Consequentialism and Its Demands: The Role of Institutions (with Andras Miklos)
Abstract. It isn’t saying much to claim that morality is demanding; the question, rather, is: can morality be so demanding that we have reason not to follow its dictates? According to many, it can, if that morality is a consequentialist one. This paper takes the plausibility and coherence of this objection – the Demandingness Objection – as a given. Our question, therefore, is how to respond to the Objection. We put forward a response that we think has not received sufficient attention in the literature: institutional consequentialism. This is a consequentialist view that, however, requires institutional systems, and not individuals, to follow the consequentialist principle. We first introduce the Objection, then explain the theory of institutional consequentialism and how it responds to the objection. In the remainder of the paper, we defend the view against potential objections.
A globalizáció nyomában (with Eric Brown)
Abstract. The aim of the paper is to study the pre-history of the concept of globalization in political philosophy. In doing so, the paper examines the development of two intertwined concepts, those of universalism and cosmopolitanism. The application of these two concepts has been much influenced by the socio-economical situation of the relevant societies; hence the paper aims to place their discussion in this context. Accordingly, the first part of the paper deals with the idea of universalism in classical Greek and stoic philosophy, in renaissance humanism and in the early-modern period. The second part of the paper adds to this the discussion of cosmopolitanism in Immanuel Kant’s philosophy.
On The Road to Meaning
Abstract. The paper offers a philosophically infused analysis of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. The main idea is that McCarthy’s novel is primarily a statement on the meaning of life. Once this idea is argued for and endorsed, by using a parallel between The Road and a 19th century Hungarian dramatic poem, The Tragedy of Man, the paper goes on to argue that the most plausible – although admittedly not the only possible – interpretation of The Road is that it advocates a religious account of the meaning of life that is able to accommodate all other possible interpretations of how the question of meaning figures in the novel.
What Are Basic Liberties? (with Stephen McLeod)
Abstract. Our initial aim is to characterize, in a manner more precise than before, what Rawls calls the “analytical” method of arrival at a list of basic liberties. As we understand it, this method employs one or more general conditions that, under any just social order whatever, putative entitlements must meet in order for them to be among the basic liberties encompassed, within some just social order, by Rawls’s first principle of justice (i.e., the liberty principle). We then argue that the general conditions that feature in Rawls’s own version of the analytical method, which employ the notion of necessity, are too stringent. They ultimately fail to deliver as basic certain particular liberties that, we argue, should be encompassed within any fully adequate scheme of liberties. In order to address this shortcoming, we provide a significantly amended, disjunctive, general condition. This replaces Rawls’s necessity condition with a probabilistic condition and it also appeals to the principle of legitimacy. We defend our new approach both as apt to feature in applications of the analytical method and as adequately grounded in justice as fairness as Rawls articulates the theory’s fundamental ideas.
Consequentialist Demands, Intuitions, and Experimental Methodology (with Joseph Sweetman)
Abstract. Can morality be so demanding that we have reason not to follow its dictates? According to many, it can, if that morality is a consequentialist one. We take the plausibility and coherence of this objection – the Demandingness Objection – as a given and are also not concerned with finding the best response to the Objection. Instead, our main aim is to explicate the intuitive background of the Objection and to see how this background could be investigated. This double aim leads to different albeit connected threads of inquiry. We first outline the Objection, its different forms and how intuition figures in them. After this, we move on to consider the ongoing debate about the use of intuitions in (moral) philosophy with a focus on two challenges: what intuitions are and how we can detect them. To answer these challenges, we propose an account according to which moral intuitions are seemings that are characterized by being non-inferential, spontaneous, non-doxastic, phenomenologically distinctive, non-sensory, intrinsically motivating, and stable. Armed with these seven “markers” of moral intuition, we put a forward a complex experimental methodology and raise and respond to possible problems with it.
What Is the Incoherence Objection to Legal Entrapment? (with Daniel Hill and Stephen McLeod)
Abstract. Some legal theorists say that legal entrapment to commit a crime is incoherent. So far, there is no satisfactorily precise statement of this objection in the literature: it is obscure even as to the type of incoherence that is purportedly involved. Perhaps consequently, substantial assessment of the objection is also absent. In order to inform such assessment in the future, we aim to provide a new statement of the objection that is more precise and more rigorous than are its predecessors. After discussing some forms of incoherence that those that have endorsed or entertained the objection might have had in mind, we argue that the most plausible form of the objection has it that, in attempting to entrap, law-enforcement agents lapse into a form of practical incoherence best characterized as the agents’ simultaneously attempting to pursue contrary ends. We suggest, further, that the objection is particularly dangerous as this pursuit makes law-enforcement agents act against the requirements of practical reason.
Self-respect, Self-esteem, and the Demands of Justice
Abstract. The paper takes as its starting point John Rawls’s claim that the social bases of self-respect is perhaps the most important primary good the distribution of which is governed by his principles of justice. There has been some debate about this claim in the literature and this debate has included important clarifications regarding the concept(s) involved. However, I think this discussion hasn’t gone deep enough and this – relative – lack of depth has or at least might have important implications for our theory of distributive justice. To show this, I begin with Rawls’s admittedly sketchy remarks about the significance of self-respect in his theory. After this I briefly describe the debate that followed: what emerges here is a distinction between two kinds of self-respect. While I think this distinction is in good order, I also think and subsequently argue, building on the work of Robin Dillon and Anna Bortolan, that it only scratches the surface of the complex phenomenon of self-respect. In particular, as these authors show, the self-respect complex is, in fact, a multi-layered phenomenon and the distinction as used misses its fundamental level: basal self-respect (Dillon) or self-esteem (Bortolan). In the finishing part of the paper I discuss these two proposals to show that Bortolan’s version is the better one. All this then has clear relevance for the adjoining debate in political philosophy: all those who want to give an important role to self-respect in their theory of justice have potentially focused on the wrong target so far. This, I conclude, might well give rise to a new feminist critique of liberal egalitarian justice.