Results for 'ideal theory'

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  1. Geoengineering and Non-Ideal Theory.David R. Morrow & Toby Svoboda - 2016 - Public Affairs Quarterly 30 (1):85-104.
    The strongest arguments for the permissibility of geoengineering (also known as climate engineering) rely implicitly on non-ideal theory—roughly, the theory of justice as applied to situations of partial compliance with principles of ideal justice. In an ideally just world, such arguments acknowledge, humanity should not deploy geoengineering; but in our imperfect world, society may need to complement mitigation and adaptation with geoengineering to reduce injustices associated with anthropogenic climate change. We interpret research proponents’ arguments as an (...)
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  2. Debate: Ideal Theory—A Reply to Valentini.Holly Lawford-Smith - 2010 - Journal of Political Philosophy 18 (3):357-368.
    In her ‘On the apparent paradox of ideal theory’, Laura Valentini combines three supposedly plausible premises to derive the paradoxical result that ideal theory is both unable to, and indispensable for, guiding action. Her strategy is to undermine one of the three premises by arguing that there are good and bad kinds of ideal theory, and only the bad kinds are vulnerable to the strongest version of their opponents’ attack. By undermining one of the (...)
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  3. The Uselessness of Rawls’s “Ideal Theory”.Uwe Steinhoff - manuscript
    Over the years a few authors have argued that Rawls’s ideal theory of justice is useless for the real world. This criticism has been largely ignored by Rawlsians, but in the light of a recent accumulation of such criticisms, some authors (in particular Holly Lawford-Smith, A. John Simmons, Zofia Stemplowska and Laura Valentini) have tried to defend ideal theory. In this article I will recapitulate the precise problem with Rawls’s ideal theory, argue that some (...)
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  4. Prescribing Institutions Without Ideal Theory.David Wiens - 2012 - Journal of Political Philosophy 20 (1):45-70.
    It is conventional wisdom among political philosophers that ideal principles of justice must guide our attempts to design institutions to avert actual injustice. Call this the ideal guidance approach. I argue that this view is misguided— ideal principles of justice are not appropriate "guiding principles" that actual institutions must aim to realize, even if only approximately. Fortunately, the conventional wisdom is also avoidable. In this paper, I develop an alternative approach to institutional design, which I call institutional (...)
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  5. 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 (...)
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  6.  50
    The Challenges of Ideal Theory and Appeal of Secular Apocalyptic Thought.Ben Jones - 2017 - European Journal of Political Theory:147488511772207.
    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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  7. Assessing Ideal Theories: Lessons From the Theory of Second Best.David Wiens - 2016 - Politics, Philosophy, and Economics 15 (2):132-149.
    Numerous philosophers allege that the "general theory of second best" (Lipsey and Lancaster, 1956) poses a challenge to the Target View, which asserts that real world reform efforts should aim to establish arrangements that satisfy the constitutive features of ideal just states of affairs. I demonstrate two claims that are relevant in this context. First, I show that the theory of second best fails to present a compelling challenge to the Target View in general. But, second, the (...)
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  8. Ideal Theory After Auschwitz? The Practical Uses and Ideological Abuses of Political Theory as Reconciliation.Benjamin McKean - 2017 - Journal of Politics 79 (4):1177-1190.
    Contemporary debates about ideal and nonideal theory rest on an underlying consensus that the primary practical task of political theory is directing action. This overlooks other urgent practical work that theory can do, including showing how injustice can be made bearable and how resisting it can be meaningful. I illustrate this important possibility by revisiting the purpose for which John Rawls originally developed the concept of ideal theory: reconciling a democratic public to living in (...)
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  9.  42
    Incomplete Ideal Theory.Amy Berg - 2019 - Social Theory and Practice 45 (4):501-524.
    What is the best way to make sustained societal progress over time? Non-ideal theory done on its own faces the problem of second best, but ideal theory seems unable to cope with disagreement about how to make progress. If ideal theory gives up its claims to completeness, then we can use the method of incompletely theorized agreements to make progress over time.
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  10. 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 (...)
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  11. Virtue Theory, Ideal Observers, and the Supererogatory.Jason Kawall - 2008 - Philosophical Studies 146 (2):179-96.
    I argue that recent virtue theories (including those of Hursthouse, Slote, and Swanton) face important initial difficulties in accommodating the supererogatory. In particular, I consider several potential characterizations of the supererogatory modeled upon these familiar virtue theories (and their accounts of rightness) and argue that they fail to provide an adequate account of supererogation. In the second half of the paper I sketch an alternative virtue-based characterization of supererogation, one that is grounded in the attitudes of virtuous ideal observers, (...)
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  12. Norms, Evaluations and Ideal and Nonideal Theory.Robert Jubb - 2016 - Social Philosophy and Policy 33 (1-2):393-412.
    -/- This essay discusses the relation between ideal theory and two forms of political moralism identified by Bernard Williams, structural and enactment views. It argues that ideal theory, at least in the sense Rawls used that term, only makes sense for structural forms of moralism. These theories see their task as describing the constraints that properly apply to political agents and institutions. As a result, they are primarily concerned with norms that govern action. In contrast, many (...)
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  13. Self-Governance and Reform in Kant’s Liberal Republicanism - Ideal and Non-Ideal Theory in Kant’s Doctrine of Right.Helga Varden - 2016 - Doispontos 13 (2).
    At the heart of Kant’s legal-political philosophy lies a liberal, republican ideal of justice understood in terms of private independence (non-domination) and subjection to public laws securing freedom for all citizens as equals. Given this basic commitment of Kant’s, it is puzzling to many that he does not consider democracy a minimal condition on a legitimate state. In addition, many find Kant ideas of reform or improvement of the historical states we have inherited vague and confusing. The aim of (...)
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  14. On the Apparent Paradox of Ideal Theory.Laura Valentini - 2009 - Journal of Political Philosophy 17 (3):332-355.
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  15.  17
    The Case for Ideal Theory.Laura Valentini - 2018 - In Robyn Eckersley & Chris Brown (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of International Political Theory. New York, NY, USA: pp. 664-676.
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  16. Kant's Mature Theory of Punishment, and a First Critique Ideal Abolitionist Alternative.Benjamin Vilhauer - forthcoming - In Matthew Altman (ed.), Palgrave Kant Handbook.
    This chapter has two goals. First, I will present an interpretation of Kant’s mature account of punishment, which includes a strong commitment to retributivism. Second, I will sketch a non-retributive, “ideal abolitionist” alternative, which appeals to a version of original position deliberation in which we choose the principles of punishment on the assumption that we are as likely to end up among the punished as we are to end up among those protected by the institution of punishment. This is (...)
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  17. Virtue Theory and Ideal Observers.Jason Kawall - 2002 - Philosophical Studies 109 (3):197 - 222.
    Virtue theorists in ethics often embrace the following characterizationof right action: An action is right iff a virtuous agent would performthat action in like circumstances. Zagzebski offers a parallel virtue-basedaccount of epistemically justified belief. Such proposals are severely flawedbecause virtuous agents in adverse circumstances, or through lack ofknowledge can perform poorly. I propose an alternative virtue-based accountaccording to which an action is right (a belief is justified) for an agentin a given situation iff an unimpaired, fully-informed virtuous observerwould deem the (...)
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  18.  82
    Algorithmic Fairness From a Non-Ideal Perspective.Sina Fazelpour & Zachary C. Lipton - manuscript
    Inspired by recent breakthroughs in predictive modeling, practitioners in both industry and government have turned to machine learning with hopes of operationalizing predictions to drive automated decisions. Unfortunately, many social desiderata concerning consequential decisions, such as justice or fairness, have no natural formulation within a purely predictive framework. In efforts to mitigate these problems, researchers have proposed a variety of metrics for quantifying deviations from various statistical parities that we might expect to observe in a fair world and offered a (...)
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  19. Why Public Reasoning Involves Ideal Theorizing.Blain Neufeld - 2017 - In Political Utopias: Contemporary Debates. New York, USA: pp. 73-93.
    Some theorists—including Elizabeth Anderson, Gerald Gaus, and Amartya Sen—endorse versions of 'public reason' as the appropriate way to justify political decisions while rejecting 'ideal theory'. This chapter proposes that these ideas are not easily separated. The idea of public reason expresses a form of mutual 'civic' respect for citizens. Public reason justifications for political proposals are addressed to citizens who would find acceptable those justifications, and consequently would comply freely with those proposals should they become law. Hence public (...)
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  20.  87
    A Case of Non-Ideal Guidance: Tackling Tax Competition.Alexandre Gajevic Sayegh - 2016 - Moral Philosophy and Politics (1):2016-10-04.
    In the global justice literature, growing attention has been given to problems particular to a globalised economy such as tax competition. Political philosophers have started to reflect on how these problems intersect with theories of global justice. This paper explores the idea according to which action-guiding principles of justice can only be formulated at such intersections. This is the starting point from which I develop a ‘non-ideal theory’ of global justice. The methodology of this theory posits that (...)
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  21. The Ethics of Climate Engineering: Solar Radiation Management and Non-Ideal Justice.Toby Svoboda - 2017 - Routledge.
    This book analyzes major ethical issues surrounding the use of climate engineering, particularly solar radiation management techniques, which have the potential to reduce some risks of anthropogenic climate change but also carry their own risks of harm and injustice. The book argues that we should approach the ethics of climate engineering via "non-ideal theory," which investigates what justice requires given the fact that many parties have failed to comply with their duty to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. Specifically, it (...)
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  22.  59
    Protest and Speech Act Theory.Matthew Chrisman - forthcoming - In Rachel Katharine Sterken & Justin Khoo (eds.), Routledge Handbook of Social and Political Philosophy of Language. New York: Routledge.
    This paper attempts to explain what a protest is by using the resources of speech-act theory. First, we distinguish the object, redress, and means of a protest. This provided a way to think of atomic acts of protest as having dual communicative aspects, viz., a negative evaluation of the object and a connected prescription of redress. Second, we use Austin’s notion of a felicity condition to further characterize the dual communicative aspects of protest. This allows us to distinguish protest (...)
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  23. 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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  24. International Political Theory Meets International Public Policy.Christian Barry - 2018 - In Chris Brown & Robyn Eckersley (eds.), Oxford Handbook of International Political Theory. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. pp. 480-494.
    How should International Political Theory (IPT) relate to public policy? Should theorists aspire for their work to be policy- relevant and, if so, in what sense? When can we legitimately criticize a theory for failing to be relevant to practice? To develop a response to these questions, I will consider two issues: (1) the extent to which international political theorists should be concerned that the norms they articulate are precise enough to entail clear practical advice under different empirical (...)
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  25. The General Theory of Second Best Is More General Than You Think.David Wiens - 2020 - Philosophers' Imprint 20 (5):1-26.
    Lipsey and Lancaster's "general theory of second best" is widely thought to have significant implications for applied theorizing about the institutions and policies that most effectively implement abstract normative principles. It is also widely thought to have little significance for theorizing about which abstract normative principles we ought to implement. Contrary to this conventional wisdom, I show how the second-best theorem can be extended to myriad domains beyond applied normative theorizing, and in particular to more abstract theorizing about the (...)
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  26. The Methodology of Political Theory.Christian List & Laura Valentini - 2016 - In Herman Cappelen, Tamar Szabó Gendler & John Hawthorne (eds.), Oxford Handbook of Philosophical Methodology. Oxford University Press.
    This article examines the methodology of a core branch of contemporary political theory or philosophy: “analytic” political theory. After distinguishing political theory from related fields, such as political science, moral philosophy, and legal theory, the article discusses the analysis of political concepts. It then turns to the notions of principles and theories, as distinct from concepts, and reviews the methods of assessing such principles and theories, for the purpose of justifying or criticizing them. Finally, it looks (...)
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  27. Non-Ideal Climate Justice.Eric Brandstedt - 2019 - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 22 (2):221-234.
    Based on three recently published books on climate justice, this article reviews the field of climate ethics in light of developments of international climate politics. The central problem addressed is how idealised normative theories can be relevant to the political process of negotiating a just distribution of the costs and benefits of mitigating climate change. I distinguish three possible responses, that is, three kinds of non-ideal theories of climate justice: focused on (1) the injustice of some agents not doing (...)
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  28. International NGO Health Programs in a Non-Ideal World: Imperialism, Respect & Procedural Justice.Lisa Fuller - 2012 - In E. Emanuel J. Millum (ed.), Global Justice and Bioethics. Oxford University Press. pp. 213-240.
    Many people in the developing world access essential health services either partially or primarily through programs run by international non-governmental organizations (INGOs). Given that such programs are typically designed and run by Westerners, and funded by Western countries and their citizens, it is not surprising that such programs are regarded by many as vehicles for Western cultural imperialism. In this chapter, I consider this phenomenon as it emerges in the context of development and humanitarian aid programs, particularly those delivering medical (...)
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  29. Radically Non-­Ideal Climate Politics and the Obligation to at Least Vote Green.Aaron Maltais - 2013 - Environmental Values 22 (5):589-608.
    Obligations to reduce one’s green house gas emissions appear to be difficult to justify prior to large-scale collective action because an individual’s emissions have virtually no impact on the environmental problem. However, I show that individuals’ emissions choices raise the question of whether or not they can be justified as fair use of what remains of a safe global emissions budget. This is true both before and after major mitigation efforts are in place. Nevertheless, it remains difficult to establish an (...)
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  30. Well-Ordered Science’s Basic Problem.Cristian Larroulet Philippi - 2020 - Philosophy of Science 87 (2):365-375.
    Kitcher has proposed an ideal-theory account—well-ordered science (WOS)— of the collective good that science’s research agenda should promote. Against criticism regarding WOS’s action-guidance, Kitcher has advised critics not to confuse substantive ideals and the ways to arrive at them, and he has defended WOS as a necessary and useful ideal for science policy. I provide a distinction between two types of ideal-theories that helps clarifying WOS’s elusive nature. I use this distinction to argue that the action-guidance (...)
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  31. Nonideal Justice as Nonideal Fairness.Marcus Arvan - 2019 - Journal of the American Philosophical Association 5 (2):208-228.
    This article argues that diverse theorists have reasons to theorize about fairness in nonideal conditions, including theorists who reject fairness in ideal theory. It then develops a new all-purpose model of ‘nonideal fairness.’ §1 argues that fairness is central to nonideal theory across diverse ideological and methodological frameworks. §2 then argues that ‘nonideal fairness’ is best modeled by a nonideal original position adaptable to different nonideal conditions and background normative frameworks (including anti-Rawlsian ones). §3 then argues that (...)
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  32.  45
    Derivation of Morality From Prudence.Marcus Arvan - 2020 - In Neurofunctional Prudence and Morality: A Philosophical Theory. New York: Routledge. pp. 60-94.
    This chapter derives and refines a novel normative moral theory and descriptive theory of moral psychology--Rightness as Fairness--from the theory of prudence defended in Chapter 2. It briefly summarizes Chapter 2’s finding that prudent agents typically internalize ‘moral risk-aversion’. It then outlines how this prudential psychology leads prudent agents to want to know how to act in ways they will not regret in morally salient cases, as well as to regard moral actions as the only types of (...)
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  33. Cohen on Rawls: Personal Choice and the Ideal of Justice.Kyle Johannsen - 2013 - Social Philosophy Today 29:135-49.
    G.A. Cohen is well known within contemporary political philosophy for claiming that the scope of principles of justice extends beyond the design of institutions to citizens’ personal choices. More recently, he’s also received attention for claiming that principles of justice are normatively ultimate, i.e., that they’re necessary for the justification of action guiding principles but are unsuitable to guide political practice themselves. The purpose of this paper is to explore the relationship between these claims as they’re applied in criticism of (...)
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  34. 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 (...)
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  35. The Tyranny -- Or the Democracy -- Of the Ideal?Blain Neufeld & Lori Watson - 2018 - Cosmos + Taxis 5 (2):47-61.
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  36. The Tyranny of a Metaphor.David Wiens - 2018 - Cosmos + Taxis 5 (2):13-28.
    Debates on the practical relevance of ideal theory revolve around Sen's metaphor of navigating a mountainous landscape. In *The Tyranny of the Ideal*, Gerald Gaus presents the most thorough articulation of this metaphor to date. His detailed exploration yields new insight on central issues in existing debates, as well as a fruitful medium for exploring important limitations on our ability to map the space of social possibilities. Yet Gaus's heavy reliance on the navigation metaphor obscures questions about (...)
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  37. Political Liberalism and Public Justification: The Deep View.Thomas M. Besch - manuscript
    (Please note: the main ideas of this paper are restated in revised/developed form in: "On actualist and fundamental public justification in political liberalism" and "More on actualist and fundamental public justification in political liberalism". Both papers are available from philpapers.) The paper suggests the deep view of Rawls-type public justification as promising, non-ideal theory variant of an internal conception of political liberalism. To this end, I demonstrate how the deep view integrates a range of ideas, views and commitments (...)
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  38. Contractualism for Us As We Are.Nicholas Southwood - 2019 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 99 (3):529-547.
    A difficult problem for contractualists is how to provide an interpretation of the contractual situation that is both subject to appropriately stringent constraints and yet also appropriately sensitive to certain features of us as we actually are. My suggestion is that we should embrace a model of contractualism that is structurally analogous to the “advice model” of the ideal observer theory famously proposed by Michael Smith (1994; 1995). An advice model of contractualism is appealing since it promises to (...)
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  39. 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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  40. Political Ideals and the Feasibility Frontier.David Wiens - 2015 - Economics and Philosophy 31 (3):447-477.
    Recent methodological debates regarding the place of feasibility considerations in normative political theory are hindered for want of a rigorous model of the feasibility frontier. To address this shortfall, I present an analysis of feasibility that generalizes the economic concept of a production possibility frontier and then develop a rigorous model of the feasibility frontier using the familiar possible worlds technology. I then show that this model has significant methodological implications for political philosophy. On the Target View, a political (...)
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  41. The Struggle for Climate Justice in a Non‐Ideal World.Simon Caney - 2016 - Midwest Studies in Philosophy 40 (1):9-26.
    Many agents have failed to comply with their responsibilities to take the action needed to avoid dangerous anthropogenic climate change. This pervasive noncompliance raises two questions of nonideal political theory. First, it raises the question of what agents should do when others do not discharge their climate responsibilities. (the Responsibility Question) In this paper I put forward four principles that we need to employ to answer the Responsibility Question (Sections II-V). I then illustrate my account, by outlining four kinds (...)
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  42. Idealizing Morality.Lisa Tessman - 2010 - Hypatia 25 (4):797 - 824.
    Implicit in feminist and other critiques of ideal theorizing is a particular view of what normative theory should be like. Although I agree with the rejection of ideal theorizing that oppression theorists (and other theorists of justice) have advocated, the proposed alternative of nonideal theorizing is also problematic. Nonideal theorizing permits one to address oppression by first describing (nonideal) oppressive conditions, and then prescribing the best action that is possible or feasible given the conditions. Borrowing an insight (...)
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  43. Against Ideal Guidance.David Wiens - 2015 - Journal of Politics 77 (2):433-446.
    Political philosophers frequently claim that political ideals can provide normative guidance for unjust and otherwise nonideal circumstances. This is mistaken. This paper demonstrates that political ideals contribute nothing to our understanding of the normative principles we should satisfy amidst unjust or otherwise nonideal circumstances.
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  44.  62
    A Climate of Disorder: What to Do About the Obstacles to Effective Climate Politics.Aaron Maltais - 2016 - In Clare Hayward & Dominic Roser (eds.), Climate Justice in a Non-Ideal World. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. pp. 43-63.
    The emphasis on general distributive principles in the climate justice literature has left significant gaps regarding the problem of weak climate governance. The main contribution of this chapter is to show how normative theory can contribute to addressing the apparent political incapacity to respond to the threat of climate disruption. The chapter argues that a set of six underlying obstacles to effective climate change politics can serve as a framework around which ‘non-ideal’ normative theorizing about climate politics can (...)
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  45. 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 (...)
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  46. Moral Hedging and Responding to Reasons.Amelia Hicks - 2019 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 100 (3):765-789.
    In this paper, I argue that the fetishism objection to moral hedging fails. The objection rests on a reasons-responsiveness account of moral worth, according to which an action has moral worth only if the agent is responsive to moral reasons. However, by adopting a plausible theory of non-ideal moral reasons, one can endorse a reasons-responsiveness account of moral worth while maintaining that moral hedging is sometimes an appropriate response to moral uncertainty. Thus, the theory of moral worth (...)
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  47. E. F. Carritt (1876-1964).Anthony Skelton - 2016 - In Hugh LaFollette (ed.), The International Encyclopedia of Ethics. Wiley-Blackwell.
    E. F. Carritt (1876-1964) was educated at and taught in Oxford University. He made substantial contributions both to aesthetics and to moral philosophy. The focus of this entry is his work in moral philosophy. His most notable works in this field are The Theory of Morals (1928) and Ethical and Political Thinking (1947). Carritt developed views in metaethics and in normative ethics. In meta-ethics he defends a cognitivist, non-naturalist moral realism and was among the first to respond to A. (...)
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  48. What Makes a Utopia Inconvenient? On the Advantages and Disadvantages of a Realist Orientation to Politics.Benjamin McKean - 2016 - American Political Science Review 110 (4):876-888.
    Contemporary politics is often said to lack utopias. For prevailing understandings of the practical force of political theory, this looks like cause for celebration. As blueprints to apply to political practice, utopias invariably seem too strong or too weak. Through an immanent critique of political realism, I argue that utopian thought, and political theory generally, is better conceived as supplying an orientation to politics. Realists including Bernard Williams and Raymond Geuss explain how utopian programs like universal human rights (...)
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  49. Justice and Feasibility: A Dynamic Approach.Pablo Gilabert - 2017 - In K. Vallier & M. Weber (eds.), Political Utopias: Contemporary Debates. Oxford University Press. pp. 95-126.
    It is common in political theory and practice to challenge normatively ambitious proposals by saying that their fulfillment is not feasible. But there has been insufficient conceptual exploration of what feasibility is, and very little substantive inquiry into why and how it matters for thinking about social justice. This paper provides one of the first systematic treatments of these issues, and proposes a dynamic approach to the relation between justice and feasibility that illuminates the importance of political imagination and (...)
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  50. First Steps Toward a Nonideal Theory of Justice.Marcus Arvan - 2014 - Ethics and Global Politics 7 (3):95-117.
    Theorists have long debated whether John Rawls’ conception of justice as fairness can be extended to nonideal (i.e. unjust) social and political conditions, and if so, what the proper way of extending it is. This paper argues that in order to properly extend justice as fairness to nonideal conditions, Rawls’ most famous innovation – the original position – must be reconceived in the form of a “nonideal original position.” I begin by providing a new analysis of the ideal/nonideal (...) distinction within Rawls’ theoretical framework. I then systematically construct a nonideal original position, showing that although its parties must have Rawls’ principles of ideal justice and priority relations as background aims, the parties should be entirely free to weigh those aims against whatever burdens and benefits they might face under nonideal conditions. Next, I show that the parties ought to aim to secure for themselves a special class of nonideal primary goods: all-purpose goods similar to Rawls’ original primary goods, but which in this case are all-purpose goods individuals might use to (A) promote Rawlsian ideals under nonideal conditions, (B) weigh Rawls’ principles of ideal justice and priority relations against whatever burdens and benefits they might face under nonideal conditions, and (C) effectively pursue their most favored weighting thereof. I then defend a provisional list of nonideal primary goods which include opportunities to participate effectively in equitable and inclusive grassroots reform movements guided by a series of substantive aims. Finally, I briefly speculate on how the parties to the nonideal original position might deliberate to principles of nonideal justice for distributing nonideal primary goods, suggesting that those goods should be distributed in proportion to unjust disadvantage. (shrink)
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