Ramey, Adam J. Klingler, and Gary E. Hollibaugh Jr. University of Chicago Press, Ramey, Adam.
Crowdsourced ideal point estimation. Covered by The Wall Street Journal.
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Nationalities Papers 44 1 Bearman, Peter S. Becker, Rolf and Karl Ulrich Mayer. Benhabib, Jess, and Chetan Dave. Koops, London: Palgrave Brenzel, Hanna and Malte Reichelt. Brunell, Thomas L. Education and training in Europe. Oxford University Press, Cass, David, and Alessandro Citanna. Chang, Han Il and Leonid Peisakhin.
Kemper Author Authenticity, Autonomy and Social Theory in Contemporary Adam Smith's Political Machan Author The Politics of Atrocity and Femia Author On Durkheim's Elementary Allen Editor W. What Holism Can Do for Social Nationalism, Inequality and Freedom and Culture in The Intellectual Origins of Social Life and Political The Sociology of Knowledge in Pickering Editor Geoffrey Walford Editor Conspicuous and Inconspicuous Shaw Author Politics through the Iliad However, you do not have to be a Machiavellian realist to wonder whether the validation of moral principles can be independent of all facts.
Take the concept of justice. If both material resources and human compassion were infinite, there would be no need for rules governing the distribution of benefits and burdens.
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Consider another example. Could the moral objection to torture survive if mankind had a much reduced susceptibility to pain?
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Normative political thinkers tend to ignore this advice. They assume idealised human capacities and pay little or no heed to the limitations of human nature. Cosmopolitan theories of global justice, for example, rely on the prevalence eventually, if not now of an almost boundless altruism. Both Machiavelli and Pareto, by way of contrast, saw selfishness or egotism as a natural property of the human species. Indeed, the supposed constancy of human nature was what allowed them to discover repeated patterns in history.
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Surely moral principles should allow us to criticise agents and practices that fail to conform to them. If we make no demands on the human capacity to make sacrifices for others, or for the common good, if we always assume the worst about human nature, how can we ever discover its limits? However, it is one thing to expect morality to challenge existing thought patterns; it is quite another to make demands that are alien to our deep-seated emotional needs and responses, such as our instinctive valuation of associative duties over those to remote strangers.
The purveyors of such absolutism, it could be argued, condemn themselves to moral irrelevance. A deontological ethic I have Cohen in mind in which the definition of what is right is not derived from a calculation of what is possible would oblige us to hold oddly that certain actions are morally obligatory even though no one, or hardly anyone, can be expected to perform them. Of course, this argument could be pushed too far. By definition the ideal stands in opposition to the real, and not even Machiavelli and Pareto wanted to deny that we could aspire to something better than the status quo.
Moreover, the present unrealisability of an ideal does not show that it is unrealisable tout court. Slavery was once seen to be an entrenched part of the natural order, and those who opposed it were dismissed as idealistic visionaries. While there is no disputing such considerations, it is generally understood that moral thinking must pay attention to possibility and feasibility if it is to avoid destructive outcomes. The main problem here is the alleged mismatch between natural human behaviour and the requirements of the ideal.
In Machiavellian fashion, the critics draw attention to the paradox that virtues can become vices in a political context. It is not sufficient, they say, for philosophers to evaluate an ideal itself, in all its pristine purity; we must also assess the likely or necessary moral costs of the changeover to the supposedly ideal system. Certain ideals should be rejected, not only if it is literally impossible to implement them, but also if in practice it would be too costly in terms of values we hold dear. According to J. Kant and his followers are wrong in claiming that only social arrangements that are impossible to carry out are infeasible.
When evaluating the feasibility of a social institution, it is not enough to consider the strong constraints. Indeed, a political theorist should consider some of the weak constraints too, namely those that entail moral costs if the suggested institutional arrangements are implemented Raikka, , p. This is true to a degree, but our accumulated human experience does provide solid evidence of the unwanted consequences that can be generated by pursuing certain ideals.
The complexity of social causation need not reduce us to cognitive helplessness.
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