Department of Philosophy



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Waheed Hussain (University of Toronto)

"Pitting People Against Each Other"

Our culture endlessly glorifies competition, but competitive social arrangements are more deeply problematic than many people recognize.  Society’s basic institutions can mistreat people by failing to provide them with basic rights and freedoms or by unfairly advantaging some people over others or by creating certain patterns of inequality. But in addition, I argue that society’s basic institutions can mistreat people by “pitting them against each other,” that is, by fostering circumstances in which the only way for one person to get ahead is by effectively blocking someone else from doing the same. I develop a principle to articulate this moral concern, paying special attention to the value of liberal freedom. I then discuss some implications for social democratic policies—some of which you find in Canada and the Nordic countries—that moderate and contain the sphere of competition in social life. 



Thursday, March 10, 2016

Watson Hall 517 @ 4:00 pm

*If you have accessibility requirements, please contact Judy Vanhooser (