The Circumstances of Justice: 4. A Revised Account of the Circumstances of Justice

This is Part 4 of a four (or five) part series based on a conference-length version of a longer paper I’m currently preparing for submission to academic journals. Part 1 and Part 2 forcus on the idea of ‘circumstances of justice’ in Rawls and Hume, and each generated some deep and wide ranging discussions of the of the nature of justice and the treatment of justice in the history of philosophy. Part 3  added some brief critical analysis to the exegetical points of the first two parts.

In this section, I finally stick my neck out and offer my own account of the circumstances of justice – an account which I argue explains what is right about Rawls’s view by shedding his unsuitable Humean foundation. I believe this account addresses many of the concerns and objections raised in the comments on earlier sections,  but I look forward to hearing the fresh, new objections it generates.

My plan for Part 5, which is not yet included in the full paper, is to say something more about why all this matters for our understanding of justice, independent of the interpretive puzzles focused on in the first three sections.

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Shameless Plug: Free Range Philosophers

In this post I take a break from my series on the Circumstances of Justice to abuse Irfan’s trust and hospitality in order to promote a web project of my own: Free Range Philosophers. From the site description:

Free Range Philosophers presents interviews of people with advanced training in philosophy who are either working outside of traditional academic jobs or engaged in philosophical outreach or other philosophical activities outside of the academic classroom. … In addition to serving as a resource for graduate students and PhDs who are exploring other career options, the hope is that these interviews will help philosophers inside and outside the academy expand our conception of what philosophy is and what it can be.

My first two interviews are with a philosopher who left a tenure-track position in order to better pursue his conception of what philosophy should be and with a philosopher-designer who found a nonfaculty position that allows her to combine both of her passions. Enjoy!

The Circumstances of Justice: 3. The Significance of What Rawls Added

This is Part 3 of a four (or five) part series based on a conference-length version of a longer paper I’m currently preparing for submission to academic journals. Part 1 is just a brief introduction to the paper, but it has generated a deep and ongoing conversation about the nature of justice which is well worth reading (and joining). Part 2 is primarily exegetical, presenting and interpreting the key passages from Rawls and Hume on the “circumstances of justice.” But it too has generated a much deeper discussion of the nature of justice. You can also consult the full paper at any time.

In this section, I focus on showing how the internal consistency of Hume’s account does not survive Rawls’s attempted appropriation of that account. This is another short section, and I suspect the discussion will mostly pick up on some of the same issues that have already been raised with respect to Part 2.

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The Circumstances of Justice: 2. “The ‘Circumstances of Justice’ in Hume and Rawls”

This is Part 2 of a four (or five) part series based on a conference-length version of a longer paper I’m currently preparing for submission to academic journals. Part 1 is just a brief introduction to the paper, but it has generated a deep and ongoing conversation about the nature of justice which is well worth reading (and joining). You can also consult the full paper at any time.

This section of the paper is more substantial, but it is also primarily exegetical. I’m certainly interested in hearing critiques or additions to my interpretations of Rawls and Hume. But we can also continue some of the deeper discussion about justice if some readers would like to critique substantive elements of Hume and/or Rawls as interpreted. Another question that might be worth exploring in light of our discussion of Part 1: how similar or different is this account of the circumstances of justice from the account(s) we find in Plato’s Republic?

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The Circumstances of Justice: 1. The Idea of “Circumstances of Justice”

Thanks to Irfan for his generous invitation to join the Policy of Truth blog, and thanks to all of you who are taking the time to read this. As Irfan has said, I’m a Visiting Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Providence College. If you’d like to know more about me or see some of my other philosophical writing or teaching materials, you can browse my website.

This paper is a conference-length version of a longer paper I’m currently preparing for submission to academic journals. Following the lead set by David Potts, I’ll be posting each section of the paper as separate posts, but you can also consult the full paper at any time. There are currently four sections, and if all goes well I may add a fifth post with material taken from the longer version of the paper. Today’s introductory section is quite short, but one thing we might talk about is why any of this matters. Why did Rawls – why might we – think it important to identify these “circumstances?” Or, in a more skeptical vein, does anyone think there is already something wrong in this way of talking about the role of principles of justice?

Without further ado:

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