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Ben Colburn
Glasgow University
  1. Autonomy and Adaptive Preferences.Ben Colburn - 2011 - Utilitas 23 (1):52-71.
    Adaptive preference formation is the unconscious altering of our preferences in light of the options we have available. Jon Elster has argued that this is bad because it undermines our autonomy. I agree, but think that Elster's explanation of why is lacking. So, I draw on a richer account of autonomy to give the following answer. Preferences formed through adaptation are characterized by covert influence (that is, explanations of which an agent herself is necessarily unaware), and covert influence undermines our (...)
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  2.  64
    Disadvantage, Autonomy, and the Continuity Test.Ben Colburn - 2014 - Journal of Applied Philosophy 31 (3):254-270.
    The Continuity Test is the principle that a proposed distribution of resources is wrong if it treats someone as disadvantaged when they don't see it that way themselves, for example by offering compensation for features that they do not themselves regard as handicaps. This principle — which is most prominently developed in Ronald Dworkin's defence of his theory of distributive justice — is an attractive one for a liberal to endorse as part of her theory of distributive justice and disadvantage. (...)
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  3. Anti-Perfectionisms and Autonomy.Ben Colburn - 2010 - Analysis 70 (2):247-256.
    I provide support for a liberal political philosophy that is fully committed to the state promotion of autonomy, and which also counts Anti-perfectionism amongst its other commitments. I do so by defending it against the serious charge that it is prima facie self-contradictory. After all, Anti-perfectionism appears to demand that the state refrain from promoting any value – it looks as though that must preclude the promotion of autonomy, if the latter is conceived of as a value. I argue that (...)
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  4.  67
    In Defence of Comprehensive Liberalism.Ben Colburn - 2012 - Philosophy and Public Issues - Filosofia E Questioni Pubbliche 2 (1):17-29.
    In Liberalism without Perfection Jonathan Quong defends a form of political liberalism; that is, a political philosophy that answers ‘no’ to both the following questions: 1. Must liberal political philosophy be based in some particular ideal of what constitutes a valuable or worthwhile human life, or other metaphysical beliefs? 2. Is it permissible for a liberal state to promote or discourage some activities, ideals, or ways of life on grounds relating to their inherent or intrinsic value, or on the basis (...)
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  5. Debate: The Concept of Voluntariness.Ben Colburn - 2008 - Journal of Political Philosophy 16 (1):101–111.
    IN her work on the distinction between freedom and voluntariness, Serena Olsaretti suggests the following definition of voluntary action: an action is voluntary if it is not non-voluntary, and non-voluntary if it is performed because there are no acceptable alternatives, where ‘acceptable’ means conforming to some objective standard (which Olsaretti suggests might be well-being). Olsaretti suggests that ascriptions of responsibility are underwritten by judgments of voluntariness, rather than freedom. Also, Olsaretti notes that a concern for voluntary choice might be grounded (...)
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  6.  18
    Building a New Life in Britain: The Skills, Experiences and Aspirations of Young Syrian Refugees.Georgios Karyotis, Ben Colburn, Lesley Doyle, Kristinn Hermannsson, Gareth Mulvey & Dimitris Skleparis - 2018 - Project Report.
    This report, the first of the project, presents original research evidence based on 1,516 face-to-face interviews with young Syrian international protection beneficiaries and applicants, 18-32 years old, which were conducted in the UK, Lebanon and Greece, between April and October 2017. Key findings from this comparative analysis inform our policy recommendations concerning the settlement, training and skills provision for young forced migrants in the UK. Key Findings: - Young Syrian refugees in the UK have the highest levels of skills and (...)
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  7.  65
    Forbidden Ways of Life.Ben Colburn - 2008 - Philosophical Quarterly 58 (233):618-629.
    I examine an objection against autonomy-minded liberalism sometimes made by philosophers such as John Rawls and William Galston, that it rules out ways of life which do not themselves value freedom or autonomy. This objection is incorrect, because one need not value autonomy in order to live an autonomous life. Hence autonomy-minded liberalism need not rule out such ways of life. I suggest a modified objection which does work, namely that autonomy-minded liberalism must rule out ways of life that could (...)
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  8.  81
    Hypothetical Insurance and Higher Education.Ben Colburn & Hugh Lazenby - 2016 - Journal of Philosophy of Education 50 (4):587-604.
    What level of government subsidy of higher education is justified, in what form, and for what reasons? We answer these questions by applying the hypothetical insurance approach, originally developed by Ronald Dworkin in his work on distributive justice. On this approach, when asking how to fund and deliver public services in a particular domain, we should seek to model what would be the outcome of a hypothetical insurance market: we stipulate that participants lack knowledge about their specific resources and risks, (...)
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  9.  18
    Autonomy and Liberalism.Ben Colburn - 2010 - New York, USA: Routledge.
    This book concerns the foundations and implications of a particular form of liberal political theory. Colburn argues that one should see liberalism as a political theory committed to the value of autonomy, understood as consisting in an agent deciding for oneself what is valuable and living life in accordance with that decision. Understanding liberalism this way offers solutions to various problems that beset liberal political theory, on various levels. On the theoretical level, Colburn claims that this position is the only (...)
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  10.  36
    Autonomy-Minded Anti-Perfectionism.Ben Colburn - 2012 - Journal of Philosophical Research 37:233-241.
    John Patrick Rudisill purports to identify various problems with my argument that the state promotion of autonomy is consistent with anti-perfectionism, viz., that it falsely pretends to be novel, is unacceptably counterintuitive because too restrictive and too permissive, and that it deploys a self-defeating formal apparatus. I argue, in reply, that my argument is more novel than Rudisill gives me credit for; that properly understood my anti-perfectionism implies neither the implausible restrictions nor the unpalatable permissions that Rudisill claims; and that (...)
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  11.  77
    Autonomy and End of Life Decisions: A Paradox.Ben Colburn - 2013 - In Juha Räikkä & Jukka Varelius (eds.), Adaptation and Autonomy: Adaptive Preferences in Enhancing and Ending Life. Springer. pp. 69--80.
    Suppose that we think it important that people have the chance to enjoy autonomous lives. An obvious corollary of this thought is that people should, if they want it, have control over the time and manner of their deaths, either ending their own lives, or by securing the help of others in doing so. So, generally, and even if we overall think that the practice should not be legalized on other grounds, it looks like common sense to think that considerations (...)
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  12.  56
    Responsibility and School Choice in Education.Ben Colburn - 2012 - Journal of Philosophy of Education 46 (2):207-222.
    Consider the following argument for school choice, based on an appeal to the virtues of the market: allowing parents some measure of choice over their particular children's education ultimately serves the interests of all children, because creating a market mechanism in state education will produce improvements through the same pressures that lead to greater efficiency and quality when markets are deployed in more familiar contexts. The argument fails, because it is committed to a principle of equal concern, which implies that (...)
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  13.  32
    Adaptive Preferences and Autonomy.Ben Colburn - 2011 - Utilitas 23 (1).
    Adaptive preference formation is the unconscious altering of our preferences in light of the options we have available. Jon Elster has argued that this is bad because it undermines our autonomy. I agree, but think that Elster’s explanation of why is lacking. So, I draw on a richer account of autonomy to give the following answer. Preferences formed through adaptation are characterised by covert influence (that is, explanations of which an agent herself is necessarily unaware), and covert influence undermines our (...)
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  14.  15
    Autonomy-Minded Anti-Perfectionism: Novel, Intuitive, and Sound.Ben Colburn - 2012 - Journal of Philosophical Research 37:233-241.
    John Patrick Rudisill purports to identify various problems with my argument that the state promotion of autonomy is consistent with anti-perfectionism, viz., that it falsely pretends to be novel, is unacceptably counterintuitive because too restrictive and too permissive, and that it deploys a self-defeating formal apparatus. I argue, in reply, that my argument is more novel than Rudisill gives me credit for; that properly understood my anti-perfectionism implies neither the implausible restrictions nor the unpalatable permissions that Rudisill claims; and that (...)
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  15.  43
    Justice and Legitimacy in Upbringing.Ben Colburn - 2010 - Journal of Moral Philosophy 7 (2):291-293.
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  16.  15
    Methods in Ethics: Introduction.Ben Colburn - 2015 - The Virtual Issue of the Aristotelian Society 3: Methods in Ethics.
    The Aristotelian Society’s Virtual Issue is a free, online publication, made publically available on the Aristotelian Society website. Each volume is theme-based, collecting together papers from the archives of the Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society and the Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume that address the chosen theme. This year's Virtual Issue includes a selection of papers from across the Society’s fourteen decades, each accompanied by a specially commissioned present-day response. The aim of the volume is to aid reflection (...)
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  17.  21
    Norms of Liberty: A Perfectionist Basis for Non-Perfectionist Politics.Ben Colburn - 2008 - Journal of Moral Philosophy 5 (2):318-321.
  18.  43
    The Legacy of H.L.A. Hart: Legal, Political and Moral Philosophy.Matthew Kramer, Claire Grant, Ben Colburn & Antony Hatzistavrou (eds.) - 2008 - Oxford University Press.
    This book is the product of a major British Academy Symposium held in 2007 to mark the centenary of the birth of H.L.A. Hart, the most important legal philosopher and one of the most important political philosophers of the twentieth century. -/- The book brings together contributions from seventeen of the world's foremost legal and political philosophers who explore the many subjects in which Hart produced influential work. Each essay engages in an original analysis of philosophical problems that were tackled (...)
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