[SydPhil] Macquarie Philosophy seminar: 1.30-3.30pm Friday 8 June 2012 Margaret Lange (Macquarie)

Peter Menzies peter.menzies at mq.edu.au
Mon Jun 4 18:50:04 AEST 2012

> *Research Seminar Series*
> *First semester 2012*
> *Department of Philosophy*
> *Macquarie University*

Date: *Friday 8 June 1.30-3.30pm*
Location: Building W6A room 708
Speaker: *Margaret Lange *(Macquarie University)
Title: *Vulnerability, Justice, and Ideal Theory*

> *
> *


John Rawls' *A Theory of Justice *makes a distinction between ideal and
non-ideal theory that, like much of the apparatus of that text, has had a
tremendous influence on subsequent normative political philosophy.  A
proliferation of recent articles has critically examined the distinction
and the tradition of theorizing it inaugurated.  This paper first reviews
this literature and the meaning and answer its articles give to the
question "Is ideal theory worthwhile?" The second part of the paper
introduces the efforts of feminist theorists to use the concept of
vulnerability to scrutinize and reformulate existing theories of justice.  I
argue that work on vulnerability can shed light on the worth of ideal
theory.  In particular, if doing justice requires us to protect and empower
the vulnerable, then this goal has consequences for the structure of a
theory of justice.   I argue that centering justice on vulnerability rules
out certain aspects of "ideal theory," such as an overly abstract model of
the agents and the subject of justice.  However, I will also argue that a
vulnerability-centered theory of justice may derive guidance for action in
the present from the principles of justice for a perfectly just society,
and in that sense it will endorse "ideal theory."
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