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 9, 2018


Now available online (and for free!): a symposium on Gerald Gaus’s recent book, The Tyranny of the Ideal: Justice in a Diverse Society (Princeton University Press, 2016).

The collection is edited by Ryan Muldoon, and includes papers by Scott E. Page, David Wiens, Fred D'Agostino, Kevin Vallier, and Gerald Gaus. Lori Watson and yours truly also have a paper in it: “The Tyranny—or the Democracy—of the Ideal?”. Here is the abstract for our paper:
In this article we defend the 'Rawlsian' view of the nature of political philosophy, and especially the role of 'ideal theory' in thinking about justice, against some of Gerald Gaus's main criticisms in The Tyranny of the Ideal (Princeton University Press, 2016). First, we dispute Gaus's claim that Rawls's idea of a 'well-ordered society' cannot survive the move to political liberalism. We formulate a 'political liberal' version of the well-ordered society, and show that Gaus's 'Open Society,' rather than a radical alternative to the political liberal well-ordered society, in fact closely resembles it. We then challenge Gaus's claim that Rawlsians committed to the principles of 'justice as fairness' are confronted with 'The Choice.' According to The Choice, ideal theorists must either: (1) pursue 'nearby' relatively certain 'local' gains in justice for their society, or (2) forgo these local gains in order to pursue the more ambitious but far less certain goal of 'ideal' justice. (The goal of ideal justice is 'less certain' both in terms of its likely achievement as well as the likelihood that it is in fact the ideal.) We challenge Gaus's claim regarding The Choice, at least as applied to the Rawlsian view, by explaining how addressing local injustices naturally can lead some citizens to develop conceptions of full justice, including 'realistically utopian' versions of their societies. The kinds of political proposals that plausibly follow from this account of public reasoning indicate that Rawlsians in fact do not confront The Choice.
Kudos to Prof. Muldoon for putting this impressive volume together. And it is great that Cosmos + Taxis is free and online!

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