Tag Archives: Rawls

Vallier Reading Group: Chapter 1

I am happy to begin our reading group on Kevin Vallier’s new book, Liberal Politics and Public Faith: Beyond Separation. My thanks to Chad Van Schoelandt for organizing. In earlier reading groups, we have followed a standard format of summarizing a chapter and then raising some questions about it. In this post, I focus on Chapter 1, Public Reason Liberalism: Religion’s Child and King.


The liberal tradition is often accused of hostility toward religion. Because liberalism places constraints on the role of religious commitments in politics, it may seem to have a “secularist bias.” In this chapter, Vallier seeks to defend liberalism against this charge, or at least against the claim that liberalism is motivated by such bias or hostility. Vallier claims that liberalism has a “schizophrenic attitude” toward religion: on one hand, promoting religious liberty and diversity, but on the other, constraining the influence of religion in the political domain. But this attitude does not reflect hostility so much as a good faith effort to balance religious freedom with the demand for a legitimate and stable public authority. To develop this claim, this chapter describes the “source, ground, and structure of public reason liberalism” (10) and, by extension, the liberal tradition more generally.


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“TVA” Conference: Themes on the Moral Philosophy of Kant and Rawls

The Program for the Tennessee Value and Agency (“TVA”) 2012 Conference is now available here: http://web.utk.edu/~acureto1/tva/files/2012/08/2012-TVA-Program.pdf
Those interested in attending may consult Adam Cureton, adamcureton@utk.edu, with questions, should there be any. The meeting is open to the public and we hope political philosophers in the area will give special thought to attending. It’ll be a very good meeting.

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Call for Abstracts: TVA Conference: Rawls and Kant

Final Call for Abstracts
Themes from the Moral Philosophy of Rawls and Kant
Tennessee Value and Agency (TVA) Annual Conference
University of Tennessee
November 16-18, 2012

Keynote speakers:
Thomas M. Scanlon, Harvard University
Pamela Hieronymi, UCLA

Abstracts (of 2-3 double-spaced pages and prepared for blind review) are due by June 15, 2012 by email to Adam Cureton (adamcureton@utk.edu).

John Rawls spent most of his career writing about justice and democratic
political systems, but scattered throughout his earliest papers, course
lectures and books are suggestive remarks and undeveloped ideas about moral philosophy more generally, including its proper methodology, the role of normative ethical theory, the relevance of empirical psychology as well as
substantive positions on moral topics ranging from supererogation to guilt,
shame and love. Perhaps Rawls’ greatest influence in moral philosophy so far has been through his students and colleagues, who have in various ways developed, refined and reworked dominant themes in an evolving tradition of moral philosophy that many of them share with Rawls and Kant.


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Thom Brooks, Punishment

Punishment is the most comprehensive monograph on the subject available. It is accessible for readers coming to the topic for the first time with new arguments and developments in each chapter that will be of interest to those already working in the field, including the defence of a new theory of punishment: the unified theory of punishment and its ideal of punitive restoration.

The blurb:Punishment is a topic of increasing importance for citizens and policy makers. Why should we punish criminals? Which theory of punishment is most compelling? Is the death penalty ever justified? These questions and many others are addressed in this highly engaging guide. Punishment is a critical introduction to the philosophy of punishment offering a new and refreshing approach that will benefit readers of all backgrounds and interests. This is the first critical guide to examine all leading contemporary theories of punishment, including the communicative theory of punishment, restorative justice, and the unified theory of punishment. There are also several case studies examined in detail including capital punishment, juvenile offending, and domestic abuse.
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My Warmest Thanks, and One Final Bleg

I’d like to thank all of you who sent me comments on the RNR (“Foundations of a Nonideal Theory of Justice”) I posted here the other week. Almost all of you homed in on a problem with the Side-Constraint Principle that had been worrying me: its unexplained (and unjustified) reference to ideal primary goods.  I’ve now fixed the issue and would like to post the paper here one final time (old revisions are in red; new ones in blue) before I send the paper back to the journal later this week.  Any last-minute comments/suggestions/worries would be immensely appreciated.  Again, I really can’t thank you all enough.  Your feedback has been invaluable!


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RNR Help? “Foundations of a Nonideal Theory of Justice”

Hi everyone, I’ve been working on this paper for a number of years, and it is finally under revise-and-resubmit.  Given that I work in a very small department and am not great at networking, I could really use some help vetting my revisions.  I would be very grateful if anyone here is willing to read it and send thoughts about it my way (revisions are in red).  Here is a brief abstract:

This paper systematically extends John Rawls’ original position to nonideal theory, showing how the parties to a “nonideal original position” ought to prioritize four types of nonideal primary goods over Rawls’ principles and priority relations, and then agree to five lexically ordered principles for distributing those goods under nonideal conditions.  All five principles (and their orderings) are also shown to fare very well in reflective equilibrium, cohering with a number of pretheoretic moral intuitions.


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