653 research outputs found

    Why coercion is wrong when it’s wrong

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    It is usually thought that wrongful acts of threat-involving coercion are wrong because they involve a violation of the freedom or autonomy of the targets of those acts. I argue here that this cannot possibly be right, and that in fact the wrongness of wrongful coercion has nothing at all to do with the effect such actions have on their targets. This negative thesis is supported by pointing out that what we say about the ethics of threatening (and thus the ethics of coercion) constrains what we can say about the ethics of warning and offering. Importantly, our favoured explanation of the wrongness of certain kinds of threatening should not commit us to condemning as wrong parallel cases of warning and offering. My positive project is to show how this can be done. I defend the claim that wrongful coercion is nothing more than the issuing of a conditional threat to do wrong, and that an agent's issuing of a conditional threat to do wrong is wrong because it constitutes motivation for that agent to adopt the announced intention to do wrong. The idea of explaining the wrongness of wrongful coercion in this way has gone unnoticed because we have thus far been mistaken about what a threat is. In this essay I present my moral analysis of coercion only after presenting a careful descriptive analysis of threats. On my view, it is essential to a threat that the announced intention is one that the agent does not possess before announcing it. This analysis makes it possible to elucidate the descriptive differences between threats, warnings and offers, which sets up the later project of elucidating the moral differences between them.Publisher PDFPeer reviewe

    Fair equality of opportunity in our actual world

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    Fair equality of opportunity, a principle that governs the competition for desirable jobs, can seem irrelevant in our actual world, for two reasons. First, parents have broad liberty to raise their children as they see fit, which seems to undermine the fair equality of opportunity–based commitment to eliminating the effects of social circumstances on that competition. Second, we already have a well-established principle for distributing jobs, namely meritocracy, thereby leaving no theater in which fair equality of opportunity can operate. I argue that we can solve both of these problems by conceding, in contrast to previous fair equality of opportunity defenders, that there’s no unique good associated with the right job, while insisting that there is a unique bad associated with the wrong job and holding that fair equality of opportunity should govern the competition to avoid that bad by attaining the right job. This move enables new responses to the two problems previously mentioned. In response to the meritocracy problem, I propose simply accepting that that principle should guide the distribution of jobs and all the associated goods while maintaining that there is room for a separate, non-consequentialist principle whose function is to ensure a fair distribution of chances to avoid the unique bad just identified. In response to the parental liberty problem, I argue that, for any given person, which job will deliver the unique bad I identify is contingent on her skills, and therefore, the way she is raised determines what would constitute a bad employment outcome for her, but doesn’t affect her chances of avoiding that outcome.PostprintPeer reviewe

    Connecting moral status to proper legal status

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    This chapter entertains three proposals as to the connection between an animal’s moral status and what legal status it ought to have. The first proposal is this strong claim: that an act wrongs an animal is a justification for criminalizing it. The second proposal is this moderate claim: that an act constitutes an injustice to an animal is a justification for criminalizing it. Both of these proposals can be vindicated if an argument for legal moralism that the author constructs, drawing on the work of Michael Moore, is sound. Meanwhile, Martha Nussbaum, Alasdair Cochrane, and Robert Garner have each argued for the second proposal. The chapter demonstrates that all four of these arguments are unsound. The third proposal is this claim: it is obligatory for legislators to eliminate any aspect of the law that facilitates the wronging of animals. This proposal, the author argues, is sound. Comparatively weak though this proposal is, the chapter extracts from it radical implications for animal ownership and state funding of medical research on animal subjects.Postprin

    Teleological contractarianism

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    The timing of research consent

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    This essay is about the timing of research consent, a process that involves (potential) participants being given information about, among other things, upcoming research interventions and then being invited to waive their claims against those interventions being undertaken. The standard practice, as regards timing, is as follows: (potential) participants are invited to waive all their claims at a single moment in time, and that point in time immediately follows the information-provision. I argue that there we’re not justified in keeping to this practice. What we ought to do is disaggregate the claim-waiving part of the process and move it later, such that the (potential) participant is invited to waive her claim against the undertaking of any given intervention only the immediate moment before that intervention is to be undertaken.Publisher PDFPeer reviewe

    III - Contractarianism as a political morality

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    Contractarianism initially made its mark, in the seventeenth century, as a sort of theory of everything in ethics. But gradually philosophers became convinced that there were resources available outside contractarianism for settling important moral questions—for instance, ideas of human rights and the moral equality of persons. Then Rawls revived contractarianism with a more modest aim—namely, as a theory of justice. But even this agenda for contractarianism has been called into question, most notably by G.A. Cohen, who contends that we have other tools at our disposal for identifying the true conception of justice. So the question remains: how should contractarianism be construed if it is to provide answers to questions that cannot be answered in some other way? In my essay I offer a very simple answer: contractarianism should be construed as a political morality. I arrive at this answer by starting with contractarianism as a theory of everything and paring away the unappealing layers of contractarianism so understood. I begin by describing what contractarianism is. Then I dispense with contractarianism as a theory of state legitimacy, as a theory of interpersonal morality, and as a theory of justice. Finally, I distinguish political morality from the other already-mentioned areas of morality, and argue that contractarianism is a sensible theory of its grounds.PostprintNon peer reviewe

    The Unbundled Union: Politics Without Collective Bargaining

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