Christine Sypnowich's research and teaching focuses on political philosophy, jurisprudence and feminism. She studied at the University of Toronto and did her D.Phil. as a Commonwealth Scholar at Balliol College, Oxford. Before coming to Queen’s in 1990 as a Queen’s National Scholar, she taught in Europe at the Universities of Oxford, Leeds and Leiden and in North America at the University of California, San Diego, and York University. In 2001-2002 Christine Sypnowich was a Visiting Fellow at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, and at the Oxford Centre for Ethics and the Philosophy of Law. Her principal publications include Equality Renewed: Justice, Flourishing and the Egalitarian Ideal (Routledge, 2017), The Concept of Socialist Law (Clarendon, Oxford, 1990), The Egalitarian Conscience: Essays in Honour of G.A. Cohen (Oxford, 2006), (which she edited), The Social Self (Sage 1995) (edited with David Bakhurst), and a number of chapters in books and articles in such journals as Political Theory, Politics and Society, Oxford Journal of Legal Studies, Political Studies, Praxis International, Oxford Journal of Legal Studies, and the New Left Review. Christine Sypnowich is currently working on a book commissioned by Polity Press on G.A. Cohen, as well as starting a new project on heritage and political philosophy.
Research project undertaken at the ANU
In my recent book, Equality Renewed: Justice, Flourishing and the Egalitarian Ideal (Routledge 2017) I made a case for an approach to equality centred on the concept of human flourishing, arguing that the political philosophy of egalitarianism should be understood as seeking to make people more equal in the constituents of living well. Unequal distribution of wealth can have the effect that some people are poorly housed, badly nourished, ill-educated, unhappy or uncultured, among other things. We care about inequality because of its effect on people. And yet, much contemporary egalitarianism avoids the question of how people are living, determined to be neutral about questions of the good. I counter that emphasis on neutrality with an account of human flourishing which, I contend, should be the ‘metric’ for egalitarian policy. My argument delved into various constituents of human wellbeing, including aesthetic considerations like access to culture, art and heritage. My current project picks up on that and seeks to formulate a political philosophy of cultural heritage. Heritage is rarely discussed among political theorists but I believe it has relevance for important questions of equality, justice, community and autonomy. Among the issues it raises are heritage as a public good; the conservatism inherent in conservation; collective memory and the contestation over historical narrative; the ethics and politics of place; human wellbeing and connections to history; stewardship and private property; and the topic of my talk this term, the problem of NIMBYism.
I am also working on some other related projects, such as utopianism and political education, Marx and liberal egalitarianism. And I have been commissioned by Polity Press to write a book on the political philosophy of GA Cohen, a fellow Canadian, ‘analytical Marxist’, and formidable political philosopher whose pathbreaking work on equality and freedom has significantly influenced my intellectual development.