Topics 1. I.M. Young and John Rawls have offered contrasting approaches to the i

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Dec 8, 2022


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1. I.M. Young and John Rawls have offered contrasting approaches to the idea of justice and injustice in a given society. Using your own example of some contemporary social, political, or economic issue, write an essay in which you discuss how each author would analyze and evaluate your example. Some questions you may want to consider are: Would their analyses agree or converge? Do you find one approach more convincing or effective than the other?
1a. As an alternative comparison, in “It’s Not My Fault: Global Warming and Individual Moral Obligations”, Walter Sinnott-Armstrong argues that there seems to be no coherent moral principle that would obligate individuals to accept responsibility for climate change and, thus, to alter their lives (e.g., to reduce their carbon footprints, etc.). Although I.M. Young does not specifically address this issue, how do you think she would respond to Sinnott-Armstrong?
1b. As yet another alternative comparison, Sinnott-Armstrong’s argument about individual responsibility in the face of climate change could also be made with respect to the existence of severe poverty, as discussed by Thomas Pogge. How might Pogge respond to such an argument, i.e., that affluent individuals have no direct individual moral obligation to assist in alleviating severe poverty?
2. In §2 of “Theory and Practice”, Immanuel Kant argues that the “original contract” that forms the basis of a (liberal) society is one that protects individuals’ freedom. Similarly, John Rawls proposes an “updated” version of classical liberalism that retains the language and conceptual apparatus of a “social contract” as the basis for thinking of justice as fairness or, in his words, of conceiving of justice as the result of a “fair agreement or bargain” among (hypothetically) consenting individuals.
On the other hand, both Charles Mills and Carol Pateman provide critiques of this social contract tradition as being inadequate to address injustices or harms done to various peoples (e.g., people of color, including indigenous people). Choose either Kant or Rawls and explain how either Mills or Pateman would respond to their argument. In addition, do you think that Kant or Rawls could provide a defense against Mills’ or Pateman’s criticism (why or why not)? (You may find it helpful to construct this dialogue between your chosen authors’ ideas around a contemporary example of some social, political, or economic issue.)
3. Charles Mills argues that “ideal theory” (such as that provided by Rawls), because of its focus on justice, is ironically ill-suited to discussing injustice (viz., correcting for historical wrongs and harms). Similarly, I.M. Young argues that even “well-intentioned liberal societies” are capable not only of admitting injustice but perpetuating oppression (i.e., structural rather than state oppression). Finally, Thomas Pogge argues that the existence of severe poverty, whether or not it occurs because of “corrupt governments”, ought to be considered a human rights violation. Choose one of these authors and, using your own example of a contemporary situation of poverty (such as the video shown in class about the lack of adequate sanitation for poor communities in the American south), explain how they would analyze your example. Then choose either Kant or Rawls and explain whether they would think that your example is an “acceptable”, if unfortunate, inequality in an otherwise just or fair society. Do your chosen authors agree or disagree? Is one account more satisfactory than the other in your eyes?
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