Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Now online: "Not so Novus an Ordo: Constitutions Without Social Contracts"

The preprint version is available at Political Theory (subscription required).

Social contract theory imagines political societies as resting on a fundamental agreement, adopted at a discrete moment in hypothetical time, that binds individual persons together into a polity and sets fundamental rules regarding that polity's structure and powers. Written constitutions, adopted at real moments in historical time, dictating governmental structures, bounding governmental powers, and entrenching individual rights, look temptingly like social contracts reified. Yet something essential is lost in this slippage between social contract theory and the practice of constitutionalism. Contractarian blinders lead us to look for greater individualism, social unity, and coherence of principles than should be expected. Real constitutional orders appropriate, incorporate, and channel the histories and divisions of the societies they govern. Treating them as social contracts flattens and distorts them, making those engagements with the past or with social plurality appear anomalous and encouraging their minimization. Accordingly this article redirects attention to non-contractarian strands within constitutionalism's intellectual inheritance and lived practice.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Leiter on Shaw on Nietzsche

Brian Leiter's review of Tamsin Shaw's Nietzsche's Political Skepticism is excerpted here and posted here.

I rolled my eyes at the fact that, even in the few paragraphs excerpted on his blog, Leiter couldn't resist the following: "Most books by political theorists on Nietzsche are unreadable for philosophers; this book is the exception that proves the rule." Heaven forbid that a thoughtful and serious engagement with a political theorist not be accompanied by a sideswipe at the rest of the field! But it's a very thoughtful review of a very good book; both recommended.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Philosophy of Adam Smith: A conference to commemorate the 250th anniversary of The Theory of Moral Sentiments, January 6-8, 2009, Balliol College, Oxford

The program and schedule are now online, along with paper abstracts. It's a great lineup, and I'm excited that I'll be able to be there for part of it.

Organised by the International Adam Smith Society and The Adam Smith Review
Conference organisers: Vivienne Brown, Editor The Adam Smith Review (v.w.brown@open.ac.uk)
Samuel Fleischacker, President, International Adam Smith Society (fleischert@sbcglobal.net)

Although Adam Smith is better known now for his economics, in his own time it was his first book, The Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759), which established his reputation. Just as scholarly work on Smith has challenged the free market appropriation of Smith’s Wealth of Nations, so it has also come to appreciate the importance of Smith’s moral philosophy for his overall intellectual project. This conference, to be held at the college Smith himself attended from 1740-46, and at the beginning of the year marking the 250th anniversary of the publication of The Theory of Moral Sentiments, will provide an opportunity to re-evaluate the significance of Smith’s moral philosophy and moral psychology, the relationship between them and his other writings on economics, politics, jurisprudence, history, and rhetoric and belles lettres, and the relevance of his thought to current research in these areas.

Plenary speakers will include:

Stephen Darwall (Professor of Philosophy, University of Michigan), "Smith on Honor and Respect"

Charles Griswold (Professor of Philosophy, Boston University), "Tales of the Self: Adam Smith's Reply to Rousseau"

David Raphael (Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, Imperial College), "The Virtue of TMS 1759"

Emma Rothschild (Jeremy and Jane Knowles Professor of History, Harvard University, and Director of the Centre for History and Economics, King's College, Cambridge and Harvard University), "TMS and the Inner Life"

Geoffrey Sayre-McCord (Professor of Philosophy, University of North Carolina), "Is the Impartial Spectator's Vision 20/20?"

ession speakers

Richard van den Berg, "PL Roederer's Reading of Smith's System of Sympathy"
Lauren Brubaker, "Smith's moderate response to Rousseau"
Richard Boyd, "Adam Smith and Nationalism"
Emily Brady, "Nature, Aesthetic Judgment, and Sympathetic Imagination"
Toni Vogel Carey, "Accounting for Moral as for Natural Things"
Maria Alejandra Carrasco, "The forked meaning of self-command"
Sergio Cremaschi, "Adam Smith's post-scepticism and his unwritten doctrines"
Remy Debes, "The Value of Persons in Smith's Moral Philosophy"
Patricio Fernandez and Nicholas Teh, "Smith and McDowell on Moral Objectivity"
Tom Ford, "Reification and Adam Smith's 'as it were'"
Fonna Forman-Barzilai, "The 'humbler department': Smith's anti-cosmopolitanism"
Christel Fricke, "Moral Norms: Conventions or Universal Principles?"
Patrick Frierson, "Smithian Intrinsic Value"
Ryan Hanley, "Smith's Skepticism"
Maureen Harkin, "Smith on Literature,"
Eugene Heath, "Moral Evolution and the Invisible Hand"
Neven Leddy, "Smith's TMS in 1759, 1790 and 1976"
Thornton Lockwood, "Moral Education in Aristotle and Adam Smith"
John McHugh, "Hume and Smith: Sympathy, Utility and the Sociality of the Self"
Alice MacLachlan, "Injustice, Entitlement, and Smithean Resentment"
James McClellan and Karin Brown, "Sophie de Grouchy's Translation of TMS"
Robert Mankin, "Smith and the Art of Dying"
Angelica Nuzzo, "The Standpoint of Morality in Adam Smith and Hegel"
Paul Oslington, "Newton and Smith on Divine Action"
Jonathan Rick, "The Impartial Spectator's Amour-Propre"
Alvaro Santana-Alcuña, "Outside the Self"
Roberto Scazzieri, "Social Mirrors: Rationality under Relational Constraints""
Eric Schliesser, "Adam Smith's Engagement with Plato's Laws"
Arby Siraki, "Adam Smith's theory of tragedy"
Spiros Tegos, "The Problem of Authority in Adam Smith"
Andrew Terjesen, "Imagination or Correspondence in Smith's 'Sympathy'"
Robert Urquhart, "Adam Smith's Problems: Tensions within TMS and WN"
Carola Freilin von Villiez, ""Dimensions of Impartiality"
Gloria Vivenza, "Cicero and Seneca in TMS"
Christopher Williams, "Taste and Testimony in Adam Smith"
Jeffrey Young, "Justice, Property, and Markets"