The Great Entitlement Raid

May 26, 2010

To bail out the banks, and more generally Wall Street, and as a result of their profiteering, the nation faces a great deficit. It is premature to deal with it, but when the time comes, it should not be closed by scaling back social programs and entitlements. Such a way to deal with the deficit would in effect amount to a two-step major wealth transfer from the most vulnerable Americans to the most endowed. (First the funds were given to Wall Street; next they will be taken from the poor and working-class Americans, to cover the shortfalls). There are other sources for reducing government expenditures for new revenues.

Creating a Sense of Community

May 06, 2010

The current crisis in Europe has led many to call for building stronger shared economic institutions and stronger EU governance. Actually what is missing most is a demos, a true sense of community. Binding EU-wide referendums on the same day in all the member states on issues of great importance are needed.

Needed: A Progressive Story

May 05, 2010

In preparing for the 2010 midterm elections, we need a progressive summit, to compose a shared narrative and shared positions. Currently, progressive groups are pulling in different directions, favoring distinct tactics, promoting their own rationales. True, despite all the talk about a "progressive movement," there is no way to cobble the various progressive groups into one coherent force. However, one can find what political philosophers call "overlapping consensuses." That is, instead of seeking one agreed-upon platform and strategy, progressives should identify major points all can agree to promote. 

Can a Nuclear-Armed Iran be Deterred?

May 01, 2010

Increasing evidence that Iran has embarked on a course that will lead it to develop nuclear arms in the near future has reintensified the debate about the ways the world should react to such a danger. 

A New Political Economics--and Political Economy

May 01, 2010

To understand how we got ourselves into the recent near-global economic crisis--and more importantly, how we can protect ourselves from falling into another one--we need a new economics, a political economics.

Obama’s Implicit Human Rights Doctrine

April 28, 2010

During his first year in office, President Barack Obama has outlined a human rights doctrine. The essence of Obama’s position is that the foreign policy of the USA is dedicated to the promotion of the most basic human right—the right to life—above and beyond all others and that the USA will systematically refrain from actively promoting other rights, even if this merely entails sanctions or raising a moral voice. This article details and examines Obama’s position and assesses its normative standing.

Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do?

April 01, 2010

“Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do?” Hedgehog Review (Spring 2010), pp. 85-89.

The first thing that must be said about Michael Sandel's book, Justice, is that it is a remarkable educational achievement.

A Humanist Science: Values and Ideas in Social Inquiry

March 01, 2010

“A Humanist Science: Values and Ideas in Social Inquiry,” Law and Society Review 44, No. 1 (March 2010), pp. 185-186.

Philip Selznick provides, in A Humanist Science, a remarkable capstone to a long and outstanding lifetime of scholarly work.

The Normativity of Human Rights is Self Evident

February 01, 2010

Attempts to justify human rights in terms of other sources of normativity unwittingly weaken the case of human rights. Instead these rights should be treated as moral causes that speak to us directly, as one of those rare precepts that are self-evident.

Life: The Most Basic Human Right

January 10, 2010

Not all rights have been created equal. This essay contends that the right to life—broadly understood as a right to be free from deadly violence, maiming, torture, and starvation—is paramount and argues that the unique standing of the right to life has significant implications for public policy in general, and for foreign policy in particular.

Unmanned Aircraft Systems: The Moral and Legal Case

January 01, 2010

The substantial increase in the employment of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and other arenas has intensified the debate about the moral and legal nature of the targeted killing of people who are said to be civilians. 

Bottom-Up Nation Building

December 31, 2009

The tired debate between those who believe in nation-building and those who scoff at it glosses over a major difference between top-down and bottom-up society-building. The starting point for a bottom-up approach is the communitarian recognition that societies — even modern, so-called “mass” societies — are not composed of just millions upon millions of individual citizens.

Behavioral Economics: A Methodological Note

October 06, 2009

When a theory faces a set of facts that are not compatible with its key assumptions, there are several ways it might respond. In response to the challenge posed by behavioral economics, neoclassical economics has attempted numerous different approaches. After briefly reviewing these responses, this paper turns to argue in favor of one of them.

Strength in Numbers

September 01, 2009

Communities can shape our identity as individuals and strengthen adherence to social norms – but how compatible are community values with universal rights? Amitai Etzioni explores this basic duality.

Zero is the Wrong Number

September 01, 2009

President Barack Obama has so far made only one strategic mistake, but it is a major one. It concerns the greatest security threat to the United States, other free nations, and world peace--nuclear arms in the hands of terrorists, as well as rogues and falling regimes.