The CEU Summer University JUSTICE: THEORY AND ITS APPLICATIONS July 4-15, 2011 Budapest, Hungary
The problem of justice occupies a special place in contemporary political philosophy. In the words of its most influential figure, Rawls, "justice is the first virtue of social institutions". That view seems to be shared by a majority of authors and theories. However, there is no comparable agreement regarding what justice demands, from whom and to whom. These questions have utmost relevance for political philosophers. However, their importance spill over other disciplines. Given that many choices policy makers make are distributive in nature, it is not surprising that issues of justice appear in many other spheres. In addition to dealing with purely theoretical issues, the course will revise some contexts which raise important questions about justice: education, health care, environmental issues, taxation.
Applications are invited from graduate students, postdocs, young faculty in Philosophy, Political Science, Public Policy, Law and Economics, familiar with Anglo-American political theory, especially with theories of justice.
In “Two Distinctions in Goodness” (Philosophical Review 1983), Christine Korsgaard argued that the distinction between intrinsic and extrinsic goodness should not be conflated with the distinction between final and instrumental goods. As it happens, I believe that she is entirely right that these two distinctions are distinct from each other. Still, her account of the distinction between final and instrumental goods does not seem quite correct to me.
As she puts it, a final good is something that “is valued as an end or for its own sake”, while an instrumental good “is valued as a means or for the sake of something else” (p. 170). There are at least three problems with this account.
At first sight, there seems to be a blatant contradiction between Bernard Williams’s two central theories: his view about thick concepts and his existence-internalism about reasons (many others have hinted at this too – Gibbard and Scanlon, for instance). I want to quickly sketch what that tension is. I mainly wanted to know if anyone’s seen or can come up with an interpretation of Williams's theories that dissolves the contradiction. I’ll suggest a couple, but I’m not very happy with them.
I’m interested in defending consequentialism against allegations that it represents an inherently perverse perspective, or that the consequentialist agent would have a morally bad character. For example, critics allege that the consequentialist agent would have ‘one thought too many’, that they would treat others as replaceable ‘value receptacles’, that they would be cold and calculating, untrustworthy, and incapable of genuine personal relationships. I aim to rebut these charges.