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  • 1.
    Ohlström, Marcus
    Växjö University, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, School of Social Sciences.
    Applying Nozick to Contemporary Society2007Conference paper (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    According to Robert Nozick, no state larger than the minimal can be justified. In this paper it is argued that when applied to contemporary society, his entitlement theory does not support this conclusion. As acknowledged by Nozick himself, the entitlement theory cannot be applied until a one-time redistribution of property has been performed, rectifying historical injustices made. What Nozick chooses to ignore is that when preparing for this one-time redistribution, not only the pattern of distribution but also the ownership structures themselves would be up for negotiation. Drawing on the literature on the commons, here it is argued that when agreeing on ownership structures, rational, self-interested individuals would place crucial resources under joint ownership, thus giving rise to a joint collective that (using Nozick’s own terminology) must be regarded as a more than minimal state. It is shown that a state so arisen would not only have come to be without violating any Nozickian rights, but also that it would be far more powerful then the democratic state so vividly pictured as despotic by Nozick.

  • 2.
    Ohlström, Marcus
    Växjö University, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, School of Social Sciences. Statsvetenskap.
    Diversity Within – Multiculturalism Reapplied to the Nation State2008Conference paper (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    When outlining his theory of a liberal multiculturalism, Will Kymlicka argues that having ‘access to a viable cultural structure’ is a necessity for our ability to choose good lives for ourselves. Not because the range of options available to us are otherwise being diminished, but because it is the examples provided by our culture, through the stories we are told and through the roles we see others adopt, that explains and renders the different ways of life vivid to us. Without access to a rich cultural structure our lives may therefore be empty and vain, devote of all meaning. All this, Kymlicka continues, is of special concern in multicultural societies. While the majority culture is upheld and expressed simply by being lived in public and by being articulated in our common traditions, minority cultures that are not actively supported may eventually be eroded. A multicultural society dedicated to treat every citizen with equal concern and respect must therefore, Kymlicka concludes, actively promote not only the majority culture but the minority cultures as well.

    So far so good. What Kymlicka doesn’t do—and what I intent to do further on—is to bring this arguments back to the nation state. Kymlicka’s primary interest lies with issues of multiculturalism and his intention is to show how considerations of justice may arise when one cultural structure is subordinated to another. If we take Kymlicka’s argument seriously, we must ask ourselves what ‘access to a viable cultural structure’ really means, if everyone in a given cultural group can be said to have the same access, and, ultimately, whether or not differences in this respect raises considerations of justice not only between different groups, but within them as well. The nation state with its presumed cultural homogeneity provides a suitable milieu to deal with these issues. I will therefore leave the problems posed by the multicultural society behind, retaining only the theoretical contributions from multicultural theory.

    So, finally, back to the beginning, what do we need to be able to choose good lives for ourselves? Kymlicka suggests that it is access to cultural structures, but surely it cannot be cultural structures themselves, but rather cultural fragments drawn from such structures. To better understand Kymlicka’s argument, we ought therefore to provide a more nuanced understanding of cultural structures and of how we as individual beings interact with our cultural structures and how we draw material from them. In this paper, as a first step in a larger project, the goods of culture are therefore mapped. What do we need to live good lives? How do we need it? How is our need affected by the needs of others and of what others have? These and similar issues are dealt with, and in the end a more sophisticated concept of culture than the one suggested by Kymlicka is advanced. Finally, without making any claims about the politics we ought to pursue, it is argued that to be consistent, we have no choice but to either abandon Kymlicka’s demands for a politics of multiculturalism altogether, or expand it to include concerns for group-internal differences too.

  • 3.
    Ohlström, Marcus
    Linnaeus University, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, School of Social Sciences.
    Esperienze e Giustizia: Sui Limiti del Riconoscimento2010In: Iride: Filosofia e discussione pubblica, ISSN 1122-7893, Vol. 23, no 60, p. 443-448Article in journal (Other academic)
  • 4.
    Ohlström, Marcus
    Linnaeus University, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, School of Social Sciences.
    Experiences and Justice: On the Limits of Recognition2011In: Iris: European Journal of Philosophy and Public Debate, ISSN 2036-3257, Vol. 3, no 5, p. 205-210Article in journal (Other academic)
  • 5.
    Ohlström, Marcus
    Växjö University, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, School of Social Sciences.
    Individuell autonomi och den aktiva staten (Individual Autonomy and State Perfectionism)2007In: Statsvetenskaplig Tidskrift, ISSN 0039-0747, Vol. 109, no 1, p. 3-22Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [sv]

    The liberal state, it has been argued, must be neutral between different conceptions of the good. Honouring individual autonomy and embodying ideals such as fairness and impartiality, the doctrine of state neutrality is intuitively appealing. Working as a restraint for state actions it is however problematic. In this paper, a possible solution to this predicament is outlined. Drawing on the distinction between liberty and what gives worth to liberty, it is argued that we must never accept non-neutral restrictions of liberty itself, but may pursue non-neutral policies affecting the distribution of what gives worth to liberty and may impose taxes funding non-neutral state actions, although such taxation inevitable limits the worth of our liberty. It is suggested that we, by adopting such a policy of limited state perfectionism, can recognize the right to individual autonomy without having to restrain the state from doing the good it can.

  • 6.
    Ohlström, Marcus
    Linnaeus University, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, School of Social Sciences.
    Inget stöd för ändrad abortlag2011Other (Other (popular science, discussion, etc.))
  • 7.
    Ohlström, Marcus
    Linnaeus University, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, School of Social Sciences.
    Justice and the Prejudices of Culture: On Choice, Social Background and Unequal Opportunities in the Liberal Society2012Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    Egalitarian liberal theories of justice – so this dissertation argues – fail to take into accountthe full implications of the way citizens’ socio-cultural backgrounds work to undermine theequal opportunities these same theories demand. While egalitarians support extensiveredistribution of income and wealth from the privileged to the less privileged, and advocateequal opportunities for all, they do not properly attend either to how our shared societalcultures structure social esteem and related advantages, or to how our individual socioculturalenvironments structure the very act of choice. They thus fail to acknowledge ourunequal opportunities to make choices which bring us esteem and related advantages,particularly the advantages that flow from our having established for ourselves lives thatothers consider good.

    Alternative approaches to the interplay between justice, culture, and choice are rejected forillegitimately restricting the right to go our own way (communitarianism), or for regulatingpolitically that which cannot legitimately be regulated politically (recognition theory).Against the former position it is argued that we should draw on our culturalunderstandings, not to restrict free choice, but to identify opportunities to be safeguarded.Against the latter it is argued that we should not renegotiate prevailing cultural structurespolitically, but rather acknowledge these same structures and ensure that no one falls too farbehind in the competition for the advantages they generate.

    Suggesting that one of the more thoroughgoing hierarchies of esteem and disesteem is thatattached to our occupational positions, broadly construed, the dissertation concretizes theclaims defended in relation to this hierarchy in particular. It is argued that the just societyowes it to its citizens to protect them from involuntary occupation of positions that comewith potentially harmful disesteem attached. It is not for society to overrule theindependent choices of citizens, however, but rather to provide enduring opportunities totraining and education for more highly regarded positions, thus both equalizingopportunities to esteem and related advantages, and ensuring that those who continue tooccupy positions at the lower end of the hierarchy in question do so through their owngenuinely free choice.

    Download full text (pdf)
    Marcus Ohlström. 2012. Justice and the Prejudices of Culture
  • 8.
    Ohlström, Marcus
    Växjö University, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, School of Social Sciences.
    Liberal Distribution and Socially Valued Goods2007Conference paper (Other academic)
  • 9. Ohlström, Marcus
    Liberal Neutrality and the Domain of the Political2014In: Review Journal of Political Philosophy, ISSN 1752-2056, Vol. 11, no 1, p. 31-54Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The paper suggests and defends a principled way to strike a balance between the two conflicting demands for individual sovereignty and the possibility to address politically matters affecting the many. Revisiting the debate on liberal neutrality and drawing on the Rawlsian distinction between liberty and what gives worth to liberty, it is argued that policies affecting liberty must always be neutral in aim, while policies affecting the distribution of the resources giving worth to liberty need not. This way, we restrict the means available to pursue political goals rather than the range of permissible goals itself. We thereby allow for political influence over a wide array of matters, but leave the final right to decide to the individual herself. Having outlined some of the advantages of such a view, it is suggested that liberal theory henceforth should pay less attention to what the state may do, and more to how the state may do what it sets out to do.

  • 10.
    Ohlström, Marcus
    Växjö University, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, School of Social Sciences.
    Liberal Neutrality and the Domain of the Political2009Conference paper (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    Revisiting the debate on individual sovereignty vs. democratic decision making, in this paper a new demarcation line between pre-politically secured individual rights and the domain of the political is proposed. Drawing on the Rawlsian distinction between liberty and what gives worth to liberty, it is argued that state policies affecting individual liberty must be neutral in regard to substantive (and competing) conceptions of the good and therefore pre-politically settled, while policies affecting the distribution of the resources giving worth to liberty may politically decided. Drawing the line thus would provide a wider domain of the political than is done by neutralists such as John Rawls or Ronald Dworkin, but instead restrict the means available to pursue politically decided goals. More specifically, subsidies and support by redistribution of material as well as non-material resources would be allowed, even for non-neutral policies, but not the restriction of one person’s liberty for the perfectionist good of someone else. Finally, following this line of argument, it is suggested that liberal theory should pay less attention to which goals the state may strive towards, and more to how the state may do what it sets out to do.

  • 11.
    Ohlström, Marcus
    Växjö University, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, School of Social Sciences. Statsvetenskap.
    Mapping the Goods of Culture2008Conference paper (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    According to Will Kymlicka, Joseph Raz, and others, our ability to choose good lives for ourselves are preconditioned by us having ‘access to viable cultural structures’. This is not because the range of options available to us are otherwise being diminished, but because it is through the examples provided by our culture (e.g. through the stories we are told and the roles we see others adopt) that different ways of life are explained and rendered vivid to us. However, from a normative individualist point of view, what ultimately matters is not the cultural structures themselves, but rather how we as individuals relate to those same structures. If we are to take this argument seriously, we must therefore clarify what the goods of culture are, why we need them, and ask ourselves what ‘access to viable cultural structures’ really means.

    In this paper, as a first step in a larger project, the goods of culture are therefore being mapped. Moreover, the distribution of cultural goods is being assessed from an egalitarian perspective. It is suggested that if such goods are unequally distributed within a given cultural group, i.e. if not everyone can be said to have the same access to the goods of culture, considerations of justice may arise not only between cultural groups (as argued, for example, by Kymlicka), but within them too. Finally it is argued that if such group-internal inequalities exist and do give rise to considerations of justice, we have no choice but to either abandon Kymlicka’s demands for a politics of multiculturalism altogether, or expand it to include concerns for group-internal differences too.

  • 12.
    Ohlström, Marcus
    Växjö University, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, School of Social Sciences. Statsvetenskap.
    Neutrality, Perfectionism, and Individualism2007Conference paper (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    Revisiting the debate on liberal neutrality versus liberal perfectionism, in this paper it is suggested both ideals, properly weighted against each other, ought to have their place in a liberal theory of justice. Earlier efforts made to unite the two ideals are criticized for not being individualistic enough and an alternative solution is advanced and defended. Drawing on the distinction between liberty and what gives worth to liberty, it is argued that liberty may only be restricted on neutral grounds, but that perfectionist considerations may be allowed to affect the distribution of the resources giving worth to liberty. Balancing neutrality against perfectionism along this line would allow perfectionist state policies to be pursued, but would restrict the means available for doing so. More specifically, it would allow subsidies and support for selected activities by redistribution of the resources giving worth to liberty, material as well as non-material, but it would not allow the restriction of one person’s liberty for the perfectionist good of someone else. It would thereby secure everyone’s right to choose and strive for their own conception of the good life, without limiting the domain of the political to only that which can be justified on neutral grounds. Finally, following this line of argument, it is suggested liberal theory should pay less attention to which goals the state may strive towards, and more to how the state may do what it sets out to do.

  • 13.
    Ohlström, Marcus
    Linnaeus University, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, School of Social Sciences.
    Rawslian Self-Esteem and the Principle of Perfection2010Conference paper (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    Revisiting Rawls’ intertwined writings on self-respect and self-esteem and properly distinguishing the two, both conceptually and as threads in Rawls texts, this paper argues that his model might serve to establish equality in the social bases of self-respect, but not in those of self-esteem. For Rawls, our self-respect is tied to our political status as equal citizens, while our self-esteem is related to our personal achievements as socially assessed within what he calls associations of peers. With Rawls, it is argued that this model for self-esteem presupposes that no society-wide value-horizons emerge, ordering these associations hierarchically, since the subordination of some such associations to others would reflect negatively on the self-esteem of the members of subordinated groups. Contra Rawls, however, it is argued that the rejection of the principle of perfection, invoked by Rawls to establish the necessary conditions, will fail to deliver what is needed. Since this principle is (and can be) rejected only as a political principle, not as a social principle, it is related only to our standing as citizens and thus to our self-respect, not to the social assessment of our achievements and thus not to our self-esteem.

  • 14.
    Ohlström, Marcus
    Linnaeus University, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, School of Social Sciences.
    Rawslian Self-Esteem and Unequal Opportunities2011Conference paper (Other academic)
1 - 14 of 14
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