Friday, September 07, 2007


A NYT story on the Kerala model, much discussed by Sen and his followers, and the ways in which it is fiscally dependent on cash remittances from emigrants. I'm reminded of recurring discussions chez Will Wilkinson about whether the nation-state is a salient unit of economic analysis. Indian federal states are comparable in size to most nation-states in the world-- but they're not free-standing economies.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Conference announcement: CSPT: "Intellectual Foundings: J.G.A. Pocock and the Cambridge School"


September 28, 2007
Columbia University, New York, NY

Co-sponsored by The Heyman Center for the Humanities, The Center for Law and
Philosophy, and The Columbia University Seminar on Political and Social Thought

"Intellectual Foundings" will celebrate and reconsider *The Ancient
Constitution and the Feudal Law*. Published fifty years ago by John Pocock, one of the principal founders of the CSPT, *The Ancient Constitution* launched the late twentieth century revolution in the study of the history of political thought that gave rise to what is widely labeled the "Cambridge School."

This conference will bring together a distinguished collection of
historians, legal thinkers, and political theorists to engage in a concentrated discussion of the intellectual vistas opened up--as well as of those which might have been supplanted or occluded--by this work and a few companion works of the same period.

Speakers will include David Armitage, Mark Bevir, Janelle Greenberg, Sudipta Kaviraj,
Donald Kelley, David Lieberman, Kirstie McClure, Robert Travers, Richard Tuck, and Melinda Zook.

We hope this event will be of interest to scholars of history and theory
from the U.S. west coast to the east, as well as points between, and Professor Pocock
himself has made plans to attend. All members of CSPT and other interested parties are welcome to attend; there is no fee for attendance.

To register for the conference, email Jonah Cardillo at
with subject line "CSPT Conference Registration." Please include your name, affiliation, and address.

For more information, please visit the conference website:

We hope to see you there!


David Johnston and Kirstie McClure, CSPT Co-chairs

Jorge Cham, creator of the indispensable Piled Higher and Deeper, is coming to town.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Methods in political theory

There's a big discussion at Crooked Timber; there was a big discussion following Andrew Rehfeld's "Offensive Political Theory" at APSA; there was a big discussion at our theorists' group dinner Friday night at APSA; there's a new Piled Higher and Deeper strip that seems to call into question our place in the social sciences. Must be something in the water.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Reading list

Colin Farrelly reviews Vermeule's Judging Under Uncertainty.
A busy fall

Conference announcement: Immigration, Minorities, and Multiculturalism in Democracies, October 25 – 27, 2007,
Fairmont Queen Elizabeth, Montréal.

The complete program is too big to post; go have a look. This is a project of the Major Collaborative Research Initiative on Ethnicity and Democratic Governance.

And don't forget the other conferences earlier this fall: Pluralism, Politics, and God? An International Symposium on Religion and Public Reason, September 13-15; and The Plural States of Recognition, September 27-29.
To read after class:

The NYT has posted a lengthy article-interview of Jack Goldsmith by Jeffrey Rosen, to appear in next week's NYT Magazine.

Now Goldsmith is speaking out. In a new book, “The Terror Presidency,” which will be published later this month, and in a series of conversations I had with him this summer, Goldsmith has recounted how, from his first weeks on the job, he fought vigorously against an expansive view of executive power championed by officials in the White House, including Alberto Gonzales, who was then the White House counsel and who recently resigned as attorney general, and David Addington, who was then Vice President Cheney’s legal adviser and is now his chief of staff. [...]

Goldsmith told me that he has decided to speak publicly about his battles at the Justice Department because he hopes that “future presidents and people inside the executive branch can learn from our mistakes.” In his view, American presidents for the foreseeable future will, like George W. Bush, face enormous pressure to be aggressive and pre-emptive in taking measures to prevent another terrorist attack in the United States. At the same time, Goldsmith notes, everywhere the president looks, critics — as well as his own lawyers — are telling him that pre-emptive actions may violate international law as well as U.S. criminal law. What, exactly, are the legal limits of executive power in the post-9/11 world? How should administration lawyers negotiate the conflict between the fear of attacks and the fear of lawsuits?

In Goldsmith’s view, the Bush administration went about answering these questions in the wrong way. Instead of reaching out to Congress and the courts for support, which would have strengthened its legal hand, the administration asserted what Goldsmith considers an unnecessarily broad, “go-it-alone” view of executive power. As Goldsmith sees it, this strategy has backfired. “They embraced this vision,” he says, “because they wanted to leave the presidency stronger than when they assumed office, but the approach they took achieved exactly the opposite effect. The central irony is that people whose explicit goal was to expand presidential power have diminished it.”

Monday, September 03, 2007

APSA blogging

Larry Solum has posted his copious notes from one of the best events I saw at APSA, the "new originalism" roundtable.