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One of the distinctive features of the obligation to obey the law is its content-independence. We ought to do what the law commands because the law commands it, and not because of the law's content—i.e., the independent merits of the actions it prescribes. Despite its popularity, the notion of content-independence is marked by ambiguity. In this paper, I first clarify what content-independence is. I then develop a simple test—the “content-independence test”—which allows us to establish whether any candidate justification of the obligation to obey the law delivers genuine content-independence. I apply this test to prominent such justifications and conclude that several of them, surprisingly, fail it.
The globular cluster (GC) system of the Milky Way (MW) provides important information on the MW’s present structure and past evolution. Full 3d motions, accessed through proper motions (PMs), are required to calculate accurate orbits of GCs in the MW halo. We present our HST program to create a PM database for 20 halo GCs. We demonstrate how the observed PMs of individual GCs can be used to study their origins, and we also describe how the PM measurements of our entire targets can be used to constrain the anisotropy profile. Finally, we describe how our PM results can be used for Gaia as an external check, and discuss prospects of PM measurements with HST and Gaia in the coming years.
In late 2012, Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast of the U.S., causing much suffering and devastation. Those who could have easily helped Sandy's victims had a duty to do so. But was this a rightfully enforceable duty of justice, or a nonenforceable duty of beneficence? The answer to this question is often thought to depend on the kind of help offered: the provision of immediate bodily services is not enforceable; the transfer of material resources is. I argue that this double standard is unjustified, and defend a version of what I call “social samaritanism.” On this view, within political communities, the duty to help the needy—whether via bodily services or resource transfers—is always an enforceable demand of justice, except when the needy are reckless; across independent political communities, it is always a matter of beneficence. I defend this alternative double standard, and consider its implications for the case of Sandy.
A globalized world, some argue, needs a global democracy. But there is considerable disagreement about whether global democracy is an ideal worth pursuing. One of the main grounds for scepticism is captured by the slogan: “No global demos, no global democracy.” The fact that a key precondition of democracy—a demos—is absent at the global level, some argue, speaks against the pursuit of global democracy. I discuss four interpretations of the skeptical slogan—each based on a specific account of the notion of “the demos”—and conclude that none of them establishes that the global democratic ideal must be abandoned. In so doing, I systematize different types of objections against global democracy, thus bringing some clarity to an otherwise intricate debate, and offer a robust but qualified defense of the global democratic ideal.
Is democracy a requirement of justice or an instrument for realizing it? This article argues that the correct answer to this question depends on the background circumstances against which democracy is defended. In the presence of thin reasonable disagreement about justice, we should value democracy only instrumentally (if at all); in the presence of thick reasonable disagreement about justice, we should value it also intrinsically, as a necessary demand of justice. Since the latter type of disagreement is pervasive in real-world politics, the conclusion is that theories of justice designed for our world should be centrally concerned with democracy.
In his recent book The Idea of Justice, Amartya Sen suggests that political philosophy should move beyond the dominant, Rawls-inspired, methodological paradigm – what Sen calls ‘transcendental institutionalism’ – towards a more practically oriented approach to justice: ‘realization-focused comparison’. In this article, I argue that Sen's call for a paradigm shift in thinking about justice is unwarranted. I show that his criticisms of the Rawlsian approach are either based on misunderstandings, or correct but of little consequence, and conclude that the Rawlsian approach already delivers much of what Sen himself wants from a theory of justice.
In this article, I develop a new account of the liberal view that principles of justice (in general) are meant to justify state coercion, and consider its implications for the question of global socioeconomic justice (in particular). Although contemporary proponents of this view deny that principles of socioeconomic justice apply globally, on my newly developed account this conclusion is mistaken. I distinguish between two types of coercion, systemic and interactional, and argue that a plausible theory of global justice should contain principles justifying both. The justification of interactional coercion requires principles regulating interstate interference; that of systemic coercion requires principles of global socioeconomic justice. I argue that the proposed view not only helps us make progress in the debate on global justice, but also offers an independently compelling and systematic account of the function and conditions of applicability of justice.
Many political theorists defend the view that egalitarian justice should extend from the domestic to the global arena. Despite its intuitive appeal, this ‘global egalitarianism’ has come under attack from different quarters. In this article, we focus on one particular set of challenges to this view: those advanced by domestic egalitarians. We consider seven types of challenges, each pointing to a specific disanalogy between domestic and global arenas which is said to justify the restriction of egalitarian justice to the former, and argue that none of them – both individually and jointly – offers a conclusive refutation of global egalitarianism.
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