Human Rights Book Salon: Ben Laurence - "Agents of Change: Political Philosophy in Practice"

Social Sciences Research Building, Tea Room (2nd Floor), 1126 E. 59th St, Chicago Thursday, Apr 21, 2022 6 – 7:30 pm Register

Join us for the Pozen Center’s next Human Rights Book Salon. Ben Laurence will discuss his new book Agents of Change: Political Philosophy in Practice (Harvard University Press). It was selected by the Seminary Co-op as a notable book for 2021!

Agents of Change: Political Philosophy in Practice shows how we can combine reflection on utopian justice and real-world engagement with injustice in a single political philosophy. Laurence argues that we can unify theory and practice in political philosophy once we recognize two things. The first is that theory emerges from our ordinary engaged political thought. The second is that the task of political philosophy is not complete until it returns to practice by answering the question “What is to be done?” To do this, Laurence shows that political philosophy must at last take seriously questions of political agency and the possibilities for social transformation through struggle.

About the author: Ben Laurence is an Associate Instructional Professor at the University of Chicago. He works on political philosophy, human rights, labor, the philosophy of action, and the history of political thought. He is the author of Agents of Change: Political Philosophy in Practice (Harvard University Press, 2011). His work has appeared, among other places, in The Journal of Political Philosophy, Philosophy & Phenomenological Research, and Philosopher’s Imprint.

About the discussants: James Conant is Chester D. Tripp Professor of Humanities, Professor of Philosophy, and Professor in the College at the University of Chicago, as well as the Director of the Center for German Philosophy, and the Chair of the Philosophy Department. He works broadly in philosophy and has published articles in Philosophy of Language, Philosophy of Mind, Aesthetics, German Idealism, and History of Analytic Philosophy, among other areas. 

Matthias Haase is Assistant Professor of Philosophy. His research is focused on foundational topics at the intersection of ethics and philosophy of mind. He has worked on the tradition of German Idealism, especially the aspects that are tied to Aristotle, as well as on Wittgenstein and Frege. His current research project is devoted to the question whether there are specifically practical species of knowledge, reason and truth--and what this means for the philosophical account of our fundamental concepts of ethics.


Safety Notice: This convening is open to all invitees who are compliant with UChicago vaccination requirements and, because of ongoing health risks, particularly to the unvaccinated, participants are expected to adopt the risk mitigation measures (masking and social distancing, etc.) appropriate to their vaccination status as advised by public health officials or to their individual vulnerabilities as advised by a medical professional. Public convening may not be safe for all and carries a risk for contracting COVID-19, particularly for those unvaccinated. Participants will not know the vaccination status of others and should follow appropriate risk mitigation measures.