There is widespread agreement among both supporters and opponents that affirmative action either must not violate any principle of equal opportunity or procedural justice, or if it does, it may do so only given current extenuating circumstances. Many believe that affirmative action is morally problematic, only justified to the extent that it brings us closer to the time when we will no longer need it. In other words, those that support affirmative action believe it is acceptable in nonideal theory, but (...) not ideal theory. This paper argues that affirmative action is entirely compatible with equal opportunity and procedural justice and would be even in an ideal world. I defend a new analysis of Rawlsian procedural justice according to which it is permissible to interfere in the outcomes of procedures, and thus I show that affirmative action is not morally problematic in the way that many have supposed. (shrink)
This handbook advances the interdisciplinary field of Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE) by identifying thirty-five topics of ongoing research. Instead of focusing on historically significant texts, it features experts talking about current debates. Individually, each chapter provides a resource for new research. Together, the chapters provide a thorough introduction to contemporary work in PPE, which makes it an ideal reader for a senior-year course. -/- This is Chapter 20, "Housing Markets".
Spinoza scholars have claimed that we are faced with a dilemma: either Spinoza's definitions in his Ethics are real, in spite of indications to the contrary, or the definitions are nominal and the propositions derived from them are false. I argue that Spinoza did not recognize the distinction between real and nominal definitions. Rather, Spinoza classified definitions according to whether they require a priori or a posteriori justification, which is a classification distinct from either the real/nominal or the intensional/extensional classification. (...) I argue that Spinoza uses both a priori and a posteriori definitions in the Ethics and that recognizing both types of definitions allows us to understand Spinoza's geometric method in a new way. We can now understand the geometric method as two methods, one resulting in propositions that Spinoza considers to be absolutely certain and another resulting in propositions that Spinoza does not consider certain. The latter method makes use of a posteriori definitions and postulates, whereas the former method uses only a priori definitions and axioms. (shrink)
In this chapter I explain Spinoza's concept of "infinite modes". After some brief background on Spinoza's thoughts on infinity, I provide reasons to think that Immediate Infinite Modes are identical to the attributes, and that Mediate Infinite Modes are merely totalities of finite modes. I conclude with some considerations against the alternative view that infinite modes are laws of nature.
Part of a symposium on John Rawls: Reticent Socialist by William Edmundson . In Edmundson’s account, pure procedural justice functions as a kind of limit to Rawls’s socialism, the point at which a socialist can find common ground with a critic of government and a defender of free markets like Hayek. Though I agree with much of what Edmundson says, I want to urge a reading of pure procedural justice that would bring Rawls more in line with Marx and further (...) from Hayek. (shrink)
I will claim that the arguments against affirmative action rest on a false premise that is so pervasive it has even many supporters convinced. This is the idea that procedures for awarding jobs and college placements have an independent value and we should avoid rigging them to achieve particular outcomes. This is why many believe that instituting a quota system for college admissions should be avoided, because it unfairly tampers with the admissions procedures that ideally should be left alone. I (...) argue to the contrary that this idea is a conceptual mistake. The outcomes of these procedures are not something we should judge separately from the procedures themselves. The college admissions or job search process cannot be considered fair unless their outcomes are also fair. Exposing this conceptual mistake reveals that affirmative action is by itself morally innocuous. (shrink)
Amartya Sen argues that Rawls’s theory is not only unnecessary in the pursuit of justice, but it may even be an impediment to justice in so far as it has discouraged more useful work. Against what he considers the dominance of transcendental theory, Sen calls for a more realistic and practical ‘comparative’ theory of justice. Sen’s negative point has been widely discussed, but here I develop a reconstruction of Sen’s positive theory (a combination of Adam Smith’s Impartial Spectator, Social Choice (...) Theory, and the Capabilities Approach) in order to evaluate it on its own terms. I find that the theory is technocratic, despite Sen’s insistence to the contrary. (shrink)
Kasper Lippert-Rasmussen has written a thorough treatment of the morality of affirmative action, concluding ultimately that there are two good arguments that affirmative action is morally justified, and no good arguments that it is morally unjustified. He calls this a cautious positive view, but he believes that whether any particular affirmative action policy is all things considered justified is a question that would require empirical study beyond the scope of the book. So, on the one hand the aims of the (...) book are narrow, however, the conceptual ground it covers is remarkably complete. (shrink)