March 30, 2015
"Normativity for Naturalists"
This paper is for a forthcoming volume of Philosophical Issues (the supplement to Nous) on "Normativity" edited by Ram Neta. It's a bit more philosophically technical than the typical purely jurisprudential piece, but may interest some readers.
March 10, 2015
"Philosophy of Law" for the Encyclopedia Britannica
For the first time in a half-century, the Encyclopedia Britannica has commissioned a new essay on "Philosophy of Law," written by myself and a former student, Michael Sevel, now at the University of Sydney. Hopefully ours will have a half-century run as well!
January 22, 2015
"Marx, Law, Ideology, Legal Positivism"
The final version of this paper, forthcoming in the Virginia Law Review symposium on "Jurisprudence and (its) History."
January 12, 2015
"Constitutional Law, Moral Judgment and the Supreme Court as Super-Legislature"
December 31, 2014
A brief video discussion of "Why Tolerate Religion?" with Prof. Weiler at the EUI
During my October "Italy tour" (when I gave the Fresco Lectures at Genoa, and also gave a seminar at Palermo), I was fortunate to visit the European University Institute for the first time, thanks to Prof. Dennis Patterson. While there, Joseph Weiler, President of the EUI and editor in chief of the European Journal of International Law, asked to record a short discussion about Why Tolerate Religion?
December 20, 2014
Blast from the past: "Why Philosophy Has Been Central to Legal Education"
November 25, 2014
"Deep Disagreements: Philosophical and Legal Perspectives"
In Berlin in June. There's also a call for papers.
November 14, 2014
"The Paradoxes of Public Philosophy"
This is a lightly revised version of a paper I gave last week at a very enjoyable conference with philosophers and lawyers on "Philosophy in the Public Sphere" at the Jindal Global University in Sonipta, India, near Delhi; the abstract:
The idea of “public philosophy”—that is, philosophy as contributing to questions of moral and political urgency in the community in which it is located—is paradoxical for two reasons. The first is that normative philosophy has no well-established substantive conclusions about the right and the good. Thus, philosophers enter into moral and political debate purporting to offer some kind of expertise, but the expertise they offer can not consist in any credible claim to know what is good, right, valuable, or any other substantive normative proposition that might be decisive in practical affairs. But philosophers—at least those in the broadly Socratic traditions--do bring to debate a method or way of thinking about contested normative questions: they are good at parsing arguments, clarifying the concepts at play in a debate, teasing out the dialectical entailments of suppositions and claims, and so on: Socratic philosophers are, in short, purveyors of what I call “discursive hygiene.” This brings us to the second paradox: although philosophers can contribute no substantive knowledge about the good and the right, they can contribute discursive hygiene. But discursive hygiene plays almost no role in public life, and an only erratic, and highly contingent, role in how people form beliefs about matters of moral and political urgency. I call attention to the role of two factors in moral judgment: non-rational emotional responses and “Tribalism,” the tendency to favor members of one “tribe” at the expense of others. The prevalence of emotional responses, especially tribalist ones, undermines the efficacy of discursive hygiene in public life.
I conclude that the role for public philosophy is quite circumscribed, though public philosophers should learn from their cousins, the lawyers, who appreciate the role that rhetoric, beyond discursive hygiene, plays in changing moral attitudes and affecting action. Along the way, I discuss Stevenson’s emotivism, what we can learn from Peter Singer’s schizophrenic role as a public philosopher (lauded for his defense of animal rights, pilloried for his defense of killing defective humans), evolutionary explanations of tribalism, the lessons of American Legal Realism for the possible relevance of discursive hygiene, and Marx and Nietzsche as "public" philosophers.