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1. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 47 > Issue: 3
Paul Billingham, Orcid-ID Jonathan Chaplin Introduction to the Special Issue on Religious Diversity, Political Theory, and Theology: Public Reason and Christian Theology
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2. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 47 > Issue: 3
Christopher J. Eberle Irreconcilable Disagreement: Supreme Emergency, Respect, and Restraint
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John Rawls’s articulation of what makes for justice in war includes one of his most interesting, yet least discussed, assessments of religion and state coercion. Rawls claims that “the duties of the statesman in political liberalism” are incompatible with adherence to “the Catholic doctrine of double effect” when that doctrine precludes the deliberate targeting of innocent and harmless human beings in a “supreme emergency.” I explicate Rawls’s argument in favor of that claim, articulate various theological objections, and assess some proposed restrictions on the justificatory role of religious reasons in the light of that disagreement.
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3. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 47 > Issue: 3
Joshua Hordern The Challenge of Healthcare for Consensus Public Reason
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This article argues that religious and other "non-public" reasoning can have a legitimate and beneficial role in justifying health-related resource allocation decisions affecting individuals, subpopulations and whole communities. Section I critically examines Norman Daniels’s exclusion of such reasoning from such justifications. Section II shows the inadequacy of Daniels’s approach to healthcare as a matter of basic justice, arguing that consensus public reason is indeterminate in certain areas of healthcare policy, including the use of life-sustaining resources and issues related to risk and responsibility. Section III shows how resource allocation decision-making can appropriately incorporate religious and "non-public" reasoning via the medical professional practice of collaborative deliberation.
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4. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 47 > Issue: 3
Jonathan Chaplin An Institutionalist Reframing of the Religion and Public Reason Debate
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Responding to the preceding four articles, this piece presents a theologically-informed ‘institutionalist’ perspective on the debate within political liberalism over religion and public reason. Institutionalism calls for greater attention to the normative purpose and structural design of political institutions in order better to frame what political deliberation in a liberal democracy should look like. Eschewing any ‘idealization’ of citizens, and favouring an ‘argumentative’ account of democratic deliberation, it explores what public reasoning should consist in when viewed as an empirical practice occurring within actual political institutions. Five features of my account of institutionalism are outlined, followed by three implications of that account for the religion and public reason debate.
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5. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 47 > Issue: 3
Kevin Vallier Christian Reconciliation through the Public Use of Reason
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Christian political theologians have usually taken one of two approaches to the purpose of political order: agonist or perfectionist. Either political order should seek a civic peace between opposing forces or advance the full human good. Both approaches face difficulties, so I propose a middle-way: Christian reconciliationism. This political theology holds that political order should seek reconciliation between diverse moral perspectives. With perfectionism, reconciliationism aims to establish the political order as a moral order, but with agonism, reconciliationism rejects attempts to use the political order to promote the full human good. It thereby avoids the vices of both approaches.
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6. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 47 > Issue: 3
Paul Billingham Orcid-ID Can Christians Join the Overlapping Consensus?: Prospects and Pitfalls for a Christian Justification of Political Liberalism
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The success of political liberalism depends on there being an overlapping consensus among reasonable citizens—including religious citizens—upon principles of political morality. This paper explores the resources within one major religion—Christianity—that might lead individuals to endorse (or reject) political liberalism, and thus to join (or not join) the overlapping consensus. I show that there are several strands within Christian political ethics that are consonant with political liberalism and might form the basis for Christian citizens’ membership of the overlapping consensus. Nonetheless, tensions remain, and it is not clear that Christians could wholeheartedly endorse the political conception or give unreserved commitment to political liberal ideals.
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7. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 47 > Issue: 3
Cécile Laborde On the Parity between Secular and Religious Reasons
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The contributors to this Special Issue all suggest that Christianity is compatible with political liberalism. In this paper, I first illuminate the grounds of this compatibility. I then focus on one distinctive—yet unexplored—premise of the compatibility argument. This is the thought that religious and secular reasons are essentially on a par, in terms of their contribution to public reasoning. I critically examine Christopher Eberle’s claim that, as their epistemological status is equivalent, both secular and religious reasons may play a decisive role in justifying coercion-related state policies, including in contexts of war.
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8. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 47 > Issue: 4
Alida Liberman For Better or for Worse: When Are Uncertain Wedding Vows Permissible?
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I answer two questions: (1) what are people doing when they exchange conventional wedding vows? and (2) under what circumstances are these things morally and rationally permissible to do? I propose that wedding pledges are public proclamations that are simultaneously both private vows and interpersonal promises, and that they are often subject to uncertainty. I argue that the permissibility of uncertain wedding promises depends on whether the uncertainty stems from doubts about one’s own internal weakness of will and susceptibility to temptation or from the expectation that external circumstances might change. I then explain why uncertainty is a prima facie challenge for unconditional wedding vows, and I offer a solution: rational wedding vows are unconditional in their content but implicitly conditional in their structure; the spouse pledges to act in certain ways unconditionally, so long as they remain in the spousal role. I respond to objections to my view (including Elizabeth Brake’s claim that the permissibility of unilateral divorce undermines an understanding of wedding vows as promises), and conclude with some suggestions about what marrying couples should do to ensure permissible pledges.
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9. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 47 > Issue: 4
Josh Milburn, Sara Van Goozen Counting Animals in War: First Steps towards an Inclusive Just-War Theory
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War is harmful to animals, but few have considered how such harm should affect assessments of the justice of military actions. In this article, we propose a way in which concern for animals can be included within the just-war framework, with a focus on necessity and proportionality. We argue that counting animals in war will not make just-war theory excessively demanding, but it will make just-war theory more humane. By showing how animals can be included in our proportionality and necessity assessments, we provide a crucial first step towards developing an animal-inclusive account of just-war theory.
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10. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 47 > Issue: 4
Kevin Todd Mintz Paying Attention to the Mouse Behind the Curtain: Dilemmas of Disability Justice in a Lawsuit against Disney
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Is it possible that justice requires giving people with disabilities like autism sufficient opportunities to pursue a flourishing life by promoting accessibility at theme parks and other places of public accommodation? I explore this question by analyzing the ethical issues at play in a series of disability lawsuits against Disney Parks and Resorts. Drawing on the work of Martha Nussbaum and Chiara Cordelli, I argue that Disney has an obligation of justice to provide these plaintiffs with their requested disability modification. I further articulate how public accommodations other than Disney should accommodate disabled customers, sometimes with government assistance.
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11. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 47 > Issue: 4
Daniel Halliday Orcid-ID Positional Consumption and the Wedding Industry
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Recent decades have seen substantial increases in the average amount of money spent on wedding ceremonies in economically developed countries. This article develops an account of wedding expenditure as a form of positional competition where participation involves purchasing services in a market. The main emphasis is on the role that conspicuously expensive weddings can play in enabling certain kinds of signalling, most notably the signalling of commitment to a personal relationship and a distinct signalling of personal wealth. The analysis seeks to demonstrate how wedding expenditure is both similar to but distinct from the positional consumption associated with markets in other goods and services. While much of the work in this article is descriptive, it aims to complement more normatively engaged work on the moral status of marriage, and on the proper evaluation and response to excessive positional consumption.
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12. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 47 > Issue: 4
Lillian Cicerchia Orcid-ID Why Does Class Matter?
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This article explores an under-examined theme, which is who or what is the working class and what is wrong with the situation that members of this class share. It argues that class divisions impose a unique harm for a diverse and interdependent group within capitalist societies both in spite and because of differences among group members. Class matters not just because it creates economic groups in which some are rich and others are poor, but because competition creates conditions that militate against solidarity, toward cleavage and conflict. Class is a constraint on collective self-determination and, therefore, a source of domination.
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13. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 47 > Issue: 4
Brian Rosebury Informed Altruism and Utilitarianism
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Utilitarianism is a consequentialist theory that assigns value impartially to the well-being of each person. Informed Altruism, introduced in this article, is an intentionalist theory that relegates both consequentialism and impartiality to subordinate roles. It identifies morally right or commendable actions (including collective actions such as laws and policies) as those motivated by a sufficiently informed intention to benefit and not harm others. An implication of the theory is that multiple agents may perform incompatible actions and yet each be acting rightly in a moral sense.
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14. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 47 > Issue: 4
Christopher W. Love Orcid-ID The Epistemic Value of Civil Disagreement
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In this article, I argue that the practice of civil disagreement has robust epistemic benefits and that these benefits enable meaningful forms of reconciliation—across worldview lines and amid the challenging information environment of our age. I then engage two broad groups of objections: either that civil disagreement opposes, rather than promotes, clarity, or else that it does little to help it. If successful, my account gives us reason to include civil disagreement among what Mill calls “the real morality of public discussion,” a fact that should stir us to take more seriously the decline of civility in contemporary life.
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15. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 47 > Issue: 4
Rosa Terlazzo Weddings and Counter-Stereotypic Couples
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In this article, I argue that opposite-sex couples planning weddings have a duty to make their choices in ways that undermine the harmful norms that lead to most women taking their husband’s last names when they marry, and most weddings being extremely expensive. This duty, however, is not a duty to significantly reduce the prevalence of those norms, since doing so is generally not in the power of individual couples. Rather, it is a duty to provide observing couples around them with new live options for their own weddings.
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16. 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.
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17. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 42 > Issue: 3
Caleb Yong Joseph H. Carens, The Ethics of Immigration
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18. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 42 > Issue: 3
Omid Payrow Shabani John Kleinig, Simon Keller, and Igor Primoratz, The Ethics of Patriotism: A Debate
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19. 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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20. 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.
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