PPE Speaker Series: Chad Van Schoelandt

Chad Van Schoelandt from Tulane University will give a talk on the topic “Constructing Distributive Justice” at Virginia Tech. The talk takes place on September 23, 2015, from 4-6 PM in Pamplin Hall 30. The talk is tailored to appeal to both students and faculty, with plenty of time for discussion and interaction with the guest speaker. You are cordially invited to attend!

Here is the abstract of the talk: This talk highlights two features of Rawls’s approach to distributive justice and shows how these features support an ongoing research agenda. The first feature is that for Rawls a conception of justice is meant to serve a social function and thus proposed conceptions can be assessed at least in part on their ability to so function. We highlight how this differs from more orthodox moral questions. Going forward, we suggest that the understanding of justice as a tool to serve a function brings a wide array of tool into philosophy. We illustrate this by discussing the relevance to assessing conceptions of justice of both psychological work on the emotions and social scientific work on constitutional political economy. Philosophic work need not be mired in conflicting intuitions about obscure counterfactual cases, for we may gain traction on questions of justice by drawing on many other disciplines. The second feature we highlight from Rawls is the fact that the conception is meant to be “political” and to constitute a “political point of view.” We can thus say, for instance, that one state of affairs is to be preferred “from the political point of view” even if not from the point of view of my self-interest, religion, or deep moral beliefs. The political point of view must be one we can share at least to give us common answers to certain questions and should be expected to differ from the way we might assess things if we did not have to coordinate with others. The possibility of such a political point of view and the way an individual can integrate it into her comprehensive point of view raise important questions for ongoing research. As a suggestion for future research, however, we specifically point to the options opened up by seeing the political perspective as artificial and we argue that contrary to Rawls it need not be supported by any shared values, though each individual member will have to be able to relate the political conception to whatever values she does hold.