•  42
    This essay provide an overview of debates about the method of political philosophy that have recently gripped the field, focusing on the relationship of theory to practice. These debates can be usefully organized using two oppositions that together carve the field into three broad families of views. Call “practicalism” the view that the theory of justice exists to guide political action. Call “utopianism” the view that reflection on the idea of a just society plays an important role in the theor…Read more
  •  10
    Agents of Change: Political Philosophy in Practice
    Harvard University Press. 2021.
    Ben Laurence argues for a political philosophy that unifies theory and practice in pursuit of change. He shows that the task of political philosophy is not complete until the political philosopher asks the question "What is to be done?" and deliberates about the answer with agents of change.
  • Juridical Laws as Moral Laws in Kant's Doctrine of Right
    In George Pavlakos & Veronica Rodriguez Blanco (eds.), Practical Normativity. Essays on Reasons and Intentions in Law and Practical Reason, Cambridge University Press. pp. 205-227. 2015.
    In this paper, I explore Kant’s discussion of juridical and ethical laws in the introduction to the Metaphysics of Morals as a whole. Following Marcus Willaschek and early Allen Wood, I pose a dilemma for Kant that I call “the paradox of juridical imperatives”, a dilemma that Willaschek and Wood hold Kant can only avoid by giving up his claim that juridical laws are categorical imperatives. I show how a set of interpretative issues concerning juridical incentives, the content of juridical laws, …Read more
  •  19
    Ethical Considerations on Quadratic Voting
    with Itai Sher
    Public Choice 1 (172): 175-192. 2017.
    This paper explores ethical issues raised by quadratic voting. We compare quadratic voting to majority voting from two ethical perspectives: the perspective of utilitarianism and that of democratic theory. From a utilitarian standpoint, the comparison is ambiguous: if voter preferences are independent of wealth, then quadratic voting out- performs majority voting, but if voter preferences are polarized by wealth, then majority voting may be superior. From the standpoint of democratic theory, we …Read more
  •  44
    Kant on Strict Right
    Philosophers' Imprint 18. 2018.
    For Kant right and ethics are two formally distinct departments of a single morality of reason and freedom. Unlike ethics, right involves an authorization to coerce, and this coercion serves as a pathological incentive. I argue that for Kant the distinctive character of right flows from the fact that juridical obligation has a different relational structure than ethical obligation. I argue that this relational structure explains the connection of right to coercion, and also explains how a catego…Read more
  •  43
    Constructivism, Strict Compliance, and Realistic Utopianism
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 97 (2): 433-453. 2017.
    John Rawls divides this theory into two parts that he calls ideal and nonideal theory. In this essay I argue that Rawls runs together two quite different conceptions of this dyad corresponding to the idea of strict compliance and realistic utopia respectively. These conceptions employ different criteria of classification, are motivated by different concerns, and have different practical upshots. I present a view that combines the two coherently on Rawls’ behalf while remaining true to his intent…Read more
  •  114
    The Question of the Agent of Change
    Journal of Political Philosophy 28 (4): 355-377. 2019.
    In non-ideal theory, the political philosopher seeks to identify an injustice, synthesize social scientific work to diagnose its underlying causes, and propose morally permissible and potentially efficacious remedies. This paper explores the role in non-ideal theory of the identification of a plausible agent of change who might bring about the proposed remedies. I argue that the question of the agent of change is connected with the other core tasks of diagnosing injustice and proposing practical…Read more
  •  3
    An Anscombian approach to collective action
    In Anton Ford, Jennifer Hornsby & Frederick Stoutland (eds.), Essays on Anscombe's Intention, Harvard University Press. 2011.
    Elizabeth Anscombe develops a non-psychologistic account of intentional individual action. According to her, action is intentional when it is subject to a special sense of the question “Why?”, the answer to which displays certain forms of explanation that are available to the agent. In this paper, I present an Anscombean account of collective action. On this account, an action is collective if it is subject to a certain sense of the question why, and displays a form different from, but related t…Read more