About

I recently completed a PhD in political theory at Royal Holloway, University of London. I currently teach Modern Political Thought at Royal Holloway and the Foundations module in political philosophy at the Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford.

My thesis, titled Moral Pluralism and Political Disagreement, addresses two crucial questions of contemporary political theory: why do we disagree about value and how should we respond politically to that disagreement? I make three major arguments that correspond to each of the three sections. I outline and analyse two theories of moral pluralism in Section I, value pluralism and epistemic pluralism, which offer explanations of disagreement about value. Value pluralism is a widely held metaphysical doctrine that makes a claim about the plural nature of value. Epistemic pluralism is a less widely known theory that makes a claim about the difficulty of reasoning about value. I argue that epistemic pluralism is the appropriate form of moral pluralism for political theory because, unlike value pluralism, it does not rely on controversial metaphysical ideas. In Section II, I analyse two theories of public reason liberalism, John Rawls’s political liberalism and Gerald Gaus’s justificatory liberalism, both of which develop an account of political legitimacy in light of epistemic pluralism. I reject both theories on the basis that they are incompatible with a commitment to epistemic pluralism. In Section III, I develop a political theory of modus vivendi which accords with my account of epistemic pluralism. Building on the work of other modus vivendi theorists, I outline a theory of modus vivendi that depends on two political conditions, peace and acceptance. In the final chapter I defend my conception of modus vivendi from various criticisms in order to show that a theory of modus vivendi is not a counsel of despair and instead enables forms of radical political action and thought that are precluded by liberal constraints.

You can read my thesis here.

You can view a brief curriculum vitae here.

I occasionally write about politics on Labour List, Shifting Grounds, and Comment is Free. Those articles and a few unpublishable others are collected here.

Twitter: @nat_rutherford

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