16.5. NRC & HEPPsinki with Jonathan Floyd (University of Bristol): Public Political Philosophy

A guest lecture with Jonathan Floyd at the Language centre (Fabianinkatu 26) room 115, 17.00-19.00.

Public Political Philosophy


Language center (Fabianinkatu 26), room 115 at 17.00-19.00.

Online stream: https://video.helsinki.fi/unitube/live-stream.html?room=l8

Comments: Minna-Kerttu Kekki, Oulu

Public political philosophy is increasingly encouraged yet little understood. This is ironic, given our professional attachment to conceptual clarity, but also important, given the risks involved with getting it wrong. As a result, I suggest here a flexible framework that each of us could easily adopt or amend going forwards, involving (1) a provisional definition; (2) an exploration of its challenges; (3) an account of the distinctive judgements those challenges require; and (4) an illustration of how to deliver such work in practice, through various methods of intellectual and institutional engagement.

In all of this, balance emerges as a central idea. Our public work should draw on our professional work without occluding it; should avoid both excessive conservatism and excessive radicalism; and should engage both critically and carefully with its immediate context, which of course means different things for different scholars. For some of us it means avoiding illiberal censorship and for others liberal cancel-culture. For many of us it means deploying one form of ‘PPP’ against another, given how widespread ‘populism’, ‘polarisation’, and ‘post-truth’ have become. For all of us, as public political philosophers, it means moving beyond ‘know thyself’, by working hard to know our time and place even better, and ‘say it as we see it’, by learning how to blend philosophical reasoning with political rhetoric, and even a little princely cunning. Wisdom here means watching our backs, and words, very carefully indeed: chasing acronyms, assonance, and alliteration if we are to be catchy, but also caution, clarification, and especially conversation, if we are to avoid being caught.

Jonathan Floyd's work concerns the nature, methods, and purposes of political philosophy. He holds a BA (Hons), MSc, MA, and DPhil. Prior to arriving to Bristol, Floyd was a Research Fellow, and then British Academy Post-Doctoral Fellow, in the Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Oxford. He was also Junior Research Fellow at St. Hilda's College, Oxford, Senior Research Scholar at University College, Oxford, and Stipendiary Lecturer at St. Hilda's College, Oxford. As a grad student he took Masters Degrees at Edinburgh and Columbia, before taking his DPhil (PhD) at Oxford. During this period, he also took courses at Berkeley, NYU, and the New School.

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