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Thomas Mulligan
Georgetown University
  1. Why Not Be a Desertist? Three Arguments for Desert and Against Luck Egalitarianism.Huub Brouwer & Thomas Mulligan - forthcoming - Philosophical Studies:1-18.
    Many philosophers believe that luck egalitarianism captures “desert-like” intuitions about justice. Some even think that luck egalitarianism distributes goods in accordance with desert. In this paper, we argue that this is wrong. Desertism conflicts with luck egalitarianism in three important contexts, and, in these contexts, desertism renders the proper moral judgment. First, compared to desertism, luck egalitarianism is sometimes too stingy: It fails to justly compensate people for their socially valuable contributions—when those contributions arose from “option luck”. Second, luck egalitarianism (...)
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  2. On the Compatibility of Epistocracy and Public Reason.Thomas Mulligan - 2015 - Social Theory and Practice 41 (3):458-476.
    In "epistocratic" forms of government, political power is wielded by those who possess the knowledge relevant to good policymaking. Some democrats--notably, David Estlund--concede that epistocracy might produce better political outcomes than democracy but argue that epistocracy cannot be justified under public reason. These objections to epistocracy are unsound because they violate a viability constraint: they are also fatal to democracy and all other plausible political arrangements. Moreover, there is a problem with the public reason framework itself--a problem that can only (...)
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  3.  14
    On the Very Idea of a Just Wage (Editorial).Huub Brouwer & Thomas Mulligan - 2018 - Erasmus Journal for Philosophy and Economics 11 (2):iv-vi.
    An introduction to the special issue of the Erasmus Journal for Philosophy and Economics: "On the Very Idea of a Just Wage".
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  4. On Harry Frankfurt’s “Equality as a Moral Ideal”.Thomas Mulligan - 2015 - Ethics 125 (4):1171-1173,.
    A retrospective essay, written for the 125th anniversary of Ethics.
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  5.  11
    Do People Deserve Their Economic Rents?Thomas Mulligan - 2018 - Erasmus Journal for Philosophy and Economics 11 (2):163-190.
    Rather than answering the broad question, ‘What is a just income?’, in this essay I consider one component of income—economic rent—under one understanding of justice—as giving people what they deserve. As it turns out, the answer to this more focused question is ‘no’. People do not deserve their economic rents, and there is no bar of justice to their confiscation. After briefly covering the concept of desert and explaining what economic rents are, I analyze six types of rent and show (...)
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  6. The Limits of Liberal Tolerance.Thomas Mulligan - 2015 - Public Affairs Quarterly 29 (3):277-295.
    Political philosophy has seen vibrant debate over the connection, if any, between liberalism and pluralism. Some philosophers, following Isaiah Berlin, reckon a close connection between the two concepts. Others--most notably John Gray--believe that liberalism and pluralism are incompatible. In this essay, I argue that the puzzle can be solved by distinguishing the responsibilities of liberal states to their peoples from the responsibilities of liberal states to other states. There is an entailment from pluralism to liberalism, and it in turn implies (...)
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  7. What's Wrong with Libertarianism: A Meritocratic Diagnosis.Thomas Mulligan - 2017 - In Jason Brennan, David Schmidtz & Bas van der Vossen (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Libertarianism. New York: Routledge. pp. 77-91.
    Some people may think that libertarianism and meritocracy have much in common; that the libertarian's ideal world looks like the meritocrat's ideal world; and that the public policies guiding us to each are one and the same. This is wrong in all respects. In this essay I explain why. -/- After providing an overview of meritocratic justice, I argue that meritocracy is a more compelling theory of distributive justice than libertarianism. Meritocracy better protects the core value of personal responsibility; incorporates (...)
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  8. Disagreement, Peerhood, and Three Paradoxes of Conciliationism.Thomas Mulligan - 2015 - Synthese 192 (1):67-78.
    Conciliatory theories of disagreement require that one lower one’s confidence in a belief in the face of disagreement from an epistemic peer. One question about which people might disagree is who should qualify as an epistemic peer and who should not. But when putative epistemic peers disagree about epistemic peerhood itself, then Conciliationism makes contradictory demands and paradoxes arise.
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  9.  42
    A Note on the Epistemology of Disagreement and Politics.Thomas Mulligan - 2016 - Political Theory 44 (5):657-663.
    Martin Ebeling argues that a popular theory in the epistemology of disagreement--conciliationism--supports an egalitarian approach to politics. This view is mistaken for two reasons. First, even if political parties have the epistemic value that Ebeling claims, voters should not regard each other as epistemic peers--which conciliationism requires that they do. The American electorate is strikingly heterogeneous in both its knowledgeability and its rationality, and so the necessary epistemic parity relation does not hold. Second, for technical reasons, the beliefs that a (...)
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