Laura Moralee

Department: Politics
Discipline: Politics
Research Centre/Unit: Political Theory

Project Summary

It is difficult to reconcile any sense of meaningfulness with a conceptualisation of public goods that does not embed the premise that the they serve the public good; ie, that they promote and sustain public life. This, however, is the nonsensical proposition which I argue we find ourselves living with. The idea of the public good has been replaced with neo-liberal fantasies such that our public goods are dysfunctional.

Public life, from both a social-political philosophy and a social-political practice perspective, is constituted by the broad question of how to conceive, describe, produce, and manage public ‘goods’. These goods include services such as education, law making and enforcement and healthcare, interpersonal relations such as trust, respect and co-operation, and the relative value itself of community and the private sphere. 

I argue that the way we currently address this question is permeated by a ‘culture of counting’. The culture of counting can be explicated through an examination of claims that professionals are being increasingly 'deprofessionalised', that the value of public goods only counts when it is 'countable'- usually in terms of its economic impact, and that levels of trust and respect in society are on the decline.  Overall, the thesis draws out a comparison and contrast between two kinds of politics: current neo-liberal ‘fantasies’ which are constituted by the kinds of values, norms and hopes of ‘the market’, bound up with a conception and description of public good(s) more broadly that is constituted by- or conducive to- the neo-liberal agenda, and an alternative proposition; a ‘politics of responsibility’ which is constituted by the values, norms and hopes embedded within a virtue based approach to the public good.


Supervisory Team

Dario Castiglione & Andrew Schaap

Wider Research Interests

History of political thought, conceptual and normative political philosophy more broadly & moral philosophy/ethics.