Category Archives: civic theory

how to tell if you’re doing good

If you have the capacity to affect other people, there seem to be three basic ways to decide what to do–and then to assess how much good you’ve done once you’ve acted. You can talk to the people affected. You … Continue reading

Posted in civic theory, deliberation, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

why study social justice?

I just finished teaching a philosophy course in which the primary question was “How should I live?” We spent some time reading and thinking about personal and internal questions, such as what constitutes happiness and truthfulness and whether those are … Continue reading

Posted in academia, civic theory, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Civic Studies video introduction

This is a 16-minute talk in which I offer my own summary of “Civic Studies,” the nascent field that emerged with “The New Civic Politics: Civic Theory and Practice for the Future,” a 2007 manifesto, and has since developed during … Continue reading

Posted in civic theory, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

why the deliberative democracy framework doesn’t quite work for me

In some ways, I came of age in the field of deliberative democracy. I had an internship at the Kettering Foundation when I was a college sophomore (when the foundation defined itself more purely in deliberative terms than it does … Continue reading

Posted in civic theory, deliberation, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

The truth in Hayek

(Washington, DC) You are reading English; I am writing it. English has elaborate rules and conventions. You can break the rules, but that has consequences beyond your control. Mess up your grammar in a job interview and you may not … Continue reading

Posted in civic theory, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

new research on “civic deserts”

(Washington, DC) My colleagues Kei Kawashima-Ginsberg and Felicia Sullivan coined the phrase “civic deserts” to name places where there are few or no opportunities to be active and constructive participants in civic life. The analogy is to “food deserts”–geographical communities … Continue reading

Posted in civic theory, Trump, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

the legacy of Elinor Ostrom and the Bloomington School

Many years ago, I met Vincent and Elinor Ostrom in the seminar room of what is now the Ostrom Workshop at Indiana University in Bloomington. I then had several personal interactions with Lin Ostrom, and I’ve been back a few … Continue reading

Posted in civic theory, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

against state-centric political theory

What do all these statements have in common? “Republicanism is a consequentialist doctrine which assigns to government, in particular to governmental authorities, the task of promoting freedom as n0n-domination.” — Philip Pettit, Republicanism: A Theory of Freedom and Government “Of … Continue reading

Posted in civic theory, philosophy, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Lifeworld and System: a primer

The great social theorist Jürgen Habermas has drawn attention–for more than half a century–to the problem that he calls the “colonization of the Lifeworld by System.” Here is my explanation, based mainly on a rare concrete example from his Theory of … Continue reading

Posted in civic theory, philosophy, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

no justice, no peace? (on the relationship between these concepts)

As a political philosopher, I’m trained to think about justice versus injustice. Both terms are controversial. It would be hard to find two people (even two who might be labeled “social justice warriors”) who define “justice” exactly alike. We each … Continue reading

Posted in civic theory, Uncategorized | 1 Comment