The most important defense of the idea that IP protections respect pre-existing moral rights is Robert Merges’ 2011 book Justifying Intellectual Property. Merges doesn’t argue that moral rights are foundational to IP law, but he does argue that what he calls the “dignity principle” is one part of the foundation…


Vaccine development has been one of the few bright spots in our response to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, it also brings renewed attention to the political economy and justification of intellectual property (IP). Some companies like Moderna and Gilead have publicly committed not to enforce or license patents on their…


The expression, “I just care about consistency,” sometimes comes up in political arguments. It is interesting because it suggests a potential warrant for arguments that would otherwise be simple cases of “whataboutism.” …


Photo by Marco Oriolesi on Unsplash

In this post I want to explore a dimension of politics that seems to have been wrongly marginalized in discussions of political conflict and polarization. This is the seemingly simple, innocent idea of cooperation for mutual advantage. No plausible moral or political theory rejects the idea of mutual advantage entirely…


One consequence of social polarization in American politics has been an increase in public accusations of “coups” and “treason.” This trend is not exclusive to the Right .“Social polarization” a concept coined by the political scientist Lilliana Mason, involves increasing animosity toward the opposing party and its supporters as well…


Netflix has a new four-part documentary out called Challenger: The Final Flight on the January 1986 space shuttle disaster. As other reviewers have written, the documentary does an excellent job telling the stories of the ordinary people, engineers, NASA employees, journalists, astronauts, and families affected by the explosion. The use…


One problems with the debate over renaming institutions and removing statues is the absence of a coherent set of principles for deciding these cases. Fortunately, there have been some efforts in this direction, and in this post I will discuss and offer some criticisms of one well-developed proposal.

Several years…


There is a familiar dialectic in debates over “individual responsibility” in politics, and which has become salient in the recent debate about racial inequality in America. This dialectic goes something like this. Someone asserts that members of some social group should take responsibility for their situation. In response, someone objects…


A natural response among police officers to the apparent murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin is defensiveness and to distance themselves from Chauvin’s actions. A friend shared this Facebook post from Yolanda Lewis, a police officer in Opelousas, LA:

Yes I am a Police Officer. But i…


In the months after the 2016 US presidential election this figure was widely circulated:

The figure and others from a paper Roberto Foa and Yascha Mounk in the Journal of Democracy, was widely reported to show that Millennials globally were “rapidly losing interest” or “ha[d] lost faith” in democracy. This…

Nick Geiser

Political theory PhD. I write about politics and (social) science.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store