SOPhiA 2021

Salzburgiense Concilium Omnibus Philosophis Analyticis

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Programme - Talk

An absurd ontology or a hidden cosmopolitanism? Rethinking Pettit's interpretation of Rawls's political ontology
(Political Philosophy, )

I explore the application of the concept ``people'' as a collective agent in the second original position a la Rawls (1999). In specific, I argue that either Rawls should be in favor of cosmopolitanism or he is left with an absurd political ontology. First, I reconstruct the hypothetical scenario of the second original position (1.1). While for Rawls ``people'' is a thick concept, I reason why it should be deflated. My reconstruction of the second original position takes seriously the condition imposed by the veil of ignorance (Rawls 1971). I understand this condition as a process of abstracting all the elements that are contingent (cf. Bäck 2014, ch. 7) to a specific people. ``People'' in general, i.e. people after the abstraction process, is a concept that includes only the necessary common elements of all peoples. Therefore, contrary to Rawls, the result of this condition is, at least intuitively, closer to cosmopolitanism than to national liberalism. Because Rawls does not reach this thesis, I take on the task of solving the following puzzle: We need to find an anti-cosmopolitan justification consistent with our intuitive reconstruction of the second original position and ground this justification to ontological reasoning, more specifically the political ontology of Rawls's peoples. This task is allegedly satisfied by Pettit (2005, 2006). I investigate Pettit's idea of civicity -- the relationship between people and their government through the public sphere -- and I find that the Rawlsian conception of a fair system of cooperation (Rawls 1983) holds a people together in the final analysis. (1.2) Additionally, Pettit argues that fair cooperation 1 binds a people together as a whole but it does not bind different peoples together. I argue that this idea is outdated in the modern context of globalization (2.1). Finally, I examine some other non-Rawlsian alternatives (Kymlicka 2001, Miller 2012, Moore 2019) that might rescue Rawls's anti-cosmopolitanism on ontological grounds (2.2). I find them equally unable to pass the veil of ignorance condition. Therefore, either Rawls should be a cosmopolitanist (even though he is not aware of it) or his ontology of ``peoples'' is incomprehensible.

Chair: Silvana Pani
Time: 10:40-11:10, 11 September 2021 (Saturday)
Location: SR 1.007
Remark: (Online Talk)

Georgios Karagiannopoulos 
(University of Hamburg, Germany)

Georgios Karagiannopoulos is about to finish the two years M.Sc in Politics, Economics, and Philosophy at the University of Hamburg for which he was awarded the distinguished scholarship of Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD). He has also received his Bachelor of Science for studying Philosophy and History of Science at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. He has spoken in several undergraduate conferences in Athens and was one of the co-founders of the philosophy team ``Gavagai'', a group which published the first official undergraduate journal of analytical and continental philosophy in Greece. His interests are mainly around philosophy of social science, i.e. social ontology and epistemology, but he is also heavily influenced by the ideas -- yet not the method -- of continental philosophers, which he puts under analytical scrutinization. In his free time he loves playing classical guitar for the study of which he is awarded a Diploma.

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