It is natural for those with permissive attitudes toward abortion to suppose that, if they have examined all of the arguments they know against abortion and have concluded that they fail, their moral deliberations are at an end. Surprisingly, this is not the case, as I argue. This is because the mere risk that one of those arguments succeeds can generate a moral reason that counts against the act. If this is so, then liberals may be mistaken about the morality (...) of abortion. However, conservatives who claim that considerations of risk rule out abortion in general are mistaken as well. Instead, risk-based considerations generate an important but not necessarily decisive reason to avoid abortion. The more general issue that emerges is how to accommodate fallibilism about practical judgment in our decision-making. (shrink)
This paper presents a simple argument against life being the product of design. The argument rests on three points. We can conceive of the debate in terms of likelihoods, in the technical sense – how probable the design hypothesis renders our evidence, versus how probable the competing Darwinian hypothesis renders that evidence. God, as traditionally conceived, had many more options by which to bring about life as we observe it than were available to natural selection. That is, the relevant parameters (...) were, in many cases, far more constrained under natural selection. Utterly mundane features of the world, like that the earth is very old, are actually powerful evidence that the world was not designed, since that outcome was optional on the design hypothesis but nearly inevitable on natural selection. (shrink)
Polygamy, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, punishing women for being raped, differential access for men and women to health care and education, unequal rights of ownership, assembly, and political participation, unequal vulnerability to violence. These practices and conditions are standard in some parts of the world. Do demands for multiculturalism — and certain minority group rights in particular — make them more likely to continue and to spread to liberal democracies? Are there fundamental conflicts between our commitment to gender equity (...) and our increasing desire to respect the customs of minority cultures or religions? In this book, the eminent feminist Susan Moller Okin and fifteen of the world’s leading thinkers about feminism and multiculturalism explore these unsettling questions in a provocative, passionate, and illuminating debate. Okin opens by arguing that some group rights can, in fact, endanger women. She points, for example, to the French government’s giving thousands of male immigrants special permission to bring multiple wives into the country, despite French laws against polygamy and the wives’ own bitter opposition to the practice. Okin argues that if we agree that women should not be disadvantaged because of their sex, we should not accept group rights that permit oppressive practices on the grounds that they are fundamental to minority cultures whose existence may otherwise be threatened. In reply, some respondents reject Okin’s position outright, contending that her views are rooted in a moral universalism that is blind to cultural difference. Others quarrel with Okin’s focus on gender, or argue that we should be careful about which group rights we permit, but not reject the category of group rights altogether. Okin concludes with a rebuttal, clarifying, adjusting, and extending her original position. These incisive and accessible essays — expanded from their original publication in Boston Review and including four new contributions — are indispensable reading for anyone interested in one of the most contentious social and political issues today. The diverse contributors, in addition to Okin, are Azizah al-Hibri, Abdullahi An-Na’im, Homi Bhabha, Sander Gilman, Janet Halley, Bonnie Honig, Will Kymlicka, Martha Nussbaum, Bhikhu Parekh, Katha Pollitt, Robert Post, Joseph Raz, Saskia Sassen, Cass Sunstein, and Yael Tamir. (shrink)
What makes trust such a powerful concept? Is it merely that in trust the whole range of social forces that we know play together? Or is it that trust involves a peculiar element beyond those we can account for? While trust is an attractive and evocative concept that has gained increasing popularity across the social sciences, it remains elusive, its many facets and applications obscuring a clear overall vision of its essence. In this book, Guido Möllering reviews a broad range (...) of trust research and extracts three main perspectives adopted in the literature for understanding trust. Accordingly, trust is presented as a matter of reason, routine or reflexivity. While all these perspectives contribute something to our understanding of trust, Möllering shows that they imply, but cannot explain, ‘suspension’ – the leap of faith that is typical of trust. He therefore proposes a new direction in trust research that builds on existing perspectives but places the suspension of uncertainty and vulnerability at the heart of the concept of trust. Beyond a purely theoretical line of argument, the author discusses implications for empirical studies of trust and presents original case material that captures the experience of trust in terms of reason, routine, reflexivity and suspension. Möllering concludes by suggesting how the new approach can enhance the relevance of trust research and its contributions to broader research agendas concerning the constitution of positive expectations in the face of prevalent uncertainty and change at various levels in our economies and societies. The book is essential reading for anyone who wants to gain a thorough understanding of trust. It can serve as a general introduction for advanced students and scholars in the social sciences, especially in economics, sociology, psychology and management. For more experienced researchers, it is a challenging and provocative critique of the field and a new approach to understanding trust. (shrink)
Various kinds of user and patient involvement are spreading in healthcare in most Western countries. The purpose of this study is to critically assess the actual conditions for patients’ involvement in healthcare practice in Greenland and to point to possibilities for development. Patients’ perspectives on their own conduct of everyday life with illness and their possibilities for participation when hospitalized are examined in relation to the conditions in a hospital setting dominated by biomedical practice. On a theoretical level, it is (...) argued that the concept of ‘participation’ is preferable to the concept ‘involvement’ in healthcare. The study shows that there are several interconnected areas for development: the structural frames of hospital practice, including professionals’ possibilities for handling patient participation, and the agency of the patients conducting their everyday lives when hospitalized. Consequences of the biomedical hegemony are discussed in relation to WHO ́s broader approach to disease, illness and health and the still existing postcolonial traces of power and hierarchy. Finally it is argued that patient participation during hospitalization will promote the patients ́ conduct of everyday life, the cultural knowledge of the professionals, and the democratization of the healthcare sector. Such changes might be connected to a more encompassing democratic societal development – in Greenland as well as globally. (shrink)
Susan Moller Okin. AFTERWORD or greater weighting of these over “masculine" values. For how are women to continue to assume all of the nurturing activities that allegedly both follow from and reinforce their “naturally” superior virtues, and ...
Bart Streumer argues that it is not possible for us to believe the error theory, where by ‘error theory’ he means the claim that our normative beliefs are committed to the existence of normative properties even though such properties do not exist. In this paper, we argue that it is indeed possible to believe the error theory. First, we suggest a critical improvement to Streumer’s argument. As it stands, one crucial premise of that argument—that we cannot have a belief while (...) believing that there is no reason to have it—is implausibly strong. We argue that for his purposes, Streumer’s argument only requires a weaker premise, namely that we cannot rationally have a belief while believing that there is no reason to have it. Secondly, we go on to refute the improved argument. Even in its weaker form, Streumer’s argument is either invalid or the crucial premise should be rejected. (shrink)
The beginning of the twentieth century saw the emergence of the discipline of genetics. It is striking how many female scientists were contributing to this new field at the time. At least three female pioneers succeeded in becoming professors: Kristine Bonnevie (Norway), Elisabeth Schiemann (Germany) and the Tine Tammes (The Netherlands). The question is which factors contributed to the success of these women's careers? At the time women were gaining access to university education it had become quite the norm (...) for universities to be sites for teaching and research. They were still expanding: new laboratories were being built and new disciplines were being established. All three women benefited from the fact that genetics was considered a new field promising in terms of its utility to society; in the case of Tammes and Schiemann in agriculture and in the case of Bonnevie in eugenics. On the other hand, the field of genetics also benefited from the fact that these first female researchers were eager for the chance to work in science and wanted to make active contributions. They all worked and studied in environments which, although different from one another, were positive towards them, at least at the start. Having a patron was generally a prerequisite. Tammes profited from her teacher's contacts and status. Bonnevie made herself indispensable through her success as a teacher and eventually made her position so strong that she was no longer dependent on a single patron. The case of Schiemann adds something new; it shows the vulnerability of such dependency. Initially, Schiemann's teacher had to rely on the first generation of university women simply because he was unable to attract ambitious young men to his institute. In those early, uncertain years of the new discipline, male scientists tended to choose other, better established, and more prestigious disciplines. However, when genetics itself had become an established field, it also became more attractive to men. Our case studies also demonstrate that a new field at first relatively open to women closes its doors to them once it becomes established. (shrink)
Previous studies show evidence of double standards in terms of individuals being more tolerant of questionable consumer practices than of similar business practices. However, whether these double standards are necessarily due to the fact that one party is a business company while the other is a consumer was not addressed. The results of our two experimental studies, conducted among 277 (Study 1) and 264 (Study 2) participants from a Western European country by means of an anonymous self-administered online survey, demonstrate (...) that the respondents were not only harsher in their judgments of unethical business (vs. consumer) behavior, but also harsher in their judgments of unethical behavior by prosperous (vs. non-prosperous) consumers and prosperous (vs. non-prosperous) business companies (Study 1). Further, they were also less tolerant of unethical behavior by consumers (vs. one’s best friend) and business companies with which they have a less than good (vs. a good) relationship (Study 2). These results indicate that double standards are due to differences in perceived wealth between subjects and in the individual’s relationship with subjects. These two factors imply that double standards are not strictly reserved to consumer–business relations, but might also be used in business–business and consumer–consumer relations. Further, these results indicate that companies need to be aware of the fact that good financial figures may backfire as they might lead individuals to be more critical of a company’s deceptive practices. Moreover, these findings point to the importance of businesses investing resources—and to keep investing resources—in developing a good relationship with stakeholders as these good relationships lead to stakeholders being less prone to make moral condemnations. (shrink)
An essay on the article "Reason and Feeling in Thinking about Justice," by Susan Moller Okin is presented. It offers a history of the original position in philosophical reasoning for explaining a sense of justice and examines feminist criticisms against such thinking for failure to appreciate differences and otherness while focused on universality and impartiality. The author relates the choice feminist theories on ethic of sympathy or care for others in place of an ethic of justice in general.
The recent global movement for women's human rights has achieved considerable re-thinking of human rights as previously understood. Since many of women's rights violations occur in the private sphere of family life, and are justified by appeals to cultural or religious norms, both families and cultures (including their religious aspects) have come under critical scrutiny.
An intensified discussion on the role of normative ideals has re-emerged in several debates in political philosophy. What is often referred to as “ideal theory,” represented by liberal egalitarians such as John Rawls, is under attack from those that stress that political philosophy at large should take much more seriously the nonideal circumstances consisting of relations of domination and power under which normative ideals, principles, and ideas are supposed to be applied. While the debate so far has mainly been preoccupied (...) with defending or rejecting ideal theory through a defense or rejection of a specific ideal theory, this paper instead focuses on a number of general philosophical concerns on which the critique relies. More specifically, it brings up for scrutiny, and ultimately rejects, three charges against ideal theory: the charge that ideal theory is not action-guiding, that ideal theory is impossible, and that ideal theory is distorting. By investigatingthese charges in tandem, the paper shows that the criticism against ideal theory is premised on assumptions about the relationships between thought and action and between concepts and the world for which there is little or no support. (shrink)
Empirical evidence indicates that bereaved spouses are surprisingly muted in their responses to their loss, and that after a few months many of the bereaved return to their emotional baseline. Psychologists think this is good news: resilience is adaptive, and we should welcome evidence that there is less suffering in the world. I explore various reasons we might have for regretting our resilience, both because of what resilience tells us about our own significance vis-à-vis loved ones, and because resilience may (...) render us incapable of comprehending how things really stand, valuewise. I also compare our actual dispositions to extreme alternatives (“sub-resilience” and “super-resilience”), and consider whether we might endorse (plain) resilience as a kind of mean. (shrink)
The question of what role social and political practices should play in the justification of normative principles has received renewed attention in post-millennium political philosophy. Several current debates express dissatisfaction with the methodology adopted in mainstream political theory, taking the form of a criticism of so-called ‘ideal theory’ from ‘non-ideal’ theory, of ‘practice-independent’ theory from ‘practice-dependent’ theory, and of ‘political moralism’ from ‘political realism’. While the problem of action-guidance lies at the heart of these concerns, the critics also share a (...) number of methodological assumptions. Above all, their methodology is practice-dependent in the sense that an existing practice is assumed to put substantial limitations on the appropriate normative principles for regulating it. In other words, we cannot formulate and justify an appropriate principle without first understanding the practice this principle is supposed to govern. The aim of this paper is to map out and analyze the common denominators of these debates with regard to methodological commitments. We will investigate how this practice-dependent method may be understood and motivated. In particular, we point to challenges that must be met in order for the position to remain both distinct and attractive. (shrink)
Although the discussion about feasibility in political theory is still in its infancy, some important progress has been made in the last years to advance our understanding. In this paper, we intend to make a contribution to this growing literature by investigating the proper place of feasibility considerations in political theory. A motivating force behind this study is a suspicion that many presumptions made about feasibility in several current debates—such as that between practice-independence and practice-dependence, ideal and non-ideal theory, and (...) political moralism and political realism—are too rigid and underestimate the numerous different ways in which feasibility concerns may enter into our theorizing. To chisel out this feasibility space, our aim is to suggest two metatheoretical constraints on normative political principles as intuitively plausible, the so-called ‘fitness constraint’ and the ‘functional constraint’, through which we elucidate five central aspects for determining proper feasibility constraints of an account in political theory. (shrink)
Dit artikel gaat over de gecompliceerde relatie tussen kunst en informatie. Alle kunst is informatie, kunnen we zeggen, maar niet alle informatie is kunst! Of om het anders te zeggen: we willen niet enkel worden geïnformeerd, maar ook geïnspireerd.
In a previous article, we unpacked the so-called “ethics first premise”—the idea that ethics is “prior” to politics when theorizing political legitimacy— that is denied by political realists. We defended a “justificatory” reading of this premise, according to which political justification is irreducibly moral in the sense that moral values are among the values that ground political legitimacy. We called this the “necessity thesis.” In this paper we respond to two challenges that Robert Jubb and Enzo Rossi raise against our (...) proposal. Their first claim is that our argument for the necessity thesis is question begging, since we assume rather than show that freedom and equality are moral values. The second claim is that Bernard Williams’s Basic Legitimacy Demand demonstrates the possibility of giving political legitimacy a non-moral foundation, since it allows for a distinction to be made between politics and sheer domination. We refute both claims. (shrink)
The practice-dependent approach to justice has received a lot of attention in post-millennium political philosophy. It has been developed in different directions and its normative implications have been criticized, but little attention has been directed to the very distinction between practice-dependence and practice-independence and the question of what theoretically differentiates a practice-dependent account from mainstream practice-independent accounts. The core premises of the practice-dependent approach, proponents argue, are meta-normative and methodological. A key feature is the presumption that a concept of justice (...) is dependent on the function or aim of the social practices to which it is supposed to be applied. Closely related to this meta-normative thesis is an interpretive methodology for deriving principles of justice from facts about existing practices, in particular regarding their point and purpose. These two premises, practice-dependent theorists claim, differentiate their account since they are not accepted by practice-independent accounts and they justify different principles of justice than practice-independent accounts. Our aim in this article is to refute both and, demonstrating that practice-independent accounts may indeed accept the meta-normative and methodological premises of the practice-dependent accounts, and that we are given no theoretical reason to think that practice-dependent accounts justify other principles of justice for a practice than do practice-independent accounts. In other words, practice-dependent theorists have not substantiated their claim that practice-dependence is theoretically differentiated from mainstream accounts. When practice-dependent proponents argue for other principles of justice than mainstream theorists, it will be for the usual reason in normative theory: their first-order normative arguments differ. (shrink)
This article investigates the relationship between popular sovereignty, populism, and deliberative democracy. My main thesis is that populisms resurrect the polemical dimension of popular sovereignty by turning “the people” against the “powerbloc” or the “elite”, and that it is crucial thatthis terrain not be ceded to authoritarian distortions of this basic contestatory grammar. Furthermore, I contend that populist forms of politics are compatible with a procedural and deliberative conception of democracy. Ifirst engage with the assumption that populism and a procedural (...) model of democracy are incompatible, demonstrating that this assumption relies on a conservative bias which tiesthe exercising of communicative power to a “duty of civility”. I then engage with radical-democratic reconstructions of the procedural notion of popular sovereignty which emphasize the unleashing and diversification of peoplehood in communication circuits and the mutual permeability of constitutional politics, parliamentary legislation, and the public sphere. Thirdly, I conclude that populisms are an essential part of communicative power in modern democracies and part of its dialectical structure. (shrink)
The pleasures experienced by boys and men who work and play closely with technology have important implications for both gender and technology. This article presents empirical evidence on the topic from two studies: one of hobbyist “robot builders” who build machines for the U.K. television program Robot Wars, the other of professional software developers working in a large U.S. corporation. In spite of the obvious differences between these two groups, they experience strikingly similar pleasures—in creating technologies, in their skills and (...) knowledge, and in their intimacy and comfort with technology. The authors discuss available gender-based analyses of men’s pleasures in technology, drawing on the empirical material to both challenge and extend these analyses. The authors suggest, tentatively, that technology is a gender-authentic and gender-available avenue for those men who particularly crave certainty because technology appears more certain, easier to understand, and easier to master than other worlds they inhabit. (shrink)
In the UK, male genital cutting is in principle legal and may even be ordered by a court, whereas female genital cutting is a criminal offence. The coherence of this approach was recently questioned by Munby P in Re B and G ; the present article continues this inquiry and demonstrates that the justifications that the courts have provided for the differential treatment of male and female cutting—relating to the harm involved in the respective practices, possible medical benefits of male (...) cutting, the absence of a religious motivation with regard to female cutting, and patriarchal power structures enabling female but not male cutting—are insufficient. It proposes a different foundation for the categorical rejection of female genital cutting and argues that such practices are wrong as a matter of principle. This provides a convincing basis for the rejection of all forms of female genital cutting, including comparatively mild ones such as ritual nicks, and furthermore leads to the conclusion that male cutting, too, must be regarded as categorically impermissible. (shrink)
Previous studies show evidence of double standards in terms of individuals being more tolerant of questionable consumer practices than of similar business practices. However, whether these double standards are necessarily due to the fact that one party is a business company while the other is a consumer was not addressed. The results of our two experimental studies, conducted among 277 (Study 1) and 264 (Study 2) participants from a Western European country by means of an anonymous self-administered online survey, demonstrate (...) that the respondents were not only harsher in their judgments of unethical business (vs. consumer) behavior, but also harsher in their judgments of unethical behavior by prosperous (vs. non-prosperous) consumers and prosperous (vs. non-prosperous) business companies (Study 1). Further, they were also less tolerant of unethical behavior by consumers (vs. one's best friend) and business companies with which they have a less than good (vs. a good) relationship (Study 2). These results indicate that double standards are due to differences in perceived wealth between subjects and in the individual's relationship with subjects. These two factors imply that double standards are not strictly reserved to consumer-business relations, but might also be used in business-business and consumer-consumer relations. Further, these results indicate that companies need to be aware of the fact that good financial figures may backfire as they might lead individuals to be more critical of a company's deceptive practices. Moreover, these findings point to the importance of businesses investing resources-and to keep investing resources-in developing a good relationship with stakeholders as these good relationships lead to stakeholders being less prone to make moral condemnations. (shrink)
Guo Xiang's (252-312) reading of the famous "Butterfly Dream" passage from the Zhuangzi differs significantly from modern readings, particularly those that follow the Giles translation. Guo Xiang's view is based on the assumption that the character of Zhuang Zhou has no recollection of his dream after awakening and therefore does not entertain doubts about what or who he really is. This leads to a specific understanding of the allegorical and philosophical meaning of the text that stands in contradistinction to most (...) modern interpretations. A translation of the Butterfly passage and commentary are appended. (shrink)
This article discusses the aesthetic concept of boringness, of which there has been relatively little philosophical discussion, especially along its objective, nonpsychological dimensions. I begin by confronting skepticism about the validity of judgments about boringness and rebut suggestions to the effect that these judgments are inevitably compromised by mistakes or vices of the audience. The article then develops an account focused on certain kinds of reasonable expectations we form in a given aesthetic context. I go on to confront the question (...) of whether boringness is inevitable given the internal imperatives of works of art and illustrate the discussion with Richard Wagner's Ring cycle. Although I focus on art, I conclude by drawing some connections with the boring in everyday life. (shrink)