Transitional Justice and Our Moral Fate

Jus Cogens 3 (1):73-84 (2021)
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In Our Moral Fate, Allen Buchanan defends an account of moral change that is grounded in evolutionary biology. His account offers resources for explaining the possibility of both moral progress and moral regression, where progress and regression are a function of moral inclusion and moral exclusion, respectively. In my commentary, I first offer a brief summary of Buchanan’s argument. I then examine Buchanan’s account from the perspective of transitional justice. Transitional justice provides confirming evidence for some of Buchanan’s substantive claims and challenges the validity of others. I end with a discussion of power and time. Power plays a central role in Buchanan’s account of niche construction, but the locus of power is unspecified. Time scales for moral change are profoundly different for the timeline of transitional justice versus the timeline of evolutionary biology. My discussion of power and time raises questions the nature of the normative guidance Buchanan’s account offers in the short term.



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Colleen Murphy
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

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An Instrumental Argument for a Human Right to Democracy.Thomas Christiano - 2011 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 39 (2):142-176.
A Moral Theory of Political Reconciliation.Colleen Murphy - 2010 - New York: Cambridge University Press.
Lon Fuller and the moral value of the rule of law.Colleen Murphy - 2004 - Law and Philosophy 24 (3):239-262.

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