Motivational Limitations on the Demands of Justice

European Journal of Political Theory 15 (3):333-352 (2016)
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Abstract

Do motivational limitations due to human nature constrain the demands of justice? Among those who say no, David Estlund offers perhaps the most compelling argument. Taking Estlund’s analysis of “ability” as a starting point, I show that motivational deficiencies can constrain the demands of justice under at least one common circumstance — that the motivationally-deficient agent makes a good faith effort to overcome her deficiency. In fact, my argument implies something stronger; namely, that the demands of justice are constrained by what people are sufficiently likely to be motivated to do. Thus, contrary to the prevailing wisdom, it is the business of ideal theory — not just nonideal theory — to work with the motivational capacities people are likely enough to have. (See also Estlund's reply in the same issue of EJPT and my rejoinder on Philpapers.)

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David Wiens
University of California, San Diego

Citations of this work

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Nonideal Justice, Fairness, and Affirmative Action.Matthew Adams - 2021 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 20 (3).
How Do You Like Your Justice, Bent or Unbent?Lars J. K. Moen - 2023 - Moral Philosophy and Politics 10 (2):285-297.
Ideal Theory and "Ought Implies Can".Amy Berg - 2018 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 99 (4):869-890.

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References found in this work

Rescuing Justice and Equality.G. A. Cohen (ed.) - 2008 - Harvard University Press.
Ideal and nonideal theory.A. John Simmons - 2010 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 38 (1):5-36.
Utopophobia.David Estlund - 2014 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 42 (2):113-134.
Human Nature and the Limits (If Any) of Political Philosophy.David Estlund - 2011 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 39 (3):207-237.
I Ought, Therefore I Can.Peter B. M. Vranas - 2007 - Philosophical Studies 136 (2):167-216.

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