Professor of philosophy discusses libertarianism and social justice.
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Professor Matt Zwolinski, PhD wasn't expecting to make waves when he started a group blog with a handful of fellow academic political philosophers. But less than 48 hours after its launch, "Bleeding Heart Libertarians" was reaching over 12,000 hits per day, and had received enthusiastic welcomes from across the Blogosphere, from National Review, Reason Magazine, The Atlantic and the Wall Street Journal.
Scroll down for links to more reviews.
The blog is devoted to exploring the intersection between political libertarians—those who favor minimal government interference in citizens’ economic and civil liberties—and advocates of social justice—those who hold that society has a special moral obligation to care for its most vulnerable members.
"Traditionally," Zwolinski said, "these two groups have been at diametrically opposed to each other. Libertarians tend to see talk of ‘social justice’ as a rationalization for the expansion of government power, and advocates of social justice tend to see libertarians as, at best, cold-hearted and at worst as apologists for the wealthy and powerful as against the poor and oppressed."
Along with Zwolinski, the blog features posts by Jason Brennan (Brown University), Andrew J. Cohen (Georgia State University), Daniel Shapiro (West Virginia University), Fernando Tesón (The Florida State University), Jacob Levy (McGill University), and James Stacey Taylor (The College of New Jersey).
Zwolinski suspects that the blog’s success has to do with people's desire to find political common ground in an era of political divisiveness.
"I wanted to open up a dialogue between groups that don't communicate as much or as fruitfully as they should: between academic political philosophers and the broader public, and between those on the political ‘left’ with a concern for social justice and those on the political ‘right’ who find much to admire in a market society," Zwolinski said.
"It’s been tremendously gratifying to see how many people have responded positively to that message, and how productive the conversation has been so far."