Politics - MANCEPT Research Seminar - Presented by Billy Christmas “Toward Methodological Anarchism”
|Dates:||11 February 2016|
|Times:||16:00 - 18:00|
|What is it:||Seminar|
|Organiser:||School of Social Sciences|
The next MANCEPT research seminar will be on Thursday 11 February, when our very own Billy Christmas will give a presentation titled “Toward Methodological Anarchism”. The seminar starts at 4pm in the Arthur Lewis Building 2nd floor boardroom.
The presentation will be followed by a question and answer session that will finish at around 5.30pm.
ABSTRACT: Two human frailties that can make institutions dysfunctional are self-interest and cognitive limitation. Certain institutions require the persons who constitute them to be other-regarding and well-informed, in order for the institutions to function. Inevitably, persons are not always virtuous in these regards, and institutions fail to deliver what was intended. Political philosophers are not empirical social scientists, so we do not know which institutions will supply the virtues needed for them to function. However, what we can know from the armchair is which ones demand virtue. Therefore, when we infer institutional prescriptions from our abstract ideals of justice, we ought not to prescribe institutions that depend upon virtuous persons in order for the demands of justice to be delivered (whatever these may be). Institutions which are robust perform their function even under unfavourable circumstance, for example, a lack of information or pervasive self-interest. Fragile institutions on the other hand fail to deliver what is desired – or worse, actively deliver what is not desired – when circumstances are unfavourable. As political philosophers we ought to therefore not prescribe institutions that, under unfavourable circumstances, will fail to deliver just outcomes, or actively deliver unjust outcomes. Whatever our abstract ideals, we ought to constrain the institutional prescriptions we make to robust rather than fragile ones. The state, as a monopoly, is a necessarily fragile institution. Monopolies over x privilege a certain group with being the sole supplier of x. When self-interest of cognitive failure become pervasive in a monopoly, x is not supplied, and moreover those who are in a position, morally and cognitively, to supply x are not permitted to do so. The requirement that, in lieu of doing empirical social science, for political philosophers to play their role, they most operate under a constraint that they do not prescribe institutions with supplying the demands of justice which are fragile, and this requires us to refrain from prescribing roles to the state, since the state is necessarily fragile. Call this constraint methodological anarchism.
Dr Stephanie Collins
Lecturer in Political Theory
Politics, School of Social Sciences
University of Manchester
Phone: 0161 306 8028
Organisation: University of Manchester
Travel and Contact Information
2nd floor Boardroom 2.016 / 017
Arthur Lewis Building