Professor William A. Edmundson, Regents Professor of Law and professor of philosophy, will give the final presentation at the Inaugural Property and Political Economy Conference on Saturday, April 21, at Chapman University’s Smith Institute for Political Economy and Philosophy in Los Angeles. He also will deliver a keynote address on property-owning democracy at the 9th Summer School in Political Philosophy and Public Policy on July 3-5, at the University of Minho, in Braga, Portugal.
At both conferences, Edmundson will discuss his paper, “The Property Question,” which considers the constitutional question of whether a society’s basic resources are to be available to private owners, perhaps subject to tax and regulation, or whether instead they are to be retained in joint public ownership and managed by democratic processes.
He will contrast James Madison’s approach, in which prior holdings are taken for granted and the property question is kept off of the political agenda, with John Rawls’ approach, which abstracts from any actual pattern of holdings while putting the property question on the political agenda, but at a particular place.
At Braga, there will also be a symposium on Edmundson’s book, John Rawls: Reticent Socialist (Cambridge University Press, 2017). In the book, Edmundson compares Rawls’s 1971 treatise, “A Theory of Justice,” which stimulated an outpouring of commentary on “justice-as-fairness,” his conception of justice for an ideal, self-contained, modern political society, with Rawls’s 2001 book, Justice as Fairness: A Restatement. In the Restatement. In the 2001 book, Rawls substantially reformulates the “original position” argument for the two principles of justice-as-fairness and repudiates capitalist regimes as possible embodiments. In his 2017 book, Edmundson further develops Rawls’s non-ideal theory, which guides us when we find ourselves in a society that falls well short of justice.