•  145
    Liberalism, Ethnocentrism, and Solidarity: Reflections on Rorty
    Journal of Philosophical Research 34 55-68. 2009.
    In this paper I defend Richard Rorty against two critics of his moral and political philosophy—Will Kymlicka and Robert Talisse—to whom Rorty himself never responded directly. I argue that Kymlicka misrepresents Rorty’s so-called “ethnocentrism” by giving it a needlessly affirmative reading, and that Talisse, by failing to appreciate the distinction between “making truth claims” and “proposing experiments” misunderstands both Rorty’s use of Darwin and his antifoundational liberalism
  •  99
    An overview of Kai Nielsen's philosophy focusing on his contributions to metaphilosophy and a critical theory based on wide reflective equilibrium, global justice, and egalitarianism.
  •  90
    On Rorty's evangelical metaphilosophy
    Philosophy and Rhetoric 44 (2): 150-170. 2011.
    I have spent 40 years looking for a coherent and convincing way of formulating my worries about what, if anything, philosophy is good for. Richard Rorty had an unusually avid interest in metaphilosophy. Again and again he would return to questions about the practical uses (if any) to which philosophy might be put, about philosophy's role in intellectual culture, about what philosophy is or might become. His answers to these questions were famously negative: philosophy's practical uses are few, i…Read more
  •  81
    Appraising Justice as Larger Loyalty
    Contemporary Pragmatism 12 (2): 302-316. 2015.
    This paper critically examines Richard Rorty’s “justice as larger loyalty” proposal. While Rorty is right, I argue, to reject the Kantian idea of a strict bifurcation between justice and loyalty, the former corresponding to reason the latter corresponding to sentiment, my argument is that it is nevertheless a mistake to follow Rorty in conceiving of justice as he recommends we should. This is not an endorsement of the rationalistic Kantian view Rorty rejects. Rather, I argue that there are compe…Read more
  •  62
    This critical notice provides an overview of Harry Frankfurt’s On Inequality and assesses whether Frankfurt is right to argue that equality is merely formal and empty. I counter-argue that egalitarianism, properly tweaked and circumscribed, can be defended against Frankfurt’s repudiation. After surveying the main arguments in Frankfurt’s book, I argue that whatever plausibility the ‘doctrine of sufficiency’ defended by Frankfurt may have, it does not strike a fatal blow against egalitarianism. T…Read more
  •  56
    Richard Rorty on the American Left in the Era of Trump
    Contemporary Pragmatism 15 (2): 194-210. 2018.
    This paper revisits some of the arguments in Richard Rorty’s Achieving Our Country, twenty years after the book first appeared. Not only are many of Rorty’s diagnoses and predictions eerily prescient in the wake of the rise of Donald Trump to the US presidency, but there is also perceptive political advice in Rorty’s book that I argue the contemporary American Left would do well to heed. While many post-election commentators have tended to read Achieving Our Country as an admonishment of so-call…Read more
  •  47
    Raz on Authority and Democracy
    Dialogue 51 (2): 211-230. 2012.
    ABSTRACT: I argue that Joseph Raz’s service conception of authority cannot convincingly account for the nature and source of democratic authority. It cannot explain why decisions made democratically are more likely to be sound than decisions made non-democratically, and therefore, why democratic decisions might be understood as constituting moral reasons for action and compliance independently of their instrumental dimensions. My argument is that democratic authority cannot be explained complete…Read more
  •  31
    Equality, luck, and pragmatism
    Journal of Speculative Philosophy 21 (2). 2007.
    In this paper I describe how Kant’s idea about the impossibility of moral luck has come to influence, via Rawls, recent writings in egalitarian theory. I argue that this influence has been detrimental for the study of equality. Further, I claim that the major deficiencies of this post-Rawlsian egalitarianism (nicely described by Elizabeth Anderson’s title “luck egalitarianism) are both effectively critiqued and corrected by the understanding of equality and its value located in John Dewey’s wri…Read more
  •  30
    Deweyan Democracy Defended
    Southwest Philosophy Review 28 (1): 197-207. 2012.
    This paper defends Deweyan democracy against the attack levelled against it by Robert Talisse. The problem with Talisse’s critique, I argue, is that Rawlsian concerns about reasonable pluralism are a propos only for political theories of justice ⎯ for theories, that is, that make definitive pronouncements about, or offer principled limits to, the coercive power of the state ⎯ and Deweyan democracy is not (or is not centrally) a theory of justice in this respect. My argument, in short, is that o…Read more
  •  24
    Kai Nielsen is one of Canada’s most distinguished political philosophers. In a career spanning over 40 years, he has published more than 400 papers in political philosophy, ethics, meta-philosophy, and philosophy of religion. He has engaged much of the best work in Anglophone political philosophy, shedding light on many of the central debates and controversies of our time but throughout has remained a unique voice on the political left. _ Pessimism of the Intellect _presents a thoughtful collect…Read more
  •  21
    The Continuing Relevance of John Dewey (review)
    Education and Culture 30 (2): 103-105. 2014.
    The Continuing Relevance of John Dewey: Reflections on Aesthetics, Morality, Science, and Society gathers selected and revised essays from a conference at the University of Opole in Poland. The conference, held in June 2009, marked the anniversary of John Dewey’s 150th birthday, and pursued as its stated theme: “John Dewey in the context of American and European Values.” The volume begins with an introduction by Larry Hickman, one of John Dewey’s most committed and energetic champions. The rest …Read more
  •  20
    Review of The Cambridge Companion to Pragmatism (review)
    Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews. 2014.
    This book, one of the most recent in Cambridge University Press's large and growing companion series, provides a well-rounded overview of American pragmatism's beginnings, its "revival" in the mid to late twentieth century, and some of the ways in which it might be "put to work" in addressing questions about aesthetics, politics, religion, law, and education. The volume begins with an introduction by editor Alan Malachowski, which helpfully sets out American pragmatism's "orientation," a few of …Read more
  •  19
    Rawls and the Metaphysical Tradition
    South African Journal of Philosophy 23 (2): 134-47. 2004.
  •  19
    William James and the Metaphilosophy of Individualism
    Metaphilosophy 52 (2): 220-233. 2021.
    This paper argues that an individualist perspective is a crucial element of William James’s metaphilosophical outlook. In broad outline, the individualist argument the paper attributes to James can be characterized like this. Disputes among philosophers about the optimal point of view from which to consider this or that philosophical problem are themselves only adequately adjudicated from an individualist perspective. That is, when it comes to an assortment of important philosophical questions (…Read more
  •  19
    Semiotic Limits to Markets Defended
    Philosophia 1-16. forthcoming.
    Jason Brennan and Peter Jaworski argue in recent work that “semiotic” or “symbolic” objections to markets are unsuccessful. I counter-argue that there are indeed some semiotic limits on markets and that anti-commodification theorists are not merely expressing disgust when they disapprove of markets in certain goods on those grounds. One central argument is that, contrary to what Brennan and Jaworski claim, semiotic arguments against markets do not depend fundamentally on meanings that prevail ab…Read more
  •  19
    Nothing in mortal life is worthy of great concernThe word “justice” is habitually used in at least two different ways. Sometimes it stands for a Grenzbegriff, an Idea of Pure Reason, a focus imaginarius. Justice in this uniquely philosophical sense refers to a moral horizon against which we evaluate institutions, laws, policies, and practices. Like Plato’s Forms, however, the pure concept of justice—the fundamental and essential nature of “the just”—is notoriously elusive. Justice in this sense …Read more
  •  14
    Pragmatist Egalitarianism Revisited: Some Replies to my Critics
    Contemporary Pragmatism 16 (4): 337-347. 2019.
    In this article, I reply to some criticisms of my book, Pragmatist Egalitarianism, offered by professors Robert Talisse, Susan Dieleman, and Alexander Livingston. Some of the major themes and questions I address include the following: How are conflicts between different egalitarian ideals best understood and addressed? Does the quest for equality have a fundamental locus, or are the different egalitarian variables I identify in the book, conceptually speaking, on an equal footing? What is the re…Read more
  •  10
    G.A. Cohen and the Logic of Egalitarian Congruence
    Socialist Studies 8 (1): 82-100. 2012.
    In this article, I argue that G. A. Cohen’s defense of the feminist slogan, “The personal is political”, his argument against Rawls’s restriction of principles of justice to the basic structure of society, depends for its intelligibility on the ability to distinguish—with reasonable but perhaps not perfect precision—between those situations in which what Nancy Rosenblum has called “the logic of congruence” is validly invoked and those in which it is not. More importantly, I suggest that the phil…Read more
  • Introduction: Perspectives on Pragmatism and Justice
    with Dieleman Susan and Cristopher Voparil
    In Susan Dieleman, David Rondel & Christopher Voparil (eds.), Pragmatism and Justice, Oxford University Press. pp. 1-17. 2017.
  • James on Morality
    In David H. Evans (ed.), Understanding James, Understanding Modernism, Bloomsbury. pp. 281-282. 2017.