What Is the Point of Nondomination?

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This paper examines the following distinctive republican claims: (1) goodwill and virtuous self-restraint are insufficient to realize freedom; and (2) suitable law is constitutive of freedom. In the contemporary literature, these claims are commonly defended in connection with the conception of freedom as nondomination. This account, however, is often rejected on the grounds that freedom as nondomination is moralized and impossible to realize. In response, I propose that the point of protecting people from domination is better understood not as realizing freedom, but instead as giving persons a civic status as equals. Giving persons a civic status as equals, I claim, realizes an important form of social or 'relational' equality, and I distinguish this aim from giving persons a 'status as nondominated’, as some republicans require. I argue that this account vindicates alternative claims about the insufficiency of goodwill and constitutive importance of suitable law—understood in terms of equality rather than freedom—while avoiding the moralization and impossibility objections. I conclude by suggesting some further advantages of the proposed account versus the standard republican view. 
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Ethics and Social Philosophy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jul 2023


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