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August 10, 2017
Does Corporate Moral Agency Entail Corporate Freedom of Speech?
first published on August 10, 2017
In Citizens United, the Supreme Court held that corporate speech is entitled to the protection of the First Amendment. The Court’s argument was that the First Amendment prohibits the government from suppressing the viewpoint of any speaker on political subjects and that corporations are speakers with their own viewpoints. This argument has been subject to severe criticism on the ground that corporations are not speakers with viewpoints. Contemporary advocates of corporate moral agency argue that corporations possess the three characteristics that are necessary for moral responsibility–autonomy, normative judgment, and the capacity for self-control–and hence, that corporations are “conversable agents” that speak with voices of their own. In this article, I contend that the argument offered by advocates of corporate moral agency both undermines the primary criticism of Citizens United and provides a reason to believe that it is correctly decided.
August 8, 2017
Fetuses, Orphans, and a Famous Violinist
On the Ethics and Politics of Abortion
first published on August 8, 2017
In this paper, I urge feminists to re-center fetal moral status in their theorizing about abortion. I argue that fundamental feminist normative commitments are at odds with efforts to de-emphasize fetal moral status: The feminist commitment to ensuring care for dependents supports surprising conclusions with regard to the ethics of abortion, and the feminist commitment to politicizing the personal has surprising conclusions regarding the politics of abortion. But these feminist insights also support the conclusion that, conditional on fetal moral status, care for unwanted fetuses would be a social obligation that only derivatively falls to women who are unwillingly pregnant.
August 5, 2017
first published on August 5, 2017
The ethics of self-defense is dominated by the Orthodox View, which claims that at least some cases of self-defensive assault are permissible. I defend the radical view that there are no permissible instances of self-defensive assault. My argument proceeds as follows: Every permissible act of self-defensive assault could, in principle, have its permissibility be massively overdetermined. Such ‘super-permissible’ acts of assault are ones in which agents are objectively permitted to perform those acts in morally trivializing or cavalier fashion: that is, agents need not ‘think twice’ about inflicting or permitting harm and are permitted to assault persons as if it were morally insignificant. Yet this is never true, since assaulting persons is always morally serious. It follows that there are no acts of permissible self-defensive assault.
The Conventionalist Challenge to Natural Rights Theory
first published on August 5, 2017
Call the conventionalist challenge to natural rights theory the claim that natural rights theory fails to capture the fact that moral rights are shaped by social and legal convention. While the conventionalist challenge is a natural concern, it is less than clear what this challenge amounts to. This paper aims to develop a clear formulation strong enough to put pressure on the natural rights theorist and precise enough to clarify what an adequate response would require.
What’s So Deviant about Production Deviance?
The Ethics of ‘Withholding Effort’ in the Workplace
first published on August 5, 2017
In the world of human resource management employees who deliberately “withhold effort” on the job are called “production deviants.” The implication is that workers are under a duty to perform as best they can, but why should we accept this? Three answers are presented and interrogated. The first says that employees who withhold effort are guilty of “time-banditry” or theft from their employers. The second says that withholding effort harms one’s colleagues or co-workers. The third suggests that employees owe their employers a debt of gratitude, whose discharge requires that they be as productive as they reasonably can be.
August 4, 2017
Eric R. Boot
Classified Public Whistleblowing
How to Justify a pro tanto Wrong
first published on August 4, 2017
Though whistleblowing is quickly becoming an accepted means of addressing wrongdoing, whistleblower protection laws and the relevant case law are either awkwardly silent, unclear or mutually inconsistent concerning public disclosures of classified government information. I remedy this problem by first arguing that such disclosures constitute a pro tanto wrong as they violate (1) promissory obligations, (2) role obligations and (3) the obligation to respect the democratic allocation of power. However, they may be justified if (1) the information disclosed concerns grave government wrongdoing, (2) alternative channels of disclosure are first exhausted and (3) steps are taken to minimize harm.
Agent and Object
first published on August 4, 2017
If a person has lost all or most of her capacities for agency, how can she be harmed? This paper begins by describing several ways in which a person loses, or never develops, significant capacities of agency. In contrast with other work in this area, the central analyses are not of fetuses, small children, or the cognitively disabled. The central analyses are of victims of mistreatment or oppressive social circumstances. These victims are denuded of their agential capacities, becoming, in an important sense, objects or pseudo-agents. In light of this, the concern of this paper is how further harm to ersatz agents should be understood.
August 3, 2017
Collective Responsibility for Oppression
first published on August 3, 2017
Many contemporary forms of oppression are not primarily the result of formally organized collective action nor are they an unintended outcome of a combination of individual actions. This raises the question of collective responsibility. I argue that we can only determine who is responsible for oppression if we understand oppression as a matter of social practices that create obstacles for social change. This social practice view of oppression enables two insights: First, that there is an unproblematic sense in which groups can bear irreducible collective responsibility for oppression. Second, that there are derived forms of individual responsibility for members of dominant groups.
August 1, 2017
Toleration and Civility
first published on August 1, 2017
Toleration and civility are commonly treated as synonyms. This paper elaborates a novel distinction between the concepts and suggests that the relatively neglected idea of civility may provide a more promising basis for the accommodation of normative diversity in a liberal polity. It argues that liberal regimes of toleration depend for their success on a form of fraternal solidarity among citizens that is unlikely to flourish in conditions of liberal freedom. Regimes of civility, by contrast, depend on a form of liberal friendship that is more congruent with the wider tendencies of a liberal culture.
February 27, 2017
The Core of Oppression
Why Is it Wrong?
first published on February 27, 2017
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.
February 23, 2017
Selecting Immigrants by Skill
A Case of Wrongful Discrimination?
first published on February 23, 2017
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.
February 19, 2017
Public Reason Can Be Reasonably Rejected
first published on February 19, 2017
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.
February 17, 2017
Felon Disenfranchisement and Democratic Legitimacy
first published on February 17, 2017
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.
February 15, 2017
Alberto G. Urquidez
Jorge Garcia and the Ordinary Use of "Racist Belief"
first published on February 15, 2017
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.
February 14, 2017
Anti-Cosmopolitanism and the Motivational Preconditions for Social Justice
first published on February 14, 2017
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.
February 4, 2017
Advantage, Restraint, and the Circumstances of Justice
first published on February 4, 2017
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.
February 3, 2017
Problems of Incommensurability
first published on February 3, 2017
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.
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