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Title: Leviathan Dethroned
Authors: Brown, Brookes
Advisors: Beitz, Charles
Pettit, Philip
Contributors: Politics Department
Keywords: Citizenship
Conceptual Analysis
Distributive justice
Political Obligation
State Action Doctrine
Subjects: Philosophy
Issue Date: 2016
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: Political philosophy remains dominated by the concept of the state. How, we ask should states relate to citizens, citizens to states, or states to each other? I draw on work in applied political theory, epistemology, cognitive science, and empirical political science to challenge this methodological move. Philosophers, I show, undermine the quality of our moral judgments by framing our questions in this way. To illustrate this, I consider two widely debated claims: that citizens ought to obey the law, and that principles of distributive justice apply in the domestic context. Both contentions prove unjustified for the same reason: each relies on inaccurate assumptions about the structure and function of political institutions. This confusion, I reveal, is baked into philosophers’ concept of the state. Since the concept is incoherent, talk of states triggers predictable cognitive errors. I propose a new approach to work in political theory designed to help overcome these errors. Philosophers, I show, must adopt a new way of conceptualizing political life, one that better accommodates the roles of media conglomerates, corporations, and other public acts not traditionally associated with the state. Recognizing the ways in which these entities wield power radically alters how we should think about citizenship and its duties.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Politics

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