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  1.  2
    The Nonrandom Walk of Knowledge.Jane R. Bambauer, Saura Masconale & Simone M. Sepe - 2020 - Social Philosophy and Policy 37 (2):249-264.
    A person’s epistemic goals sometimes clash with pragmatic ones. At times, rational agents will degrade the quality of their epistemic process in order to satisfy a goal that is knowledge-independent This is particularly so when the epistemic quest concerns an abstract political or economic theory, where evidence is likely to be softer and open to interpretation. Before wide-scale adoption of the Internet, people sought out or stumbled upon evidence related to a proposition in a more random way. And it was (...)
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  2. Free Expression or Equal Speech?Teresa M. Bejan - 2020 - Social Philosophy and Policy 37 (2):153-169.
    The classical liberal doctrine of free expression asserts the priority of speech as an extension of the freedom of thought. Yet its critics argue that freedom of expression, itself, demands the suppression of the so-called “silencing speech” of racists, sexists, and so on, as a threat to the equal expressive rights of others. This essay argues that the claim to free expression must be distinguished from claims to equal speech. The former asserts an equal right to express one’s thoughts without (...)
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  3.  4
    Harms of Silence: From Pierre Bayle to de-Platforming.Andrew Jason Cohen - 2020 - Social Philosophy and Policy 37 (2):114-131.
    Early in the history of liberalism, its most important proponents were concerned with freedom of religion. As polities and individuals now accept a dizzying array of religions, this has receded to the background for most theorists. It nonetheless remains a concern. Freedom of speech is a similar concern and very much in the foreground for theorists looking at the current state of academia. In this essay, I argue that inappropriate limits to freedom of religion and inappropriate limits to freedom of (...)
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  4.  1
    Persecution and the Art of Freedom: Alexis de Tocqueville on the Importance of Free Press and Free Speech in Democratic Society.Khalil M. Habib - 2020 - Social Philosophy and Policy 37 (2):190-208.
    According to Tocqueville, the freedom of the press, which he treats as an extension of the freedom of speech, is a primary constituent element of liberty. Tocqueville treats the freedom of the press in relation to and as an extension of the right to assemble and govern one’s own affairs, both of which he argues are essential to preserving liberty in a free society. Although scholars acknowledge the importance of civil associations to liberty in Tocqueville’s political thought, they routinely ignore (...)
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  5.  3
    A Defense of Mill’s Argument for the “Practical Inseparability” of the Liberties of Conscience.Daniel Jacobson - 2020 - Social Philosophy and Policy 37 (2):9-30.
    Mill advocated an unqualified defense of the liberty of conscience in the most comprehensive sense, which he understood to include not just the freedom to hold but also to express any opinion or sentiment. Yet considerable dispute persists about the nature of Mill’s argument for freedom of expression and whether his premises can support so strong a conclusion. Two prominent interpretations of Mill that threaten to undermine his uncompromising defense of free speech are considered and refuted. A better interpretation can (...)
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  6.  1
    In Praise of Evil Thoughts.Andrew Koppelman - 2020 - Social Philosophy and Policy 37 (2):52-71.
    Freedom of thought means freedom from social tyranny, the capacity to think for oneself, to encounter even shocking ideas without shrinking away from them. That aspiration is a core concern of the free speech tradition. It is not specifically concerned with law, but it explains some familiar aspects of the First Amendment law we actually have—aspects that the most prevalent theories of free speech fail to capture. It explains the prohibition of compelled speech, and can clarify the perennial puzzle of (...)
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  7.  1
    The Authority of the Sacred Victim.Molly Brigid McGrath - 2020 - Social Philosophy and Policy 37 (2):132-152.
    Suffering can make sacred, so it may partly be nature, and not culture alone, that leads us to apprehend a sacred aspect in victims of oppression. Those who recognize this sacredness show piety—a special form of respect—toward members of oppressed groups. The result is a system of social constructions often dismissed as “identity politics.” This essay starts with an analysis of the intentionality of piety and sacredness and how they relate to suffering, sacrifice, sanctions, pollution, and purification. It then argues (...)
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  8.  1
    Free Speech, Privacy, and Autonomy.Adam D. Moore - 2020 - Social Philosophy and Policy 37 (2):31-51.
    While autonomy arguments provide a compelling foundation for free speech, they also support individual privacy rights. Considering how speech and privacy may be justified, I will argue that the speech necessary for self-government does not need to include details that would violate privacy rights. Additionally, I will argue that if viewed as a kind of intangible property right, informational privacy should limit speech and expression in a range of cases. In a world where we have an overabundance of content to (...)
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  9.  1
    Dating Through the Filters.Karim Nader - 2020 - Social Philosophy and Policy 37 (2):237-248.
    In this essay, I explore ethical considerations that might arise from the use of collaborative filtering algorithms on dating apps. Collaborative filtering algorithms can predict the preferences of a target user by looking at the past behavior of similar users. By recommending products through this process, they can influence the news we read, the movies we watch, and more. They are extremely powerful and effective on platforms like Amazon and Google. Recommender systems on dating apps are likely to group people (...)
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  10.  3
    Freedom of Thought?Frederick Schauer - 2020 - Social Philosophy and Policy 37 (2):72-89.
    Freedom of thought is often explicitly protected in constitutions and human rights documents, and even more often employed as a rallying cry against state tyranny. It is not so clear, however, just what freedom of thought is, what it would be to threaten it, and how, if at all, it differs from basic liberty or freedom. This essay seeks to analyze the idea of freedom of thought, to pose some skeptical questions about its alleged independent existence, and to ask, again (...)
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  11.  4
    Freedom of Thought.David Schmidtz - 2020 - Social Philosophy and Policy 37 (2):1-8.
    This essay introduces basic issues that make up the topic of freedom of thought, including newly emerging issues raised by the current proliferation of Internet search algorithms.
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  12.  6
    Free Speech on Social Media: How to Protect Our Freedoms From Social Media That Are Funded by Trade in Our Personal Data.Richard Sorabji - 2020 - Social Philosophy and Policy 37 (2):209-236.
    I have argued elsewhere that in past history, freedom of speech, whether granted to few or many, was granted as bestowing some important benefit. John Stuart Mill, for example, in On Liberty, saw it as enabling us to learn from each other through discussion. By the test of benefit, I here argue that social media that are funded through trade in our personal data with advertisers, including propagandists, cannot claim to be supporting free speech. We lose our freedoms, if the (...)
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  13. Moral Grandstanding as a Threat to Free Expression.Justin Tosi & Brandon Warmke - 2020 - Social Philosophy and Policy 37 (2):170-189.
    Moral grandstanding, or the use of moral talk for self-promotion, is a threat to free expression. When grandstanding is introduced in a public forum, several ideals of free expression are less likely to be realized. Popular views are less likely to be challenged, people are less free to entertain heterodox ideas, and the cost of changing one’s mind goes up.
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  14.  3
    The Value of Ideological Diversity Among University Faculty.Keith E. Whittington - 2020 - Social Philosophy and Policy 37 (2):90-113.
    Conservatives in the United States have grown increasingly critical of universities and their faculty, convinced that professors are ideologues from the political left. Universities, for their part, have increasingly adopted a mantra of diversity and inclusivity, but have shown little interest in diversifying the political and ideological profile of their faculties. This essay argues that the lack of political diversity among American university faculty hampers the ability of universities to fulfill their core mission of advancing and disseminating knowledge. The argument (...)
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  15.  3
    Out of the Coffee House or How Political Economy Pretended to Be a Science From Montchrétien to Steuart.Christopher J. Berry - 2020 - Social Philosophy and Policy 37 (1):10-29.
    The essay investigates the proposition that economic questions are a fit subject for science. This investigation will involve a selective examination of seventeenth-century writings before looking at again selective Enlightenment texts. The essay is deliberately wide ranging, but it aims to pick out the emergence or crystallization of political economy by noting how theorists sought to establish it as a subject matter and in the process develop ways of studying it that aimed to uncover regularities and exhibit generality, systematicity, and (...)
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  16.  3
    The Early Modern Origins of Behavioral Economics.Richard Boyd - 2020 - Social Philosophy and Policy 37 (1):30-54.
    For all the recent discoveries of behavioral psychology and experimental economics, the spirit of homo economicus still dominates the contemporary disciplines of economics, political science, and sociology. Turning back to the earliest chapters of political economy, however, reveals that pioneering figures such as Francis Bacon, Thomas Hobbes, and Adam Smith were hardly apostles of economic rationality as they are often portrayed in influential narratives of the development of the social sciences. As we will see, while all three of these thinkers (...)
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  17.  3
    “Shining Bits of Metal”: Money, Property, and the Imagination in Hume’s Political Economy.Timothy M. Costelloe - 2020 - Social Philosophy and Policy 37 (1):213-232.
    This essay examines Hume’s treatment of money in light of his view of the imagination. It begins with his claim that money is distinct from wealth, the latter arising, according to vulgar reasoning, from the power of acquisition that it represents, or, understood philosophically, from the labor that produces it. The salient features that Hume identifies with the imagination are then put forth, namely its power to combine ideas creatively and the principle of easy transition that characterizes its movement among (...)
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  18.  5
    Shaftesbury on Selfishness and Partisanship.Michael B. Gill - 2020 - Social Philosophy and Policy 37 (1):55-79.
    In the Introduction to his Treatise of Human Nature, David Hume credits “my Lord Shaftesbury” as one of the “philosophers in England, who have begun to put the science of man on a new footing.” I describe aspects of Shaftesbury’s philosophy that justify the credit Hume gives him. I focus on Shaftesbury’s refutation of psychological egoism, his examination of partiality, and his views on how to promote impartial virtue. I also discuss Shaftesbury’s political commitments, and raise questions about recent interpretations (...)
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  19.  2
    How Should We Reconcile Self-Regarding and Pro-Social Motivations? A Renaissance of “Das Adam Smith Problem”.Natalie Gold - 2020 - Social Philosophy and Policy 37 (1):80-102.
    “Das Adam Smith Problem” is the name given by eighteenth-century German scholars to the question of how to reconcile the role of self-interest in the Wealth of Nations with Smith’s advocacy of sympathy in Theory of Moral Sentiments. As the discipline of economics developed, it focused on the interaction of selfish agents, pursuing their private interests. However, behavioral economists have rediscovered the existence and importance of multiple motivations, and a new Das Adam Smith Problem has arisen, of how to accommodate (...)
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  20.  3
    Two Accounts of the Relation Between Political Economy and Economics.Shaun P. Hargreaves Heap - 2020 - Social Philosophy and Policy 37 (1):103-117.
    In a providential account of the changing relation between political economy and economics, the late nineteenth-century development of economics is identified with the rational choice model; and the revival of political economy in the late twentieth century comes with the export of this model to politics and the other social sciences. An alternative prudential account locates the revival of political economy with a significant qualification to the rational choice model. This qualification restores an eighteenth- and nineteenth-century view of rule-following to (...)
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  21.  2
    The Protection of the Rich Against the Poor: The Politics of Adam Smith’s Political Economy.James A. Harris - 2020 - Social Philosophy and Policy 37 (1):138-158.
    My point of departure in this essay is Smith’s definition of government. “Civil government,” he writes, “so far as it is instituted for the security of property, is in reality instituted for the defence of the rich against the poor, or of those who have some property against those who have none at all.” First I unpack Smith’s definition of government as the protection of the rich against the poor. I argue that, on Smith’s view, this is always part of (...)
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  22.  3
    Polity and Economy in Plato’s Republic.Loren Lomasky - 2020 - Social Philosophy and Policy 37 (1):233-248.
    Although the architectonic of Plato’s best city is dazzling, some critics find its detailed prescriptions inimical to human freedom and well-being. Most notably, Karl Popper in The Open Society and its Enemies sees it as a proto-totalitarian recipe, choking all initiative and variety out of the citizenry. This essay does not directly respond to Popper’s critique but instead spotlights a strand in the dialogue that positions Plato as an advocate of regulatory relaxation and economic liberty to an extent otherwise unknown (...)
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  23.  1
    The Relevance of Propriety and Self-Command in Adam Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments.Leonidas Montes - 2020 - Social Philosophy and Policy 37 (1):118-137.
    Propriety and self-command are distinctive and complex Smithian concepts. This essay attempts to shed more light on the meaning and significance of propriety and the virtue of self-command. After a brief introduction on the recent reappraisal of The Theory of Moral Sentiments, a short analysis of Smith’s crucial idea of sympathy follows. Then the relevance of propriety is discussed and some connections between propriety and the virtue of self-command are explored. Finally, the importance of Smith’s self-command is reassessed, paying attention (...)
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  24.  2
    The Levellers and the Birth of Liberal Political Economy.James R. Otteson - 2020 - Social Philosophy and Policy 37 (1):170-189.
    When did liberal political theory, or perhaps liberal political economy, begin? Although many would trace their beginnings to the writings of Adam Smith, David Hume, or perhaps John Locke, in fact many of the propositions we today recognize as forming the core of liberalism were articulated in the first half of the seventeenth century by an unduly neglected group called the Levellers and their leader John Lilburne. In this essay, I first give some historical background and context to the Levellers (...)
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  25. Adam Smith and the Origins of Political Economy.Maria Pia Paganelli - 2020 - Social Philosophy and Policy 37 (1):159-169.
    The method of analysis Adam Smith uses is relatively similar to the method economics generally uses today, especially the subfield of experimental economics. The method of analysis that Smith uses is coherent and consistent throughout his whole work. He searches for constant variables and then sees what variables are changed by exogenous changes. In particular, Smith looks for the constancy in human nature, and analyzes how historical and material circumstances change the incentives that the constant human nature faces. This method, (...)
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  26.  3
    David Hume as a Proto-Weberian: Commerce, Protestantism, and Secular Culture.Margaret Schabas - 2020 - Social Philosophy and Policy 37 (1):190-212.
    David Hume wrote prolifically and influentially on economics and was an enthusiast for the modern commercial era of manufacturing and global trade. As a vocal critic of the Church, and possibly a nonbeliever, Hume positioned commerce at the vanguard of secularism. I here argue that Hume broached ideas that gesture toward those offered by Max Weber in his famous Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. Hume discerned a strong correlation between economic flourishing and Protestantism, and he pointed to a (...)
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  27.  4
    Origins of Political Economy.David Schmidtz - 2020 - Social Philosophy and Policy 37 (1):1-9.
    Our modern observation-based approaches to the study of the human condition were shaped by the Scottish Enlightenment. Political Economy emerged as a discipline of its own in the nineteenth century, then fragmented further around the dawn of the twentieth century. Today, we see Political Economy’s pieces being reassembled and reunited with their philosophical roots. This issue pauses to reflect on the history of this new but also old field of study.
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