The Cool Name Theory: in the social sciences, good theories are supposed to have (i) parsimony and (ii) explanatory power. So how about this: to make it into the canon of great political philsophers, your name has to be amenable to a suffix like "ism," "ist," "ian," "ite," "an," etc.

Consider: Plato(nic), Hobbes(ian), Locke(an), Hume(an), Kant(ian), Hegel(ian), Burke(an), Marx(ist/ism), Milli(an), and Rawls(ian).

There are two additional corollaries. First, the common-name corollary says that common names are fatal to cannonization. So I've got some bad news for Charles Taylor, David Miller, and Jerry/Josh Cohen. A second and related corollary says that already-taken names are also fatal. It'll be hard to break through as Marx II. Humble apologies if your last name is Smith.

Of course, having a cool name is not a sufficient condition. But you have to wonder about some could-have-beens: Sidgwick(?), Hobhouse, Oakeshott--and there's probably some bad news on the way for Ackerman, MacIntyre, and Kymlicka. On the flip side, Gaus and Strauss are looking good. The theory would probably also predict success for Raz. Razian works, right?

As I see it, there are three fairly strong objections to CNT:

First, there are good counter-examples: Aristotle isn't easy to assimilate to the theory; Tocqueville is also a challenge. Are they exceptions that prove the rule?
Second, the boundaries of the canon are obviously flexible. Does Wittgenstein count? People do say "Wittgensteinian." But that doesn't make it cool--nor does it make Wittgenstein a political philosopher. CNT can probably withstand this objection . . . but what about all those Continental philosophers? Is CNT anglo-centric? Gadamerian might pass the test. Heidegger probably not. Foucault? (I'm going to count on Russell Arben Fox to help out here--even though he's doomed on this account. I think Fox is probably taken.)
Third, although I think this formulation of the theory is somewhat original, the theory is doomed unless it takes off under its descriptive name. Because Schwartzmanian isn't going anywhere.

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