Author Archives: Nicole Hassoun

Global Economic Justice A Justitia Amplificata Conference

10-11 July, Forschungskollege Humanwissenschaften, Bad Homburg

Confirmed speakers: Mathias Risse (Harvard), Robert Howse (NYU), Miriam Ronzoni (Manchester), Seumas Miller (Charles Sturt University), Catherine Lu (McGill), Nicole Hassoun (SUNY Binghamton), Jiewuh Song (Justitia Amplificata), Bas van der Vossen (UNC Greensboro), Peter Dietsch ((Montreal), Elizabeth Kahn (Justitia Amplificata) and Gabriel Wollner (LSE).

To register contact: Valérie Bignon

The global and transnational justice debate has started to move beyond theoretical ground clearing and toward evaluating specific transnational institutions, international agreements and global practices. This conference seeks to contribute to this difficult task by considering practical questions of global and trans-national economic justice. The conference will concentrate on normative assessments of global, transnational and international practices that impact production, consumption, the division of labour, productivity and the distribution of income and wealth, as well as control over these factors. We will structure the conference around three panels:

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M.A. and Ph.D Philosophy – Binghamton University

Binghamton University’s graduate program in social, political, ethical and legal philosophy (SPEL) invites applications for M.A. and Ph.D degrees in philosophy

The SPEL program offers an innovative approach to graduate study in philosophy. Students receive a traditional education in philosophy and its major subfields, and specialize in social and political philosophy, ethics, or the philosophy of law. The Department is pluralistic and collegial, offering a variety of lectures, mini-conferences, workshops, and reading groups to foster collaboration between faculty and graduate students. While a relatively new program, SPEL has already established an outstanding placement record. Information on placement and all other aspects of the SPEL Program can be found on the Program’s website, read more...

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Dear all,

Here is an advert for a cool new job at Birmingham in Global Ethics:

As some of you may know, Birmingham’s Philosophy Department is expanding and transforming and they have appointed some of the best philosophers as Distinguished Research Profs (see: In addition the Centre is growing as a interdisciplinary and international hub ( and they very involved in leading the Universities research agenda, for instance, in the IAS Saving Humans initiative ( read more...

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New Work in Experimental Political Philosophy?

Dear all,

I am interested in finding new work on experimental political philosophy that might be worth mentioning in a review article on the topic. Any references would be great.

All best, -Nicole

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A Thought on the Ideal and Non-Ideal Theory Distinction

Many of you have probably seen Simmons’ article just out in PPA on ideal and non-ideal theory. Simmons defends Rawls’ account of the ideal/non-ideal theory distinction and his paper is a must read. That said, I have been ruminating over a slightly different take on the debate over the nature of the ideal/non-ideal theory distinction and so thought I’d throw an idea out there.

Drawing on John Rawls’ A Theory of Justice many have suggested that the ideal/non-ideal theory distinction is akin to the full/partial compliance distinction. In creating his ideal theory, Rawls assumes that people will comply (almost) perfectly with the requirements of justice. He then uses his original position argument to conclude that his first principle of justice should have priority over his second. Next, Rawls weakens his ideal theory assumptions, adding the constraint that people may not abide by the requirements of justice. He concludes that we should only embrace his general conception of justice in non-ideal theory.

Unfortunately, the canonical examples of ideal and non-ideal theories cannot be fully characterized as full and partial compliance theories respectively. As Simmons and others note, even Rawls says ideal theory requires more than perfect compliance. In creating his ideal theory he assumes, for instance, that the circumstances do not prevent justice from being secured. Furthermore, others have more recently provided ideal and non-ideal theories that are not full and partial compliance theories (respectively). The main thing that distinguishes Allen Buchanan’s and Michael Blake’s non-ideal theories from their ideal theories, for instance, is that their non-ideal theories assume that there will be states and consider what we should do given that we are confined to a statist system. Similarly, the main thing that distinguishes Ronald Dworkin’s non-ideal theory from his ideal theory is that he assumes that people only have different talents and disabilities in his ideal theory. Blake’s, Buchanan’s, and Dworkin’s ideal theories do not require perfect compliance. Assuming that there is something to the ideal/non-ideal theory distinction and these authors are not just using the terms in completely different ways, the ideal/non-ideal theory distinction cannot just be the full/partial compliance distinction.

Reflecting on the many ways people seem to use the terms, one might despair at the thought of trying to unify such disparate ideal and non-ideal theories. In the draft of his book manuscript Michael Blake suggests, for instance, that the ideal/non-ideal theory distinction is not that useful because it can mean many different things. He implores others to be careful to explain just what assumptions they are making in advancing any theory. Perhaps this is part of what drives Simmons and others to argue for one or another of these ways of thinking about the ideal/non-ideal theory distinction.

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At the risk of starting another discussion on libertarianism… but for the record.

Kevin asked me to post these comments which I had hoped would make it onto the Molinari web page a long time ago. They provide a short response to some replies by Jan Narveson and Roderick Long to some comments I made on a symposium at the APA last year. Whew… anyone get that?

Just in case you are confused, here is the run down. The commentary I gave focused on a collection of essays on libertarianism and anarchism edited by Tibor Machan and Roderick Long. In it, I advanced a new argument for the conclusion that libertarians should endorse some kind of welfare liberalism.

Here were the comments I made:

Several people responded. Here are Narveson’s comments:

Here are Long’s:

Here are Thomas’s:

Perhaps I should also say that I post my reply to these here only because I did not succeed in getting them on the Molinari web site and there was some discussion of the relevant argument in the commentary I posted here a while ago. This was the commentary:

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