Monday, April 26, 2010

Event: After Capitalism? [Updated with reactions]

This Thursday, 29 April, 2010; Salle 422, 2910 Boul. Édouard-Montpetit
  • 13 h - 14 h Pierre-Yves Néron, CRÉUM : Public Capitalism
  • 14 h - 15 h Pablo Gilabert, Concordia University : Socialism
  • 15 h - 15 h 15 : Pause café
  • 15 h 15 - 16 h 30 David Casassas, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona : Property-owning Democracy
Info here. Poster here.


A really nice event. About 20 lightyears from my way of approaching political philosophical problems, though. Whatever -- it's normative political theory. I don't do normative political theory. But it was also -- except, perhaps, for some of Casassas' paper -- ideal political theory. And I just can't get my head to go into that space at all. For me, political theory always departs from some very robust sense of the presently given human condition, and, because of this, I can never make heads nor tails of the leap to talking about a just society in abstraction from the concrete situation.

For example: Does the just society have neighbors? Does it have borders? If so, do these facts have any impact on what it means to be a just society? A just society has citizens; does it also have non-citizen residents? Does a just society engage in foreign trade, or does it produce all it needs? Either way, what does a just society produce? What does it need? Do trade relations or production relations ahve any impact on what it means to be a just society? Are its neighbors friendly or hostile? Does this matter for justice? Does a just society have a history? Is this history a history of justice? Does this history have any impact on the institutions of the basic structure? I just don't know how to bracket these questions in order to consider a just social order "in itself."

(Hell, even Plato didn't bracket these questions; the consideration that really gets the construction of the city in speech undrway in the Republic is the consideration that the city will be one of many, will have neighbors, and must be prepared to defend itself against them.)

Anyway, a very nice event anyway...