Dr Sagar Sanyal
Telephone +61 (03) 9035-3642
Location: Old Quad Building, room 115
View my cv (.pdf)
I received my doctorate in political philosophy from the University of Canterbury, New Zealand in 2009. My research interests lie primarily in the areas of global justice and democratic politics, with interests in issues including the political economics of development, military and covert institutions, opinion forming institutions such as the mass media and academia, policy capture mechanisms, and corruption. I endeavour to base my work in empirical and multi-disciplinary approaches, as I take this to be necessary for an adequate understanding of the institutions that enable various global injustices. Outside of political philosophy, my abiding philosophical interest lies in the work of Immanuel Kant.
I believe that the dominant liberal tradition of analytic political philosophy is too ideal- and principle- oriented and insufficiently interested in the facts of politics and in the analyses of related academic disciplines. Greater concern with the ignored issues forces us to the more radical end of broadly liberal political philosophy – to the traditions of democratic socialism and anarchism. My approach to moral and political philosophy stems from diverse influences spanning the continuum from the theoretical to the political. Some of these influences are Immanuel Kant, J S Mill, Karl Marx, Rabindranath Thakur, Bertrand Russell, John Dewey, John Rawls, Henry Allison, Allen Wood, Amartya Sen, Thomas Pogge, Gerald Cohen, Noam Chomsky, Chalmers Johnson, Arundhati Roy, Vijay Prashad, and more personally, Philip Catton, Graham Macdonald and Tony Coady.
As research fellow, I contribute to two projects. One is ‘Moral Conservatism, Human Enhancement and the ‘Affective Revolution’ in Moral Psychology’, with Steve Clarke, Julian Savulescu and Tony Coady. The second is on humanitarian intervention and war, with Tony Coady.
Sagar Sanyal. "A Defence of Democratic Egalitarianism" in Journal of Philosophy vol. 109 (7) pp.413-34) (http://philpapers.org/rec/SANADO-5 )
Abstract: This is a constructive response to a 2008 article by Kok-Chor Tan. It outlines a version of democratic egalitarianism to complement, rather than compete against, luck egalitarianism. The concepts of autonomy and domination are used to elaborate democratic equality, and I suggest a broadening in the understandings of distributive justice; of why distributive justice matters; and of the concepts of grounding and substantive principles (in relation to distributive justice).
Sagar Sanyal. "US Military and Covert Action and Global Justice," in International Journal of Applied Philosophy 23 (2), 2009, pp.213–234 (335kb pdf). http://philpapers.org/archive/SANUMA.1.pdf
Abstract: US military intervention and covert action is a significant contributor to global injustice. Discussion of this contributor to global injustice is relatively common in social justice movements. Yet it has been ignored by the global justice literature in political philosophy. This paper aims to fill this gap by introducing the topic into the global justice debate. While the global justice debate has focused on inter-national and supra-national institutions, I argue that an adequate analysis of US military and covert action must focus on domestic institutions of the US. I describe many such institutions including industry lobbying, the ubiquity of US military bases abroad, US programs for training foreign militaries, secrecy of the intelligence and military agencies, pliant news media and government propaganda.
Sagar Sanyal. Political Equality and Global Poverty: An Alternative Egalitarian Approach to Distributive Justice. Dissertation, University of Canterbury, 2009 (530kb pdf). http://ir.canterbury.ac.nz/handle/10092/2156
Abstract: I argue that existing views in the political equality debate are inadequate. I propose an alternative approach to equality and argue its superiority to the competing approaches. I apply the approach to some issues in global justice relating to global poverty and to the inability of some countries to develop as they would like. In this connection I discuss institutions of international trade, sovereign debt and global reserves and I focus particularly on the WTO, IMF and World Bank.
Selected other Publications
‘Systematic Pressures behind US military and covert action’; NZ Peace Researcher; January 2010 http://www.converge.org.nz/abc/pr39-182.htm
Teaching in 2014
I teach two masters-level courses at the University of Melbourne, one in each semester:
PHIL90029 Environment, sustainability and future generations
Alongside topics in environmental ethics and environmental justice, the course also looks at matters of political economy like institutional drivers of consumerism, corporate lobbying and political agenda-setting, and world hunger.
PHIL90010 Global Justice
Alongside debates in distributive justice and nationalism/cosmopolitanism, the course also looks at the historical and political economic context for injustice, drawing on writers such as Noam Chomsky and Chalmers Johnson on empire and the military-industrial complex; Eric Hobsbawm on nationalism; and Vijay Prashad on the Third World Project.
Giovanni Arrighi, The Long Twentieth Century: money, power and the origins of our times, Verso, 1994. http://www.amazon.com/The-Long-Twentieth-Century-Origins/dp/1844673049
John Kenneth Galbraith, The New Industrial State, 1967. http://www.amazon.com/Industrial-Madison-Library-American-Politics/dp/0691131414
Alan Carter, A Radical Green Political Theory, Routledge, 1999. http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9780415864244/
Harry van der Linden, Kantian Ethics and Socialism, Hackett, 1988. http://www.amazon.com/Kantian-Ethics-Socialism-Harry-Linden/dp/0872200272
Vijay Prashad, The Poorer Nations, Verso, 2012. http://www.versobooks.com/books/1150-the-poorer-nations
Vijay Prashad, Arab Spring, Libyan Winter, AK Press, 2012. http://www.akpress.org/arabspringlibyanwinter.html
Boston Review (http://bostonreview.net/ )
Noam Chomsky (www.chomsky.info )
Foreign Policy In Focus (http://fpif.org/ )
Democracy Now (link to http://www.democracynow.org/ )
The Real News (http://therealnews.com/t2/ )
Tom Dispatch (www.tomdispatch.com )
Media Lens (www.medialens.org )
FAIR (http://www.fair.org/index.php )
Monthly Review (www.monthlyreview.org )
New Left Review (www.newleftreview.org )
Tehelka (India) (www.tehelka.com )
Frontline (India) (http://www.frontlineonnet.com/ )
Sanhati (India, Bengal) (www.sanhati.com )
Upside Down World (Latin America) (http://upsidedownworld.org/main/ )
Pambazuka (Africa) (http://www.pambazuka.org/en/ )