Our recent book Do Central Banks Serve the People? sheds a critical light on the actions of central banks in the wake of the 2007 financial crisis. Using the US Federal Reserve, the European Central Bank, and the Bank of England as examples, we show how they have stretched their mandate beyond their traditional tasks of price stability and financial stability. This short introduction to the book summarizes the argument that the expanded role of central banks has three serious drawbacks.
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In a world where “wellness” has become a cultural signal of the American elite (think yoga and spa treatments), employers have not been afraid to market wellness programs as a one-way ticket to greater health, wealth, and happiness. Watching this kind of rhetoric on display in the wellness movement, it’s hard not to think that wellness programs actually strengthen biases against what they’re intended to combat: disability, economic stagnancy, and mental illness. In this post, I articulate precisely this worry.
In recent months, both the central UK Government at Westminster, and the Scottish Government have released strategic plans for addressing obesity. In both cases, among the measures being considered is a ban on multi-buy discounts for unhealthy foods and drinks, such as confectionery, crisps, cakes and sugary sodas. This would outlaw price promotions that offer a discount for purchasing a larger quantity of the product – for example, ‘buy one, get one free’, or ‘2 for £3’. Promotions of this sort have been illegal for alcohol in Scotland (though not England) since 2011.
Critics of these plans see them as “draconian” government interference with private individuals’ freedom to make their own choices regarding what to eat and drink. Indeed, on the face of it, policies like the multi-buy discount ban look like a clear example of paternalism, infringing John Stuart Mill’s famous harm principle:
Voluntary offsetting allows you to ‘neutralise’ your carbon dioxide emissions by preventing the same amount of carbon dioxide from being emitted by someone else, most often somewhere else. Offsetting is a very polarised issue: some defend it as an effective way for individuals to neutralise their carbon emissions, while others have fiercely opposed it as a morally dubious practice
In this post, I take a position in the middle: I believe that under some conditions, emitting-and-offsetting should be morally acceptable.
Teaching Fellow – Political Theory, University of Edinburgh (closing 03/09/18)
Research Fellow in Drone Violence and AI Ethics, University of Southampton (closing 04/09/18)
Open-rank, Tenure-Track Position in Political Theory, University of Virginia (application review begins on 18/09/18)
Assistant Professor in Political Theory, University of Colorado, Boulder (priority for applications submitted by 01/10/18)
Assistant/Associate/Full Professor in Philosophy, Princeton University (priority for applications submitted by 01/11/18)
Postdoctoral Fellowship in Political Theory, Center for the Study of Liberal Democracy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (closing 15/01/19)
While Justice Everywhere takes a break over the summer, we recall from our archives some of our memorable posts from 2017-2018.
Here are three good reads on issues commonly associated with left-wing politics that you may have missed or be interested to re-read:
Lisa Herzog’s interview with Isabelle Ferreras on ‘Workplace Democracy‘
Lasse Nielsen’s ‘Sufficiency on Political Inequality‘
Miriam Ronzoni’s ‘On Striking as a Privilege‘
Together with an amazing group of people, I have initiated Twelve Stars. Twelve Stars in Europe’s flag symbolize Europe’s unity in diversity. The Twelve Stars project brings together citizens and practical philosophers from all over Europe to discuss proposals for the future of the European Union. Twelve Stars is premised on two assumptions. First, that the ideas of political philosophers can make a real contribution to improving the European Union. Second, that political philosophers have much to learn from discussing their proposals and arguments with a wider audience.
The Center for Advanced Studies – South East Europe, the University of Rijeka, the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Rijeka and the Croatian Society for Analytic Philosophy are organizing the 5th edition of the Equality and Citizenship Summer school from June 25th – 29th, 2018 in Rijeka, Croatia.
The Summer school does not reproduce, in a diluted form, the familiar teaching format of a university course. Instead, it is organized around “Author-Meets-Critics” symposia that are dedicated to publications and works-in-progress by some distinguished authors. All the leading participants will give a paper on a topic on which they are currently working, or a précis of a recently published book. During the symposia dedicated to them, they will then reply to the papers given by the other scholars.
The theme of this year’s World Environment Day (5 June 2018) is Beat Plastic Pollution. Plastic pollution is indeed a serious problem, severely affecting animals, humans, and marine ecosystems. Removal of the pollutants that are already in the environment is exceedingly difficult, so we should also ask: How can we avoid plastic and other pollutants entering the environment in the first place?
Abraham Lincoln said: “If slavery is not wrong, then nothing is wrong”. Similarly we could say: “If the abolition of slavery is not an instance of moral progress, then nothing is an instance of moral progress.” The abolition of slavery is the favourite example of philosophers who write about the topic of moral progress. While the existence and the possibility of moral progress are contested, the view that if there were such a thing as moral progress, the abolition of slavery would be an instance of it is not. (By the way, I fully acknowledge that slavery still exists, especially new forms of slavery, which are in some respects even worse than the old forms. But this doesn’t change the fact that the slave trade that we used to have for centuries is now illegal in every country in the world.) Other popular examples of moral progress include the development of a human rights regime, the emancipation of women and the abolition of foot binding. In a previous post, I argued that moral progress is not impossible and cited evolutionary considerations. In this post, I challenge Michelle Moody-Adams’ view of moral progress in social practices as the realization of previously gained moral insights.