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Peter Vanderschraaf

Title: 
Associate Professor
Education: 
  • Ph.D., 1995 — University of California, Irvine
  • B.S., 1984 — Loyola Marymount University
Awards: 
2011-2012 - Visiting Faculty Fellowship, Princeton Institute for Advanced Study, School of Social Sciences
Research Interests: 

Professor Vanderschraaf's research focuses on the analysis of social conventions and investigating their proper role in moral and political philosophy. He is particularly interested in exploring the relationship between conventions and justice.

While philosophers since Plato have discussed conventions, most of these philosophers tended to dismiss conventionalist accounts of justice and moral systems. But convention remains a relatively poorly understood notion. Professor Vanderschraaf believes that if one adopts a sufficiently rich analysis of convention, the case for conventionalist justice and conventionalist morality becomes much more promising.

His work is driven by ongoing attempts to answer fundamental questions, such as:

  • What are the conditions that characterize conventions?
  • How do conventions originate?
  • Why do conventions sometimes change?
  • Given an adequate analysis of conventions, can justice be understood as merely a system of conventions?
  • Can a conventionalist analysis of moral systems be descriptively adequate, in that such an analysis coheres with our considered judgments regarding morality
Media Contact: 
Background: 

Peter Vanderschraaf is an expert on the intersection of convention and morality. His particular area of interest is in how social conventions relate to justice and morality. Public perception of candidates is often shaped by how they fit within accepted convention and the people’s definition of morality and justice.