Category Political Philosophy

Open borders are not undemocratic, but maybe they should be

There is a vital difference between the appropriate procedure for making a decision and the substance of that decision. Yet this distinction is often overlooked. Suppose we are deciding what type of pizza to get for dinner. You might say, ‘we should put it to a vote’. That is your opinion on the best procedure, […]

Does Effective Altruism entail Socialism?

Julian Baggini raises an interesting question in his recent interview with Peter Singer on Effective Altruism: namely, what would an Effective Altruist economy look like? Baggini suggests that if most or all people became effective altruists, the result would economically ruinous, and therefore counterproductive: Then there is the argument that giving up all our relative […]

Why Labour are not anti-business

Politics is complicated. And inevitably, to deal with the complexity, voters and journalists fall back on simplifications – they rely on caricatures of what the different parties stand for. But sometimes these tropes are misleading and cause us to miss out on interesting and important nuances in the argument. A major example of this is […]

The Global Rich: Creators or Predators?

Branko Milanovic (the guru of global inequality) has made the intriguing suggestion that someone should seek to quantify the extent to which multi-billionaires acquired their wealth through socially valuable activities. He suggests that we should take the top 1,500 billionaires in the world and rate each on the extent to which their wealth was “acquired […]

Is it worse to be poor in India or in Britain?

According the Economist, Natalie Bennett, leader of the Green Party of England and Wales, believes it is worse to be on benefits in the UK than poor in India “because at least everyone else there is poor too”.* Is she right? A useful starting point is to distinguish between goods that depend on a person’s […]

Global Inequality is Falling. So What?

Cross-posted from Carnegie Ethics Online Concern about inequality has been at a recent high, particularly since the publication of Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the 21st Century—a book that has been described as “marshaling the evidence that 21st-century capitalism is on a one-way journey towards inequality.” Yet there is an ambiguity at the heart of recent research on inequality. […]

Is ‘nudging’ undignified?

Like most fashionable ideas, the theory of ‘nudging’, also known as ‘libertarian paternalism’, has spawned a backlash. Among the most prominent recent criticism is Jeremy Waldron’s claim that the use of nudging by governments risks failing to account for the dignity of their citizens. Waldron’s view is that it is bad to exploit people’s cognitive […]

Can cosmopolitans vote for Scottish independence?

A cosmopolitan nationalist is a contradiction in terms. Yet I want to suggest that in some cases consistent cosmopolitans may be justified in supporting nationalist causes – in particular, voting ‘yes’ in independence referenda like the ones anticipated in Scotland and Catalonia in 2014. Cosmopolitanism is the moral or political theory that insists that nationality […]

What does people analytics mean for social justice?

  2013 has seen growing interest in the idea of ‘people analytics’ – informally described as the application of ‘Moneyball’ to corporate HR, but more formally defined as the use of predictive statistical analysis to inform the recruitment and assessment in workers. Just as sports teams are increasingly attuned to the power of statistics in […]

Are opinion polls bad for democracy?

Ahead of today’s general election, the German broadcaster ZDF has broken with convention and published an opinion poll in the final few days before the vote. Previously, it had been agreed that surveys would not be released fewer than ten days before polling day for fear of influencing voters. This is a worrying development because […]