Liberalism and the Good Life


The earmark of liberalism, or liberal political theory, is that some conception of liberty has priority as a political value (say, over equality). Some liberal political theories, or liberalisms, are founded upon ethical theories or theories of the good life that are, in democratic societies where persons need not agree on moral or religious issues, controversial as justifications for laws and state policies.


For example, imagine a proposed law to ban the sale of caffeinated beverages on the grounds that drinking caffeine is not conducive to a person’s prospects for long-term health. One who endorses this reason for the caffeine ban might claim that health is an objective good and so is integral to an ideal or perfect human life. If so, the caffeine ban leads to more healthy persons in society and enables persons to live more ideal or perfect lives. Although perhaps intuitively appealing, this justification for the hypothetical ban on caffeinated beverages depends on or presupposes ethical, and a form of perfectionist, values that persons in a democratic society can reasonably disagree on. Moreover, many contemporary liberal political theories argue that states should neutrally justify laws and policies with reference to reasons that persons who hold diverse, and maybe incompatible, ethical values and conceptions of the good life can share and accept.


This class introduces one of the major concerns of contemporary liberalism, the idea of state neutrality, which is, on one formulation, the view that states may not justify laws and policies by recourse to debatable religious, moral, or philosophical values or conceptions of the good life. Moreover, this class considers perfectionist objections to the idea of state neutrality and proposes that modern states should promote goods that enable persons to pursue respectable lives.




Location: Nowadays

56-06 Cooper Ave, Ridgewood, NY 11385

Trees, ping pong, checkers, grass to lie in, fresh air, and the occasional passing freight train.




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Think Olio is not about learning a new skill or adding credentials to your resume. It is about getting together with other people and expanding our worldview. It exists as a conduit for fruitful discussions, a dissent from the regurgitation of facts, and an embrace of new perspectives.


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Other upcoming Olios


Jun 19

The (Un)Enlightenment and What it Means to be Modern

Taught by Lev Moscow
7:30 p.m. at Living Room

Sign Up - $15

Jun 20

Believing is Seeing

Taught by Briana Toole
7:30 p.m. at Berg'n

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Jun 22

OlioHouse | Breaking Bread: An Olio Salon Dinner

Taught by Brian Lewis
2 p.m. at OlioHouse | Wassaic, NY

Sign Up - $150

Jun 23

Female Power and Desire in Shakespeare after #MeToo

Taught by Christina Katopodis
1 p.m. at Threes Brewing // Greenpoint

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Jun 25

The Artist in an Alternative World

Taught by Ward Regan
7:30 p.m. at Nowadays

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Jun 25

OlioTour | Federal Hall & African Burial Ground

Taught by Jamie Warren
6 p.m. at Federal Hall

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Jun 26

Jun 27

The Long History of Selfie Culture

Taught by Ted Barrow
7 p.m. at Strand Bookstore

Sign Up - $20

Jun 29

OlioHouse | Happiness & Hedonism Weekend

Taught by Skye Cleary
2 p.m. at OlioHouse | Wassaic, NY

Sign Up - $150

Jul 7

Museum Trip | 'The 80s Show' Private Tour

Taught by Charles Riley
2 p.m. at Nassau County Museum of Art

Sign Up - $20

Jul 13

OlioHouse | The Power of Ego, The Stillness of Spirit

Taught by Michael Haltenberger
2 p.m. at OlioHouse | Wassaic, NY

Sign Up - $150

Jul 25

Frida's Fragrance: Art, Scent, & Persona

Taught by Jessica Murphy
7:30 p.m. at The William Vale Hotel

Sign Up - $20

Sep 19

OlioTrip | Cienfuegos, Cuba

Taught by Teresita Levy
10 a.m. at Cienfuegos, Cuba

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