Publications of de Maagt, Sem

Zala M, Rippon S, Theuns T, de Maagt S, van den Brink B. From Political Philosophy to Messy Empirical Reality. In: Knijn T, Lepianka D, editors. Justice and Vulnerability in Europe: An Interdisciplinary Approach. Northampton: Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd; 2020. p. 37-53.

From Political Philosophy to Messy Empirical Reality

This chapter describes how philosophical theorizing about justice can be connected with empirical research in the social sciences. We begin by drawing on some received distinctions between ideal and non-ideal approaches to theorizing justice along several different dimensions, showing how non-ideal approaches are needed to address normative aspects of real-world problems and to provide practical guidance. We argue that there are advantages to a transitional approach to justice focusing on manifest injustices, including the fact that it enables us to set aside some reasonable disagreements about justice. The ‘bottom-up’ approach we advocate, for which we borrow Wolff’s term ‘real-world political philosophy’, is an empirically-informed normative analysis that attends to specific, identifiable injustices, and thus is partial, though not isolationist. We illustrate our approach by considering how different models of the nature of disability suggest different kinds of remedy for injustices faced by persons living with disabilities. We reflect on the nature and significance of vulnerabilities, and we assess the role of public opinion in normative theorizing, suggesting a particular significance for the opinions and experiences of marginalized groups. We finally reflect on the relevance of European legal and institutional frameworks for theorizing justice in Europe.KEYWORDSJustice, non-ideal theory, real-world political philosophy, manifest injustice, public opinion, vulnerability

Rippon S, Zala M, Theuns T, de Maagt S, van den Brink B. Thinking About Justice: A Traditional Philosophical Framework. In: Knijn T, Lepianka D, editors. Justice and Vulnerability in Europe: An Interdisciplinary Approach. Northampton: Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd; 2020. p. 16-36.

Thinking About Justice: A Traditional Philosophical Framework

This chapter describes a philosophical approach to theorizing justice, mapping out some main strands of the tradition leading up to contemporary political philosophy. We first briefly discuss what distinguishes a philosophical approach to justice from other possible approaches to justice, by explaining the normative focus of philosophical theories of justice – that is, a focus on questions not about how things actually are, but about how things ought to be. Next, we explain what sorts of methods philosophers use to justify theories of justice. Following this, in the longest section, we highlight major questions about justice that have drawn the attention of philosophers, and indicate how competing conceptions of justice have arisen from differing answers to these questions. The goal here is not to answer but to elucidate some of the larger questions about justice, as well as to establish a framework for understanding and distinguishing different kinds of claims about justice and some of the relations between them.KEYWORDS:Justice, political philosophy, normative theory, methods, theory of justice