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Fabre, Cecile, and . Cosmopolitan War

2012, Oxford, Oxford University Press.

Back matter: War is about individuals maiming and killing each other, and yet, it seems that it is also irreducibly collective, as it is fought by groups of people and more often than not for the sake of communal values such as territorial integrity and national self-determination. Cécile Fabre articulates and defends an ethical account of war in which the individual, as a moral and rational agent, is the fundamental focus for concern and respect–both as a combatant whose acts of killing need justifying and as a non-combatant whose suffering also needs justifying. She takes as her starting point a political morality to which the individual, rather than the nation-state, is central, namely cosmopolitanism. According to cosmopolitanism, individuals all matter equally, irrespective of their membership in this or that political community. Traditional war ethics already accepts this principle, since it holds that unarmed civilians are illegitimate targets even though they belong to the enemy community. However, although the traditional account of whom we may kill in wars is broadly faithful to that principle, the traditional account of why we may kill and of who may kill is not. Cosmopolitan theorists, for their part, do not address the ethical issues raised by war in any depth. Fabre’s Cosmopolitan War seeks to fill this gap, and defends its account of just and unjust wars by addressing the ethics of different kinds of war: wars of national defence, wars over scarce resources, civil wars, humanitarian intervention, wars involving private military forces, and asymmetrical wars.

Comment: This is a pivotal text on new war theory. It is best used as a primary text in advanced war theory, especially for those already familiar with the general literature on Just War.

Lawson, Bill E., and . The Value of Environmental Justice

2008, Environmental Justice 1 (3): 155-158.

Abstract: Environmental justice, at least, entails preserving the environment as a global entity, but also making those persons who feel, have felt, have been, or are victims of environmental crimes and atrocities feel as if they are part of the solution as full members of the human community and not just the environmental dumping ground for the well-off.

Comment: This text is a quick introduction to the problem of responsibility for environmental injustices. It makes a good conversation starter for why some individuals do not feel responsible for environmental atrocities, specifically in the context of environmental racism. It would fit well in a class that discussed justice, environmental justice (racism or NIMBY more generally), or collective responsibility.

Okin, Susan Moller, and . Justice, gender, and the family

2008, New York: Basic Books.

Publisher: In the first feminist critique of modern political theory, Okin shows how the failure to apply theories of justice to the family not only undermines our most cherished democratic values but has led to a major crisis over gender-related issues.

Comment: This book offers a feminist discussion of various theories of justice, arguing that they should include a more comprehensive account on issues related to the formation and functioning of families. In teaching, it is particularly useful as a critique of Rawls' theory.

Shelby, Tommie, and . Justice, Deviance, and the Dark Ghetto

2007, Philosophy & Public Affairs 35(2): 126-160.

Introduction: The problems I will focus on lie in the domain of the theory of justice. Specifically, my concern is to determine what kinds of criticisms of the ghetto poor’s behavior and attitudes are or are not appropriate given that the social circumstances under which they make their life choices are, at least in part, the result of injustice. If the overall social arrangement in which the ghetto poor live is unjust, this requires that we think about what their obligations are quite differently than we should if the society were judged to be just. In particular, I will argue that it is necessary to distinguish the civic obligations citizens have to each other from the natural duties all persons have as moral agents, both of which are affected, though in different ways, by the justness of social arrangements. In addition, among the natural duties all persons possess is the duty to uphold, and to assist in bringing about, just institutions, a political duty that has important, though generally overlooked, consequences for the debate about ghetto poverty.

Comment: Focuses on the moral obligations of subject to systemic and long term injustice, using a Rawlsian framework. Enhances a discussion of justice by considering the implications of justice on those treated unjustly.

Sreenivasan, Gopal, and . Justice, Inequality, and Health

2009, E. N. Zalta (ed.), Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy [electronic resource]

Content: Sreenivasan asks: ‘what makes a health inequality an injustice, when it is one? Do <em>health</em> inequalities have some significance in justice that differs from other important inequalities? Or is the injustice of an unjust inequality in health simply due to the application of general principles of equality and justice to the case of health?’

Comment: This text offers a good introduction to the problem of justice in healthcare and social justice in general. The text is best used as required reading in medical ethics classes, and as further reading in moral and political philosophy classes focusing on justice.

Young, Iris Marion, and . Justice and the Politics of Difference

1990, Princeton University Press.

Publisher’s note: In this classic work of feminist political thought, Iris Marion Young challenges the prevailing reduction of social justice to distributive justice. It critically analyzes basic concepts underlying most theories of justice, including impartiality, formal equality, and the unitary moral subjectivity. The starting point for her critique is the experience and concerns of the new social movements about decision making, cultural expression, and division of labor–that were created by marginal and excluded groups, including women, African Americans, and American Indians, as well as gays and lesbians. Iris Young defines concepts of domination and oppression to cover issues eluding the distributive model. Democratic theorists, according to Young do not adequately address the problem of an inclusive participatory framework. By assuming a homogeneous public, they fail to consider institutional arrangements for including people not culturally identified with white European male norms of reason and respectability. Young urges that normative theory and public policy should undermine group-based oppression by affirming rather than suppressing social group difference. Basing her vision of the good society on the differentiated, culturally plural network of contemporary urban life, she argues for a principle of group representation in democratic publics and for group-differentiated policies.

Comment: This is an important work of feminist political philosophy. It would be useful to teach in a course on feminist philosophy, or as part of a course or unit on theories of justice, as it engages with many of the seminal thinkers in this area, such as Locke, Rousseau, and Rawls.