For both its enthusiastic adherents as well as its more generous opponents, liberalism commands considerable ethical appeal but at a price. And that price is its lack of systematic integrity or coherence. The charm of its ethical appeal stems from the great values which it celebrates. But for many these very values seem fatally incommensurable, seem to be forever colliding with and thwarting one another. As Isaiah Berlin has never tired of reminding us, liberty and equality continue to defy our (...) best efforts to reconcile them, to weave them together in some kind of orderly and compelling way. Liberalism, in other words, is flawed, if not tragically flawed. For those who nevertheless remain charmed by its ethical appeal, the tragedy of the incommensurability of its basic values is disappointing and disturbing. (shrink)
The 'Art of Life' is John Stuart Mill's name for his account of practical reason. In this volume, eleven leading scholars elucidate this fundamental, but widely neglected, element of Mill's thought. Mill divides the Art of Life into three 'departments': 'Morality, Prudence or Policy, and Æsthetics'. In the volume's first section, Rex Martin, David Weinstein, Ben Eggleston, and Dale E. Miller investigate the relation between the departments of morality and prudence. Their papers ask whether Mill is a rule utilitarian and, (...) if so, whether his practical philosophy must be incoherent. The second section contains papers by Jonathan Riley and Wendy Donner, who explore the relation between the departments of morality and aesthetics. They discuss issues ranging from supererogation to aesthetic pleasure and humanity's relationship with nature. -/- The papers in the third section consider the Art of Life's axiological first principle, the principle of utility. Elijah Millgram contends that Mill's own life refutes his claim that the Art of Life has a single axiological first principle. Philip Kitcher maintains that Mill has a dynamic axiology requiring us to continually refine our conception of the good. In the final section, three papers address what it means to put the Art of Life into practice. Robert Haraldsson locates an 'Art of Ethics' in On Liberty that is in tension with the Art of Life. Nadia Urbinati plumbs the classical roots of Mill's view of the good life. Finally, Colin Heydt develops Mill's suggestion that we regard our own lives as works of art. (shrink)
This paper examines the undervalued role of Herbert Spencer in Sidgwick's thinking. Sidgwick recognized Spencer's utilitarianism, but criticized him on the ground that he tried to deduce utilitarianism from evolutionary theory. In analysing these criticisms, this paper concludes that Spencer's deductive methodology was in fact closer to Sidgwick's empiricist position than Sidgwick realized. The real source of Sidgwick's unhappiness withSpencer lies with the substance of Spencer's utilitarianism, namely its espousal of indefeasible moral rights.
In this study, David Weinstein argues that nineteenth-century English New Liberalism was considerably more indebted to classical English utilitarianism than the received view holds. T. H. Green, L. T. Hobhouse, D. G. Ritchie and J. A. Hobson were liberal consequentialists who followed J. S. Mill in trying to accommodate robust, liberal moral rights with the normative goal of promoting self-realisation. Through careful interpretation of each, Weinstein shows how these theorists brought together themes from idealism, perfectionism and especially utilitarianism to create (...) the new liberalism. Like Mill, they were committed to liberalising consequentialism and systematising liberalism. Because they were no less consequentialists than they were liberals, they constitute a greatly undervalued resource, Mill notwithstanding, for contemporary moral philosophers who remain dedicated to defending a coherent form of liberal consequentialism. The New Liberals had already travelled much of the philosophical ground that contemporary liberal consequentialists are unknowingly retravelling. (shrink)
This essay examines D. G. Ritchie's claim that Principally, it endeavours to determine what Ritchie means by and what kind of utilitarianism he thinks evolutionary theory vindicates. With respect to the kind of utilitarianism vindicated, I will show how he tries to fortify Millian liberal utilitarianism with new liberal values such as self-realization and common good. Ritchie's intellectual debts were eclectic and included mostly Mill, T. H. Green, Hegel and Herbert Spencer.
The classical utilitarian legacy of Jeremy Bentham, J. S. Mill, James Mill, and Henry Sidgwick has often been charged with both theoretical and practical complicity in the growth of British imperialism and the emerging racialist discourse of the nineteenth century. But there has been little scholarly work devoted to bringing together the conflicting interpretive perspectives on this legacy and its complex evolution with respect to orientalism and imperialism. This volume, with contributions by leading scholars in the field, represents the first (...) attempt to survey the full range of current scholarly controversy on how the classical utilitarians conceived of 'race' and the part it played in their ethical and political programs, particularly with respect to such issues as slavery and the governance of India. The book both advances our understanding of the history of utilitarianism and imperialism and promotes the scholarly debate, clarifying the major points at issue between those sympathetic to the utilitarian legacy and those critical of it. (shrink)
The occasion of this talk was a panel discussion ending the conference on “Radical Politics” sponsored by The University of North Dakota’s chapter to Students for a Democratic Society. Many of the members are self-described Marxists and Anarchists. It is they whom I address here.
Hans Baron, Karl Popper, Leo Strauss and Erich Auerbach were among the many German-speaking Jewish intellectuals who fled Continental Europe with the rise of Nazism in the 1930s. Their scholarship, though not normally considered together, is studied here to demonstrate how, despite their different disciplines and distinctive modes of working, they responded polemically in the guise of traditional scholarship to their shared trauma. For each, the political calamity of European fascism was a profound intellectual crisis, requiring an intellectual response which (...) Weinstein and Zakai now contextualize, ideologically and politically. They exemplify just how extensively, and sometimes how subtly, 1930s and 1940s scholarship was used not only to explain, but to fight the political evils that had infected modernity, victimizing so many. An original perspective on a popular area of research, this book draws upon a mass of secondary literature to provide an innovative and valuable contribution to twentieth-century intellectual history. (shrink)
This study examines Herbert Spencer's social and political thought by way of his principle of equal freedom. This principle reads, "The liberty of each, limited by the like liberty of each, is the rule in conformity with which society must be organized." ;Basically, this study attempts to demonstrate that Spencer was first and foremost an indirect utilitarian and that equal freedom was the central moral rule of his indirect utilitarianism. An attempt is also made to show how Spencer conceived moral (...) rights as derivations of equal freedom. For Spencer, moral rights were substantive specifications of equal freedom. Like their parent principle, they indirectly promoted happiness. Among other things, my analysis of equal freedom and rights endeavors to clarify how Spencer tried to accommodate a theory of stringent moral rights with utility and how negative freedom and virtue can be seen as compatible features of his theory of freedom. These two themes are meant to comprise some of the most promising rewards of this study. ;This study also explores Spencer's ethical naturalism via G. E. Moore's famous criticisms in Principia Ethica and via some of Henry Sidgwick's critical observations. While Moore's discussion is judged unsatisfactory, Sidgwick's analysis is deemed more successful. ;Finally, this study concludes by examining Spencer's theory of freedom and rights in terms of two fundamental moral rights and in terms of Spencer's vision of utopia. (shrink)
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