PPE Speaker Series: Kevin Vallier

Kevin Vallier from Bowling Green State University will give a talk on the topic “Three Concepts of Political Stability” at Virginia Tech. The talk takes place on March 02, 2016, from 4-6 PM in Surge 117a. 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: The dominant approach to state legitimacy in political philosophy, public reason liberalism, includes an ideal of political stability where justified institutions reach a kind of self-enforcing equilibrium. Citizens of a stable society generally recognize that all, or nearly all, people have sufficient reason to comply with directives issued by publicly justified institutions, such that unilateral deviations from those directives leads to a worse outcome from the defector’s point of view. In this talk, I contend that a more sophisticated model of social stability, specifically an agent-based model, yields a richer and more accurate ideal of political stability than what has appeared in the literature thus far. In particular, an agent-based model helps us to distinguish between three concepts of political stability: durability, balance, and immunity. A well-ordered society is one that possesses a high degree of social trust and cooperative behavior among its citizens (durability) with low short-run variability (balance). A well-ordered society also resists destabilization caused by non-compliant agents in or entering the system (immunity). Previous work on political stability within public reason liberalism has depended upon a single, coherent notion of stability. My tripartite distinction weakens attempts to elaborate, defend, and refute public reason views that employ a single, coherent notion of stability.

PPE Research: Michael Moehler publishes on rational choice contractarianism

Michael Moehler’s article on orthodox rational choice contractarianism has been published with Politics, Philosophy & Economics. Here is an abstract of the article.

In a recent article, Gauthier (2013) rejects orthodox rational choice contractarianism in favor of a revisionist approach to the social contract that, according to him, justifies his principle of maximin proportionate gain (formerly the principle of minimax relative concession or maximin relative benefit) as a principle of distributive justice. I agree with Gauthier that his principle of maximin proportionate gain cannot be justified by orthodox rational choice contractarianism. I argue, however, that orthodox rational choice contractarianism, before and after Gauthier, is still a viable approach to the social contract, although the scope of this approach is limited. Orthodox rational choice contractarianism can be applied fruitfully to moral philosophy only in situations of deep moral pluralism in which moral reasoning is reduced to instrumental reasoning, because the members of society do not share, as assumed by traditional moral theories, a consensus on moral ideals as traditionally conceived as a starting point for the derivation of moral rules, but only an overarching end that they aim to reach. If orthodox rational choice contractarianism is applied adequately, then it offers a viable approach to the social contract that, in contrast to Gauthier’s theory, justifies a rival principle for distributive conflicts that is valid for deeply morally pluralistic societies.

PPE Speaker Series: Christopher Freiman

Christopher Freiman from the College of William & Mary will give a talk on the topic “Should States Allow Markets in Citizenship?” at Virginia Tech. The talk takes place on February 10, 2016, from 4-6 PM in Surge 117a. 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: Recent work in economics and philosophy defends the state’s sale of citizenship. This paper defends the private sale of citizenship or a citizenship market. I argue that people ought to be permitted to privately exchange their citizenship with citizens of another country for their citizenship plus financial remuneration. Citizenship markets would enable Pareto improvements and create new opportunities to raise the income of the global poor. I then address a variety of objections and conclude that whatever vices citizenship markets have are outweighed by their virtues.