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Title: Social justice in the European Union : a social democratic ideal for an 'ever closer union'
Author: Viehoff, Juri
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2014
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In recent decades the European Union has moved from a multilateral treaty to a distinctive social, political, and economic order among European states. During the same period political philosophers have increasingly turned their attention to questions of justice beyond the state. But their discussions have largely focused on global justice, and have paid relatively little attention to the distinctive moral and political questions raised by the emergence of a new type of order among European states. This thesis fills this lacuna, by developing a conception of ‘social democratic’ or ‘egalitarian’ social justice for the specific institutional arrangements of the EU. In Chapters one through three, I delineate a general conception of ‘pluralist egalitarianism’, the view that we have a variety of grounds for endorsing equality-inclined economic institutions domestically. Direct egalitarian arguments stress the internal requirements of institutional fairness to which basic economic institutions are subject. Indirect egalitarian arguments favour egalitarian economic outcomes based on concerns of social equality. I further differentiate between a transnationalist and an internationalist position. Direct transnationalist arguments stress the EU’s similarity to domestic institutions and derive egalitarian economic requirements for the EU as a whole. Indirect transnationalists argue that EU citizens stand in a distinctive kind of relationship such that the value of social equality has purchase amongst them, and social equality requires a limitation on economic inequalities at the EU level. By contrast, internationalists insist on the continuing importance of national self-determination. However, they endorse more substantive economic institutions at the EU level to protect existing social democratic welfare state arrangements. In chapter four to seven, I assess the extent to which each of these arguments can support a more egalitarian organisation of basic economic institutions at the EU level. Finally, I offer one practical proposal that would help the EU to realise the social democratic vision I have defended. This is the idea of an EU social minimum. I explain how such a social minimum would be conceived and implemented, and I demonstrate why transnationalists and internationalists should endorse such a policy.
Supervisor: Miller, David; Nicolaidis, Kalypso Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Practical ethics ; European democracies ; social justice ; European Union ; distributive justice ; global justice ; equality ; legitimacy