Penn Journal of Philosophy: Volume 11, Issue 1

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  • Publication
    Energy Policy: Regional Differences and Regulatory Choices
    (2017-11-14) Lane, Madison
    Government regulation in the realm of energy policy is difficult due to the scope and diversity of regional energy differences, as well as the political context through which the issue is framed. There is largely a focus on the negative economic impacts of regulation, and a lack of emphasis on the possibility of economic success through transition to cleaner sources of energy. Ultimately, there is a general neglect in policy decision making of the connection between policy output on the national level and policy outcomes on the state and local level. By assessing the merits of different regulatory approaches and exploring the behavioral economic bases of effective past regulations, policymakers may overcome these challenges. This paper will address the tensions between federal, state, and local governments in the design and implementation of energy regulatory policy. A literature review will provide an explanation of the leading theories of regulatory policy design to serve as a framework through which to critique the national approach to energy policy. An exploration of relevant cases in energy and environmental policy, as well as telling analogues in education policy, will attempt to provide insight into the general failures of one-size-fits-all federal measures, as well as the difficulty associated with state-by-state variations in policy outcomes. Finally, a look into the proposed Clean Power Plan will assess the extent to which the federal government is taking note of these difficulties and transitioning to more wide-ranging flexible regulatory approaches in order to promote more effective outcomes and address pressing environmental issues.
  • Publication
    The Law and Economics of Databases: A Balancing Act
    (2017-11-14) Huang, Ya Shon
    In this paper, I demonstrate that the existing legal frameworks for database protection are inadequate – the American framework under-protects databases, while the European framework over-protects. This paper presents an economic analysis of the current scope of legal protections for databases versus the ideal, with an especial emphasis on the role of intellectual property rights in providing these protections, and concludes with proposals for an ideal system. After an overview of the current systems of legal protections for databases in the United States (US) and the European Union (EU), there will be an explanation of how different types of laws (competition, contract, and most importantly, intellectual property rights) impact the production and innovation of databases. The analysis will show that intellectual property rights are the most comprehensive and efficient form of legal protection due to its ability to limit transaction costs, provide adequate incentives for production, and maintain a reasonable barrier to entry. The scope and specificity of legal protections affects both the static and dynamic efficiency of markets, impacting not just the health of market functions, but also the growth and development of innovation. The proper scope of protection and whether intellectual property rights are the optimal source of protection depends on the economic nature of databases. If databases were to be treated as a commodity by the law, it is necessary for the law to accurately reflect the type of good that it is regulating, as different types of goods require different incentive structures. The paper will conclude with recommendations for an ideal legal system for the protection and regulation of databases, starting with accurately defining databases and ending with reasonable terms for copyrights. The solution is to find the balance between the US and the EU systems in terms of issue definition, economic incentives, and legal theory.
  • Publication
    Letter from the Editor
    (2017-11-14) Gupta, Ira
  • Publication
    Questioning the Advances in Global Trade: An Assessment of the Development Chapter in the Trans-Pacific Partnership
    (2017-11-14) Gerow, Alice
    The Trans-Pacific Partnership is on its way to becoming the largest trade deal ever made and proposes to write the rules for global trade. The TPP includes several novelties in trade negotiation such as a chapter specifically interested in issues surrounding development. This paper offers a content-based analysis of the TPP’s Development chapter to gauge the value of this symbolic addition. In order to make this assessment, the United Nations Conference for Trade and Development, the intergovernmental organization responsible for assisting developing nations in the negotiation of trade deals, serves as a reference point for the representation of developing nations’ interests and the agenda for international development. Our first finding is that the Development chapter is not inconsistent with the UNCTAD’s charter, but is too imprecise to represent an effective negotiation tool for the benefit of the TPP’s developing members. Extending beyond the Development chapter, our second finding is that other chapters in the TPP, such as the Intellectual Property chapter and the Investment chapter, paradoxically present clear obstructions to developmental national policies, so that the TPP needs to be reworked to provide more negotiation power and preferential treatment to its developing members in order to base future trade deals on a more level footing and go beyond the standards enacted by former mega-regional trade deals.
  • Publication
    A Theoretical Account of Electoral Reform in the UK
    (2017-11-14) Peelish, Natalie
    The United Kingdom, a nation that utilizes the plurality electoral system of First Past the Post (FPTP), has proposed electoral reform twice over the past twenty years, in 1997 and 2011 respectively, under two different governments. Despite reaching a referendum in 2011, electoral reform was an utter failure on both occasions and FPTP prevails in the UK today. This article utilizes salient theories of electoral reform to provide an in-depth analysis of both occasions of reform proposition. The article ultimately concludes that given the complex circumstances under which reform initiation has occurred in the UK, electoral reform theories accounting for both the institutional conditions and the interests of relevant political actors are necessary in explaining why parties proposed electoral reform in both 1997 and 2011.