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Political Philosophy and the Real World of the Welfare State

Wolff, J; (2015) Political Philosophy and the Real World of the Welfare State. Journal of Applied Philosophy , 32 (4) pp. 360-372. 10.1111/japp.12125. Green open access

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Abstract

What contribution can political philosophers make to policy questions, such as the best configuration of the welfare state? On one view, political philosophers set out abstract theories of justice that can guide policy makers in their attempt to transform existing institutions. Yet it rarely seems the case that such a model is used in practice, and it therefore becomes unclear how political philosophy can contribute to policy debates. Following a suggestion from Margaret MacDonald, I consider the view that political philosophers can contribute by drawing attention to relatively neglected values. I develop this view to add the possibility that political philosophers can try to correct a situation in which a particular value, though important, can come to be too highly emphasised. I illustrate the account by considering the rise of the value of ‘responsibility’ in the welfare state, and ultimately the damage that has been done to society to disadvantaged groups by the over-insistence on the importance of responsibility.

Type: Article
Title: Political Philosophy and the Real World of the Welfare State
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1111/japp.12125
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/japp.12125
Language: English
Additional information: This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Wolff, J; (2015) Political Philosophy and the Real World of the Welfare State. Journal of Applied Philosophy , 32 (4) pp. 360-372, which has been published in final form at http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/japp.12125. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1472250
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