Pablo Gilabert, PhD
Associate Professor, Philosophy
Ph.D: New School for Social Research, New York (2003)
DAAD Doctoral Fellow: University of Frankfurt (2001-2)
B.A.: University of Buenos Aires (1997)
I am an Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy at Concordia University (Montreal, Canada). I am a native of Argentina. My areas of specialization are ethics and social and political philosophy. Within these areas, I am currently doing research on social justice, human rights, and the role of the concept of feasibility in moral and political reasoning (including the consequences for the relation between “ideal” and “nonideal theory”). My research and teaching interests also include topics in global justice, distributive justice, democratic theory, contractualist theories in normative ethics, the Frankfurt School tradition of critical theory, Kant’s practical philosophy, Marxism and socialism, and the history of moral and political philosophy.
I have been an HLA Hart Visiting Fellow at the University of Oxford, a DAAD Fellow at the University of Frankfurt, a Visiting Fellow at the Australian National University, and a Laurance S. Rockefeller Visiting Faculty Fellow in the Center for Human Values at Princeton University.
My research has also been supported by grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and the Fonds Québécois de la Recherche sur la Société et la Culture.
My papers appeared in journals such as The Journal of Political Philosophy, Political Theory, The Philosophical Quarterly, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, Philosophical Studies, Kant-Studien, The Monist, Social Theory and Practice, and Ethical Theory and Moral Practice, among others. I am the author of From Global Poverty to Global Equality. A Philosophical Exploration (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012).
I am currently working on three research projects:
1. The first is focused on human rights and global justice. I am developing an account of human dignity, which is the ethical heart of human rights. Although its pervasive presence in human rights discourse is undeniable, many scholars have challenged the idea of human dignity, arguing that it is empty, useless, or even harmful. In response, I offer a systematic account of human dignity that clarifies and vindicates its importance. This account presents dignity as a distinctive normative status of the human person in social life, and shows that it plays crucial roles in shaping the universalistic humanism of human rights. Furthermore, I articulate the dignitarian perspective in terms of an ideal of solidaristic empowerment. This ideal calls for supporting persons’ pursuit of a decent and flourishing life by affirming both negative duties not to block or destroy, and positive duties to protect and enable, the development and exercise of their valuable capacities. I explore the implications of these conceptual and normative points for the justification of contentious specific rights to political participation and decent work.
2. The second research project is focused on social justice and democratic socialism. I am developing an interpretation of the largely neglected socialist principle “From each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs.” I argue that on this interpretation, the principle yields important implications regarding distributive fairness, the existence of positive duties of solidarity to improve the life chances of others, the recognition of individual differences, and the furthering of opportunities for meaningful work.
3. Finally, the third research project is focused on feasibility and its proper role in moral and political reasoning (including its significance for “ideal” and “nonideal” forms of theorizing and their connection). It is common in political theory and practice to challenge normatively ambitious proposals by saying that their fulfillment is not feasible. But there has been insufficient conceptual exploration of what feasibility is, and very little substantive inquiry into why and how it matters for thinking about justice. Addressing these issues, I develop a dynamic approach to feasibility that identifies different kinds of feasibility constraints and illuminates the importance of responding to some of them through political imagination and the fulfillment of dynamic duties to expand agents’ power to realize ambitious ideals of justice over time.
Additionally, I am interested in topics in the history of moral and political philosophy. I am especially interested in exploring ideas and arguments in the work of Immanuel Kant and Karl Marx, and in the assessment and fresh development of them (as they arise, for example, in the Frankfurt School tradition of critical theory, Analytic Marxism, moral contractualism, and John Rawls's political philosophy).
To access my papers, see my PhilPapers site