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.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The Anti-Trump Overlapping Consensus

Only 11 days into the new American regime and its cruelty and incompetence is manifestly clear. But as Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo notes, none of the horrible actions being taken by the Trump regime should surprise anyone. Trump ran on an anti-Muslim, anti-Mexican, pro-authoritarian, white nationalist agenda. What I find disorienting is not so much the horrific substance of what the Trump regime is doing (which I expected), but its breakneck pace and incompetence—that is, its sheer chaos.

With respect to the ham-fisted Muslim ban announced on Friday, its immorality and imprudence is well explained in this Vox interview with the prominent political theorist Joseph Carens. (Carens has produced more important work on the ethics of migration over the past four decades than anyone else.)

I’m gratified that the (US-based) professional organizations to which I belong—the American Association of University Professionals, the American Philosophical Association, and the Association for Political Theory—have all denounced Trump’s Muslim ban.

Here is the UWM (University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee) AAUP statement:
We, the UWM Chapter of the American Association for University Professionals, state our unequivocal condemnation of the immigration and travel ban enacted by President Trump on January 27, 2017, and affirm our support for our students and colleagues affected by it. We recognize the ban as part of a broader agenda that threatens the university and the very spirit of the Wisconsin Idea. 
Many colleagues, graduate and undergraduate students at our university are citizens of the seven countries affected by this executive order.  In Fall 2016, 104 graduate students from these nations attended UWM. Many other students are citizens of other Muslim-majority countries of the Middle East. All these people are full members of the university community; the university belongs to all of us. The travel restriction interferes with their studies, their work as intellectuals, and their freedom of movement as people. 
We affirm that public universities are places of free inquiry and collective endeavor for all people, regardless of race, religion, sexual identity, or national origin. We are a nation of immigrant entrepreneurs and refugees, travelers, slaves and indigenous occupants; at UWM, our diversity is our strength in research, teaching, and community service. 
We likewise affirm our support for the many students, faculty, and staff throughout the UW System and across the country, facing discriminatory and exclusionary migration policies. We reiterate AAUP-UWM’s advocacy for the rights of our undocumented students to security and privacy. We call on our university leadership to speak out whenever and wherever possible on these pressing issues.
Here is the APA statement:
American participation in the global exchange of ideas depends on free movement of students and scholars to and from institutions of higher education, academic conferences, and other venues for study, research, and scholarly interaction. The executive order issued on January 27 limiting entry into the United States by refugees and those from seven predominantly Muslim countries, and deterring travel abroad by immigrants in the US, disrupts the work of philosophers and scholars in all disciplines around the world and impedes students, teachers, and researchers from engaging in their educational and professional pursuits. 
The APA’s mission is to foster open dialogue and the free exchange of ideas. Inclusion and respect for diverse people, religions, cultures, and ideas are at the very core of our work. This order goes against these values—values on which the United States itself was founded. 
The APA is working to assess the impact of this executive order on our members and participants in our upcoming meetings. We will take steps to ensure that those affected are able to participate in our meetings to the fullest extent feasible and to advocate for and support philosophers whose lives and work are harmed by this order. 
We stand with learned societies, colleges and universities, and others around the world in calling on the President and Congress to reverse this executive order and to denounce religious intolerance in all its forms.
And here is the APT statement:
The Association of Political Theory condemns, in the strongest terms, the travel ban recently issued by the federal government and demands that it be immediately rescinded.  As clarified in our mission statement, the purpose of the APT is to promote the study of political theory and political philosophy in North America by advancing scholarly interaction, collaboration, and debate among political theorists from diverse intellectual perspectives. Our membership includes scholars from many different parts of the world including those covered by this travel ban. As an Association, we stand both with these scholars and in solidarity with all refugees and immigrants who have been negatively impacted and endangered by this executive order. We now commit to taking concrete actions to prevent the harms to our members that this policy threatens.  We will begin exploring ways to do this and we welcome suggestions from our members about how best to help.
I’m also relieved to note that I have yet to interact personally with any academic who is remotely sympathetic to the new Trump regime and its manifestly malevolent policies. To use a Rawlsian term, there seems to be an ‘overlapping consensus’—amongst liberal egalitarians, centrist liberals, classical liberals, libertarians, democratic socialists, etc.—against the quasi-fascist regime now wreaking havoc in Washington D.C.  

To conclude this post, this strikes me as a spot on representation of the real power at work in the White House:

[Comic from here.]

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