Abstracts of Selected Publications by Elizabeth Anderson


“Social Movements, Experiments in Living, and Moral Progress: Case Studies from Britain’s Abolition of Slavery,” Lindley Lecture, University of Kansas, forthcoming 2014.

This lecture draws on Dewey's pragmatist ethics to explain progressive moral change. Pragmatism replaces the quest for an ultimate foundational principle of morality with methods for intelligent updating of moral beliefs.  Intelligent updating requires (1) counteracting known biases in moral thinking, and (2) testing moral principles in practice to see whether they solve the social problem they are supposed to solve, with acceptable side-effects.  I show how pragmatism can explain the dramatic transformation of moral consciousness in Britain during the movement to abolish slavery and the slave trade, which culminated in the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833.  British abolitionists invented the democratic social movement, a  mode of contestation that played a key role in securing abolition.  I argue that democratic social movements have a tendency to lead to intelligent updating of normative beliefs, insofar as they "speak truth to power."  This tendency arises from the fact that mobilization of mass popular opposition to de facto norms upheld by the powerful, when it is based on empirically accurate accounts of what is opposed, tends to counteract a known bias in the moral thinking of the powerful--namely, their tendency to confuse their own self-interest with the moral right--that is, with what others have a duty to do for them.  However, the ultimate test of any moral change is ex post, and based on experiences in living under the new norms.  I consider the contestation over standards of success that took place after abolition, and show how, as pragmatists have argued, the evaluation of moral principles is not purely instrumental, because experience in living according to them enables intelligent revision of ends as well as refinement of means.
“Equality and Freedom in the Workplace:  Recovering Republican Insights,” Social Philosophy and Policy, forthcoming, 2014.

State regulation of employment relations is typically represented as interfering with freedom of contract.  This frame errs in supposing that the terms of the laissez-faire labor contract are determined by negotiation between employers and workers, independent of state action.  In fact, the fundamental terms of the labor contract in capitalist economies are not determined by the parties, nor could they be, given capitalism's need for conventions that can govern cooperation on very large scales.  Such conventions are supplied by the state, through corporate, property, and labor law.  These laws establish the constitution of workplace governance, which defaults to employer dictatorship in the laissez-faire baseline.  This default cannot be justified by freedom of contract or by property theory. Institutional economists provide compelling efficiency arguments for centralized, hierarchical management of the firm, but these arguments do not entail that workers have no voice in management.  I discuss pre-capitalist republican theories of freedom as non-domination, and how they were used for two centuries to criticize dictatorship, whether in governing the state or economic production.  While republican theory failed to offer a viable constitution of workplace governance for large-scale production, some of its principles of constitutional design for protecting individuals from arbitrary, unaccountable authority remain relevant for designing workplace constitutions that limit employer authority for the sake of workers' freedom.
“Outlaws,” The Good Society (special issue on mass incarceration and democratic theory), forthcoming 2014.

This paper locates mass incarceration in the context of a broader phenomenon of what I call "modern outlawry."  Traditionally, the outlaw was a person designated beyond the protection of the laws.  Modern outlawry creates classes of persons from whom some of the ordinary protections and benefits of the law are withheld, or who are subject to private punishment in virtue of their membership in an outlaw class.  In the U.S. today, numerous intersecting groups, including immigrants, Latino citizens and permanent residents, the homeless, low-wage workers, sex workers, the poor, especially poor blacks, and ex-convicts are constituted as outlaws through institutions such as the criminalization of status or victimless activity, "broken windows" policing, civil forfeiture laws, failure to enforce laws against wage theft and domestic violence, and mass imposition of civil consequences of conviction over and above the criminal punishment assigned at sentencing.  I argue that such practices, far from deterring crime, invite the criminal victimization of outlaw groups, and undermine democracy by creating classes of virtual nonpersons and undermining the rule of law, equality under the law, and a democratic culture.
“The Social Epistemology of Morality: Learning from the Forgotten History of the Abolition of Slavery” in Miranda Fricker and Michael Brady, eds., The Epistemic Life of Groups:
        Essays in Collective Epistemology
(Oxford UP, forthcoming).

During the 19th century, the belief that individuals have a right against being enslaved became a nearly worldwide consensus. Most people today believe that this change in moral convictions was a case of moral learning. How we can know this, or similar claims about moral progress, without begging the question in favor of our current beliefs? I answer this question by developing a naturalized, pragmatist moral epistemology through case studies of moral lessons people have drawn from the history of abolition and emancipation.    I argue that processes of contention, in which participants challenge existing moral and legal principles governing interpersonal relationships, play critical roles in moral learning.  Contention may take the form of argument, but takes many other forms as well, including litigation, protest, and revolution.

“Thomas Paine’s Agrarian Justice and the Origins of Social Insurance,” in Eric Schliesser, ed., Ten Neglected Classics of Philosophy (Oxford UP, forthcoming).

Paine is a pivotal figure in the history of egalitarianism.  He developed the first realistic proposal in the world to abolish systematic poverty by means of a comprehensive social insurance/young adult stakeholder scheme, to be financed out of an inheritance tax.  He used strict Lockean principles to justify an inheritance tax.  Thus, his system is based on private property entitlements, not means-tested welfare.  In historical context, Paine offered a third way between state communism (advocated by Babeuf and the Conspiracy of Equals, which tried to overthrow France's Directory) and England's Poor Law, which only relieved rather than abolished poverty, and only on stigmatizing terms.  Paine is also a pivotal figure in theorizing poverty as an injustice, not only as a misfortune, and hence in forging the modern idea of distributive justice.  I trace the subsequent history of social insurance and the deep irony that in the US it is now condemned as socialism or as making us dependent on government, when Paine originally proposed it as a defense of a private property system against communism, and insisted that because the entitlements of social insurance were property entitlements, they remove the stigma of dependency on recipients.

“Adam Smith and Equality,” in Ryan Hanley, ed., The Princeton Guide to Adam Smith (Princeton University Press, forthcoming).

Adam Smith was a moderate egalitarian, who held that individuals have equal moral standing to claim rights and have their interests count, and who insisted that authority relations be tempered by egalitarian norms.  Virtually all the state policies he condemned exacerbated inequality by unjustly favoring the rich and powerful at the expense of workers, consumers, the poor, or colonial subjects.  Yet he defended the economic inequalities generated by commercial society.  Rousseau argued that these inequalities were based on positional competition for unequal esteem, and condemned them for leading to social relations of domination and subjection, pervaded by spite and envy.  Smith agreed that the quest for great wealth and power in commercial society was driven by esteem competition, but disagreed with Rousseau as to its consequences.  The poor suffered not from the dominion or spite of their superiors, but from obscurity and the indifference of others.  Smith thought commercial society might ultimately address these problems by lifting all out of poverty.  This paper explores the merits and limitations of Smith's moderate egalitarian defense of commercial society against Rousseau's radical egalitarian critique.


“Epistemic Justice as a Virtue of Social Institutions,” Social Epistemology 26.2 (2012): 163-173.

In Epistemic Injustice, Miranda Fricker makes a tremendous contribution to theorizing the intersection of social epistemology with theories of justice.  Theories of justice often take as their object of assessment either interpersonal transactions (specific exchanges of goods between persons) or particular institutions.  They may also take a more comprehensive perspective in assessing systems of institutions.  This systemic perspective may enable control of the cumulative effects of millions of individual transactions that cannot be controlled at the individual or institutional levels.  This is true not only with respect to the overall distribution of such goods as income and wealth, but also with respect to the goods of testimonial and hermeneutical justice.  Cognitive biases that may be difficult for even epistemically virtuous individuals to correct on their own may be more susceptible to correction if we focus on the principles that should govern our systems of testimonial gathering and assessment.  Hence, while Fricker's focus on individual epistemic virtue is important, we also need to consider what epistemic justice as a virtue of social institutions would require.  My paper will indicate some directions forward on this front, focusing on the need for integration of diverse institutions and persons engaged in inquiry.


“Race, Culture, and Educational Opportunity,” Theory and Research in Education 10.2 (2012): 105-129.

This paper criticizes the view that, if cultural factors within the black community explain poor educational outcomes for blacks, then blacks should bear all of the disadvantages that follow from this.  Educational outcomes are the joint, iterated product of schools’ responses to students’ and parents’ culturally conditioned conduct.  Schools are not entitled to excessively burden such conduct even when it is less than educationally ideal.  Cultural capital theory illuminates the ways schools may unjustly penalize the culturally conditioned conduct of blacks and the poor.  However, it must be refined to take into account normative differences between arbitrary and educationally important forms of cultural capital.  Differential impact analysis offers a useful tool for revealing when schools’ responses to students’ and parents’ conduct reflects unjust racial stigmatization and ethnocentric bias.

“Democracy, Public Policy, and Lay Assessments of Scientific Testimony,” Episteme 8.2 (2011): 144-164.

Responsible public policy making in a technological society must rely on complex scientific reasoning.  Given that ordinary citizens cannot directly assess such reasoning, does this call the democratic legitimacy of technical public policies in question?  It does not, provided citizens can make reliable second-order assessments of the consensus of trustworthy scientific experts.  I develop criteria for lay assessment of scientific testimony and demonstrate, in the case of claims about anthropogenic global warming, that applying such criteria is easy for anyone of ordinary education with access to the Web.  However, surveys show a gap between the scientific consensus and public opinion on global warming in the U.S.  I explore some causes of this gap, and argue that democratic reforms of our culture of political discourse may be able to address it.


“The Fundamental Disagreement between Luck Egalitarians and Relational Egalitarians,” Canadian Journal of Philosophy, Supplementary vol. 36 (2012): 1-23.

Luck egalitarians and relational egalitarians disagree on several matters.  First, they disagree about whether equality is fundamentally a distributive pattern, or a relation among people.  Second, they disagree about when distributive inequality is unjust: when it is accidental, or when it disadvantages others.  Third, they disagree about whether justice is a state of affairs or a virtue expressed in agents' conformity to just principles.  I shall argue that all of these disagreements follow from a fourth:  whether the principles of justice are to be justified from a third person or second person standpoint.  If justice is essentially tied to interpersonal claim-making, then luck egalitarianism does not formulate an acceptable conception of justice, because the fundamental luck egalitarian principle, that accidental inequality is unjust, cannot be vindicated from a second-person standpoint.


Brown, Tony; Akiyama, Mark; White, Ismail; Jayaratne, Toby; Anderson, Elizabeth,  "Differentiating Contemporary Racial Prejudice from Old-Fashioned
Racial Prejudice,
" Race and Social Problems 1 (2009): 97–110.

The present study addresses the distinction between contemporary and old-fashioned prejudice using survey data from a national sample (n = 600) of self-identified whites living in the United States and interviewed by telephone in 2001. First, we examine associations among indicators of contemporary and old-fashioned prejudice. Consistent with the literature, contemporary and oldfashioned prejudice indicators represent two distinct but correlated common factors. Second, we examine whether belief in genetic race differences uniformly predicts both types of prejudice. As might be expected, belief in genetic race differences predicts old-fashioned prejudice but contrary to recent theorizing, it also predicts contemporary prejudice.

"Defending the Capabilities Approach to Justice," in Harry Brighouse and Ingrid Robeyns, eds., Measuring Justice: Primary Goods and Capabilities (Cambridge University Press, 2010), pp. 81-100.

Thomas Pogge has recently criticized the capabilities approach to justice, questioning its ability to specify a plausible criterion of distributive justice that avoids stigmatizing the naturally less well-endowed.  In this essay, I defend the capabilities approach against Pogge's critique, and explain why it is superior to its main rivals, subjective and resourcist approaches.  A capability metric is superior to any subjective metric because only an objective metric, such as capability, can satisfy the demand for a public criterion of justice for the basic structure of society.  It is superior to a resource metric because it focuses on ends rather than means, can better handle discrimination against the disabled, is properly sensitive to individual variations in functioning that have democratic import, and is well-suited to guide the just delivery of public services, especially in health and education.

"Expanding the Egalitarian Toolbox: Equality and Bureaucracy," Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 82 (2008): 139-160.

Many problems of inequality in developing countries resist treatment by formal egalitarian policies.  To deal with these problems, we must shift from a distributive to a relational conception of equality, founded on opposition to social hierarchy.  Yet the production of many goods requires the coordination of wills by means of commands.  In these cases, egalitarians must seek to tame rather than abolish hierarchy.  I argue that bureaucracy offers important constraints on command hierarchies that help promote the equality of workers in bureaucratic organizations.  Bureaucracy thus constitutes a vital if limited egalitarian tool applicable to developing and developed countries alike.


"Recent Thinking about Sexual Harassment: A Review Essay," Philosophy and Public Affairs 34 (2006): 284-311.

Nearly thirty years ago, Catharine MacKinnon established a paradigm of sexual harassment, as unwelcome sexual conduct that men impose on women in the workplace because of their sex.  Recent thinking about sexual harassment has been inspired by people who object to sex- and gender- related conduct that appears to fall outside the scope of the standard paradigm:  gays, lesbians, and transsexuals who are sexually harassed on account of their sexual identity or orientation; women in male-dominated jobs who are harassed, but in a nonsexual way; men who are bullied for appearing effeminate, or just for sport; conservative workers who complain of pervasive sexual banter, even if it is not directed at them.  I survey the prevailing theories of why sexual harassment is wrong, arguing that none of them satisfies all of the desiderata expected of such theories: to provide a normative account of what is wrong with sexual harassment, to offer sociological insight into the causes, effects, and meanings of sexual harassment, and to fit complaints of sexual harassment to legal remedies.  Nevertheless, suitable modifications and extensions of MacKinnon's gender subordination theory of sexual harassment offer a powerful sociological and normative account of a surprising variety of cases.  Several recent contributions to the literature on sexual harassment are reviewed, prominantly including Catharine MacKinnon and Reva Siegel, eds., Directions in Sexual Harassment Law (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2004).

"Emotions in Kant's Later Moral Philosophy:  Honor and the Phenomenology of Moral Value," in Monika Betzler, ed., Kant's Virtue Ethics (New York and Berlin: de Gruyter).

Kant's views about the value of emotion deserve a closer look than they have received by those who favor sentimentalist foundations for ethics.  Although he rejected such foundations, and denied that emotions could add to the moral worth of agents or their actions, his later moral philosophy, especially The Metaphysics of Morals, called for the cultivation of many feelings, both moral and nonmoral, and credited the nonmoral feelings with moving humanity toward recognition of the moral law and helping us to follow it.  Moreover, Kant had a deep insight into the structure of values, which he saw that we grasp at first through our feelings.  This is the fact that values appear to us in two dramatically different forms, as appeal and as command.  Appealing values constitute the domain of the good, commanding values the domain of the right.  I argue that Kant was right to associate the feeling of commanding value with moral rightness, but wrong to ground it exclusively in the categorical imperative.  The genealogy of commanding value originates in the ethic of honor.  I show how Kant's ethics emerges from the ethic of honor, how this explains important contrasts between Kantian ethics and contractualist and Christian ethics, and how it also explains some problematic aspects of Kantian ethics, notably his claim that victims of rape should fight to their deaths rather than submit to sexual violation.

"Democracy: Instrumental vs. Non-Instrumental Value," forthcoming in Thomas Christiano and John Christman, eds., Contemporary Debates in Political Philosophy (Oxford: Blackwell).

Democratic participation is commonly understood to have merely instrumental value.  I argue that it has non-instrumental value as well, but that, surprisingly, its non-instrumental value depends on its having instrumental value.  Standard theories of value cannot accommodate such thoughts; Dewey's theory of value can.  I use Dewey both to illuminate the interactions of instrumental and non-instrumental value, and, more importantly, to develop an ideal of democracy as not just a formal governing apparatus, but a form of culture and community. It is a way of life that embodies the goods of equality, autonomy, sympathy, and social intelligence.

"The Future of Racial Integration," in Lawrence Thomas, ed., Social Philosophy (Oxford: Blackwell, 2008), pp. 229-249.

The ideal of racial integration is quietly returning to the civil rights agenda. I explain why this is so, and defend the importance of this ideal.   I develop an account of different stages of integration, survey the state of racial integration in the United States today, and detail the persistent harms to dignity, socioeconomic opportunity, and democracy of pervasive de facto segregation of African-Americans and Latinos.  These harms cannot be removed except by creating racially integrated communities of cooperation and affiliation.  Conservative and left-multiculturalists join in resisting the call for integration, arguing that integration is harmful, at least if it is promoted by public policies, and that voluntary self-segregation is innocuous or good.  I acknowledge that the experience of racial integration is often stressful, but reject the arguments of Stephan and Abigail Thernstrom on the right, and Beverly Tatum, Iris Young and Aimee MacDonald on the left, that justice is compatible with pervasive voluntary self-segregation.  The integrated "us," not the self-segregated racial group, is the critical agent of racial justice that most urgently awaits deeper and richer construction.  It is time to strike a new balance between moments of self-segregation and of integration, decidedly in favor of the racially inclusive "us."

"How Should Egalitarians Cope with Market Risks?," Theoretical Inquiries in Law 9 (2007): 61-92.

Individuals in capitalist societies are increasingly exposed to market risks. Luck egalitarian theories, which advocate neutralizing the influence of luck on distribution, fail to cope with this problem, because they focus on the wrong kinds of distributive constraints. Rules of distributive justice can specify (1) acceptable procedures for allocating goods, (2) the range of acceptable variations in distributive outcomes, or (3) which individuals should have which goods, according to individual characteristics such as desert or need. Desert-catering luck egalitarians offer rules of the third type. Their theories fail because considerations of market efficiency, freedom, and dignity undermine the claims of desert to inform standards of justice for society as a whole. Responsibility-catering luck egalitarians offer rules of the first type. Their theories fail because such rules don’t constrain the downside risks of market choices. To solve this problem, we need rules of the second type, which allow market forces, and hence luck, to influence distributive outcomes, but only within an acceptable egalitarian range. The ideal of equality in social relations helps us devise acceptable constraints at the top, bottom, and middle of the income range.

"Fair Opportunity in Education: a Democratic Equality Perspective," Ethics  117 (2007): 595-622.

Most discussions of fair educational opportunity focus on the good education is supposed to do for the individuals who have it.  I argue that we should reframe the issue by focusing on the good the more educated are supposed to do for everyone else.  In a democratic society, elites--those who hold positions of responsibility and authority in society--must serve the interests of all in society.  Education for elites should be designed to ensure that they respond competently to these interests.  This requires not just that elites have technical knowledge, but that they are aware of the interests of people from all walks of life, disposed to serve those interests, and able to respectfully interact with all.    Elites drawn overwhelmingly from segregated, advantaged groups lack first-person access to the problems and predicaments of the less advantaged, tend to harbor stigmatizing stereotypes about them, and to interact with them in awkward and disrespectful ways.  I argue that to develop the competence to serve all, elites must be drawn from all sectors of society, and be educated together. Thus, a democratically qualified elite must be integrated across all major lines of social inequality.  This implies that members of all sectors of society have effective access to a K-12 education sufficient to qualify them for elite educational opportunities.  I argue that this adequacy standard of fair educational opportunity, developed from the point of view of what we need elites to do for everyone else, is also satisfactory from the point of view of what opportunities individuals can legitimately claim for themselves.  The integrationist perspective developed here also offers a reply to those who object to adequacy standards of fair opportunity on the ground that they ignore the positional advantages of having a more-than-adequate education, and helps us understand why levelling down in the name of equality is not justified.


"The Epistemology of Democracy," Episteme 3 (2006): 9-23.

This paper investigates the epistemic powers of democratic institutions through an assessment of three epistemic models of democracy: the Condorcet Jury Theorem, the Diversity Trumps Ability Theorem, and Dewey's experimentalist model. Dewey's model is superior to the others in its ability to model the epistemic functions of three constitutive features of democracy: the epistemic diversity of participants, the interaction of voting with discussion, and feedback mechanisms such as periodic elections and protests. It views democracy as an institution for pooling widely distributed information about problems and policies of public interest by engaging the participation of epistemically diverse knowers. Democratic norms of free discourse, dissent, feedback, and accountability function to ensure collective, experimentallybased learning from the diverse experiences of diff erent knowers. I illustrate these points with a case study of community forestry groups in South Asia, whose epistemic powers have been hobbled by their suppression of women's participation.


"Moral Heuristics: Rigid Rules or Flexible Inputs in Moral Deliberation?" Commentary on Cass Sunstein, "Moral Heuristics,"Behavioral and Brain Sciences 28 (4) (2005): 544-545.

Cass Sunstein represents moral heuristics as rigid rules that lead us to jump to moral conclusions, and contrasts them with reflective moral deliberation, which he represents as independent of heuristics and capable of supplanting them. Following John Dewey's psychology of moral judgment, I argue that successful moral deliberation does not supplant moral heuristics but uses them flexibly as inputs to deliberation. Many of the flaws in moral judgment that Sunstein attributes to heuristics reflect instead the limitations of the deliberative context in which people are asked to render judgments.


"Welfare, Work Requirements, and Dependent Care," Journal of Applied Philosophy 21 (2004): 243-256.

This article considers the justice of requiring employment as a condition of receiving public assistance. While none of the main theories of justice prohibits work requirements, the arguments in their favour are weak. Arguments based on reciprocity fail to explain why only means-tested public benefits should be subject to work requirements, and why unpaid dependant care work should not count as satisfying citizens' obligations to reciprocate. Arguments based on promoting the work ethic misattribute recipients' nonwork to deviant values, when their core problem is finding steady employment consistent with supporting a family and meeting dependant care responsibilities. Rigid work requirements impose unreasonable costs on some of the poor. A welfare system based on a rebuttable presumption that recipients will work for pay, conjoined with more generous work supports, would promote justice better than either unconditional welfare or strict requirements.

Lanie, Angela D.; Jayaratne, Toby Epstein; Sheldon, Jane P.; Kardia, Sharon L. R.; Anderson, Elizabeth S.; Feldbaum, Merle; Petty, Elizabeth M.; (2004). "Exploring the Public Understanding of Basic Genetic Concepts." Journal of Genetic Counseling 13 (4): 305-320. <http://hdl.handle.net/2027.42/44921>.

It is predicted that the rapid acquisition of new genetic knowledge and related applications during the next decade will have significant implications for virtually all members of society. Currently, most people get exposed to information about genes and genetics only through stories publicized in the media. We sought to understand how individuals in the general population used and understood the concepts of “genetics” and “genes.” During in-depth one-on-one telephone interviews with adults in the United States, we asked questions exploring their basic understanding of these terms, as well as their belief as to the location of genes in the human body. A wide range of responses was received. Despite conversational familiarity with genetic terminology, many noted frustration or were hesitant when trying to answer these questions. In addition, some responses reflected a lack of understanding about basic genetic science that may have significant implications for broader public education measures in genetic literacy, genetic counseling, public health practices, and even routine health care.


"If God is Dead, is Everything Permitted?," in Louise Antony, ed., Philosophers without Gods (Oxford University Press, 2007)

Many people object to atheism because they believe that if there is no God, then morality lacks authority.  The worry is that "if God is dead, then everything is permitted."  We know that not everything is permitted--and in particular, that practices such as genocide, ethnic cleansing, slavery, torture, plunder, rape, punishing people for the sins of others, and punishing people for blameless error are not permitted.  It follows that any doctrine that entails that such things are permitted is false. I accept the logic of this argument.  But I deny that atheism entails that such things are permitted.  This charge is better made against the evidence for theism.  The main evidence for theism is scripture.  If we take this evidence with the utmost seriousness, as inerrant, then the evidence entails that the evil practices listed above are permitted, since the God of the Old and New Testaments and the Koran either commits these deeds himself, is prophecied to commit them in the future, or commands humans to commit them.  Since these practices are not permitted, the evidence for theism is systematically unreliable--so unreliable, that it cannot be trusted to advance the case for theism at all.  I consider theistic replies to this argument, and go on to consider independent evidence for the incorrigible unreliability of all the types of extraordinary evidence offered for the existence of God:  testimonies of miracles, revelations in dreams or what people take to be direct encounters with God, experiences of divine presence, and prophecies that have been subject to test. These types of evidence are equally available to all religions, including pagan religions. There is no independent natural evidence that supports the extraordinary evidence for one sort of God or gods more than another.  Nor do we have other noncircular tests for determining the reliability of extraordinary evidence.  It follows that these purported types of evidence make no proposition about the divine more probable than any other contradictory proposition about the divine.  Such "evidence" is no evidence at all.  In other words, there is no evidence for the existence of a theistic (personal) God.



"Ethical Assumptions of Economic Theory: Some Lessons from the History of Credit and Bankruptcy," in Economics, Justice, and Welfare, Carl-Henric Grenholm, ed., special issue of Ethical Theory and Moral Practice (Kluwer, Sept. 2004).

Most opponents of the normative framework of economic theory criticize it for failing to notice the defects of capitalism.  I shall argue, through an examination of the capitalist transformation of creditor-debtor relations in the 18th century, that it fails to represent some of the virtues of capitalism.  Capitalism enabled masses of people, for the first time, to obtain credit without being subject to moral opprobrium or social subordination.  By placing debtor-creditor relations on a footing of self-interest rather than aristocratic honor, and by demoralizing the conditions of debt and insolvency, capitalism dramatically increased the freedom, equality, and prosperity of millions of people.  Classical 18th century economists such as Smith and Condorcet possessed the ethical concepts to appreciate these facts.  Ironically, the normative assumptions of the main schools of contemporary economic thought that support capitalism--libertarian political economy, and Paretian welfare economics--are unable to represent the capitalist transformation of credit as an improvement.  I trace the fault in these judgments to the excessively abstract, formal representations of freedom, efficiency, and markets in economic theory.  The virtues of capitalism lie in the concrete social relations, motivations, and social meanings through which capital and commodities are exchanged.  Against the standard idealization of laissez faire capitalism, I argue that the conditions for sustaining these concrete capitalist formations often require limits on freedom of contract and the scope of private property rights.


"Racial Integration as a Compelling Interest," Constitutional Commentary 21 (2004): 101-127.

The principle and ideal developed in Brown v. Board of Education and its successor cases lie at the heart of the rationale for affirmative action in higher education.  The principle of the school desegregation cases is that racial segregation is an injustice that demands remediation.  The ideal of the school desegregation cases is that racial integration is a positive good, without which "the dream of one Nation, indivisible"  cannot be realized.  Both the principle and the ideal make racial integration a compelling interest.  The Supreme Court recognized these claims in Grutter v. Bollinger.  However, it failed to take full advantage of them.  It thereby failed to answer crucial questions that must be answered by policies subject to strict scrutiny.  I display the links tying Grutter to Brown, discuss the vulnerabilities of Grutter in the absence of an explicit grounding in Brown, and demonstrate how the affirmative action policy upheld in Grutter, when explicitly grounded in Brown, survives strict scrutiny.


"Rethinking Equality of Opportunity: Comment on Adam Swift's How Not to be a Hypocrite," Theory and Research in Education 2 (2004): 99-110.

Adam Swift argues that private K-12 schools violate the principle of equality of opportunity by enabling less talented students to "jump" the meritocratic queue for education.  I argue that the principle of equality of opportunity makes no sense in K-12 contexts, because it relies on an underlying concept of merit that is inapplicable to children whose merits are yet to be developed.  The principle therefore presupposes an ordering already given, when that ordering is determined by the very allocation it is supposed to guide.  Swift's queue-jumping objection to private education also relies on the perspective of envy, which has no normative force in a theory of justice.  Swift has a better argument against private and selective public K-12 schools, based on considerations of social solidarity.  I trace the force of this argument to the fact that such schools tend to produce a self-perpetuating elite isolated and alienated from the rest of society, which is thereby less competent to perform the representative functions of elites in a democratic society, and less able to claim legitimacy.  Democratic societies have a compelling interest in educating an integrated elite, drawn from all socially significant groups in society.


"Sen, Ethics, and Democracy," Feminist Economics  9 (2003): 239-261.

Amartya Sen's ethical theorizing helps feminists resolve the tensions between the claims of women's particular perspectives and moral objectivity. His concept of "positional objectivity" highlights the epistemological significance of value judgments made from particular social positions, while holding that certain values may become widely shared. He shows how acknowledging positionality is consistent with affirming the universal value of democracy. This article builds on Sen's work by proposing an analysis of democracy as a set of institutions that aims to intelligently utilize positional information for shared ends. This epistemological analysis of democracy offers a way to understand the rationale for reserving political offices for women. From a political point of view, gendered positions are better thought of as an epistemological resource than as a ground of identity politics--that is, of parochial identification and solidarity.



"Uses of Value Judgments in Feminist Social Science: A Case Study of Research on Divorce," Hypatia 19 (2004): 1-24.

This paper critically examines the thesis that social science is value-neutral--that is, that it neither presupposes nor supports any nonepistemic (social, political, moral) value judgments.  I argue that the standard arguments for value-neutrality are contradictory.  Their real concern is not that scientific theories might have evaluative content, but that they might be held dogmatically.  I demonstrate, through a detailed examination of a case study of feminist research on divorce, how to distinguish legitimate from illegitimate (dogmatic) uses of value judgments in science, and more from less epistemically fruitful values.   I also argue that there is empirical evidence for value judgments, which lies in our emotional experiences to things in the world.


"Situated Knowledge and the Interplay of Value Judgments and Evidence in Scientific Inquiry," in P. Gärdenfors, J. Wolenski and K. Kijania-Placek, eds. In the Scope of Logic, Methodology and Philosophy of Science, vol. 2 (Kluwer, 2002), pp. 497-517.

Feminist standpoint theory asserts that the oppressed have an epistemically privileged standpoint for generating and evaluating scientific theories of social phenomena.  Such theories thereby challenge the 3 core theses that underwrite the claim of science to be "value-free":  (1) Neutrality:  scientific theories neither presuppose nor imply any nonepistemic value judgments; (2) Impartiality: the only grounds for accepting a theory are its relations to the evidence and manifestation of epistemic values, which are impartial among rival nonepistemic values; (3) Autonomy: science progresses best when scientists are free from political pressure to choose their own subjects and questions of investigation, research methods, and members.  This paper uses a case study of antiracist science--various scientific studies that undermined the thesis that the black-white gap in IQ is genetically determined--to adjudicate the dispute between standpoint theory and advocates of the value-freedom of science.  The case study shows that moral, social, and political values penetrate the content of theories and the arguments used to justify them.  However, nonepistemic values nevertheless play roles in legitimate science that are distinct from the evidence.  The upshot of this paper for standpoint epistemologies is twofold:  (1) the values and interests of oppressed people have bearing on the significance, but not on the truth, of theories concerning them and the society to which they belong; (2) oppressed people are sometimes in a unique (hence privileged) position to generate critical data not otherwise attainable, bearing on the theories concerning them and their society.  In particular, they are in a unique position to falsify claims that their capabilities are inherently limited, by demonstrating higher capabilities than the theory attributed to them.  In view of these findings, the autonomy and neutrality of science need to be replaced by successor concepts.  By contrast, a version of impartiality can still be retained, albeit with conditions, due to the fact that, in matters of social ontology, there is not a sharp boundary between deciding that certain classifications of phenomena are socially significant and discovering that these phenomena exist.



"Animal Rights and the Values of Nonhuman Life," in Martha Nussbaum and Cass Sunstein, eds., Rights For Animals? Law and Policy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002).

Standard arguments for animal rights depend on the assumption that creatures have rights solely in virtue of their intrinsic capacities.  Animals therefore have whatever rights humans with equivalent sensory, intellectual, and agentic capacities enjoy.  Since there is significant overlap between the capacities of (at least) higher animals and certain human beings, such as infants and severely retarded and demented people, it follows that such animals have rights at least equivalent to such human beings, who we acknowledge have many rights.  I criticize this argument by examining a series of test cases in which its implications go awry.  The test cases demonstrate that creatures do not enjoy rights simply in virtue of their intrinsic traits: their actual and possible relations to moral agents, the interests and capacities of moral agents, and the social and historical context in which rights claims arise also matter to what rights a creature should have.  These factors show that species membership is not a morally irrelevant trait, as many advocates of animal rights contend.  However, none of the additional constraints on rights attributions draw a categorical line between rights-holders and others at the species divide between humans and others.  I offer an alternative account of the many values of animals, some of which help ground rights claims, based on the evaluative attitudes it is rational to take toward them:  sympathy, admiration, awe, and even respect.



"Integration, Affirmative Action, and Strict Scrutiny," NYU Law Review, 77 (2002): 1195-1271.

This Article defends racial integration as a central goal of race-based affirmative action.  Racial integration of mainstream institutions is necessary both to dismantle the current barriers to opportunity suffered by disadvantaged racial groups, and to create a democratic civil society.  Integration, conceived as a forward-looking remedy for de facto racial segregation and discrimination, makes better sense of the actual practice of affirmative action than backward-looking compensatory rationales, which offer restitution for past discrimination, and diversity rationales, which claim to promote nonremedial educational goals.  Integrative rationales for affirmative action in higher education could also easily pass equal protection analysis, if only the point of strict scrutiny of racial classifications were understood.  Unfortunately, the development of strict scrutiny as an analytical tool has been hampered by the Court's confusion over the kinds of constitutional harm threatened by state uses of racial classification.  This Article sorts out these alleged harms and shows how strict scrutiny should deal with them.  It shows how the narrow tailoring tests constitute powerful tools for putting many allegations of constitutional harm from race-based affirmative action to rest, and for putting the rest into perspective.  It also argues that there is no constitutional or moral basis for prohibiting state uses of racial means to remedy private sector discrimination. Integrative affirmative action programs in educational contexts, which aim to remedy private sector discrimination, can therefore meet the requirements of strict scrutiny, properly interpreted.



"Should Feminists Reject Rational Choice Theory?" in Louise Anthony and Charlotte Witt, eds. A Mind of One's Own (2d. ed.) (Boulder: Westview, 2001), 369-397.

Feminists are ambivalent about the value of using rational choice theory to describe women's behavior.  I argue that the epistemic value of using rational choice theory to explain human behavior is partly a function of its normative credentials, which are subject to feminist assessment.  Feminist ambivalence about the theory is due to the fact that rational choice theory offers both resources and obstacles to understanding the problems women face, and helping women overcome them.  I explore both the resources and the obstacles rational choice theory offers to feminism through a critical examination of Kristin Luker's Taking Chances, a rational-choice account of women's contraceptive decisions.  Luker's commitment to rational choice theory enables her to successfully model certain aspects of the strategic interactions of women with their male partners, as well as to explain why the reproductive health care system fails to deliver contraceptive services to the women who need them.  However, in modelling women as if their sexual agency were fully realized, Luker's rational choice model fails to exhibit the ways in which social norms of femininity, internalized by women themselves, prevent women from acting as autonomous agents in sexual contexts.  Luker's own data show how her subjects resist conceiving of themselves as sexual agents, in ways that undermine both the rationality of their contraceptive choices and their interests as women.  Attempts to model such resistance in the terms of rational choice theory obscure rather than reveal feminist concerns about women's lack of sexual autonomy.



"Unstrapping the Straitjacket of  'Preference': on Amartya Sen's Contributions to Philosophy and Economics," Economics and Philosophy 17 (2001): 21-38.

Much of Amartya Sen's work has been devoted to criticizing the concept of "preference," particularly in the context of prisoner's dilemmas. Building on Sen's work, I argue that the preferences upon which people rationally act depend on their practical identities, which may vary in context and encompass a plurality of agents.  Rational choice is thus not fully explicable in terms of individual preference, because individuals have multiple preference orderings related to their multiple identities, and rational choice among them is based on principles not reducible to preferences.  When an agent asks not "what should I do?" but "what should we do?" in a prisoner's dilemma, cooperative emerges as a rational choice even in the absence of altruism or a positive marginal impact of her choice.  I draw out some implications of this fact for Sen's work on gender inequality in the family, arguing that for women to achieve full functioning as equals, they need to acquire practical identities both as individuals and as members of plural agencies more cosmopolitan than the family.



"Beyond Homo Economicus: New Developments in Theories of Social Norms," Philosophy and Public Affairs 29 (2000): 170-200.

One of the central problems of social theory is to explain why people cooperate and obey social norms.  In this paper, I explore the four dominant approaches to this problem that are inspired by rational choice theory:  the theory of conventions, repeated game theory, sanctioning theories, and evolutionary game theory.  I argue that none of these approaches, even when modestly modified to incorporate non-self-interested motivations (e.g., sensitivity to the moral approval of others) succeed in explaining the actual scope of observed cooperation and norm-following behavior.   I argue, through extended discussion of contributions to Ben-Ner and Putterman's Economics, Values, and Organization, that more far-reaching departures from standard economic models are needed to explain cooperation and social norms.  Recent advances in theories of collective agency provide some resources for explaining these phenomena.



"Expressive Theories of Law: A General Restatement" (with Richard Pildes), University of Pennsylvania Law Review 148 (2000): 1503-1575.

 This article provides the first general statement of the aims and features of expressivism in law and morality.  Expressive conceptions of practical reason, morality, and law tell agents to express (that is, to manifest in their actions) appropriate attitudes toward people and various substantive values.  For example, in one well-known view of liberalism, the state ought to express equal respect and concern for its citizens.  We outline the basic structure of expressive theories of rationality, morality and law, arguing that they function mainly by constraining the reasons that can count in favor of taking certain actions (means) toward particular ends.  We show how collective agents, including the state, can have and express attitudes, and argue that therefore the state is subject to expressive requirements just as individuals are. We then analyse several areas of Constitutional Law from an expressive perspective, including the Establishment Clause, Equal Protection, the Dormant Commerce Clause, and Federalism, arguing that expressive concerns animate the Supreme Court's rulings in these areas, and that the expressive conception of law makes better sense of these areas of doctrine than rival consequentialist, functional, and formalist readings.  We then respond to criticisms of expressive theories of law that have been made by Matthew Adler in the same issue of this journal.



"Why Commercial Surrogate Motherhood Unethically Commodifies Women and Children: Reply to McLachlan and Swales," Health Care Analysis 8 (1), 2000.

McLachlan and Swales dispute my arguments against commercial surrogate motherhood. In reply, I argue that commercial surrogate contracts objectionably commodify children because they regard parental rights over children not as trusts, to be allocated in the best interests of the child, but as like property rights, to be allocated at the will o the parents. They also express disrespect for mothers, by compromising their inalienable right to act in the best interest of their children, when this interest calls for mothers to assert a custody right in their children.
 



"What is the Point of Equality?," Ethics 109 (1999): 287-337.

Many egalitarians argue that the point of equality is to compensate people for undeserved bad luck. This view leaves egalitarians open to devastating conservative criticisms, fails to fruitfully engage active egalitarian political movements, and reproduces a Poor Law regime that moralistically excludes many citizens from aid and offers only stigmatizing aid to others, on grounds of their innate inferiority.  The point of equality is better conceived as creating a democratic society, in which people stand in relations of equality to one another.  Democratic equality entitles all citizens to the goods they need to function as free and equal citizens, and to avoid oppression by others.  This view explains, against conservative objections, how citizens can be obligated to promote equality.  It supports the focus of active egalitarian movements on broader goals than the distribution of goods.  It expresses respect for citizens by entitling them to claim goods on account of their equality rather than their inferiority to others.  Finally, democratic equality offers a way to understand the diversity of human endowments as a common good, rather than as a cosmic injustice.



"Consumer Sovereignty vs. Citizens' Sovereignty: Some Errors in Neoclassical Welfare Economics," Isegoria (Madrid, in Spanish translation)  18 (1998): 19-46.

The principle of consumer sovereignty says that social arrangements, including government policies, should be evaluated by the degree to which they satisfy the preferences of individuals, as these are expressed in their market choices. I argue that this principle is ambiguous between advocating the promotion of welfare or autonomy, but that the better arguments for consumer sovereignty favor the autonomy interpretation.  Yet, the individualist conception of autonomy that economists favor cannot account for collective action problems generated by external conformity to social norms.  Some kinds of autonomy can only be exercised collectively.  The institutional design of democratic states can be viewed as an attempt to achieve collective autonomy--that is, the autonomy of citizens acting together.  The principle of consumer sovereignty, however, cannot function as a coherent basis for collective autonomy.  It conflicts with the autonomy of citizens, and therefore cannot serve as a coherent basis for guiding state policy.



"Pragmatism, Science, and Moral Inquiry," in Richard Fox and Robert Westbrook, eds. In Face of the Facts: Moral Inquiry in American Scholarship (Cambridge: Woodrow Wilson Center Press/Cambridge University Press, 1998), pp. 10-39.

Pragmatism urges us to view social scientific, humanistic, and ethical inquiry as interconnected aspects of a joint enterprise.  While leaving the logical distinction between facts and values intact, it shows us how deeply they are interrelated in inquiry into human affairs.  Empirical facts--particularly the (emotion-laden) experiences we have in living out our conceptions of the good--provide the crucial evidence for our intrinsic value judgments.  Value judgments, in turn, provide an indispensible basis for delineating the concepts we use in the human sciences to classify phenomena.  We need to allow value judgments to guide scientific classification in the human sciences because one of their functions is to inform our self-understandings, which are our fundamental basis for practical reasoning.



"Practical Reason and Incommensurable Goods," in Ruth Chang, ed., Incommensurability, Incomparability, and Practical Reason (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1997).

Two goods are incommensurable if neither one is better than or equal in value to the other.  I argue that many goods are incommensurable, but that, contrary to dominant theories of rational choice, this fact does not pose serious problems for practical reason.  Pragmatism about value--the view that the structure of values is a construction of practical reason--explains how incommensurabilities arise, but also why they do not interfere with rational choice. What I call the expressive theory of rational choice explains how we can choose among incommensurable goods without resorting to weighing, balancing, or comparing their values on the same scale.
 


"Knowledge, Human Interests, and Objectivity in Feminist Epistemology," Philosophical Topics 23 (1995): 27-58.

Feminist epistemologists argue that social and moral values do and ought to play important roles in shaping scientific inquiry--not only in the process of discovery, but in the justification of theories themselves.  Critics respond with charges of "political correctness":  fears that feminist prescriptions invite dogmatism, tyranny, and dishonesty.  I argue that these fears are based on the mistaken view that feminist ethical judgments must compete with the evidence for control of inquiry.  Feminist epistemology urges us, rather, to view non-epistemic value judgments and evidential considerations as cooperating:  as playing distinct, but jointly necessary roles in directing inquiry.  This is possible because inquiry aims not simply at accumulating truths, but at constructing theories that represent significant truths.  Social and moral values guide inquiry not by directly determining what is true, but by determining what is significant, what counts as the whole truth, or as an unbiased or objective account of a domain of phenomena delineated by human interests.
 


"Comment on Dawson's "Exit, Voice, and Values in Economic Institutions," Economics and Philosophy 13 (1997): 101-105.

Graham Dawson provides a novel moral defense of market provision by stressing the value of theinterpersonal relationships of customer markets. I argue that his distinction between auction and customer markets cannot bear the moral weight he places on it, nor does it undercut my arguments for ethical limitations on the market.
 


"The Democratic University: the Role of Justice in the Production of Knowledge," Social Philosophy and Policy 12 (1995): 186-219.

Rival views about free speech in higher education express distinctive political epistemologies--accounts of the social relations among people that best promote inquiry. This paper defends a democratic epistemology. In cultures marked by inequalities of race, class, and gender, "free markets of ideas" enable dominant groups to marginalize the speech of subordinate groups. A liberal democratic culture of inquiry promotes academic freedom and sound research through informal speech norms that recognize the equality of inquirers. Although limited "speech codes" are defensible, liberal theory must emphasize the requirements of a democratic "culture" of equality, which cannot be secured by legalistic means.



"Reasons, Attitudes, and Values: Replies to Sturgeon and Piper," Ethics 106 (1996): 538-554.

Sturgeon claims that consequentialism offers the best interpretation of my expressive principles ofpractical reason. I show how expressive principles differ from consequentialist principles in constraining intentions rather than prescribing consequences to achieve. Piper claims that my requirement that reasons for action be interpersonally endorsable unjustly requires the marginalized to seek validation for their reasons from those who oppress them. In reply, I argue that her individualist account of rationality disables criticism of unjust social practices, and that my social conditions on rational justification hold the dominant accountable to the perspectives of the marginalized.



"Feminist Epistemology: An Interpretation and Defense," Hypatia 10 (1995): 50-84.

Feminist epistemology has often been understood as the study of feminine "ways of knowing." But feminist epistemology is better understood as the branch of naturalized, social epistemology that studies the various influences of norms and conceptions of gender and gendered interests andexperiences on the production of knowledge. This understanding avoids dubious claims about feminine cognitive differences and enables feminist research in various disciplines to pose deep internal critiques of mainstream research.



"John Stuart Mill and Experiments in Living,"  Ethics 102 (1991): 4-26.

   Mill thought that we learn about the good through experiments in living. This paper argues that Mill viewed his own early life as an experiment in living that revealed the superiority of hisconception of the good over Bentham's. Bentham's quantitative hedonistic psychology could neither explain Mill's youthful depression nor help him overcome it. But Mill's qualitative theory of pleasures, grounded in a hierarchy of sentiments and a plurality of nonhedonic values, could.  Theories of the good can be experimentally tested because they imply empirical claims about what lives living up to them are like.



Value in Ethics and in Economics.  Cambridge, Mass.  Harvard University Press, 1993.

 This book articulates a pluralist theory of value, which claims that goods differ in kind if they areproperly valued in different ways, such as respect, love, and use. Practical reason is exercised in "expressing" these different modes of valuation in action. This pluralist-expressivist theory of value and practical reason offers a systematic alternative to consequentialist theories of rational choice and monistic theories of value. It also explains why some goods should not be sold on the market or otherwise treated as commodities. Cases discussed include prostitution, contract pregnancy, school vouchers, health and environmental safety.



"Slinging Arrows At Democracy: Social Choice Theory, Pluralism, and Democratic Politics."  with Richard Pildes.  Columbia Law Review 90 (December 1990): 2121-2214.

Kenneth Arrow's famous Impossibility Theorem demonstrates that, under certain seemingly weak and plausible conditions, no voting procedure among 3 or more issues, involving 3 or more voters, can be guaranteed to issue in a consistent (transitive) preference ordering among these issues.  Many social choice theorists have drawn highly pessimistic conclusions about the viability or rationality of democracy from Arrow's result:  that democracy is inherently unstable, that it produces arbitrary outcomes, that it is inevitably subverted by the manipulation of elites, that it cannot meaningfully reflect the "will of the people", that it makes purposive interpretation of statutes by the judiciary impossible.  We argue that none of these dire conclusions for democracy follow from Arrow's theorem, and that social choice theory misconceives the nature of democratic decisionmaking as well as of rational choice.  The values that democracies uphold are plural and incommensurable; to adequately express these values in democratic decisionmaking requires institutional structures and procedures that cannot be rationalized in terms of optimizing a single preference ordering.  The plurality of incommensurable values is instead better represented in terms of multiple preference orderings, or in terms of nonconsequentialist procedural rationality.  Rational, democratic choice involves determining which preference ordering or decisionmaking procedure, given the institutional context and role of the agent, has authority.  We show how the differentiation of legislative, executive, and judicial roles in democratic orders manifest this nonconsequentialist pluralistic logic of values.



"Compensation within the Limits of Reliance Alone,"  in John W. Chapman, ed., Compensatory Justice: Nomos, vol. 33, (1991), pp. 178-185.

Robert Goodin argues that considerations of reliance constitute the basic justification for practices of compensatory justice. This author disputes Goodin's thesis: practices of compensatory justiceserve a plurality of aims, such as satisfying needs and securing autonomy, which are distinct from the aim of enabling people to carryout their already conceived plans. Goodin's arguments exemplify the flaws of parsimony in ethical theorizing. We should not confine our ethical principles to the minimum set needed to generate intuitively acceptable outcomes, for ethical principles playexpressive roles notfulfilled by the minimum set.



"The Ethical Limitations of the Market." Economics and Philosophy 6 (1990):179-205.

   An alternative framework to welfare economics is offered for deciding whether something isproperly treated as a commodity. It is argued that different kinds of goods are properly subject todifferent norms of production and exchange. Some values and ideals can be realized only bycirculating goods according to nonmarket norms--for example, the exchange of gift values should be sensitive to the motives and personalities of the exchangers, and the provision of shared values should be nonexclusive. The analysis is applied to prostitution, marriage contracts, labor contracts, parks, schools, streets, blood, and in-kind welfare provisions.


"Values, Risks, and Market Norms,"  Philosophy and Public Affairs 17 (Winter 1988): 54-65.

The article criticizes cost-benefit analysis applied to health and safety, through a review of D. Maclean's "values at risk" and D. Nelkin and M. Brown's "workers at risk". It is argued that cost-benefit analysis inappropriately treats the values of life and health as commodity values. Empirical evidence shows that workers do not regard their health and safety in the ways which cost-benefit analysis assumes.  A democratic alternative to cost-benefit analysis is defended.


"Is Women's Labor a Commodity?" Philosophy and Public Affairs 19 (1990): 71-92.

Contract parenting (commercial surrogate motherhood) is a practice whereby a man pays a woman to bear a child and release it to his custody.  I argue that this practice is objectionable for the ways it treats children and mothers' reproductive capacities as commodities.  The market norms of contract parenting express disrespectful attitudes toward children, in regarding them as properly created and alienated for profit.  They also undermine the autonomy of mothers by manipulating and exploiting their feelings, while denying the claims their feelings make on others in the event that they decide to keep their children.



Hugh M. Lacey and Elizabeth Anderson, "Spatial Ontology and Physical Modalities," Philosophical Studies 38 (1980): 261-285.

Most relational theories of space assert both that spatial discourse is reducible to talk about physical objects and their spatial relations, and that the relation of congruence derives from a non-metrical relation which intervals bear or possibly bear to measuring instruments. We show that there are serious logical difficulties involved in maintaining both these positions together with the thesis of the continuity of space. We also show that Grunbaum's motivating argument for the reduction of congruence is unsound, and, moreover, that the prospects of formulating the kind of definition which this reduction requires seem to rest upon a wholly vague notion of physical possibility. Alternatively, if congruence is taken as primitive, it seems plausible that spatial discourse can be reconstructed so that there is no ontological commitment to spatial objects other than physical objects.


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