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Paul Billingham
Oxford University
  1. Enforcing Social Norms: The Morality of Public Shaming.Paul Billingham & Tom Parr - forthcoming - European Journal of Philosophy.
    Public shaming plays an important role in upholding valuable social norms. But, under what conditions, if any, is it morally justifiable? Our aim in this paper is systemically to investigate the morality of public shaming, so as to provide an answer to this neglected question. We develop an overarching framework for assessing the justifiability of this practice, which shows that, while shaming can sometimes be morally justifiable, it very often is not. In turn, our framework highlights several reasons to be (...)
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  2. Online Public Shaming: Virtues and Vices.Paul Billingham & Tom Parr - forthcoming - Journal of Social Philosophy.
    We are witnessing increasing use of the Internet, particular social media, to criticize (perceived or actual) moral failings and misdemeanors. This phenomenon of so-called ‘online public shaming’ could provide a powerful tool for reinforcing valuable social norms. But it also threatens unwarranted and severe punishments meted out by online mobs. This paper analyses the dangers associated with the informal enforcement of norms, drawing on Locke, but also highlights its promise, drawing on recent discussions of social norms. We then consider two (...)
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  3.  53
    Can Christians Join the Overlapping Consensus? Prospects and Pitfalls for a Christian Justification of Political Liberalism.Paul Billingham - forthcoming - Social Theory and Practice.
    The success of political liberalism depends on there being an overlapping consensus among reasonable citizens—including religious citizens—upon principles of political morality. This paper explores the resources within one major religion—Christianity—that might lead individuals to endorse (or reject) political liberalism, and thus to join (or not join) the overlapping consensus. I show that there are several strands within Christian political ethics that are consonant with political liberalism and might form the basis for Christian citizens’ membership of the overlapping consensus. Nonetheless, tensions (...)
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  4. Convergence Justifications Within Political Liberalism: A Defence.Paul Billingham - 2016 - Res Publica 22 (2):135-153.
    According to political liberalism, laws must be justified to all citizens in order to be legitimate. Most political liberals have taken this to mean that laws must be justified by appeal to a specific class of ‘public reasons’, which all citizens can accept. In this paper I defend an alternative, convergence, model of public justification, according to which laws can be justified to different citizens by different reasons, including reasons grounded in their comprehensive doctrines. I consider three objections to such (...)
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  5. Convergence Liberalism and the Problem of Disagreement Concerning Public Justification.Paul Billingham - 2017 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 47 (4):541-564.
    The ‘convergence conception’ of political liberalism has become increasingly popular in recent years. Steven Wall has shown that convergence liberals face a serious dilemma in responding to disagreement about whether laws are publicly justified. What I call the ‘conjunctive approach’ to such disagreement threatens anarchism, while the ‘non-conjunctive’ approach appears to render convergence liberalism internally inconsistent. This paper defends the non-conjunctive approach, which holds that the correct view of public justification should be followed even if some citizens do not consider (...)
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  6. Liberal Perfectionism and Quong’s Internal Conception of Political Liberalism.Paul Billingham - 2017 - Social Theory and Practice 43 (1):79-106.
    Debates between political liberals and liberal perfectionists have been reinvigorated by Jonathan Quong’s Liberalism Without Perfection. In this paper I argue that certain forms of perfectionism can rebut or evade Quong’s three central objections – that perfectionism is manipulative, paternalistic, and illegitimate. I then argue that perfectionists can defend an ‘internal conception’ of perfectionism, parallel in structure to Quong’s ’internal conception’ of political liberalism, but with a different conception of the justificatory constituency. None of Quong’s arguments show that his view (...)
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  7.  97
    State Sovereignty, Associational Interests, and Collective Religious Liberty.Paul Billingham - 2019 - Secular Studies 1 (1):114-127.
    In Chapter 5 of Liberalism’s Religion, Cécile Laborde considers the freedom and autonomy of religious associations within liberal democratic societies. This paper evaluates her central arguments in that chapter. First, I argue that Laborde makes things too easy for herself in dismissing controversies over the state’s legitimate jurisdictional authority. Second, I argue that Laborde’s view of when associations’ ‘coherence interests’ justify exemptions is too narrow. Third, I consider how we might develop an account of judicial deference to associations’ ‘competence interests’.
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  8. Consensus, Convergence, Restraint, and Religion.Paul Billingham - 2018 - Journal of Moral Philosophy 15 (3):345-361.
    This essay critically assesses the central claim of Kevin Vallier’s Liberal Politics and Public Faith: that public religious faith and public reason liberalism can be reconciled, because the values underlying public reason liberalism should lead us to endorse the ‘convergence view’, rather than the mainstream consensus view. The convergence view is friendlier to religious faith, because it jettisons the consensus view’s much-criticised ‘duty of restraint’. I present several challenges to Vallier’s claim. Firstly, if Vallier is right to reject the duty (...)
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  9. Can My Religion Influence My Conception of Justice? Political Liberalism and the Role of Comprehensive Doctrines.Paul Billingham - 2017 - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 20 (4):402-424.
    In his last works, John Rawls explicitly argued for an overlapping consensus on a family of reasonable liberal political conceptions of justice, rather than just one. This ‘Deep Version’ of political liberalism opens up new questions about the relationship between citizens’ political conceptions, from which they must draw and offer public reasons in their political advocacy, and their comprehensive doctrines. These questions centre on whether a reasonable citizen’s choice of political conception can be influenced by her comprehensive doctrine. In this (...)
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  10. Does Political Community Require Public Reason? On Lister’s Defence of Political Liberalism.Paul Billingham - 2016 - Politics, Philosophy and Economics 15 (1):20-41.
    Andrew Lister’s Public Reason and Political Community is an important new contribution to the debate over political liberalism. In this article, I critically evaluate some of the central arguments of the book in order to assess the current state of public reason liberalism. I pursue two main objections to Lister’s work. First, Lister’s justification for public reason, which appeals to the value of civic friendship, fails to show why public reason liberalism should be preferred to an alternative democratic theory that (...)
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  11.  8
    A Framework for Analyzing Public Reason Theories.Paul Billingham & Anthony Taylor - forthcoming - European Journal of Political Theory:147488512092538.
    Proponents of public reason views hold that the exercise of political power ought to be acceptable to all reasonable citizens. This article elucidates the common structure shared by all public reason views, first by identifying a set of questions that all such views must answer and, second, by showing that the answers to these questions stand in a particular relationship to each other. In particular, we show that what we call the ‘rationale question’ is fundamental. This fact, and the common (...)
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  12.  55
    State Speech as a Response to Hate Speech: Assessing ‘Transformative Liberalism’.Paul Billingham - 2019 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 22 (3):639-655.
    ‘Transformative liberals’ believe that the state should use its non-coercive capacities to counter hateful speech and practices, by seeking to transform the views of those who hold hateful and discriminatory beliefs. This paper critically assesses transformative liberalism, with a particular focus on the theory developed by Corey Brettschneider. For Brettschneider, the state should engage in ‘democratic persuasion’ by speaking out against views that are incompatible with the ideal of free and equal citizenship, and refusing to fund or subsidise civil society (...)
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  13.  5
    The Scope of Religious Group Autonomy: Varieties of Judicial Examination of Church Employment Decisions.Paul Billingham - 2019 - Legal Theory 25 (4):244-271.
    ABSTRACTThe idea of “church autonomy” has risen to prominence in law and religion discourse in recent years. Defenders argue that church autonomy is essential to protecting religious freedom, while critics argue that it permits great harm. This heated dispute often obscures the fact that religious group autonomy is not all-or-nothing. Religious organizations can enjoy some autonomy without being free from all legal oversight. This article thus seeks to make progress in the debate by providing a taxonomy of kinds of judicial (...)
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  14.  3
    Reasonable Disagreement About, and Within, Watson and Hartley’s Political Liberalism.Paul Billingham - forthcoming - Journal of Applied Philosophy.
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  15.  44
    Introduction to the Symposium on Matthew Kramer’s Liberalism with Excellence.Anthony Taylor & Paul Billingham - 2018 - American Journal of Jurisprudence 63 (1):1-7.
    In this symposium introduction we outline the central arguments of Matthew Kramer's Liberalism with Excellence, and situate the articles in the symposium with respect to the book and the wider debate between perfectionists and anti-perfectionists.
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  16.  13
    Introduction: Hate, Offence and Free Speech in a Changing World.Paul Billingham & Matteo Bonotti - 2019 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 22 (3):531-537.
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  17.  22
    Sypnowich, Christine. Equality Renewed: Justice, Flourishing and the Egalitarian Ideal. New York: Routledge, 2017. Pp. 252. $155.00. [REVIEW]Paul Billingham - 2018 - Ethics 129 (1):144-149.
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  18.  21
    Liberal Perfectionism, Moral Integrity, and Self-Respect.Paul Billingham & Anthony Taylor - 2018 - American Journal of Jurisprudence 63 (1):63-79.
    This paper presents a dilemma for Matthew Kramer’s view, as defended in his Liberalism with Excellence. A central aim of that book is to critique existing liberal perfectionist theories, which he labels “edificatory,” and to defend a different such theory, which he calls “aspirational.” Edificatory perfectionism holds that governments ought to promote citizens’ well-being directly by inducing them to live lives that are more wholesome, cultivated, or autonomous. Aspirational perfectionism, meanwhile, holds that governments ought to promote the conditions under which (...)
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  19.  15
    Public Reason and Religion: The Theo-Ethical Equilibrium Argument for Restraint.Paul Billingham - 2017 - Law and Philosophy 36 (6):675-705.
    Most public reason theorists believe that citizens are under a ‘duty of restraint’. Citizens must refrain from supporting laws for which they have only non-public reasons, such as religious reasons. The theo-ethical equilibrium argument purports to show that theists should accept this duty, on the basis of their religious convictions. Theists’ beliefs about God’s nature should lead them to doubt moral claims for which they cannot find secular grounds, and to refrain from imposing such claims upon others. If successful, this (...)
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