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Chambers, Clare, , Phil Parvin. Teach Yourself Political Philosophy: A Complete Introduction
2012, Hodder & Stoughton.
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Publisher’s Note: Written by Phil Parvin and Clare Chambers, who are current political philosophy lecturers and leading researchers, Political Philosophy – The Essentials is designed to give you everything you need to succeed, all in one place. It covers the key areas that students are expected to be confident in, outlining the basics in clear jargon-free English, and then providing added-value features like summaries of key thinkers, and even lists of questions you might be asked in your seminar or exam. The book’s structure follows that of most university courses on political philosophy, by looking at the essential concepts within political philosophy (freedom, equality, power, democracy, rights, the state, political obligation), and then looking at the ways in which political philosophers have used these fundamental concepts in order to tackle a range of normative political questions such as whether the state has a responsibility to alleviate inequalities, and what interest liberal and democratic states should take in the cultural or religious beliefs of citizens.

Comment: ‘Phil Parvin and Clare Chambers have produced a state of the art textbook, which provides students with a comprehensive and bang up-to-date introduction to contemporary political philosophy. Topics are introduced in a clear and eminently readable fashion, using accessible real world examples whilst drawing on sophisticated scholarly literature. There is no comparable book which covers such a wide range of topics in such a student-friendly manner.’ (Dr Daniel Butt, Lecturer in Political Theory, University of Bristol.)‘A lively, accessible and engaging read. Comprehensive and well organized, it provides an updated account of key concepts in contemporary political philosophy, and highlights their relevance to political life in the 21st century. A valuable book for anyone taking their first steps in the world of political philosophy, or anyone who seeks to understand the normative challenges faced by our society today.’ (Dr Avia Pasternak, Lecturer in Political Theory, University of Essex.)‘Written in a clear and accessible style, it is an engaging introduction for those who are new to political philosophy and wish to think through some of its most important questions. In addition to offering outlines of key arguments, each chapter also contains a summary of main concepts, self-test questions, a wonderful selection of quotations and some attention-grabbing ‘nuggets” (Dr Zosia Stemplowska, University Lecturer in Political Theory, University of Oxford)

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Crane, Susan A., , . Choosing Not to Look: Representation, Repatriation, and Holocaust Atrocity Photography
2008, History and Theory 47: 309-30.
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Added by: Erich Hatala Matthes, Contributed by:

Summary: In this article, Crane, a historian, questions whether Holocaust atrocity photographs should be displayed, arguing that displaying them is not the best means of historical education about the horrors of the Holocaust, as some defenders argue. Her discussion includes reflections on the nature of photography, spectacle, how we look at images, and pedagogy surrounding historical injustices.

Comment: This text offers an opportunity to discuss the display of “negative heritage,” and so offers a different angle than many of the articles on heritage which focus on appropriative display of more traditionally conceived heritage objects. The article also raises issues which can inspire discussion on moral criticism of art.

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Darby, Derrick, , . Adequacy, Inequality, and Cash for Grades
2011, Theory and Research in Eduation 9 (3): 209-232.
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Added by: Rochelle DuFord, Contributed by:

Abstract: Some political philosophers have recently argued that providing K-12 students with an adequate education suffices for social justice in education provided that the threshold of educational adequacy is properly understood. Others have argued that adequacy is insufficient for social justice. In this article I side with the latter group. I extend this debate to racial inequality in education by considering the controversial practice of paying students cash for grades to close the racial achievement gap. I then argue that framing the demand for racial justice in education solely in terms of educational adequacy leaves us unable to take issue with the cash for grades policy as a matter of principle. While this does not entail that educational adequacy is unimportant, it adds to the general case for why adequacy does not suffice for social justice.

Comment: This text is a good rejoinder to Anderson and Satz’s arguments concerning the shift from a focus on providing an equal education to an adequate education. Though it could be read in absence of those texts, it requires a familiarity with the idea of sufficientarianism – and so should probably be read after Anderson’s “Fair Opportunity in Education: A Democratic Equality Perspective.” It would have a place in a course concerning egalitarianism in education, racial justice, or education and democracy.

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Foot, Philippa, , . Euthanasia
1977, Philosophy and Public Affairs 6 (2):85-112. Reprinted in her Virtues and vices. Oxford: Blackwell.
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Comment: This text is of central interest in teaching about moral issues related to euthanasia. The text introduces the vital distinctions between active and passive, voluntary and nonvoluntary euthanasia, and argues in favour of moral permissibility of all but the active nonvoluntary type.

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Fricker, Miranda, , . Epistemic Injustice: Power and the Ethics of Knowing
2007, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
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Added by: Jie Gao, Contributed by:

Publisher’s Note: In this exploration of new territory between ethics and epistemology, Miranda Fricker argues that there is a distinctively epistemic type of injustice, in which someone is wronged specifically in their capacity as a knower. Justice is one of the oldest and most central themes in philosophy, but in order to reveal the ethical dimension of our epistemic practices the focus must shift to injustice. Fricker adjusts the philosophical lens so that we see through to the negative space that is epistemic injustice. The book explores two different types of epistemic injustice, each driven by a form of prejudice, and from this exploration comes a positive account of two corrective ethical-intellectual virtues. The characterization of these phenomena casts light on many issues, such as social power, prejudice, virtue, and the genealogy of knowledge, and it proposes a virtue epistemological account of testimony. In this ground-breaking book, the entanglements of reason and social power are traced in a new way, to reveal the different forms of epistemic injustice and their place in the broad pattern of social injustice.

Comment: In this book, Fricker names the phenomenon of epistemic injustice, and distinguish two central forms of it, with their corresponding remedies. It touches the central issues in social epistemology and philosophy of gender and race. It is thus an essential reading for relevant courses on those two areas.

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Frowe, Helen, , . Defensive Killing: An Essay on War and Self-Defence
2014, Oxford: Oxford University Press
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Abstract: Most people believe that it is sometimes morally permissible for a person to use force to defend herself or others against harm. In Defensive Killing, Helen Frowe offers a detailed exploration of when and why the use of such force is permissible. She begins by considering the use of force between individuals, investigating both the circumstances under which an attacker forfeits her right not to be harmed, and the distinct question of when it is all-things-considered permissible to use force against an attacker. Frowe then extends this enquiry to war, defending the view that we should judge the ethics of killing in war by the moral rules that govern killing between individuals. She argues that this requires us to significantly revise our understanding of the moral status of non-combatants in war. Non-combatants who intentionally contribute to an unjust war forfeit their rights not to be harmed, such that they are morally liable to attack by combatants fighting a just war.

Comment: This text should be used in modules focused on self-defense, responsibility, and justice.
[This is a stub entry. Please add your comments to help us expand it]

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Hampton, Jean, , . Contracts and Choices: Does Rawls Have a Social Contract Theory?
1980, Journal of Philosophy 77(6): 315-338.
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Introduction: In A Theory of Justice John Rawls tells us he is presenting a social contract theory: “My aim,” he writes, “is to present a conception of justice which generalizes and carries to a higher level of abstraction the familiar theory of the social contract as found in say, Locke, Rousseau, and Kant”. And indeed his many and various critics have generally assumed he has a contractarian position and have criticized him on that basis. However, it will be my contention in this paper that a contractual agreement on the two principles not only does not but ought not to occur in the original position, and that, although Rawls uses contract language in his book, there is another procedure outlined in Part One of A Theory of Justice through which the two principles are selected.

Comment: Questions the nature of the Rawlsian contract and asks whether it really belongs in the same tradition as Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau. Useful if engaging with Rawls’s methodology at a deep level. Would make good further reading for a module on either Rawls specifically or the social contract tradition more generally.

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Hampton, Jean, , . Political Philosophy
1996, Boulder, CO: Westview Press.
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Publisher’s Note: Political philosophy, perhaps even more than other branches of philosophy, calls for constant renewal to reflect not just re-readings of the tradition but also the demands of current events. In this lively and readable survey, Jean Hampton has created a text for our time that does justice both to the great traditions of the field and to the newest developments. In a marvelous feat of synthesis, she links the classical tradition, the giants of the modern period, the dominant topics of the twentieth century, and the new questions and concerns that are just beginning to rewrite contemporary political philosophy.Hampton presents these traditions in an engaging and accessible manner, adding to them her own views and encouraging readers to critically examine a range of ideas and to reach their own conclusions. Of particular interest are the discussions of the contemporary liberalism-communitarianism debates, the revival of interest in issues of citizenship and nationality, and the way in which feminist concerns are integrated into all these discussions. Political Philosophy is the most modern text on the topic now available, the ideal guide to what is going on in the field. It will be welcomed by scholars and students in philosophy and political science, and it will serve as an introduction for readers from outside these fields.

Comment: Many of the chapters would make for good introductory readings to standard topics in political philosophy, including: social contract theories, political authority, distributive justice, liberalism vs communitarianism, nationalism.

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Hsieh, Nien-he, , . The Obligations of Transnational Corporations: Rawlsian Justice and the Duty of Assistance
2004, Business ethics quarterly, 14 (4), pp. 643-661.
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Abstract: Building on John Rawls’s account of the Law of Peoples, this paper examines the grounds and scope of the obligations of transnational corporations that are owned by members of developed economies and operate in developing economies. The paper advances two broad claims. First, the paper argues that there are conditions under which TNCs have obligations to fulfill a limited duty of assistance toward those living in developing economies, even though the duty is normally understood to fall on the governments of developed economies. Second, by extending Rawls’s account to include a right to protection against arbitrary interference, the paper argues that TNCs can be said to have negative and positive obligations in the areas of human rights, labor standards, and environmental protection, as outlined in the U.N. Global Compact. More generally, the paper aims to further our understanding of the implications of Rawls’s account of justice.

Comment: This paper is particularly useful in teaching on international business ethics and as further reading on Rawls. It also offers interesting insights into wider issues related to duty of assistance and moral relativism.

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Jimoh, Anselm Kole, , . Justice and the Othered Minority. Lessons from African Communalism
2020, In: Imafidon, E. (ed.) Handbook of African Philosophy of Difference. Cham: Springer,
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Added by: Björn Freter, Contributed by: Björn Freter

Abstract: There are minority groups in every human society, which are often leftovers of the “one” major group of persons within such society viewed as the self-contained group that has nothing to do with the “other” minority groups. The Other is conventionally seen as a threat to the one. Othering within societies invariably results in the exclusion of the Other from the one. By Othering, we mentally or practically classify an individual or group as “not one of us” and, therefore, inferior or less a human person than we are, a process of casting another person, group, or object into a position or role different from mine or ours, and I or we consequently establish my or our identity in opposition to the Other person in a relationship of superiority that allows me or us vilify the Other. Through Othering, we create a system of social exclusion that systematically blocks the Othered minority individual or group from rights and opportunities that are fundamentally the prerogative of all. Hence, issues of justice for the Othered minority naturally arise. This is manifested in the xenophobic treatment of African foreigners in South Africa and Christian minority groups in the mainly Muslim North of Nigeria. The socially excluded is confined to the fringe of society as the minority, whose basic and fundamental rights become privileges by virtue of the Otherness. This chapter critically analyzes and evaluates the manner of othering and exclusion of minority groups in African societies. My primary concern is to examine the role of African communitarian theory in the face of Othering in African societies. I argue that our constant awareness and acknowledgment of our commonness beyond self-contained groups ensures justice and equity in our interpersonal relationships in any human society.

Comment: [This is a stub entry. Please add your comments to help us expand it]

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Kittay, Eva Feder, , . When Caring Is Just and Justice is Caring: Justice and Mental Retardation
2001, Public Culture 13(3): 557-580
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Summary: In this paper, Kittay advances a conception of justice that ‘begins with an acknowledgement of dependency and seeks to organise society so that our well-being is not inversely related to our need for care or to care’ (576). Her motivation for advancing this view is that ideals of citizenship in liberal society, including independence and productivity, perpetuate the victimisation, social exclusion, or stigmatisation of people with mental retardation and their carers. This is because liberal definitions of personhood do not provide resources for responding in a morally adequate way to the mutual dependence of people with mental retardation and their carers/advocates. People with mental retardation are inescapably dependent because of their central need for attentive care. And, carers’ work is so deeply other-directed that they also do not fit the liberal model of the rationally self-interested actor. Thus, both carers and their charges are vulnerable and need to be advocated for so that they can be seen as having important entitlements to public resources and claims to justice. To this end, Kittay proposes a conception of personhood that is based on relationships. Although those with mental retardation are inherently dependent, they still count as persons because they are able to participate in relationships. This makes them entitled to the satisfactions that make life worth living. To achieve the twin goal of achieving justice for familial or paid carers, Kittay advances a new principle of justice, doulia, which calls for larger society to support those who care for the inexorably dependent. Kittay takes her relational conception of personhood and her principle of doulia to ensure that appropriate forms of social organization exist to support all those who become dependent. She claims her view is needed because principles of charity and beneficence are not adequate since they are consistent with the continued stigmatization of mental retardation and care work, and ground only low-priority social obligations.

Comment: This paper, with it’s helpful discussions of the elements of the liberal tradition with which Kittay specifically takes issue and the inadequacies of the Americans with Disabilities Act, would be an appropriate reading for courses about the philosophy of disability or about liberal political theory.

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Kok-Chor Tan, , . Justice Without Borders: Cosmopolitanism, Nationalism, and Patriotism About us
2004, Cambridge University Press.
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Publisher’s Note: The cosmopolitan idea of justice is commonly accused of not taking seriously the special ties and commitments of nationality and patriotism. This is because the ideal of impartial egalitarianism, which is central to the cosmopolitan view, seems to be directly opposed to the moral partiality inherent to nationalism and patriotism. In this book, Kok-Chor Tan argues that cosmopolitan justice, properly understood, can accommodate and appreciate nationalist and patriotic commitments, setting limits for these commitments without denying their moral significance. This book offers a defense of cosmopolitan justice against the charge that it denies the values that ordinarily matter to people, and a defence of nationalism and patriotism against the charge that these morally partial ideals are fundamentally inconsistent with the obligations of global justice. Accessible and persuasive, this book will have broad appeal to political theorists and moral philosophers.

Comment: This book touches on a number of very topical issues and is a great way to show philosophy’s practical application in introductory courses. Particularly useful will be Chapter 2 which sets out the need for cosmopolitan justice and discusses the difference between the duties of aid and global justice. Chapters 5, ‘Nationalism and cosmopolitanism’, and 7, ‘The limits of patriotism’, are likely to divide opinions and thus can provide excellent grounds for class debate and discussion. All those and other chapters are very topical and can be discussed with reference to examples from current politics.

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Mac, Juno, , Molly Smith. Revolting Prostitutes: The Fight for Sex Workers’ Rights
2018, Verso Books
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Added by: Andrea Blomqvist, Contributed by: Rosa Vince

Publisher’s Note: Do you have to think that prostitution is good to support sex worker rights? How do sex worker rights fit with feminist and anti-capitalist politics? Is criminalising clients progressive—and can the police deliver justice?

In Revolting Prostitutes, sex workers Juno Mac and Molly Smith bring a fresh perspective to questions that have long been contentious. Speaking from a growing global sex worker rights movement, and situating their argument firmly within wider questions of migration, work, feminism, and resistance to white supremacy, they make clear that anyone committed to working towards justice and freedom should be in support of the sex worker rights movement.

Comment: This text is essential for any course in feminism, philosophy of sex, oppression and resistance, epistemic injustice, which discuss sex work or labour rights movements.

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Nussbaum, Martha, , . Frontiers of Justice: Disability, Nationality, Species Membership
2006, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
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Publisher: Theories of social justice are necessarily abstract, reaching beyond the particular and the immediate to the general and the timeless. Yet such theories, addressing the world and its problems, must respond to the real and changing dilemmas of the day. A brilliant work of practical philosophy, Frontiers of Justice is dedicated to this proposition. Taking up three urgent problems of social justice neglected by current theories and thus harder to tackle in practical terms and everyday life, Martha Nussbaum seeks a theory of social justice that can guide us to a richer, more responsive approach to social cooperation. The idea of the social contract–especially as developed in the work of John Rawls–is one of the most powerful approaches to social justice in the Western tradition. But as Nussbaum demonstrates, even Rawls’s theory, suggesting a contract for mutual advantage among approximate equals, cannot address questions of social justice posed by unequal parties. How, for instance, can we extend the equal rights of citizenship–education, health care, political rights and liberties–to those with physical and mental disabilities? How can we extend justice and dignified life conditions to all citizens of the world? And how, finally, can we bring our treatment of nonhuman animals into our notions of social justice? Exploring the limitations of the social contract in these three areas, Nussbaum devises an alternative theory based on the idea of capabilities. She helps us to think more clearly about the purposes of political cooperation and the nature of political principles–and to look to a future of greater justice for all.

Comment: This excellent book is valuable in teaching for two main reasons: (1) it extends and expands on the application of the capability approach to non-human animals, the disabled and the global poor; and (2) it offers a valuable critique of Rawls’ theory of justice.

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Nussbaum, Martha, , . Sex and Social Justice
1999, Oxford University Press.
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Back matter: What does it mean to respect the dignity of a human being? What sort of support do human capacities demand from the world, and how should we think about this support when we encounter differences of gender or sexuality? How should we think about each other across divisions that a legacy of injustice has created? In Sex and Social Justice, Martha Nussbaum delves into these questions and emerges with a distinctive conception of feminism that links feminist inquiry closely to the important progress that has been made during the past few decades in articulating theories of both national and global justice. Growing out of Nussbaum’s years of work with an international development agency connected with the United Nations, this collection charts a feminism that is deeply concerned with the urgent needs of women who live in hunger and illiteracy, or under unequal legal systems. Offering an internationalism informed by development economics and empirical detail, many essays take their start from the experiences of women in developing countries. Nussbaum argues for a universal account of human capacity and need, while emphasizing the essential role of knowledge of local circumstance. Further chapters take on the pursuit of social justice in the sexual sphere, exploring the issue of equal rights for lesbians and gay men. Nussbaum’s arguments are shaped by her work on Aristotle and the Stoics and by the modern liberal thinkers Kant and Mill. She contends that the liberal tradition of political thought holds rich resources for addressing violations of human dignity on the grounds of sex or sexuality, provided the tradition transforms itself by responsiveness to arguments concerning the social shaping of preferences and desires. She challenges liberalism to extend its tradition of equal concern to women, always keeping both agency and choice as goals. With great perception, she combines her radical feminist critique of sex relations with an interest in the possibilities of trust, sympathy, and understanding. Sex and Social Justice will interest a wide readership because of the public importance of the topics Nussbaum addresses and the generous insight she shows in dealing with these issues. Brought together for this timely collection, these essays, extensively revised where previously published, offer incisive political reflections by one of our most important living philosophers.

Comment: Chapter ‘Judging Other Cultures: The Case of Genital Mutilation’ can be particularly useful in illustrating the debate on universality vs relativity of ethical norms and values, and in discussing the legitimacy of imposing cultural norms of one culture upon another.

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