HKS Affiliated Authors


October 2023, Paper: "Although sociologists and political philosophers have shared intellectual agendas, rarely do the insights of the two fields intersect. Sociologists develop empirical explanations of social inequalities, but few develop explicit social theories of how to ameliorate those injustices. Philosophers, especially those in the tradition of contemporary political liberalism, develop theories of distributional injustices, but often without an accompanying theory of the society, as if one could be an architect without considering any insights from civil engineering. In this paper, we exegete a political philosophical tradition (“relational egalitarianism”) and a social theoretical tradition (“relational sociology”). These two traditions provide a common intellectual terrain for sociologists and political theorists as each tradition recognizes the importance of non-hierarchical social relationships for just democratic societies. Through two brief case studies (one of a failed unionization campaign and the other a successful policing program), we show why theories of justice are consequential for empirical investigations and why theories of society are both necessary to develop prescriptions for just social structures."