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Nicole Hassoun: What do we owe to others as a basic minimum?

What do we owe to others as a basic minimum? Having such an account may inform theories of global justice, basic needs, or human rights (see, e.g., this paper). Moreover, having a good account can provide a basis for empirical work on the factors that contribute to such lives (and the connection between minimally good lives and other things that matter). It can, thus, offer some guidance for those who care for others who might fall below this threshold and for policy makers working to ensure that, insofar as possible, people rise above it.

Some deny that we owe people any basic minimum. Libertarians who reject positive rights and consequentialists who think we can sacrifice some for the greater good may reject the claim that there should be a basic minimum. Moreover, there are many different ways of thinking about what ensuring people can secure a basic minimum requires in light of what else we owe people. Some believe it is better to help someone just below the threshold reach the minimum rather than someone who is further below it come closer to the threshold. Others think we should prioritize helping people further below the threshold but give some weight to helping those who rise above it (and so forth). And, some agree that everyone should be able to secure the basic minimum but also maintain that we owe people much more than this. Yet others bring other considerations into the picture; desert, luck, responsibility and so forth may well have a role to play in modifying the role a basic minimum should play in a theory of justice. But what, at a minimum, must we help people in our personal lives and as members of society secure (taking into account the other things that matter)?

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By In Oxford Studies Discussions Comments (0)

Upcoming Discussion, starting May 2: “The Moral Neglect of Negligence” by Seana Valentine Shiffrin, with a critical précis by Ekow Yankah

Reminder and update: Starting May 2 (note the date change from the week of April 23), we are excited to host a discussion of Seana Valentine Shiffrin‘s article “The Moral Neglect of Neglicence,” Ch. 8 of Oxford Studies in Political Philosophy Vol.3. Shiffrin’s article is available here, with kind permission from OUP. We expect the article to be available here permanently.

We are thrilled to kick off the discussion with a critical précis by Ekow Yankah. We expect to have an excellent discussion, joined by e.g. Matt King, Claire Finkelstein, Stephen Sverdlik, and Scott Hershovitz.

The format of the discussion will be as follows: The discussion thread will be open May 2-3 for an initial round of questions and comments, after which Shiffrin will post a set of responses, probably by May 6 or 7. The discussion thread will then immediately open for another couple of days, after which Shiffrin will send a final round of responses.

We hope you’ll plan to join the discussion!

 

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By In Happiness, Uncategorized Comments (9)

Rosa Terlazzo: Must Adaptive Preferences be Prudentially Bad for Us?

Think about Belle from Beauty and the Beast. She is a smart, ambitious, independent young woman who trades her freedom for her father’s and over time comes to love the inconsiderate, dominating Beast who keeps her captive.

On one plausible reading, Belle’s case is a classic case of adaptive preference. By adaptive preference, I mean a preference that a person forms for an option in a limited set, that she would not have formed if other more expansive options had been available. And such preferences tend to raise problems for social and political philosophers and well-being theorists because they pull us simultaneously in two different directions: because they are the person’s own preferences, it seems that they are relevant to – perhaps even decisive in – determining what is good for her or how she should be treated; but because they involve settling for what she can get rather than a desire for what she would want if only it were available, they do not seem to capture what is genuinely good for her.

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By In Applied Ethics, Ethics Discussions at PEA Soup, Normative Ethics, Political Philosophy Comments (26)

Ethics Discussion at PEA Soup: Michael Cholbi and Alex Madva’s, “Black Lives Matter and the Call for Death Penalty Abolition,” with a critical précis by Erin Kelly

Welcome to what we expect will be a very interesting and productive discussion of Michael Cholbi and Alex Madva‘s, “Black Lives Matter and the Call for Death Penalty Abolition.” The paper is published in the most recent edition of Ethics and is available through open access here. Erin Kelly has kindly agreed to contribute a critical précis, and it appears immediately below. Please join in the discussion!

Erin Kelly writes:

Michael Cholbi and Alex Madva’s paper, “Black Lives Matter and the Call for Death Penalty Abolition,” argues that capital punishment wrongs black defendants and black communities, and that the proper remedy for this wrong is abolition of the death penalty. In developing this argument, they make an interesting case for understanding the racial wrongs of capital punishment in political terms—as instances of distributive injustice—rather than (simply) in terms of a failure to achieve retributive justice. I will explore both the nature of their claims about distributive justice and their criticism of retributive justice. I won’t address the case for abolition, which flows naturally from their conclusions about the harm done by the death penalty. Instead I will suggest, briefly, how their argument against the retributive theory could be stronger.

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Ben Bramble: The Passing of Temporal Well-Being

Most contemporary work on well-being assumes that individuals have several different kinds of well-being:

  1. Momentary well-being—i.e., well-being at a particular point in time.
  2. Periodic well-being—i.e., well-being during some extended period longer than a moment but shorter than a whole life (say, a day, a week, a year, or a chapter of a life).
  3. Lifetime well-being—i.e., the well-being of one’s life considered as a whole.

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Jonathan Phillips and Joshua Knobe: The Ordinary Concept of Happiness

Consider a father who looks at his beloved daughter and thinks, ‘What I want most in life is just for you to be happy.’ In thinking this thought, the father makes use of a concept that is deeply important but also very difficult to adequately characterize – the ordinary concept of happiness. Our aim is to understand how this concept works.

One obvious view would be that the ordinary concept of happiness is just a matter of having certain psychological states. For example, it might be thought that the ordinary concept of happiness is a matter of feeling good, experiencing satisfaction with one’s life, and not experiencing negative affective states, such as pain, lonelinessor despair. On this view, when the father thinks that what he wants most in life is for his daughter to be happy, what he means is simply that what he wants is for her to have certain kinds of psychological states.

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By In Agency and Responsibility, NDPR Discussion Forum Comments (5)

NDPR Forum: Suzy Killmister’s Taking the Measure of Autonomy, reviewed by Ben Mitchell-Yellin

Welcome to our next NDPR Forum, on Suzy Killmister’s book Taking the Measure of Autonomy: A Four-Dimensional Theory of Self-Governance. It was recently reviewed in NDPR by Ben Mitchell-Yellin. Below the fold are a few blurbs about the book and passages from the review. Please feel free to join in on the discussion!

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