I argue that rationally persuading another to do something for their own good is sometimes (objectionably) paternalistic. Rational persuasion may express, and be guided by, the motive of distrust in the other’s capacity to gather or weigh evidence, and may intrude on the other’s deliberative activities in ways that conflict with respecting their agency and autonomy. I also examine factors that make a difference to whether (and when) the provision of reasons is respectful.
Philosophical interest in state power has tended to focus on the state’s coercive powers rather than its expressive powers. I consider an underexplored aspect of the state’s expressive capacity: its capacity to use symbols (such as monuments, memorials, and street names) to promote political ends. In particular, I argue that the liberal state’s deployment of symbols to promote its members’ commitment to liberal ideals is in need of special justification. This is because the state’s exercise of its capacity to use (...) symbols may be in tension with respecting individual autonomy, particularly in cases in which the symbols exert influence without engaging citizens’ rational capacities. But despite the fact that the state’s deployment of symbols may circumvent citizens’ rational capacities, I argue that it may nonetheless be permissible when surrounded by certain liberal institutions and brought about via democratic procedures. (shrink)
This paper argues that participation in an intimate relationship can generate additional or stronger reasons for one to act paternalistically toward the intimate. Moreover, participation in such a relationship can also weaken or cancel some of the presumptive reasons of respect one would otherwise have not to interfere. The paper also reflects, more generally, on the nature of intimate relationships, the normative significance of paternalism, and the normative differences between paternalism in larger-scale institutional contexts and paternalism in closer, interpersonal ones. (...) -/- . (shrink)
Intimate relationships such as love and friendship involve familiar patterns of vulnerability. Loving someone renders one susceptible to distress and sorrow when the beloved is harmed and when the loving relationship is impaired. The distinctive kind of vulnerability bound up with intimate relationships also presents an opportunity for wrongful exploitation: for one participant to unfairly use, take advantage of, the other. In the case of commercial exploitation (e.g., exploitation of sweatshop workers), the remedy typically involves either preventing those in the (...) relevant positions of power from taking advantage of the vulnerability of the powerless or removing the vulnerabilities of those in the relevant positions of powerlessness. I argue there are there limits to the application of these two strategies in the intimate relationship context, and I consider what (if anything) might guard against the possibility of exploitation in intimate relationships. (shrink)
I develop an account of the nature and value of being supportive in interpersonal relationships. In particular, I argue that the virtue of being supportive, construed as a modally demanding value, facilitates the autonomy of one's intimate and promotes a sense of unity in one's relationship. Moreover, the practice of being supportive plays an important role with regard to the familiar need to reconcile the normative demands of one's own projects with one's responsibilities to intimates.
Presents the results of our study comparing two different approaches (those of Goodwin and Darley 2008, and Sarkissian et al. 2011) to empirically measuring people's belief in moral objectivity. Examines the relationship between belief in moral objectivity and two other metaethical attitudes: belief in moral progress and belief in a just world.
What is the role of faith in the familiar practice of supporting intimates in their personal projects? Is there anything distinctly valuable about such faith-based support? I argue that the virtue of being supportive, a characteristic of the good friend or lover, involves a distinctive kind of faith: faith in another persons’ chosen self-expressive pursuit. Support based on such faith enables the supported party to enjoy a more meaningful and autonomous exercise of agency in self-expressive arenas, and engenders a sense (...) of relational unity or solidarity, deepening the normative and emotional bonds of the relationship. (shrink)
This paper examines the nature of friendship and the nature of exploitation, and the intersection of the two phenomena. It argues that because vulnerability is an essential aspect of friendship, the possibility of exploitation is ineliminable in friendship. Considers how we might, nonetheless, reduce our exposure to unfair treatment in friendships.
Critical reflections on Franklin Perkins' Doing What You Really Want: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Mengzi. Raises some questions related to two main themes in the book: (1) Mengzi’s conception of human nature, and (2) Mengzi’s view of harmony and conflict in human life.
This paper examines the role of respect (specifically, the interest in having the respect of other people) in enabling blame to be effective: i.e., to achieve the desired effect of changing the blamed’s attitude and behavior. It develops an account of blame’s operations in three different cases: standard, intermediate, and proleptic. It ends by raising the worry that effective blame toward the morally distant approximates manipulation and coercion, leaving a moral residue.
This paper argues that debates between the Confucians and Mohists in Classical China anticipate contemporary discussions in political philosophy. Specifically, their debates about our responsibilities to other people are akin to debates between Rawlsans, Cosmopolitans, and Utilitarians about the content of our political obligations to other people, and about the proper scope of application of norms of justice.
Slavery in Ancient Greece, Absolutist Monarchy in pre-modern Europe, and the European conquest of the New World strike us, from our contemporary perspective, as injustices on a massive scale. But given the impact of these large-scale historical activities on the particular course taken by Western history, they almost undeniably played an important role in the evolution of modern liberalism. Bernard Williams suggests a startling claim—that liberal universalists cannot condemn past injustices, because those injustices were necessary conditions of the development of (...) the modern liberalism that they affirm. This paper examines this possible objection to liberal universalists who greatly value their liberal way of life, paying particular attention to the lamentable necessities thesis: the claim that modern liberalism would not have come into existence but for the occurrence of past injustices. It motivates the lamentable necessities thesis, and argues that those who accept it, and greatly value modern liberalism, are precluded from regretting all-things-considered certain past injustices. Finally, it makes the case that liberal universalists who greatly value modern liberalism may condemn past injustices necessary to its emergence, even if they are unable to regret them in the relevant sense. (shrink)
This chapter examines the nature and normative significance of taxation. In particular, it identifies and explores two central normative questions: (1) What tax arrangements should a state or society put into place? (2) How should a citizen or taxpayer relate to an existing system? In thinking through these and relate questions, the discussion also critically engages with the broadly Rawlsian view of taxation defended by Murphy and Nagel in The Myth of Ownership.
In recent years, philosophers have begun to uncover the role played by verbal conduct in generating oppressive social structures. I examine the oppressive illocutionary uses, and perlocutionary effects, of expressives: speech acts that are not truth-apt, merely expressing attitudes, such as desires, preferences, and emotions. Focusing on expressions of disgust in conversation, I argue for two claims: that expressions of disgust can activate in the local, conversational context the oppressive power of the underlying structures of oppression; that conversational expressions of (...) disgust can, via the pragmatic process of presupposition accommodation, contribute to morally problematic cases of disgust contagion. (shrink)
This paper examines Bernard Williams’ challenge to liberal universalists (liberals “who assume their morality is universally applicable to everyone”) to provide a theory of error: “a story about the subject matter of political morality and about past people’s situation which explains why those people got it wrong about the subject matter.” It develops a theory of error that appeals to socio-historical conditions of the past to explain their role in making (1) liberal values and reasons epistemically inaccessible, and (2) motivations (...) to live up to them unavailable. (shrink)
Based on key passages in The Analects, I develop a Confucian account of agency: more precisely, an account of the relation between agent and deed (action). The Confucian view is contrasted with "standard" causal accounts of action (e.g., Davidson, Searle), which hold that what makes an event an action is that it is intended. According to the Confucian account, the defining mark of action is not the causal involvement of a (prior) intention, but instead the expressive relation between agent and (...) action. What's distinctive about an action is that it is expressive of who the agent is; the action expresses one's character or self. For the Confucians, what one really intends (the content of one's intention) is not a prior state to the action, but is rather determined or settled by the action as it is completed. I then explore the implications of the Confucian account for our understanding of three moral-psychological phenomena: weakness of will, self-deception, and moral regret. (shrink)