Monday, August 21, 2006

Sanctioning Liberal Democracies

My friend Avia's paper has become topic of discussion at Crooked Timber. (Shortcut to my comment)

I've read it before, it's available online apparently, but also scheduled for the Priority in Practice conference next month.


  1. But the difference between the redhead example and the environmentalist one is that the environmentalist one involves commitment to some normative ideal, whereas, unless those stories about fiery tempers are true, being a redhead doesn't. I would have thought that the point is that you are entitled to hold people to some normative ideal they have expressed commitment to. Imagine I say diving in football is terrible, and no-one should do it, and then do it myself. I think I am more liable to criticism than someone who has never said such a thing.

  2. I think what you say is true, but the problem there is hypocrisy. Other people - whatever their own views on diving - could condemn you for that.

    Avia's point was about how we - as fellow members of some liberal democratic community - have a special permission, perhaps even duty, to sanction fellow group-members (more than we would non-group members, or non-group members have to sanction those members)

    For the group-based claim to work, I think the group has to be one that one can clearly and voluntarily opt in and out of, and is not automatically co-opted into simply in virtue of one's beliefs or behaviour.

    To adapt your example, suppose many people are concerned with 'bad sportsmanship', which they construe to include diving, dissent and trying to get opponents booked. You speak out against diving and attempts to get opponents booked, but are happy to allow backchat to referees.

    There's a worry that over people, on a line like Avia's (though I'm not saying Avia would endorse it) can say: 'look, we're all concerned with sportsmanship, so you should stop doing that'.