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05/02/2014

Comments

Ralph Wedgwood

This blog post has already attracted an attempt at refutation, from Marcus Arvan:
http://philosopherscocoon.typepad.com/blog/2014/05/whats-not-wrong-with-ideal-theory.html

Is Arvan's interpretation of my blog post fair? Which of us has better arguments -- he or I? You be the judge!

Jonathan Cohen

Hey Ralph:Thought you might be interested in the work of David Wiens (political science, UCSD) if you don't know it already; he's written a few nice papers arguing against ideal theory approaches to distributive justice issues on grounds that partially connect with some of what you say.

Tom Hurka

Good point, well made. The basic normative questions use simple concepts and ask what is good, right, better, and so on. A vice of much current moral/political philosophy is to replace these simple questions with ones that approach the same issue obliquely, by asking a more complicated question. Questions about ideal justice or virtue are a good example; another is asking which of the competing "conceptions" of a shared "concept" like distributive justice is the most adequate. That's really the question which distributions of e.g. income are good or worth pursuing, but the formulation obscures that while having the (perhaps intended) effect of making the questioner sound more profound.

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