James Elkins has shaped the discussion about how we—as artists, as art historians, or as outsiders—view art. He has not only revolutionized our thinking about the purpose of teaching art, but has also blazed trails in creating a means of communication between scientists, artists, and humanities scholars. In Six Stories from the End of Representation , Elkins weaves stories about recent images from painting, photography, physics, astrophysics, and microscopy. These images, regardless of origin, all fail as representations: they (...) are blurry, dark, pixellated, or otherwise unclear. In these opaque images, Elkins finds an opportunity to create stories that speak simultaneously to artists and to scientists, and to open both those fields to those of us who have little purchase in either. Regarding each image through the lens of the discipline that produced it, Elkins simultaneously affirms the unique structure of each way of viewing the world and brings those views together into a vibrant conversation. (shrink)
: This essay is an attempt to see how some of Galison's ideas and analyses look from the vantage of art history. If there's to be dialogue between the history of science and the history of art, it will be necessary to find historically recognizable senses for words like "logic" and "homologous." I also propose how Galison's kinds of images might fit into larger classifications of images known to the history of art.
Issues discussed include concepts such as "image" and "picture" in and outside the West; semiotics; whether images are products of discourse; religious meanings; and the ethics of viewing"--Provided by publisher.
Educating the Virtues David Carr Routledge, 1991. Pp. 304. ISBN 0?415?05746?9. £35. The Philosophical Theology of St Thomas Aquinas By Leo J. Elders E. J. Brill, 1990. Pp. 332. ISBN 0?04?09156?4. $74.36. The State and Justice: An Essay in Political Theory By Milton Fisk Cambridge University Press, 1990. Pp. x + 391. ISBN 0?521?38966?6. £10.95 pbk. Perspectives on Language and Thought: Interrelations in Development Edited by S. A. Gelman and J. P. Byrnes Cambridge University Press, 1992. Pp. xii + 524. (...) ISBN 0?521?37497?9. £50. Aristotle's First Principles By T. H. Irwin Oxford University Press, 1989. Pp. xviii + 702. ISBN 0?198?24717?6. £17.50 Pbk. Truth and Eros: Foucault, Lacan, and the Question of Ethics By John Rajchman Routledge, 1991. Pp. 155. ISBN 0?415?90380?7. £10.99. Logical Forms By Mark Sainsbury Blackwell, 1991. Pp. 408. ISBN 0?631?17777?9. £11.95. Form and Transformation. A Study in the Philosophy of Plotinus By Frederic M. Schroeder McGill?Queen's University Press, 1992. Pp. xiv + 136. ISBN 0?7735?1016?8. £34.95. Did The Greeks Believe Their Myths? An Essay on the Constitutive Imagination By Paul Veyne, translated by Paula Wissing The University of Chicago Press, 1988. Pp. 161. ISBN 0?226?85434?5. £8.75 Pbk. What is Philosophy? By Dietrich von Hildebrand Routledge, 1991. Pp. lvii + 242. ISBN 0?415?02584?2. £12.99. (shrink)
Philosophers of religion propose an assortment of epistemic preferences with reference to the extent and limits of knowledge of God, ranging from moderate fideism to robust rationalism. In the past two decades, a seismic shift has occurred away from more classical strategies to movements that reflect the current Zeitgeist (e.g. postmodernism and pseudo-modernism). In my paper, I will argue for rational confidence and epistemic modesty in an attempt to find some balance between faith and reason.
One of three books based on Dove Award winning songs of the same title with a story based on each song's lyrics. Each book includes a CD with The Wonder Kids Choir performing the song and the original artist or a celebrity narrator reading the story. Ages 5 and up. Awesome God read by Steve Green.
In his criticisms of the German youth movement and the emergence of fascism across Europe during the early 1920s, Max Scheler draws a distinction between the different senses of political apathy that give rise to mass political movements. Recent studies of mass apathy have tended to treat all forms of apathy as the same and as a consequence reduced the diverse expressions of mass violence to the same, stripping mass movements of any critical function. I show in this paper that (...) Scheler’s distinction provides the means by which to locate the various origins of mass violence and the practical means by which to address this violence that preserves the liberating potential of collective political movements. (shrink)
Writers on collective action are in broad agreement that in order for a group of agents to form a collective intention, the members of that group must have beliefs about the beliefs of the other members. But in spite of the fact that this so-called "interactive knowledge" is central to virtually every account of collective intention, writers on this subject have not offered a detailed account of the nature of interactive knowledge. In this paper, we argue that such an account (...) is necessary for any adequate analysis of collective intention. Furthermore, we argue that an application of Robert Aumann's theory of interactive knowledge may be used to address several puzzling features of collective intention. CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this? (shrink)
Trying to make sense of abstract painting has resulted in interesting but often inexact and inadequately motivated efforts to characterize what is distinctive about modern art. The present account begins with Gertrude Stein's description of the fascination she experiences in viewing painted surfaces and proceeds through a number of efforts to justify or severely criticize abstract painting in relation to more traditional representational works. The basis for a phenomenology of abstract painting is suggested by James Elkins's first-person analysis of (...) the reasons why painters paint, focusing on the production rather than exclusively on the appreciation of paintings. Elkins's proposal that painters paint as an exploration of the possibilities of working with the material substance of paint is advanced as the basis for a new approach to the problems of understanding the nature of abstract art as the most pure and concentrated form of this remarkable aesthetic preoccupation that is to be found in all paintings and by extension in all art. (shrink)
Brian Skyrms has argued that the evolution of the social contract may be explained using the tools of evolutionary game theory. I show in the first half of this paper that the evolutionary game-theoretic models are often highly sensitive to the specific processes that they are intended to simulate. This sensitivity represents an important robustness failure that complicates Skyrms's project. But I go on to make the positive proposal that we may none the less obtain robust results by simulating the (...) population structures that existed among our evolutionary ancestors. It is by extending the evolutionary models in this way that we should pursue the project of explaining the evolution of the social contract. (shrink)
In this paper, we offer an analysis of ‘group intentions.’ On our proposal, group intentions should be understood as a state of equilibrium among the beliefs of the members of a group. Although the discussion in this paper is non-technical, the equilibrium concept is drawn from the formal theory of interactive epistemology due to Robert Aumann. The goal of this paper is to provide an analysis of group intentions that is informed by important work in economics and formal epistemology.
Common knowledge is usually defined as a state in which everyone knows that p, everyone knows that everyone knows that p, and so on, ad infinitum. This definition is usually attributed to David Lewis, despite the fact that his own formulation bears no resemblance to common knowledge as it is usually understood. In this paper, I argue that this concept of common knowledge requires revision. Contrary to usual practice, it turns out to be difficult to model formally because existing models (...) fail to distinguish between full-blown common knowledge and merely finite levels of interactive knowledge. Conceptually, the concept is incompatible with Lewis's intended purpose and obscures the explanatory role played by rational choice models. I propose that the concept of common knowledge be brought better into alignment with Lewis's actual formulation. This reconceptualization of common knowledge suggests a greater focus on explanations that make recourse to the cognitive constraints of real-world agents. (shrink)
While studies have investigated the moral issue associated with downsizing, little research attention has been directed to leaders’ behaviors that result in organizational decline and eventually lead them to make a downsizing decision. This study tests a sequence-based model to assess (1) the impact of leaders’ risk-aversion and self-centeredness on organizational decline and downsizing and (2) the impact of organizational and industry decline on organizational downsizing. We address a gap in the decline literature that has only implicitly alluded to leadership (...) characteristics as forerunners of decline. Data collected from 85 firms indicate that both leadership risk-aversion and self-centeredness are significantly related to organizational decline. This results in intensified organizational downsizing. However, industry decline affects downsizing more significantly. (shrink)
We argue that conceptual analyses of collective action should be informed by game-theoretic analyses of collective action. In particular, we argue that Ariel Rubenstein’s so-called ‘Electronic Mail Game’ provides a useful model of collective action, and of the formation of collective intentions.
Painted in 1656 by Diego Velasquez (1599-1660), Las Meninas has engendered countless philosophical commentaries. Artists, too, have explored the painting's puzzles and paradoxes. All of the responses to this masterpiece, now over 350 years old, show that Las Meninas continues to live with us on several levels. Indeed, Las Meninas is one of the most controversial paintings of our time (Brown and Garrido, 1998, p. 181); no small feat given that cutting-edge art today is often media-based and/or media-driven. The wealth (...) of controversy has generated so much material since the work's conception that James Elkins, in his book Why Are Our Pictures Puzzles, characterized Las Meninas as an artwork that has become monstrous. According to Elkins, it has effectively outgrown the discipline of art history. Like the frescos in the Brancacci Chapel, the Mona Lisa, Raphael's School of Athens and the Oath of Horatio by David, the scholarship surrounding Las Meninas is so vast that no single thinker or volume can present it fully; it is not even possible to teach these works in a yearlong seminar (Elkins, 1999). While I am among those captivated by the painting, I am also aware of how little a short essay can accomplish. Nevertheless, I do hope to convey why this immense canvas continues to inspire people creatively, intellectually, and passionately. In terms of consciousness, my comments are intended to weave the physicality of the work with epistemological interpretations and empirical investigations so that its mutability is more present in our consciousness discourse. (shrink)
This paper attempts to establish that, and explain why, the practice of punishing offenders is in principle morally permissible. My account is a nonstandard version of the fair play view, according to which punishment's permissibility derives from reciprocal obligations shared by members of a political community, understood as a mutually beneficial, cooperative venture. Most fair play views portray punishment as an appropriate means of removing the unfair advantage an offender gains relative to law-abiding members of the community. Such views struggle, (...) however, to provide a plausible account of this unfairly gained benefit. By contrast, on my account punishment's permissibility follows more straightforwardly from the fair play view of political obligation: Specifically, the rule instituting punishment is itself among those rules with which members of the political community are obliged to comply. For criminal offenders, compliance requires submitting to the prospect of punishment. (shrink)
A significant challenge faces any ethic that endorses the view that divine commands are sufficient to impose moral obligations; in this paper, I focus on Kierkegaard's ethic, in particular. The challenge to be addressed is the “modernized” problem of Abraham, popularized especially by Fear and Trembling: the dilemma that an agent faces when a being claiming to be God issues a command to the agent that, by the agent's own lights, seems not to be the kind of command that a (...) loving God would issue. Against a solution to this problem proposed by C. Stephen Evans in Kierkegaard's Ethic of Love, I argue that Kierkegaard regards this scenario as never actually resulting in a fully responsible agent's performance of some horrendous action on account of her non-culpable misinterpretation of God's will and/or failure to discern correctly whether a perceived moral imperative truly is divine in origin. (shrink)
This symposium is inspired by the round tables organised by James Elkins in Cork, Ireland and Chicago which aimed to create a dialogue between art historians and philosophers on concepts which are central to the way both disciplines conduct their respective endeavours. For our symposium, art historians and philosophers will discuss topics and concepts which are likely to be given different interpretations by the respective disciplines. We will attempt to bridge the gap between the respective interpretations by inviting a (...) closer consideration of the alternative perspective. The first topic will be the relation of aesthetic and moral considerations in evaluating the photography of Bill Henson. The second will be "Beauty" and the third, will be the nature of "Aesthetic Autonomy". (shrink)
This article argues that certain philosophically devised quality control parameters should guide approaches to interdisciplinary education. We sketch the kind of reflections we think are necessary in order to produce epistemologically responsible curricula. We suggest that the two overarching epistemic dimensions of levels of analysis and basic viewpoints go a long way towards clarifying the structure of interdisciplinary validity claims. Through a discussion of how best to teach basic ideas about numeracy in Mind, Brain, and Education, we discuss what it (...) means for an interdisciplinary curriculum to respect both the minds of students and the complexity of the subject matter. (shrink)
Game theory has played a critical role in elucidating the evolutionary origins of social behavior. Sober and Wilson (1999) model altruism as a prisoner's dilemma and claim that this model indicates that altruism arose from group selection pressures. Sober and Wilson also suggest that the prisoner's dilemma model can be used to characterize punishment; hence, punishment too originated from group selection pressures. However, empirical evidence suggests that a group selection model of the origins of altruistic punishment may be insufficient. I (...) argue that examining dominance hierarchies and coalition formation in chimpanzee societies suggests that the origins of altruistic punishment may be best captured by individual selection models. I suggest that this shows the necessity of coupling of game-theoretic models with a conception of what our actual social structure may have been like to best model the origins of our own behavior. ‡I would like to thank Zachary Ernst and Emma Marris for their many helpful comments which greatly improved this paper. †To contact the author, please write to: Department of Philosophy, University of Maryland, Skinner Building, College Park, MD 20742; e-mail: email@example.com. (shrink)
Many philosophers of science believe that empirical psychology can contribute little to the philosophical investigation of explanations. They take this to be shown by the fact that certain explanations fail to elicit any relevant psychological events (e.g., familiarity, insight, intelligibility, etc.). We report results from a study suggesting that, at least among those with extensive science training, a capacity to render an event intelligible is considered a requirement for explanation. We also investigate for whom explanations must be capable of rendering (...) events intelligible and whether or not accuracy is also viewed as a requirement. (shrink)
Edmund Husserl’s Kaizo articles mark one of his first attempts at notions of cultural renewal and critique. (1) Central to both of these notions for Husserl is the idea of a best possible humanity. At the conclusion of the Kaizo articles, Husserl entertains some quite troubling and potentially dangerous descriptions of the best possible in terms of an Übernation or Weltvolk. Although merely provisional, these descriptions call for a cultural and ethical renewal through the reorientation of humanity in accord with (...) a single, unified “world.” The Kaizo articles do represent Husserl’s most concentrated effort in developing a notion of cultural renewal but are not the only attempt made by Husserl at this time. In manuscripts written at nearly the exact same time period, Husserl had also taken up this notion of the best possible, but he did so in terms of the shared experiences in the acts of sympathy. (2) These sympathy manuscripts offer a genetic description of the origins of the best possible, in contrast to the static, eidetic method Husserl employed in the Kaizo articles. My aim in this paper is to show that a genetic phenomenological approach, grounding the best possible in the lived experiences of sympathy, offers a much more concrete telos for humanity. Solidarity among all human beings, rather than the idea of a “super nation,” would function as the best possible, as what we should and, thus, can become. Although certain shortcomings remain in the sympathy manuscripts, they indicate a much better beginning for a phenomenological approach to the question of a cultural renewal, a beginning that first emerges in genesis and the lived experience of the suffering of a fellow human being. (shrink)
cs' mature theory of Hegelian Marxism has been criticized for the determinacy with which it predicts utopia as a possibility for the future. This paper instead examines Lukács' early, pre-Marxist thinking, which asserts utopia only as the grounding concept for a procedure of cultural criticism, and not as the outcome of any foreseeable process of social change. I attempt to evaluate this non-Marxist utopianism of the young Lukács by focusing in particular on 'The Foundering of Form Against Life: Søren Kierkegaard (...) and Regine Olsen', a 1910 essay in which Lukács criticizes Kierkegaard for failing to articulate any concept of utopia and for focusing instead on private 'faith' as a potential solution to the endemic problems of modernity, such as alienation and reification. Because young Lukács himself thus sets up Kierkegaard as a dystopian rival for his own utopian thought, I use a comparison between these two thinkers as a basis for speculation on the advantages and disadvantages of positing a normative concept of utopia as the basis for social criticism. Key Words: alienation faith reification subjectivity utopia. (shrink)
In this article we frame a set of important issues in the emerging field of Mind, Brain, and Education in terms of three broad headings: methods, models, and morality. Under the heading of methods we suggest that the need for synthesis across scientific and practical disciplines entails the pursuit of usable knowledge via a catalytic symbiosis between theory, research, and practice. Under the heading of models the goal of producing usable knowledge should shape the construction of theories that provide comprehensive (...) accounts of human learning and development spanning multiple levels of analysis. Under the heading of morality usable knowledge must be put to good use: Its application and dissemination ought to be infused with moral considerations gleaned from dialogue among all those potentially affected. Generally, the field should be shaped not only by its constituent scientific disciplines but also by its applications to education and learning. Thus we argue for the adoption of a kind of pragmatism that would be best actualized by building research-school collaborations between researchers and practitioners. (shrink)
This article defends deterrence as an aim of punishment. Specifically, I contend that a system of punishment aimed at deterrence (with constraints to prohibit punishing the innocent or excessively punishing the guilty) is consistent with the liberal principle of respect for offenders as autonomous moral persons. I consider three versions of the objection that deterrent punishment fails to respect offenders. The first version, raised by Jeffrie Murphy and others, charges that deterrent punishment uses offenders as mere means to securing the (...) social good of crime reduction. The second and third are developed by R.A. Duff. The second holds that deterrent punishment inappropriately excludes offenders from the moral community. The third charges that deterrent punishment offers community members the wrong sorts of reasons to comply with the law. I conclude that each of these objections fails. A system of punishment aimed at deterrence (suitably constrained) is consistent with respect for offenders as moral persons. (shrink)
In this paper, I develop the notion of an epistemic side constraint in order to overcome one of the main challenges to a goal-based approach to the structure of epistemic normativity. I argue that the rationale for such side constraints can be found in the work of John Locke and that his argument is best understood as the epistemic analog to David Gauthier’s argument as to the rationality of being moral.
This article examines the role of similarity in the hybridization of concepts, focusing on hybrid products as an applied test case. Hybrid concepts found in natural language, such as singer songwriter, typically combine similar concepts, whereas dissimilar concepts rarely form hybrids. The hybridization of dissimilar concepts in products such as jogging shoe mp3 player and refrigerator TV thus poses a challenge for understanding the process of conceptual combination. It is proposed that models of conceptual combination can throw light on the (...) judged future success and desirability of hybrid products in general. The composite prototype model proposes two stages of conceptual combination. In the first stage, the concepts are aggregated into an additive hybrid, simply by forming the union of the two sets of attributes. In the second stage, any conflicting attributes are identified and resolved, often with the introduction of emergent attributes, resulting in an integrative hybrid. Across four studies that varied the similarity and type of hybrid products, similar and integrative hybrids were valued more than dissimilar and additive hybrids. Critically, though, dissimilar hybrids were also highly valued if they were integrative. Results supported the two stages proposed by the composite prototype model, and implications for other models of hybrid formation are discussed. (shrink)
In this paper, I attempt to consider Jewish philosophy in opposition to the anti-ocularcentrism that defined the German Jewish philosophical tradition after Kant, namely the idea that Judaism—or at least its philosophical expression in Maimonidean philosophy—is aniconic and cognitively abstract. I do so by attempting to rethink the epistemic-veridical place of the imagination and visual experience in the Guide of the Perplexed . Once the imagination has been disciplined by reason, is there any cognitive status to an image or sound (...) that the eye or the ear perceives, and to that mental faculty that combines and recombines such impressions? Is the sight or sound of revelation a hallucination or just a mere figure of speech? Does it bear any relation to a spiritual reality external to the human mind and finite physical existence? To address these questions I explore the visual images, both iconic and aniconic-abstract, that distinguish the Guide . There is no getting past the visual imagination, although I am not sure Maimonides would have recognized it as such. Even when he leaves behind figurative visual cues such as the false image-work of the undisciplined imagination or the appearance of angels and images of God found in lower grades of prophecy, he turns to another visual register, namely the “abstract art“ of pure, dazzling light. In regard to these questions, Maimonides was more Greek than German, ascribing, cautiously, penultimate cognitive status to the visual imagination. (shrink)
Recent work by Renaud Barbaras on the definition of life has shown the fecundity of a phenomenological approach that sees absence as having a positive status. This phenomenon allows Barbaras to identify life with “desire,” the indefinite exploration of the exterior world. It also allows Barbaras to defeat competing definitions of life in the sciences, particularly biology. In this paper, I propose a mutual complementarity between the work of Barbaras and that in contemporary systems science, namely by Stuart Kauffman, suggesting (...) that scientific concepts of subcriticality may allow for more overlap between phenomenological and scientific definitions of life than Barbaras acknowledges. (shrink)
In this paper, I provide a phenomenological account of aging and show how this account can address forms of age discrimination and injustice. Such an account is becoming increasingly critical as the welfare state attempts to adjust to the aging populations of the post-industrial countries. My primary focus is the relation between aging and time. Part 1 of this study describes how time consciousness is transformed by the experience of aging, demonstrating the unique and heterogeneous quality of one's life time. (...) Part 2 suggests how phenomenology can function as a type of critical gerontology in examining the management and production of discrimination in the time of aging. (shrink)
The intent of my article is to examine critically the peculiar “forbidden” significance entailed in places designated as the commons. The commons are those places within a particular environment or ecosystem that serve as the essential life-giving resource for its members. Due to both changes in the earth’s climate and the over consumption of resources, the commons are in a state of desperate crisis throughout much of the world. A symptom of this crisis is the rising political and environmental violence (...) specific to those places that harbor the commons. One strategy employed to address the political crisis is the privatization of these life-giving resources. The justification for privatization rests on providing the economic support necessary to secure and gain greater access to the commons. There has been as a result a growing effort from both a human right and environmental standpoint to articulate a global provision that would protect the commons from the industries of privatization and commodification.In this article, I bolster these efforts by specifying the manner by which the commons resist privatization. My focus is on the type of place, or rather, the type of forbidden place the commons are. The commons do not resist by forbidding use or occupation. Quite to the contrary, they resist by giving life, by welcoming all who may sustain themselves through them. Their place is a place for no one precisely because it is a place for all. (shrink)
This paper examines whether religious reasons have a legitimate place in a liberal democracy's policy debates. Robert Audi, building from Rawlsian themes, contends that civic virtue obliges religious citizens who advocate for public policies to have sufficiently motivating secular reasons. Others contend it's unfair to exclude reasonable citizens from policy debates merely because their only reasons are religious ones. This essay seeks to reconcile the intuitions behind these competing views. I examine Audi's account of the differences between religious and secular (...) reasons to determine why he believes religious reasons are inappropriate to justify coercive policies. Of the distinctions he discusses, only one -- religious reasons are often grounded in an infallible authority -- is relevant for distinguishing suitable from unsuitable policy justifications. I develop an alternative to Audi's account: Individuals should refrain from bringing reasons held to be infallibly true to policy debates. On this view, not all religious reasons will warrant exclusion, though some may. (shrink)
We present a family of counter-examples to David Christensen's Independence Criterion, which is central to the epistemology of disagreement. Roughly, independence requires that, when you assess whether to revise your credence in P upon discovering that someone disagrees with you, you shouldn't rely on the reasoning that lead you to your initial credence in P. To do so would beg the question against your interlocutor. Our counter-examples involve questions where, in the course of your reasoning, you almost fall for an (...) easy-to-miss trick. We argue that you can use the step in your reasoning where you (barely) caught the trick as evidence that someone of your general competence level (your interlocutor) likely fell for it. Our cases show that it's permissible to use your reasoning about disputed matters to disregard an interlocutor's disagreement, so long as that reasoning is embedded in the right sort of explanation of why she finds the disputed conclusion plausible, even though it's false. (shrink)
Max Scheler’s contribution to the early development of phenomenology is second to only Edmund Husserl’s. What perhaps distinguishes Scheler’s early contribution is his willingness to examine phenomenologically social and political phenomena. Not only did this early trajectory lead him to develop a non-formal value theory, but it also enabled him to engage directly in the political problems of his time. Like many of his contemporary intellectuals, Scheler was an adamantsupporter of German aggression during the onset of World War I, and (...) he wrote many works during this time demonstrating the value and justification of the war. In only a few years’ time, Scheler’s position on the value of war shifted dramatically and he began to defend a position of peace and pacifism. The aim of this paper is twofold: (1) to clarify the early themes and influences in phenomenology that prepared Scheler for his analysis of war and peace; and (2) to illustratehow Scheler’s analysis offers the possibility of concretising the present experience of war and the possibility of peace. (shrink)
This paper objects to certain forms of punishments, such as supermax confinement, on grounds that they are inappropriately contemptuous. Building on discussions in Kant and elsewhere, I flesh out what I take to be salient features of contempt, features that make contempt especially troubling as a form of moral regard and treatment. As problematic as contempt may be in the interpersonal context, I contend that it is especially troubling when a person is treated contemptuously by her political community’s institutions -- (...) such as by certain forms of punishment. Punishment is contemptuous if it fails to respect offenders as moral persons, who as such are always capable of moral reform. Respect for offenders therefore requires, at least, that punishment not tend to undermine the prospect of offenders’ reform. I flesh out this constraint by considering various ways in which punishments may tend to undermine offenders’ reform. In particular, I discuss ways in which supermax confinement tends to violate the reform-based constraint. Finally, I address several potential objections to my account. (shrink)
Shortest possible axiomatizations for the implicational fragments of the modal logics S4 and S5 are reported. Among these axiomatizations is included a shortest single axiom for implicational S4—which to our knowledge is the ﬁrst reported single axiom for that system—and several new shortest single axioms for implicational S5. A variety of automated reasoning strategies were essential to our discoveries.
Individuals convicted of crimes are often subject to numerous restrictions -- on housing, employment, the vote, public assistance, and other goods -- well after they have completed their sentences, and in some cases permanently. The question of whether -- and if so, when -- ex-offender restrictions are morally permissible has received surprisingly little philosophical scrutiny. This paper first examines the significance of completing punishment, of paying one’s debt to society, and contends that when offenders’ debts are paid, they should be (...) restored to full standing as citizens. Thus all ex-offender restrictions are presumptively unjustified. Nonconsequentialist defenses of these restrictions are ultimately unsuccessful in defeating the presumption against them. In a limited range of cases, consequentialist considerations -- namely, of risk reduction -- may be sufficient to override the presumptive case against these restrictions. The paper concludes by suggesting a number of criteria for assessing whether particular restrictive measures are permissible on grounds of risk reduction. (shrink)