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    Franck Lovett, A General Theory of Domination and Justice

    Johnathan R. Razorback
    Johnathan R. Razorback

    Messages : 8687
    Date d'inscription : 12/08/2013
    Localisation : France

    Franck Lovett, A General Theory of Domination and Justice Empty Franck Lovett, A General Theory of Domination and Justice

    Message par Johnathan R. Razorback Mar 1 Déc - 16:58


    "This book owes its genesis to a conversation over coffee with Philip Pettit, to whom I must first give thanks for support, advice, and friendship during the ten years or so that it has been in progress." (p.IX)

    "In all societies, past and present, many persons and groups have been subject to domination. Properly understood, domination is a great evil, the suffering of which ought to be minimized so far as this is possible. Indeed, it is a grave objection to any political theory or doctrine that it would ignore, permit, or even encourage the avoidable domination of any person or group.
    Many, I think, would agree with these or similar assertions. This being so, one might expect the subject of domination to constitute a central topic of debate among contemporary political and social theorists and philosophers.

    In one respect, this expectation is duly satisfied, for many situations or states of affairs are described in the relevant literatures as involving domination. For example:
    - The practice of slavery, wherever and whenever it has appeared, has been described as a form of domination.
    - Regimes of systematic discrimination against minority groups—as, for example, those regimes certainly in the past, and to some extent perhaps today, disadvantaging European Jews, African Americans, and homosexuals nearly everywhere—have been described as forms of domination.
    - Despotic, totalitarian, and colonial political regimes have all, at various times, been described as forms of domination.
    - Entire modes of production—feudal, capitalist, and so forth—have been described as forms of domination, as have more narrowly defined methods of economic organization (e.g., unregulated wage–labor in the nineteenth century).
    - Institutional structures, such as the criminal incarceration or mental health systems—especially in the form that these institutions have taken over the past century or two in the West—have been described as forms of domination.
    " (p.1-2)

    "For the moment, I do not mean to claim that any or all of these are genuine instances of domination. Whether they are or not remains to be seen. Rather, I mean only to suggest the wide range of situations or states of affairs to which the concept has been applied.

    Given this diverse and widespread usage, it stands to reason that political and social theorists must have attempted something like a general analysis of the concept of domination—much as they have with power, equality, autonomy, community, and other basic concepts in social and political theory. In this second respect, however, our expectations are disappointed. General accounts of domination are, to say the least, few and far between. Those that can be found are, for the most part, brief, ad hoc, restricted to one or another aspect or form of domination, hopelessly vague, or some combination of the above. None, to my knowledge, discusses the relative advantages or disadvantages of two or more competing conceptions (as do discussions of negative versus positive liberty, causal versus dispositional accounts of power, and so on). This lacuna is striking [...] The present study aims to redress it.

    "Domination should be understood as a condition experienced by persons or groups to the extent that they are dependent on a social relationship in which some other person or group wields arbitrary power over them; furthermore, it is terribly wrong for persons or groups to be subject to avoidable domination and thus, as a matter of justice, the political and social institutions and practices of any society should be organized so as to minimize domination, to the extent that this is possible.

    The first half of the above statement briefly describes what I refer to as the arbitrary power conception of domination. Part I develops this conception, and argues for its merits as against several possible alternatives. Nearly every aspect of the arbitrary power conception might be considered controversial, and yet nowhere in the literature can one find even a clear list of alternatives, much less a rigorous discussion of their relative merits and demerits. The presentation of alternatives in Part I should be interesting and useful, I hope, even to those who, in the end, remain unconvinced by my arguments for the arbitrary power conception in particular.

    The second half of the above statement briefly describes the main idea of justice as minimizing domination, a conception of social justice. Part II outlines justice as minimizing domination, and argues that it offers a better account of distributive justice, multicultural accommodation, and constitutional democracy than do some other well-known theories of social justice
    ." (p.2-3)

    "My interest concerns domination in its original meaning as a sort of personal rule or mastery. The term domination ultimately derives from dominus, the primitive Latin word for the master of a house. Eventually, the Romans came to understand domination generally as the opposite of freedom—a free person (liber) was someone not subject to the domination (dominatio) of another, and vice versa. My aim is to develop a theory of domination in roughly this original sense. Much later, of course, the word “domination” accumulated various subsidiary meanings, in English and other languages, derived from this original. Presumably, to describe athletic preeminence as domination, or to say that “pennies dominate her coin collection,” and so forth, was first to engage in metaphor, and only later to use the term in a semantically literal sense." (p.3)

    "One underlying theme of this study is that all forms of domination should be considered unjust, and that domination should be reduced whenever and wherever it occurs, at least so far as this is feasible." (p.4)

    "A successful theory should sit reasonably well with our relevant pre-existing intuitions concerning the concept of domination. Of course, it is not necessary that the theory vindicates all of our intuitions exactly as they presently are, and in any case people’s intuitions often differ ; but a successful theory must respect them at least to the extent that it is recognizably a theory of domination and not something else." (pp.4-5)

    "For some time, I have been dissatisfied with the liberal-contractualist doctrine that is pre-eminent in contemporary (Western) political theory and philosophy. The term liberal contractualism here refers to a loose tradition encompassing the ideas of figures such as John Locke, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and Immanuel Kant, and in our own day John Rawls, Brian Barry, Thomas Nagel, T. M. Scanlon, and others. Roughly speaking, liberal contractualists contend that just political and social institutions and practices are those that reasonable people in a diverse or pluralistic society would agree can serve as the impartial basis for a fair system of cooperation. Admittedly, this is an extremely attractive political doctrine in many respects. For one thing, it is “political, not metaphysical,” as the slogan goes, because it does not appear to depend on the truth of any particular conception of the good or comprehensive doctrine. For another, it holds out the powerful vision of a perfectly voluntaristic society—that is, a society in which no one is forced to live under political and social institutions that they do not accept as reasonable and fair." (p.6)

    "Despite these important strengths, however, liberal contractualism has come under increasing criticism in recent years. Feminists have attacked the liberal-contractualist strategy of shielding the private sphere from public or political interference, which, they argue, masks considerable gender domination in the family and obstructs efforts to redress this persistent injustice. Deliberative democrats have attacked liberal contractualism for valuing individual rights too highly over the need for robust democratic participation, and for providing no more than weak, instrumental arguments on behalf of minimal representative democracy. Multiculturalists have attacked liberal contractualism for failing to perceive the various cultural injuries inflicted by liberal institutions, and for being unable or unwilling to do anything about them. There is some truth, in my view, to these (and other) criticisms. Each strikes at the very core of liberal-contractualist doctrine, for the difficulty in each case arises (albeit, in somewhat different ways) from the aspiration to achieve a voluntary consensus on shared political and social institutions and practices through the consignment of important moral and ethical disagreements to the private sphere of civil society." (pp.6-7)

    "Outside the academy, liberal contractualism faces a different set of challenges. In particular, an extremely important and perhaps underrated challenge is presented by what one might call common sense libertarianism. The need for a progressive political doctrine that can effectively compete with common-sense libertarianism has become especially pressing with the collapse of radical theories such as Marxism and socialism. So long as the latter were taken seriously, liberalism served as a sort of moderately progressive middle way between the far right and the far left. For many people, however, it is no longer possible to view liberalism in this way. The effect of this can be seen, for example, in the growing difficulty liberals now have in articulating the case for redistributive policies that would combat severe poverty and inequality. There is undoubtedly a variety of reasons for this rhetorical weakness in the face of common-sense libertarianism. One might be that it is increasingly difficult for people to view their society as a system of mutual cooperation, given the importance now placed on privacy, individualism, personal autonomy, and so on (values which, ironically, liberalism itself has partly been responsible for promoting). Certainly, there are others as well, but it is not important to elaborate. What is important is that justice as minimizing domination represents a possible progressive alternative." (p.7)

    "In recent years, there has been a remarkable resurgence of interest in the republican tradition of Western political thought. This tradition includes the writings of Machiavelli and his fifteenth-century Italian predecessors ; the English republicans Milton, Harrington, Sidney, and others ; Montesquieu and Blackstone ; the eighteenth-century English commonwealthmen ; and many Americans of the founding era such as Jefferson and Madison. These writers emphasize many common ideas and concerns, such as the importance of civic virtue and political participation, the dangers of corruption, the benefits of a mixed constitution, the rule of law, and so on. Often, they are called the “classical republican” (or sometimes, “neo-Roman”) political writers because they characteristically draw on classical examples—from Cicero and the Latin historians especially—in making their various arguments.
    One group of contemporary theorists, represented by Quentin Skinner, Philip Pettit, Maurizio Viroli, and others, has aimed to develop insights from this tradition into an attractive civic republican (or neo-republican) political doctrine. On their view, what ties together the classical republican writings is a deep commitment to the core value of political liberty or freedom, where this last idea is crucially understood, not as the absence of interference (as on the standard negative liberty view), but rather as the absence of domination. Political liberty, in other words, is a sort of independence—from slavery, from despotic or autocratic government, from colonial subjugation, and from other sorts of mastery or domination. Once understood in this light, it is clear that robust civic virtues, active political participation, a mixed constitution, the rule of law, etc., are cherished by the classical republicans as instrumental goods, useful in securing and maintaining political liberty so understood. What is more, their writings can thus be seen as contributing—admittedly in an often haphazard and inchoate manner—to the development of an attractive political doctrine that is independent and distinct from the mainstream liberal tradition that eventually supplanted it
    ." (p.Cool

    "This civic republican interpretation of classical republican tradition should thus be carefully distinguished from an earlier, and competing, civic humanist interpretation, as found for example in the work of Arendt (1990, 1993); Wood (1969); Pocock (1975); or Rahe (1992). On the civic humanist view, active political participation and civic virtue are understood to be constitutive of the best human life, and thus are valued intrinsically (not instrumentally). This is not my view, nor is it the view of Skinner, Pettit, Viroli, and the other civic republicans." (note 9 p.8 )

    "The mutual affinity between Pettit’s project and the conception of social justice as minimizing domination advanced in this study should be obvious. From one point of view, the latter could be seen as merely a redescribed and systematized version of the former. There are also, however, significant differences between the two—for instance, my inclusion of dependency in the conception of domination, our differing accounts of arbitrariness, and the different connections we draw between freedom from domination and democracy. Also, this study addresses in detail topics such as distributive justice and multicultural accommodation that have been given scant attention in the civic republican literature until recently." (p.9)

    "This story might be surprising because many are not in the habit of regarding republicanism as an especially progressive political doctrine. While I agree with Pettit that the progressive potential can be found in the classical republican writings, it is important to emphasize that—unlike Pettit—I am not interested in squaring my conclusions here with anything that one can find in the classical republican tradition. Indeed, the discussions that follow will often seem wholly detached from what many readers would regard as the typical concerns of the contemporary civic republicans." (p.9)

    "As Judith Shklar would say, we are on more solid ground when we begin with some concrete summum malum such as domination rather than some vague and hypothetical summum bonum." (p.10)

    "A robust theory of domination will be valuable even to those not particularly interested in or sympathetic with the contemporary civic republican agenda." (p.11)

    "Weber’s general definition of domination is stated only briefly, without elaboration, justification, or any consideration of alternatives." (p.11)

    "The term “domination” does not merit an entry in The Social Science Encyclopedia (1996), The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Political Science (1991), the Dictionary of Political Thought (1996), the Encyclopedia of Sociology (2000), nor any other comparable reference work of which I am aware." (pp.11-12)

    "Before studying the causes and effects of domination (or anything else, for that matter), one should have a clear idea of the thing itself whose causes and effects one intends to research." (p.16)

    "From the point of view of developing a conception of social justice as minimizing domination, we want to know not what some particular writer means in using the concept, but rather what the best available understanding of the concept is and why." (p.17)

    "The arbitrary power conception naturally divides into three primitive building blocks: the idea of being dependent on a social relationship, the idea of having social power over another person or group, and the idea of being able to exercise such power arbitrarily. These are the topics of Chapters 2, 3, and 4, respectively." (p.20)

    "This [normative] part of the argument can also be divided into three stages: first, an account of why non-domination should be regarded as an important human good; second, an account of how a conception of social justice based on this idea is best structured; and third, examples of how this conception would operate in practice. These are the topics of Chapters 5, 6, and 7, respectively. Chapter 7 argues, among other things, that justice as minimizing domination supports the public provision of an unconditional basic income, the extension of special cultural accommodations under some conditions, and constitutionally restrained democracy as the optimal form of government." (p.21)

    "I argue that domination should be defined structurally, according to a specific understanding of that term. I reject the idea that domination should be characterized in terms of the contingent outcomes or results of certain actions or events—as, for example, that one group dominates another when the former benefits at the latter’s expense.1 Rather, I argue that whenever persons or groups are structurally related to one another in a particular way, this situation in itself constitutes domination, regardless of the outcomes or results we happen to observe in any particular case. But at the same time, I reject the view that structures themselves dominate people, as if there can be subjects of domination without there also being agents. In other words, in my view, domination is always a relationship among different persons or groups, never a relationship between people and structures as such." (p.25)

    "A dispute between two competing conceptions of domination can be thought of as a dispute regarding which fact patterns should count as forms of domination. Now, if it were simply a question of my list versus yours, it would indeed be difficult to see how our dispute could ever be resolved in a reasonable manner. Of course, we often have fairly strong intuitions concerning what should count as domination, and these intuitions may serve as the basis for drawing up an initially plausible list of its forms. But when our intuitions differ—as often they do—there would seem to be no good reason for preferring one list to another as such.

    This is why we should think of a conception of domination as a rule or principle for sorting real or hypothetical fact patterns into sets. The conception is the sorting principle itself, whereas a list of domination’s various forms is merely the by-product of applying that principle to a range of possible examples.

    This important distinction, between a sorting principle and the list of forms that is its by-product, makes possible an answer to the question of how disputes concerning different conceptions can be resolved in a reasonable manner. The idea is to first propose a sorting principle, and then to test it against a range of cases. Assuming that our intuitions regarding some of those cases (specifically, whether they should count as genuine instances of domination) do not correspond with the results generated by the proposed sorting principle, we will have to make revisions in the former, the latter, or both. In making these revisions, our judgments are guided by the relative strength of our various intuitions, and by the power and utility of alternate sorting principles: roughly speaking, one sorting principle is better than another if it captures more of our stronger intuitions with greater conceptual efficiency. After an iterated process of testing and revising, we eventually arrive at a conclusion we are happy with—in other words, we end up with a sorting principle that sits well with the intuitions we have decided, after reflection, to keep. This approach is sometimes called the
    case method of analysis. When successful, it results in what John Rawls calls a “reflective equilibrium” with respect to the concept at issue." (p.27)

    "Consider, therefore, the following reasonably typical passages:

    [1] Absolutism was essentially just this: a redeployed and recharged apparatus of feudal domination, designed to clamp the peasant masses back into their traditional social position—despite and against the gains they had won by the widespread commutation of dues.

    [2] Slavery is one of the most extreme forms of the relation of domination, approaching the limits of total power from the viewpoint of the master, and of total powerlessness from the viewpoint of the slave.

    [3] As a little economy and a little state, ruled by a father-king, the family has long been a setting for the domination of wives and daughters (sons, too). It isn’t difficult to collect stories of physical brutality or to describe customary practices and religious rites that seem designed, above all, to break the spirits of young women.

    [4] Up to now, we know only two authentic forms of totalitarian domination: the dictatorship of National Socialism after 1938, and the dictatorship of Bolshevism since 1930. These forms of domination differ basically from other kinds of dictatorial, despotic, or tyrannical rule." (p.29)

    "While these uses of the concept of domination are not uncontroversial, they represent fairly central cases of what one would intuitively expect an acceptable conception of domination to cover. One thing we might gather from these passages is that the authors seem to think of domination as a sort of relationship between persons or groups. The instances of domination we have include: the apparatus of feudalism, the institution of slavery, certain sorts of familial arrangements, and totalitarianism. In each case, what is being described as domination is a particular manner in which persons or groups might stand in relation to one another.

    I will argue that this view is fundamentally correct, and that our conception of domination should indeed be based on this idea. In order to argue this, however, I first need to explain the general idea of a social relationship
    ." (p.30)

    "Like ethical egoism, psychological egoism is almost certainly false." (note 10 p.33)

    "Whenever what we want to do, if we are going to be rational, depends in part on what others are likely to do, this is called a strategic situation." (p.34)

    "Whenever two or more persons or groups are, in some significant respect, fully related to one another strategically, let us say they are engaged in a social relationship. Or, in Max Weber’s words:

    The term “social relationship” will be used to denote the behavior of a plurality of actors insofar as, in its meaningful content, the action of each takes into account that of the others and is oriented in these terms.

    Not all relations among people are social relationships, so defined. Sometimes, this is simply because our actions have no significant effect on other people. Even when some significant outcome is the joint product of many people’s actions, however, the individuals involved still might not be engaged in a social relationship. A classic example is the so-called tragedy of the commons scenario. Imagine a group of families sharing a common lake. Each family can, with some degree of effort, properly dispose of their waste, or else, with no effort, merely dump it in the lake. In the former case, each family must bear the entire cost of proper disposal themselves; in the latter case, since their waste is dissipated throughout the lake, each family hardly notices its marginal contribution to lake pollution. Every family faces exactly the same trade-offs in favor of dumping. In such scenarios, the outcome (a level of lake pollution) will be the joint product of the actions of all. But from each individual family’s point of view, it does not matter what the other families do: regardless of whether the others pollute the lake or not, the trade-offs facing each family individually favor polluting. This, of course, is ultimately worse for everyone (hence the tragedy). But the relevant observation here is a narrow one. Since the preferred course of action for each individual in such scenarios does not depend on what the others do, they are not engaged in a social relationship." (p.35)

    "Situations that are non-strategic in this way are sometimes called parametric. In a parametric situation, even if what I want to do is, in a technical sense, dependent on what others do, for the most part I need not take this into account, since the relevant aggregate outcomes of their actions are highly predictable and unaffected by my own decisions. Thus, when I am related to others parametrically, I need not worry how their decisions will strategically interact with my decisions." (pp.35-36)

    "Many other situations would, however. Relations of domination provide a notable example. Consider one of the core cases mentioned earlier in this chapter—early modern European feudalism. Peasants must anticipate the punishments nobles are likely to dish out if they do not receive their feudal dues, and the former must plan their purposeful action accordingly. Nobles, for their part, must consider what peasants are likely to do if excessive demands are imposed on them. This is true even if the peasants are too weak as a class to seriously threaten the social position of the nobility: if the nobles’ demands are too great, for example, the peasants might plausibly believe that they will be punished no matter what they do, and thus the threat of punishment will no longer have its desired incentive effect. This is a fully strategic situation, and so the imagined peasants and nobles are engaged in a social relationship. Similar stories could be told in each of the other core cases of domination mentioned earlier." (p.36)

    "Might there be subjects of domination without there being agents? In my view, the best answer is no—or, at any rate, not unless we want to use the term domination metaphorically." (p.37)

    "Let us call the degree to which a person or a group’s continued membership in some social relationship is not voluntary their level of dependency on that social relationship. Dependency should be thought of as a sliding scale, varying according to the net expected costs (i.e., expected costs less any expected gains) of exiting, or attempting to exit, a social relationship. It should go without saying that dependency on a given social relationship need not be symmetric (my dependency is not necessarily high just because yours is), nor zero-sum (my dependency is not necessarily low just because yours is high). From the degree of dependency of one member in a given social relationship, nothing can be inferred about the extent of the dependency of the other members.

    To forestall any confusion later on, let me emphasize that I will not distinguish between an exit attempt’s being (relatively) costly and its being (relatively) involuntary. On some conceptions of what is voluntary and involuntary, these might not be the same. For example, suppose a border patrolman points his gun at someone trying to flee her country, and shouts “Stop right there, or I’ll shoot!” Clearly, continuing in her exit attempt should be regarded as costly, but if she decides to stop this might nevertheless be thought a voluntary decision in the sense that, strictly speaking, it remains within her power to assume the risk. [Contrairement à Hobbes] I do not regard this as a useful conception of what it means for something to be voluntary or involuntary. Accordingly, I will simply define the degree to which membership in a social relationship is involuntary as equivalent to the relative expected costs (less the relative expected gains) of attempting to exit.

    Exit costs must be understood broadly here. They are not limited to material costs alone. Quite the contrary, exit costs are often to some extent psychological, and thus subjective. The dependency of a person on a particular social relationship depends on her (true or false) beliefs about the dangers of an exit attempt, together with her (true or false) beliefs about the merits of any outside options relative to the merits of her present situation. Sometimes, it is in the interest of some members of a social relationship that others in the same relationship not attempt to exit: in such cases, the former have every reason to increase the dependency of the latter. This they might do simply by explicitly raising the direct costs of exit—making the punishment for attempted flight more severe, say. Alternatively (or in addition), they might propagate the belief that the current arrangement is beneficial and natural, that the alternatives are much worse than they seem, or even that the (apparent) alternatives do not exist at all. Any of these strategies, to the extent that they succeed, would increase levels of dependency on the social relationship. In short, what determines dependency is the cost of exit from the subjective point of view of the person or the group in question.

    Imagine that a person is engaged in a social relationship she regards as exceptionally valuable. Perhaps she is the personal advisor of a powerful king, or she holds an unusually lucrative job. If she values her current position highly enough, she might subjectively regard her exit costs as severe, even if her next best option is—at least by objective standards—not bad at all. (We must factor in diminishing marginal returns here, of course: in order to generate equivalent exit costs, the absolute difference between two relatively good
    options must usually be greater than the absolute difference between two relatively bad options.) She is “bound by golden fetters,” so to speak. Should we regard her dependency as correspondingly high ? For the purposes of developing a conception of domination, the best answer is yes. [...] But it is worth pointing out here that dependency as such is not necessarily a bad thing. Many of the most valuable connections among human beings—partnerships of friendship or love, parental relationships, and so on—are unavoidably relationships of dependency. Dependency is a problem, however, when conjoined with certain other factors that, taken together, constitute domination.
    " (pp.39-40)

    "Particular masters and slaves will make different choices within their respective opportunity sets. For example, one master might be unusually harsh in the treatment of his slaves, whereas another (who faces, by assumption, more or less the same opportunity set) is comparatively lenient. It follows that even when two social relationships have roughly the same structure, the outcomes or results of each might differ substantially. Something similar, of course, can be said of marriages in nineteenth-century England or America. While the structural environment defined by traditional Anglo-American family law and custom was broadly similar for all marriages, each individual marriage played itself out very differently. Many husbands treated their wives with respect, even if they were not constrained to do so by traditional law and custom ; others did not.

    Certainly, slavery counts as an instance of domination, if anything does. Many would also say (rightly, in my view) that women were subject to domination at the hands of their husbands under traditional family law and custom. Now suppose we thought that domination had something to do with the outcomes or results of a particular social relationship. In this case, we would have to examine how each social relationship happens to play itself out in order to determine whether anyone is actually subject to domination or not. For example, if we define domination as one person or group benefiting at the expense of another, then to determine whether a particular slave is subject to domination, we must determine whether that slave’s master has actually benefited at his expense. Likewise, we would have to look and see whether a particular husband benefited at the expense of his wife in order to determine whether she was subject to domination. Since different people, even when faced with similar opportunity sets, will make different choices, the results will vary from case to case, and so too will our findings of domination. Let us call this an outcome-based conception of domination.

    Of course, I have been talking about specific individuals here—particular masters and slaves, particular husbands and wives. One might interpret the outcome-based conception somewhat differently, on the level of groups. We might say, for instance, that one group (e.g., women) is subject to domination if another group (men) generally benefits at the former’s expense through a particular institution (traditional marriage). This would not alter the main point. On this revised definition, we must still examine the aggregate results of the institution, and not its internal structure, in order to determine whether it constitutes domination or not. If it should turn out that women on
    the whole benefited from the traditional institution of marriage, then it would follow—whatever structure traditional marriage relationships happened to have—that women were not, by definition, the subjects of domination.

    Now suppose we take a different view, according to which domination refers not to any specific pattern of outcomes or results, but rather to the structure of social relationships as such. From this viewpoint, it would not matter how a particular relationship happened to play out: we would be committed to saying that, other things being equal, the slave of a lenient master is a subject of domination no less than the slave of a harsh master (though, of course, their situations may certainly differ in other respects, such as in their respective levels of health, happiness, and so forth).

    Let us call this second view a structure-based conception of domination. Which of these two views is better ? Different readers may have different intuitions.
    My view, however, and the view probably of a majority of those who have reflected on this question, is that the second is better. In other words, on the best view, domination should be understood to refer to the structure of a social relationship itself, and not to the specific ways in which it happens to play out in some particular case observable results are not always a good indicator of what is really going on in a given social relationship. This is because persons and groups subject to domination sensibly adjust many of their actions to minimize its ill effects. For example, they might adopt a public persona that does not challenge the established system of domination.

    To the extent that such strategies succeed, the slave might seem not much worse off than some free persons. Indeed, the outcome-based view would seem to commit us to saying that, as a slave comes to understand his master’s psychological dispositions better and better, and thereby increasingly succeeds in avoiding overt abuse, he is less and less subject to domination. This does not seem right. The same point holds in other cases. For example, when traditional family law grants husbands excessive power over their wives, it will often be difficult to say whether a particular husband has failed to exercise his powers out of self-restraint, or merely because his wife (sensibly) has avoided challenging them. “There would be infinitely more” women complaining of ill usage, Mill points out, if complaint “were not the greatest of all provocatives to a repetition and increase of the ill usage.” James Scott’s Domination and the Arts of Resistance is essentially an extended catalog of these sorts of anticipatory moves on the part of persons and groups who are subject to domination. In focusing on outcomes and results, therefore, we often misunderstand the real character of these social relationships.

    To be subject to domination is, among other things, to be engaged in a social relationship structured in such a way that one must often employ the arts of deference in order to secure reasonably good outcomes or results. Whether particular slaves or wives, for example, choose to avail themselves of those tactics is neither here nor there; and, by the same logic, whether particular masters or husbands act benevolently because they are intrinsically good-natured, or rather because they have been suitably ingratiated, is irrelevant. The domination lies in the structure of the relationship itself, not in its results or outcomes
    ." (pp.44-47)
    -Franck Lovett, A General Theory of Domination and Justice, New York, Oxford University Press Inc., 2010, 273 pages.

    « La question n’est pas de constater que les gens vivent plus ou moins pauvrement, mais toujours d’une manière qui leur échappe. »
    -Guy Debord, Critique de la séparation (1961).

    Johnathan R. Razorback
    Johnathan R. Razorback

    Messages : 8687
    Date d'inscription : 12/08/2013
    Localisation : France

    Franck Lovett, A General Theory of Domination and Justice Empty Re: Franck Lovett, A General Theory of Domination and Justice

    Message par Johnathan R. Razorback Jeu 27 Mai - 19:34

    "To say that domination refers to the structure of a social relationship is not to say that those structures themselves subject persons or groups to domination, and thus, by implication, that there could be domination without agents. This latter possibility should be distinguished from the observation that domination sometimes arises unintentionally, without anyone having deliberately set out to subject others to domination." (p.47)

    "Imagine a society in which the law of property recognizes the possibility of ownership in human beings, but in which it just happens that there are as yet no slaves. After some time, however, slaves are imported, and the law duly supports their masters’ rights of ownership. Later still, the masters repent, and manumit their slaves. The laws, however, remain unchanged throughout these events. Only in the middle period is it accurate to say that anyone is subject to domination. During that middle period, while it is absolutely correct to say that the institution of property played a significant role in enabling domination, it is not correct to say that the slaves were dominated by that institution. The actual experience of domination here is the experience of particular slaves, facing their particular masters.
    Thus, it is important not to confuse the sensible claim that persons or groups dominate one another under certain structural conditions with the obscure and dubious claim that structures themselves dominate persons or groups. Structures define the respective roles of agent and subject in all relations of domination, but real persons or groups must occupy those roles for the experience of domination to exist
    ." (p.48)

    "Another core example of domination is autocratic government. All things considered, it is far from easy for most people to leave one society for another. This means that the dependency of a society’s members is quite high, and it follows that any domination they suffer at the hands of their government will be rather severe indeed. As we would expect, totalitarian and despotic states often deliberately attempt to raise the costs of attempted emigration, precisely in order to strengthen the grip of their domination. [...]
    Given two social relationships with otherwise equivalent structural environments, the domination suffered will be worse in the one where the dependency of the subjects is higher
    ." (pp.51-52)

    "Suppose a person has her choice among a wide range of different masters in alternative social relationships G1, G2, ... ,Gn. Further suppose that the costs and risks of leaving one for another are quite low, but that her prospects with any are more or less equally dismal. Now it might seem that, despite her poor prospects with the master she does eventually select, her dependency on him in particular is nevertheless low, for she is always free to exchange him for another. It might then seem to follow (by my argument) that she cannot suffer much by way of domination.

    But this conclusion is too hasty. Perhaps the masters have successfully colluded to keep the prospects of servants low in general. In this case the relevant choice is not among G1, G2, ... , Gn, which should be regarded a single social relationship G including all the masters as members, but rather between G and H—say, where H is not having a master at all. Her prospects under H might be very low indeed (perhaps starvation). If so, then we have an instance of what might be called decentralized domination, the nature of which is partially obscured until our analysis comprehends how the membership of the relevant social relationship is defined. One might easily imagine a Marxist analysis of the wage–labor system along these lines. Sometimes, decentralized domination of this sort is described as impersonal, in the sense that no individual servant or worker is dependent on any one master or employer in particular, and thus it is mistakenly thought to be an instance of agent-less domination. Once the relevant social relationship has been properly defined, however, we see this is not the case
    ." (pp.52-53)

    "Dependency in itself is not necessarily a bad thing. Nevertheless, to the extent that it does contribute in maintaining relations of domination, easing dependency can be one tool among others for reducing domination. [...]
    For example, a public provision of unemployment benefits reduces the dependency of workers, and thus reduces any domination they might suffer at the hands of their employers. Employers, for their part, have historically tried to increase the dependency of their workers artificially, for instance by collusive practices such as blacklisting. Restricting these practices might further reduce worker dependency. Similarly, as Mill observed, opening employment opportunities for women reduces their dependency on their husbands, thus reducing domination in the family. Precisely in order to maintain their domination over women, it was necessary for men to prevent this from happening, which they did both formally (by creating legal barriers to women’s employment) and informally (by propagating the ideology that women were naturally unsuited to anything other than the duties of motherhood). And so on. Reducing dependency, in most cases, reduces domination. Since it will not always be possible or desirable to do so, however, there are (fortunately) other strategies for accomplishing this aim as well, as we shall see.
    " (pp.53-54)

    "The most common view of domination may be that it simply is power—or, to be more precise, that it is any social relationship structured such that one person or group in that relationship has more power than another. [...] Michel Foucault seems to more or less use the terms “domination” and “power” interchangeably. [...] I refer to this as the imbalance of power conception of domination.
    My aim is to show that the imbalance of power conception is inadequate, and that it ought to be rejected.
    " (p.56)

    "Hobbes describes power as the ability to obtain “future apparent goods.” [...] We must be careful to understand power in desireindependent terms. Power is not the ability to obtain what we actually happen to want, but rather the ability to obtain whatever we might happen to want. If power were not understood to be desire-independent in this way, a person could become more powerful merely by tailoring what she wants to fit what she can already accomplish. I have the power to jump off a bridge, even if I do not want to, but I do not have the power to fly, nor can I make myself more powerful merely by convincing myself that I do not want to." (p.68)

    "To be wealthy is to have, relatively speaking, more money than other people." (p.69)

    "One person or group has power over another if the former has the ability to change what the latter would otherwise prefer to do." (p.75)

    "There are two principal methods by which one person or group might change what another would otherwise prefer to do. Either the former can raise or lower the costs and benefits attached by the latter to different options in their opportunity set, or else the former can influence the latter’s preferences over those options. This is roughly the difference between reducing the cost of a television set, and making me want one more." (p.76)

    "An imbalance of social power is indeed a necessary condition of domination, and thus the imbalance of power conception captures some part of the truth about domination. Also, as we have seen, power is what is sometimes called a “dispositional concept”: to have power over someone is to have the ability to change what they otherwise prefer to do, whether one happens to make use of this ability or not. The extent to which a person or group has this ability is, to a large extent, determined by the surrounding structural environment. Thus, the imbalance of power conception would count, in the language of Chapter 2, as a structure-based, and not an outcome-based conception of domination. So far, so good.
    But is an imbalance of social power sufficient to constitute a relationship of domination ? At the opening of this chapter, I noted a few social and political theorists who seemed to answer yes. On reflection, however, this cannot be correct. The owner of a restaurant has the ability to refuse me service if I am rude to the servers: Supposing that I had wanted to dine there, this constitutes having power over me. Similarly, my aerobics instructor (if I had one) has the power to tell me what exercises to perform if I want to avoid being humiliated in front of the class, and this too might constitute having power over me. But we are not inclined to view either of these as genuine instances of domination. Why not ?One reason might be that my dependency on either relationship is quite low: I can always find another restaurant or another aerobics class more to my liking, and indeed, I need not dine out or take aerobics classes at all. This only goes to show that, at the very least, we must regard both an imbalance of social power and some degree of dependency as independently necessary conditions of domination
    ." (pp.82-83)

    "Consider a college student with library fines. As per its standard policy, the university library has the power to block the conferral of this student’s degree until such fines are paid in full. Certainly, this represents a power over the student; indeed, considering the value of the degree, we might say this power is considerable. Furthermore, having already sunk huge costs in attending this particular university, the student is hardly in a position to walk away and enroll somewhere else; accordingly, we would also want to say that his dependency is quite high. This would seem to satisfy the two requirements of the revised imbalance of power conception. But do we want to say that the student is subject to domination at the hand of his university librarian ? Perhaps not. Something is still missing from our conception. In Chapter 4 I argue that what is missing is a third condition—namely, arbitrariness." (p.84)

    "We should instead characterize domination as a particular manner or mode by which social power (of any form) can be exercised over others." (p.94)

    "Suppose we were to contrast the system of criminal law enforcement in the contemporary United States with that of a totalitarian dictatorship—say, Stalin’s Russia or Romania under Ceausescu. Two aspects of this comparison stand out. First, the imbalance of power between the state and its citizens is clearly great in all three cases. (Arguably, in terms of the state’s material capacity to coerce its citizens, the United States is more powerful than the others.) Second, the costs of attempting to escape the reach of state power are again, in all cases, quite high. (Perhaps it is somewhat easier exiting the United States than it is a state ruled by a totalitarian regime, but for most ordinary persons the difficulty is still very great—especially once one has come under the suspicion of law enforcement.) According to our definition of dependency as exit costs, citizens in general should be regarded as highly dependent on their respective states. The upshot is that on the imbalance of power conception, even if revised by the addition of a dependency condition, the citizens of Stalin’s Russia or Ceaucescu’s Romania on the one hand and those of the United States on the other are apparently subject to a comparable degree of domination when it comes to their status under the criminal law.
    This cannot be right. Of course I do not mean to suggest that the system of criminal law of the United States is without its problems (far from it). The point is only that, whatever one might think about its failings, surely one would want to say that—with respect to the degree of domination experienced by ordinary citizens at least—it represents something of an improvement over totalitarian dictatorship.
    To further press the point, many would argue that the burden of American criminal law does not fall equally on all, but rather falls more heavily on some than others: blacks and other minorities seem to be subject to greater domination than whites, for example. The imbalance of power conception (revised or not) is even less helpful in making this second comparison than the first, since the levels of power imbalance and dependency are here more or less constant.
    These are, of course, mere intuitions, whose only point is to illustrate a serious difficulty with the imbalance of power conception when measured against an important desideratum discussed in Chapter 1: practical usefulness. For a conception of domination to be useful, it should be able to do more than say whether some situation or state of affairs counts as an instance of domination or not. Specifically, it should be descriptively contoured, in the sense that it should be capable of making clear statements about comparative levels or degrees of domination when one scenario is contrasted with another.
    The illustrations I have considered suggest that the imbalance of power conception is not as descriptively contoured as we would like it to be.
    " (p.95)

    "Let us consider the conception of domination proposed by Philip Pettit and others. He argues, roughly, that domination exists whenever one person or group has the “power of interference on an arbitrary basis” over another person or group. It is the second part of this definition that is interesting here: namely, the idea of arbitrariness. Now since the expression “arbitrary” can have different meanings in different contexts, it is important to be clear about the meaning intended here.
    Sometimes, arbitrary is used to mean “random or unpredictable.” In the case of slavery, for example, it is often true that slaves cannot accurately predict when their owners will beat them and when they will leave them alone. This cannot be what makes the imbalance of social power between masters and slaves an instance of domination, however. With long experience, a slave might gradually become better able to predict when his master is likely to abuse him, and thus his master’s decisions will appear to him less and less random over time. This will be better for the slave, of course. But surely it does not follow that he is subject to less and less domination. Rather, we should say, he is better able to cope with the domination to which he is (and remains) subject to. This, then, is not the relevant meaning of arbitrary for our purposes.
    " (pp.95-96)

    "Traditionally, social power was said to be arbitrary when it could be exercised merely according to the “will or pleasure” of the person or group holding that power. This is the sense of the term relevant for our discussion. More precisely, let us define social power as arbitrary to the extent that its potential exercise is not externally constrained by effective rules, procedures, or goals that are common knowledge to all persons or groups concerned." (p.96)

    "Adding an arbitrariness condition to the revised imbalance of power conception yields what I call the arbitrary power conception of domination. On this view, a person or group experiences domination to the extent that they are dependent on a social relationship in which some other person or group wields arbitrary power over them. [...]
    How does this conception fit with our core cases of domination ? Slavery again provides an easy case: in most slave systems, there was little a slave master was not permitted to do to those slaves in his possession. Moreover, what few limitations were imposed by law were frequently ineffective. For example, Frederick Douglass points out that laws protecting slaves in the antebellum American South were almost never enforced for the simple reason that slaves did not have the legal standing to bring cases to court themselves. The other examples we have been using also fit without difficulty. Until comparatively recently in the United States and England, the wielding of arbitrary power within the family was protected by various common-law barriers to action against family members. In the earlier stages of capitalism, employers (especially through their foremen) wielded an arbitrary power to hire and fire employees at will. The situation of the peasantry in early modern Europe is somewhat less clear on this point, but it is interesting to note a general trend, from the early Middle Ages through to the French Revolution, for each group to press against its superiors (the peasants on the nobles, the nobility on the monarchs, etc.) for a more and more explicit specification of rights and duties, so as to reduce the degree of arbitrary rule.
    And what of despotic, authoritarian, or totalitarian political regimes ? Particularly at the totalitarian extreme, these may seem at first to present a counter-example, insofar as, in the words of Hannah Arendt, such regimes attempt to eliminate “spontaneity itself as an expression of human behavior” by smothering their citizens under a system of rules so dense and comprehensive as to render citizen action entirely predictable. Is this not the very opposite of arbitrariness? On closer examination, the arbitrary power conception is vindicated once again. It is only the citizens that a totalitarian regime wishes to render predictable, precisely (as Arendt makes very clear) in order to remove any obstacles to the arbitrary power of the rulers. What counts is rather the degree to which the agents of domination are constrained, and it is clear that the rulers in despotic, authoritarian, and totalitarian political regimes attempt to free themselves from the constraints of law and other social conventions as much as they can. These core examples are enough, I think, to make at least a prima facie case for connecting domination with arbitrary power. But some other cases are not so easy to reconcile. I am thinking in particular of a rigorously legal system of discrimination. Real-world systems of discrimination—as, for example, Jim Crow laws in the American South, apartheid, or the legal liabilities once imposed on European Jews—are not always characterized by a strict adherence to explicit rules and procedures, of course, but one might imagine a case in which there was genuine procedural non-arbitrariness. Moreover, one might reasonably have the intuition that this should count as another instance of domination. This would seem to count against the arbitrary power conception

    "Shared habits are easily converted into social conventions, the moment some public approbation or disapprobation is attached to observance or non-observance of the general pattern. This might happen with rules of etiquette and customs of dress, for example: what originally arises as a shared habit of acting in particular ways or wearing particular sorts of clothing evolves into a norm backed by public opinion regarding what is appropriate (and what is not appropriate) to do and to wear. In other words, social conventions are distinguished from shared habits by the fact that participants in the former but not the latter have to some extent an external, desire-independent reason for observing the accepted practice." (p.106)

    "To the extent that social power is not externally constrained by effective rules, procedures, or goals that are common knowledge to all persons or groups concerned, I have said that we can define it as arbitrary. Arbitrariness, so defined, arises when there are gaps in the network of effective social conventions (social norms, coordination conventions, laws, etc.) governing the possible exercise of social power. Sometimes these gaps are accidental or unintended, and sometimes they exist merely because appropriate social conventions have not yet been introduced. Other times, however, these gaps are explicitly created and sheltered by the surrounding configuration of social conventions. An example of the latter is traditional family law, which was specifically designed to prevent external interference with the authority of husbands and parents. This created a zone within which husbands and parents could exercise power over their wives and children according to their unchecked arbitrary will or pleasure." (p.111)

    "Arbitrary power, in the relevant sense, is social power wielded according to the will or pleasure of the power holder. But this somewhat elliptical expression is open to two possible interpretations. On the one hand, we might say that the potential exercise of social power is left to the will or pleasure of a person or group just in case it is not somehow externally and effectively constrained. On the other hand, we might say that the potential exercise of social power is left to the will or pleasure of a person or group when it can be used by them without regard to the relevant interests of the affected parties.
    The definition stipulated earlier, according to which social power is arbitrary to the extent that it is not externally constrained by effective rules, procedures, or goals that are common knowledge to all persons or groups concerned, obviously represents an example of the first sort of interpretation. This has the effect, very roughly, of equating non-arbitrariness with the traditional ideal of the rule of law, provided of course that we are willing to loosen and extend this idea considerably. Often, however, and especially in some legal contexts, the term arbitrary is used rather differently. It is commonly said, for example, that it is arbitrary to base hiring decisions on irrelevant criteria such as race or gender; or (more generally) that it is arbitrary for one person to be made worse off than another through no fault of her own. These uses of the term arbitrary represent an example of the second sort of interpretation, which emphasizes the specific thought that decisions made according to the will or pleasure of a power holder often do not reflect the relevant interests of the affected parties. (Everyone presumably has a justifiable interest in being assessed and rewarded according to morally relevant criteria such as merit and effort, and not morally irrelevant criteria such as race, gender, or brute luck.) Let us refer to these as the procedural and the substantive conceptions of arbitrariness, respectively. On the substantive view it is not enough that power holders be constrained in their exercise of social power, unless they are constrained specifically in a way that compels them to track “the welfare and worldview” of the persons affected.
    Which conception is better ? Obviously, from a normative point of view, we would want power to be non-arbitrary in both the substantive and the procedural sense. A rigorously legal system of discrimination might be non-arbitrary in the procedural sense, but it cannot, presumably, be non-arbitrary in the substantive sense, since it does not compel power holders to track the welfare and worldview (however defined) of the persons discriminated against. But this is not our present concern. Our concern is rather the narrower one of determining which interpretation of arbitrariness is more suitable in the context of developing a conception of domination.
    The principal consideration in favor of the substantive view is our strong intuition that systems of institutionalized discrimination, no matter how carefully framed in scrupulously observed public rules and regulations, must count as instances of domination—along with slavery, autocratic government, and our other core cases
    ." (pp.112-113)

    "In order to fairly assess the substantive interpretation of arbitrariness, we need first to say what the welfare and worldview (or relevant interests, etc.) of the affected parties amounts to. Absent such an account, of course, the substantive view would add nothing to the procedural view. In this connection, three alternatives have been suggested. On the first, we should understand the welfare and worldview of persons or groups to mean their objectively defined, normatively justifiable interests; on the second, their subjectively expressed preferences or desires; and on the third, their ideas about their interests as expressed through suitably designed deliberative procedures. These can be called the common good, welfarist, and democratic accounts, respectively. Let us consider each alternative in turn.
    The principal consideration arguing in favor of the substantive view of arbitrariness, as I have said, is our strong intuition that a rigorously legal system of discrimination ought to count as an instance of domination. Since institutionalized discrimination manifestly works against the objectively defined, normatively justifiable interests of the persons discriminated against, the common good account would characterize such a system as substantively arbitrary, and thus capture our intuition with ease.
    But degree of fit with our prior intuitions is only one of the criteria laid down in Chapter 1 for a successful conception of domination. Among other things, it is also important that a conception of domination be useful, and I have argued that a conception will not be useful unless it observes the separation thesis: in other words, with the best conception of domination, it must be possible for us to determine whether or not given persons or groups are subject to domination strictly on the basis of certain purely descriptive facts about their situation. The common good account of substantive arbitrariness obviously does not meet this condition. We would not be able to determine whether one person or group subjects another to domination until we first established whether the social power of the former is constrained to track the objectively defined, normatively justifiable interests of the latter. It follows that an attempt to argue that we should alleviate domination, so defined, will degenerate into the unhelpful truism that we should promote people’s objectively defined, normatively justifiable interests, whatever these turn out to be. Given the choice, then, between a procedural understanding of arbitrariness that is useful and captures most of our prior intuitions on the one hand, and a common good substantive understanding that, while capturing nearly all our prior institutions, is useless on the other hand, surely we must opt for the former. This is especially so when, as I try to show in Section 4.4.3, we can provide a plausible explanation for the recalcitrant intuitions in question.

    Perhaps one of the other two accounts of substantive arbitrariness will do better, however. On the welfarist account, we should understand the welfare and worldview of persons or groups to mean their subjectively expressed preferences or desires. Since the subjective preferences or desires that people have are, in principle, descriptive facts, the welfarist account would not fall afoul the separation thesis. Unfortunately, the welfarist account is completely unworkable for other reasons. To begin with, there will be the well-known problems of interpersonal measurement and preference aggregation, which need not be rehearsed here. Let us imagine these could be overcome. The main point of the substantive view of arbitrariness is to capture our intuition that a rigorously legal system of discrimination ought to count as an instance of domination. The welfarist account of substantive arbitrariness would accomplish this, presumably, on the assumption that most people prefer not to be discriminated against—this would show that institutionalized discrimination was substantively arbitrary, and thus an instance of domination. But people cannot always be relied on to have the expected preferences. When they do not, our intuitions cannot so easily be captured. Thus it would seem that, on the welfarist view, a person or a group is not subject to domination whenever they happen to believe—rightly or wrongly—that their relevant interests are being taken into account by those wielding power over them. (This was precisely the situation, no doubt, with respect to a great many married women under the traditional system of family law and custom.)
    When the members of a group disagree on this score, the welfarist account apparently commits us to the view that, though identically situated in all other relevant respects, some of those members are subject to domination and others are not. Indeed, we would apparently be able to render a person subject to domination simply by convincing him that his relevant interests were not being respected, even if this were not true. None of this makes any sense.
    In short, the welfarist account of substantive arbitrariness might, unlike the common good account, satisfy the separation thesis, but it is no better than the procedural understanding—and, indeed, probably much worse—at capturing our prior intuitions about domination. What we need, apparently, is an account that is strictly descriptive, but free of the difficulties facing the welfarist account, of what it means for social power to be constrained to track the welfare and worldview of a person or a group.

    The democratic account of substantive arbitrariness is supposed to fit the bill: on this view, social power is arbitrary unless it is compelled to track the affected persons’ or groups’ ideas about their interests as expressed through suitably designed deliberative procedures. Once filtered through such procedures, it is extremely unlikely that people would endorse their own systematic discrimination. No doubt moved by considerations similar to those discussed earlier, and hoping thus to reliably capture the intuition that institutionalized discrimination counts as an instance of domination, Pettit and others take precisely this line on substantive arbitrariness. The issue is whether the democratic account can indeed square the circle. In my view, it cannot.
    The central issue is as follows. Rather than contrast a rigorously legal system of discrimination with the absence of such discrimination, we must contrast a rigorously legal system of discrimination with alternative methods for securing similar levels of material advantage and disadvantage. Suppose that for various historical, economic, and cultural reasons, one group in some society manages to acquire a preponderance of social power, which it wields over the other groups in that society directly and without constraint, much to its own benefit (naturally). Since the disadvantaged groups are in no position to directly challenge the social position of the powerful group, they instead demand only that the various rights and privileges of the latter be written down, codified, and impartially enforced by independent judges. Let us suppose that, in time, the powerful group accedes to this demand, on the view that since the rules will, after all, be designed to benefit itself, there will be no significant cost in doing so.
    Now according to the democratic account of substantive arbitrariness, it would seem that this change does nothing to affect the levels of domination present in the society. This is because the powerful group is in no way compelled by the newly introduced rules to wield social power specifically so as to track the interests disadvantaged groups would express through suitably designed deliberative procedures. But in my view, the situation has indeed changed, and in an important way. Members of the disadvantaged groups now at least know exactly where they stand: they can develop plans of life based on reliable expectations ; provided they follow the rules, they need not go out of their way to curry favor with members of the powerful group; and so on. [...] These are important experiential differences, best captured by saying that the introduction of externally effective constraints on the holders of power constitutes in and of itself a reduction of domination. This is not to say, of course, that the advantages of the powerful group are now perfectly fair. Far from it. Rather, it is only to say that not everything that is unfair must also constitute domination.
    Other considerations weigh against the substantive democratic account of arbitrariness as well. Among these is the fact that, without exactly defining domination and democracy as opposites (as Young and some others do), it nevertheless renders the connection between them more or less analytic. In my view, we should resist doing this. This is partly for pragmatic reasons. On the substantive democratic account, it will not be possible to say whether persons or groups are subject to domination until we first determine which interests they would express through suitably designed deliberative procedures. This may not be easy to do. But there are also normative reasons to resist this move. As discussed further in Chapter 7, one of the strongest arguments for democracy is that it tends to reduce domination. This argument is trivialized, however, if we define domination such that it becomes analytically true: the argument would then be analogous to saying that the reason to earn lots of money is because doing so will enable you to buy lots of things. Democracy is one thing, in my view, and non-domination is simply best understood as another
    ." (pp.113-117)

    "We can say that persons or groups are subject to domination to the extent that they are dependent on a social relationship in which some other person or group wields arbitrary power over them.
    Notice that domination, so defined, may come in degrees. Specifically, dependency is a matter of degree, the imbalances of power are a matter of degree, and the scope of arbitrariness left to the agent of domination by existing social norms, laws, and so forth is a matter of degree. It follows that the domination suffered by a person or group is, one might say, continuously variable in three dimensions. Formally, we might imagine a continuous function f: d*p*a => D that maps levels of dependency, power, and arbitrariness into levels of domination as follows:
    D= f (d ; p ; a).
    " (p.119)

    "Coercion might thus constitute a basis for domination—indeed, it might be the most common such basis. Since social power comes in many forms, however, it is not the only possible basis." (p.122)
    -Franck Lovett, A General Theory of Domination and Justice, New York, Oxford University Press Inc., 2010, 273 pages.

    « La question n’est pas de constater que les gens vivent plus ou moins pauvrement, mais toujours d’une manière qui leur échappe. »
    -Guy Debord, Critique de la séparation (1961).

    Johnathan R. Razorback
    Johnathan R. Razorback

    Messages : 8687
    Date d'inscription : 12/08/2013
    Localisation : France

    Franck Lovett, A General Theory of Domination and Justice Empty Re: Franck Lovett, A General Theory of Domination and Justice

    Message par Johnathan R. Razorback Lun 21 Juin - 11:14

    "Part II. Normative Analysis." (p.125)

    "Domination and Humain Flourishing.

    Domination is a bad thing. It is terribly unjust if persons or groups are subject to avoidable domination, which is to say that anyone able to reduce such domination lies under a prima facie moral obligation to do so. These are strong claims that require explanation and justification. In this study, I have insisted on maintaining a strict separation between the descriptive and the normative aspects of a complete theory of domination. It follows that all the work of showing why we should regard non-domination as an important human good remains to be done. This chapter aims to undertake that task." (p.125)

    "That to show why we have compelling reasons to reduce domination is simply to show why non-domination should be regarded as an important human good." (p.127)

    "My argument for regarding non-domination as an important human good is not preference-based. This, of course, is consistent with believing that people generally prefer not to experience domination. Indeed, I do believe this, and I rely in various ways throughout this study on the assumption that it is generally true [...] The point here is only that non domination should not be regarded as a good because most people prefer it; on the contrary, most people prefer non-domination because it is, in fact, good.

    Domination is bad because, given the sorts of creatures we are, it presents a serious obstacle to human flourishing. Put another way, enjoying some significant degree of non-domination is a crucial condition of human flourishing (along with health, education and care, sufficient material goods, cultural membership, and so on).
    " (p.131)

    "I merely stipulate without further elaboration that human flourishing can roughly be understood as success in achieving autonomously formulated, reasonable life plans, through fellowship or community with others, over a complete life.

    In what ways does domination present an obstacle to human flourishing ? The direct material harms of domination are perhaps the most obvious: these are the actual injuries that result when one person or group wields arbitrary power over another. Typically, the agents of domination take advantage of their situation to coercively extract valued social goods from those subject to them: for example, slave masters extract productive labor from their slaves, members of the class of nobles extract feudal dues from members of the peasant class, husbands extract household and/or sexual services from their wives, and so on. In a manner reminiscent of Marx, we might refer to this common feature of domination as exploitation. Insofar as they suffer exploitation, those subject to domination will find their success in carrying out their own life plans diminished.

    This, however, is only typically the case. Though the temptation to exploit others may often be difficult to resist, there will of course be some benevolent agents of domination who decline such opportunities. But it is important not to restrict the scope of exploitation to the valued social goods actively coerced from those suffering under domination.
    " (p.131)

    "Relationships of domination are thus “infused by an element of personal terror,” as James Scott writes, such that, even when the agent’s powers are not exercised, “the ever present knowledge that they might [be] seems to color the relationship as a whole.” (The tendency of those subject to domination to apparently conspire, as it were, in their own exploitation has often been observed.) If this is correct, then it will turn out that the subjects even of benevolent masters will, to some extent, lead less flourishing lives than they might have otherwise.

    In addition to the harms of exploitation, the subjects of domination are likely to suffer the additional harms of insecurity. So long as the agents of domination possess arbitrary social powers over their subjects, the latter will be severely restricted in their ability to autonomously formulate their own life plans. This is because it is obviously difficult, and at the extreme impossible, to plan in the face of uncertainty. An ongoing sense of insecurity has both material and psychological consequences. On the one hand, insecurity necessitates precautionary measures. Ever concerned that they might face coercion, the subjects of domination must adopt a defensive posture—overcompensating and taking evasive measures against these dangers, hoarding goods as insurance, and lowering life expectations as required [...] On the other hand, those subject to domination additionally suffer from psychological anxiety and a sort of paralytic sense of helplessness. At the extreme, this may result in complete resignation and social withdrawal: recognizing the improbability that even modest life plans will come to fruition, the victims of domination may give up the idea of formulating goals or aims for themselves at all.

    Finally, consider the impact of domination on self-respect. Relationships characterized by domination develop a distinctive symbolic or ritual structure in addition to their more “objective” structure of exploitation and uncertainty. The symbolic face of domination—which Scott refers to as the “public transcript”—involves rituals of respect, deference, and debasement on the part of the subject, and rituals of disrespect, dishonoring, and contempt on the part of the agent. The reason for this particular pattern may be obvious: on the one hand, the subjects of domination hope to secure lighter treatment through flattery; on the other hand, the agents of domination seek to rationalize their advantageous position (to themselves, at the very least). Whatever the causes, however, both aspects to the symbolic structure of domination tend to undermine the subjects’ self-respect or sense of personal worth. At the milder end of the spectrum, we might consider the effects of the “courtier spirit” encouraged by absolutism: whereas “a king must be ador’d like a Demigod,” according to John Milton, the citizens of a free commonwealth “are not elevated above thir brethren” and “may be spoken to freely, familiarly, friendly, without adoration.” Alexis de Tocqueville was concerned lest an unrestricted power of the majority might introduce something like the courtier spirit even in democratic republics. This symbolic structure of deference on the one side and disrespect on the other suppresses free expression on the part of those subject to domination: consider, in this light, how Victorian society regarded quiet deference a virtue of women and of members of the lower classes. As domination becomes more severe, some subjects’ habitual self-debasement may lead them to inflict psychological violence on themselves—to believe in their own lack of worth, if only in order to come to terms with their unhappy condition. In relatively severe cases such as slavery, the fear of speaking incorrectly can produce stammering in those who suffer no true speech impediment. And at the limit, we may find what is called the Stockholm syndrome, a phenomenon named after a group of hostages in Sweden who developed unexpected positive feelings for their captors. This sort of personal debasement not only hampers a person’s success in achieving his or her goals or aims, it also stands in the way of genuine fellowship or community with others, which at some level is predicated on a mutual recognition of personal worth
    ." (pp.132-133)

    "Possible additions might include the tendency of domination to atomize the members of subject groups and to encourage in-group hostility." (p.134)

    "One might ask where the chain of moral reasons ends. Must there be a “first reason” analogous to Aristotle’s prime mover unmoved for the argument to get off the ground ? Not necessarily. Just as progress in the social and natural sciences does not require agreement on what the first cause was, progress in moral and political philosophy does not depend on our establishing what the first reason is." (p.136)

    "Perhaps the fact that domination is also sometimes bad for its agents gives us an additional (comparatively weaker) reason for reducing it." (p.139)

    "It is obvious that people value lots of different things to differing degrees. Historically, however, many philosophers and others have believed this diversity to be illusory. Why might they have thought so ? Some have thought there is, in fact, only one truly valuable thing—salvation, say—and that other things only falsely appear valuable. Others have thought that all the many different things people seem to value are, in fact, only valuable insofar as they instrumentally contribute to some single overarching good—happiness, say. Those holding a unified theory of the good of either sort are moral monists. While this was not always the case, moral monism is today the minority view.

    Most people now believe that there are many different valuable things, whose respective independent values cannot be reduced to a single overarching good. Moral pluralism is, in other words, now the majority view. Moral pluralism comes in different varieties, however. For example, one might believe that, although there are many different valuable things, their value can be ranked and that this ranking is absolute. Thus, when one thing is more valuable (say, respecting individual rights), no amount of some other, less valuable thing (say, securing greater equality of opportunity), is worth even a slight loss in the first. When a set of options are equivalent with respect to the more valuable thing, however, the less valuable thing can act as a tiebreaker. This is called a lexical ranking or ordering of human goods. Moral pluralism combined with a strict lexical ordering of goods is really a sort of weak monism in disguise. If the lexical ordering is complete, then there will be one most valuable thing at the top that trumps all the others, and admitting other lesser goods in by way of breaking ties amounts to a minor concession. The early Stoics were strong monists, believing that the only valuable thing was virtue, and that all other things (wealth, health, family, etc.) were, strictly speaking, indifferent. Later Stoics realized that they could admit other goods as having secondary value in the lexical sense without having to greatly modify their overall system.

    Two other forms of moral pluralism are not versions of monism in disguise. According to the first, there are many different and independently valuable things, and their relative value is simply incommensurable. This view might be called strong moral pluralism, and it can be contrasted with the view that, although there are many different and independently valuable things, these values can in principle be compared and reasonable trade-offs can be made among them. This latter view might be called weak moral pluralism. Note that weak moral pluralism is consistent with believing that some goods are more valuable than others: this only means that the more important goods should be given greater weight when it comes to making trade-offs. In other words, even if one good is (let us say) twice as important as another, it is still reasonable to trade 100 units of the first for 250 of the second.

    Strong moral pluralism is implausible as a moral or political philosophy. It would commit us to some incredible and unacceptable beliefs. Suppose, for example, we thought liberty and equality to be incommensurable goods. That is to say, we might believe that there is no answer as to whether a substantial improvement in equality is worth a significant loss of liberty or vice versa. Given the complexity of many social and political problems, the appeal of this belief is understandable. But notice that, if taken literally, it commits us also to the view that there is no answer as to whether a substantial improvement in equality is worth a trivial—even imperceptible—loss of liberty (or vice versa). This cannot be right. Unfortunately, there is no way to avoid making choices that entail trade-offs among different values, and it would be irresponsible not to at least try to make those choices as reasonably as we can. To accept this responsibility is to concede that different goods must be compared with one another, and ergo that they are, at least in principle, comparable. The attractiveness of incommensurability stems, no doubt, from the fact that making these comparisons—which is to say, assigning relative weights to the many different and independently valuable things—can be very difficult, and sometimes can entail having to make agonizingly tragic choices. But denying that such choices can be made as a matter of principle is just burying one’s head in the sand. It is the coward’s way out.

    This leaves us with weak moral pluralism. There are many different and independently valuable things, but their value can in principle be compared, and thus better and worse trade-offs can be made among them. Of course, reasonable people disagree as to how these trade-offs should be made, which is to say, as to what relative weights should be assigned to each of the many human goods. This is pluralism of a different sort—what, following Rawls, is generally called “reasonable pluralism.” Reasonable pluralism arises from the fact that people hold differing conceptions of the good. This is not unlike the sort of reasonable pluralism that exists among scientists who disagree as to the age of the universe, or the validity of string theory. Reasonable disagreement as such does not entail that there are not better and worse answers, only that we must learn to be content, for now, with different answers. Fortunately, reasonable disagreement of this sort is not all that difficult to live with.
    " (pp.140-142)

    "Suppose there is a trade-off between non-domination and national security, and suppose that two societies have made different choices with respect to this trade-off: society A has opted for relatively more non-domination at the price of somewhat less national security, while society B has opted for relatively more national security at the price of somewhat less non-domination. First, observe that the fact that society B has opted for more national security does not demonstrate that it does not regard non-domination as a good. If it could enjoy greater non-domination for free (i.e., without any loss in national security), presumably it would. This is just what it means to say that we always have a reason to reduce domination, other things being equal. The difficulty is that other things are not equal: further reductions in domination would come at a price, and society B has opted not to pay that price. Second, observe that it does not even follow in this example that societies A and B disagree with respect to the relative value of non-domination; indeed, it might be that they place exactly the same weights on the two values. The difference in their choice might instead be due to differing circumstances: society B might face a more dangerous security environment than society A, from which it follows that the cost of reducing national security is greater for B. Faced with similar circumstances, society A might make an identical trade-off.
    Analogously, women in the nineteenth century often accepted marriage, together with the domination it entailed, rather than face the severely limited prospects of “spinsterhood,” given that these were the only two choices available to them. It does not follow that they necessarily valued their non-domination less than do women today, who benefit from broader opportunities. Or again, Andrea might choose to accept some domination at the hands of a harsh employer rather than refuse the job and starve, if these are the only choices she has; it does not follow from this that she values non-domination less than Bob, who, being well off, has a wider range of choices open to him. Many apparent differences of opinion regarding the value of non-domination can be explained simply with reference to differences in circumstances like these. And, naturally, these do not detract from the claim that it is always better to have more non-domination rather than less, other things being equal.
    " (pp.143-144)

    "Are there situations in which domination might actually be a good thing ? My claim is that there are not, but some have argued otherwise. This argument is most commonly presented through the example of a benevolent caregiving relationship. Parents clearly possess some degree of arbitrary power over their dependent children, and so it would seem that children suffer under some degree of domination as I have defined it. But surely, one might suppose, the parent–child relationship is (at least in most cases) an extremely valuable one. Isn’t this sort of domination a good thing ? More generally, one might argue that certain sorts of goods can be obtained only through the experience of suffering under domination: for example, the nearly absolute respect for authority required of a good soldier might be impossible to obtain except through the humiliating experience of basic training under the arbitrary power of a commanding officer. If these or other similar examples are sound, then it would seem that non-domination is not something a reasonable person would always want more of rather than less.

    There are three possible responses to this observation. The first is to redefine domination so as to exclude such cases. Our revised conception might look something like this: persons or groups suffer under domination if and only if they are dependent on a social relationship in which some other person or group wields arbitrary power over them contrary to the former’s overall interests. Since loving parents presumably wield arbitrary power over their children in their children’s interests, this and similar cases would be handily excluded by definition, and the claim that we always have a reason to reduce domination so defined could be retained. The second possible response is to retain the conception of domination roughly as developed in Part I, and instead weaken the claim that non-domination is something we would always want more of rather than less, other things being equal. We might then think of non-domination as an instrumental good in the stronger sense described in Section 5.1.3—as something that is good only under the right circumstances. Given the benefits of being raised under loving parental authority, such caregiving relationships are one of those circumstances in which we would not want more non-domination rather than less. Both of these first two responses should be emphatically rejected
    ." (p.145)

    "The alleged problem arises only due to an elementary conceptual error—what philosophers call confusing the part for the whole. It is undeniable, at least in the ordinary course of things, that parent–child relationships are extremely valuable on the whole. But it does not follow from this that they are valuable in each and every part. Their benefits stem from the value of intimacy, love and respect, personal warmth, particularized familiarity, etc., on the one hand, and from the disadvantages of raising children in any other fashion on the other. These benefits outweigh the costs in terms of the child’s being subject to some degree of domination. It does not follow, however, that this domination is, as such, a good thing. On the contrary, if the benefits of parental care could be obtained without subjecting children to any domination at all, that would be better still. In other words, the case of benevolent domination is simply another instance of the need to make trade-offs among competing goods. The only real difference from the examples discussed in Section 5.3.2 is that, in this case, the competing goods are so closely entwined that it is easy to miss the fact that they are indeed distinct.

    It should be clear now what the third and correct response is—namely, to reject the intuition that the domination of children under parental authority is a good thing, as such. The importance of adopting this position can be seen if we consider the general history of Western family law. Under the traditional view, children were regarded as the property of their parents, more or less to be dispensed with according to the wishes of the latter. The legal consequences of this view varied, of course. Under Roman law, a father theoretically held the power of life and death over his children. In Anglo-American common law, children were effectively regarded as family assets, to be exploited as their parents saw fit. And so on. Gradually, however, this older view gave way to the modern idea that parents are merely the temporary trustees of their children’s welfare during the period in which children cannot effectively care for themselves. In family law, this led to the gradual recognition of various rights on the part of children, and obligations on the part of parents, which are both common knowledge and (at least to some extent) publicly enforced both in law and convention. According to the arbitrary power conception, this represents a reduction in parental domination. Further more, we would surely want to say that this change was a good thing, even if eliminating parental domination altogether is impossible. It might be impossible either because other goods like privacy or efficiency begin to take priority at the margin; or because further reductions in the domination of children cannot be had without introducing greater domination at the hands of state agencies; or because of some combination of these, and other, considerations
    ." (pp.145-147)

    "Sometimes, people agree to suffer under domination. For example, migrant laborers, who will inevitably find themselves exposed to the arbitrary power of their employers in the United States and elsewhere, nevertheless volunteer to work under such conditions. Traditional Anglo-American family law granted husbands extensive arbitrary power over their wives, and yet millions of women agreed to marriage. Whole societies have apparently embraced autocratic governments whose establishment might have been avoided (e.g., in Weimar Germany, or perhaps in Russia today). And many cultures seem to endorse the view that women should be strictly subordinate to men, children to their parents, etc.—so much so that they would not want to abolish these forms of domination, even if they had the opportunity." (p.147)

    "Should we, then, aim to reduce the domination even of those persons or groups who have, by assumption, genuinely consented to live under that domination ? Broadly speaking, there are two quite different reasons a person or group might consent to domination. The first and more obvious reason is that they happen to have unusual preferences—that is to say, either they do not particularly dislike being subject to domination, or else they perhaps even enjoy it. Persons or groups with such preferences would happily agree to suffer under domination so as to obtain other goods, or perhaps even for its own sake. Such preferences are “unusual” in the sense of being strange, of course, only from the point of view of those (like myself) who have a strong preference for non-domination. As it happens, I believe they are also unusual in the sense of being statistically rare, but of course this is irrelevant from a philosophical point of view.

    Not all cases of genuinely consensual domination, however, can be explained with reference to unusual preferences. This brings us to the second reason a person or group might consent to domination, namely, that they happen to face a dismal choice scenario in which they must choose between domination and other alternatives they consider even worse. As important as avoiding domination is to many people, it is not the only important thing. Even perfectly reasonable people with the usual sorts of strong preferences for non-domination will choose to suffer domination rather than starve, for instance. Given the limited options open to women before the twentieth century, it is perfectly understandable that nearly all chose marriage—even though this entailed accepting some degree of domination. In exceptional circumstances, societies as a whole might also face dismal choice scenarios. Faced with the prospect of defeat and conquest by a brutal enemy, societies might accept nearly any burden—including subjecting themselves to extensive government or military domination. A lack of acceptable alternatives is, I think, the most common explanation of consensual domination.
    " (p.148)

    "Let us first consider the case of persons or groups with usual preferences, who face dismal choice scenarios. Should we aim to reduce their domination ? Obviously, we should. That this does not always seem obvious is only due to the (unwarranted) assumption that aiming to reduce their domination must mean interfering with their choices—in particular, prohibiting those choices that would entail their subjecting themselves to domination. It is natural to want to respect the choices that people make. It would seem unfair and disrespectful to interfere with the choices of people who, after all, are only trying to do the best they can for themselves under difficult circumstances. Indeed, not permitting people to do the best they can for themselves under difficult circumstances adds insult to injury. I agree with this sentiment. We should not restrict the choices of persons or groups who face dismal choice scenarios (except perhaps in a few cases, as a matter of policy, if necessary to prevent fraud and intimidation). But aiming to reduce their domination does not require that we do this. On the contrary, it is far more likely that we will succeed in reducing their domination if we improve the choice scenarios they face. Given better options, people with usual sorts of preferences will likely not opt for domination, and the overall domination suffered will thereby be reduced. We should try to do this. The reason we should is because non-domination is an important human good that it is always better to have more of rather than less. To argue that we have no good reason to provide a person with the new options C, D, and E simply because among options A and B she happened to choose B is perfectly non sequitur.

    In subsequent chapters, I discuss some ways in which we might try to improve people’s choice scenarios so as to reduce their domination. The important point here is that my main claim stands—that we always have a reason to reduce domination if we can, other things being equal. But what if the persons or groups facing these dismal choice scenarios happen to have unusual preferences, such that they endorse their own domination? This is the third possibility mentioned earlier. Should we aim to reduce their domination ? Again, at least provided that our strategy is to expand their options rather than restrict them, the answer is clearly yes. If they genuinely prefer domination, providing additional options will not at any rate do them any harm
    ." (p.148)

    "Our obligation to reduce avoidable domination entails that we try to improve their opportunities so that they might (gradually, perhaps) begin to choose non-domination for themselves. That they do not presently desire non-domination is not, it seems to me, a reason for refusing to give them the choice." (p.150)

    "Domination is not the only thing that detracts from human flourishing, and it might well be that we cannot eliminate the last degree of domination except at a cost (in terms of personal autonomy, perhaps) we are not prepared to accept." (p.151)

    "The subject of a conception of social justice is the basic structure of an independent and ongoing society. This idea obviously derives from John Rawls. Let us say that the basic structure of a society (as discussed in Chapter 2) consists of the complete set of political and social institutions and practices that constitute the relatively stable background conditions or expectations against which the members of that society live out their lives. This includes, but is not limited to, what people ordinarily think of as political institutions in the narrow sense (the form of government and the system of laws); it also includes, for example, the mode of economic production, the configuration of many public policies, significant social norms and conventions, and so on. Since the basic structure of a society will often have a substantial impact on how well or badly the lives of its members tend to go in the long run, its organization will obviously be a matter of great importance. A conception of social justice, then, is simply an account of what sort of basic structure would be best, from the point of view of justice." (p.158)

    "Before considering arguments for and against justice as minimizing domination (JMD), it is worth first clarifying what sort of conception of social justice it is. Obviously, it is similar in structure to utilitarianism, with the important difference that non-domination has taken the place of happiness as the object of maximization. It follows from this substitution that JMD is not a welfarist theory: whereas utilitarianism directs us to maximize the sum total happiness (generally understood as the satisfaction of preferences), JMD directs us to minimize domination as such, whether people happen to prefer this or not. On the assumption that most people strongly prefer not being subject to domination, lowering the sum total domination will often incidentally raise the sum total happiness, but this is neither the aim nor the justification of the theory." (p.160)

    "In practical or ethical philosophy, it is common to distinguish conceptions of the good from conceptions of the right. A conception of the good is, roughly speaking, an account of what makes a human life go better or worse ; a complete theory of the good would thus be a complete account of human flourishing. By contrast, a conception of the right is roughly an account of morality—that is, an account of right and wrong, or of what human beings owe to one another in their capacity as morally responsible agents [...]

    Some theories of social justice start from the assumption that the right derives its justification independent of any particular conception of the good, and thus that the former has a certain sort of priority over the latter—that the right limits or constrains the acceptable conceptions of the good, perhaps. These sorts of theories are generally called deontological theories. Rawls’s theory of justice as fairness is a clear example. By contrast, other theories of social justice start from the contrary assumption that the right derives its justification from some independently established conception of the good, and thus that the latter has a certain sort of priority over the former. These are generally called teleological theories. Among the latter, some theories specifically define social justice as the maximization of some independently established good (or, equivalently, as the minimization of some independently established bad), and so they might be called strictly teleological. Other teleological theories might define the right as the honoring of an independently established good in some way other than by maximizing it. Both JMD and utilitarianism are strictly teleological theories of social justice: both start with an independently established good (non-domination and welfare, respectively), and define social justice as its maximization
    ." (pp.160-161)

    "Theories of social justice also make assumptions about how a complete conception of the good itself ought to be specified. One might, for example, assume that there is a single sort of human life that is best or most excellent for everyone: theories based on this assumption are generally called perfectionist theories. Two examples frequently discussed in the contemporary literature are civic humanism and liberal perfectionism. According to civic humanism, the best human life is one of active citizenship and civic virtue in a broadly democratic community; according to liberal perfectionism, the best human life is one based on autonomous self-reflection." (p.161)

    "Utilitarianism is not a perfectionist theory because it defines the good in a way that is (within limits) agnostic toward what gives people happiness: it directs us to maximize the degree to which individuals’ preferences are satisfied, regardless of what those preferences happen to be.9 JMD is not a perfectionist theory because it makes only the limited assumption that an acceptable conception of the good must include freedom from domination as an important condition of human flourishing. Among the many possible conceptions of the good meeting this requirement, JMD is generally agnostic." (p.163)

    "According to JMD, the domination of all persons should count equally, regardless of when they happen to live." (p.183)

    "A complete moral philosophy would not only specify and define all the goods relevant to human flourishing, but also provide an account of their relative importance and weights. It is not my aim in this study, however, to outline a complete moral philosophy. In any case, moral philosophy is not, in my view, sufficiently advanced at present to carry out this project." (p.188)

    "Societies are just to the extent that their basic structure is organized so as to minimize the expected sum total domination experienced by their (present and future) members, counting the domination of each member equally.
    Suppose we accept this view. What are its implications ? This chapter considers the implications of justice as minimizing domination in three areas of persistent debate among contemporary political theorists and philosophers, namely, the demands of distributive justice, the appropriate bounds of toleration and accommodation, and the value of democracy. By no means do these topics exhaust the potential applications of the theory
    ." (p.191)

    "The aim of minimizing domination provides powerful reasons for regarding serious socioeconomic inequality and poverty as unjust, and compelling grounds for doing something (indeed, something in particular) about them." (p.191)

    "Let us reflect on the connection between justice and the distribution of goods. On the theory of social justice I have proposed, the connection is straightforward: a distribution of goods will be just when it arises from the operation of those political and social institutions or practices most likely, given our present knowledge and expectations, to minimize domination in the long run. The issue, then, is simply one of determining which institutions and practices are most likely to do this.

    It is useful in this respect to start with some baseline for comparison, and an obvious candidate is the common-sense libertarian ideal of a perfectly free market and minimal state. The libertarian baseline is a good one for several reasons. First, it represents (superficially, at any rate) what many people would regard as the simplest and most efficient set of social policies and institutions for governing the distribution of goods. Second, it represents the most serious challenge to the view (shared by many progressives) that severe inequality and poverty are unjust even when they arise from purely voluntary exchanges in a perfectly free market
    ." (p.193)

    "Like many other socioeconomic goods, one’s freedom from domination can be voluntarily exchanged. For example, a person might trade away contractual protections against the arbitrary power of his employer for higher pay; in patriarchal societies, women might prefer dependency on a husband’s arbitrary will to remaining unmarried, given all the social and economic consequences that accompany the latter ; people might sell themselves into slavery in exchange for protection ; and so on. In other words, there is nothing special about the good of non-domination that necessarily places it outside the system of market exchange, broadly understood.

    Now to be sure, most people (as I have argued) regard their freedom from domination as a particularly important good, and so we would not expect many to trade it away lightly. But there are other especially important goods to consider as well. People have what might be called basic needs—for an adequate level of nutrition and health, minimal clothing and shelter, an education sufficient to function in their community, and so on. In order to satisfy these basic needs, a person must have entitlements to the goods or services that doing so requires. If someone needs a life-saving heart bypass operation, for example, then she must have either the money to pay for it, or else an insurance plan that covers it, or else a publicly funded entitlement to receive it, or else some other equivalent. When it comes to basic needs, reasonable people do not typically regard failing to meet them as an option, and it follows that they might even be willing to trade away their freedom from domination—highly valued as that may be—in order to do so. Thus, a poor laborer living in the early days of unregulated market capitalism might accept employment on extremely disadvantageous terms, if his choice was between this employment and starvation
    ." (p.194)

    "Severe poverty renders people vulnerable to domination. Because we do not regard the satisfaction of basic needs below some minimum level as optional, when unable to satisfy them on our own we become dependent on the charity of those with the ability to do so for us. “Private charity breeds personal dependence,” Michael Walzer writes, “and then it breeds the familiar vices of dependence: deference, passivity, and humility on the one hand; arrogance on the other.” On the arbitrary power conception developed in this study, domination must be understood structurally, not in terms of how things happen to turn out. It follows that being dependent on a person or group who has the power to arbitrarily withhold the goods or services necessary to meet one’s basic needs, whose satisfaction one does not regard as optional, amounts to domination. The fact that the person or group in question happens to charitably supply them, if indeed they do, is neither here nor there. The point is that, as Thomas Scanlon suggests, severe inequalities “give some people an unacceptable degree of control over the lives of others.”

    For the second step of the argument, let us return to the proposed libertarian baseline and imagine that we let a perfectly free market run for several
    generations. Naturally, there will be winners and losers. Some people will make bad choices—such as investing in a business that fails, or choosing a career in an industry that moves overseas; and some will suffer bad luck— such as developing a debilitating medical condition, or losing their home in a tornado. Conversely, others will make good choices or enjoy good luck—they will invent an incredibly popular new product, or happen to be born with highly valued natural talents. Thus, even if we start out with equal shares of goods, socioeconomic inequalities will inevitably arise
    ." (p.195)

    "While our direct aim should always be the reduction of domination, sometimes the most practical means of achieving this aim lies in expanding opportunities, thus making it easier for people to avoid domination if they so desire. Whenever this is the case, we can reduce domination and respect people’s autonomy at the same time. In such cases, the paternalism objection (even supposing it is valid) makes no difference, so our obligation to minimize domination must be decisive. The relevant question, then, is whether we can reduce the domination arising out of serious socioeconomic inequality and poverty simply by expanding opportunities. I will argue that we can." (p.196)

    "Under libertarian policies and institutions, people would arguably experience little domination at the hands of the state, but (I have argued) the inexorable accumulation of socioeconomic inequality would lead, through the ordinary operation of the market system, to considerable domination in the private." (pp.196-197)

    "The most reliable and least intrusive way to discourage people from trading away their freedom from domination is have the public meet the basic needs of those unable to do so for themselves. Not having to trade away their freedom from domination in order to meet their basic needs, few would probably choose to do so, thus considerably lowering the aggregate domination experienced. Moreover, unlike either the blocked exchange or the regulatory approach, this approach would continue to respect the choices that people make, and thus not fall afoul the paternalism objection. Given these advantages, it is worth considering whether some configuration of policies and institutions could accomplish this without introducing new forms of domination as against the libertarian baseline.

    Broadly speaking, there are two ways to publicly meet the basic needs of those unable to do so on their own. The first is to adopt a means-testing approach. For example, we could set up a program or bundle of programs that would address individuals’ basic need requirements on a case-by-case basis. If someone were unable to meet her nutritional needs, for example, she could appeal to the public nutrition agency, which would then supply the shortfall; if she were unable to meet her health needs, she could appeal to the public health agency, and so on. Alternatively, we could set up a defined income minimum that would roughly correspond to a level of income deemed sufficient to meet all reasonable basic needs. Individuals whose income fell short of the defined minimum would receive a public handout equivalent to the difference. The advantage of either of these means-testing methods is that the public pays to meet the basic needs of only those who cannot do so on their own. But this advantage is also a potential flaw, for it is doubtful whether means testing can be carried out in a suitably non-arbitrary manner: practical experience suggests that state welfare agencies must inevitably employ extensive bureaucratic discretion in carrying out such policies, and that the particular vulnerability of persons in need of public assistance renders the usual sorts of constraints on such discretion more or less ineffective. From a domination-minimizing point of view, it will not do to replace the arbitrary charity of private individuals and groups with the arbitrary charity of state welfare agencies, for this would merely substitute one form of domination for another. We would then want to know whether, compared against the libertarian baseline, a means-tested basic needs guarantee eliminates (from the economic sphere) as much domination as it introduces (in the public sphere). In my view it probably would, but this remains an open question. Fortunately, we do not have to answer it.

    The second approach would ensure that everyone’s basic needs are met through the public provision of an unconditional basic income, such as that proposed by Van Parijs and others. This unconditional basic income might take the form of cash, or else a combination of cash and vouchers for certain defined benefits (health care, education, and so on); and the cash portion of the unconditional basic income might be delivered either through regular government handouts, or else through some version of a negative income tax. Although important, resolving these issues is not essential for the argument at hand. What is essential is that we understand the basic income grant to be unconditional, both in the sense that everyone receives the same basic income regardless of means, and in the sense that everyone receives it automatically, without having to satisfy some sort of participation or contribution requiremen
    t." (pp.198-199)

    "The social practice of closing most employment opportunities to women, for example, is not itself necessarily an instance of domination (or at least not if the exclusion is systematic and non-arbitrary in its application) ; however, it is an effective consequence of doing so that most women will be severely dependent on their husbands, and thus subject to greater domination in the family. JMD cannot tolerate practices directly or indirectly involving domination. Indeed, if strictly applied in every case, JMD would require eliminating such practices, so far as this is pragmatically feasible, despite the fact that this may lead to some reduction in diversity. This simply follows from our assumption that the aim of reducing domination should take priority over the aim of encouraging diversity." (p.206)

    "Existing practices often carry positive subjective value for their participants. Now in certain situations, this might create a certain vulnerability. Consider the following parallel: imagine a worker who has been trained for work in a particular sort of industry that subsequently goes into irreversible decline. It is true that the worker could retrain for work in a new industry, but this might not be very easy to do. Her training investment in the first industry is a sunk cost, so to speak. This makes her economically vulnerable to exploitation: if the hurdles to retraining are great enough, she might voluntarily choose to trade away some of her freedom from domination in order to obtain work with whatever skills she already has. If we are interested in reducing domination, we might want to temporarily prop up the declining industry until we are able to ease this danger. Note that our doing so has nothing to do with any intrinsic value we place in the industry itself, but strictly with our desire to protect workers from domination.

    Sometimes a group of people sharing many overlapping and interconnected social practices distinct from those of the broader society can find themselves in an analogous position. We might think of a group of unassimilated recent immigrants as analogous to a group of specialized workers in a declining industry: just as a specialized worker cannot easily change industries, recent immigrants cannot always assimilate without substantial effort. Cultural differences are sunk costs, so to speak, and as such they can be exploited by others. For example, persons who do not speak English cannot easily become American citizens, making them vulnerable to domination in a variety of ways. People employing non-English speaking workers, for example, wield tremendous arbitrary power over them. This being the case, reducing the domination of recent immigrants might entail special public measures to help overcome the problem of sunk cultural costs. These measures might take the form of special exceptions to general laws, public legal assistance, and so on. As in the case of protected industries, it should be clear that these measures stem from a desire to reduce domination, and not from an inclination to protect some intrinsically valuable culture.
    " (p.209)

    "It is in the interest of those who would dominate recent immigrants to exacerbate their sunk cultural costs as much as possible, raising the barriers to assimilation. This is quite common. [...] in some cases, such tactics might be encouraged by elites with those minority groups themselves, when they have incentives to increase the dependency of a captive clientele." (pp.209-210)

    "Democratic government might also, just as well as a dictatorship, constitute a form of domination. In a democracy, the “will of the people” exercises social power over each citizen considered individually, and if that power is not externally constrained, it counts as arbitrary from the latter’s point of view. [...] The civic virtues argument. In outline, the idea is, first, that we are most likely to succeed, practically speaking, in our aim of minimizing domination if both citizens and public officials are generally imbued with an appropriate set of reasonably robust civic-minded dispositions; and second, that democratic political and legal institutions are far more likely to cultivate such civic-minded dispositions." (p.216)

    "It is clear that no matter how detailed and carefully crafted it is, a system of explicit rules and regulations cannot possibly cover all contingencies and circumstances. It follows that discretionary authority must inevitably be left in the hands of courts, public agencies, and administrative bureaucracies. Even apart from this, there additionally remains extensive discretion in the hands of legislatures to set public law and policy in the first place: a daily changing system of rules is not much better than having no rules at all. If discretionary authority of either sort is not to count as arbitrary, it is essential that it be externally constrained by common-knowledge procedures and goals. For these external constraints to be effective, citizens and public officials must be willing and able to exercise some degree of discretionary oversight. Thus, the second sort of instrumentally valuable civic-minded disposition is the disposition to keep tabs on discretionary public authorities, and to undertake oversight interventions when necessary. This includes the general responsibility of citizens to stay informed and participate in elections on a regular basis." (p.217)

    "That our aim of minimizing domination would be better served by constitutional, and not maximal, democracy: only a constitutional democracy would not itself constitute a source of domination. [...] Historically speaking, there were many reasonably stable and, at least to some extent, effectively limited monarchies. As was often pointed out by the classical republicans and other critics, however, it has been the inevitable tendency of such monarchs to strive against, evade, and undermine those limits whenever possible. Having once accepted the principle of single-person rule, it is often difficult to resist following the logic of that principle out in every sphere of political and legal authority. This suggests that constitutional government will be most stable when based on popular sovereignty, and this may be a further argument for democracy.)"" (p.219-220)

    "Possible modes of resistance, in turn, can be usefully distinguished into three types. The first is what might be called passive resistance or conscientious refusal: this occurs when a person merely refuses to obey or comply with a Applications of Minimizing Domination command, as for example, when a person refuses to present himself for military service when drafted. The second is what might be called active non-violent resistance or civil disobedience: this occurs when a person (often, though not necessarily, in concert with others) performs public, non-violent acts contrary to law or political authority, usually with the intention of engaging public sympathy. The third is what might be called active violent resistance or rebellion: this occurs when a person (often, though not necessarily, in concert with others) takes up arms, and is prepared—if necessary—to use them, against the prevailing social and political order." (p.222)

    "The negative impact of violent rebellion on the general maintenance of personal security through law and order is obviously severe; what is worse, this negative impact is nearly always further exacerbated by the efforts of political and legal authorities to suppress it. Considering these effects, the bar to rebellion must be set very high indeed. I can imagine two situations in which it could possibly be met. The first arises in societies subject to autocratic regimes, especially when such regimes are highly stable (as were, e.g., the old feudal orders of Europe). In cases of severe domination, when there is no reasonable chance of ordinary political action leading to reform, violent resistance may be a permissible option. The great social revolutions of France, Russia, and so on might be examples of this scenario. The second situation arises in societies where reasonably democratic political regimes are in danger of transitioning to autocracy. Examples might be the destruction of the Wiemar democracy by the Nazis, or the military coups in Argentina, Chile, and so on. In this type of situation, violent resistance in defense of democracy might be permissible, given that a failure to resist at the outset would foreclose the possibility of reform through ordinary political action in the future." (pp.223-224)
    -Franck Lovett, A General Theory of Domination and Justice, New York, Oxford University Press Inc., 2010, 273 pages.

    « La question n’est pas de constater que les gens vivent plus ou moins pauvrement, mais toujours d’une manière qui leur échappe. »
    -Guy Debord, Critique de la séparation (1961).

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