Jonathan Quong (University of Southern California): "Legitimate Injustice" (CANCELED)

Political Philosophy Colloquium

ABSTRACT: Governments make lots of mistakes. These mistakes often involve the imposition of unjust laws on citizens. Perhaps surprisingly, many people believe government officials can act permissibly when they impose unjust laws on citizens, and that such officials typically have rights against being interfered with when imposing such unjust laws. What, if anything, justifies this conclusion? I argue that many leading theories of political morality do not provide a satisfactory answer to this question. Part of the problem, I suggest, is that justice and legitimacy are too often treated as distinct values. Adopting this picture makes the phenomenon of legitimate injustice puzzling and difficult to understand. The view I aim to explore rejects this picture. On this alternative view, political legitimacy isn’t an independent value at all—it’s one part of what justice requires.

BIO: Jonathan Quong is an Associate Professor of Philosophy and Law at the University of Southern California. He was previously a lecturer and then senior lecturer at the University of Manchester (2003-13), and he received a D.Phil from Nuffield College, Oxford (2004). Quong has also held visiting positions at the Australian National University, Princeton University, and Tulane University.

Quong works in political and moral philosophy and is the author of "Liberalism Without Perfection" (Oxford University Press, 2011), as well as articles on political liberalism, public reason, democracy, distributive justice, and the morality defensive harm.

He is an associate editor of Philosophy & Public Affairs, an associate editor of Politics, Philosophy, & Economics, and an area editor of Pacific Philosophical Quarterly.