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Religion in 21st-Century Political Philosophy  

Sune Lægaard

Discussions of religion in political philosophy concern normative questions such as whether religious reasons can be appealed to in political justification, whether the state can support the church, how the state should regulate religious symbols in public space, and how freedom of religion and religious discrimination should be understood. Debates about religion in political philosophy can be separated into two different main framings. One framing represents the issues in terms of a relation between different spheres, such as religion and politics. Another framing represents the issues in terms of the regulation of specific acts and activities, such as observing religious beliefs by wearing religious dress. All these issues, however framed, raise questions about what counts as religion and why it is normatively relevant. However, religion can denote quite different things which are normatively relevant for different reasons in different respects.

Article

Contractualism  

Rahul Kumar

A contractualist moral theory is an account of the foundations of a central aspect of commonsense morality, one concerned with how it is wrong for individuals to treat each other. A theory counts as contractualist if it takes as fundamental to accounting for an act’s wrongness the justifiability to others of so acting . This core contractualist commitment has been developed in different ways. The most detailed articulation of view is that advanced by T. M. Scanlon in What We Owe To Each Other. This article focuses on Scanlon’s contractualism. It aims to make explicit the structure of the contractualist reasoning and certain challenges to its plausibility in light of certain intuitive convictions. I

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Multilateral Crisis Responders: United Nations and Its Partners in Humanitarian Crisis Management  

Bok Gyo Jeong and Jungwon Yeo

A humanitarian crisis is the main focus of the United Nations’ (the UN’s) primary organizations and its special agencies since its foundation in 1945. The UN refers to a humanitarian crisis as an event or series of events that represents a critical threat to the health, safety, security, or well-being of a community or other large group of people. The nature of a humanitarian crisis is complex, signifying the importance of the collaboration and coordination among the UN and its multilateral partner agencies in the crisis management process. The UN takes the approach of “disaster risk management” that aims to enhance (a) resilience, the ability of people, societies, and countries to recover from negative shocks; and (b) prosperity, derived from successfully managing positive shocks that create opportunities for development. The UN’s emergency measures aim to ensure a transition from relief to rehabilitation and development. The UN suggests a humanitarian coordination model. In particular, the UN established guiding principles for the international community’s response to humanitarian crises that were built based on the General Assembly resolution 46/182. The resolution provides the foundation for the establishment of the Office of the Emergency Relief Coordinator and the Inter-Agency Standing Committee, which facilitates interagency analysis and makes major decisions in humanitarian emergency responses. The resolution also identifies a range of other organizations and entities that could contribute to an international humanitarian crisis management system. The UN’s multilateral partners in humanitarian crisis response include (a) the UN’s special agencies including the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), World Food Program (WFP), World Health Organization (WHO), International Organization for Migration (IOM), and the UN Population Fund (UNFPA); (b) civil society and government of affected countries; (c) both national and international Red Cross and Red Crescent societies; (d) domestic and international nongovernmental organizations; and (e) international governmental organizations.

Article

Perfectionism  

Franz Mang and Joseph Chan

In contemporary Anglo-American political philosophy, perfectionism is widely understood as the idea that the state may, or should, promote valuable conceptions of the good life and discourage conceptions that are worthless or bad. As such, debates over perfectionism occupy a central place in contemporary political philosophy because political philosophers are deeply concerned about whether or not a liberal state is permitted to promote any particular ethical or religious doctrine or impose it on its citizens. In general, contemporary perfectionists do not argue for the state’s pursuit of any religious doctrine. They only maintain that the state is permitted to make a wide range of public policies with the aim of promoting the good life. These policies, commonly found in liberal democratic societies, may include subsidizing museums and art galleries, preserving cultural heritage, setting up public libraries and providing free access to reading materials, encouraging athletic excellence, conserving nature and biodiversity, and educating citizens about the harm of recreational drugs. Nevertheless, perfectionism remains controversial among philosophers and political scientists. It might be beneficial to take a sympathetic view of perfectionism and consider how perfectionists might defend their position against some of the common objections. These objections mainly include: (a) that the state does not possess legitimate authority to make decisions about the good life and seek to promote it; (b) that perfectionist policies are generally illiberal and paternalistic; and (c) that conceptions of the good life are objects of reasonable disagreement and hence cannot legitimately be promoted by the state. In addition, the nature and importance of perfectionist policies and politics will be discussed.

Article

Unintended Consequences of International Mediation  

Lesley Terris

Mediation has become a dominant method of peaceful conflict resolution in the international system. Since the end of the Cold War in particular, an increasing number of belligerents have relied on mediators to help end their disputes. Yet, while mediators offer many advantages in the process of making peace, at times serving as the only way for rivals to move forward, mediation may also entail negative, unintended, consequences. Escalation of the conflict upon the mediator’s entrance is one such unintended consequence. Strategic considerations on the one hand, and psychological mechanisms on the other, frequently prompt rivals to escalate rather than cease hostilities upon the onset of mediation. Another possible unintended consequence is prolongation of the conflict due to the presence of the mediator. With a mediator involved in the negotiations, rivals may be tempted to put off an agreement in the hope of gaining a better deal while evading the cost of all-out conflict, or the disputing parties may conclude that they stand to gain more from the mediation process itself than from reaching a settlement. Mediation may also lead to fragile settlements that are prone to be short-lived as compared to settlements arrived at by the disputing parties on their own. This process is driven by factors such as the tendency of mediators to push for settlement terms that are easily attainable but that do not resolve the underlying causes of the conflict and are not necessarily sustainable. Whereas the contribution of mediation to conflict resolution is widely researched and discussed by scholars, to fully appreciate the significance of mediation as a method of conflict resolution, it is crucial to understand its possible negative consequences as well. A clear understanding of the full picture is essential for scholars and practitioners alike.

Article

Judicial Dissent in Collegial Courts: Theory and Evidence  

Nuno Garoupa and Catarina Santos Botelho

In collegial courts, disagreements are inevitable. Are these disagreements advantageous or disadvantageous for lawmaking? Why, when, and how do judges decide to disagree with each other? The literature about collegial courts includes extensive normative and positive theories about separate opinions as well as how these kinds of decisions are made. Scholars offer different explanations based on distinct frameworks: a cost–benefit analysis (within rational-choice theory), the principal–agent model, and via legal culture. By considering the complexity of separate opinions in style, substance, collegiality, and frequency, it is possible to find compromises between both (normative and positive) strains of the literature. These compromises reflect a fundamental divergence between private (individual) and social motivations to promote separate opinions.

Article

Impartiality in Moral and Political Philosophy  

Charlotte Newey

The concept of impartiality is frequently invoked in moral and political debates. In moral theories, impartiality features prominently in both Act and Rule Consequentialism, Kantian ethics, the Humean general point of view, and Ideal Observer theory. In political theory, impartiality is frequently connected with justice and a commitment to equality. The connection of impartiality with moral and political theories is clear. In the personal realm, impartiality directs an agent not to act selfishly or unfairly toward others. In the political realm, impartiality requires that the structure of society and its institutions should not be rigged, for morally irrelevant reasons, to favor some groups over others by giving them benefits and opportunities that are not open to all. However, there is prolonged disagreement both in moral and political theory between impartialists, who accord significant weight to the value of impartiality, and partialists, who emphasize the value and importance of close personal relationships, meaningful life projects, autonomy, allegiance to one’s country and conationals, and duties of a state toward its citizens. Yet others see the quest for impartiality as a distraction from other more pressing concerns, such as the abuse of power, and domination. For all, this disagreement concerns the nature and extent to which impartiality should influence moral and political thought and actions. The debate may remain intractable because, in many situations, morality itself seems to demand partiality. Is the impartialist notion that everyone matters equally from the moral point of view compatible with widely held intuitions that agents are morally permitted to devote more of their time, energy, and other resources to people and projects whose value depends on their relationship to the agent? If not, so much the worse for impartial moral theory, because most people think parents are not merely permitted, but likely required—depending on the size of the harms and benefits involved—to attend to their own children’s needs ahead of helping the child of a stranger, or that a person who never placed their friend ahead of others when allocating their time, concern, and resources has not grasped the meaning of the term “friendship.” People tend to agree that a life devoid of meaningful projects is impoverished. Similar tensions arise in the political realm. Should political theories treat the good of all people everywhere as equally important, or should they make space for a state’s special duty to its own citizens and to allow compatriots to favor each other? What if we cannot agree on what constitutes “the good” of the people? The debate between impartialists and partialists looks set to continue unless progress is made in elucidating a concept of impartiality that can accommodate the concerns of both. Several authors agree that the concept of impartiality is underexplored, with the result that each side ends up talking past the other. To make progress, a deeper understanding of impartiality and the role it can play in moral and political thought is needed.

Article

Punishment and Social Control in Historical Perspective  

Michele Pifferi

Punishment has historically functioned as a key factor of social control. At different times, its mechanisms, techniques, and purposes have varied significantly, changing the authority and legitimacy of those who have sought to shape and govern a social order. The sociological notion of social control elaborated at the beginning of the 20th century refers to multiple elements that cannot simply be reduced to law, criminal law in particular. However, especially after the revisionist turn of the 1970s, the idea of social control as a coercive response to deviant behaviors through penal and institutionalized mechanisms has made inroads into research on the history of criminal justice. At first, the origins and development of prisons in late modernity as models of punishment in place of medieval corporal chastisements were scrutinized. The penal shift from the body to the soul, beneath its rhetoric of rationalization and humanization, was driven by conscious projects for controlling and disciplining a changing society by means of institutions of confinement. Although this interpretation was occasionally criticized, it contributed to the development of a critical historical analysis of criminal law in which the notion of social control can be profitably applied to the study of different periods and features of the penal apparatus. A first example is the age of medieval ius commune (12th–16th centuries), when emergent sovereign entities characterizing the pluralistic political scenario before the formations of modern states extensively resorted to a strategic use of criminal law to impose their hegemonic powers. A second case is penal modernism. In the last decades of the 19th century, when state monopolies of violence were undisputed and imprisonment was largely imposed, criminological positivism brought about a rethinking of the rationale of punishment based on the idea of social defense, which also implied a reconceptualization of criminal law as a means of social control.

Article

Solidarity  

Arto Laitinen

Solidarity is widely held to be an under-theorized, elusive, or vague notion, and there is no clear-cut canon of theories of solidarity, but there are some core intuitions on this subject that rival theories try to capture in different ways. One such core intuition is that solidarity concerns people who share their lives and whose fates are tied together—social solidarity, civic solidarity, or group solidarity are related to the strength of ties of dependency and mutual support of people who are “in the same boat.” Another core intuition is that solidarity can be extended even beyond one’s own society, community, or group—maximally to the whole of humankind. Nonexclusive human solidarity can play a vital role in sustaining moral standards and for example in the collective measures against climate change or a pandemic. A third core intuition is that solidarity can be needed and expressed in struggles against injustice or wrongs of various sorts. If the first core idea of solidarity concerns the normal stages of society, the third concerns the even revolutionary struggles to change important aspects of the existing forms of life. The metaphor of “being in the same boat” may seem suspect and misleading when attention is paid to the injustices of current arrangements—instead, what is needed is political solidarity in the attempt to fight those injustices. A fourth core intuition is that the dark side of solidarity raises suspicion: An internally solidary group may be repressive of the individuality of the members, it may be parochial and sometimes even lead to a dehumanization of outsiders, and it may be exercised in pursuit of unjustifiable ends. These forms of solidarity are discussed in the introduction (“Solidarity: Toward More Detailed Conceptions”). Among the theoretical questions concerning solidarity are, first of all, what exactly is it? Is it a specific type of relationship one can have (like friendship), or can any relationship, group, or way of acting be more or less solidary (like being friendly toward anyone, not just one’s friends)? Is solidarity a certain kind of action or a motivational basis out of which one can act? What sorts of things can be solidary (acts, attitudes, relationships, groups, practices, etc.), and can solidarity be realized or expressed via coercively sanctioned institutions? When macro phenomena are explained by microfoundations, is solidarity something to be explained or something that explains? Is solidarity a descriptive or evaluative notion, or both? Can solidarity be something bad? (“The Nature of Solidarity”). Normative questions concerning solidarity include: What kind of reasons or duties are there for being solidary? What is their relation to universalistic modern morality? What is human solidarity? (“Moral Solidarity”). What does thicker societal or in-group solidarity add to the universal demands of human solidarity? What is the relationship of solidarity to justice, democracy, social freedom or welfare state institutions? (“Perspectives on Societal Solidarity”). What is solidarity in the context of political struggles and social movements for change? (“Political Solidarity”). In what sense can these forms of solidarity be global? (“Solidarities in Global Contexts”).

Article

Welfare  

Guy Fletcher

Welfare is the measure of how well someone’s life is going for them (either at one time or over a whole life). This concept is crucial throughout practical philosophy, appearing in debates in ethics, political philosophy, philosophy of law, and beyond. Philosophical discussions of welfare have centered around the extent to which welfare is purely a matter of the quality of one’s experience, the extent to which it is a matter of getting what one desires or, instead, acquiring some fixed set of desire-independent goods and the extent to which it is related to one’s nature. Another set of debates concerns possible theories of welfare, questions about how many theories of welfare are needed to account for all of the facts about welfare, and whether discourse about welfare is linguistically or conceptually pluralistic in a deep and significant way.