Selecting Feasibility Constraints: The Circularity of Normative Criteria
In the last few years, scholars have paid growing attention to the impact of facts affecting the implementation and the content of normative principles and rules. Some kind of accordance between facts and norms is necessary in order to obtain feasible normative political prescriptions, and the feasibility is very often interpreted as a requirement of normative political theories. However, currently there is not a commonly accepted formalisation of such a feasibility requirement. So, the prior purpose of the research is to establish a criterion suggesting which facts are feasibility constraints. The main problem of such an analysis is to find out a formal and adequate methodological rule to distinguish simple facts from facts that can be considered feasibility constraints. In order to solve this problem, two approaches have been suggested: the first approach introduces practical criteria for the selection of feasibility constraints; the second approach introduces normative criteria for the selection of feasibility constraints. In this short essay, I will analyse and criticize the normative criteria that are used for the selection of feasibility constraints. My aim is to show that normative criteria selecting factual constraints are methodologically circular given that they allow that the normative theories themselves define the features of soft constraints. So, I will hold that these criteria are vicious because they allow that morality interfere in the selection of factual constraints. I will conclude that normative feasibility requirements are not adequate. In order to hold this argument, I will consider the normative feasibility criteria suggested by Hahn and by Räikkä, that are the two main normative criteria to select feasibility constraints. The essay is structured in three paragraphs. In the first paragraph, I will roughly introduce some fundamental notions used in the research about feasibility. The aim of this paragraph is to clarify some terms that I will use hereinafter. In the second paragraph, I will describe the Griffin/Hahn normative criterion for the selection of factual constraints. So, I will try to show that it is methodologically circular. In the third paragraph, I will describe Räikkä’s normative criterion for the selection of factual constraints. So, I will try to show that it is methodologically circular. In the conclusion, I will sum up the circular argument of normative feasibility criteria. Thus, I will suggest that practical feasibility requirements could be preferable because they do not collapse in this circularity.