Can and should political liberals recognize and otherwise support legal marriage as a matter of basic justice? In this article, we offer a general account of how political liberals should evaluate the issue of whether the legal recognition of marriage is a matter of basic justice. And, we develop and examine some public reason arguments that, given the fundamental interests of citizens, could justify various forms of legal marriage in some contexts. In particular, in certain conditions, the recognition of some (...) form of legal marriage may be the best way to protect the fundamental interests of women as citizens in freely chosen associations. Or, it may be that, in certain conditions, to secure the social conditions necessary for gays, lesbians and bisexuals to be free and equal citizens, some form of legal marriage can or should be recognized. (shrink)
I present two challenges to the theory of moral sentimentalism that Michael Slote defends in his book. The first challenge aims to show that there are cases in which we empathize with an agent and yet judge her actions to be morally wrong. If such cases are plausible, then we have good reason to doubt Slote's claim that moral judgments are an affective attitude of warmth or chill and, thus, are purely sentiments. The second challenge is more of a suggestion. (...) At the end of my paper, I suggest that perhaps one important role that empathy plays in our moral phenomenology is to mitigate the scope of our moral judgments. If this is right, it tells not only against Slote's account but against moral sentimentalist approaches more broadly. (shrink)
This article provides an overview of the key philosophical themes and debates in discussions of pornography. In particular, I consider the major positions on how pornography ought to be defined, when (and if ) it should be regulated, whether it is best understood as speech (or action), whether there is evidence that is it harmful. I argue in favor of what is known as the civil rights approach to pornography, as reflected in the work of Catharine MacKinnon.
The idea of public reason is central to political liberalism's aim to provide an account of the possibility of a just and stable democratic society comprised of free and equal citizens who nonetheless are deeply divided over fundamental values. This commitment to the idea of public reason reflects the normative core of political liberalism which is rooted in the principle of democratic legitimacy and the idea of reciprocity among citizens. Yet both critics and defenders of political liberalism disagree over whether (...) or not the idea of public reason permits citizens to appeal to their comprehensive conceptions of the good in public deliberation over matters of basic justice. Our aim in this paper is to provide a defense of an exclusive idea of public reason, and at the same time we aim to dispel the underlying concerns of two prominent criticisms of the idea of public reason—the concern of alienation from the political process, as expressed by religiously oriented critics, and the concern over women's equality, as expressed by feminist critics. We argue that inclusive accounts of the idea of public reason are not consistent with political liberalism's core commitments. Further, we claim, inclusive accounts of the idea of public reason deepen feminist concerns. We think that, properly understood, an exclusive account of the idea of public reason can address feminist concerns about political liberalism and avoid alienating (reasonable) religious persons in an unacceptable way. Thus, we conclude that an exclusive account of the idea of public reason is our best hope for reconciliation. (shrink)
: This essay considers whether liberal political theory has tools with which to count gender, and so gender relations, as political. Can liberal political theory count subordination among the harms of sex inequality that the state ought to correct? Watson defends a version of deliberative democracy—liberalism—as able to place issues of social inequality in the form of hierarchical social identities at the center of its normative commitments, and so at the center of securing justice.