Articles by SSE Riga Assistant Professor Xavier Landes
Monday 11/12/2017

Articles by SSE Riga Assistant Professor Xavier Landes

SSE Riga Assistant Professor Xavier Landes recently has co-edited articles for multidisciplinary journal on the normative challenges of public policies and social practices. The journal “The Ethics Forum” covers the three branches of interdisciplinary research in ethics: the foundations of ethics, normative ethics, and applied ethics. 

SSE Riga Assistant Professor Xavier Landes togeher with Klemens Kappel (University of Copenhagen) and Martin Marchman (Technical University of Denmark) has co-edited a special issue of "The Ethics Forum/Les Ateliers de l'Éthique" on Public Participation, Legitimate Political Decisions, and Controversial Technologies. 

“The idea was to compile contribution from political and moral thinkers about the effect that controversial technologies have on political legitimacy, especially regarding the paradigm that posits that legitimacy in democracy stems from the consent or participation of the citizens,” reveals Xavier Landes.

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Within the issue SSE Riga Assistant Professor Xavier Landes peer-reviewed article titled "Consensus and Liberal Legitimacy: From First to Second Best?". Xavier Landes explains:

“In this article, I claimed that consensus can be interpreted as the first best for part of the liberal tradition on political legitimacy. According to this interpretation, the consent of all would represent the first best that, if not attainable, would need to be approximated in one way or another (e.g. through majority rule in voting or hypothetical consent), i.e. to get the consent of as many citizens as possible. Consensus as the first best could also explain why we perceive, in liberal societies, compromises as politically (if not morally inferior).

In this framework and following the works of other political theorists, I am questioning whether the theorem of the second best (i.e. the fact to drop all first best conditions in the case where the first cannot be attained) offers any fruitful guidelines for public decision-making in situations where approximating consensus is infeasible or undesirable because of epistemological or factual disagreements. One example of such disagreements is the controversy on the hazards GMOs represent for human health.

Contrary to what some theorists suggest, I conclude that the fecundity of the theorem of the second best is not self-evident, that more work is required and that, at the end of the day, the theorem seems to advocate for some sort of pragmatism.”

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Xavier Landes is an assistant professor at SSE Riga. After studying economics, political science and philosophy, Landes got his Ph.D. in philosophy from Université de Montréal in 2008. He has worked at various institutions such as Université de Montréal (CRE), the University of Toronto (Centre for Ethics), the University of Copenhagen, Université Catholique de Lille, and Institut d'Études Politiques de Lille. His fields of specialization are political philosophy and normative economics with an emphasis on business ethics, happiness and the welfare state. His present project at SSE Riga is to determine the moral obligations of public and private institutions, mostly the state, corporations and markets, in relation to well-being and sustainability.

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