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61. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 44 > Issue: 2
Jelle Versieren The Methodological Rationale of Thomas Sekine: Dialectical Escapes from Orthodoxies and the Marxian Political Economy
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The unique conceptual status of Thomas Sekine’s approach to Marx’s Capital and capitalism, heavily indebted to Kōzō Uno’s work, will be analyzed by setting against its own theoretical counterparts, orthodox dialectical materialism. It will also be shown that Sekine’s critique of dialectical materialism differs from other neo-Hegelian perspectives or Althusser’s anti-Hegelian structuralism. These comparisons unearth Sekine’s concealed epistemological preoccupations: totality, subsumption of labor, self-commodification, historical indeterminacy and the logico-historical error. Last, Sekine also considered neoclassical economics as another form of unfounded orthodoxy both in conceptual and empirical terms, which he emphasizes in his analysis of the current phenomenon of financialization.
book discussion: john doris, talking to our selves: reflection, ignorance, and agency
62. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 44 > Issue: 2
John Martin Fischer On John Doris's Talking to Our Selves
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63. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 44 > Issue: 2
Manuel R. Vargas Reflectivism, Skepticism, and Values
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64. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 44 > Issue: 2
Dana Kay Nelkin Responsibility and Ignorance of the Self
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65. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 44 > Issue: 2
John M. Doris Ironic Deliberations: A (Regrettably Incomplete) Response to Fischer, Nelkin, and Vargas
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66. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 44 > Issue: 1
Lee-Ann Chae Pacific Resistance: A Moral Alternative to Defensive War
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It is widely believed that some wars are just, and that the paradigm case of a just war is a defensive war. A familiar strategy used to justify defensive war is to infer its permissibility from the case of self-defensive killing. I show, however, that the permission to defend oneself does not justify killing, but instead calls for nonviolent resistance. I conclude that on the account of self-defense I develop, the appropriate way to respond to a war of aggression is not by prosecuting a defensive war, but by engaging in a form of nonviolence I call pacific resistance.
67. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 44 > Issue: 1
Alex Davies A Liberal Anti-Porn Feminism?
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In the 1980s and 1990s, attempts were made to create U.S. legislation that would make it possible to sue the makers and distributors of pornography for doing so. One defence of such legislation was and is the free speech argument against pornography. Philosophers Rae Langton, Jennifer Hornsby, and Caroline West have supposed that this argument can function as a liberal defence of the legislation: in particular, a defence based on the value of women’s liberty. I argue that the free speech argument cannot be so used. The legislation is, to some extent, self-defeating insofar as it is understood in terms acceptable to a fairly standard kind of liberal. This becomes apparent when we consider the value pornography can have for women, which we can see if we consider what female makers, distributors, and consumers of pornography have to say about why they make, distribute, and consume it.
68. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 44 > Issue: 1
Dan Demetriou, Bob Fischer Dignitarian Hunting: A Rights-based Defense
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Faced with the choice between supporting industrial plant agriculture and hunting, Tom Regan’s rights view can be plausibly developed in a way that permits a form of hunting we call “dignitarian.” To motivate this claim, we begin by showing how the empirical literature on animal deaths in plant agriculture suggests that a non-trivial amount of hunting would not add to animal harm. We discuss how Tom Regan’s miniride principle appears to morally permit hunting in that case, and we address recent objections by Jason Hanna to environmentally-based culling that may be seen to speak against this conclusion. We then turn to dignity, which is especially salient in scenarios where harm is necessary or justifiable. We situate “dignitarian” hunting within a larger framework of adversarial ethics, and argue that dignitarian hunting gives animals a more dignified death than the alternatives endemic to large-scale plant agriculture, and so is permissible based on the kinds of principles that Regan endorses. Indeed, dignitarian hunting may actually fit better with Regan’s widely endorsed animal rights framework than the practice of many vegans, and should only be rejected if we’re just as willing to condemn supporting conventional plant agriculture.
69. 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.
70. 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.
71. 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.
72. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 44 > Issue: 1
Index to Volume 43
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73. 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.
74. 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.
75. 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.
76. 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.
77. 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.
78. 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.
79. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 43 > Issue: 4
Andrew Jason Cohen The Harm Principle and Parental Licensing
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Hugh LaFollette proposed parental licensing in 1980 (and 2010)—not as a requirement for pregnancy, but for raising a child. If you have a baby, are not licensed, and do not get licensed, the baby would be put up for adoption. Despite the intervention required in an extremely personal area of life, I argue that libertarians—of a certain sort—ought to endorse this. The paper is of general interest as the core of libertarian thinking (as discussed here) is more widely accepted than libertarianism as a whole, accepted by all liberals, though in less strict form. If that is right, they too should endorse parental licensing.
80. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 43 > Issue: 4
Maxime Lepoutre Hate Speech in Public Discourse: A Pessimistic Defense of Counterspeech
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Jeremy Waldron, among others, has forcefully argued that public hate speech assaults the dignity of its targets. Without denying this claim, I contend that it fails to establish that bans, rather than counterspeech, are the appropriate response. By articulating a more refined understanding of counterspeech, I suggest that counterspeech constitutes a better way of blocking hate speech’s dignitarian harm. In turn, I address two objections: according to the first, which draws on contemporary philosophy of language, counterspeech does not block enough hate speech; according to the second, counterspeech blocks too much speech. Although these objections should qualify our optimism regarding counterspeech, I demonstrate that each can be turned, with even greater force, against hate speech bans.