Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 18 (5):957-969 (2015)

Lisa Maria Herzog
University of Groningen
Many political theorists think about how to make societies more just. In recent years, with interests shifting from principles to their institutional realization, there has been much debate about feasibility and the role it should play in theorizing. What has been underexplored, however, is how feasibility depends on the attitudes and perceptions of individuals, not only with regard to their own behaviour, but also with regard to the behaviour of others. This can create coordination problems, which can be described as “feasibility gridlocks”. These problems are interesting from a normative perspective, not only because they arguably play an important role for the feasibility of institutions, but also because they contain a normative element themselves: individual might be willing to cooperate in order change the “feasibility frontier” Political ideals and the feasibility frontier. Econ Philos), but only if others are also willing to do their bit, which contains a judgment about the fair distribution of burdens. Beliefs about the selfish nature of human beings, however, can make feasibility gridlocks more likely. This is why what I call, for the sake of brevity, “economic ideology”, i.e. an account of human nature as fundamentally self-interested, can be harmful. Finding a way out of such equilibriums therefore is an important task for political theorists and social reformers.
Keywords Feasibility  Distributive justice  Economics  Motivation
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DOI 10.1007/s10677-015-9565-9
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