Thursday, February 19, 2015

Book offer for students

I have some extra copies of books to which I contributed sitting around the office. Anthony Laden and David Owen, eds., Multiculturalism and Political Theory James Fleming and Jacob T. Levy, eds., NOMOS LV: Federalism and Subsidiarity Avigail Eisenberg and Jeff Spinner-Halev, eds., Minorities Within Minorities Will Kymlicka and Alan Patten eds., Language Rights and Political Theory Better to get them into the hands of people who will read them. So: The first eight current students (or postdocs) who buy a copy of Rationalism, Pluralism, and Freedom after this post goes up, and who forward me their proof-of-purchase e-mail, can name one of the above books and I'll send it to them. (Actually, please name a first and a second choice in case there's clustering; I'll also update this post to indicate when each of the volumes runs out.) The cheapest way to buy RPF is directly from OUP: go here, and use discount code ASFLYQ6 at checkout for 30% off. For a while, at least, OUP was giving an additional 10% off to people making their first direct purchase through the website. If that's still true, then it comes to $US 30 or so. E-mail address is jtlevy [at] .

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Rationalism, Pluralism, and Freedom

Available in the US February 11 (in Canada and the UK, released December 2014). If you buy at that link, discount code ASFLYQ6 brings the price down to $35. For those who prefer Amazon: Canada, US

Monday, August 18, 2014

I'm # 6,400,831!

That means someone has pre-ordered Rationalism, Pluralism, and Freedom.  Maybe even two someones.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Blogging the Annual Review of Political Science

Over at BHL, I'm blogging my way through a round of reading the 2013 and 2014 Annual Reviews of Political Science this summer.

Nomos LV: Federalism and Subsidiarity

Now in print: Nomos LV: Federalism and Subsidiarity (hardcover or electronic).

Nomos LV: Federalism and Subsidiarity, edited by James E. Fleming and Jacob T. Levy

"In Federalism and Subsidiarity, a distinguished interdisciplinary group of scholars in political science, law, and philosophy address the application and interaction of the concept of federalism within law and government. What are the best justifications for and conceptions of federalism? What are the most useful criteria for deciding what powers should be allocated to national governments and what powers reserved to state or provincial governments? What are the implications of the principle of subsidiarity for such questions? What should be the constitutional standing of cities in federations? Do we need to “remap” federalism to reckon with the emergence of translocal and transnational organizations with porous boundaries that are not reflected in traditional jurisdictional conceptions? Examining these questions and more, this latest installation in the NOMOS series sheds new light on the allocation of power within federations."

James E. Fleming and Jacob T. Levy

Part I. Federalism, Positive Benefits, and Negative Liberties

1. Defending Dual Federalism: A Self-Defeating Act
Sotirios A. Barber

2. Defending Dual Federalism: A Bad Idea, But Not Self-Defeating
Michael Blake

3. The Puzzling Persistence of Dual Federalism
Ernest A. Young

4. Foot Voting, Federalism, and Political Freedom
Ilya Somin

Part II. Constitutions, Federalism, and Subsidiarity

5. Federalism and Subsidiarity: Perspectives from U.S. Constitutional Law
Steven G. Calabresi and Lucy D. Bickford

6. Subsidiarity, the Judicial Role, and the Warren Court’s Contribution to the Revival of State Government
Vicki C. Jackson

7. Competing Conceptions of Subsidiarity
Andreas Føllesdal

8. Subsidiarity and Robustness: Building the Adaptive Efficiency of Federal Systems
Jenna Bednar

Part III. The Entrenchment of Local and Provincial Autonomy, Integrity, and Participation

9. Cities and Federalism
Daniel Weinstock

10. Cities, Subsidiarity, and Federalism
Loren King

11. The Constitutional Entrenchment of Federalism
Jacob T. Levy

Part IV. Remapping Federalism(s)
12. Federalism(s)’ Forms and Norms: Contesting Rights, De-Essentializing Jurisdictional Divides, and Temporizing Accommodations
Judith Resnik

Thursday, May 29, 2014

RGCS postdoc 2014-15

The Research Group on Constitutional Studies at McGill University invites applications for a postdoctoral fellowship for academic year 2014-15, renewable for 2015-16.  The Fellow will receive a stipend of $C 50,000 per year as well as a research fund and benefits.  

The Fellow will be expected to be in residence at McGill throughout the academic year, and to take an active part in workshops, conferences, and the intellectual life of RGCS and appropriate related research groups and centres (for political theorists, the Groupe de Recherche Interuniversitaire en Philosophie Politique, GRIPP).  The Fellow will also be expected to teach one course per year, most likely an upper-level undergraduate course on "Philosophy, Economics, and Society," though other matches between curricular needs and the Fellow's interests are possible.

The competition has a preference for political theorists, but is also open to those whose research in comparative politics or the public law field of political science falls within the theme of constitutional studies: constitutional design, constitutional law, and the operation of constitutional-level political institutions.  

Applicants should send a cover letter, CV, research statement (including a plan of the work to be pursued in the next two years), one writing sample of no more than 10,000 words, to by June 20, 2014, and should arrange for 2-3 letters of recommendation to be sent to the same address.  It is helpful and welcome if the cover letter specifies one or more political science members of RGCS' faculty roster ( ) who might be most appropriate as a research advisor, but the final match with an advisor or advisors may differ. 

The competition is open with respect to nationality; knowledge of French is an advantage but not required.  Other information on postdoctoral fellowships at McGill is available at , including information on obtaining a Canadian work permit if necessary.  Ph.D. must have been awarded between January 1, 2010 and the date of application, or else the dissertation must have been successfully defended and all requirements for the degree completed by the date of application (i.e. with formal awarding of the degree still pending).

All e-mailed parts of an application including letters of recommendation should include the applicant's name in the subject line.  Applications submitted as one complete interfolio file are welcome. 

Saturday, February 01, 2014

"Taking Politics Less Seriously"

My talk at an Institute for Liberal Studies seminar on rejecting the fiction that the political world reflects one's will or one's soul is now online. Politics is something that happens to us, something we have to manage and live with as best we can; it has no natural tendency to reflect our wills or our consent, and the insistence that it does only empowers the people who want to falsely impute consent to us and claim to be harming us in our own name.

Friday, October 11, 2013

The Center for Ethics in Society Post Doctoral Fellowships

For 2014-2015, we seek up to three new post doctoral fellows. We welcome candidates with substantial normative research interests from philosophy, the social sciences, and the professional schools. We are especially interested in candidates with research interests in inequality, education, international justice, and environmental ethics, but we welcome all applicants with strong normative interests that have some practical implications. Scholars with a JD but no PhD are eligible to apply. Fellows will be involved in teaching, interact with undergraduates in the Ethics in Society Honors Program and help in fostering an inter-disciplinary ethics community across the campus. The appointment term is September 1, 2014 - August 31, 2015; however, the initial term may be renewed for an additional year. Applicants must have completed all requirements for their PhD by June 30, 2014. Candidates must also be no more than 3 years from the awarding of their degree (i.e., September 2011). The application deadline is January 9, 2014 (5:00pm Pacific Standard Time). Stanford University is an equal opportunity employer and is committed to increasing the diversity of its faculty. We welcome applications from women and members of minority groups, as well as others who would bring additional dimensions to the university's research and teaching missions. Salary is competitive. Please submit a CV, a writing sample (no more than 25 pages), three letters of recommendation, and a one-page research statement. For information on how to access the online system to submit your application material, visit our website Contact person: Anne Newman ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The Center for Ethics in Society Post Doctoral TEACHING Fellowships For 2014-2015, we seek up to two new post doctoral teaching fellows. These teaching fellows are offered in conjunction with Stanford's new general education requirement, which requires all Stanford undergraduates to take at least one ethics course. Teaching fellows will assist in one class per quarter and will be asked to run up to two sections per quarter. The Ethics Teaching Fellows will be fully integrated into the programming of the Center. This fellowship provides an opportunity to work with great students in a variety of disciplines and develop ethics expertise across the curriculum. The appointment term is September 1, 2014 - August 31, 2015. Applicants must have completed all requirements for their PhD by June 30, 2014. Candidates must also be no more than 3 years from the awarding of their degree (i.e., September 2011). The application deadline is January 9, 2014 (5:00pm Pacific Standard Time). Stanford University is an equal opportunity employer and is committed to increasing the diversity of its faculty. We welcome applications from women and members of minority groups, as well as others who would bring additional dimensions to the university's research and teaching missions. Salary is competitive. Please submit a CV, a writing sample (no more than 25 pages), three letters of recommendation, and a teaching portfolio. For information on how to access the online system to submit your application, visit our website Contact person: Anne Newman

Thursday, July 18, 2013

"Small but stubborn"

I think I should adopt "small but stubborn" as my personal motto, to be emblazoned on the home page of the blog, my business cards, and eventually the coat of arms of my Game of Thrones-style noble house. It works, donchathink?

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The world is too much with us.

Zimmerman. Snowden. Dhaka. Taksim Square. Tahrir Square. Lac-Megantic. Oklahoma tornadoes. West, Texas. Syria. This is starting to feel like one of those novelistically awful long-hot-summers.... as if it's building up toward a blackout-riot on a global scale, or to the revelation that the neighbor's demon-possessed dog has been orchestrating the whole thing, or to a wrath-of-god thunderstorm in which Batman returns after ten years of retirement. This seems like an appropriate summer for Superman to start snapping people's necks.

In the novel that's set in this summer, Jenny McCarthy, Anthony Weiner Colin McGinn, and Elliot Spitzer will provide the dark comic relief--bad, and in some sense too bad to be funny, but not immediately* fatal, and so implausibly ridiculous that they let you laugh for a few pages in between the long stretches of tension.

*Yes, giving Jenny McCarthy a platform for her views will lead to more deaths. I said "immediately."

Monday, July 01, 2013

A note to the NSA

The gentleman on the left has "free" earlobes whereas the other guy's earlobes are attached. Please also note the difference in pigmentation spots on the neck and cheek. I would greatly appreciate it if you would direct your field agents to check earlobes and moles carefully before taking action.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Come to Montreal: IPSA, July 2014 International Political science Association World Congress, Montreal, July 19-24 2014 Congress theme: Challenges of Contemporary Governance Political scientists are often seen not merely as analysts of political matters, but as something akin to engineers sculpting the organisation of power. Globalisation has profoundly altered the work of political scientists, intensifying communication and exchange on issues pertaining to the way in which communities, societies, nations and the world itself are governed. The ambition of this international political science congress, to be held in Montreal, is to reflect upon contemporary evolutions in governance in the face of numerous challenges: Political, economic and social systems have become increasingly fragmented, rendering global strategic initiatives ever more complex The variety of values, attitudes and behaviours exhibited by individuals and groups makes for a greater and more diverse demand for inclusion and participation As the structures through which these interests are represented continue to expand, systems of governance become increasingly complex, more difficult to interpret and understand and less responsive to the uninitiated citizen There is a growing risk that the democratic quality of our political systems will deteriorate as a result of the rising influence and decision-making capacity of technical-administrative and technocratic experts For a given sector or type of organisation, comparative analysis and an experimental methodological approach should help better evaluate the performance of different forms of governance It may also be fruitful to focus on the various competitive strategies and means by which models of governance are promoted, or even imposed (in the name of ‘good governance’ demanded by international institutions, for example) Faced with these challenges, the multi-faceted phenomenon of governance requires a global, comprehensive and multi-tiered approach: from the local association or political party up to the international community, via regional integration or the national regulation of an economic sector. Adopting an approach to political science which is resolutely open to the opportunities offered by interdisciplinary collaborations, we must also support the circulation of theoretical frameworks and empirical approaches which are applicable in the northern and southern hemispheres, to the most developed nations and the panoply of emerging and developing countries. The main focus of this congress will be to generate the greatest possible number of concrete, innovative answers to the questions of citizens, their political, associative and socio-economic representatives and the policy makers who are working constantly to improve the quality of governance. The principal themes covered by this congress will be: International Political Economy International Relations Public Policy Analysis and Administrative Science Comparative Politics and Institutions Political Theory, Gender and Politics Urban and Regional Politics and Policies Political Attitudes and Behaviour Deadline for open panel proposals: July 1, 2014 Deadline for paper proposals (and closed panel proposals): October 7, 2014

The living constitution

[The Voting Rights Act's] "Section 4's formula is unconstitutional in light of current conditions." Roberts for the majority (including Scalia) in Shelby County. Scalia in oral arguments on the DOMA case: "I'm curious, when did it become unconstitutional to exclude homosexual couples from marriage? 1791? 1868? When the Fourteenth Amendment was adopted?... Well, how am I supposed to how to decide a case, then, if you can't give me a date when the Constitution changes?" I'm curious, Justice Scalia: when did the evolving standards of the living constitutional text of Amendment 15 section 2 change to make the VRA Section 4 unconstituional? Can you give me a date on that?

Quick reaction: Adoptive Couple vs Baby Girl

Thomas' concurrence in Adoptive Couple vs Baby Girl is shocking. He manages to concoct a story whereby the Constitution granted Congress *less* power relative to the states than the Articles had when it came to Indian affairs. He claims that the Indian Commerce Clause only applies to tribes in the unorganized west, outside state boundaries altogether. This is very nearly backwards. Madison very deliberately *removed* the restriction in the Articles limiting Congressional authority to "Indians, not members of any of the States."

(I discuss this in this paper. ).

Thomas is right that the Indian Commerce Clause should not be read in the Lone Wolf/ Kagama way to grant plenary power over all Indian affairs. But he's so utterly wrong about the jurisdiction to which the clause applies that the conclusion ends up backward: he would grant plenary power *to the states*, and declare the clause a dead letter now that there is no part of Indian Country that lies outside state boundaries. There is simply no evidence that the Founders envisioned the extinction of Indian Commerce Clause jurisdiction and a complete transfer of power to the states.

It's worth saying that I don't actually have a clear view about the merits of the case. ICWA cases are hard, and require knowing not only federal Indian law but also family law. I know essentially nothing about the latter. (I suspect that this is true of some of the justices, too-- ICWA cases are about the only family law cases the Court ever has to hear-- but they have clerks.) Indeed, Thomas' outlandish view here is (on his own telling) irrelevant to the case. I have sometimes admired his urge to make his points about the Constitution's original meaning even when he was clearly on his own. But in this case he has got it the wrong way around.

See more here (and in comments), and here (from longtime friend of the blog and former Supreme Court clerk Will Baude) (and in comments.) I also strongly recommend Gregory Ablavsky, "The Savage Constitution," forthcoming Duke Law Journal.

Another update:
Michael Ramsey says
I'm not sure Professor Levy is reading Thomas right. Off the top of my head, I can't see anything in the Constitution's text that would limit Congress' Indian Commerce power to tribes beyond state boundaries. Nor is it obvious why that limit would be assumed -- at the time, some of the tribes within state boundaries were extremely powerful, and relations with them seemed to call for a national approach. But I don't read Thomas as imposing that limit; all he says is that Congress' power is only to "regulate trade with Indian tribes — that is, Indians who had not been incorporated into the body-politic of any State", which (I would think) could include Indians living in tribes either within or outside a state.

To which I reply with a quotatiom from Thomas' opinion:

"The ratifiers almost certainly understood the Clause to confer a relatively modest power on Congress — namely, the power to regulate trade with Indian tribes living beyond state borders."

To this I'll add one more:

"It is, thus, clear that the Framers of the Constitution were alert to the difference between the power to regulate trade with the Indians and the power to regulate all Indian affairs. By limiting Congress' power to the former, the Framers declined to grant Congress the same broad powers over Indian affairs conferred by the Articles of Confederation."

This claim-- that the Constitution gave Congress less authority than did the Articles with respect to Indian affairs-- can't survive reading the text of those two documents and Madison's commentary on the change between them. My piece linked to above, and Ablavsky's far more comprehensively, provide the evidence; and the claim should startle even readers who don't know or care about the Indian power as such, given the relationship between the Articles and the Constitution.

Even if Natelson is right that Congressional and state power run concurrently (and I don't think that he is), Thomas' view goes implausibly far beyond that.

Stanford Ethics Center: Associate Director position

McCoy Family Center for Ethics in Society PhD position The McCoy Family Center for Ethics in Society seeks a full time associate director to supervise our post-doctoral fellowship program, implement programming for graduate students, and in general support the Center initiatives. Our Center, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary, is committed to bringing ethical reflection to bear on important social problems through research, teaching, and engagement. We have a core group of highly respected faculty and a robust post doctoral fellowship program with talented young scholars. In addition, we have a strong undergraduate honors program that attracts students from throughout the University. For more information about our Center, please visit Direct the Center’s post doctoral fellow program (50%) Coordinate and supervise all aspects of the Center’s post-doctoral fellow program, including advertising, recruitment, and participation in selection of fellows; coordinating appointments of postdocs and arranging for entry into Stanford life; manage the post doc workshop, work with fellows to develop excellent teaching skills, mentor fellows on best practices for advising students; coordinate post-doc mentoring with undergraduate honors students. Attend weekly workshops, review and comment on works in progress. Handle the appointment process for the post-doctoral fellows and all financial transactions related to the fellow (e.g., salary, reimbursements, and research funds) Programming for graduate students (25%) Working closely with the Director, Center staff and campus partners, develop and implement programming for graduate students. Responsible for implementation of all graduate student programming. Support Center initiatives (25%) Research, write and submit grants for Stanford and outside funding to support Center initiatives, work closely with Stanford faculty interested in promoting ethical reasoning and the discussion of ethical issues in their courses, support the Center’s research, explore development opportunities, and perform assorted tasks as needed to meet broader Center goals. Responsible for keeping working papers section of the website up to date and for assisting with the connection of Center research to the broader public. Qualifications A Ph.D. in a Humanities, Social Science, or related discipline with significant focus on ethics and/or political philosophy. The ideal candidate will have a PhD in Philosophy, Political Science or a Law degree with extensive teaching experience and a track record of publishing on ethical topics. Commitment and ability to foster appreciation and understanding of ethics across the curriculum and ability to work with diverse constituencies. The job will involve strategic planning, academic programming, committee work, and grant writing. Proven ability to be a team player (with a wide range of people including faculty, administrative staff, and students), as well as demonstrated leadership ability with excellent communication and organizational skills. Familiarity with university requirements, fellowship opportunities, and academic resources is a plus. This is a 3 year fixed term position (with possibility of renewal).

Monday, June 24, 2013

Strauss Prize winner: Alin Fumurescu

Alin Fumurescu, PhD Indiana University, has been awarded the 2012 APSA Leo Strauss Prize for the best dissertation in political theory, for “Compromise and Representation: A Split History of Early Modernity,” now adapted into a book from Cambridge University Press.

Friday, June 21, 2013

2012 Journal Citation Reports

... for however little such things are worth (see here for the latest on how poor a measure IF is), but for various bureaucratic purposes it's sometimes useful to be able to check them quickly.  An assortment of theory-friendly journals:

American Political Science Review, Impact Factor 3.933, #1 in Political Science
Perspectives on Politics, 1.963, #10 in Political Science
Philosophy and Public Affairs, Impact Factor 1.958, #3 in Ethics
Journal of Political Philosophy, 1.609, #5 in Ethics, #19 in Political Science
Journal of Politics, 1.577, #22 in Political Science
Ethics, 1.372, #11 in Ethics
Political Studies, .917, #54 in Political Science
Political Theory, .703, #77 in Political Science
Social Philosophy and Policy, .630, #27 in Ethics
Polity, .422, #104 in Political Science
Journal of Applied Philosophy, .373, #35 in Ethics
Politics,  Philosophy, and Economics, .351, #36 in Ethics
Contemporary Political Theory, .237, #137 in Political Science
Journal of Moral Philosophy, .235, #41 in Ethics

Still not included in the JCR: Review of Politics, History of Political Thought, Journal of the History of Ideas, European Journal of Political Theory.

PT's Impact Factor has rebounded a long way after spending a number of years in the low .400s.  But JPP has continued to climb in impact-- I think this is its first year in the Poli Sci top 20, and its highest IF ever.  I think it's been more than ten years since PT outranked JPP on these measures.

[NB: I have published in PT and not in JPP.  I'm noting, not celebrating.]

Monday, June 17, 2013

Visiting Fulbright Chair, 2014-15

Visiting Fulbright Chair in the Theory and Practice of Constitutionalism and Federalism at McGill University, 2014-15. 

The Fulbright Visiting Research Chair in the Theory and Practice of Constitutionalism and Federalism at McGill University in the Department of Political Science and the Research Group on Constitutional Studies is open to established or emerging scholars in political theory and political science, and open with respect to methodology. The Chair will pursue research in constitutionalism broadly construed; an interest in federalism in particular is desirable but not necessary. The ability to engage with scholars and students across methodologies—normative, empirical, intellectual-historical, jurisprudential, and formal, for example— is more important that particular areas of emphasis. The Visiting Fulbright Chair takes an active part in the intellectual life of RGCS and normally delivers one public lecture as well as one research paper to a works-in-progress workshop.

The stipend is $US 25,000 for a one-semester or one-year stay in 2014-15. Open to US citizens who do not reside in Canada. Application deadline is August 1, 2013; application information is here: Those interested in applying are welcome to contact Jacob Levy and Caitlin McNamara .

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

APT Book Manuscript Workshop

Association for Political Theory First Book Manuscript workshop: Call for Applicants

The Governance Committee is soliciting applicants for a First Book Manuscript Workshop. The workshop will take place at the 2013 APT conference on the afternoon of Thursday, Oct. 10. The aim of the workshop is to provide critical feedback on a penultimate draft of a book manuscript; the chosen author will work with the Governance Committee to identify senior scholars to comment on the work. Please note that the commentators for the workshop would need to receive the manuscript no later than September 15. The workshop will be open, by prior registration, to APT conference attendees; only those who have registered for the workshop would receive the draft of the manuscript.

Because we would like to ensure that applicants have revised manuscripts based on dissertation work prior to the workshop, applicants should have received their Ph.D. no later than 2011, with a preference for those who received their Ph.D. after 2006. Though we welcome applicants from all institutions (and from independent scholars), we are especially interested in manuscripts from scholars at institutions outside of the "RU/VH" category, and at less-selective colleges and universities more generally.

If you wish to apply, please submit a CV, a dissertation abstract (no more than one page), a paragraph describing the current state of the manuscript, and a paragraph providing other pertinent professional information (e.g., a tenure timeline) to Mark Rigstad, chair of the Governance Committee, at, with First Manuscript Workshop in the subject line.

Applications are due by June 15. A committee of Governance Committee members will identify a short list and the co-presidents of APT, Andy Murphy and Melissa Schwartzberg, will make the final selection. Applicants will be notified no later than July 15.

If you have any questions, please contact Melissa Schwartzberg at

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Going to live forever, for real.

People who live on the Greek island of Ikaria are known to have remarkably high life expectancies, and researchers have been studying them carefully to learn why. Now a new report suggests that one reason may be the coffee they drink.

Monday, April 01, 2013

Add it to your calendar: IPSA, Montreal, 19-24 July 2014

No CFP yet, but information is here.

Call for abstracts: Workshop for Oxford Studies in Political Philosophy

This is the final call for abstracts for the first annual Workshop for Oxford Studies in Political Philosophy to be held Oct. 17-19, 2013 in Tucson, AZ at the Westward Look Hotel and Resort. Abstracts in all areas of Political Philosophy are welcome.

The web page for the workshop is here:
To submit an abstract, you must first go to the above web page and register. Once your registration is accepted, you will be able to login at that page and upload an abstract. Abstracts should not be e-mailed to the editors. Abstracts of between 250-500 words are due no later than April 15th . Submission of an abstract will be taken to imply that the paper is not under submission for publication elsewhere as well as implying an agreement to include the paper in the resulting volume of Oxford Studies in Political Philosophy, if accepted. There is a limit of one submission per person. We expect to be able to inform those whose papers have been accepted no later than May 15th, 2013.
The authors of all accepted abstracts will be expected to provide drafts of their essays for distribution to the workshop’s attendees three weeks prior to the workshop, present their ideas at the workshop, and submit the paper for possible inclusion into the inaugural volume of Oxford Studies in Political Philosophyby January 15th, 2014. It is important to note, however, that acceptance of an abstract for the workshop in no way guarantees that the paper will be accepted for publication.
The workshop is free and open to the public. We regret that we are unable to provide any financial support for those whose abstracts are accepted.
The keynote speakers for the 2013 Workshop are:
Charles Larmore, Brown University
Philip Pettit, Princeton University
A. John Simmons, University of Virginia

Hope to see you in Tucson,

David Sobel, Peter Vallentyne, and Steve Wall (editors)

Monday, March 04, 2013