Jason Brennan is a new kickin’ kid on the block of political philosophy. He writes about J.S. Mill, communitarians, alienation, paradoxes of justice in Rawls, whether legal guarantees are real, the use and abuse of ideal theories, the virtue of modesty, gets feisty with Richard Posner, isn’t firmly in any political camp, doesn’t find market society repugnant and finds G.A. Cohen not very interesting, explains what modern libertarians say and why, thinks Globalisation leaves the world poor sitting ducks, thinks right and left have no place in philosophy even though they’re sociologically useful and that an incompetent electorate shouldn’t be allowed to vote. You’ve got to hand it over to this pugnacious dude, he’s flaming up our thoughts to get us all philosophicaly embroiled. Smokin’!
Ah, old picture from back when I was cuter.
3 am: You’re a new political philosopher on the scene. What made you become a philosopher? Is it politics or philosophy that drives you?
Jason Brennan: At the end of my junior year, I was broke. I realised I would have to take a semester off to work full-time in a factory, pay off my debts, and make enough money to transfer to and pay for my state university. I can tell you the exact date I realised I wanted to be a philosopher: May 2, 2000. On that day, I was packing my dorm room, sweating with worry that I would never finish college, that I would disappoint my grandmother, who’d hoped I’d be the first person in the family to get a college degree. I was wondering what I’d do even if I did go back. As I was packing my bookshelves, I realised that — despite having taken only two philosophy classes at that point — my shelf was packed with philosophy texts. On a whim, I decided to investigate what it took to become a philosophy professor. When I read on the internet that graduate school was not only free, but that they paid you to go, I realized I actually had a chance. Four days later, I was working full-time, making semi-conductors at Analog Devices. But I had already crafted a life-plan — I was going to be a philosopher.