Millian illustration whose significance has not been appreciated in prior discussions of the circumstances of justice to show that, contrary to a key premise of the Humean argument, restraining ground rules concerning entitlement can be mutually advantageous even if there is no conflict of ends or rough equality of power. It follows from my reasoning that, if justice has a place and point when restraining ground rules concerning entitlement would be mutually advantageous, the circumstances of justice can obtain without a conflict of ends or rough equality of power.
9. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 43 > Issue: 2
Jason Chen, The Core of Oppression: Why Is it Wrong?
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There are seven general ways to understand the main harm of oppression: (1) political deprivation, (2) economic deprivation, (3) freedom deprivation, (4) social deprivation, (5) psychological harm, (6) the deprived capability to self-develop, or (7) some combination of the former. Though all these suggestions touch upon serious concerns, in this paper I argue that (6) is the most fitting as an explanation for why oppression is wrong.
10. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 43 > Issue: 2
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