Social Theory and Practice 44 (3):437-467 (2018)

Authors
Kristin Voigt
McGill University
Abstract
Expressive theories of state action seek to identify and assess the ‘meaning’ implicit in state action, such as legislation and public policies. In expressive theories developed by relational egalitarians, state action must ‘express’ equal concern and respect for citizens. However, it is unclear how precisely we can determine and assess the meaning of what states do. This paper considers how an expressive theory could be developed, given the commitments of a relational account of equality, and how such a theory would relate to relational egalitarianism more broadly. I suggest that expressive considerations should be tied more closely than they are in the current literature to agents’ attitudes and to their intentions. I discuss a range of real-world policies that are problematic for what they can be taken to express.
Keywords Applied Philosophy  Contemporary Philosophy  Social and Political Philosophy
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ISBN(s) 0037-802X
DOI 10.5840/soctheorpract201853038
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