Leif Wenar, in “The Nature of Rights,” claims to have provided an analytical framework which is not only adequate for explicating all assertions of rights but whose deployment offers a way out of the deadlock he believes to exist between will theories and interest theories regarding the nature of rights.i To have accomplished one, let alone both, of these things would be a significant achievement in the field of rights theory. It is therefore worth showing why, unfortunately, he has (...) not succeeded on either score. Despite the clarity of Wenar’s exposition of his own position, and notwithstanding the incisive insights he brings to bear in the course of it, his revised Hohfeldian analytical framework does not in fact serve better than the original to clarify what is at stake in controversies over rights, and his deployment of it does not provide a cogent alternative to the interest theory. (shrink)
Leif Wenar examines the impact on takings scholarship of the redefinition of "property" early in the twentieth century. He argues that the Hohfeldian characterization of property as rights (instead of as tangible things) forced major scholars such as Michelman, Sax, and Epstein into extreme interpretations of the Takings Clause. This extremism is unnecessary, however, since the original objections to the idea that "property is things" are mistaken.
In John Rawls’s The Law of Peoples we find unfamiliar concepts, surprising pronouncements, and what appear from a familiar Rawlsian perspective to be elementary errors in reasoning.1 Even Rawls’s most sensitive and sympathetic interpreters have registered unusually deep misgivings about the book.2 Most perplexing of all is the general character of the view that Rawls sets out to justify. For in this book Rawls, the twentieth century’s leading liberal egalitarian, advances a theory which shows no direct concern for individuals and (...) requires no narrowing of global material inequality. (shrink)
The twentieth century saw a vigorous debate over the nature of rights. Will theorists argued that the function of rights is to allocate domains of freedom. Interest theorists portrayed rights as defenders of well-being. Each side declared its conceptual analysis to be closer to an ordinary understanding of what rights there are, and to an ordinary understand- ing of what rights do for rightholders. Neither side could win a decisive victory, and the debate ended in a standoff.
For insightful comments, we thank G. A. Cohen, Barbara Fried, Leif Wenar, Andrew Williams, Jonathan Wolff, and the Editors of Philosophy & Public Affairs. 1. Barbara Fried, “Left-Libertarianism: A Review Essay,” Philosophy & Public Affairs 32 (2004): 66–92. This is a review of The Origins of Left-Libertarianism: An Anthology of His- torical Writings and Left-Libertarianism and Its Critics: The Contemporary Debate, both edited by Peter Vallentyne and Hillel Steiner (New York: Palgrave Publishers Ltd., 2000).
This volume brings together a range of influential essays by distinguished philosophers and political theorists on the issue of global justice. Global justice concerns the search for ethical norms that should govern interactions between people, states, corporations and other agents acting in the global arena, as well as the design of social institutions that link them together. The volume includes articles that engage with major theoretical questions such as the applicability of the ideals of social and economic equality to the (...) global sphere, the degree of justified partiality to compatriots, and the nature and extent of the responsibilities of the affluent to address global poverty and other hardships abroad. It also features articles that bring the theoretical insights of global justice thinkers to bear on matters of practical concern to contemporary societies, such policies associated with immigration, international trade, and climate change. -/- Contents: Introduction; Part I Standards of Global Justice: (i) Assistance-Based Responsibilities to the Global Poor: Famine, affluence and mortality, Peter Singer; We don't owe them a thing! A tough-minded but soft-hearted view of aid to the faraway needy, Jan Narveson; Does distance matter morally to the duty to rescue? Frances Myrna Kamm. (ii) Contribution-Based Responsibilities to the Global Poor: 'Assisting' the global poor, Thomas Pogge; Should we stop thinking about poverty in terms of helping the poor?, Alan Patten; Poverty and the moral significance of contribution, Gerhard Øverland. (iii)Cosmopolitans, Global Egalitarians, and its Critics: The one and the many faces of cosmopolitanism, Catherine Lu; Cosmopolitan justice and equalizing opportunities, Simon Caney; The problem of global justice, Thomas Nagel; Against global egalitarianism, David Miller; Egalitarian challenges to global egalitarianism: a critique, Christian Barry and Laura Valentini. Part II Pressing Global Socioeconomic Issues: (i) Governing the Flow of People: Immigration and freedom of association, Christopher Wellman; Democratic theory and border coercion: no right to unilaterally control your own borders, Arash Abizadeh; Justice in migration: a closed borders utopia?, Lea Ypi. (ii) Climate Change: Global environment and international inequality, Henry Shue; Valuing policies in response to climate change: some ethical issues, John Broome; Saved by disaster? Abrupt climate change, political inertia, and the possibility of an intergenerational arms race, Stephen M. Gardiner; Polycentric systems for coping with collective action and global environmental change, Elinor Ostrom. (iii) International Trade: Responsibility and global labor justice, Iris Marion Young; Property rights and the resource curse, Leif Wenar; Fairness in trade I: obligations arising from trading and the pauper-labor argument, Mathias Risse; Name index. -/- See: www.ashgate.com/default.aspx?page=637&calctitle=1&pageSubject=483&sort=pubdate&forthcoming=1&title_i d=9958&edition_id=13385. (shrink)
What morality requires of us in a world of poverty and inequality depends both on what our duties are in the abstract, and on what we can do to help. T.M. Scanlon’s contractualism addresses the first question. I suggest that contractualism isolates the moral factors that frame our deliberations about the extent of our obligations in situations of need. To this extent, contractualism clarifies our common-sense understanding of our duties to distant others. The second, empirical question then becomes vital. What (...) we as individuals need to know is how to fulfil our duties to the distant poor. Moral theorists tend to base their prescriptions on simple assumptions about how the rich can help the poor. Yet a survey of the empirical literature shows how urgently we need more information on this topic before we can know what contractualist morality — or any plausible morality — requires of us. (shrink)
The subject of this volume presents a more difficult question: Who, if anyone, is morally responsible for acting to alleviate severe poverty? Here our convictions are less steady. Are impoverished people responsible for improving their own condition? Or are the leaders of their countries also responsible, or the leaders of rich countries, or we ourselves as individuals? When considering this question we tend to have the kinds of reactions—avoidance of the topic, brief enthusiasm, nagging guilt—that indicate that we perceive several (...) strong pulls on our reasoning, but are unsure how to order our thoughts so as to reach a firm conclusion. Here is where a philosophical account of responsibility might help. What we want to know is how to determine who, if anyone, has moral responsibility for ensuring that each person’s human right to an adequate standard of living is secured. What we seek is a general theory that will tell us how to locate responsibility for averting this type of threat to individuals’ basic well-being. (shrink)
What morality requires of us in a world of poverty and inequality depends both on what our duties are in the abstract, and on what we can do to help. T.M. Scanlon's contractualism addresses the first question. I suggest that contractualism isolates the moral factors that frame our deliberations about the extent of our obligations in situations of need. To this extent, contractualism clarifies our common-sense understanding of our duties to distant others. The second, empirical question then becomes vital. What (...) we as individuals need to know is how to fulfil our duties to the distant poor. Moral theorists tend to base their prescriptions on simple assumptions about how the rich can help the poor. Yet a survey of the empirical literature shows how urgently we need more information on this topic before we can know what contractualist morality — or any plausible morality — requires of us. Key Words: Scanlon • contractualism • global <span class='Hi'>justice</span> • global poverty • aid effectiveness. (shrink)
There are, in the broadest terms, two views of the value of the right to free speech. On the first view speech rights good in themselves. To respect a person’s speech rights is just to respect the inherent dignity and worth of that person as a rational and autonomous being. On the second view speech rights are means to ends. We ascribe speech rights because doing so will help us to achieve desirable states of affairs like democratic stability, market efficiency, (...) and greater enlightenment. (shrink)
Contemporary movements for the reform of global institutions advocate greater transparency, greater democracy, and greater accountability. Of these three, accountability is the master value. Transparency is valuable as means to accountability: more transparent institutions reveal whether officials have performed their duties. Democracy is valuable as a mechanism of accountability: elections enable the people peacefully to remove officials who have not done what it is their responsibility to do. “Accountability,” it has been said, “is the central issue of our time.” The (...) focus of this paper is accountability in international development aid: that range of efforts sponsored by the world’s rich aimed at permanently bettering the conditions of the world’s poor. We begin by surveying some of the difficulties in international development work that have raised concerns that development agencies are not accountable enough for producing positive results in alleviating poverty. We then examine the concept of accountability, and survey the general state of accountability in development agencies. A high-altitude map of the main proposals for greater accountability in international development follows, and the paper concludes by exploring one specific proposal for increasing accountability in development aid. (shrink)
“There is nothing which so generally strikes the imagination, and engages the affections of mankind, as the right of property; or that sole and despotic dominion which one man claims and exercises over the external things of the world, in total exclusion of the right of any other individual in the universe.” (Blackstone, p.
A Northern Ireland politician declared not long ago that the British people had a right not to believe the IRA’s latest statement on disarmament. Therefore, he said, the British government had no right to allow the IRA further representation at the talks. Rights assertions like these are quite common in everyday talk, even if pronouncements linking epistemic and legal rights are less so.
When discussing whether or not our elected governments should intervene to end genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity in other countries, the humanitarian intervention debate has largely been assuming that liberal democracies bear no responsibility for the injustice at hand: someone else is committing shameful acts; we are merely considering whether or not we have a positive duty to do something about it. Here I argue that there are important instances in which this dominant third party perspective (...) (TPP) is empirically false and normatively misguided. Much before our positive ?responsibility to protect? potential victims from mass atrocities, we violate our negative duty not to harm these victims. Employing work by Thomas Pogge and Leif Wenar, I argue that this harm currently comes about as our elected governments either buy, or allow our corporations to buy, the world's most precious resources from brutal dictators and warlords, who dominate some of the states that are at the heart of intervention discussions. In these cases, democracies' most immediate duty is not intervention but rather humanitarian disintervention: boycotting severely oppressive regimes, and in particular stopping to recognizing these regimes ? whether dictators or civil warriors ? as possessing legitimate authority to sell their peoples' resources. I begin with a brief survey of the intervention literature, followed by the foundations for the disintervention alternative. I then elaborate the conceptual and practical advantages of disintervention, concluding with thoughts on the reasons for TPP's lasting dominance. (shrink)
Rights dominate most modern understandings of what actions are proper and which institutions are just. Rights structure the forms of our governments, the contents of our laws, and the shape of morality as we perceive it. To accept a set of rights is to approve a distribution of freedom and authority, and so to endorse a certain view of what may, must, and must not be done.
justice as fairness envisions a society of free citizens holding equal basic rights cooperating within an egalitarian economic system. His account of political liberalism addresses the legitimate use of political power in a democracy, aiming to show how enduring unity may be achieved despite the diversity of worldviews that free institutions allow. His writings on the law of peoples extend these theories to liberal foreign policy, with the goal of imagining how a peaceful and tolerant international order might be possible.
All of these claims for reparations have mobilized popular support, and all share a degree of intuitive plausibility. The challenge to the theorist is to judge whether and which of such demands are grounded in sound principles of political normativity, so as to be able to select out the valid claims and to measure how the urgency of these claims compares with other demands on the public agenda. The most basic question for those considering the justiﬁcations of reparations is how (...) to orient their theories within the space of reasons. Do valid claims for reparation rest at the deepest level on reasons we have for redressing a past injustice? Or do they rather rest on reasons we have to improve our current relations so that we can get along better in the future? Are valid reparative demands backward- or forward-looking? (shrink)
[FIRST PARAGRAPHS] One third of the human species is infested with worms. The World Health Organization estimates that worms account for 40 percent of the global disease burden from tropical diseases excluding malaria. Worms cause a lot of misery. In this article I will focus on one particular type of infestation, which is hookworm. Approximately 740 million people suffer from hookworm infection in areas of rural poverty: more than one human in ten, a total greater than 23 times the population (...) of Canada or twice the population of the United States. The greatest numbers of cases occur in China, Southeast Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa—that is, mostly in the places in the world where poverty is most severe. (shrink)
This paper argues that Leif Wenar's theory of reparations is not purely forward-looking and that backward-looking considerations play an important role: if there had never been a past injustice, then reparations for the future cannot be acceptable. Past injustice compose the first part of a two-tiered theory of reparations. We must first discover a past injustice has taken place: reparations are for the repair of previous damage. However, for Wenar, not all past injustices warrant reparations. Once we have first (...) passed the initial test of demonstrating a past injustice has taken place, we then determine whether or not to finally accept reparations based upon forward-looking considerations. What is important to note is that this decision to award reparations is based upon forward-looking considerations, but only after first satisfying the test of a past injustice. Thus, backward-looking considerations make up an important first part of Wenar's two-tiered theory of reparations. It is not my argument that this theory is unsafe and I find Wenar's arguments both novel and highly compelling. However, the view that this theory is forward-looking -- and not backward-looking -- is not entirely accurate. My brief reply corrects this part of an important new theory of reparations in the hope of strengthening its persuasive power. (shrink)
So long as large segments of humanity are suffering chronic poverty and are dying from treatable diseases, organized giving can save or enhance millions of lives. With the law providing little guidance, ethics has a crucial role to play in ensuring that the philanthropic practices of individuals, foundations, NGOs, governments, and international agencies are morally sound and effective. In Giving Well: The Ethics of Philanthropy, an accomplished trio of editors bring together an international group of distinguished philosophers, social scientists, lawyers (...) and practitioners to identify and address the most urgent moral questions arising today in the practice of philanthropy. The topics discussed include the psychology of giving, the reasons for and against a duty to give, the accountability of NGOs and foundations, the questionable marketing practices of some NGOs, the moral priorities that should inform NGO decisions about how to target and design their projects, the good and bad effects of aid, and the charitable tax deduction along with the water's edge policy now limiting its reach. This ground-breaking volume can help bring our practice of charity closer to meeting the vital needs of the millions worldwide who depend on voluntary contributions for their very lives. (shrink)
ABSTRACT Four decades ago, Gerald Kramer showed that economic conditions affect electoral outcomes. Some researchers took this to mean that voters were self-interested, voting their ?pocketbooks,? while others, such as Leif Lewin, took it to mean that voters were sociotropic, motivated by the public interest?and therefore altruistic. It is important, however, to avoid conflating sociotropic voters with altruistic ones. Voters might be voting in favor of politicians or parties that they think will further the public interest as an (...) indirect route to furthering their own interests, as members of the public. More research, perhaps conducted using novel methodologies, is needed in order to settle the extent to which voters are motivated by self-interest or by the public interest. (shrink)
Paul Horwich has formulated a paradox which he believes to be even more virulent than the related Hempel paradox. I show that Horwich's paradox, as orginally formulated, has a purely logical solution, hence that it has no bearing on the theory of confirmation. On the other hand, it illuminates some undesirable traits of classical predicate logic. A revised formulation of the paradox is then dealt with in a way that implies a modest revision of Nicod's criterion.
Background Time and communication are important aspects of the medical consultation. Physician behavior in real-life pediatric consultations in relation to ethical practice, such as informed consent (provision of information, understanding), respect for integrity and patient autonomy (decision-making), has not been subjected to thorough empirical investigation. Such investigations are important tools in developing sound ethical praxis. Methods 21 consultations for inguinal hernia were video recorded and observers independently assessed global impressions of provision of information, understanding, respect for integrity, and participation in (...) decision making. The consultations were analyzed for the occurrence of specific physician verbal and nonverbal behaviors and length of time in minutes. Results All of the consultations took less than 20 minutes, the majority consisting of 10 minutes or less. Despite this narrow time frame, we found strong and consistent association between increasing time and higher ratings on all components of ethical practice: information, (β = .43), understanding (β = .52), respect for integrity (β = .60), and decision making (β = .43). Positive nonverbal behaviors by physicians during the consultation were associated particularly with respect for integrity (β =.36). Positive behaviors by physicians during the physical examination were related to respect for children's integrity. Conclusion Time was of essence for the ethical encounter. Further, verbal and nonverbal positive behaviors by the physicians also contributed to higher ratings of ethical aspects. These results can help to improve quality of ethical practice in pediatric settings and are of relevance for teaching and policy makers. (shrink)
ABSTRACT The ?symmetry assumption? in public-choice theory?the idea that people act just as selfishly in the political sphere as they do in the economic sphere?is a good theory that runs afoul of much of the evidence. The public-choice theorists in this symposium, Munger and Mueller, have thus retreated from claiming that public choice explains most political behavior, with Munger positing it as an ideal type that, in principle, might explain no behavior at all. For example, Berman suggests that even politicians (...) who say and do ?anything? to be elected or re-elected may well do so in order to acquire the power they think they need if they are to enact policies that will serve the public good. The normative project of ?constitutional political economy? into which the original, empirical version of public choice seems to have evolved may or may not tell us how to structure institutions to prevent greedy actors from using politics as a means to their personal aggrandizement. But that project cannot, even hypothetically, produce the public-choice ?findings? of widespread self-interestedness in politics that my book found were nonexistent. (shrink)
Abstract Why are political decisions often unfortunate? In replying to this question public?choice theorists fail to distinguish individual conditions from systemic ones. Instead, they make sweeping claims about the egoism of man and the failure of politics. But the real problem is that we often experience government failures despite the best, the most benign motives on the part of, citizens, politicians, and bureaucrats. Better than the theory of man's innate self?interest is the theory of the unintended consequences arising from the (...) inherent shortcomings of the political system. To wish well but to do evil?that is the dilemma of politics. (shrink)
Rawls's political constructivism in Political Liberalism maintains that the two principles of justice will be accepted and endorsed by persons who are both reasonable and rational. A Theory of Justice explains the motivation to endorse the political conception on the basis of a Kantian moral psychology. Both Leif Wenar and Brian Barry argue that despite Rawls's claims to the contrary, the later work still supposes a Kantian moral psychology. If so, political constructivism fails to account for stability in society (...) among a plurality of reasonable conceptions of good. This paper draws on Rawls's distinction in Political Liberalism between the political and nonpolitical moral sell characterizing each citizens' moral identity in claiming that the two parts of the sell correlate to two sets of motivation, political and moral motivation. This account explains resolution of conflict in the agent in favor of the political conception without invoking a Kantian moral psychology. (shrink)
Although Professor Lewin is not testing existing views that, for people in politics, 'egoism rules' on deep theoretical grounds, he strongly argues that empirical facts do not support such views and thus opens a new chapter in the debate on ...
In “Property Rights and the Resource Curse” Leif Wenar argues that the purchase and sale of resources from certain countries constitutes a violation of property rights, and the priority in reforming global trade should be on protecting these property rights. Specifically, Wenar argues that the U.S. and other western liberal democracies should not be complicit in the trade of so-called cursed resources, and the extant legal system can be used to end the trade in cursed resources by prohibiting the (...) importation of cursed resources, litigating against companies that operate in resource-cursed countries, and imposing trade tariffs on third party countries’ exports if they trade in cursed resources. In this paper, I show that while Wenar is correct that the trade in cursed resources is morally objectionable and therefore creates additional moral obligations for participants in that trade, his normative assessment fails to take account of the complexity of the resource curse and his prescriptive proposal for clean trade will not reduce harm in resource-cursed countries. I suggest that the reduction of harm, rather than the enforcement of property rights, should be the normative and practical focus in evaluating and reforming trade in natural resources. (shrink)
ABSTRACT Twenty years ago Leif Lewin made the case that altruistic motives are more common than selfish motives among voters, politicians, and bureaucrats. We propose that motives and beliefs emerge as reactions to immediate feedback from technical-causal, material-economic, and moral-social aspects of the political task environment. In the absence of certain kinds of technical-causal and material-economic feedback, moral-social feedback leads individuals to the altruism Lewin documents, but also to righteousness (moralized regard for the in-group and disregard for the out-group) (...) and myopia (disregard for distant consequences). The mix of altruism, righteousness, and myopia increases the focus on winning the next high-stakes election rather than on discovering or enforcing socially productive institutions. (shrink)