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Daniel Shapiro

Professor

Specializations

  • Social and Political Philosophy
  • Philosophy and Public Policy

Research Interests

Dr. Shapiro's main research is in Social and Political Philosophy--but with an unusual focus. This is best explained by his recent book, "Is The Welfare State Justified?" (Cambridge University Press, 2007).

He argues that the dominant positions in contemporary political philosophy – egalitarianism, positive rights theory, communitarianism, and many forms of liberalism – should reject central welfare state institutions. He does this by examining how major welfare institutions, such as Social Security, national health insurance, and government welfare, actually work, comparing them with more market-based feasible alternatives-using the dominant perspectives as the basis for the comparison. He argues that these dominant non-libertarian perspectives in contemporary political philosophy have misunderstood the implications of their own principles, which in fact support more market-based or libertarian institutional conclusions than they may realize.

Three cool features of this book:
  • Dr. Shapiro integrates a large body of social science research into philosophical arguments for and against the welfare state. He does this in part because he believes you cannot make a sound argument in political philosophy for institutional change without using social science. For details, see excerpts from his first chapter. Here, he turns the consensus in contemporary political philosophy on its head. That consensus consists of theorists who disagree among themselves which basic political principles are true or most plausible but agree that (almost) all of the institutional implications of these principles support the welfare state. By contrast, Dr. Shapiro takes no stand on the truth of basic political principles, but argues that (almost) all of them lead to the rejection of the welfare state. He avoids the usual Anglo-Centric bias in contemporary political philosophy by examining institutions in a variety of welfare states.
For more information, see: http://www.isthewelfarestatejustified.com http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/id/218131 

Updated CV

Other Interests

Dr. Shapiro love animals, and has done volunteer work at Animal Friends, a no-kill shelter in Grafton, WV. He is or was an obsessive Harry Potter fan. You could say he is a Beatles fanatic, but that doesn’t quite do justice to his interest and love of the Beatles—ask him a Beatles trivia question, and he is likely to know it. He loves baseball, and is currently going through Ken Burns’ 10 volume DVD series on the history of baseball. Dr. Shapiro is also interested in contemporary politics.

Courses

  • Phil 130: Current Moral Problems 
  • Phil 323: Social and Political Philosophy 
  • Phil 325: Philosophy of Law