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On the one hand, transcendental institutionalism presupposes that we must identify the principles of justice that regulate the ideally just society first and that these, in turn, guide our thinking about how to proceed under nonideal conditions. On the other hand, the comparative framework dispenses with ideal theory altogether and draws on comparative judgements of real world cases to determine how to proceed under nonideal conditions.

My sympathies lie with the latter approach. This is precisely why assuming full compliance could never yield feasible principles, no matter how intuitively compelling they are. Full compliance is highly unlikely.

no justice, no peace? (on the relationship between these concepts)

Thus, principles that require full compliance to sustain their appeal and depend on it to be effectively just are unlikely to be so given actual conditions that are far from full compliance. Quite simply, we have little reason to think that the principles delivered by a model that looks very little like the actual world can give much guidance regarding what to do in the actual world.

My sense is that both TI and comparativists are concerned with issues of justification, but what they are trying to justify and what they take to constitute a defensible justification is different. For TIs concerned with perfect justice it seems that a significant part of the justification for their project relies on intellectual interests that are analogous to appraisals of the Mona Lisa painting. Whereas for the comparativist, the primary concern is the practical interest of diagnosing and mitigating injustice.

They want, for example, to justify why would should prefer certain courses of action over others. So the comparativist still needs to provide a justification for their conclusions. For the TI the audience is primarily like-minded philosophers that share an intellectual interest in figuring out what constitutes perfect justice. For the comparativist the audience is humanity, especially those currently suffering injustice. The example of the invasion of Iraq is perhaps an instructive one.

The problem with this line of inquiry is that it presumes that there must be one dominant reason for not invading and we are going to exert most of our energies into the goal of trying to find that one dominant reason. But when there are in fact many distinct reasons for not invading our attention and energies can be focused elsewhere as these many reasons converge on the conclusion that the invasion is a bad idea.

And Sen believes justice is like this. As he states on p. Colin- do you think the Mona Lisa example is really apt? I found it not close enough to what Rawls and other are doing to be very useful, and to signal a sort of misunderstand that reoccurs throughout the book. There are people who tried to give us pictures of an ideal society- utopian writers and the like. Now, I think that aesthetic judgment is enough unlike questions of justice that such principles would be much less likely to help in the case of judging between painting though they might well be useful in some cases.

If we are adopting principles in view of the expected effects of their regulating our behaviour, then we will want to know what level of compliance to expect. As I understand it, the theory of the second best as applied to this situation says that the principle that is best at one level of compliance need not be best and may even be worst at a lower level of compliance.

Justice, Western Theories of | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

If we are simply recognizing principles that formulate our fundamental convictions, the question is whether what is the right thing do depends on the extent to which other people are doing the right thing. In other cases, this conditionality may hold; my duty to share fairly with you may depend upon you being willing to share fairly with me. Apart from these issues surrounding strict compliance, I remain puzzled at the invocation to the overdetermined Iraq-war type cases as a critique of transcendental institutionalism.

In many other situations, however, different considerations point in different directions, forcing us to ask what comes first and what comes second.

Richard J. Arneson

If we give reasons for our rankings in such cases, they will have some generality, and not simply be a matter of local, intuitive judgment. Rawls, for example, offers a set of principles of justice justice as fairness plus a set of institutional recommendations to achieve those principles under ideal conditions.

But why should we believe that the second-best principles will be radically unlike justice as fairness? Why should that recommendation change if we are in nonideal conditions? Of course, that makes justice as fairness out to be a comparative theory, which is what Sen denies. I find it difficult to pin down exactly what general approach to political philosophy Sen is opposing.

Are the two synonymous or are there types of ideal theory that are not transcendental this would seem to be the case? Does providing principles of justice for a particular institution such as the health care system or the family count as a transcendental theory for Sen? What about arguing for particular principles of justice that we think people should aspire to e.

This something might simply be that none of the choices on offer are particularly just given the ideal put forward. Here he uses a variety of tools for normative evaluation. But it is also used to clarify and criticize principles of justice e. The impartial spectator may be used to rank alternatives, but it can also be used for insight into the principles of justice we ought to adopt.

Something similar can be said for public reason. Finally, the capabilities approach in some hands e. Sen himself, as far as I can tell, refuses to provide a definitive list of capabilities in his work. I suspect this reluctance is significant. Perhaps Sen is calling for an approach to justice that is more modest in its aspirations and more open to the democratic contributions of citizens.

The plurality of just societies e. Political philosophy contributes to discussion about justice, but rather than functioning as a template, it offers tools for clarifying and justifying choices among alternatives. I was hoping for Sen to elaborate on it in more detail than the one paragraph he has in the middle of p. So I hope he has a lot more to say about this example. As I noted above, I think the challenge will be making a general characterization that plausibly fits all the alternative theories of justice he wants to characterize as projects of perfect justice.

Hence why Rawlsians will raise the kinds of concerns already expressed here. Imagine you are asked to contemplate what would constitute a fair distribution of an abundant stock of resources between ten people who live on a deserted island. These ten individuals are equal in talents and abilities, and the stock of goods on this island is such that none of the basic needs of these ten individuals will go unfilled if they exert some minimal effort to satisfy those needs. So you begin to deliberate about what justice requires in this kind of scenario….

Your deliberations might lead you to particular distributive principles e. Maybe you believe the resources should be divided equally. Or perhaps you take the view that, given the people in this scenario are all equal in talents and abilities and there is an abundance of resources for them to use, a principle of desert is appropriate. Alternatively, you might feel that a democratic decision is appropriate; that the people on the island themselves should determine how their resources should be distributed.

Whatever answer you arrive at in terms of what you believe a fair distribution requires in this scenario, the details of this imaginary example play an enormous role in shaping and guiding your deliberations. Consider now a second, more challenging, thought experiment. You are asked to consider what would constitute a fair distribution of resources on a second island; but this second island has a number of complexities that are absent in the first example.

This second island does not consist of ten people, but rather millions of people. The economy of this Island is diverse and the prosperity of the Islanders is greatly influenced by their trade with others Islands. The people who inhabit the Island are very unequal in terms of their abilities and talents. Some people are healthy adults, others are young children, some are elderly grandparents, others have disease or a disability, etc.

This island is subject to periodic droughts, periodic attacks or threats of attack from hostile invaders, crime, etc. So some rationing of resources is required to sustain the population over time and to protect the islanders. Some of these scarce resources must be diverted to the effort to protect the island e. Fundamental disagreement also permeates the island. People disagree not only about collective goals e.

Should certain provisions be rationed but not others? Should the army be conscripted or voluntary? What is the good life? What values should we instill in our children? So you begin to deliberate about what justice requires in this kind of scenario. Between these two Island examples are many intermediate positions. An island example that presumes society is closed and consists of only healthy, productive members but yet acknowledges facts such as limited altruism and moderate scarcity.

And we now have to decide which of these examples we are going to invest our energies in in terms of deliberating about in the hopes of developing a theory of justice. Whereas those mostly concerned with perfect justice will tend to view factors like non-compliance, globalization, national debt, disease, disagreement, etc. Those are sentiments I actually share. So I am curious to see if Sen ends up taking such a view.

Thanks for your great commentary Colin, and for volunteering to start things off. Thanks as well to everyone participating in the group. I think that this breakdown simply does not hold up to scrutiny. For instance, as far as I can tell, utilitarians like Bentham and Mill were engaged in broadly the same project as Rawls although their conclusions, obviously, were quite different. Part IV of Justice as Fairness, for instance, involves a comparison of five different kinds of social systems laissez-faire capitalism, welfare-state capitalism, state socialism, property-owning democracy, and liberal democratic socialism.

Consider Hobbes and Locke. Rather, as Matt Lister and Peter Stone have aptly pointed out in their comments above, Rawls is trying to identify principles of justice to guide our thinking about what institutions to adopt or how to reform existing institutions , as well as an account of how those principles would be realized under certain ideal conditions full compliance, closed society, etc. Consequently, I find what Sen says about the abolition of slavery in the U.

With respect to Rawls, for instance, the injustice of slavery is one of the starting points considered convictions for constructing a theory of justice. I hope that Sen expands on this point later because I find it perplexing not only that he could make such an argument but even more that he seems to treat it as such an obvious point that it needs no proving. Indeed, Hobbes seems to provide an important lens through which this whole dichotomy can be troubled.

Cynthia makes a variation on this point by arguing persuasively that the people Sen groups together under TI are primarily concerned with the idea of justification. To me, the idealists are focused less on a perfect notion of justice and more on the ability to articulate a defensible idea of justice — one that is capable of self-justifying its existence. For Hobbes, that takes place in the will of the sovereign.

And of course Kant is the definitive thinker in this respect — to the extent that he focuses very little on institutions per se precisely because he is so devoted to the prior question of how we can judge judgment. It was a problem of competing concepts of the good.

Amartya Sen, "Creating Capabilities: Sources and Consequences for Law and Social Policy"

The problem with Iraq was not a wide range of philosophers who could have decided to oppose the war if they could only settle on a reason — it was that the cacophony of objections were overwhelmed by the material force of dare I say it unreasonable arguments. On the question of the Mona Lisa example, I strongly agree with Matt Lister who criticizes the attempt to make an argument about justice using an example of aesthetics. That said, I think Sen does raise an interesting question that I look forward to talking over as we continue: is there any essential sense in which we can detach the idea of judgment from aesthetics?

He seems to think so, and yet he also seems to disagree with the manner in which Rawls, for example, attempts to cross that divide. But, how can we have any sense of what counts as legitimate? Pure reason? A basic sense of what seems right? Or a recognition that a lot of people concur on a position? Instead he seems to think we should cultivate a reflexive reason which will posit truths but remain willing and open to the possibility that its depiction of unreason might be wrong or at least incomplete xviii.

He also quickly notes the Rawlsian move toward an idea of reflective equilibrium is another way of characterizing this self-subjection of values 8. Which makes me wonder where the disagreement really lies? If Sen also believes that we must enter into politics with clear commitments about basic issues of justice and injustice — but then be willing to subject those assumptions to the scrutiny of public reason — I find it hard to support the theoretical division between this book and the people he labels transcendental-institutionals. If Sen also wants us to use reason to check our intuition it seems like he will want to use the tools that the TI folks are offering.

So to me, rather than establishing some sort of clean theoretical distinction, it seems far easier to make a practical back to that word again argument about the way that people influenced by Rawls have failed to translate their theoretical insights on legitimacy into meaningful material change. So far, this book strikes me as a corrective to the sort of navel-gazing that High Theory is often subject to, not a claim that all such theoretical approaches are intrinsically impractical. I think Sen is mistaken to associate a focus on realization exclusively with the comparativist framework; hence, I decline to use the RFC shorthand.

Thus, transcendental institutionalists and comparativists are not all that different, since both are interested in identifying principles to guide our thinking about which institutions to adopt. The above line of thinking tries to hang the distinction between TI and comparativists on a difference of objectives — identifying perfectly just institutions vs.

But, in line with my earlier comments, I think the real distinction hangs on a difference of means for achieving the same objective , viz. Comparativists go about identifying principles of justice by examining and reflecting on our comparative judgements of actual or feasibly possible social conditions. We identify our principles by seeing what works in practice, by examining which principles bring about which social outcomes under which sets of conditions.

TI at least of the Rawlsian sort goes about identifying the principles of justice by examining the institutional arrangements that would be taken to be just under certain ideal conditions. We are then encouraged to take those principles that would regulate these institutions as offering guidance for our thinking about which institutional arrangements to adopt under nonideal conditions. The problem of second best claims that principles identified as best in a model that assumes ideal conditions may not be best in a model that assumes conditions that deviate even slightly from the ideal.

TI uses a model that assumes certain ideal conditions to derive principles of justice. Instead, the charge is that TI is unable to provide guidance for thinking about which institutional arrangements to adopt in our nonideal world. I think this is the charge Sen is leveling against TI, although he does a poor job of communicating this.

This is the point made forcefully by Charles in his comment. I might judge X to be superior to Y on grounds of utility, but what if utilitarianism is the wrong account of justice? And, as a consequence, in bringing about X I end up making society more unjust? It will be interesting to see whether — and if so, how — Sen addresses the question of the justification or the bases for his comparisons later in the book.

Indeed, the recent U. The question is how much — and the answer to that question likely will depend on what our target or aim consists in. That is, it may be that policies that are achievable now , and seem to address current injustices, in fact lead us further away from achieving overall justice as a society or even a just world. And, hopefully, the different approaches will all cohere with each other! Hi David, I do not really understand how your response above is meant to show that the critics of Sen here are missing the mark.

I agree with Blain that we need different approaches for answering different kinds of questions, but there still seem to be some significant disagreements, which I try to distinguish below. On the other hand, situations of political quiescence involve living in injustice without any conflict: the top-right. Some would argue that true justice is true peace; and injustice equals violence.

Or it could be that peace is a component of justice but not the only component. My general instinct is to resist smooshing values together, because then we fool ourselves into ignoring tradeoffs. Then we can ask whether democracy requires or implies other values, such as social equality or freedom of speech, or whether it conflicts with these values. The same logic would encourage distinguishing between peace and justice as two different goods. Addressing a crowd outside the prison, he said in my transcription from the audio :.

There can be no justice without peace and there can be no peace without justice. For I believe absolutely that justice is indivisible and injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. The first sentence might mean that peace and justice are always causally connected: one is necessary for the other. Finally, King defines the specific war in Vietnam as unjust, leaving open the possibility that a different war e. In that case, peace in Vietnam is a necessity of justice but not because it will bring about peace; only because the war is an injustice.

At another level, of course, King insists on peace as a strategy for justice.

Edited by Robert E. Goodin

Active nonviolence is an ethical and effective method in a wide range of circumstances, with a better record of success than violent insurrection has. But analytically, we could still distinguish between peaceful and just means and between peaceful and just ends and then ask when any of these four go together. Peter Levine. Skip to content.