Archive for November, 2008

Reading Course on Political Liberalism / Public Justification

November 25, 2008

Following this fall’s graduate reading course on Rawls’s A Theory of Justice, I am considering doing another such course during winter term on Rawls’s Political Liberalism, plus some of the surrounding literature on public justification.  Enrollment would be limited.  If anyone in politics or philosophy is interested, please let me know.  You don’t have to have taken the first course to take the second, but familiarity with the arguments of Theory would be helpful.

POLS 451

November 19, 2008

POLS 451 will be about religion and politics.  The first third of the course will look at the history of debates about religious toleration in Europe.  The second third of the course will be about the attempt of recent liberal theorists such as John Rawls and Charles Larmore to “apply toleration to philosophy itself” and so develop a “political liberalism,” based on the demand for public justification; the exercise of political power is justified only if justifiable to every member of society, which means reasonably acceptable by each without anyone having to give up the religious, philosophical or ethical doctrine they (reasonably) espouse.  The last part of the course will involve debates about this idea of public reason or public justification in the context of specific policy debates, such as abortion and same-sex marriage.  If you have any questions about the course, please let me know.

Back in service, sort of

November 14, 2008

I am in the process of recovering from a computer crash.  My blog will now be at, so should be more stable.  I just have to figure out how to import my old posts.