PPE Speaker Series: Gerald Davis

Gerald Davis from the University of Michigan will give a talk on the topic “New Institutions for a New Economic Order” at Virginia Tech. The talk takes place on March 22, 2017, 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: Ubiquitous information and communication technologies are radically changing what organizations look like, and in many cases rendering formal organizations unsustainable. As ongoing organizations are replaced by supply chains and pop-up enterprises, we face renewed philosophical questions around ontology (what counts as a “firm”), epistemology (can organizations know things?), and ethics (who can and should be held responsible in a world of dispersed enterprise?). Organization theorists have a number of advantages in helping construct both new theories and new institutions to help channel the economic forces unleased by information and communication technologies for human benefit.

PPE Speaker Series: Jonathan Anomaly

Jonathan Anomaly from UNC-Chapel Hill will give a PPE Talk on the topic “What’s Wrong with Factory Farming?” at Virginia Tech. The talk will take place on Wednesday, November 16, from 4-6 PM, in 223 Engel Hall. 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: Factory farming continues to grow around the world as a low-cost way of producing animal products for human consumption. However, many of the practices associated with intensive animal farming have been criticized by public health professionals and animal welfare advocates. The aim of this essay is to raise three independent moral concerns with factory farming, and to explain why the practices associated with factory farming flourish despite the cruelty inflicted on animals and the public health risks imposed on people. I conclude that the costs of factory farming as it is currently practiced far outweigh the benefits, and offer a few suggestions for how to improve the situation for animals and people.

PPE Speaker Series: Cedric De Leon

Cedric de Leon from Providence College will give a PPE Talk on the topic “The Origins of Right to Work: Race, Class, Party and the Freedom of Contract” at Virginia Tech. The talk will take place on Wednesday, October 26, from 4-6 PM, in 223 Engel Hall. 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: “Right to work” states weaken collective bargaining rights and limit the ability of unions to effectively advocate on behalf of workers. As more and more states consider enacting right-to-work laws, observers trace the contemporary attack on organized labor to the 1980s and the Reagan era or the early 1950s and the immediate aftermath of the Taft-Hartley Act. In contrast, I argue that this antagonism began a century earlier with the Northern victory in the U.S. Civil War, when the political establishment revised the English common-law doctrine of conspiracy to equate collective bargaining with the enslavement of free white men.

PPE Speaker Series: Gwen Bradford

Gwen Bradford from Rice University will give a PPE Talk on the topic “The Badness of Pain” at Virginia Tech. The talk will take place on Wednesday, September 28, from 4-6 PM, in 223 Engel Hall. 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: Why is pain bad? The literature abounds with discussion of well-being, but there is so little about what is bad for us that you would think we’re in denial about it. Ideally, an account of pain’s badness will fulfill these desiderata: (1) capture the badness of pain broadly construed, i.e., both physical and psychological, (2) give a univocal explanation for human and animal pain, and (3) entail that only pain that is indeed intrinsically bad is bad. There are two central puzzles, namely pain that is enjoyed and pain that is not painful (as experienced by people with asymbolia for pain). A new view is proposed, reverse conditionalism, and it is argued that this view does best in fulfilling the desiderata and capturing enjoyable pain and asymbolia cases.

PPE Research: Michael Moehler publishes on impartiality and prioritarianism

Michael Moehler’s article “Impartiality, Priority, and Justice: The Veil of Ignorance Reconsidered” has been published in the Journal of Social Philosophy. Here is an abstract of the article:

In this article, I defend the veil of ignorance against the objection that the device is inadequate for deriving demands of justice, because the veil of ignorance purportedly enforces a stronger form of impartiality than Kant’s categorical imperative and, primarily as a consequence, it generally leads to non-prioritarian conclusions. I show that the moral ideal of impartiality that is expressed by the veil of ignorance is not essentially different from Kant’s notion of impartiality and that it does not generally lead to non-prioritarian conclusions. Although the moral ideal of impartiality that is modeled by the veil of ignorance demands solid justification for favoring particular positions of society, it generally does not rule out prioritarianism. Rather, the non-prioritarian conclusions reached by many theories of justice that rely on veil of ignorance reasoning are a result of the complex structures of these theories and the way that they combine and weigh different moral ideals, as well as their informational bases.

PPE Speaker Series: Bas van der Vossen

Bas van der Vossen from UNC Greensboro will give a talk on the topic “When Enough and As Good Isn’t Good Enough” at Virginia Tech. The talk takes place on April 06, 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 Lockean project in political philosophy aims to justify individual rights of private property. In such a society, people have rights of ownership that enable them to accumulate and exchange possessions, that protect their freedom to use these possessions more or less as they please, and that allow them to exclude others. I will call such a society a propertied society. One of the aims of Lockean theory is to defend the justice of propertied societies. Traditionally, Locke’s enough and as good proviso forms, in one way or another, an important part of this defense. In this paper, I argue that our standard conceptions of the proviso are mistaken and need to be replaced with one that focuses on a particularly Lockean idea of freedom. This idea of freedom requires the non-subjection to the wills of others. The point of the proviso, then, is to ensure this non-subjection in propertied society. I close by exploring the ways in which robustly competitive labor markets may help societies approach this Lockean ideal.

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.