Author Archives: Chris Lowry

About Chris Lowry

I focus on liberal theory, esp. Rawls. My current work examines how the capability critique of primary goods has theoretical implications for the neutrality/perfectionism debate. In particular, I'm working on a defence of limited perfectionism that fits within a larger neutralist framework and is justified by familiar neutralist-type reasons.

North American Society for Social Philosophy 2012 Book Award

CALL FOR NOMINATIONS:

Deadline: December 31, 2012

The North American Society for Social Philosophy honours the best book published in social philosophy each year with the NASSP Book Award. The Book Award Committee invites you to nominate a book to compete for this award for the year 2012.

The Award will be offered to the book published in 2012 that makes the most significant contribution to social philosophy. The field is to be construed broadly, to include social and political philosophy, philosophy of law, philosophy of social science, and social ethics. Excluded are anthologies, historical studies, works on ethics that lack a distinctly social component as well as works on a social topic that lack a substantial philosophical component.

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Sen, ‘The Idea of Justice’ (Chapter 4, Voice and Social Choice)

This chapter tells us more about Sen’s understanding of the ‘transcendental’/comparative distinction. I’m not going to cover all (or even most) of the points he raises in this chapter. Instead, I want to raise a question that builds on a few comments about justification from the discussion of the Introduction (e.g., Cynthia #2, Colin #5/7, Charles #15, David W. #16, Blain #17, Aaron #18). Here is my question: Is Sen’s theory of justice ‘political in the wrong way’? I’m going to suggest that (i) Sen seems to be saying ‘yes’, (ii) he ought to say ‘no’, and (iii) if he says ‘no’, the difference between his approach and ‘transcendental’ ones is greatly diminished (or perhaps removed).

What does Rawls mean by ‘political in the wrong way’? In Part V of the Restatement, he says that political liberalism seeks a kind of consensus that is different from ‘consensus politics’. The latter aims to identify a particular policy that can gain sufficient political support in a particular time and place, without seeking agreement concerning the justification of the policy (and allowing the balance of power between various groups to influence the decision). For example, one might hope to reach agreement on the ‘diagnosis’ that X is unjust, without first (or ever) identifying why X is unjust.

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