Richard W. Miller

Hutchinson Professor in Ethics and Public Life Emeritus
Department of Philosophy
Cornell University

I am a political philosopher. I try to describe how our political choices should be shaped both by facts about needs and facts about inequalities of power. I argue that informed, morally conscientious political choice includes both support for capitalism and support for strenuous interventions to impartially enhance fellow-citizens’ well-being and reduce inequalities of political influence and bargaining power that are inherent in capitalism. My recent writings include accounts of the prevalence and moral significance of exploitation, the nature and independent significance of democratic equality, and ways in which social democrats should come to terms with truths in libertarianism. In the book that I am writing, The Ethics of Social Democracy, the political program of social democracy is ultimately grounded in the diverse attitudes of a morally conscientious person, for example, helpfulness, cooperativeness and the avoidance of domination. Although these considerations sustain special emphasis on compatriots’ needs, they generate demanding transnational political responsibilities. This is a major theme of Globalizing Justice (2010), which includes accounts of justice in response to globalization and global warming and of enduring moral defects in the U.S. government’s exercise of its international power. My other writings on international justice have included accounts of the ethics of foreign intervention and criticisms of its practice by the United States.