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


Mar 27

Urban Development: From Reconstruction to Gentrification

Taught by Lauren Hudson
7:30 p.m. at Berg'n

Sign Up - $15

Mar 28

Catfishing: The Artist as Trickster in Factual Fictions

Taught by Ted Barrow
7:30 p.m. at Blender Workspace

Sign Up - $20

Mar 29

Self-Love or Narcissism?

Taught by Skye Cleary
7 p.m. at Strand Bookstore

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Mar 30

Scenius Summit 2019: Apiary Book Launch

Taught by No Professor Weekend
noon at OlioHouse | Wassaic, NY

Sign Up - $125

Apr 5

OlioMuse | Beethoven's Minor Mood

Taught by Gil Harel
7 p.m. at Strand Bookstore

Sign Up - $25

Apr 7

Olio Breakfast Club | Death & Bagels on a Sunday Morning

Taught by Jeanne Proust
10:30 a.m. at North 3rd St. Market - Williamsburg

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Apr 9

Madame(s) X: Muses, Makers, & Shifting Identities

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

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Apr 13

OlioHouse | Music & The Feast for Senses

Taught by Whitney George
noon at OlioHouse | Wassaic, NY

Sign Up - $150

Apr 23

The Death of Art, The Rise of Image

Taught by Vishwa Adluri
7 p.m. at Strand Bookstore

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Apr 27

OlioHouse | Found Poetry: Composting Words

Taught by Heather O'Neill
noon at OlioHouse | Wassaic, NY

Sign Up - $150

May 29

Composing Beauty: Mapplethorpe’s Quest for Perfection

Taught by Jeanne Proust
7 p.m. at BAM Fisher

Sign Up - $20


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