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January 12: Stefan Sciaraffa (McMaster University)

3:30 pm to 5:00 pm in KTH B124

“On Architectonic Questions in Political Philosophy”

Abstract: A storied question in political philosophy queries whether the citizens of contemporary states are bound by a duty to obey the state. I think this is an interesting question in its own right, but I argue that it is not an architectonic question. In this essay, I introduce the notion of an architectonic question in political philosophy, and I explain why I take questions of this kind to be of particular interest. Much of this argument proceeds by way of an explication of what I take to be one such architectonic question, a query that the officials of contemporary legal systems pose and answer on a daily basis—usually implicitly but sometimes explicitly. This question asks, “What constellation of political institutions are the sources of prescriptions that we officials ought to commit to following as the guiding objects of our official actions and opinions, and why ought we so commit?” I argue that by answering this question, legal officials thereby constitute, maintain, and modify states and other polities and the political communities these polities govern. Moreover, I argue that by considering and answering how officials ought to answer this question, we ordinary citizens can learn much about what our polities and political communities are about, whether and the degree to which we can reconcile ourselves to them, and how we ought to go about carrying them forward in the best way possible.

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Date(s) - January 12, 2018
3:30 pm - 5:00 pm

McMaster University, Kenneth Taylor Hall B124


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