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Peter Vanderschraaf

  • Ph.D., 1995 — University of California, Irvine
  • B.S., 1984 — Loyola Marymount University

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