For thirty years now there has been considerable debate concerning the foundations of modern natural law theory, with Richard Tuck emphasising the role self-preservation plays in anchoring Grotius's system and his critics pointing to the contribution of a principle of sociability. With reference to recent contributions in the literature on Stoicism from Julia Annas, A. A. Long and Tad Brennan, I argue that Grotius's use of the outline of Stoic ethics from Book III of Cicero's De finibus is crucial for (...) understanding the nature of his argument. Drawing on Cicero's presentation of the Stoics' oikeiosis helps Grotius to generate an argument which issues not in any demand for altruism, charity or mutual aid, but rather for organising justice around very strong protections for private property. The argument remains one about human sociability, however, and ought not to be mistaken for an account of self-interest, nor for a doctrine with substantially Epicurean roots. (shrink)
This paper examines an issue that is becoming increasingly relevant as the pressures of a warming planet, changing climate and changing ecosystems ramp up. The broad context for the paper is the intragenerational, intergenerational, and interspecies equity implications of changing the climate and the value orientations of adapting to such change. In addition, the need to stabilize the planetary climate by urgent mitigation of change factors is a foundational ethical assumption. In order to avoid further animal and plant extinctions, or (...) at the very least, their increased vulnerability to becoming rare and endangered; the systematic assisted colonization of “at risk” species is being seriously considered by scientists and managers of biodiversity. The more practical aspects of assisted colonization have been covered in the conservation biology literature; however, the ethical implications of such actions have not been extensively examined. Our discussion of the value issues, using a novel case study approach, will rectify the limited ethical analysis of the issue of assisted colonization of species in the face of climate change pressures. Beyond sustainability ethics, both animal and environmental ethical approaches will be used and intrinsic versus instrumental value orientations in the literature shall form the basis of our discussion. After the application of all the ethical approaches to the case studies, we conclude that without mitigation and the prospect of a future stable climate, assisted colonization will be involved in an inherently unethical process and a “move and lose it” outcome. With mitigation, there is wide-ranging ethical support for assisted colonization. (shrink)
The 18th-century French political theorist the Baron de Montesquieu described honour as the ‘principle’ – or animating force – of a well-functioning monarchy, which he thought the appropriate regime type for an economically unequal society extended over a broad territory. Existing literature often presents this honour in terms of lofty ambition, the desire for preference and distinction, a spring for political agency or a spur to the most admirable kind of conduct in public life and the performance of great deeds. (...) Perhaps so. But it also seems to involve quite a bit of what the contemporary philosopher Aaron James calls ‘being an asshole’, and the article will explore what happens to Montesquieu’s political theory of monarchy – which is foundational for an understanding of modern politics – when we reverse the usual perspective and consider it through the lens of the arsehole aristocracy. (shrink)
Résumé — En réaction contre la diversité frappante des interprétations du concept de volonté générale chez Rousseau, cet article – qui entend aussi contribuer à cette interprétation – défend une lecture procédurale de la volonté générale qui serait donc le produit d’un vote majoritaire de l’assemblée ; il montre comment certains des passages du livre IV du Contrat social qui semblent se prêter le moins à cette interprétation peuvent cependant y être entièrement intégrés ; contre l’idée que la volonté générale (...) pourrait d’une certaine manière se déduire d’une conception du « bien commun » des citoyens, l’article montre que Rousseau considère globalement que c’est le vote des citoyens qui donne son contenu à l’idée de bien commun. Une partie de la littérature récente consacrée à Rousseau attire l’attention sur les épisodes où les citoyens pourraient ne pas ressentir subjectivement la volonté générale comme l’expression de leur liberté. En réponse à cette difficulté, souvent présentée comme un problème de dissidence politique, l’article soutient qu’aucune solution à ce problème qui se situerait au niveau de la théorie abstraite n’est convaincante ; la pensée politique de Rousseau fournit cependant un certain nombre de ressources qui nous aident à comprendre les différentes options qui s’offrent au dissident dans une république bien ordonnée. La triade classique de Stephen Dedalus – « silence, exil et ruse » – est une manière de nommer trois de ces solutions. L’article se conclut par quelques brèves remarques consacrées aux perspectives que nous ouvre la pensée de Rousseau sur la question de la désobéissance civile.— In response to the striking multiplicity of interpretations of Rousseau’s general will , this paper defends a procedural reading of the general will as one that is constructed through majority voting in the assembly ; it shows how some of the least promising passages of Rousseau’s text in Book Four of The Social Contract are fully assimilable to this interpretation ; and in opposition to the view that the general will is somehow derivable from the citizens’ common good, it contends that Rousseau generally considers that voting is in fact what gives the idea of the common good its content. Some of the best recent critical literature on Rousseau has focused on the moment when citizens might not subjectively experience the general will as an expression of their freedom. In response to this, often framed as the problem of political dissent, the paper argues that there is no persuasive solution on the level of abstract theory ; nevertheless, that Rousseau’s political thought provides us with a number of resources that help us to think about the problems and possibilities of dissent in a well-ordered republic. Stephen Dedalus’ classic trio of « silence, exile, and cunning » helps to provide a label for three of these, and the paper concludes with some brief remarks on the prospects for Rousseauvian civil disobedience. (shrink)
István Hont understood his work excavating the structure of 18th century debates as a contribution to contemporary political thinking. This special issue begins to explore some of the avenues he opened.
The paper presents a critical discussion of Pettit and Skinner's recent treatments of Hobbes on republican freedom, in particular situating Hobbes's attack on the republican politicians from The Elements of Law in the contexts, first, of other contemporary suspicion directed against those politicians who struck a distinctively “Roman” pose, and, second, of Hobbes's wider psychology of politics, before concluding with some reflections on the relationship between Hobbes's political theory and the project of egalitarian republicanism.