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Robert S. Taylor

Education

  • Ph.D., Political Science, UC Berkeley, 2002
  • Ph.D., Economics, Duke University, 1995
  • B.A., Philosophy, Politics, and Economics, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, summa cum laude, 1991

About

Robert S. Taylor is a professor of political science at the University of California, Davis. He specializes in contemporary analytic political philosophy and the history of liberal political thought. He has written numerous articles on Kant, Mill, Rawls, autonomy, self-ownership, and commercial republicanism, and he published his first book, Reconstructing Rawls: The Kantian Foundations of Justice as Fairness, in 2011. His second book, titled Exit Left: Markets and Mobility in Republican Thought, will be published by Oxford University Press in March 2017.

Research Focus

How can citizens best protect themselves from the arbitrary power of abusive spouses, tyrannical bosses, and corrupt politicians? Taylor’s forthcoming book, Exit Left, makes the case that in each of these three spheres the answer is the same: exit. By promoting open and competitive markets and providing the information and financial resources necessary to enable exit, we can empower people’s voices and offer them an escape from abuse and exploitation. This will advance a conception of freedom, viz. freedom as non-domination (FND), that is central to contemporary republican thought. Neorepublicans have typically promoted FND through constitutional means (separation of powers, judicial review, the rule of law, and federalism) and participatory ones (democratic elections and oversight), but Exit Left focuses on economic means, ones that have been neglected by contemporary republicans but were commonly invoked in the older, commercial-republican tradition of Alexander Hamilton, Immanuel Kant, and Adam Smith. This book’s revival and revision of commercial republicanism will enlarge republican practice by encouraging greater use of market mechanisms, even as it hews closely to existing republican theory.

Selected Publications

  • Taylor, R. S. (in press) Exit Left: Markets and Mobility in Republican Thought, Oxford University Press.
  • Taylor, R. S. (2014) Illiberal socialism, Social Theory and Practice, 40(3): 433-60.
  • Taylor, R. S. (2013) Market freedom as antipower, American Political Science Review, 107(3): 593-602.
  • Taylor, R. S. (2011) Reconstructing Rawls: The Kantian Foundations of Justice as Fairness, Penn State University Press; paperback edition 2012. xxiv + 336 pp.
  • Chiu, Y., and R. S. Taylor. (2011) The self-extinguishing despot: Millian democratization, Journal of Politics, 73(4): 1239-50.
  • Taylor, R. S. (2010) Kant’s political religion: the transparency of perpetual peace and the highest good, Review of Politics, 72(1): 1-24.
  • Taylor, R. S. (2009) Rawlsian affirmative action, Ethics, 119(3): 476-506.
  • Taylor, R. S. (2006) Democratic transitions and the progress of absolutism in Kant’s political thought, Journal of Politics, 68(3): 556-70.
  • Taylor, R. S. (2005) Kantian personal autonomy, Political Theory, 33(5): 602-28.
  • Taylor, R. S. (2003) Rawls’s defense of the priority of liberty: a Kantian reconstruction, Philosophy and Public Affairs, 31(3): 246-71.

Teaching

Taylor teaches undergraduate courses on perfectionist political theories (POL 4), the social-contract tradition (POL 118B), and distributive justice (POL 119) and graduate courses on Kant (POL 218, 219B), Rawls (POL 219C), and theories of liberal democracy (POL 220).