The Institute for Humane Studies (IHS) at George Mason University is proud to announce the recipient of our second IHS Sabbatical ResearchFellowship. Dr. Kevin Vallier, a professor of philosophy at Bowling Green State University (BGSU), who has been awarded $42,000 to conduct research on the institutional bases for social and political trust.
Dr. Vallier is Associate Professor of Philosophy at BGSU and Director of BGSU’s Program in Philosophy, Politics, Economics, and Law. He is the author of Liberal Politics and Public Faith: Beyond Separation (Routledge, 2014), Must Politics Be War? Restoring Our Trust in the Open Society (Oxford UP, 2019), and over 30 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters. He is the co-editor of Political Utopias: Contemporary Debates (OUP, 2017) and Religious Exemptions (OUP, 2018).
Dr. Vallier’s research project investigates the institutional bases of trust. Americans are finding it increasingly difficult to trust one another. Social trust—trust in strangers—has been falling for decades, while political trust – trust in government and democracy – has grown even shakier. The steady erosion of social and political trust comes with grave costs. Not least among these is a looming crisis of legitimacy for liberal democratic institutions. His book project, Trust in a Polarized Age, attempts to forestall this legitimacy crisis by arguing that liberal democratic institutions promote and sustain social and political trust between diverse persons.
Dr. Vallier’s previous book, Must Politics Be War?, argues that liberal democratic institutions can be justified to persons with diverse viewpoints and so can furnish the rational basis for ongoing social and political trust between them. His latest project extends this idea by arguing that social and political trust in the real world is promoted by five traditional liberal institutions: Freedom of association, private property, social insurance, legislative democracy, and democratic elections. Despite increasing hostility towards many of these institutions, Dr. Vallier argues that they are our best hope for recovering lost trust and containing partisan polarization.
IHS Sabbatical Research Fellowships, which are made possible by the generous support of the Thomas W. Smith Foundation, support semester-long sabbaticals for the study, research, and teaching of classical liberal ideas. IHS will be offering two more of these awards over the next two academic years to scholars conducting research related to free and open markets, individual rights, private property, peace, prosperity, self-determination and autonomy, decentralization, limited government, privacy, free speech, and other such areas. This new program represents IHS’s continuing commitment to supporting faculty who seek to enhance our understanding of the classical liberal tradition and who contribute to the growing exploration of its important ideas. Interested faculty may learn more about the program here or investigate IHS’s other funding programs here.