November 29, 2018
Presentation n°1 - Normalization of statutory rape in Costa Rica
Laura Cristina Blanco
School of Economics, Universidad de Costa Rica
On January 13th, 2017, came into effect the law 9406 Strengthening of legal protections for girls and teenage women facing gender violence related to abusive relations, which establishes the penalties for maintaining sexual relations with minors. We quantified the incidence of sexual abuse based on the criteria defined in the above-mentioned legislation using the National Survey of Sexual and Reproductive Health for the years 2010 and 2015. Although this dataset only allows for a conservative estimation of sexual abuse, four conclusions are drawn from our analysis: (i) at least a fifth of the Costa Rican population ages 15 and over has been a victim of sexual abuse. (ii) Abusive relations with minors affect women and men similarly, but women are more likely to suffer explicit and violent forms of sexual abuse. (iii) The estimated incidence of sexual abuse is statistically higher in 2015 than in 2010, suggesting an increase in sexual violence over time. And, (iv) most of this sexual abuse is not recognized as such by the population. In fact, only 10% of abuse victims in the sample report having suffered sexual abuse. This certainly suggests the normalization of sexual abuse in the Costa Rica and the need to further discuss this cultural acceptance of abusive relations. At the same time, a question can be posed on how to better design a policy in order to promote human capital accumulation that might serve as a substitute for sexual capital among certain groups where this abusive relations are more likely to take place.
Presentation n°2 - Should luck egalitarians correct gains from good luck?
Hoover Chair and Institute of Philosophy, UCLouvain
If not all, most luck egalitarians believe it is unfair when some individuals are worse off than others because of their bad luck. Many political philosophers have taken this famous principle to advocate for ‘brute luck egalitarianism’, the view that all inequalities due to unchosen luck should be corrected. I will argue, however, that the principle as such does not always support this conclusion. By itself, it does not always require correcting inequalities from good (unchosen) luck. It does not when 1) good luck benefits the least well off and 2) every disadvantaged non-beneficiary is responsible for having less than the beneficiaries. In reality, however, this rarely happens. As a result, and apart from such rare cases, luck egalitarians should correct gains from good luck. This shows that good luck can nearly always be corrected, not because it is intrinsically unfair, but because of its effect on bad luck.
Presentation n°3 - Theories of Justice: the Situationist Approach
School of Philosophy
Universidad de Costa Rica
The paper advances a distinctive approach to normativity or to the quest for principles of justice, namely the situationist approach. There is a cluster of views about principles of justice that work as if such principles ought to be designed in the abstract, independently of any social setting, and from/for individuals. Call it the standard view (e.g., Rawls, Dworkin). To address a situation x therein means to look at the application of pre-designed principles of justice. There is an opposing cluster of views that take any principle of justice to be fundamentally dependent on the context, that is, on the specific social settings where principles arise and generate its meaning and normative force. Call it the circumscribed view (e.g., MacIntyre, Taylor). To address a situation x therein amounts to extracting principles of justice from its context, if required (principles could be irrelevant, as they are replaced by communal social interaction). Against the light of the abovementioned views, the paper explains how the situationist view gets its distinctive reach and meaning. Situation and situations would thereby be the fundamental unit for principles of justice, between, within and beyond context. Along the lines of the situationist approach, the paper also points towards the possibility of speaking about Latin American political and moral philosophy proper.
Presentation n°4 - The limits of pluralism
Hoover Chair and Economics School of Louvain, UCLouvain
Scientific pluralists hold that there exist several possible acceptable ways of practicing science. Why should we hold pluralist views? And what limits should we give to pluralism? In this paper, I defend two claims. The first is a defence of pluralism, which has its source in Mill’s defence of freedom of expression. On the one hand, if we have no assurance that a particular scientific practice is the “good” one, it is better to allow for a variety of such practices, so as to maximise the chance of finding the good one. On the other hand, if we happen to know which practice is the good one, there is nevertheless no reason to ban concurrent practices, for the latter may help us refine the established scientific practice. This is especially true in economics, for what counts as “good economics” has not yet been settled. However, one could wonder what the limits of such pluralism are. Should everything count as science? The second claim that I shall defend is that there are limits to pluralism. A first “negative” limit is the following: a scientific practice cannot count as scientific in virtue of the fact that it happens to be the dominant practice, i.e. that it is the most widespread within universities and research centres. A second “positive” limit is the following: a scientific practice can be included within the pluralist scientific realm if there exists a community of practitioners that share this practice and if this community is able to provide a justification for its practice that is acceptable to other communities. Adequate justifications are of a specific kind: they must appeal to reasons that scientists of a particular community have for choosing to practice science in a certain way. These reasons must be acceptable, at least in principle, by other communities. These claims rely on two assumptions. First, scientists must be reasonable, i.e. they must be ready to listen to others’ reasons for doing science and possibly to accept them if this is justified. Second, scientists should have a minimal shared understanding of science, that is, some common values (epistemic values), such as rigour, consistency, commitment to truth, etc. Appeal to such values, which are largely accepted, is what makes a practice potentially justifiable to other scientific communities. These claims have several corollaries. First, this is an invitation to dialogue. Each community must justify its practice to others while trying to understand and evaluate others’ reasons. Second, defending pluralism does not mean that everyone should be a pluralist. Individual scientists can remain attached to a specific community, while accepting that other ways of doing science are also acceptable. Third, there is still a large space for disagreement. Scientists just need to agree on the core reasons that drive scientific inquiry, i.e. that motivate the choice of a peculiar practice, not on the particular content or methods of each others’ scientific inquiry.
Presentation n°5 - Understanding extractivism in border regions. Monoculture and dispossession in Costa Rica’s borderlands
Tania Rodríguez Echavarría
School of Geography, University of Costa Rica
Central American border regions are marked by the presence of massive extraction industries such as mining and oil as well as pineapple, banana, citric and palm oil monocultures. This presentation seeks to analyze the link between border regions and the presence of extraction industries for two case studies: the canton of Talamanca on the River Sixaola basin on the border between Costa Rica and Panamá) and the North Zone of Costa Rica on the border with Nicaragua. This presentation analyzes the historical and political factors that facilitated the establishment of extraction industries and identifies the main public and private actors that interfere in the pineapple and banana extraction processes. The growth of this kind of monocultures is depicted as a means of plundering and amassing land that causes high financial costs, and ecological and social damage in the study regions.
Presentation n°6 - What makes structural exploitation unjust?
Hoover Chair and Institute of Philosophy, UCLouvain
Sometimes agents can be exploited, even though no individual agent is responsible for exploiting. For instance, sometimes individual employers face a choice between paying exploitative wages or being driven out of the market. Rather than considering these cases as morally innocent, I argue, we should understand them as forms of structural exploitation. In this paper I discuss what it means to speak of structural exploitation and what makes this form of exploitation unjust. My argument proceeds in three steps. First I use the labour market as a case to exemplify exploitation without individual exploiters. Second, from this discussion I draw theoretical implications for understanding the concept of structural exploitation. Third, I provide some ideas about the normative implications of a concept of structural exploitation and argue that understanding exploitation in structural terms provides a useful tool for critique.