Are liberalism and perfectionism compatible? In this study Steven Wall presents and defends a perfectionist account of political morality that takes issue with many currently fashionable liberal ideas but retains the strong liberal commitment to the ideal of personal autonomy. He begins by critically discussing the most influential version of anti-perfectionist liberalism, examining the main arguments that have been offered in its defence. He then clarifies the ideal of personal autonomy, presents an account of its value and shows that a (...) strong commitment to personal autonomy is fully compatible with an endorsement of perfectionist political action designed to promote valuable pursuits and discourage base ones. (shrink)
This paper articulates and defends a novel hybrid account of well-being. We will call our view a Robust Hybrid. We call it robust because it grants a broad and not subservient role to both objective and subjective values. In this paper we assume, we think plausibly but without argument, that there is a significant objective component to well-being. Here we clarify what it takes for an account of well-being to have a subjective component. Roughly, we argue, it must allow that (...) favoring attitudes that are not warranted by the lights of objective values can ground benefits. Given this understanding, we show that there is an important and unrecognized expansion in the resources available to fully objectivist views: namely that such views can help themselves to the value of warranted love of objective goods. Such a move by the objectivist can help them respond to concerns that, on their view, a person’s well-being can be too alien to them. We next argue that, nonetheless, such objectivist views are still unconvincing due to their lack of a subjective component. This motivates a move from fully objective accounts to hybrid accounts. We show that many prominent hybrid theories in the literature are inadequate because they implausibly minimize the subjective component. This motivates a move to a robust hybrid view that has an expanded subjectivist component. We conclude with some remarks about the interrelation between the subjective and objective components in the hybrid account that we favor and a role for resonance in a theory of well-being other than serving as a hard constraint on any benefit. (shrink)
Many writers claim that democratic government rests on a principled commitment to the ideal of political equality. The ideal of political equality holds that political institutions ought to be arranged so that they distribute political standing equally to all citizens. I reject this common view. I argue that the ideal of political equality, under its most plausible characterizations, lacks independent justificatory force. By casting doubt on the ideal of political equality, I provide indirect support for the claim that democratic government (...) is only instrumentally justified. (shrink)
In a number of publications, Gerald Gaus has presented an ambitious account of political morality that gives the ideal of public justification pride of place. This article critically discusses Gaus’s characterization and defense of the ideal of public justification in politics. It also presents an account and an argument in support of first-person political justification.
Drawing the line on physician assistance in physician-assisted death continues to be a contentious issue in many legal jurisdictions across the USA, Canada and Europe. PAD is a medical practice that occurs when physicians either prescribe or administer lethal medication to their patients. As more legal jurisdictions establish PAD for at least some class of patients, the question of the proper scope of this practice has become pressing. This paper presents an argument for restricting PAD to the terminally ill that (...) can be accepted by defenders as well as critics of PAD for the terminally ill. The argument appeals to fairness-based paternalism and the social meaning of medical practice. These two considerations interact in various ways, as the paper explains. The right way to think about the social meaning of medical practice bears on fair paternalism as it relates to PAD and vice versa. The paper contends that these considerations have substantial force when directed against proposals to extend PAD to non-terminally ill patients, but considerably less force when directed against PAD for the terminally ill. The paper pays special attention to the case of non-terminally ill patients who suffer from treatment-resistant depression, as these patients present a potentially strong case for extending PAD beyond the terminally ill. (shrink)
In his late work, Rawls makes strong claims about the status of political liberty. These claims, if accepted, would have significant implications for the content of "justice as fairness." I discuss the nature of these claims, clarifying Rawls's fair value guarantee of the political liberties and critically discussing the arguments that he and others have given for assigning special importance to the political liberties. I conclude that justice as fairness, properly understood, is not a deeply democratic conception of justice.
In this paper, we defend the ethics of clinical research against the charge of paternalism. We do so not by denying that the ethics of clinical research is paternalistic, but rather by defending the legitimacy of paternalism in this context. Our aim is not to defend any particular set of paternalistic restrictions, but rather to make a general case for the permissibility of paternalistic restrictions in this context. Specifically, we argue that there is no basic liberty-right to participate in clinical (...) research and that considerations of distributive fairness justify some paternalistic protections of research subjects. (shrink)
In recent work, Martha Nussbaum has exposed an important ambiguity in the standard conception of political liberalism. The ambiguity centers on the notion of “reasonableness” as it applies to comprehensive doctrines and to persons. As Nussbaum observes, the notion of reasonableness in political liberalism can be construed in a purely ethical sense or in a sense that combines ethical and epistemic elements. The ambiguity bears crucially on the respect for persons norm—a key norm that helps to distinguish political from perfectionist (...) versions of liberalism. Nussbaum contends that when political liberals affirm a construal of reasonableness that includes epistemic elements they run into trouble in formulating an account of their view that sharply distinguishes it from perfectionist liberalism. She contends further that perfectionist versions of liberalism should be rejected since they fail to offer an account of respect for persons. This paper responds to Nussbaum’s challenge. It argues that an adequate account of respect for persons must make reference to epistemic elements. This being the case not only explains why political liberals were correct to incorporate epistemic elements into their accounts of reasonableness but also why it is a mistake to think that perfectionist liberals themselves cannot present an appealing account of respect for persons. Nussbaum’s challenge merits careful study since it both sheds light on the nature of political liberalism and highlights an important faultline in its structure. (shrink)
The term “exploitation” has gained wide currency in recent discussions of biomedical and research ethics. This is due in no small measure to the influence of Alan Wertheimer’s path-breaking work on the topic (Wertheimer 1999, 2011). Wertheimer presented a clear and compelling non-Marxist account of the concept of exploitation—one that stressed the connection between exploitation and unfair distributive outcomes. On this account, when one party exploits another, she takes advantage of the other to gain unfairly. A number of contemporary bioethicists (...) have accepted Wertheimer’s account of exploitation and have proceeded to apply it to a range of issues in research ethics (Hawkins and Emanuel 2008; Miller and Brody .. (shrink)
In debating Patrick Devlin, H. L. A. Hart claimed that the “modern form” of the debate over the legal enforcement of morals centered on the “significance to be attached to the historical fact that certain conduct, no matter what, is prohibited by a positive morality.” This form of the debate was politically important in 1963 in Britain and America, and it remains politically important in these countries today and elsewhere; but it is not the philosophically most interesting form the debate (...) can take. An older form of the debate appealed to natural law or critical morality. It centered on the question of whether political authorities could properly use the criminal law to enforce critical morality, including prohibitions on conduct that was not harmful or disrespectful to others. This paper engages with this older form of the debate. It offers some reasons for thinking that there is a presumption in favor of the view that it is a proper function of the criminal law to enforce critical morality, including that part of critical morality that is not directly concerned with preventing harm or disrespect to others. It then defends this presumption against some arguments recently pressed by Ronald Dworkin. (shrink)
The allocation of vaccines and therapeutics for Covid‐19 obviously raises ethical questions, and physicians and ethicists have begun to address them. Writers have identified various criteria that should guide allocation decisions, but the criteria often conflict and need to be balanced against one another. This article proposes a model for thinking about how different considerations that are relevant to the distribution of vaccines and scarce treatments for Covid‐19 could be integrated into an allocation procedure. The model employs the construct of (...) a weighted lottery, which is a construct that has been employed in other contexts that involve the distribution of scarce resources. The article highlights the advantages of applying a weighted lottery to the Covid‐19 context and offers an illustration for how it might work in practice. The primary aim of the article is to articulate the structural features of a weighted lottery for this context and to bring out its advantages over other methods for allocating Covid‐19 medications. (shrink)
The ethical standards that regulate clinical research have multiple rationales. Among them is the need to protect potential subjects from making imprudent decisions, which extends beyond the soft paternalistic concern to protect people from making uninformed decisions to participate in trials. This article argues that a plausible risk/benefit restriction on clinical trials is presumptively justified by hard paternalism, which in turn is supported by a deeper fairness-based rationale. This presumptive case for hard paternalism in research is not defeated by the (...) alleged right to participate in clinical trials, by concerns about insult or status, by the need to conduct early phase trials that promise little to no benefit to participants, or by the recognition that some potential subjects are altruistically motivated. (shrink)
This paper presents and defends a Rawlsian argument for perfectionist state policies. The argument draws on Rawls’s discussion of the “Aristotelian Principle,” highlighting the complex relationship between this principle and the social bases of self-respect. The paper explains how Rawls’s discussion and endorsement of this principle has significant and unappreciated implications for his account of the human good and the state’s role in promoting it in a well-ordered society. Although Rawls explicitly rejected state perfectionism, the paper shows how his conception (...) of justice has the resources to respond to the important criticism that it is insufficiently responsive to the claims of human excellence. Rawlsian perfectionism, in this way, strengthens Rawlsian justice by removing an important reason for rejecting it. (shrink)
What are our reasons for acting? Morality purports to give us these reasons, and so do norms of prudence and the laws of society. The theory of practical reason assesses the authority of these potentially competing claims, and for this reason philosophers with a wide range of interests have converged on the topic of reasons for action. This volume contains eleven essays on practical reason by leading and emerging philosophers. Topics include the differences between practical and theoretical rationality, practical conditionals (...) and the wide-scope ought, the explanation of action, the sources of reasons, and the relationship between morality and reasons for action. The volume will be essential reading for all philosophers interested in ethics and practical reason. (shrink)
The issue of just savings between generations presents an important,and for the most part unappreciated, problem for Rawls's theory ofdistributive justice. This paper argues that the just savingsprinciple, as Rawls formulates it in his recent work, standsin tension with the difference principle. When thought through,the just savings principle – and more precisely the foundationon which it rests – give us reason to reject the differenceprinciple in favor of a less egalitarian principle ofdistributive justice.
For liberal contractarians, moral and political principles are justified if agreeable to persons as free and equals. But for critics of liberal contractarianism, this justification applies only to those capable of agreement. Understanding why contractarianism suffers from the problem of exclusion helps up understand the distinctive character of contractarianism and the importance of agreement in particular. I suggest contractarianism need not be objectionably exclusive. I first consider why agreement is important in contractarianism, and then introduce the main versions of contemporary (...) contractarianism and their different understandings of agreement. I discuss how agreement results in exclusion in each, and distinguish two kinds of response to the problem of exclusion: differential inclusion and permissive inclusion. Differential inclusion is unsuccessful because it offers those not fully capable of agreement unequal status. Permissive inclusion may either make the circumstances of agreement more open, or characterize the capacities required for inclusion more permissively. I advocate the latter as the most promising response to the problem of exclusion. I outline a more inclusive contractualism based on the capacity to share goals. (shrink)
I shall assume that a well-ordered state is one that promotes the freedom of its subjects. My question is what is the kind of freedom that the state ought to promote? This question is different from the question of what freedom is. It might be thought, for example, that freedom consists in the autonomous pursuit of valuable goals and projects, but that the state cannot directly promote this freedom. On this view, the state would not be able to make its (...) citizens free. However, it might be able to do things that make it easier or more likely for them to be free. The freedom that the state promotes might be merely an aspect of or a condition for the freedom that really matters. (shrink)
This is the inaugural volume of Oxford Studies in Political Philosophy. Since its revival in the 1970s political philosophy has been a vibrant field in philosophy, one that intersects with jurisprudence, normative economics, political theory in political science departments, and just war theory. OSPP aims to publish some of the best contemporary work in political philosophy and these closely related subfields.
Reciprocity is a moral value that concerns the accommodation of conflicting claims. This paper argues that the demands of reciprocity can come into conflict with the requirements of justice. This conflict is most readily apparent when reciprocity is viewed as a rooted notion, one that addresses the concerns and claims of actual people in less than ideal circumstances. Reciprocity is a value that figures prominently in the writings of those who call themselves political liberals. But political liberals, the paper also (...) contends, have oversimplified the relationship between reciprocity and justice. Taking the rooted dimension of reciprocity seriously and thinking hard about the potential conflicts between reciprocity and justice moves us beyond the confines of the political liberal project and allows us to view reciprocity as a notion that illuminates the moral dimension of political compromise. (shrink)
The authors in this edited volume reflect on their experiences with culturally relevant pedagogy-as students, as teachers, as researchers-and how these experiences were often at odds with their backgrounds and/or expectations.
This is the third volume of Oxford Studies in Political Philosophy. The series aims to publish some of the best contemporary work in the vibrant field of political philosophy and its closely related subfields, including jurisprudence, normative economics, political theory in political science departments, and just war theory.
This is the sixth volume of Oxford Studies in Political Philosophy. The series aims to publish some of the best contemporary work in the vibrant field of political philosophy and its closely related subfields, including jurisprudence, normative economics, political theory in political science departments, and just war theory.
This is the seventh volume of Oxford Studies in Political Philosophy. The series aims to publish some of the best contemporary work in the vibrant field of political philosophy and its closely related subfields, including jurisprudence, normative economics, political theory in political science departments, and just war theory.