Justice Everywhere

a blog about justice in public affairs

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Stop Supporting the Living Wage Movement!

Labour Market Injustice

Labour markets are rife with questions of justice. This series of blog posts explore cases of injustice, highlight theoretical puzzles and point towards possible solutions. They emerged from debates at the ‘Labour Market Injustice’ Workshop co-hosted by Newcastle and Durham Universities and generously sponsored by the Society for Applied Philosophy.  In this second blog post Ben Sachs offers reasons to be wary of the campaign for a living wage.

Those who support the Living Wage Movement (LWM) no doubt have their heart in the right place. They support the LWM because they care about the poor or specifically the working poor. However, the LWM is going to divide poor people against each other and thereby undermine their ability to effectively advocate for their own cause. And as to the working poor specifically, the LWM will harm them by misleading people into thinking that they don’t exist.

As we all know, the current reality is that many full-time workers don’t earn enough money to live a decent life—at least not without the state’s help. Fortunately, the working poor are eligible for various state-sponsored programmes, such as the Universal Credit and the Child Benefit (in the U.K.). The crucial thing to notice, though, is that the non-working poor are eligible for those programmes too.

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Freedom for Uber Drivers?

Labour Market Injustice

Labour markets are rife with questions of justice. This series of blog posts explore cases of injustice, highlight theoretical puzzles and point towards possible solutions. They emerged from debates at the ‘Labour Market Injustice’ Workshop co-hosted by Newcastle and Durham Universities and generously sponsored by the Society for Applied Philosophy.

In this first blog post James Hickson explores how the growth of the platform economy affects the values of freedom and independence. Does the rapidly changing nature of work signal a need to debate how we should understand workplace freedom in the first place?  

In April 2016, Travis Kalanick, the CEO and co-founder of Uber, published a blog post defending the company’s classification of their drivers as “independent contractors” rather than standard employees. Kalanick argued that drivers choose Uber “because they want to be their own boss. Drivers value their independence—the freedom to push a button rather than punch a clock, to use Uber and Lyft simultaneously, to drive most of the week or for just a few hours”. Kalanick even quoted one driver who claimed “I would quit if they tried to make me an employee, because I value my freedom as an independent contractor too much”.

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Debate, Dissent, and Safer Spaces

Thomas Swann is a Research Associate at Loughborough University working on an ESRC-funded project examining rule-making and constitutionalising in anarchist politics. He has a PhD in management and a background in social and political philosophy. His research explores the connections between anarchism and organisational cybernetics, aiming to develop ‘anarchist cybernetics’ as a framework for understanding radical left social movement organisation. His is the final post in the series:

Ethics in Academic Events

As theorists of justice and professional ethicists we are used to scrutinizing the practices of others. Is it not about time that we turned our analytical skills and discerning moral sensitivities on ourselves? Inspired by discussions at the closing of the workshop ‘Global Justice and Global Health Ethics Exploring the Influence of Iris Marion Young’, this series of posts seeks to examine our own actions and practices and explore the moral dilemmas of the academy.

 

Do safer spaces stiffle or enable debate?

In September of this year, the Anarchist Studies Network (ASN) conference agreed upon a draft safer spaces policy for future events. Among other things, the safer spaces policy, called for participants to avoiding making assumptions about people’s gender, be aware of being part of a privileged group, make sure discussions of traumatic subjects are entered into with care and reject racist or sexist language.

Documents like this that are designed to govern behaviour in academic spaces have become controversial over the last year or so. Claims are often made that safer spaces policies (‘safer’ rather than ‘safe’ because insecurity can never be eliminated entirely) are akin to censorship and that they wrap people in protective cotton wool.

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Support Early Career Researchers, Increase Diversity

Maeve McKeown is a Junior Research Fellow in Political Theory at St Hilda’s College, Oxford. She is a former co-editor at New Left Project and convener of the St Hilda’s Feminist Salon. Hers is the fourth post in a series on:

Ethics in Academic Events

As theorists of justice and professional ethicists we are used to scrutinizing the practices of others. Is it not about time that we turned our analytical skills and discerning moral sensitivities on ourselves? Inspired by discussions at the closing of the workshop ‘Global Justice and Global Health Ethics Exploring the Influence of Iris Marion Young’, this series of posts seeks to examine our own actions and practices and explore the moral dilemmas of the academy.

 

As political theorists we often critique inequality in society, but we rarely critique inequality in our own profession. We know that wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few tenured professors, with junior faculty struggling in short-term, poorly-paid, precarious contracts, often moving cities or countries on a yearly basis (with all the hidden costs that incurs). We know that there are few women and people of colour in permanent, senior positions. So what are we doing about this? And how does it apply to conference organising?

One of the ways academics disseminate their research and are spotted for jobs is through presenting at conferences. But conference fees and travel expenses are often too expensive for junior faculty, with their just-about-living wages (or sometimes not living wages). Short-term contracts usually do not come with research expenses, or at least not sufficient expenses to participate in overseas or even local conferences.

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On Sneering Metropolitan Elites – Has liberal diversity become an ideology?

Verina Wild is a post-doctoral researcher at the Philosophy Department at Ludwig-Maximilians-University of Munich, and Senior Teaching and Research Associate at the Institute for Biomedical Ethics and History of Medicine at University of Zurich. Her research concerns questions of public health ethics, social and global justice in health and health of migrants. Hers is the second post in a series on:

Ethics in Academic Events

As theorists of justice and professional ethicists we are used to scrutinizing the practices of others. Is it not about time that we turned our analytical skills and discerning moral sensitivities on ourselves? Inspired by discussions at the closing of the workshop ‘Global Justice and Global Health Ethics Exploring the Influence of Iris Marion Young’, this series of posts seeks to examine our own actions and practices and explore the moral dilemmas of the academy.

 

‘Us’ versus ‘Them’

Since the US election the internet has been awash with accusations. Apparently, ‘we liberal intellectuals’ should be ashamed of how blind we have become to real-life experiences or to any other school of thought. ‘We’ have been in “elegantly scented bubbles of privilege and prejudice” [1] in the metropolitan capitals of the world. ‘We’ looked down on ‘them’ (Trump supporters but also conservative academics) without respect, uttering endless calls for openness and diversity, but in reality not being open at all. ‘If ‘they’ are against progressive ideals ‘we’ immediately call them misogynists and racists, instead of listening to ‘their’ thoughts in an open way. ‘We’ are the true haters of democracy, because what ‘we’ really want is the imposed (not democratically elected) rule of progressive, liberal thought. ‘We’ adopt the self-image as the only group who thinks rationally and reasonably. However, in doing so, ‘we’ have been intolerant and dogmatic: ‘we’ are the totalitarians.

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Blind Reviewing for Workshops

Mollie Gerver recently completed her PhD at LSE, and now teaches at Leeds University. Her research is in the ethics of refugee repatriation. Hers is the first post in a series on:

Ethics in Academic Events

As theorists of justice and professional ethicists we are used to scrutinizing the practices of others. Is it not about time that we turned our analytical skills and discerning moral sensitivities on ourselves? Inspired by discussions at the closing of the workshop ‘Global Justice and Global Health Ethics Exploring the Influence of Iris Marion Young’, this series of posts seeks to examine our own actions and practices and explore the moral dilemmas of the academy.

 

At the age of sixteen Art Davis started to learn the double-bass. By the 1960s he was playing alongside Judy Garland and Louis Armstrong, but was consistently turned down by symphony orchestras. He suspected this was because he was black, so in 1969 he asked the New York Philharmonic to use a screen during auditions, hiding his identity from the selection panel. His request was denied, he sued the orchestra for discrimination, and lost the case, but had nonetheless set off a revolution: other orchestras began putting up screens for blind auditions, and within two decades began recruiting significantly more women and minorities.

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Resisting TTIP and Corporatocracy

TTIP protesters in Brussels, February 2015.

TTIP protesters in Brussels, February 2015. Greens EFA, licensed under Creative Commons 2.0.

Valentin Beck teaches moral and political philosophy at the Freie Universität Berlin. He recently published Eine Theorie der globalen Verantwortung (Suhrkamp 2016). This post is the fourth and final part of our series on TTIP.

Traditionally, trade agreements have been a topic of debate chiefly for economists and other experts. Recently, however, TTIP, TPP and CETA have loomed large in public discourse. What is behind the intense public interest and vehement opposition by civil society groups? The debate does not centre solely on matters of distribution, as some would suggest. Instead, the most important critique of these agreements regards their power to undermine democratic procedures.

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Announcement – New Issue of Global Justice: Theory Practice Rhetoric

The editors of Global Justice: Theory Practice Rhetoric are pleased to announce the publication of the second re-launch issue of the journal: volume 9, issue 1.

The issue is devoted to the topic of “Global Justice and Non-Domination” and features the following original articles:

The whole issue, with all articles and reviews, can be freely accessed at Volume 9, Issue 1.

For more information about the journal, please see the journal homepage.

How free is free trade? On CETA, TTIP, and other false promises

Regina Kreide is Professor of Political Theory and History of Ideas at the Institute of Political Science, Justus Liebig University, Giessen. This guest post is Part 3 of a special series on TTIP that we’re running this summer.

Lines of social conflict are no longer configured in terms of “more state” or “less state”. Opinions differ as to how open or closed our societies ought to be. The same holds not just for matters of immigration, but also for economic and financial-political developments. But does opening economic borders lead to greater “plenty” for all? What, for that matter, does “open” mean in this context? Counter to commonplace views of free-trade agreements, a closer look makes one thing clear, above all: economic “globalization” does not create prosperity for the many. More still, the term is in no way synonymous with an open society or open economic borders. The contrary is true. The example of water supply shows that free trade agreements such as the CETA and the TTIP lead to economic foreclosure and to the bypassing of existing international law. It is “open” – like a one-way street – only for massive incroachments on our societal order.

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Experiencing and responding to hate

This post has been published anonymously to protect the identity of its author, who is still receiving messages of hate.

Recently I did a radio interview in which I argued for equal access to certain social services, such as health care, for migrants and refugees. I did not focus on the instrumental value migrants have for countries – I did not focus on the economic and health benefits everyone has if people on the same territory are able to work, and are healthy and sane. I focused on the broader ethical arguments for equal access, even though I mentioned the instrumental arguments too. Perhaps I should have expected that not everyone would agree with my views. But nothing could possibly have prepared me for the hate mail that I received after the interview. In this post, I try to describe the experience and make a plea for greater solidarity in standing against such hate.

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