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This is an in-person event at King’s College London. To RSVP, obtain your complimentary ticket here

About the talk:

The recent focus within liberal theory on stable equilibria is surprising once we notice that it marks a departure from a major current in 20th century liberal thought that, following John Stuart Mill, saw dynamism as the hallmark of a liberal society. This dynamism was not confined to the economic or political sphere, but involved a constant process of learning and continual reassessment of our theoretical conceptions. The process of expanding our knowledge and revising our past opinions is one of the considerations undergirding Mill’s impassioned defense of free expression. Dynamism isalso embraced by John Dewey, Karl Popper, and F.A. Hayek. This article does not attempt to diagnose the exact cause of this reorientation in the focus of liberal theorizing. Instead, it argues that, whatever may have caused this reorientation, it was a mistake. Despite the recent prevalence of static analysis within liberal theorizing, there are powerful reasons, internal to the philosophical doctrines and institutional proposals of liberalism, to reject static theory as the primary approach to social theorizing. These reasons are both descriptive and normative. Within a liberal political order, stable equilibria are rare and ephemeral, instability is essential to dynamic adjustments, and achieving stability would require unacceptable violations of basic liberal values. It is time to rediscover dynamic liberalism.


Bush House Southeast Wing Room 1.05, King’s College London

About the Speaker:

Alexander Schaefer is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Buffalo. His research is in the area of philosophy, politics and economics (PPE) and focuses on social complexity, institutional evolution, and the social contract.