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Social Theory and Practice

Volume 42, Issue 3, July 2016

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Displaying: 1-10 of 11 documents


1. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 42 > Issue: 3
Eva Erman, Niklas Möller, Why Democracy Cannot Be Grounded in Epistemic Principles
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In recent years, philosophers influenced by Peirce's pragmatism have contributed to the democracy debate by offering not simply a justification of democracy that relies on epistemic as well as moral presumptions, but a justification on purely epistemic grounds, that is, without recourse to any moral values or principles. In a nutshell, this pragmatist epistemic argument takes as its starting-point (1) a few fundamental epistemic principles we cannot reasonably deny, and goes on to claim that (2) a number of interpersonal epistemic commitments follow, which in turn (3) justify democracy in a fullfledged, deliberative sense. In light of the fact of reasonable pluralism, this freestanding (nonmoral) epistemic justification of democracy is allegedly superior to the mainstream, morally anchored liberal alternatives, because epistemic principles are universally shared despite moral disagreement. The pragmatist epistemic approach has been praised for being a valuable contribution to democratic theory, but few attempts have so far been made to systematically scrutinize the argument as a whole. The present paper sets out to do that. In particular, our investigation focuses on the underappreciated but central coherence form of the pragmatist epistemic argument: the central claim that in order to be an internally coherent believer, one must accept democracy. While we endorse the fundamental premise (1) for the sake of argument, our analysis shows that the argument fails in both of the two further steps, (2) and (3). More specifically, the epistemic principles are too weak to entail the suggested interpersonal epistemic commitments; and even if these epistemic commitments are granted, they are insufficient to ground democracy.
2. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 42 > Issue: 3
Lena Zuckerwise, Vita Mundi: Democratic Politics and the Concept of World
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In this essay, I argue that Hannah Arendt’s concept of world is the site of democratic reality and possibility in her work. Contrary to the claims of many Arendt scholars that her theory of action is most relevant and useful to democracy, it is instead world that can “do” for democratic theory and politics that which action cannot. Unfettered with the pressures of Arendt’s public/private distinction, world has tremendous theoretical and political potential to change the terms of current debates in the field of democratic theory, and introduce new ways of bringing Arendt’s work into the present political moment.
3. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 42 > Issue: 3
Harrison P. Frye, The Relation of Envy to Distributive Justice
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An old conservative criticism of egalitarianism is that it is nothing but the expression of envy. Egalitarians respond by saying envy has nothing to do with it. I present an alternative way of thinking about the relation of envy to distributive justice, and to Rawlsian justice in particular. I argue that while ideals of justice rightly distance themselves from envy, envy plays a role in facing injustice. Under nonideal circumstances, less attractive features of human nature may play a role in motivating the action necessary to push an unjust society in a more just direction.
4. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 42 > Issue: 3
Pietro Maffettone, Should We Tolerate Benevolent Absolutisms?
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In this paper, I argue that the real problem with Rawls’s view of international toleration is that, properly understood, it seems not too inclusive, but not inclusive enough. I examine the standing of what Rawls calls “benevolent absolutisms.” According to Rawls, their lack of internal mechanisms of collective will-formation means that benevolent absolutisms cannot be seen as members in good standing of the Society of Peoples. I claim that if we accept the best reconstruction of Rawls’s argument for tolerating decent peoples, then The Law of Peoples does not provide conclusive reasons not to tolerate benevolent absolutisms.
5. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 42 > Issue: 3
Sarah C. Goff, How to Trade Fairly in an Unjust Society: The Problem of Gender Discrimination in the Labor Market
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Social scientists disagree about the causes of the “wage gap” between male and female workers and, in particular, how much of the gap is due to differences in workers’ productivity. Understanding the underlying causes is important, insofar as this helps identify who is responsible for closing the gap. This information is particularly relevant for specifying the responsibilities of employers, who have dual social roles as economic actors and as citizens. In this paper, I begin with the assumption that many employers underestimate the qualifications of female job applicants in hiring and promotion decisions. I then describe a form of discrimination that occurs when many economic actors make this kind of correlated error in their judgments. I argue that an individual employer has responsibilities not to make these errors in judgment about female workers, due to the harmful impact on women’s opportunities. An employer also has duties not to exploit female employees, which occurs when he pays them lower wages than he would if other employers did not discriminate against them.
6. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 42 > Issue: 3
Andy Lamey, The Jurisdiction Argument for Immigration Control: A Critique
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Jurisdictionism offers a new rationale for restricting immigration. Immigrants impose new obligations on the people whose territories they enter. Insofar as these obligations are unwanted, polities are justified in turning immigrants away, so long as the immigrants are from a country that respects their rights. The theory, however, employs a flawed account of obligation, which overlooks how we can be obliged to take on new duties to immigrants. Jurisdictionism also employs different standards when determining whether an obligation exists, only one of which is sensitive to consequences. Finally, the theory falsely claims that obligations necessarily reduce the freedom of the obliged.
7. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 42 > Issue: 3
Lauren Bialystok, Transgender Inclusion in Single-Sex Competition: The Case of Beauty Pageants
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Much ethical attention has been devoted to sex segregation and its relation to fairness in the world of sports, with prominent controversies about transgender and intersex athletes helping to advance the debate in recent years. In this paper, I deploy some of the discussion from philosophy of sport to examine the fairness of allowing a trans woman to compete in a beauty pageant. This requires scrutinizing the physical characteristics that are rewarded in such competitions and their distribution among the sexes. The analysis casts doubt on the coherence of simple sex segregation and facilitates a feminist critique of beauty standards.
8. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 42 > Issue: 3
Michael Tiboris, Scot Danforth, Learning to Occupy Yourself: The Substantive Content of Educating for Autonomy
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This article begins with John Dewey’s initially puzzling suggestion that training students in what he calls the “occupations”—the practical labor skills of their society—is essential to their personal freedom. This suggestion may seem strange to modern ears, which tend not to associate occupational training with personal liberation. In the course of this article, however, we argue that the ideas motivating Dewey’s comments about occupations are an important feature of what we now call “educating for autonomy.” The contemporary debate about autonomy is divided about whether autonomy has normative content. We argue that Dewey’s “occupationalism,” provides a significant alternative to procedural conceptions of educating for autonomy. Building on these resources, we articulate and defend our own substantive conception of educating for autonomy.
book reviews
9. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 42 > Issue: 3
Mirja Pérez de Calleja, Christian Coons and Michael Weber (eds.), Manipulation: Theory and Practice
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10. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 42 > Issue: 3
Caleb Yong, Joseph H. Carens, The Ethics of Immigration
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