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Kevin Vallier

Articles by Kevin Vallier

The National Conservative Movement Needs Liberalism to Save its Soul

November 29, 2021

Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump transformed the conservative movement, but in different ways. Reagan embodied the deeply held political principles of his coalition—social conservatives, fiscal conservatives and foreign policy hawks—that had been developed in prior decades.Not so with Trump. His fiscal profligacy, MAGA nationalism and rhetorical excesses shattered the conservative consensus. In its rubble, a mishmash of conservative intellectuals see an opportunity to organize a new conservative movement: national conservatism. Its policy aims remain unclear, as National Review’s Nate Hochman admits. What is clear is that the neo-nationalist adherents of this movement oppose liberalism.Neo-nationalists use the term “liberalism” unusually broadly to cover both “woke” progressives and

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Libertarianism: Eric Mack’s New Book

November 11, 2018

Many readers of this blog will know Eric Mack’s work. He is the leading libertarian political philosopher. And he has just put together a nice new book explaining libertarian political philosophy and its various varieties. There’s a lot of new innovative stuff there, even for libertarian political philosophers who know the field. Do buy it. It’s under $20.
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Here’s what some important people say about the book. My Amazon review is below theirs.
“This book is, unquestionably, the best available account of the literature on the philosophical foundations of modern libertarianism. Mack, himself a major contributor to that literature, carefully tracks its historical origins and offers an impressively acute analysis of the works of libertarianism’s leading contemporary

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Political Stability in the Open Society

February 1, 2018

Links, Rights Theory

John Thrasher and I have published an article in the American Journal of Political Science, “Political Stability in the Open Society,” that BHL readers may find of interest. If you’re interested in how to have a diverse and free but stable social order, take a look. I’m cross-posting the blog post linked here.
In “Political Stability in the Open Society,” we argue that John Rawls’s model of a well-ordered society—as an account of a realistic utopia—is defective for two reasons. First, the well-ordered society model wrongly excludes the deep disagreement and diversity that we find in contemporary political life from figuring into a model of liberal order. Second, when deep

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Religious Exemptions Volume

January 8, 2018

Religion, Toleration

For people interested in the normative dimensions of religious exemptions, Michael Weber and I have just published a new anthology of articles with Oxford University Press. We’re very happy with the volume, and we have a number of top-notch philosophers and legal theorists writing on these important topics. Another attractive feature of the book is that it engages the question of when religious exemptions are justified, and not just when they are constitutional.
You can buy the book here. If you would like a review copy, please email me privately at kevinvallier-at-gmail-dot-com.

Here’s the jacket description.
Exemptions from legal requirements, especially religious

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CFP: Social Trust

October 9, 2017

Announcements, Academic Philosophy

Call for Abstracts
The Bowling Green Workshop in Applied Ethics and Public Policy
Social Trust
April 20th-21st, 2018
Keynote Speakers: Cristina Bicchieri (University of Pennsylvania) and Ted Hinchman (University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee)
Political scientists and economists have studied social trust for decades, but social trust is seriously underexplored in philosophical contexts, despite a sizeable literature on personal trust in ethics, psychology, and epistemology. Yet given the centrality of social trust for social order, it seems natural to think that analyses of social trust and its value could help answer some of the central questions in social and

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The Moral Imperative of School Choice

May 26, 2017

Liberty, Current Events

In my new Niskanen Center essay, I argue that school choice is a moral imperative. This is so even if school choice produces no boost to educational outcomes. If you value liberty as a policy default and respect parental autonomy, you should support school choice. There’s something for all libertarians to like here, as well as many conservatives, and perhaps even a few progressives.

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The Why and How of Reasonable Disagreement

April 26, 2017

Toleration, Liberalism

The Niskanen Center has posted my new essay on reasonable political disagreements. I explain both why we often mistakenly assume that our political disagreements are unreasonable and how to avoid this error.

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Are You a Grandstander?

January 18, 2017

Current Events, Academic Philosophy

Philosophers Brandon Warmke and Justin Tosi have recently published some important new research on the social phenomenon known as grandstandi…

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Healing Through Decentralization

November 11, 2016


Donald J. Trump will be the 45th president of the United States. He was elected in perhaps the most polarized election of the last 100 years. We have, more and more, two cultural-political tribes in the United States. And the red tribe’s hatred for the blue tribe beat the blue tribe’s hatred of the red tribe. On social media, and in the press, many people grasp the consequences of this division. Trump is what happens in a country where people so despise one another’s politics that they will either elect a man who is manifestly unqualified or insult and despise everyone who voted for him. If we hope to move forward, it would be wonderful if we could depolarize and compromise on pressing

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CFP: The Future of Work, Automation, and a Basic Income

September 10, 2016

Members and readers of the blog should find this of interest. We have our very own Matt Zwolinski speaking! Please send this to anyone you think might want to apply.
Call for Abstracts
The Bowling Green Workshop in Applied Ethics and Public Policy

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You Can’t Get There From Here? A Reply to Magness

July 26, 2016

Phil Magness replies to my post by advancing a new argument that while the UBI might be a fine policy, we can’t get to it from our present circumstances. If we try, we’ll end up with a UBI + the current welfare state arrangements. In order words, you…

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The UBI in Non-Ideal Theory and Ideal Theory

July 25, 2016

Phil Magness has complained, at length, on Facebook that proponents of a universal basic income (UBI) like myself have failed to grasp with various “public choice” problems that would surely plague the functioning of the UBI. Presumably people would …

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On the Over-Politicization of Bathroom Norms

April 13, 2016

One of the most important insights of both the classical liberal tradition and the new and the growing (and not necessarily classical liberal) multi-disciplinary study of social norms is that the state is not the primary source of social order. Most …

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The Libertarian Position on Religion in Public Life

March 7, 2016

In this post, I want to briefly state what I take to be the most defensible libertarian approach to religious contributions to public life. I’ve been writing on why libertarians have had so little to say on the matter, and I think it is largely due t…

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Pluralist Contractarianism

January 19, 2016

Rationalism, Pluralism, and Freedom taught me a great deal of history and history of political theory. It also contains the compelling, historically and philosophically valid, distinction between two types of liberal political theorizing – rationalis…

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