Political Virtues and Feminist Ideals of Justice - Kathryn MacKay (Sydney)

Speaker: Kathryn MacKay

Abstract:  This paper is a part of a project that is aiming to develop a theory of virtue for socio-political institutions. Public Health is the institution that I focus on as a kind of exemplar throughout this project. I have published a paper earlier this year that argues that there is a way to conceptualise virtue operating at the level of institutions, and that public health has a role to play in producing and reproducing the structures that influence conditions for virtue or vice among a society. My overall view is that a theory of political virtue (that is, virtues of the polis, not of politicians) should be incorporated into public health ethics. The argument in the current paper has two parts. The first, which I have done some work toward establishing already (but requires further development) is that the virtues of a society (its political virtues) are engendered and enabled by social structures. The second, is that feminist ideals of justice can provide the telos toward which political virtues and their structuring mechanisms aim. This proposal leads to a puzzle, which is how to extract relevant virtues from an ideal of justice in order to improve society. Because I am focussed on public health as my exemplar institution, I am thinking about which virtues public health in particular could structure to engender a better society. I have proposed, but have yet to explain, that compassion, friendship, and justice-as-virtue (or justness) could be three of these virtues. Many of the ideas herein require a good deal of further study, development and argumentation.

- Post-talk (grads only) from 4-5 in the conference room (6.71) 
- Drinks at Badger & Co at 5 
- Dinner at Indian Accent at 6:30, subsidized for grad students. Jot your name down here if you'd like to join. 

Please note that these seminars are open to the public and in person only.

Date & time

Thu 03 Nov 2022, 2:00pm to 3:30pm


Auditorium, Level 1, RSSS building, 146 Ellery Crescent, Acton, ACT 2601


Kathryn MacKay (Sydney)


Sarita Rosenstock


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