Philosophy, Film, Politics, Etc.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

My Thesis, and other news, sort of

I've completed my masters thesis.  It's over one hundred pages, by far the longest thing I've ever written.  And it's not half bad, in my opinion, though there are a few arguments I would have liked to flesh out in more detail.

The first half is on the history of the concept of subsidiarity and its relation to the foundations of human rights law, including some criticism of the liberalism we find in Mill, Rorty and, most recently, Nussbaum.  I advocate an alternative, which I call pragmatic secular constructivism.  It is secular in the sense that it does not give religious belief a privileged place in political discourse; however, I take an accepting position towards the inclusion of religious language in political affairs.  My argument is that religious perspectives are going to influence politics one way or another, so long as religion is an influential factor in social life; and that if explicitly religious language is barred from entrance into the political sphere, then the more entrenched religious views will still find a way in (through seemingly secular language, like "family values") at the expense of the less popular religions.  There's no sense pretending that we can somehow keep people's religious views outside of political discourse.  I would much rather leave the door open and let all religious views be expressed and criticized in the political sphere.

The second half is on the Lautsi v. Italy case, with a strong focus on the influential role of the Vatican in European politics.  I think I have identified clear flaws in the Grand Chamber's Lautsi ruling and some plausible sources of bias in the Court. I think my observations are original and valuable, and the warning I present should be taken seriously.  There is a real risk of bias skewing the Court's judgments in favor of the Catholic Church and at the expense of non-Christian values.

So, the thesis has been accepted and approved and all that.  Now I just have to go through the formal procedures to get my MA in European Studies.  The plan has always been a PhD in Philosophy, but I haven't begun to figure out all of my options yet.  Whatever I choose will involve continuing to live in Szczecin, so that limits my options in a pretty big way.  As much as I'd like to join a top-notch department one day, I don't expect to ever be a serious competitor on the job market.  I just want the PhD so I can have some clout when I get into philosophically-oriented debates, and maybe if I ever get around to trying to publish a book.  Also, I wouldn't mind a part-time gig as an associate professor.  My aspirations are pretty low at this point.