The origins and requirements of the duty to promote justice [electronic resource]
- Rob Barlow.
- Physical description
- 1 online resource.
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|3781 2017 B||In-library use|
- Barlow, Robert Jon Lewis.
- Reich, Rob, primary advisor.
- McQueen, Alison, advisor.
- Ober, Josiah, advisor.
- Stanford University. Department of Political Science.
- This dissertation addresses a simple moral question that is often taken for granted in political theory: do citizens have a duty to promote political justice through their political actions and in their everyday lives? Furthermore, if they do, what kind of a duty is it, and how does it relate to other moral duties they may have? Many theorists, including Bernard Williams, Bonnie Honig, William Galston, Raymond Geuss, Jeremy Waldron, and Marc Stears argue that politics is a unique sphere governed by its own standards and logic, meaning that guidance about such matters cannot come from our everyday intuitions about morality. Richard Posner and others go even further than this, arguing that citizens do not have any duty at all to promote justice or the common good through their political activities, denying that it is realistic or even desirable for them to base their political choices on anything but purely self-interested motivations. In my dissertation, I mount a principled defense of the duty to promote justice against such criticisms. First, I argue that it is not unrealistic to think citizens may be motivated to promote the common good through their political actions. In fact, I claim, this norm is already widespread among citizens, though it is often misidentified or mischaracterized as being grounded on self-interest. Second, I argue that this motivation may find a philosophical justification in the ordinary kinds of moral obligations we hold towards others in our daily lives. Citizens are enmeshed in a range of authoritative and non-optional legal orders from which they may benefit or under which they may be burdened, and over which they may often exert (or attempt to exert) a degree of influence in common with others in society. These laws and institutions deeply affect the interests of others, and I argue that by attempting to change them, individual citizens are effectively "doing things to others" to whom they hold direct moral duties. Therefore, we might view the focus on establishing more just laws and institutions as a necessary substitute for the impossible moral calculus that would be required if they were to carry out a complete pairwise moral justification of choices and actions from each individual to every other individual.
- Publication date
- Submitted to the Department of Political Science.
- Thesis (Ph.D.)--Stanford University, 2017.
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