David V. Johnson

  • Thought Policing

    The 9/11 attacks occurred the week I had to defend my dissertation in philosophy. I took my first tenure-track job (yes, such a thing existed back then) during the launch of our now fourteen-year-old “war on terror.” As I made my way in academia in the midst of George W. Bush’s presidency, my new colleagues and I would inevitably discuss the authoritarian and distorting turn of American public discourse. How could so many be so cowed and so misled into supporting such an obvious misadventure as the Iraq war? How could our leading institutions—and especially the media—fail so miserably to

  • The New Republic

    As much as libertarians and liberals may now be at odds, they endorse the same foundational value. It’s right there in their names: Both political philosophies share the Latin root liber, or “free.” Liberty is a special sort of good that the two poles of American politics, and pretty much every position in between, embrace as fundamental.

    What, then, to do about the many conflicts and contradictions that have flowed, with increasing rancor on all sides, from this core commitment to freedom? In Philip Pettit’s judgment, we should rehabilitate a neglected vital tributary of political philosophy: