Philosophy Colloquium: Alex Motchoulski

A Liberal Theory of Structural Injustice

The Spring 2022 Philosophy Colloquium Series presents Alex Motchoulski (University of Arizona).

A prominent objection to liberalism (familiar from radical feminist critiques, among others) holds that, since liberalism licenses any conduct that does not harm nor violate the rights of others, and since individual contributions to structural injustice often appear to not harm nor violate the rights of any other individual, liberalism must allow individuals to contribute to structural injustice as much as they please. This objection articulates the more basic worry that liberalism is too fixated on individuals to account for social-level phenomena in liberal evaluative perspectives. My aim in this presentation is to demonstrate how liberals can reply to these kinds of social structural challenges to their views. To that end, I develop a liberal theory of structural injustice by arguing that there is a distinctly liberal rationale for an individual claim-right to not be subject to structural injustice. The correlative duty of this claim-right is a duty to not make excessive contributions to structural injustice, where excessiveness is determined by way of a universalizability test.


3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Jan. 21, 2022

Event Contacts

Jonathan Weinberg