The more things change…

If you read enough political philosophy, at some point you wonder whether there really is anything new under the sun. On the heels of Edward Snowden’s wonderful and astonishing leaks, we get this: U.S. Rep. Peter King, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee's Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence, called Snowden "a defector" who should … Continue reading The more things change…

Social injustice and harms

Over at BHL, my friend Andrew Cohen has responded to my post earlier this week making a skeptical case against the normative credentials of the idea of “social justice.” Andrew thinks that part anyway of the problem with my skeptical argument is that is framed in terms of rights. He believes that “harms” are “more … Continue reading Social injustice and harms

Social justice as an emergent property

I have great respect and (in many cases) affection for my friends at Bleeding Hearts Libertarians. But I am not a bleeding heart libertarian, and from the outset I have resisted its siren song, mostly over its endorsement of “social justice” as a moral and/or political ideal. Unlike Hayek, I do not think the concept … Continue reading Social justice as an emergent property

The Value of Living Well

My book, The Value of Living Well, now exists in physical form, for those who are interested. It looks like Oxford plans to ship next month, but it can be ordered now from Amazon. It is a work in contemporary ethical theory: I try to flesh out a view of the nature of practical rationality (in … Continue reading The Value of Living Well

Income Inequality Doesn’t Matter

Roger Koppl argues this week at ThinkMarkets that “Income inequality matters.” He thinks it matters so much that he says it twice. He believes “Austrian,” pro-market, economic liberals should be speaking up more on this “central issue.” I think Koppl could not be more wrong. The issue deserves all the inattention we can muster for … Continue reading Income Inequality Doesn’t Matter

Plato, rhetoric, and politics

In recent weeks I once again had the privilege of teaching Plato’s Gorgias, and again I find it not only a wonderful teaching tool, but as profound a comment on what is wrong with politics — anywhere and anytime — as I have seen. Plato contrasts the work of the rhetorician, who specializes in motivational speaking … Continue reading Plato, rhetoric, and politics

Locke and liberalism

I do not recognize the Locke or classical liberalism some critics of each claim to find. A good example is a recent post by Patrick Deneen, in which he claims to find the joint roots of "individualism" and "statism" in classical liberal thought, drawing at least in part on Locke's work. The mashup of ideas … Continue reading Locke and liberalism

What’s real and what’s in the mind

This weekend I went to see the last Harry Potter film. I agree with a number of critics I’ve read that it was the best and most satisfying of the series. But I was struck by a moment late in the film when Harry is talking with Dumbledore. Harry asks, “Is this real? or just … Continue reading What’s real and what’s in the mind

Honorable service?

Will Wilkinson, responding to Michele Bachman, posted yesterday on the unreflective practice of thanking our men and women in service for their service. My view on doing so has gotten harder. I used to differentiate between the government (and military) and the people who serve in it, as is common for those who want to … Continue reading Honorable service?

Not free to move about the country

A few weeks ago I took my family from Tucson down to Tombstone. That's a drive of a little over an hour (and well worth it, if you're into kitschy Old West stuff, or just interested in the history of the American West). On the way back we ran into a permanent ICE (Immigration and … Continue reading Not free to move about the country