Ben Laurence

Ben Laurence
Lecturer in Human Rights
Rosenwald 218-B
Office Hours: Autumn Quarter, Tuesdays: 9:00 - 10:00 am and Wednesdays: 4:30 - 5:30 pm
University of Pittsburgh PhD (2008); Reed College BA (1998)
Research Interests: Political Philosophy, Ethics, Philosophy of Action, Human Rights

Ben Laurence is a Lecturer in Human Rights. He received his PhD from the University of Pittsburgh in 2008, and his BA from Reed College in 1998. His areas of specialization include political philosophy and the history of moral and political philosophy. He has strong interests in the philosophy of race, the philosophy of action, and human rights.

Laurence's research explores the sense in which political philosophy is practical, and defends the relevance of realistic utopia as an orienting goal for our political practice. He is also working on Kant's political philosophy, and exploring the relevance to democratic theory of empirical literature suggesting that our legislative process is responsive only to the preferences of wealthy citizens.  

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Selected Publications

"Kant on Strict Right," forthcoming in Philosopher’s Imprint

"Constructivism, Strict Compliance, and Realistic Utopianism" in Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, doi:10.1111/phpr.12379 [Available in early view]

With Itai Sher, “Ethical Considerations on Quadratic Voting” in Public Choice, 172: 1-2 (July 2017), 195-222.

“Juridical Laws as Moral Laws in Kant’s Doctrine of Right” in Practical Normativity: Essays on Reasons and Intentions in Law and Practical Reason (Cambridge University Press, 2014), edited by George Pavlakos and Veronica Rodriguez Blanco.    

 “An Anscombean Approach to Collective Action” in Anscombe’s Intention (Harvard University Press, 2010), edited by Jennifer Hornsby, Frederick Stoutland and Anton Ford.

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Media

Ben Laurence discusses collective action on "Elucidations," the Dept. of Philosophy podcast series - click here

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Recent Courses

PHIL 21600 Introduction to Political Philosophy

(GNSE 21601, PLSC 22600, LLSO 22612)

In this class we will investigate what it is for a society to be just. In what sense are the members of a just society equal? What freedoms does a just society protect? Must a just society be a democracy? What economic arrangements are compatible with justice? In the second portion of the class we will consider one pressing injustice in our society in light of our previous philosophical conclusions. Possible candidates include, but are not limited to, racial inequality, economic inequality, and gender hierarchy. Here our goal will be to combine our philosophical theories with empirical evidence in order to identify, diagnose, and effectively respond to actual injustice. (A)

2018-2019 Spring
Category
Social/Political Philosophy

PHIL 29902 Senior Seminar II

Students writing senior essays register once for PHIL 29901, in either the Autumn or Winter Quarter, and once for PHIL 29902, in either the Winter or Spring Quarter. (Students may not register for both PHIL 29901 and 29902 in the same quarter). The Senior Seminar meets all three quarters, and students writing essays are required to attend throughout.

Consent of Director of Undergraduate Studies. Required and only open to fourth-year students who have been accepted into the BA essay program.

2018-2019 Spring

PHIL 21002/31002 Human Rights: Philosophical Foundations

(HMRT 21002, HMRT 31002, HIST 29319, HIST 39319, LLSO 21002, INRE 31602, MAPH 42002, LAWS 97119)

Human rights are claims of justice that hold merely in virtue of our shared humanity. In this course we will explore philosophical theories of this elementary and crucial form of justice. Among topics to be considered are the role that dignity and humanity play in grounding such rights, their relation to political and economic institutions, and the distinction between duties of justice and claims of charity or humanitarian aid. Finally we will consider the application of such theories to concrete, problematic and pressing problems, such as global poverty, torture and genocide. (A) (I)

2018-2019 Spring
Category
Social/Political Philosophy

PHIL 29901 Senior Seminar I

Students writing senior essays register once for PHIL 29901, in either the Autumn or Winter Quarter, and once for PHIL 29902, in either the Winter or Spring Quarter. (Students may not register for both PHIL 29901 and 29902 in the same quarter). The Senior Seminar meets all three quarters, and students writing essays are required to attend throughout.

Consent of Director of Undergraduate Studies. Required and only open to fourth-year students who have been accepted into the BA essay program.

2018-2019 Winter

PHIL 29902 Senior Seminar II

Students writing senior essays register once for PHIL 29901, in either the Autumn or Winter Quarter, and once for PHIL 29902, in either the Winter or Spring Quarter. (Students may not register for both PHIL 29901 and 29902 in the same quarter). The Senior Seminar meets all three quarters, and students writing essays are required to attend throughout.

Consent of Director of Undergraduate Studies. Required and only open to fourth-year students who have been accepted into the BA essay program.

2018-2019 Winter

PHIL 29901 Senior Seminar I

Students writing senior essays register once for PHIL 29901, in either the Autumn or Winter Quarter, and once for PHIL 29902, in either the Winter or Spring Quarter. (Students may not register for both PHIL 29901 and 29902 in the same quarter). The Senior Seminar meets all three quarters, and students writing essays are required to attend throughout.

Consent of Director of Undergraduate Studies. Required and only open to fourth-year students who have been accepted into the BA essay program.

2018-2019 Autumn

PHIL 21600 Introduction to Political Philosophy

(GNSE 21601, PLSC 22600, LLSO 22612)

In this class we will investigate what it is for a society to be just. In what sense are the members of a just society equal? What freedoms does a just society protect? Must a just society be a democracy? What economic arrangements are compatible with justice? In the second portion of the class we will consider one pressing injustice in our society in light of our previous philosophical conclusions. Possible candidates include, but are not limited to, racial inequality, economic inequality, and gender hierarchy. Here our goal will be to combine our philosophical theories with empirical evidence in order to identify, diagnose, and effectively respond to actual injustice. (A)

2017-2018 Spring
Category
Social/Political Philosophy

PHIL 29902 Senior Seminar II

Students writing senior essays register once for PHIL 29901, in either the Autumn or Winter Quarter, and once for PHIL 29902, in either the Winter or Spring Quarter. (Students may not register for both PHIL 29901 and 29902 in the same quarter). The Senior Seminar meets all three quarters, and students writing essays are required to attend throughout.

Consent of Director of Undergraduate Studies. Required and only open to fourth-year students who have been accepted into the BA essay program.

2017-2018 Spring

PHIL 21002/31002 Human Rights: Philosophical Foundations

(HMRT 21002, HMRT 31002, HIST 29319, HIST 39319, LLSO 21002, INRE 31602, MAPH 42002, LAWS 97119)

Human rights are claims of justice that hold merely in virtue of our shared humanity. In this course we will explore philosophical theories of this elementary and crucial form of justice. Among topics to be considered are the role that dignity and humanity play in grounding such rights, their relation to political and economic institutions, and the distinction between duties of justice and claims of charity or humanitarian aid. Finally we will consider the application of such theories to concrete, problematic and pressing problems, such as global poverty, torture and genocide. (A) (I)

2017-2018 Spring
Category
Social/Political Philosophy

PHIL 29901 Senior Seminar I

Students writing senior essays register once for PHIL 29901, in either the Autumn or Winter Quarter, and once for PHIL 29902, in either the Winter or Spring Quarter. (Students may not register for both PHIL 29901 and 29902 in the same quarter). The Senior Seminar meets all three quarters, and students writing essays are required to attend throughout.

Consent of Director of Undergraduate Studies. Required and only open to fourth-year students who have been accepted into the BA essay program.

2017-2018 Winter

PHIL 29902 Senior Seminar II

Students writing senior essays register once for PHIL 29901, in either the Autumn or Winter Quarter, and once for PHIL 29902, in either the Winter or Spring Quarter. (Students may not register for both PHIL 29901 and 29902 in the same quarter). The Senior Seminar meets all three quarters, and students writing essays are required to attend throughout.

Consent of Director of Undergraduate Studies. Required and only open to fourth-year students who have been accepted into the BA essay program.

2017-2018 Winter

PHIL 29901 Senior Seminar I

Students writing senior essays register once for PHIL 29901, in either the Autumn or Winter Quarter, and once for PHIL 29902, in either the Winter or Spring Quarter. (Students may not register for both PHIL 29901 and 29902 in the same quarter). The Senior Seminar meets all three quarters, and students writing essays are required to attend throughout.

Consent of Director of Undergraduate Studies. Required and only open to fourth-year students who have been accepted into the BA essay program.

2017-2018 Autumn

PHIL 21600 Introduction to Political Philosophy

(GNSE 21601, PLSC 22600, LLSO 22612)

In this class we will investigate what it is for a society to be just. In what sense are the members of a just society equal? What freedoms does a just society protect? Must a just society be a democracy? What economic arrangements are compatible with justice? In the second portion of the class we will consider one pressing injustice in our society in light of our previous philosophical conclusions. Possible candidates include, but are not limited to, racial inequality, economic inequality, and gender hierarchy. Here our goal will be to combine our philosophical theories with empirical evidence in order to identify, diagnose, and effectively respond to actual injustice. (A)

2016-2017 Spring
Category
Social/Political Philosophy

PHIL 21002/31002 Human Rights: Philosophical Foundations

(HMRT 21002, HMRT 31002, HIST 2XXX, HIST 3XXXX, INRE 3XXXX, LAWS 4XXXX, MAPH 4XXXX, LLSO 2XXXX)

Human rights are claims of justice that hold merely in virtue of our shared humanity. In this course we will explore philosophical theories of this elementary and crucial form of justice. Among topics to be considered are the role that dignity and humanity play in grounding such rights, their relation to political and economic institutions, and the distinction between duties of justice and claims of charity or humanitarian aid. Finally we will consider the application of such theories to concrete, problematic and pressing problems, such as global poverty, torture and genocide. (I) (A)

2016-2017 Spring
Category
Social/Political Philosophy

PHIL 21606 Justice at Work

(HMRT 22210)

Theories of justice in the workplace including the right to strike, the right to form a union, the right to leisure, workplace democracy, etc. (A)

2016-2017 Autumn
Category
Social/Political Philosophy
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For full list of Ben Laurence's courses back to the 2012-13 academic year, see our searchable course database.