2007-2008 Symposium on Living Philosophers: Michael Walzer
Professor Emeritus, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton University
The Symposium is a yearlong seminar devoted to the work of Michael Walzer, one of the most prominent contemporary political philosophers. In a career spanning more than fifty years, Professor Walzer has tackled some of the most important questions of the day, developing original conceptions of democracy, social justice, liberalism, civil society, social criticism, nationalism, multiculturalism, just war theory, and terrorism. In the Fall semester, we will focus on Walzer’s arguments to defend an immanent critique of social institutions and traditions, in opposition to culturally transcendent approaches to social theory and political philosophy. The center of our reconstruction will be Spheres of Justice, complemented by other works in Walzer’s corpus that elucidate (complicate and perhaps transform) his views on these issues. In the Spring semester, we will focus on Walzer’s attempt to cope with difference and conflict within and without the borders of the nation-state. The cornerstone of our analysis will be Just and Unjust Wars, accompanied by Walzer’s writings on multiculturalism and Jewish political thought. The overarching question throughout the year will be whether the two main threads in Walzer’s thought, namely, his commitment to hermeneutics and particularity when dealing with social justice at home and his more universalistic rights-approach when dealing with international relations, converge in a single pattern or pull his philosophy in opposite directions.
Directors: Pablo Muchnik, Jennifer McErlean, Paul Santilli
External Scholar: Morton Schoolman, University at Albany (SUNY)
Invited Speakers: Jeremy Waldron, NYU
Jacob Levy, McGill University