Sophie Smith, Associate Professor of Political Theory, has won the Best Paper Award from the Foundations of Political Thought section of the American Political Science Association for her paper ‘Okin, Rawls and the Politics of Political Theory’.
The paper historicises, for the first time, the debate between Susan Moller Okin and John Rawls about justice, gender and the family. Drawing on archival sources, it offers new perspectives on this exchange, not least by showing that Okin was often publicly criticised for arguments that Rawls privately endorsed. In light of this history, the paper explores interpretative issues around canonicity, contingency and charitable reconstruction in the context of Rawls’s developing theory of justice. Finally, it offers some reflections on what the paper calls the 'politics of political theory’ - that is, the importance not simply of attending to the socio-political context that might shape any one author’s preoccupations, but to the strategies and wagers involved in engaging with the mainstream from the margins.