What is this blog about?

What is this blog about?

I am a political philosopher. My 'political philosophy' is a form of 'liberal egalitarianism.' So in this blog I reflect on various issues in political philosophy and politics (especially Canadian and American politics) from a liberal egalitarian perspective.

If you are curious about what I mean by 'liberal egalitarianism,' my views are strongly influenced by the conception of justice advanced by John Rawls. (So I sometimes refer to myself as a 'Rawlsian,' even though I disagree with Rawls on some matters.)

Astonishingly, I am paid to write and teach moral and political philosophy. I somehow manage to do this despite my akratic nature. Here is my faculty profile.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

From Macbeth to political philosophy

William Shakespeare died 400 years ago today. It is partially his fault that I became a professional political philosopher.

In high-school we (the teenagers of Ontario) had to study one Shakespeare play every year. In grade 12 it was Macbeth. The students in my class were allowed to design their own assignments, so I decided to write a "Machiavellian" assessment of Macbeth's strategy and actions in achieving and using political power. This involved reading The Prince, summarizing the main points, and applying them to Macbeth.

I don't remember much of what I wrote now, but it was one of the very few high-school assignments that I did not put off until the night before it was due. I loved it.

When I went to university afterwards, I decided to take some courses on political theory because of that experience. And, many years later, I ended up teaching political philosophy for a living -- though not Machiavelli, alas, as he's generally not covered within philosophy courses.  (This is one of the noteworthy differences with respect to 'the canon' between 'political theory' as taught within political science departments, and 'political philosophy' as taught within philosophy departments. I started out in political science, and indeed began a PhD after completing a politics MPhil at Oxford, but eventually moved to philosophy.)

So to the Bard: happy 'death day'!

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