Blogs and The Election

You may or may not have seen this announcement on Crooked Timber, but I thought I would reproduce it here. I'll be there!
IHS and Reason magazine present Ana Marie Cox, Daniel Drezner, Henry Farrell, and Michael Tomasky debating the role of blogs in the election on November 18.
A free-for-all discussion on the role of blogs and politics featuring Wonkette’s Ana Marie Cox, blogger and University of Chicago political scientist Daniel Drezner, blogger and George Washington University political scientist Henry Farrell, The American Prospect’s Michael Tomasky, moderated by Reason’s Nick Gillespie.
Drinks and hors d’oeuvres to follow remarks and Q&A.
Thursday, November 18
7:30-9:00 pm
Topaz Bar
1733 N Street NW, Washington, DC
Washington Post
Space is limited, so please reserve a place by RSVPing to Alina Stefanescu
at Free drink tickets will be given to the first 50

Author: Will Wilkinson

Vice President for Research at the Niskanen Center

7 thoughts

  1. Will, please recommend some books in moral theory that do the good stuff with psychology that you’re saying moral theory has done in the past decade. If you do, I promise to read at least a large percentage of everything you recommend. So recommend a bunch of stuff! Thanks.

  2. But usually, the argument aims to establish something substantive with an armchair, a Joe Stiglitz op-ed, and something remembered from the Tuesday Science Times.

    That sounds suspiciously like…blogging. 🙂

  3. As I’ve urged you before– read more political theory written by people with political science PhDs!

  4. Factual claims require factual support, certainly. What about fundamental moral claims? What about fundamental moral claims about politics, such as the nature of social justice, or political authority? Which facts would be helpful there?

    1. I’m not sure factual and moral claims come apart so easily. I suspect many views about the nature of social justice are deeply fact-laden. That is to say, I don’t think theorists arrive at their favorite principles of justice independently of what they think the world would IN FACT look like were it implemented. My hypothesis, then, is that a prior grasp of the body of evidence that helps explain empirical social patterns affects what moral principles we find attractive. If you found, for example, that political authorities never failed to badly abuse their power, I bet it would make a difference to your view of legitimate political authority.
      But I think the simplest case of the relevance of facts to moral claims has to do with where one puts the boundary between a reasonable ideal theory and a pointlessly utopian theory. Facts have a lot to do with that. And in that case, facts determine which moral principles are in the eligible set. As you well know, a lot of fights in political philosophy are really just fights about whether a particular set of principles is pointlessly utopian or feasibly ideal, and those fights are basically intractable without appeal to facts .

  5. Hi Will,
    Just saw your post on mine. I wasn’t sure, though, whether you were concerned about the libertarianism post or the one about idea/non-ideal theory, I think it is the former. If you are interested in the relevant facts to support the empirical claims that I make in the paper on libertarianism please see the citations in the footnotes. I talk, for instance, about how malnutrition can lead to a host of diseases that can undermine autonomy (e.g. beri beri). I agree entirely with your worries about political philosophy in general, however.
    You might also be interested in my best attempt to get a handle on the empirical case for free trade (I think there is a draft on my web page though the paper is currently under revision).
    One reason more political philosophers probably don’t engage so much with the empirical data is that it is difficult to find a good place to publish interdisciplinary articles.
    Cheers, -Nicole

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