In what sense are persons equal, such that it is appropriate to treat them as equals? This difficult question has been strangely neglected by political philosophers. A plausible answer can be found by adopting a particular interpretation of the idea of respect. Central to this interpretation is the thought that in order to respect persons we need to treat them as ‘opaque', paying attention only to their outward features as agents. This proposed basis of equality has important implications for the (...) currency of egalitarian justice, ruling out a number of the equalizanda favored by contemporary egalitarians. (shrink)
How do we know when one person or society is 'freer' than another? Can freedom be measured? Is more freedom better than less? This book provides the first full-length treatment of these fundamental yet neglected issues, throwing new light both on the notion of freedom and on contemporary liberalism.
The nature of basic equality (what it is that makes us all equals) can have implications not only for the question of the currency of egalitarian justice but also for that of its . The latter question is raised by G. A. Cohen in his critique of John Rawls's theory of justice. In this paper I argue that Rawlsian liberals might provide an answer to Cohen's critique by establishing two distinct kinds of basic equality, thus providing a of basic equality. (...) A first kind of basic equality gains moral relevance in the context of respectful relations between individuals, and establishes egalitarian duties between them. A second kind of basic equality gains moral relevance in the context of respectful relations between the state and individual citizens, and establishes egalitarian duties of the state toward citizens. The strength of Cohen's critique depends, in part, on the fact that Rawls identified only one kind of basic equality while at the same time wishing to defend a dualist account of individual and state duties. (shrink)
In ‘Bureaucratic respectful equality’, Christopher Nathan puts forward two challenges for the author’s claim that basic equality can be grounded in a form of ‘opacity respect’ appropriately shown by the state towards citizens. According to the first challenge, this account is less powerful than the author supposed, inasmuch it does not rule out any equalizandum of distributive equality as long as that equality is pursued by individuals rather than by the state. According to the second challenge, the account is, alternatively, (...) so powerful that it threatens absurdity, because it interprets individual egalitarian action as being carried out on behalf of the state and therefore rules out many of the normal, everyday assessments individuals make of each other’s capacities. The article responds to each of these challenges in the light of a clarificatory distinction between two kinds of ‘dualist’ interpretation of basic equality: a ‘state only’ account that requires opacity respect only in relations between the... (shrink)
Toleration and respect are often thought of as compatible, and indeed complementary, liberal democratic ideals. However, it has sometimes been said that toleration is disrespectful, because it necessarily involves a negative evaluation of the object of toleration. This article shows how toleration and respect are compatible as long as ‘ respect ’ is taken to mean recognition respect, as opposed to appraisal respect. But it also argues that recognition respect itself rules out certain kinds of evaluation of persons, and with (...) these, certain bases for toleration : if recognition respect is really distinct from appraisal respect, and if the fundamental rights assigned to people on the basis of recognition respect are to be equal rights, then recognition respect must itself involve a refusal to evaluate certain basic agential capacities of persons when deliberating about how to treat them. Even where ‘ respect ’ means recognition respect, then, there is some truth both in the thesis that toleration and respect are compatible, and in the thesis that they are incompatible. The different truths in these two theses help to shed light on the nature of toleration considered specifically as a liberal democratic virtue. This point can be illustrated by showing how the foregoing analysis provides a plausible solution to the so-called ‘paradox of the tolerant racist’. (shrink)
It is often said that one person or society is `freer' than another, or that people have a right to equal freedom, or that freedom should be increased or even maximized. Such quantitative claims about freedom are of great importance to us, forming an essential part of our political discourse and theorizing. Yet their meaning has been surprisingly neglected by political philosophers until now. Ian Carter provides the first systematic account of the nature and importance of our judgements about degrees (...) of freedom. He begins with an analysis of the normative assumptions behind the claim that individuals are entitled to a measure of freedom, and then goes on to ask whether it is indeed conceptually possible to measure freedom. Adopting a coherentist approach, the author argues for a conception of freedom that not only reflects commonly held intuitions about who is freer than who but is also compatible with a liberal or freedom-based theory of justice. (shrink)
Throughout the English-speaking world, and in the many other countries where analytic philosophy is studied, Hillel Steiner is esteemed as one of the foremost contemporary political philosophers. This volume is designed as a festschrift for Steiner and as an important collection of philosophical essays in its own right. The editors have assembled a roster of highly distinguished international contributors, all of whom are eager to pay tribute to Steiner by focusing on topics on which he himself has concentrated. Some of (...) the contributors engage directly with Steiner's work, whereas others focus not directly on his writings but instead grapple with issues that have figured prominently therein. Each essay seeks to advance the debates in which Steiner himself has so notably participated. The study concludes with a response by Steiner himself. (shrink)
According to the ‘starting-gate’ interpretation of equality of opportunity, individuals who enjoy equal starts can legitimately become unequal to the extent that their differences derive from choices for which they can be held responsible. There can be no coercive transfers of resources in favour of individuals who disregarded their own futures, and no limits on the right of an individual to distribute resources intrapersonally. This paper assesses two ways in which advocates of equality of opportunity might depart from the starting-gate (...) interpretation. The first involves limiting the degree to which people are liable to pay the costs of their past choices. The second involves limiting their initial opportunities so as to prevent certain risky or apparently short-sighted choices. The paper compares these alternatives in terms of their compatibility with a particular conception of persons as morally equal and temporally extended. It constructs this conception by combining reductionist premises about personal identity with the premise that our status as equals is based on the fundamental requirement of opacity respect. Two conclusions about equality of opportunity are shown to follow from this conception of persons as morally equal and temporally extended: the first is that an individual’s liability to pay the costs of her past choices does not diminish over time; the second is that the individual’s initial scope of choice, in bringing about intrapersonal distributions between her current and future selves, can nevertheless be permissibly limited. The two conclusions are consistent, and the second allows for departures from starting-gate equality of opportunity. (shrink)
How is a person's freedom related to his or her preferences? Liberal theorists of negative freedom have generally taken the view that the desire of a person to do or not do something is irrelevant to the question of whether he is free to do it. Supporters of the “pure negative” conception of freedom have advocated this view in its starkest form: they maintain that a person is unfree to Φ if and only if he is prevented from Φ-ing by (...) the conduct or dispositions of some other person . This definition of freedom is value-neutral in the sense that no reference is made to preferences over options or indeed to any other indicators of the values of options, either in the characterization of “Φ-ing” itself or in the characterization of the way in which Φ-ing can be constrained. (shrink)
Edited by leading contributors to the literature, Freedom: An Anthology is the most complete anthology on social, political and economic freedom ever compiled. Offers a broad guide to the vast literature on social, political and economic freedom. Contains selections from the best scholarship of recent decades as well as classic writings from Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau and Kant among others. General and sectional introductions help to orient the reader. Compiled and edited by three important contributors to the field.
This paper is about the relevance, to the definition of freedom, of values or goods other than freedom. In this respect,its subject matter is not at all new. However, I do believe that new light can be thrown on the nature of this relationship by paying more attention to another relationship – one which exists within the concept of freedom itself. There are two senses in which we can be said to possess freedom. Firstly, there is the sense in which (...) we can be said to be free to do a certain particular thing. Secondly,there is the sense in which we can be said to possess a certain ‘amount’,‘degree’ or ‘quantity’ of freedom, in some overall sense. 1 I believe that most recent accounts of the relationship between freedom and other goods are inconsistent, because they see those other goods as affecting the truth value of claims about freedom in the second sense, but not in the first. (shrink)
How is a person's freedom related to his or her preferences? Liberal theorists of negative freedom have generally taken the view that the desire of a person to do or not do something is irrelevant to the question of whether he is free to do it. Supporters of the “pure negative” conception of freedom have advocated this view in its starkest form: they maintain that a person is unfree to Φ if and only if he is prevented from Φ-ing by (...) the conduct or dispositions of some other person. This definition of freedom is value-neutral in the sense that no reference is made to preferences over options or indeed to any other indicators of the values of options, either in the characterization of “Φ-ing” itself or in the characterization of the way in which Φ-ing can be constrained. (shrink)
In attempting to clarify both the concept of toleration and its role in contemporary society several authors have interpreted it as based on the notion of respect for persons. Persons are due respect as moral agents and as such should be allowed to make their own choices, even if the content of those choices meets with our disapproval. According to a classical understanding of toleration, one can be said to tolerate something if one disapproves of it (this is commonly called (...) the ‘objection component’ of toleration); has the power to interfere with it (the ‘power component’); and yet abstains from interfering in the light of certain overriding reasons (the ‘acceptance component’ or ‘non-interference component’). Respecting people as autonomous and as able to formulate and follow a plan of life, individually or collectively, might well be thought to give us a reason for showing tolerance by supplying a basis for its acceptance component. However, the idea that toleration is an outcome of respect, rather than a distinct and sometimes conflicting notion, is far from uncontroversial. Indeed, the ideal of respect has sometimes been seen as incompatible with the objection component of toleration, which presupposes a negative evaluation and therefore seems to imply the other’s inferiority.The relation between respect and toleration therefore stands in need of further philosophical analysis. The articles in this collection aim to advance that analysis by addressing some of the core philosophical problems affecting the relative normative roles of respect and toleration understood as contemporary liberal democratic ideals. (shrink)
Steven Lukes and Alasdair MacIntyre have accused analytical action theory of being motivated by reductionist aims and of ignoring the fact that what is distinctively human about actions is their essentially social character. These reductionist aims are said to 'subvert, the search for the distinctively human. Enterprises that have particularly come under fire are the search for 'basic' actions and attempts to solve problems regarding the 'individuation' of actions. Lukes and MacIntyre are mistaken however, both in their interpretation of the (...) aims which motivate analytical action theory, and in their characterisation of the search for the distinctively human. 'Individuated' or 'basic' actions are not complex social actions reduced down to their 'simplest elements'. They represent attempts to resolve problems which arise prior to the examination of the social character of actions. (shrink)
This paper is about the relevance, to the definition of freedom, of values or goods other than freedom. In this respect,its subject matter is not at all new. However, I do believe that new light can be thrown on the nature of this relationship by paying more attention to another relationship – one which exists within the concept of freedom itself. There are two senses in which we can be said to possess freedom. Firstly, there is the sense in which (...) we can be said to be free to do a certain particular thing. Secondly,there is the sense in which we can be said to possess a certain ‘amount’,‘degree’ or ‘quantity’ of freedom, in some overall sense.1 I believe that most recent accounts of the relationship between freedom and other goods are inconsistent, because they see those other goods as affecting the truth value of claims about freedom in the second sense, but not in the first. (shrink)
This collection of original essays on political and legal theory concentrates on themes dealt with in the work of Felix Oppenheim, including fundamental political and legal concepts and their implications for the scope of morality in politics and international relations. Among the issues addressed are the relationship between empirical and normative definitions of "freedom", "power", and "interests", whether governments are free to act against the national interest, and whether they can ever be morally obliged to do so.