What is this blog about?

What is this blog about?

I am a political philosopher. My 'political philosophy' is a form of 'liberal egalitarianism.' So in this blog I reflect on various issues in political philosophy and politics (especially Canadian and American politics) from a liberal egalitarian perspective.

If you are curious about what I mean by 'liberal egalitarianism,' my views are strongly influenced by the conception of justice advanced by John Rawls. (So I sometimes refer to myself as a 'Rawlsian,' even though I disagree with Rawls on some matters.)

Astonishingly, I am paid to write and teach moral and political philosophy. I somehow manage to do this despite my akratic nature. Here is my faculty profile.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Interview with Elizabeth Anderson on Private Government

There is an interesting interview at Jacobin with Elizabeth Anderson on her new book, Private Government: How Employers Rule Our Lives (and Why We Don’t Talk about it). 

I especially liked these passages:
Fundamentally, egalitarians care about eliminating oppressive social hierarchy, including relations of domination and subordination under which subordinates can be arbitrarily subject to humiliating and oppressive conditions, and arbitrary restraints on their freedom.
[L]ibertarians and the politicians associated with them, such as those in the House Freedom Caucus, blindly repeat ideas from Smith, Paine, and Lincoln, not recognizing that they thought markets would liberate workers precisely by liberating them from the oppressive authority of employers. They continue to advance Paine’s and Lincoln’s promise of self-employment to any enterprising worker, but without being willing to give away the capital needed to realize that promise.
By contrast, Paine and Lincoln were rooted enough in reality to recognize that self-employment for the typical worker would be impossible if the state did not figure out ways to distribute capital to workers.
We are used to rhetoric that casts “government” as a threat to our liberties. By making it clear that the workplace is a form of government (that the state is not the only government that rules us), we can make clear how the authority that employers have over workers threatens their dignity and autonomy. By naming that government as “private” — that is, as kept private from the workers, as something employers claim is none of the workers’ business — we can make more vivid the fact that workers are laboring under arbitrary, unaccountable dictatorships.
I'm really looking forward to reading Liz's book!

(Disclosure: Prof. Anderson co-supervised my dissertation at the University of Michigan many years ago.)