A moderate feasibility test for normative theory
in Towards a just Europe
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This chapter addresses the question, what should a feasibility test for the proposals presented in the previous chapters look like? The author begins by distinguishing “temporary” from “pervasive” feasibility. Temporary unfeasibility results from circumstances that can arguably be overcome, such as the preferences of voters at a specific moment of time. In opposition, pervasive unfeasibility is linked to barriers that human agency cannot reasonably be expected to overcome, such as the efficiency costs associated with certain policy proposals. The author contends that the debate amongst political theorists should focus on pervasive feasibility, leaving temporary feasibility for political strategists. Furthermore, he claims that a test on pervasive unfeasibility should refer to a particular paradigm of social order – what he dubs “constrained” feasibility tests. He presents four criteria for assessing the feasibility status of a liberal democratic theory of distributive justice: (1) fitting the political culture of a given community, at least to a certain degree; (2) being economically sustainable; (3) being translatable into functioning policies and institutions; and (4) being consistent with the degree of social solidarity amongst the individuals who are to be bound by the proposed policies. The author argues that to be feasible, an account of distributive justice has to meet each of these four criteria.

Towards a just Europe

A theory of distributive justice for the European Union

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