Kevin Vallier – Bleeding Heart Libertarians http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com Free Markets and Social Justice Wed, 21 Feb 2018 18:00:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.3 http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/cropped-site-icon-BHL-32x32.png Kevin Vallier – Bleeding Heart Libertarians http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com 32 32 22756168 Political Stability in the Open Society http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2018/02/political-stability-open-society/ http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2018/02/political-stability-open-society/#comments Thu, 01 Feb 2018 22:35:20 +0000 http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/?p=12145 John Thrasher and I have published an article in the American Journal of Political Science, “Political Stability in the Open Society,” that BHL readers may find of interest. If you’re interested...

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John Thrasher and I have published an article in the American Journal of Political Science, “Political Stability in the Open Society,” that BHL readers may find of interest. If you’re interested in how to have a diverse and free but stable social order, take a look. I’m cross-posting the blog post linked here.


In “Political Stability in the Open Society,” we argue that John Rawls’s model of a well-ordered society—as an account of a realistic utopia—is defective for two reasons. First, the well-ordered society model wrongly excludes the deep disagreement and diversity that we find in contemporary political life from figuring into a model of liberal order. Second, when deep disagreement and diversity are integrated into the model, discovery becomes an important part of modeling a stable liberal order. A liberal society is one where people are free to experiment with different approaches to the good life and justice given that we know much less than we might about how to live together.

If we are committed to recognizing deep diversity and the need for social discovery in modeling a stable liberal order, we must modify the idea of a well-ordered society and the ideas most closely associated with it in a liberal theory of justice. In particular, a more dynamic notion of stability for the right reasons is required for a new model that we call an open society. An open society is a liberal society that allows for deep disagreement about the good and justice and which sustains institutions that can adapt to new discoveries about what justice requires.

Our goal is to explain the idea of stability appropriate for an open society. The challenge is that, given the importance of respecting diversity and openness to social change, stability for the right reasons now seems to have a cost; stable rules are hard to replace with better rules. On the other hand, some rules need to remain stable to support productive social change and experimentation.

Given these challenges, we distinguish two different kinds of stability that apply at different levels of social organization. The first kind of stability applies to constitutional rules that set out the general legal rules within which our lower-level institutional rules operate. These constitutional rules must remain in equilibrium despite challenges and threats in order to preserve the social conditions that foster experimentation. But we reject a similar form of stability for lower-level legal and institutional rules. Experimentation at that level can be productive in ways that constitutional experimentation is not. Instead, lower level legal and institutional rules need to be robust in the sense that, when challenged, old rules can be replaced by stable new rules without undermining the system of rules as a whole.

One important implication of our analysis is that, in the open society, a shared conception of justice is less important than a stable constitutional framework where many aspects of the open society, including justice, are open for debate. Rather than focusing on the particular principles of justice that are most reasonable for a well-ordered society, theorists should focus on the properties of different constitutional orders that encourage productive social evolution and experimentation. A second implication of our analysis is that open societies may turn out to be substantially different from one another. There will likely be no single type of social order that suits any given open society. This is all to the good because these diverse orders can learn from each other’s experiments.

 

 

 

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Religious Exemptions Volume http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2018/01/religious-exemptions-volume/ http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2018/01/religious-exemptions-volume/#comments Mon, 08 Jan 2018 17:43:34 +0000 http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/?p=12121 For people interested in the normative dimensions of religious exemptions, Michael Weber and I have just published a new anthology of articles with Oxford University Press. We’re very happy with...

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For people interested in the normative dimensions of religious exemptions, Michael Weber and I have just published a new anthology of articles with Oxford University Press. We’re very happy with the volume, and we have a number of top-notch philosophers and legal theorists writing on these important topics. Another attractive feature of the book is that it engages the question of when religious exemptions are justified, and not just when they are constitutional.

You can buy the book here. If you would like a review copy, please email me privately at kevinvallier-at-gmail-dot-com.

Here’s the jacket description.

Exemptions from legal requirements, especially religious exemptions, have been a major topic of political debate in recent years. For example, bakers in various states have sought the right to refuse to make wedding cakes for gay and lesbian couples, despite the Supreme Court’s validation of same-sex marriage. Many parents are granted exemptions from vaccinating their children, despite public health laws requiring otherwise. Various religious organizations as well as some corporations have sought an exemption from the requirement to provide contraceptive coverage in employee healthcare plans, as required by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Religious exemptions have a long history in the United States, but they remain controversial. Exemptions release some people from following laws that everyone else must follow, raising questions of fairness, and exemptions often privilege religious belief, raising concerns about equal treatment. At the same time there are good reasons to support exemptions, such as respect for the right of religious freedom and preventing religious organizations from becoming too closely intertwined with government.

The essays in this volume represent valuable contributions to the complex debate about exemptions from legal requirements. In particular, they contribute to the moral dimensions of religious exemptions. These essays go beyond legal analysis about which exemptions are constitutionally appropriate, and ask instead when religious exemptions are morally required or morally prohibited.

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CFP: Social Trust http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2017/10/cfp-social-trust/ Mon, 09 Oct 2017 21:16:40 +0000 http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/?p=12051 Call for Abstracts The Bowling Green Workshop in Applied Ethics and Public Policy Social Trust April 20th-21st, 2018 Keynote Speakers: Cristina Bicchieri (University of Pennsylvania) and Ted Hinchman (University of...

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Call for Abstracts

The Bowling Green Workshop in Applied Ethics and Public Policy

Social Trust

April 20th-21st, 2018

Keynote Speakers: Cristina Bicchieri (University of Pennsylvania) and Ted Hinchman (University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee)

Political scientists and economists have studied social trust for decades, but social trust is seriously underexplored in philosophical contexts, despite a sizeable literature on personal trust in ethics, psychology, and epistemology. Yet given the centrality of social trust for social order, it seems natural to think that analyses of social trust and its value could help answer some of the central questions in social and political philosophy. The purpose of this workshop is to generate a cross-disciplinary discussion on the nature and value of social trust among philosophers, political scientists, and economists working in the area or interested in doing so. We invite a range of submissions from any theorists, social or normative, working on topics concerned with social trust.

Those interested in presenting a paper are invited to submit a 2-3 page abstract (double-spaced) by Dec. 15th, 2017.

Only one submission per person is permitted. Abstracts will be evaluated by a program committee and decisions will be made by the end of January 2018.

Please submit abstracts to Sally Pietrasz (pietras@bgsu.edu).

Information about previous workshops is available at the workshop website: https://www.bgsu.edu/arts-and-sciences/philosophy/workshops-and-conferences.html. Information about the 2018 workshop will be posted soon.

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The Moral Imperative of School Choice http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2017/05/moral-imperative-school-choice/ http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2017/05/moral-imperative-school-choice/#comments Fri, 26 May 2017 15:32:34 +0000 http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/?p=11833 In my new Niskanen Center essay, I argue that school choice is a moral imperative. This is so even if school choice produces no boost to educational outcomes. If you value...

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In my new Niskanen Center essay, I argue that school choice is a moral imperative. This is so even if school choice produces no boost to educational outcomes. If you value liberty as a policy default and respect parental autonomy, you should support school choice. There’s something for all libertarians to like here, as well as many conservatives, and perhaps even a few progressives.

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The Why and How of Reasonable Disagreement http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2017/04/the-why-and-how-of-reasonable-disagreement/ http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2017/04/the-why-and-how-of-reasonable-disagreement/#comments Wed, 26 Apr 2017 15:48:43 +0000 http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/?p=11757 The Niskanen Center has posted my new essay on reasonable political disagreements. I explain both why we often mistakenly assume that our political disagreements are unreasonable and how to avoid...

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The Niskanen Center has posted my new essay on reasonable political disagreements. I explain both why we often mistakenly assume that our political disagreements are unreasonable and how to avoid this error.

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The Future of Work, Technology, and a Basic Income Conference, April 7th-8th http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2017/03/future-work-technology-basic-income-conference-april-7th-8th/ Mon, 13 Mar 2017 16:40:13 +0000 http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/?p=11659 Bowling Green State University’s philosophy department is hosting a conference entitled, “The Future of Work, Technology, and a Basic Income” on April 7th and 8th. You can find a flyer...

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Bowling Green State University’s philosophy department is hosting a conference entitled, “The Future of Work, Technology, and a Basic Income” on April 7th and 8th. You can find a flyer with more information here. We have three keynotes: Evelyn Forget, Philippe Van Parijs, and BHL’s very own Matt Zwolinski.

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Are You a Grandstander? http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2017/01/are-you-a-grandstander/ http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2017/01/are-you-a-grandstander/#comments Wed, 18 Jan 2017 15:48:24 +0000 http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/?p=11517 Philosophers Brandon Warmke and Justin Tosi have recently published some important new research on the social phenomenon known as grandstanding. You grandstand when you contribute to public discourse in order to convince others that you are...

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Philosophers Brandon Warmke and Justin Tosi have recently published some important new research on the social phenomenon known as grandstanding. You grandstand when you contribute to public discourse in order to convince others that you are morally respectable. So grandstanding attempts to convince others to make judgments about you that are positive. Perhaps you want others to think that you’re worthy of respect or admiration because you love social justice or that you’re remarkably capable of empathy. You grandstand when you turn your contribution to public discourse into a vanity project. I’d say grandstanding looks pretty bad, don’t you?

It’s easy to underestimate the amount of grandstanding that we encounter on the internet, especially on Facebook. I’d estimate that a very large fraction of political posts are attempts to grandstand. They’re not attempts to convince or offer an argument. In fact, thanks to Brandon and Justin’s work, I’ve found that I do a lot of grandstanding on Facebook and I’ve tried to make an effort to stop. (Is my last sentence an example of grandstanding?).

Understanding grandstanding is important if we are to figure out both who is worth listening to. The idea of grandstanding also helps determine whether we deserve to be listened to on political or other topics. I encourage you to read their paper in Philosophy and Public Affairs (one of the finest journals in all of value theory). You can access an ungated copy here. There’s a nice Huffpo discussion of the article here. And there’s a great interview with Brandon and Justin by Very Bad Wizards here.

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CFP: PPE Society Panel on Policy Epistemology http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2016/11/cfp-ppe-society-panel-policy-epistemology/ Mon, 21 Nov 2016 18:26:32 +0000 http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/?p=11426 The newly formed Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE) Society is hosting its first annual conference from March 16th to March 19th, 2017 in New Orleans. The conference contains a variety...

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The newly formed Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE) Society is hosting its first annual conference from March 16th to March 19th, 2017 in New Orleans. The conference contains a variety of panels, and we’re hosting one on policy epistemology. Policy epistemology concerns all the questions surrounding the ethics of belief and advocacy regarding public policy, especially with respect to those who formulate and implement policy. How much evidence does one require in order to justify an expansion of public health insurance? How high of an evidential bar must empirical evidence satisfy before it can justify legal restrictions, such as regulations on carbon emissions? How should we handle rational disputes about social scientific questions as they bear on public policy? For instance, how seriously should we take the fact that macroeconomic policy is the subject of enormous disputes between expert economists in formulating countercyclical policy? Does disagreement prevent government officials from implementing, say, Keynesian countercyclical economic policy?

If you would like to present at the PPE society on topics falling under the general heading of policy epistemology, I encourage you to submit an abstract of fewer than 250 words to me at kevinvallier@gmail.com before the end of the year, December 31st, 2016.

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Healing Through Decentralization http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2016/11/healing-through-decentralization/ http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2016/11/healing-through-decentralization/#comments Fri, 11 Nov 2016 16:24:10 +0000 http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/?p=11385 Donald J. Trump will be the 45th president of the United States. He was elected in perhaps the most polarized election of the last 100 years. We have, more and more,...

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Donald J. Trump will be the 45th president of the United States. He was elected in perhaps the most polarized election of the last 100 years. We have, more and more, two cultural-political tribes in the United States. And the red tribe’s hatred for the blue tribe beat the blue tribe’s hatred of the red tribe. On social media, and in the press, many people grasp the consequences of this division. Trump is what happens in a country where people so despise one another’s politics that they will either elect a man who is manifestly unqualified or insult and despise everyone who voted for him. If we hope to move forward, it would be wonderful if we could depolarize and compromise on pressing issues. But sentiment is not enough. Healing requires political decentralization.

Polarization Isn’t Going Away

While researching for my forthcoming book, Must Politics Be War?, I’ve been reading a lot of literature on political polarization. One important question is whether the increase in party polarization over the last fifty years is the cause or the effect of polarization among the public. A second important question is whether the public is polarized, or whether party polarization simply makes it appear that way.

In his new book, Polarizedpolitical scientist James Campbell develops a theory of revealed polarization which holds that the American electorate is highly polarized and was not always so (53). Polarization may have increased recently, but Americans became highly polarized in the mid to late 1960s. The parties began to polarize in the late 1970s to early 1990s and it has only gotten worse, but they are merely coming to reflect long-existing divisions among the general public.

If Campbell is right, Americans disagree with each other a lot and have for fifty years. Our disagreements are long-standing and they aren’t going away. And since we disagree, and suffer from in-group bias, our tendency will be to see those who disagree as alien and different and insist that they have nasty motives and suffer severe cognitive deficits. Of course, this perception is partly driven by the fact that many red tribers and blue tribes have nasty motives and grave cognitive deficits when it comes to political matters. But complaining about that isn’t getting us anywhere either.

In my book, I argue that our deep disagreements about the good and justice are often reasonable, and are likely to endure. In light of that, I argue that we can establish a morally valuable kind of social trust across our ideological differences through several institutional reforms, and most of them involve the decentralization of power. Our polarization is socially destructive because we insist on making decisions collectively when we can’t even begin to agree on what the collective decision should be.

Decentralization Through Freedom of Association

I argue that freedom of association is absolutely critical to sustaining relations of social trust across difference, even if it allows people to retreat further into their echo chambers. This is because our attempts to control each others’ forms of association are a source of severe conflict. Attempts to ban same-sex marriage have created huge ill-will, as have attempts to compel religious organizations to recognize same-sex marriage. Attempts to force religious organizations to provide contraception has helped to make religious liberty, once a widely affirmed liberty even twenty years ago, into a partisan issue. I fully expect universities to come under renewed scrutiny under a Trump administration, and I fully expect universities to continue to exclude diverse viewpoints from campus, and to stigmatize conservative and religious organizations on campus.*

Freedom of association allows people with deeply divergent values live out their conceptions of the good and justice in peace with one another. Attempts to restrict this liberty create division and distrust. If we decentralize more power to associations, we can reap the benefits of social peace.

Decentralization Through Federalism

I also argue that federalism is a critical mechanism for reducing division. In some parts of the country, the red tribe and the blue tribe live in close proximity. But in some states, one tribe is dominant. It is better, on balance, to let each tribe dominate in those locales rather than trying to defeat one another at the national level. Healthcare policy has proven incredibly divisive, even hateful. Education policy creates increasing division. Drug policy has been a disaster. If we make decisions at the state or local level, we will have more flexibility in figuring out how each tribe wants to govern itself, such that they will have less of a stake in trying to govern and control the other tribe.

That’s not to say that we should do nothing federally. Foreign policy is invariably national, and racial policy should remain national. But we can do much more at the state and local level. I argue this would help depolarize us without eliminating our ongoing disagreements.

Potential for Abuse

Of course, both freedom of association and federalism can be abused. As Jacob Levy has reminded us, decentralization can make us vulnerable to bigotry and local tyranny. Yet we can nonetheless err too much in the centralist direction. I think it’s clear that we have swung too far in the centralist direction. Presidents have so much power that the red tribe and the blue tribe should fear government by the other.

But if we are prepared to give up some of our power over one another, we can live together better. We will, of course, still have our disagreements. But freedom of movement between different communities would allow people to self-sort and form communities with the like-minded without having to despise and rage against their red or blue overlords.

Centuries ago, we had similar fights about religious establishment. Protestants and Catholics feared that the other group endangered the eternal salvation of millions. And yet, after lots of awful conflict, they figured out a tolerant solution that decentralized religious establishment. Neither side liked the solution at first. But over the centuries, both came to accept and cherish their religious freedom. But if we are willing to trust one another enough to decentralize power, we don’t have to agree about how to live; we need merely agree about the level at which collective decisions must be made. That agreement is surely more practical and moral than what we’ve been doing for the last few decades.

Lesson

We can heal, but to do so, we must decentralize power. To live together, we must do less together.

 

*I am not arguing that governments should restrict universities’ right to exclude those who disagree with their values. That’s part of their freedom of association. But I also think that universities should cut it out.

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CFP: The Future of Work, Automation, and a Basic Income http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2016/09/cfp-future-work-automation-basic-income/ Sat, 10 Sep 2016 18:59:06 +0000 http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/?p=11109 Members and readers of the blog should find this of interest. We have our very own Matt Zwolinski speaking! Please send this to anyone you think might want to apply....

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Members and readers of the blog should find this of interest. We have our very own Matt Zwolinski speaking! Please send this to anyone you think might want to apply.

Call for Abstracts

The Bowling Green Workshop in Applied Ethics and Public Policy

The Future of Work, Automation, and a Basic Income

April 7-8, 2017

Invited Speakers include: Matt Zwolinski (USD) and Evelyn Forget (Manitoba)

Those interested in presenting a paper are invited to submit a 2-3 page abstract (double-spaced) by Dec. 1, 2016. Papers need not address each element of the workshop theme.  We are casting a wide net, and encourage thinking broadly about the theme.

Only one submission per person is permitted. Abstracts will be evaluated by a program committee and decisions will be made by the end of January, 2017.

Please submit abstract to Irene Harris (iharris@bgsu.edu).

Information about previous workshops is available at the workshop website: http://www.bgsu.edu/arts-and-sciences/philosophy/workshops-and-conferences/policing-and-prisons.html. Information about the 2017 workshop will be posted soon.

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