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  1. On the Conceptual Status of Justice.Kyle Johannsen - 2015 - Dissertation, Queen's University
    In contemporary debates about justice, political philosophers take themselves to be engaged with a subject that’s narrower than the whole of morality. Many contemporary liberals, notably John Rawls, understand this narrowness in terms of context specificity. On their view, justice is the part of morality that applies to the context of a society’s institutions, but only has indirect application to the context of citizens’ personal lives. In contrast, many value pluralists, notably G.A. Cohen, understand justice’s narrowness in terms of singularity (...)
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  • Facts, Principles, and Global Justice: Does the ‘Real World’ Matter?Johann Go - 2020 - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy:1-21.
    The world is undeniably full of injustice. Many feel that much political philosophy is practically impotent and engaged instead in overly abstract theorising insufficiently sensitive to the realities of the world. One response to this concern is David Miller’s influential model of evidence-based political philosophy, which claims to be sensitive to empirical evidence from the social sciences, takes seriously people’s opinions, and defends the role of facts in grounding normative principles. Using various examples from the field of global justice, one (...)
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  • Realism Against Legitimacy.Samuel Bagg - 2022 - Social Theory and Practice 48 (1):29-60.
    This article challenges the association between realist methodology and ideals of legitimacy. Many who seek a more “realistic” or “political” approach to political theory replace the familiar orientation towards a state of justice with a structurally similar orientation towards a state of legitimacy. As a result, they fail to provide more reliable practical guidance, and wrongly displace radical demands. Rather than orienting action towards any state of affairs, I suggest that a more practically useful approach to political theory would directly (...)
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  • Ideální konsenzus, reálná diverzita a výzva veřejného ospravedlnění: k limitům idealizace v liberální politické teorii [Ideal Consensus, Real Diversity, and the Challenge of Public Justification: On the Limits of Idealisation in Liberal Political Theory].Matouš Mencl & Pavel Dufek - 2021 - Acta Politologica 2 (13):49–70.
    The paper deals with the methodological clash between idealism and anti-idealism in political philosophy, and highlights its importance for public reason (PR) and public justification (PJ) theorising. Upon reviewing the broader context which harks back to Rawls’s notion of a realistic utopia, we focus on two major recent contributions to the debate in the work of David Estlund (the prototypical utopian) and Gerald Gaus (the cautious anti-utopian). While Estlund presents a powerful case on behalf of ideal theorising, claiming that motivational (...)
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  • Evolutionary Models and the Normative Significance of Stability.Arnon Levy - 2018 - Biology and Philosophy 33 (5-6):33.
    Many have expected that understanding the evolution of norms should, in some way, bear on our first-order normative outlook: How norms evolve should shape which norms we accept. But recent philosophy has not done much to shore up this expectation. Most existing discussions of evolution and norms either jump headlong into the is/ought gap or else target meta-ethical issues, such as the objectivity of norms. My aim in this paper is to sketch a different way in which evolutionary considerations can (...)
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  • Justice, Feasibility, and Social Science as It Is.Emily McTernan - 2019 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 22 (1):27-40.
    Political philosophy offers a range of utopian proposals, from open borders to global egalitarianism. Some object that these proposals ought to be constrained by what is feasible, while others insist that what justice demands does not depend on what we can bring about. Currently, this debate is mired in disputes over the fundamental nature of justice and the ultimate purpose of political philosophy. I take a different approach, proposing that we should consider which facts could fill out a feasibility requirement. (...)
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  • Ideal Theory and "Ought Implies Can".Amy Berg - 2018 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 99 (4):869-890.
    When we can’t live up to the ultimate standards of morality, how can moral theory give us guidance? We can distinguish between ideal and non-ideal theory to see that there are different versions of the voluntarist constraint, ‘ought implies can.’ Ideal moral theory identifies the best standard, so its demands are constrained by one version. Non-ideal theory tells us what to do given our psychological and motivational shortcomings and so is constrained by others. Moral theory can now both provide an (...)
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  • The False Promise of Ideal Guidance on the Target View.Jeffrey Carroll - unknown
    On one understanding of ideal theory, the optimally just social world is specified at the outset to serve as the target for nonideal theory to strive to realize subject to the constraints of implementation imposed by a world of nonideal actors. In the spirit of recent work by Gerald Gaus and Keith Hankins, I argue that certain models of the path to the target prove inadequate because they are too simplistic. Figuring out both what the target is and how to (...)
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  • How to Do Realistic Political Theory.Edward Hall - 2017 - European Journal of Political Theory 16 (3):283-303.
    In recent years, a number of realist thinkers have charged much contemporary political theory with being idealistic and moralistic. While the basic features of the realist counter-movement are reasonably well understood, realism is still considered a critical, primarily negative creed which fails to offer a positive, alternative way of thinking normatively about politics. Aiming to counteract this general perception, in this article I draw on Bernard Williams’s claims about how to construct a politically coherent conception of liberty from the non-political (...)
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  • Motivational Limitations on the Demands of Justice.David Wiens - 2016 - European Journal of Political Theory 15 (3):333-352.
    Do motivational limitations due to human nature constrain the demands of justice? Among those who say no, David Estlund offers perhaps the most compelling argument. Taking Estlund’s analysis of “ability” as a starting point, I show that motivational deficiencies can constrain the demands of justice under at least one common circumstance — that the motivationally-deficient agent makes a good faith effort to overcome her deficiency. In fact, my argument implies something stronger; namely, that the demands of justice are constrained by (...)
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  • Nonideal Theory and Compliance—A Clarification.Naima Chahboun - 2015 - European Journal of Political Theory 14 (2):229-245.
    This paper examines the various ways in which nonideal theory responds to noncompliance with ideal principles of justice. Taking Rawls’ definition of nonideal theory as my point of departure, I propose an understanding of this concept as comprising two subparts: Complementary nonideal theory responds to deliberate and avoidable noncompliance and consists mainly of theories of civil disobedience, rebellion, and retribution. Substitutive nonideal theory responds to nondeliberate and unavoidable noncompliance and consists mainly of theories of transition and caretaking. I further argue (...)
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  • A World of Possibilities: The Place of Feasibility in Political Theory.Eva Erman & Niklas Möller - 2020 - Res Publica 26:1-23.
    Although the discussion about feasibility in political theory is still in its infancy, some important progress has been made in the last years to advance our understanding. In this paper, we intend to make a contribution to this growing literature by investigating the proper place of feasibility considerations in political theory. A motivating force behind this study is a suspicion that many presumptions made about feasibility in several current debates—such as that between practice-independence and practice-dependence, ideal and non-ideal theory, and (...)
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  • Feasibility as a Constraint on ‘Ought All-Things-Considered’, But Not on ‘Ought as a Matter of Justice’?Nicholas Southwood - 2019 - Philosophical Quarterly 69 (276):598-616.
    It is natural and relatively common to suppose that feasibility is a constraint on what we ought to do all-things-considered but not a constraint on what we ought to do as a matter of justice. I show that the combination of these claims entails an implausible picture of the relation between feasibility and desirability given an attractive understanding of the relation between what we ought to do as a matter of justice and what we ought to do all-things-considered.
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  • Will the Real Principles of Justice Please Stand Up?David Wiens - 2017 - In Kevin Vallier & Michael Weber (eds.), Political Utopias: Contemporary Debates. Oxford University Press.
    This chapter develops a ``nesting'' model of deontic normative principles (i.e., principles that specify moral constraints upon action) as a means to understanding the notion of a ``fundamental normative principle''. I show that an apparently promising attempt to make sense of this notion such that the ``real'' or ``fundamental'' demands of justice upon action are not constrained by social facts is either self-defeating or relatively unappealing. We should treat fundamental normative principles not as specifying fundamental constraints upon action, but as (...)
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  • Gaus on Ideal Justice.Juha Räikkä - 2017 - Rechtstheorie 48 (4):459-469.
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  • The Feasibility Issue.Nicholas Southwood - 2018 - Philosophy Compass 13 (8):e12509.
    It is commonly taken for granted that questions of feasibility are highly relevant to our normative thinking – and perhaps especially our normative thinking about politics. But what exactly does this preoccupation with feasibility amount to, and in what forms if any is it warranted? This article aims to provide a critical introduction to, and clearer characterization of, the feasibility issue. I begin by discussing the question of how feasibility is to be understood. I then turn to the question of (...)
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  • Mahdollisuus, välttämättömyys ja luodut ikuiset totuudet Descartesin filosofiassa.Forsman Jan - 2016 - In Ilkka Niiniluoto, Tuomas Tahko & Teemu Toppinen (eds.), Mahdollisuus. Helsinki: Philosophical Society of Finland. pp. 120-129.
    Tässä artikkelissa käsittelen Descartesin ikuisten totuuksien välttämättömyyteen liittyvää ongelmaa. Teoksessa Mietiskelyjä ensimmäisestä filosofiasta (1641–1642) Descartes nostaa esiin käsitteen ikuisista totuuksista, käyttäen esimerkkinään kolmiota. Kolmion muuttumattomaan ja ikuiseen luontoon kuuluu esimerkiksi, että sen kolme kulmaa ovat yhteenlaskettuna 180°. Se on totta kolmiosta, vaikka yhtään yksittäistä kolmiota ei olisi koskaan ollutkaan olemassa. Eräät ajattelemieni asioiden piirteet ovat siis Descartesin mukaan ajattelustani riippumattomia. Ikuisia totuuksia ovat ainakin matemaattiset ja geometriset tosiseikat sekä ristiriidan laki. Samoin Descartesin kuuluisa lause “ajattelen, siis olen” lukeutuu ikuisten totuuksien (...)
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  • The Challenges of Ideal Theory and Appeal of Secular Apocalyptic Thought.Ben Jones - 2020 - European Journal of Political Theory 19 (4):465-488.
    Why do thinkers hostile or agnostic toward Christianity find in its apocalyptic doctrines—often seen as bizarre—appealing tools for interpreting politics? This article tackles that puzzle. First, i...
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  • Moral Subversion and Structural Entrapment.Jeffrey W. Howard - 2016 - Journal of Political Philosophy 24 (1):24-46.
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  • Practices and Principles: On the Methodological Turn in Political Theory.Eva Erman & Niklas Möller - 2015 - Philosophy Compass 10 (8):533-546.
    The question of what role social and political practices should play in the justification of normative principles has received renewed attention in post-millennium political philosophy. Several current debates express dissatisfaction with the methodology adopted in mainstream political theory, taking the form of a criticism of so-called ‘ideal theory’ from ‘non-ideal’ theory, of ‘practice-independent’ theory from ‘practice-dependent’ theory, and of ‘political moralism’ from ‘political realism’. While the problem of action-guidance lies at the heart of these concerns, the critics also share a (...)
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  • Normative Behaviourism and Global Political Principles.Jonathan Floyd - 2016 - Journal of International Political Theory 12 (2):152-168.
    This article takes a new idea, ‘normative behaviourism’, and applies it to global political theory, in order to address at least one of the problems we might have in mind when accusing that subject of being too ‘unrealistic’. The core of this idea is that political principles can be justified, not just by patterns in our thinking, and in particular our intuitions and considered judgements, but also by patterns in our behaviour, and in particular acts of insurrection and crime. The (...)
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  • Should Global Political Theory Get Real? An Introduction.Jonathan Floyd - 2016 - Journal of International Political Theory 12 (2):93-95.
    This special edition brings together (1) the recent methodological worries of the moralism/realism and ideal/non-ideal theory debates with (2) the soaring ambition of work in international or global political theory, as found in, say, theories of global justice. Contributors are as follows: Chris Bertram, Jonathan Floyd, Aaron James, Terry MacDonald, David Miller, Shmulik Nili, Mathias Risse and Matt Sleat.
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  • The Best and the Rest: How Ideals Mislead and Distort -- Yet Sharpen -- Comparative Evaluation.David Wiens - manuscript
    Political philosophers sometimes defend the value of idealistic normative theories by arguing that they help specify principles for evaluating feasible solutions to real-world problems. I start by showing that this defense is ambiguous between three interpretations, one of which I show to be a nonstarter. The second interpretation says (roughly) that a description of a normatively ideal society provides a benchmark from which to measure deviations from the ideal; the third says (again, roughly) that a description of a normatively ideal (...)
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  • In Defence of Fact-Dependency.Sem de Maagt - 2014 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 44 (3-4):443-462.
    G.A. Cohen and David Estlund claim that, because of their fact-dependent nature, constructivist theories of justice do not qualify as moral theories about fundamental values such as justice. In this paper, I defend fact-dependent, constructivist theories of justice against this fact-independency critique. I argue that constructivists can invoke facts among the grounds for accepting fundamental principles of justice while maintaining that the foundation of morality has to be non-empirical. My claim is that constructivists ultimately account for the normativity of fact-dependent (...)
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  • Infeasibility as a Normative Argument-Stopper: The Case of Open Borders.Nicholas Southwood & Robert E. Goodin - 2021 - European Journal of Philosophy 29 (4):965-987.
    The open borders view is frequently dismissed for making infeasible demands. This is a potent strategy. Unlike normative arguments regarding open borders, which tend to be relatively intractable, the charge of infeasibility is supposed to operate as what we call a "normative argument-stopper." Nonetheless, we argue that the strategy fails. Bringing about open borders is perfectly feasible on the most plausible account of feasibility. We consider and reject what we take to be the only three credible ways to save the (...)
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  • Understanding Political Feasibility.Holly Lawford-Smith - 2013 - Journal of Political Philosophy 21 (3):243-259.
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  • Ideal Vs. Non‐Ideal Theory: A Conceptual Map.Laura Valentini - 2012 - Philosophy Compass 7 (9):654-664.
    This article provides a conceptual map of the debate on ideal and non‐ideal theory. It argues that this debate encompasses a number of different questions, which have not been kept sufficiently separate in the literature. In particular, the article distinguishes between the following three interpretations of the ‘ideal vs. non‐ideal theory’ contrast: full compliance vs. partial compliance theory; utopian vs. realistic theory; end‐state vs. transitional theory. The article advances critical reflections on each of these sub‐debates, and highlights areas for future (...)
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  • Realism in Normative Political Theory.Enzo Rossi & Matt Sleat - 2014 - Philosophy Compass 9 (10):689-701.
    This paper provides a critical overview of the realist current in contemporary political philosophy. We define political realism on the basis of its attempt to give varying degrees of autonomy to politics as a sphere of human activity, in large part through its exploration of the sources of normativity appropriate for the political and so distinguish sharply between political realism and non-ideal theory. We then identify and discuss four key arguments advanced by political realists: from ideology, from the relationship of (...)
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  • Markets Within the Limit of Feasibility.Kenneth Silver - forthcoming - Journal of Business Ethics:1-15.
    The ‘limits of markets’ debate broadly concerns the question of when it is (im)permissible to have a market in some good. Markets can be of tremendous benefit to society, but many have felt that certain goods should not be for sale (e.g., sex, kidneys, bombs). Their sale is argued to be corrupting, exploitative, or to express a form of disrespect. In Markets without Limits, Jason Brennan and Peter Jaworski have recently argued to the contrary: For any good, as long as (...)
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  • Proxy Battles in Just War Theory: Jus in Bello, the Site of Justice, and Feasibility Constraints.Seth Lazar & Laura Valentini - 2017 - In David Sobel, Peter Vallentyne & Steven Wall (eds.), Oxford Studies in Political Philosophy: Volume 3. London, U.K.: Oxford University Press. pp. 166-193.
    Interest in just war theory has boomed in recent years, as a revisionist school of thought has challenged the orthodoxy of international law, most famously defended by Michael Walzer [1977]. These revisionist critics have targeted the two central principles governing the conduct of war (jus in bello): combatant equality and noncombatant immunity. The first states that combatants face the same permissions and constraints whether their cause is just or unjust. The second protects noncombatants from intentional attack. In response to these (...)
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  • The Concept of Feasibility: A Multivocal Account.Daniel Guillery - 2021 - Res Publica 27 (3):491-507.
    A common objection to a proposal or theory in political philosophy is that it is not feasible to realise what it calls for. This is commonly taken to be sufficient to reject a proposal or theory: feasibility, on this common view, operates as a straightforward constraint on moral and political theory, whatever is not feasible is simply ruled out. This paper seeks to understand what we mean when we say that some proposal or outcome is or is not feasible. It (...)
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  • A Realistic Conception of Politics: Conflict, Order and Political Realism.Carlo Burelli - 2021 - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 24 (7):977-999.
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  • Provisional Sufficientarianism: Distributive Feasibility in Non-ideal Theory.Brian Carey - 2020 - Journal of Value Inquiry 54 (4):589-606.
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  • Three Feasibility Constraints on the Concept of Justice.Naima Chahboun - 2017 - Res Publica 23 (4):431-452.
    The feasibility constraint on the concept of justice roughly states that a necessary condition for something to qualify as a conception of justice is that it is possible to achieve and maintain given the conditions of the human world. In this paper, I propose three alternative interpretations of this constraint that could be derived from different understandings of the Kantian formula ‘ought implies can’: the ability constraint, the motivational constraint and the institutional constraint. I argue that the three constraints constitute (...)
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  • Fact-Sensitivity and the ‘Defining-Down’ Objection.Andrew Lister - 2017 - Res Publica 23 (1):117-135.
    This paper aims to clarify what it means for a normative theory to be fact-sensitive, and what might be wrong with such sensitivity, by examining the ways in which ‘justice as fairness’ depends upon facts. While much of the fact-sensitivity of Rawls’s principles consists of innocent limitations of generality, Rawls’s appeal to stability raises a legitimate worry about defining justice down in order to make ‘justice’ stable. If it should turn out that the correct principles of justice are inconsistent with (...)
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  • Reflective Equilibrium and Moral Objectivity.Sem de Maagt - 2017 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 60 (5):443-465.
    Ever since the introduction of reflective equilibrium in ethics, it has been argued that reflective equilibrium either leads to moral relativism, or that it turns out to be a form of intuitionism in disguise. Despite these criticisms, reflective equilibrium remains the most dominant method of moral justification in ethics. In this paper, I therefore critically examine the most recent attempts to defend the method of reflective equilibrium against these objections. Defenders of reflective equilibrium typically respond to the objections by saying (...)
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  • On Theorizing About Public Reason.Gerald Gaus - 2013 - European Journal of Analytic Philosophy 9 (1):64-85.
    This essay responds to the thoughtful essays on the Order of Public Reason (OPR) by Elvio Baccarini, Giulia Bistagnino and Nenad Miscevic. All three essays interrogate OPR’s understanding of moral theory - “meta” matters about the nature of morality, reasons and modeling within moral theories. I first turn to the general understanding of the moral enterprise underlying OPR, explaining why it takes a view at odds with the contemporary mainstream in moral philosophy. I then explain the idea of moral truth (...)
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  • Bright Lines in Juvenile Justice.Amy Berg - 2021 - Journal of Political Philosophy 29 (3):330-352.
    Journal of Political Philosophy, EarlyView.
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  • Being Realistic and Demanding the Impossible.Enzo Rossi - 2019 - Constellations 26 (4):638-652.
    Political realism is characterised by fidelity to the facts of politics and a refusal to derive political judgments from pre- political moral commitments. Even when they are not taken to make normative theorising impossible or futile, those characteristics are often thought to engender a conservative slant, or at least a tendency to prefer incremental reformism to radicalism. I resist those claims by distinguishing between three variants of realism—ordorealism, contextual realism, and radical realism—and contrasting them with both non-ideal theory and utopianism. (...)
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  • The Incentives Account of Feasibility.Zofia Stemplowska - 2021 - Philosophical Studies 178 (7):2385-2401.
    In Utopophobia Estlund offers a prominent version of a conditional account of feasibility. I think the account is too permissive. I defend an alternative incentives account of feasibility. The incentives account preserves the spirit of the conditional account but qualifies fewer actions as feasible. Simplified, the account holds that an action is feasible if there is an incentive such that, given the incentive, the agent is likely to perform the action successfully. If we accept that ought implies feasible, then we (...)
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  • Moral Pickles, Moral Dilemmas, and the Obligation Preface Paradox.Daniel Immerman - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 176 (8):2087-2101.
    This paper introduces and defends a new position regarding the question of whether it is possible to have conflicting moral obligations. In doing so, it focuses on what I call a moral pickle. By “moral pickle” I mean a set of actions such that you ought to perform each and cannot perform all. Typically, when people discuss conflicting moral obligations, they focus on the notion of a moral dilemma, which is a type of moral pickle involving two conflicting actions. In (...)
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  • Non-Ideal Accessibility.Holly Lawford-Smith - 2013 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 16 (3):653-669.
    What should we do when we won't do as we ought? Suppose it ought to be that the procrastinating professor accept the task of reviewing a book, and actually review the book. It seems clear that given he won't review it, he ought not to accept the task. That is a genuine moral obligation in light of less than perfect circumstances. I want to entertain the possibility that a set of such obligations form something like a 'practical morality'; that which (...)
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  • Rawls’s Ideal Theory: A Clarification and Defense.D. Matthew - 2019 - Res Publica 25 (4):553-570.
    In recent work in political philosophy there has been much discussion of two approaches to theorizing about justice that have come to be called ‘ideal theory’ and ‘non-ideal theory’. The distinction was originally articulated by Rawls, who defended his focus on ideal theory in terms of a supposed ‘priority’ of the latter over non-ideal theory. Many critics have rejected this claim of priority and in general have questioned the usefulness of ideal theory. In diagnosing the problem with ideal theory, they (...)
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  • Who Should Intervene?Fredrik Hjorthen - 2017 - Res Publica 23 (4):391-407.
    The objective of this paper is to develop a novel account of how the duty to undertake humanitarian intervention should be assigned to states. It takes as its point of departure two worries about the best existing answer to this question, namely: that it is insensitive to historical considerations, and that its distribution is unfair. Against this background I propose that the duty to intervene should be assigned to states based on the strength of their claim to reject the burden (...)
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  • Constructivism, Representation, and Stability: Path-Dependence in Public Reason Theories of Justice.John Thrasher - 2019 - Synthese 196 (1):429-450.
    Public reason theories are characterized by three conditions: constructivism, representation, and stability. Constructivism holds that justification does not rely on any antecedent moral or political values outside of the procedure of agreement. Representation holds that the reasons for the choice in the model must be rationally explicable to real agents outside the model. Stability holds that the principles chosen in the procedure should be stable upon reflection, especially in the face of diversity in a pluralistic society. Choice procedures that involve (...)
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  • In Search of the Reason and the Right—Rousseau’s Social Contract as a Thought Experiment.Nenad Miscevic - 2013 - Acta Analytica 28 (4):509-526.
    For Rousseau, social contract is a hypothetical one; the paper claims that it is, in contemporary terms, a political thought-experiment (TE). The abductive way of thinking, looking for the best normative pattern in the data, finds its counterpart in the historical abduction in the Second Discourse; the analogy between the two secures the methodological unity of Rousseau’s political philosophy. The proposed reading of the work as a TE shows that it fulfills the necessary requirements put by (hopefully) intuitively acceptable definition (...)
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  • Pains of Perseverance: Agent-Centred Prerogatives, Burdens and the Limits of Human Motivation.Gideon Elford - 2015 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 18 (3):501-514.
    An important question in recent work in political philosophy concerns whether facts about individuals’ motivational deficiencies are facts to which principles of justice are sensitive. In this context, David Estlund has recently argued that the difficulties individuals’ face in motivating themselves to act do not affect the content of normative principles that apply to them. Against Estlund, the paper argues that in principle the motivational difficulties individuals face can affect the content of normative principles that apply to them. This argument (...)
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  • Rejoinder to Estlund.David Wiens - manuscript
    Estlund has replied to my "Motivational Demands on the Limits of Justice". This short note is my rejoinder.
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  • Beyond “Ought Implies Feasible”.Jürgen Sirsch - 2021 - Metaphilosophy 52 (2):280-301.
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  • Feasibility Constraints for Political Theories.Holly Lawford-Smith - 2010 - Dissertation, Australian National University
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