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Displaying: 31-40 of 1349 documents

31. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 44 > Issue: 1
Rainer Ebert Mental-Threshold Egalitarianism: How Not to Ground Full Moral Status
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Mental-threshold egalitarianism, well-known examples of which include Jeff McMahan’s two-tiered account of the wrongness of killing and Tom Regan’s theory of animal rights, divides morally considerable beings into equals and unequals on the basis of their individual mental capacities. In this paper, I argue that the line that separates equals from unequals is unavoidably arbitrary and implausibly associates an insignificant difference in empirical reality with a momentous difference in moral status. In response to these objections, McMahan has proposed the introduction of an intermediate moral status. I argue that this move ultimately fails to address the problem. I conclude that, if we are not prepared to give up moral equality, our full and equal moral status must be grounded in a binary property that is not a threshold property. I tentatively suggest that the capacity for phenomenal consciousness is such a property, and a plausible candidate.
32. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 44 > Issue: 1
Rachel Fredericks When Wanting the Best Is Bad
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Here I call attention to a class of desires that I call exclusionary desires. To have an exclusionary desire is to desire something under a description such that, were the desire satisfied, it would be logically impossible for people other than the desiring subject to possess the desired object. Assuming that we are morally responsible for our desires insofar as and because they reflect our evaluative judgments and are in principle subject to rational revision, I argue that we should, morally speaking, alter both social structures and our individual psychologies to minimize, or at least substantially reduce, exclusionary desires.
33. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 44 > Issue: 1
Vida Panitch, L. Chad Horne Commodification, Inequality, and Kidney Markets
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People tend to be repulsed by the idea of cash markets in kidneys, but support the trading of kidneys through paired exchanges or chains. We reject anti-commodification accounts of this reaction and offer an egalitarian one. We argue that the morally significant difference between cash markets and kidney chains is that the former allow the wealthy greater access to kidneys, while the latter do not. The only problem with kidney chains is that they do not go far enough in addressing equality concerns, and we show how the introduction of cash payments by the state could remedy this.
34. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 44 > Issue: 1
Index to Volume 43
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35. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 43 > Issue: 4
Michael Davis Locke, Simmons, and Consent: A Lawyerly Approach
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This paper is primarily a response to John Simmons’s critique of Locke’s consent theory of political obligation (Two Treatises). It seeks to apply ordinary legal reasoning to what Locke actually says about “express consent” and “tacit consent.” The result is a theory both different from the theory commonly attributed to Locke and more plausible. Among the differences is that express consent (“entering political society”) is understood to arise chiefly from seeking to vote (rather than by oath or voting) and tacit consent is understood as a reasonable (but rebuttable) presumption of actual consent. In the course of presenting Simmons’s critique, the paper identifies four commonly accepted criteria of adequacy for theories of moral obligation to obey law or government, noting that Locke’s theory, under its lawyerly interpretation, fails to satisfy any of the four criteria but seems reasonably plausible (for example, in its ability to deal with Simmons’s critique). This is taken to be reason to weaken all four criteria.
36. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 43 > Issue: 4
Seth Mayer Resolving the Dilemma of Democratic Informal Politics
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The way citizens regard and treat one another in everyday life, even when they are not engaged in straightforwardly “political” activities, matters for achieving democratic ideals. This claim provokes an underexamined unease in many. Here I articulate these concerns, which I argue are prompted by the approaches most often associated with these issues. Such theories, like democratic communitarianism, require problematic sorts of unity in everyday social life. To avoid these difficulties, I offer an alternative, called procedural democratic informal politics, which allows democrats to evaluate everyday life without demanding questionable forms of unity within it.
37. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 43 > Issue: 4
Isaac Taylor Just War Theory and the Military Response to Terrorism
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This paper considers whether just war theory needs to be modified to assess the use of military force against terrorist groups. It rejects two existing arguments for doing this (“the contractualist justification” and “the policing model”), and outlines and defends a third (“the consequentialist justification”). Just war theory, it is claimed, is partially designed to bring about certain desirable consequences, and when empirical circumstances change in ways that mean following its principles is less likely to result in those consequences—as when terrorist groups are involved in conflicts—they need to be adjusted.
38. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 43 > Issue: 4
James Pearson Carnap, Explication, and Social History
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A. W. Carus champions Rudolf Carnap’s ideal of explication as a model for liberal political deliberation. Constructing a linguistic framework for discussing social problems, he argues, promotes the resolution of our disputes. To flesh out and assess this proposal, I examine debate about the social institutions of marriage and adoption. Against Carus, I argue that not all citizens would accept the pragmatic principles underlying Carnap’s ideal. Nevertheless, explication may facilitate inquiry in the social sciences and be used to create models that help us to understand past disputes. This latter application reveals explication’s potential for refining the social histories that inform contemporary political discourse.
39. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 43 > Issue: 4
William Hasselberger Knowing More than We Can Tell: Virtue, Perception, and Practical Skill
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‘Skill models’ of ethical virtues offer a promising way of explaining the distinctive kind of ethical knowledge or understanding had by a virtuous person: virtues are akin to practical skills (in carpentry, sailing, musicianship, etc.) in that both are experience-based capacities of agency that yield non-codifiable knowledge of how-to-act-well in particular circumstances. This paper poses a puzzle for skill models of virtue concerning the non-deliberative character of much skillful and virtuous activity, and critiques two opposing ways of responding to the puzzle, reflecting two different skill models—Julia Annas’s intellectualist account and Hubert Dreyfus’s anti-intellectualism. The paper then offers an alternative skill model of virtue that draws on Wittgenstein’s remarks on pre-reflective perceptual discernment, and on a distinction between propositional (discursive) knowledge and a broader form conceptual understanding operative in the phenomenology of skillful agency. This view aims to respect what is true in Annas’s and Dreyfus’s views while avoiding the problems they encounter with non-deliberative action. It also reveals continuities between practical understanding and evaluative appreciation in ethical life and in other skillful activities, as well as important limits to discursive articulacy about these domains.
40. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 43 > Issue: 4
Elizabeth Finneron-Burns The Intergenerational Original Position
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I evaluate the mechanism Rawls uses to elicit his just savings principle. My analysis focuses on his account of membership in the original position because who is in the original position and what they know has important consequences for the rest of Rawls’s theory of intergenerational justice. I consider three options: present time of entry (PTE), actual people from various generations, and all possible people. However, I will argue that Rawls is ultimately not successful since there is no plausible composition of the original position that avoids the non-identity problem and generates acceptable moral principles without logical contradictions or inconsistencies with the rest of his theory of justice.