Tasting Liberty: Affective Judgment in the Work of Rousseau, Smith, and Tocqueville
The Enlightenment is often characterized as the age of reason because it opened the possibility for individuals to “use their own understanding” as Kant famously stated. This project expands the notion of what it means to use one’s own understanding by re-examining the enlightenment of taste. The central question of this project is what is taste and what is its significance for emerging commercial and democratic society? Using the work of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Adam Smith, and Alexis de Tocqueville, I answer this question by building a theory of taste that includes emotion. I propose this theory of taste as a form of affective judgment as an alternative to the Kantian theory based on objectivity and reason. I show how Rousseau, Smith, and Tocqueville used taste as a corollary for political judgment to explain how the average individual could engage in new political and economic institutions. Further, I argue that the process of learning taste brings the individual freedom by allowing them to make autonomous judgments as well as connects them with others through the shared experience of beauty. Building on affect theory, the liberal tradition, and theories of political judgment I argue for a theory of taste that is decided intersubjectively, is based on emotion and reason, and takes into account the individual’s experience of making a judgment of the beautiful.
“Beyond the Efficiency of the Market: Adam Smith on Sympathy and the Poor Law.”2017. In Interdisciplinary Studies of the Market Order: New Applications of Market Process Theory. Eds. Peter Boettke, Christopher Coyne, and Virgil Storr. London: Rowman and Littlefield International Ltd.
“The Economic Education of Emile: Reinterpreting Rousseau’s Use of Robinson Crusoe.” (forthcoming) History of Political Thought
“Taste and the Extent of Sympathy: Adam Smith on Beauty, Objects, and Colonialism,” in preparation
“Disciplining the Rich: Tocqueville On Philanthropy in the Democratic Age,” co-authored with Richard Avramenko, under review
The Silent Role of Emotions in Hayekian Political Economy, in preparation
All working papers are available upon request.