Academic Publications

By clicking on the titles below you are sent to my academia page where you can download the pre-print versions of my publications.

Capability Approach to Social Justice

Selecting a List: The Capability Approach’s Achilles Heel, in: Mozaffar Qizilbash, Enrica Chiappero, Siddiq Osmani (eds.), Handbook of the Capability Approach (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2020).

Capabilities in a Just Society. A Theory of Navigational Agency (Cambridge University Press, 2018). 264 pp. ISBN 9781108473262.

‘An Agency-based Capability Theory of Justice’, in: European Journal of Philosophy 25(4)(2017): 1279-1304.

The capability approach is one of the main contenders in the field of theorizing social justice. Each citizen is entitled to a set of basic capabilities. But which are these? Martha Nussbaum formulated a set of ten central capabilities. Amartya Sen argued they should be selected in a process of public reasoning. Critics object that the Nussbaum approach is too perfectionist and the Sen approach is too proceduralist. This paper presents a third alternative: a substantive but non-perfectionist capability theory of justice. It then argues basic capabilities are those necessary to for the agency necessary to navigate freely and autonomously between different social practices. 

‘Rethinking European Competition Law: From a Consumer Welfare to a Capability Approach’, co-authored with Anna Gerbrandy, in: Utrecht Law Review 12 (1) (2016): 1-15. 

European competition law is predominantly focused on maximizing consumer welfare. This overarching purpose (which is supported by economic theory) leaves little place for safeguarding non-economic values, such as sustainability. This makes it difficult to allow cooperation between companies to contribute to such non-economic goals.In this article we explore whether it is possible to establish a different normative framework, in which such goals can be taken into account and can be balanced against the economic goal of consumer welfare. To answer this question, we take four steps. First, we discuss current EU competition law and the difficulty of fitting non-economic goals into the dominant interpretation of that law. Second, we propose a different normative framework, based on the capability approach advanced by philosopher Martha Nussbaum and economist Amartya Sen. Third, we argue that there are good principled reasons to incorporate non-economic goals into competition law.Fourth, we apply both the capability approach and the consumer welfare approach to three (illustrative) cases in which non-economic goals are at stake. Overall, we argue that the capability framework, although not without difficulties of its own, may provide a more legitimate theory for the interpretation of European competition law. 

Ecological Rights of Future Generations: A Capability Approach, in: Gerhard Bos & Marcus Düwell (eds.), Human rights and Sustainability. Moral Responsibilities for the Future (London: Routledge, 2016), 151-165.

‘The Capability to hold Property’: in: Journal of Human Development and Capabilities 16 (2) (2015): 220-236.

This paper discusses the question of whether a capability theory of justice (such as that of Martha Nussbaum) should accept a basic “capability to hold property.” Answering this question is vital for bridging the gap between abstract capability theories of justice and their institutional implications in real economies. Moreover, it is vital for understanding the difference between egalitarian and libertarian versions of the capability approach. In the paper, three main arguments about private property are discussed: those relating property to a private sphere of control, to the market system of allocating goods, and to the ability to keep the fruits of one's labor. On the basis of this discussion it is argued that the capability theory of justice should accept a basic capability to hold private property, albeit one that is restricted in scope and has an egalitarian character. Special attention is paid to libertarian arguments about property acquisition, and it is argued that capability theories of justice must reject them because they presuppose a method of justifying capabilities that the capability approach cannot accept.

Capability Paternalism, in: Economics and Philosophy 30 (1) (2014): 57-73.

A capability approach prescribes paternalist government actions to the extent that it requires the promotion of specific functionings, instead of the corresponding capabilities. Capability theorists have argued that their theories do not have much of these paternalist implications, since promoting capabilities will be the rule, promoting functionings the exception. This paper critically surveys that claim. From a close investigation of Nussbaum's statements about these exceptions, it derives a framework of five categories of functionings promotion that are more or less unavoidable in a capability theory. It argues that some of these categories may have an expansionary dynamic; they may give rise to widespread functionings promotion,which would defeat the capabilitarian promise that paternalist interventions will be exceptions to the rule of a focus on capabilities. Finally, the paper discusses three further theoretical issues that will be decisive in holding this paternalist tendency in check: how high one sets threshold levels of capability protection, how lenghty one's list of basic capabilities is, and how one deals with individual responsibility for choices resulting in a loss of one's capabilities. 

Human Dignity in the Capability Approach, in: Marcus Düwell, Jens Braarvig, Roger Brownsword, Dietmar Mieth (eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of Human Dignity (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014), 240-249

‘The Foundations of Capability Theory: Comparing Nussbaum and Gewirth’, co-authored with Marcus Düwell, in: Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 16 (3) (2013): 493-510. Reprinted in: Meisch, Simon, Lundershausen, Johannes, Bossert, Leonie, Rockoff, Marcus (eds.). Ethics of Science in the Research for Sustainable Development. (Baden-Baden: Nomos, 2015).

This paper is written from a perspective that is sympathetic to the basic idea of the capability approach. Our aim is to compare Martha Nussbaum’s capability theory of justice with Alan Gewirth’s moral theory, on two points: the selection and the justification of a list of central capabilities. On both counts, we contend that Nussbaum’s theory suffers from flaws that Gewirth’s theory may help to remedy. First, we argue that her notion of a (dignified) human life cannot fulfill the role of a normative criterion that Nussbaum wants it to play in selecting capabilities for her list. Second, we question whether Nussbaum’s method of justification is adequate, discussing both her earlier self-validating argumentative strategy and her more recent adherence to the device of an overlapping consensus. We conclude that both strategies fail to provide the capabilities theory with the firm foundation it requires. Next, we turn to Gewirth’s normative theory and discuss how it can repair these flaws. We show how his theory starts from a fundamental moral principle according to which all agents have rights to the protection of the necessary preconditions of their agency. Gewirth’s justification of this principle is then presented, using a version of a transcendental argument. Finally, we explicitly compare Nussbaum and Gewirth and briefly demonstrate what it would mean for Nussbaum to incorporate Gewirthian elements into her capabilities theory of justice. 

Making Capability Lists: Philosophy versus Democracy, in: Political Studies 59 (3) (2011): 491-508.

The article discusses a fundamental problem that has to be faced if the general capability approach is to be developed in the direction of a theory of justice: the selection and justification of a list of capabilities. The democratic solution to this problem (defended by Amartya Sen) is to leave the selection of capabilities to a process of democratic deliberation, while the philosophical solution (defended by Martha Nussbaum) is to establish this list of capabilities as a matter of philosophical theory. The article investigates the debate between these two different positions and argues in favour of the philosophical solution. First, it distinguishes political from epistemological reasons for (not) making capability lists. Second, it shows that the democratic position must incorporate at least some philosophical theorising in general and a theory of democracy in particular. Third, the article argues that the democratic position presupposes that the philosophical position will bypass the democratic process while actually it does not. The philosophical position is actually more respectful of democracy than the democratic position. Fourth, while philosophers may exercise caution and connect their capability lists to actual democratic debates and other empirical sources, this kind of epistemological virtue ironically may heighten the chance of receiving reproaches on the political level. 

New Directions for the Capability Approach: Deliberative Democracy and Republicanism, in: Res Publica. A Journal of Moral, Legal and Social Philosophy 15 (4) (2009): 421-428. Book review essay of John. M. Alexander, Capabilities and Social Justice. The Political Philosophy of Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum (Ashgate, 2008); David A. Crocker, Ethics of Global Development. Agency, Capability, and Deliberative Democracy (Cambridge University Press, 2008).

Economic Ethics

Why Economic Agency Matters: An Account of Structural Domination in the Economic Realm, co-authored with Lisa Herzog, Forthcoming in; European Journal of Political Theory . https://doi.org/10.1177/1474885119832181  

Authors like Iris Young and Philip Pettit have come up with proposals for theorizing 'structural injustice' and social relations marred by 'domination'. These authors provide conceptual tools for focusing on concrete economic structures and re-focus the debate about justice onto questions of power. In this article we build on their work, but we argue that a positive notion of  economic agency  is needed as a criterion for what makes  economic structures dominating and potentially unjust. We propose a notion of economic agency, which we relate to a more general notion of autonomous agency to create a dual-level account.Domination in the economic sphere happens where individuals are deprived of their economic agency, to the extent that such agency is necessary to lead an autonomous life in general. Using the example of creditor-debtor relations we argue for the usefulness of this theoretical framework. Finally, we define injustices in terms of threshold levels of economic agency, the latter being spelled out in terms of a set of capabilities. This proposal overcomes the artificial boundaries between those theorizing 'justice' and those theorizing 'power' when analyzing the economic domain. 

‘Markets as Mere Means’, in: British Journal of Political Science 47 (2) (2017): 263-281

There has been a remarkable shift in the relationship between market and state responsibilities for public services like health care and education. While these services continue to be financed publicly, they are now often provided through the market. The main argument for this new institutional division of labor is economic: while (public) ends stay the same, (private) means are more efficient. Markets function as 'mere means' under the continued responsibility of the state. This paper investigates and rejects currently existing egalitarian liberal theories about this division of labor and it presents and defends a new theory of marketization, in which social rights and democratic decision-making occupy center-stage. 

‘A Capability Framework for Financial Market Regulation’, in: Lisa Herzog (ed.), Just Financial Markets? Finance in a Just Society (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017), 56-77.

This chapter is about normative justifications for regulating markets. In leading handbooks as well as in the academic literature, a split is often made between economic justifications (based on the theory of market failure) and social justifications (mainly around considerations of paternalism and distributive justice). The chapter questions this dichotomy and calls for the development of an ethically coherent framework for market regulation. To do so, the chapter proposes to build on the capability approach, first developed by economist Amartya Sen and philosopher Martha Nussbaum. A capability approach to regulation would hold that markets should be regulated to the extent necessary for realizing a set of basic capabilities. The chapter discusses existing applications to property law and contract law and extends them into the outlines of a general theory of regulation. The final part illustrates the promises of such an approach with respect to the regulation of financial markets.

Externalities as a Basis for Regulation: A Philosophical View, in: Journal of Institutional Economics 12 (3) (2016): 541-563.

Externalities are an important concept in economic theories of market failure, aiming to justify state regulation of the economy. This article explores the concept of externalities from a philosophical perspective. It criticizes the utilitarian nature of economic analyzes of externalities, showing how they cannot take into account values ​​like freedom and justice. It then develops the analogy between the concept of externalities and the 'harm principle' in political philosophy. It argues that the harm principle points to the need for a theory of basic interests to judge when a harm is imposed. Similarly, externality analyzes should use such a theory of basic interests as the basis for judgments about legitimate state intervention.This proposal is defended against objections, 

Financial Crisis and the Ethics of Moral Hazard, in Social Theory and Practice 41 (3) (2015): 527-551.

The global financial crisis raises ethical as much as financial questions. During the crisis, much public anger was centered on the imbalance between those profiting from excessive risk-taking in good times (banks) and those suffering the costs of that behavior in bad times (taxpayers). This phenomenon will be analyzes in terms of ethical theory in this paper. The focus is on both sides of the state - bank relationship and contains two central questions. First, do states have a moral obligation to bail out banks? Second, do banks have a moral obligation to prevent states from having to bail them out? The paper develops a rights-based framework to answer these questions. The first question is answered affirmatively.The second question is more difficult. A 'standard argument' about insurance holds that moral hazard is not a moral, but a purely economic problem, which can be solved through economic means. This would lead to the conclusion that banks do not have a moral obligation to prevent bailouts. I will criticize this standard argument and show that we have to think differently about moral hazard. The crux is that moral hazard arises between states and banks in the context not dictated by normal economic contracting, but best characterized as a social contract. As a consequence banks do have obligations to honor the terms of that social contract.The final part discussions how we can think about the justification of the implicit terms of the social contract in the run up to the financial crisis. 

Review of Freedom, Responsibility and Economics of the Person, by Jérȏme Ballet, Damien Bazin, Jean-Luc Dubois and François-Régis Mahieu, in: Ethics 126 (1)(2015), 196-200.

Public Goods, Mutual Benefits, and Majority Rule, in: Journal of Social Philosophy 44 (3) (2013): 270-290.

Which public goods should the state provide? Political philosophers have often distinguished between necessary and discretionary public goods. Once we have argued for the necessity - as a matter of justice - of a bundle of certain goods (say, security services, basic health care and education), the residual question is whether the state should provide anydiscretionarypublic goods. This question is relatively ignored, even though many things the state does are not necessary, on any reasonable theory of justice.The dominant answer is the 'mutual benefit approach', which argues that every individual should benefit more or less equally from such public goods - worked out either in a unanimity requirement or a majority rule constrained by a substantive norm that everyone benefits from a package of public goods. My main aim is to challenge this approach and show that discretionary public goods provision can be legitimate in the absence of mutual benefits. I argue that we should accept majority rule to decide which discretionary goods a community should provide. The mutual benefit constraint is only legitimate if one sees preferences for discretionary public goods as the exclusive responsibility of each individual.However, one could equally well see them as parts of reasonable conceptions of the good life that should be respected, as an 'equality of welfare' approach would do. These competing views of the legitimacy of preferences for public goods need to be balanced, and the majority rule is needed to identify a fair way of doing so. Such a majority rule still needs to be constrained, but in a quite different way than the mutual benefit approach envisages: to provide a fair compromise between the mutual benefit approach and the rival equality of welfare approach. 

Temporal Autonomy in a Laboring Society, in Inquiry. An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosoph y 55 (5) (2012): 543-562.

The aim of this paper is to discuss which stance towards the allocation of labor and leisure would be defensible from the perspective of modern liberal political theory. There is a long tradition in philosophy defending an ideal of leisure, but this tradition has been rightly criticized for being too perfectionist. A liberal perspective seems more attractive in not dictating how much time people spend in labor or leisure, but leaving this choice to individuals. The question is whether this is possible. After scrutinizing the traditional philosophical defense of leisure I focus on Robert Goodin and his collaborators' recent proposal to think about labor and leisure in terms of “temporal autonomy”. I show that their concept is a great improvement over the older philosophical theories, both in its conceptualization of labor and leisure and in its ambition to leave labor/leisure choices to individuals. Nonetheless, it contains an important unresolved ambiguity about whether discretionary time maximization is a desirable end. Since the exercise of one's temporal autonomy can undercut the temporal autonomy of others in society, this leads to a dilemma. This dilemma can be resolved either in a libertarian or in a sufficientarian direction. I provide a cautious defense of the sufficientarian conception of temporal autonomy, because it accounts for the intuition in the older tradition of leisure that it is important not to be overwhelmed by the demands of labor, while also retaining the liberal emphasis on individual choice. 

Book review essay of Debra Satz, Why Some Things Should Not Be for Sale. The Moral Limits of Markets (Oxford University Press, 2010), in: Business Ethics Quarterly 22 (3) (2012): 589-601.

The Marketization of Security Services in: Public Reason 3 (2) (2011): 124-145.

This paper discusses the normative credentials of the “commodification of security,” ie subjecting protection against (criminal) threats to the market. It distinguishes between a “pure security market,” in the absence of public protection by the police, and an “additional security market,” co-existing with public provision. It argues that a pure security market is not so much unstable (as Nozick's invisible hand argument for the minimal state implied) but undesirable, because of persisting levels of unjustifiable violence. This does not however, mean that an additional security market is equally problematic. I discuss two main arguments in favor of state provision and how both lead to the same conclusion, that additional security efforts by commercial providers should be considered permissible. This shifts the question to the conditions which make the resulting mix of market and state legitimate. I will close by discussing three of these conditions: adequate regulation, cooperation between market and state providers, and a balance between both so that commercial security efforts do not undermine the minimum level provided by the state. 

Public Services on the Market: Issues and Arguments, in: Public Reason 3 (2) (2011): 3-12.

The Commodification of Care, in: Hypatia 26 (1) (2011): 43-64.

This paper discusses the question whether care work for dependent persons (children, the elderly, and disabled persons) may be entrusted to the market; that is, whether and to what extent there is a normative justification for the '' commodification of care. '' It first proposes a capability theory for care that raises two relevant demands: a basic capability for receiving care and a capability for giving care. Next it discusses and rejects two objections that aim to show that market-based care undermines the caring motives essential to care, one of them because of its reliance on contracts and the other because of the corrupting influence of payment on motivation. If market care is in principle legitimate, the commodification question transforms into one about the appropriate combinations of market and non-market care. This question can be answered only by adding an additional complication: care is to be balanced against other activities, most notably work for the labor market. This brings in the problem of gender inequality, since paid work has been traditionally distributed to men and caring activities to women. I show how the capability theory of caring presented in this paper can help resolve the dispute between competing models for balancing work and caring. [/ Expand] I show how the capability theory of caring presented in this paper can help resolve the dispute between competing models for balancing work and caring. [/ Expand] I show how the capability theory of caring presented in this paper can help resolve the dispute between competing models for balancing work and caring. 

‘Communication as Commodity. Should the Media Be on the Market? ‘, In: Journal of Applied Philosophy 28 (1) (2011): 65-79.

Should media communication be left to the market, or rather (partly) removed from the market? This question is discussed by reconstructing an often-found ‘standard argument’ in the literature on the subject. This standard argument states that some form of marketindependent media provision is required since markets will fail to deliver a specific kind of high-quality content conducive to the democratic process. This paper argues that the standard argument is defective in several respects. By doing so, it reevaluates the way we think about the contribution of the media towards democracy and the role that the market is to play in this respect. First, the paper argues that the standard argument’s normative premise should not be couched in a welfarist theory but in terms of the capabilities that the media should strive to realise. Second, it sets the normative expectations of the media’s contribution towards the public sphere and democracy at too high a level. Third, the standard argument’s diagnosis of the market’s failure incorrectly assumes that the market can never generate the demand for highquality content. An alternative, more circumscribed claim about the market’s failure is presented, resting on two more contingent types of demand failure. 

‘Institutional Pluralism and the Limits of the Market’, in: Politics, Philosophy & Economics 8 (4) (2009): 420-447

This paper proposes a theory of institutional pluralism to deal with the question whether and to what extent limits should be placed on the market. It reconceives the pluralist position as it was presented by Michael Walzer and others in several respects. First, it argues that the options on the institutional menu should not be principles of distribution but rather economic mechanisms or ‘modes of provision’. This marks a shift from a distributive to a provisional logic. Second, it argues that we should drop the assumption that any good should only be placed in one sphere, i.e. distributed according to one distributive principle. This marks a shift to ‘complex pluralism’: for at least some goods it is appropriate that they are provided through the market and through one or more non-market alternatives simultaneously. Finally, it argues that the often used conventionalist justification should be traded for a capability approach to the moral evaluation of markets and non-market alternatives. Any institutional option on our menu has value to the extent that it enhances the morally relevant capabilities of the producers and/or consumers of the good that is to be provided. This approach will be illustrated with two examples of goods for which it yields complex pluralist conclusions: the provision of care and the provision of media content. These illustrations also show the emergence of two complications that need to be dealt with when complex pluralism is acknowledged: the interaction effects between different modes of provision and the stability of complex pluralist schemes. 

‘Scarcity’, in: Jan Peil & Irene van Staveren (eds.), Handbook of Ethics and Economics (London: Edward Elgar, 2009), 470-476.

‘The Status Struggle. A Recognition-based Interpretation of the Positional Economy’, in: Philosophy and Social Criticism 34 (9)(2008): 1021-1049. 

Competition for positional goods is an important feature of contemporary consumer societies. This paper discusses three strategies for a normative evaluation of positional competition. First it criticizes an evaluation in terms of people’s motives to engage in such competition. A reconstruction of an American debate over the status-motivation of consumer behavior shows how such an analysis founders on the difficulties of distinguishing between status and non-status motives for consumption. Second the paper criticizes an approach based on assessing the (positive and negative) externalities of positional competition. This approach is plagued by the methodological difficulty of determining the relevant externalities and their weight. The paper then puts forward a third kind of evaluation, in terms of recognition relations. Starting from Axel Honneth’s theory of recognition I will propose to think of positional competition as a struggle for one kind of recognition that is necessary to personal autonomy, i.e. recognition according to the principle of achievement. Finally, the paper discusses the question how we can assess the legitimacy of interferences with positional competition. I argue that the recognition-based approach has a better response to this question than the externalities-based approach, especially with regard to the liberal objection that such interference is a violation of personal freedom. 

‘Review of Adrian Walsh and Richard Giulianotti. Ethics, Money and Sport. This Sporting Mammon’, in: Journal of Applied Philosophy, 25(1)(2008): 75-77.

‘The Useful Myth of State Security. Reflections on the State’s Special Role in Security Provision’, in: Stephanie Roels en Madelon de Keizer (eds.). Staat van veiligheid. De Nederlandse samenleving sinds 1900 (Zutphen: Walburg Pers & Nederlands Instituut voor Oorlogsdocumentatie, 2007), 169-183. Reprinted in: Res Publica 18 (1)(2009): 1-7 (journal published by the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics of The University of Melbourne). [pre-print pdf]

Other Works in Political Theory

‘European Duties of Social Justice: A Kantian Framework’, in: Journal of Common Market Studies 57(1)(2019): 44-59. 

This contribution asks how to approach the question of whether the European Union should – replacing or supplementing member states – also be a locus of social justice‐based duties to provide welfare state services. The contribution scrutinizes two important theories of global justice (cosmopolitan and relational theories) and finds that their normative assumptions hinder them from adequately addressing this question. A new theory is proposed, inspired by Immanuel Kant's political philosophy. The core idea is that social justice requires public authorities to protect citizens against private forms of coercion; and that the level (national, European, global) at which such authority needs to be exercised depends on which arrangement best protects citizens' rights to independence. The paper outlines several duties of global justice to give specificity to this general principle, and then applies them to the case of integrating European welfare states. 

‘Rethinking the European Social Market Economy: Introduction to the Special Issue’, co-authored with Anna Gerbrandy, Sebastiaan Princen & Mathieu Segers, in: Journal of Common Market Studies 57(1)(2019): 3-12. Available at: https://dspace.library.uu.nl/handle/1874/374783

This contribution offers an introduction to the Special Issue ‘Rethinking the European Social Market Economy’. It places the Special Issue against the background of the debate on free markets versus social protection in the European Union and the inclusion of the notion of ‘social market economy’ in the Treaty on European Union. It sketches the meaning and development of the social market economy concept, and introduces the key questions underlying this Special Issue and the contributions included in it. 

‘Four Models of Protecting Citizenship and Social Rights in Europe: Conclusions to the Special Issue ‘Rethinking the European Social Market Economy’, co-authored with Anna Gerbrandy, Sebastiaan Princen & Mathieu Segers, in: Journal of Common Market Studies 57(1)(2019): 159-174. https://dspace.library.uu.nl/handle/1874/377873 

This article offers a synthesis of and conclusion to the contributions included in the Special Issue ‘Rethinking the European Social Market Economy’. Based on different understandings of citizenship in the European Union and the roles of the EU and its member states in providing social protection arrangements, it develops a typology of four models of the EU's role in social protection. It then discusses the contributions to this Special Issue in light of this typology and draws a number of overarching conclusions. 

‘Doing good together. Competition Law and the Political Legitimacy of Interfirm Cooperation’, co-authored with Anna Gerbrandy, in: Business Ethics Quarterly 28 (4)(2018): 401-425.

Demands have been growing upon firms to take actions in the interests of workers, the environment, local communities, and others. Firms sometimes have felt they could best discharge such responsibilities by cooperating with other firms. This, however, is suspect from the point of view of a purely economic interpretation of competition law, since interfirm agreements may raise prices and thus lower welfare for consumers. Should competition law remain focused on competition enhancing economic welfare, or be reformed to allow for acts of cooperation that are socially beneficial? To answer this question, the article provides a philosophical reevaluation of the deep-seated view that firms are merely private actors. It argues that demands of political legitimacy should also be addressed at firms cooperating together, and that standard views of democratic accountability should be broadened, introducing a model of delegated, sequential decision making which allows regulatory agencies and parliaments to control interfirm agreements.

‘Justice as a Claim to (Social) Property’, in: Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 21 (5)(2018): 631-645. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13698230.2017.1398867

Margaret Kohn argues for a reappraisal of early twentieth-century left-republican French political theory, known as ‘solidarism’. Solidarism recognises private property as legitimate, but at the same time argues that the collective nature of economic production gives rise to a claim to social property. It is social property that should underlie the case for social justice and social rights, not the standard liberal claims to individual autonomy. This paper provides an appraisal of Kohn’s recovery of solidarism, taking as its main theme the relation between property and social justice. The paper first offers a typology of four theories of justice (right- and left-libertarianism, luck and relational egalitarianism) and discusses the relation of each of these to the concept of property. Then it argues that solidarism is akin to left-libertarianism in the way it formulates justice as a claim to social property. Finally, it argues that solidarists cannot escape grounding their theory in a non-property based fundamental principle, which makes the theory much less distinctive from egalitarian theories of justice than may appear at first sight. 

‘Social Freedom and the Demands of Justice. A Study of Axel Honneth’s Recht der Freiheit, in: Constellations. An International Journal of Critical and Democratic Theory 21(1)(2014): 67-81

In his most recent voluminous work Das Recht der Freiheit(2011) Axel Honneth brings his version of the recognition paradigm to full fruition. Criticizing Kantian theories of justice, he develops a Hegelian alternative which has at its core a different conception of freedom. In this paper, I will scrutinize Honneths latest work to see whether he offers a promising alternative to mainstream liberal theories of justice. I will focus on two key differences with Kantian theories of justice. Substantively, Honneth criticizes the Kantian concept of ‘reflexive freedom’ and proposes instead as the core of his own theory the concept of ‘social freedom’. Methodologically, he proposes a method of ‘normative reconstruction’, and explicitly develops this in contrast to Kantian constructivism. I investigate the robustness of these shifts by seeing how they are actually used in Honneth’s reconstruction of the market sphere. I conclude that his method of normative reconstruction does not provide the kind of guidance Honneth thinks it does. His conception of social freedom fares slightly better but can either be reduced to the mainstream’s idea of reflexive freedom, or else faces some serious challenges. 

‘Sailing Alone. Teenage Autonomy and Regimes of Childhood’, co-authored with Joel Anderson, in: Law & Philosophy 31 (5)(2012): 495-522.

Should society intervene to prevent the risky behavior of precocious teenagers even if it would be impermissible to intervene with adults who engage in the same risky behavior? The problem is well illustrated by the legal case of the 13-year-old Dutch girl Laura Dekker, who set out in 2009 to become the youngest person ever to sail around the world alone, succeeding in January 2012. In this paper we use her case as a point of entry for discussing the fundamental question of how to demarcate childhood from adulthood. After summarizing the case, we identify a ‘demarcation dilemma’ that frames much of the public and expert debate. On the one hand, it seems morally imperative ‘to treat like alike’, which means that both children and adults should be allowed to undertake all actions for which they have the relevant competences. On the other hand, requiring proportional treatment of children and adults seems to neglect the special nature of childhood as a distinct stage in life that ends at a specific age. We introduce the notion of a ‘regime of childhood’ to deal with this problem. This regime includes several dimensions, including the limited liability for children, the supervisory responsibilities of parents, the role of age-based thresholds, and the overarching purpose of childhood as a context for developing autonomy. We argue that, all things considered, there are good reasons not to shift to a regime that offers individual children the option of qualifying for adulthood on the basis of age-neutral criteria. 

The Conservative Challenge to Liberalism’, in: Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 14(4)(2011): 465-485.

This paper reconstructs the political-theoretical triangle between liberalism, communitarianism and conservatism. It shows how these three positions are related to each other and to what extent they are actually incompatible. The substantive outcome is the following thesis: the conservative position poses a challenge to liberalism that communitarianism is unable to offer and that liberalism cannot incorporate as it could with communitarianism. This challenge lies in the conservative’s ideal of a traditionally evolved, purposeless form of civil association, and its associated view on the justification of authority within such forms of association. This ideal cannot be incorporated into liberalism’s overall concern with individual autonomy, in contrast to the communitarian’s ideal of community. This will be shown through an investigation of two key elements of the conservative ideal of civil association: its ‘purposelessness’ and its justification of authority. 

Justice in Regulation: Towards a Liberal Account, in: Jay Drydyk & Krushil Watene (eds), Theorizing Justice: Critical Insights and Future Directions (London: Rowman & Littlefield, 2016), 153-172.