9 research outputs found

    Who cares what the people think? Revisiting David Miller’s approach to theorising about justice

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    David Miller’s methodological approach to theorising about justice, articulated most explicitly in Principles of Social Justice (1999) but informing his work up to and including the recent Strangers in Our Midst (2016), takes people’s existing beliefs and sentiments – ‘what the people think’ – to play a fundamental constitutive role in the development of normative principles of justice. In this critical exchange, Alice Baderin, Andreas Busen, Thomas Schramme and Luke Ulas¾ subject differing aspects of this methodology to critique, before Miller responds

    Behaviour and thoughts: for a pluralistic model of empirically-informed political philosophy

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    Is Political Philosophy Impossible? develops a distinctive and powerful vision of empirically-informed political philosophy: one that gives a central role to data about what people do, rather than what they think or say. Here I offer some critical reflections on this “normative behaviourist” account of how, and why, we should integrate normative theorizing with empirical research. I suggest that normative behaviourism is at once too ambitious and too restrictive concerning the role of social scientific data in political philosophy. On the one hand, it implicates philosophy in complex and contested issues in criminology, and developing the approach to address more fine-grained normative problems would place unrealistic demands on the empirical data. On the other hand, the emphasis on crime and insurrection excludes alternative valuable forms of empirical evidence from normative theorizing. I conclude by defending a more modest and pluralistic picture of data-sensitive political philosophy

    Rawlsian Constructivism : A Practical Guide to Reflective Equilibrium

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    Many normative theorists want to contribute to making the world a better place. In recent years, it has been suggested that to realise this ambition one must start with an adequate description of real-life practices. To determine what should be done, however, one must also fundamentally criticise existing moral beliefs. The method of reflective equilibrium offers a way of doing both. Yet, its practical usefulness has been doubted and it has been largely ignored in the recent practical turn of normative theorising. This paper offers a complementary methodology to the method of reflective equilibrium, referred to as Rawlsian constructivism, which brings forth its practical merits. With the support of Rawlsian constructivism, the method of reflective equilibrium becomes a tool for public reasoning about practical problems which aims to facilitate shared solutions. The process of reflective scrutiny is used, not in the search of moral truth, but rather to highlight what stands in the way of solutions to problems agents face in different domains of social life. The practical value lies in scrutinising reasons for action that are taken for granted, explicating new rationales for action and highlighting neglected points of agreement. The paper exemplifies this approach with a process of justifying individual obligations to combat climate change. Normative theorists who share the practical agenda have correctly noted the importance of bottom-up investigations of subject domains. This paper argues that the next step should be to utilise this version of the method of reflective equilibrium to explore the potential for morally progressive solutions to these problems