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Gutmann, Amy, , . Democratic Education
1999, Princeton University Press.
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Added by: Carl Fox, Contributed by:

Publisher’s Note: Who should have the authority to shape the education of citizens in a democracy? This is the central question posed by Amy Gutmann in the first book-length study of the democratic theory of education. The author tackles a wide range of issues, from the democratic case against book banning to the role of teachers’ unions in education, as well as the vexed questions of public support for private schools and affirmative action in college admissions.

Comment: Comprehensive and insightful treatment of the subject of education in a democracy. Could provide a main text for a specialised lecture or seminar, or solid further reading on a more general module for anyone particularly interested in civic education.

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Korsgaard, Christine, , . The Sources of Normativity
1996, Cambridge University Press.
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Added by: Chris Howard, Contributed by: Nomy Arpaly

Publisher’s Note: Ethical concepts are, or purport to be, normative. They make claims on us: they command, oblige, recommend, or guide. Or at least when we invoke them, we make claims on one another; but where does their authority over us – or ours over one another – come from? Christine Korsgaard identifies four accounts of the source of normativity that have been advocated by modern moral philosophers: voluntarism, realism, reflective endorsement, and the appeal to autonomy. She traces their history, showing how each developed in response to the prior one and comparing their early versions with those on the contemporary philosophical scene. Kant’s theory that normativity springs from our own autonomy emerges as a synthesis of the other three, and Korsgaard concludes with her own version of the Kantian account. Her discussion is followed by commentary from G. A. Cohen, Raymond Geuss, Thomas Nagel, and Bernard Williams, and a reply by Korsgaard.

Comment: Parts of this book are "must-read" in any metaethics course. Chapter 1 (skipping sections 1.3.1-1.3.4) is an excellent addition to a unit on the authority of morality; chapters 2 and 3 are equally excellent additions to a unit on (Kantian) metaethical constructivism.

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Macdonald, Cynthia, , . Externalism and first-person authority
1995, Synthese 104 (1):99-122.
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Added by: Giada Fratantonio, Contributed by:

Abstract: In this paper, the author explores the relation between content externalism, i.e., the idea that the content of our thought is determines by factors of the environment, and first-person authority, i.e., the idea that subjects are authoritive with respect to the content of their own intentional states. The author develps an account of first-person authoritive that results being compatible with externalism.

Comment: It is good as a further reading on the topic of content/semantic externalism.
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Pitkin, Hanna, , . Obligation and Consent – II
1966, The American Political Science Review 60, March: 39-52.
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Added by: Carl Fox, Contributed by:

Introduction: [The doctrine of “hypothetical consent”] teaches that your obligation depends not on any actual act of consenting, past or present, by yourself or your fellow-citizens, but on the character of the government. If it is a good, just government doing what a government should, then you must obey it; if it is a tyrannical, unjust government trying to do what no government may, then you have no such obligation. Or to put it another way, your obligation depends not on whether you have consented but on whether the government is such that you ought to consent to it, whether its actions are in accord with the authority a hypothetical group of rational men in a hypothetical state of nature would have (had) to give to any government they were founding. Having shown how this formulation emerges from Locke’s and Tussman’s ideas, I want now to defend it as a valid response to what troubles us about political obligation, and as a response more consonant than most with the moral realities of human decisions about obedience and resistance. At the same time the discussion should also demonstrate how many different or even conflicting things that one might want to call “consent” continue to be relevant – a fact which may help to explain the tenacity of traditional consent theory in the face of its manifest difficulties. Such a defense and demonstration, with detailed attention to such decisions, are difficult; the discussion from here on will be more speculative, and will raise more questions than it answers.

Comment: Largely superseded by later work (see, for instance, Stark's 'Hypothetical Consent and Justification'), but still an interesting exploration of hypothetical consent and legitimate authority, as well as offering further critique of actual consent theories of political obligation. Would make for good further reading or an option for anyone attracted to more of a history of philosophy approach.

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