Aaron James

Professor, Philosophy
School of Humanities

PH.D., Harvard University

Fax: (949) 824-6520
Email: aaron.james@uci.edu

University of California, Irvine
96 Humanities Instructional Building
Mail Code: 4555
Irvine, CA 92697

picture of Aaron  James

Ethics, Political philosophy
Awarded ACLS's Burkhardt fellowship in 2008, for study (2009-10) at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University. Visiting professor at NYU, Department of Philosophy, in fall of 2013. Visited ANU summer 2016.
In ethics, I work on rationalism and the foundations of moral and practical judgment, with particular interest in constructivism (what it is, how it might explain objectivity, and whether it could provide a foundational theory).

In political philosophy, I've written a book on fairness in the global economy, from a social contract perspective (Fairness in Practice: A Social Contract for a Global Economy, OUP, 2012). I have also written about Rawls's constructive method, its neglected realist and interpretive aspects, and its application to social structures within and across major domestic institutions (such as international trade).

I'm planning a book on the morality and political economy of distribution for a world of increasing ecological scarcity and lower growth rates (at least in the advanced world). I'm especially interested in international sources of inequality and the future of social insurance. This extends my practice-based analysis in _Fairness In Practice_ to these and other things World Historical.

In moral theory, I also have an ongoing interest in contractualism, especially in view of risk.


Fairness in Practice: A Social Contract for a Global Economy, New York: Oxford University Press, 2012

pdf "Fortune and Fairness in Global Economic Life," Journal of Moral Philosophy, forthcoming

pdf "How Cynical Can Ideal Theory Be?," Journal of International Political Theory, June 2016 vol. 12 no. 2 118-133

pdf "Fairness in Trade," for International Political Theory Today, Polity Press, eds. David Held and Pietro Maffettone.

pdf "The Distinctive Significance of Systemic Risk," Ratio Juris, forthcoming

pdf "How To Construct Global Justice," San Diego L. Rev. 52, 1013, Fall 2015

pdf "Constructivism, Intuitionism, Ecumenism," Oxford Handbook of Distributive Justice, ed. Serena Olsaretti, forthcoming

pdf “A Theory of Fairness in Trade,” Moral Philosophy and Politics Vol 1, Issue 2 (2014). A special issue on fairness in trade, guest edited by David Miller.

pdf “Replies to Critics,” Canadian Journal of Philosophy, Vol 44, Issue 2, March 2014, 286-304. A special issue on
Fairness in Practice, with discussions by Christian Barry, Charles Beitz, A.J. Julius, and Kristi Olson. At: http://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/qQSpWUKPzvqUKv5zgAqS/full

pdf "Why Practices?" Raison Politiques, 51, Summer (2013)

pdf "Contractualism's (Not So) Slippery Slope." Legal Theory, Vol 18, issue 03 (2012), pp. 263-292. At:

pdf "Constructing Protagorean Objectivity." Constructivism in Practical Philosophy, eds. James Lenman and Yonatan Shemmer(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012)

pdf "Political Constructivism." For the Blackwell Companion to Rawls, eds. David Reidy and Jon Mandle (Wiley-Blackwell, 2013)

pdf "Constructivism, Moral." The International Encyclopedia of Ethics, ed. Hugh LaFollette (Blackwell)

pdf "Contractualism and Political Liberalism." For the Routledge Companion to Social and Political Philosophy, eds. Gerald Gaus and Fred D’Agostino (New York: Taylor and Francis, 2013)

pdf "Moral Assurance Problems in Global Context," for Hobbes Today: Insights for the 21st Century, ed. Sharon Lloyd (Cambridge University Press, 2012)

pdf "The Significance of Distribution," Reasons and Recognition: Essays on the Philosophy of T. M. Scanlon, eds. R. Jay Wallace, Rahul Kumar, and Samuel Freeman (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011)

pdf "Global Economic Fairness: Internal Principles," Global Justice and International Economic Law: Opportunities and Challenges (Cambridge University Press, 2012)

"Rawlsian Justice in a Common Globe," Sustainability and Security within Liberal Societies, eds. Stephen Gough and Andrew Stables (New York: Routledge, 2008)

"Legal and Other Governance In Second Person Perspective," Loyola Law Review 40, no 2 (2006)

pdf "Equality in a Realistic Utopia," Social Theory and Practice 32, no 4 (2006)

pdf "Constructivism about Practical Reasons," Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 74 no 2 (2007)

pdf "Constructing Justice for Existing Practice: Rawls and the Status Quo," Philosophy and Public Affairs 33 no 4 (2005)

pdf "The Objectivity of Values: Invariance without Explanation," The Southern Journal of Philosophy 44 no 4 (2006)

pdf "Distributive Justice without Sovereign Rule: The Case of Trade," Social Theory and Practice 31 no 4 (2005)

pdf “Rights and Circularity in Scanlon’s Contractualism,” Journal of Moral Philosophy 1.3 (2004) 369-377

pdf “Power in Social Organization as the Subject of Justice,” Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 86 (2005) 25-49

Work in Progress

"Should Basic Income Replace Social Insurance?"

pdf "Authority and Territory: A Practice Account," for Sovereignty and the New Executive, Claire Finkelstein and Sharon Lloyd, eds., Oxford University Press

pdf "An International Monetary Co-op: the Fairness Argument"

pdf "Investor Rights as Nonsense (On Stilts)." For a volume on justice in finance with OUP, ed. Lisa Herzog

pdf "Deflating Fact-Insensitivity"


pdf "APA Comments on Leif Wenar's Blood Oil"

pdf "Sparing the Poor: APA Comments for Darrel Moellendorf."

pdf "Multi-Functionalism about Human Rights: APA Comments for James Nickel."

pdf "Multi-Functionalism about Human Rights: APA Comments for Charles Beitz."

Other Very (Very) Important Things

Assholes: A Theory

by Doubleday, USA, 2012; and Brealey, UK, 2012, including Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, India, South Africa. Also by Rizzoli (Italy); Riemann (Germany); Psichogios (Greece); Chungrim (South Korea); China (Citic); Estonia (Tanapaev); Turkey (Pegasus)

Assholes: A Theory of Donald Trump

by Doubleday/Penguin Random House, 2016. Also in Spanish with Malpaso, 2016, and German with Goldmann, 2016. An essay on the appeal and the danger of one conspicuous figure in contemporary public life, with lessons from the social contract tradition of Hobbes and Rousseau -- or, why America most certainly should not play Republic Roulette.

Surfing with Sartre

forthcoming in 2017 from Doubleday/Penguin Random House. A treatise on what surfer know-how says about questions for the ages (about freedom, control, flow, happiness, being, transcendence, society) and why all this means we must actually do something about climate change, namely: work less and go surfing instead, in a shorter workweek and more efficient style of capitalism.

Blog: On Assholes.com

Charity: Help A Village With.Us

pdf "On the Philosophical Interest and Surprising Significance of the Asshole." Forthcoming in Harvard Review of Philosophy.

pdf "Why Nothing Exists: A Rigorous Demonstration"
Other Experience Profile Photo: James Hammack

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Last updated 10/19/2016