Date: Tuesday March 2, 2021
Title: The Loving State
Speaker: Adam Lovett (NYU, Philosophy)
Abstract: I explore the idea that the state should love its citizens. It should not be indifferent towards them. Nor should it merely respect them. It should love them. We begin by looking at the bases of this idea. First, it can be grounded by a concern with state subordination. The state has enormous power over its citizens. This threatens them with subordination. Love ameliorates this threat. Second, it can be grounded by the state’s lack of moral status. We all have reason to love everyone. But we beings with moral status have an excuse for not loving everyone: we have our own lives to lead. The state has no such excuse. So, the state should love everyone. We then explore the nature of the loving state. I argue that the loving state is a liberal state. It won’t interfere in its citizens’ personal spheres. It is a democratic state. It will adopt its citizens’ ends as its own. It is a welfare state. It will be devoted to its citizens’ well-being. And it is an egalitarian state. It will treat all its citizens equally. This constitutes a powerful third argument, an abductive argument, for the ideal of the loving state.
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About the speaker: I am currently completing a Ph.D. at New York University (NYU). Before NYU, I did the B.Phil. at the University of Oxford. Most of my work is empirically-informed political philosophy. My dissertation is about the ways that American democracy falls short of democratic ideals and why those shortfalls matter. The talk I will be giving is drawn from one of my post-dissertation projects in political philosophy: it concerns the proper nature of the state. Besides my work in political philosophy, I’ve worked extensively in metaphysics, mainly on grounding, and I have several projects in normative ethics. You can find more of my work at: adamlovett.co.uk.