'Symposium on Liberalism With Excellence by Matthew Kramer'
Matthew Kramer’s Liberalism with Excellence, to be published by Oxford University Press in early 2017, promises to be a significant intervention into the debate between liberal neutralists and perfectionists concerning the justification of the exercise of political power. While neutralists hold that the state must be neutral in some sense between competing conceptions of the good, perfectionists hold that claims about the good can or ought to play an important role in justifying the state’s actions.
Kramer’s book presents powerful objections to both liberal neutralism and existing perfectionist theories, and develops and defends an alternative form of perfectionism: aspirational perfectionism. The distinctive claim of this view is that, instead of seeking to edify citizens by elevating their lifestyles or experiences, a government should seek to promote the excellence of the society over which it presides – and it should thereby help to bring about the conditions under which every individual can be warranted in harbouring a strong sense of self-respect.
This conference will bring together a world-class group of scholars to discuss Kramer’s book, and present critical papers based on its themes. All of the conference speakers have published on the debate between neutralism and perfectionism, and they include the authors of several of the most important books in the area. We are particularly pleased to have prominent defenders of both neutralism and perfectionism contributing to the conference, such that it promises to be a highly illuminating event.