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  • 17 Feb 2022 by David Rondel

    Pragmatist Egalitarianism argues that philosophical egalitarianism is plagued by a deep impasse, and sets forth a conception of equality rooted in American pragmatist thought—specifically, the trio of William James, John Dewey and Richard Rorty—that successfully mediates that impasse.

    Early on in the book, I distinguish between “vertical” egalitarianism, which construes equality in terms of principles of distributive justice, and “horizontal” egalitarianism, which construes equality in terms of the broader social ideal that persons stand to one another in relations of equality. One of the book’s main arguments is that theorizing equality in terms of the vertical/horizontal division has outlived its utility. The pragmatist view I defend in place of that division recasts egalitarianism in light of three inter-related, mutually reinforcing variables (The Institutional, The Personal, and The Cultural), each of which is best accentuated in one of a trio of pragmatist philosophers (Dewey, James, and Rorty, respectively). The book’s argument in a nutshell is this. If the three variables are mutually complicit in promoting and reinforcing inequality—something I meticulously demonstrate through an analysis of racial inequality in the United States—an egalitarianism that takes this seriously will treat all three as equally (though differently) important in making things better. It also turns out that we should reject several of the central premises upon which lots of scholarly writing on equality depend: that equality is a single idea, that it has a fundamental locus, and that there is a singular or primary route to the achievement of a genuinely egalitarian society.



    Pragmatist Egalitarianism. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018. ISBN 978–0–19–068068–8

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  • 16 Feb 2022 by Cheryl Misak



    In Frank Ramsey: A Sheer Excess of Powers, I tell the story of the great Cambridge philosopher, economist, and mathematician, Frank Ramsey, who died at the age of 26 in 1930. He really did have a sheer excess of powers (in the words of the Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter). He founded a branch of pure mathematics (Ramsey Theory); two branches of economics (optimal savings and taxation theory); and was the first to figure out how to measure partial belief and show how utility maximization could be calculated. In philosophy we know him also for Ramsey Sentences, the Ramsey Test for Conditionals, and for translating Wittgenstein’s Tractatus. He was the only one who could stand up to Wittgenstein, both intellectually and personally, and I argue in the book that it was Ramsey’s pragmatist objections that made Wittgenstein turn his back on the Tractatus and become what we know as the later Wittgenstein. Ramsey was also friends with Keynes, Moore, and Russell, and a member of the Apostles during one of its most intriguing periods. He was part of Bloomsbury, interested in Freudian psychoanalysis, and was a feminist and socialist. Part of my aim is to provide a corrective to those who think Ramsey was engaged in Wittgenstein’s project or wanted to characterize rational choice in idealized formal terms.

    As one might imagine, this was a difficult book to write—you would have to be Ramsey to have a perfect grip on all his subjects, many of them highly technical, many of them humanistic, for want of a better word. But it was a huge amount of fun as well.


    Frank Ramsey: A Sheer Excess of Powers.  Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020. 978-0198755357

    What's New in Canadian Philosophy? is a blog series highlighting the work of CPA members. Send contributions to