Nonideal theory and compliance—A clarification

European Journal of Political Theory 14 (2):229-245 (2015)
Abstract
This paper examines the various ways in which nonideal theory responds to noncompliance with ideal principles of justice. Taking Rawls’ definition of nonideal theory as my point of departure, I propose an understanding of this concept as comprising two subparts: Complementary nonideal theory responds to deliberate and avoidable noncompliance and consists mainly of theories of civil disobedience, rebellion, and retribution. Substitutive nonideal theory responds to nondeliberate and unavoidable noncompliance and consists mainly of theories of transition and caretaking. I further argue that a special case of substitutive nonideal theory may arise when noncompliance is a result of a lack of motivation among citizens. This situation, I suggest, calls for nonideal theorizing when our aim is to evaluate the political actions undertaken by specific members of a society whose set of feasible options is constrained as a result of others’ lack of motivation and when a situation of mutually reinforcing distrust and noncooperation—sometimes called a “social trap”—constrains the feasible option set of the entire population. The main advantage of the twofold conceptualization of nonideal theory is that it bridges the theoretical gap between actor-oriented and situation-based accounts of justice: It allows us to preserve the term ideal justice for justice under minimal feasibility constraints, while recognizing that a situation where all agents comply with their duties must in some sense be characterized as just.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1177/1474885114559040
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 38,035
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Philosophy and Real Politics.Raymond Geuss - 2008 - Princeton University Press.
Ideal and Nonideal Theory.A. John Simmons - 2010 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 38 (1):5-36.
Realism in Political Theory.William Galston - 2010 - European Journal of Political Theory 9 (4):385-411.
Human Nature and the Limits (If Any) of Political Philosophy.David Estlund - 2011 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 39 (3):207-237.
What Do We Want From a Theory of Justice?Amartya Sen - 2006 - Journal of Philosophy 103 (5):215-238.

View all 21 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

First Steps Toward a Nonideal Theory of Justice.Marcus Arvan - 2014 - Ethics and Global Politics 7 (3):95-117.
The Incompleteness of Ideal Theory.Jörg Schaub - 2014 - Res Publica 20 (4):413-439.
Idealizing Morality.Lisa Tessman - 2010 - Hypatia 25 (4):797 - 824.
Global Justice and Poverty Relief in Nonideal Circumstances.Pablo Gilabert - 2008 - Social Theory and Practice 34 (3):411-438.
Against Ideal Guidance.David Wiens - 2015 - Journal of Politics 77 (2):433-446.
Ideal and Nonideal Theory: A Conceptual Overview.Milica Trifunovic - 2013 - Filozofija I Društvo 24 (2):151-173.
Sen on Rawls's “Transcendental Institutionalism”: An Analysis and Critique.Alan Thomas - 2014 - European Journal of Political Theory 13 (3):241-263.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2014-12-03

Total views
44 ( #153,897 of 2,312,700 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
8 ( #80,864 of 2,312,700 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Monthly downloads

My notes

Sign in to use this feature