This comprehensive study of Aristotle's Politics argues that nature, justice, and rights are central to Aristotle's political thought. Miller challenges the widely held view that the concept of rights is alien to Aristotle's thought, and presents evidence for talk of rights in Aristotle's writings. He argues further that Aristotle's theory of justice supports claims of individual rights that are political and based in nature.
A central idea in moral and political philosophy, 'autonomy' is generally understood as some form of self-governance or self-direction. Certain Stoics, modern philosophers such as Spinoza, and most importantly, Immanuel Kant, are among the great philosophers who have offered important insights on the concept. Some theorists analyze autonomy in terms of the self being moved by its higher-order desires. Others argue that autonomy must be understood in terms of acting from reason or from a sense of moral duty independent of (...) the passions. Autonomy seems closely related to the notion of freedom, but in what sense: freedom from coercion, freedom from psychological constraints, or freedom from material necessity? Various approaches to these and similar questions yield different implications for public policy. Is capitalism, social democracy or socialism more favorable to autonomy? The essays in this volume address these important questions. (shrink)
WHEN Aristotle takes up the task of establishing the foundations of ethics in the Nicomachean Ethics, he understands this task in a quite different way from many modern moral philosophers. For one thing, he explicitly distinguishes inquiries such as ethics and politics from more precise disciplines such as mathematics, and emphasizes that their end is action rather than knowledge. Moreover, he differs from many modern ethicists in the importance which he assigns to knowledge of what to do in a concrete (...) situation. Practical knowledge for Aristotle has two indispensable, interrelated components: apprehension of the ultimate end of human action, and practical rationality in virtue of which one knows how to pursue this end in concrete situations. As a moral epistemologist Aristotle is exceptional in the emphasis he places upon practical rationality. Even if one correctly apprehends the ultimate end, knowing how to attain it in action is no trivial matter of perfunctorily applying general precepts. Henry Veatch illustrates this important feature of Aristotle's thought by relating it to Sartre's anecdote of the young man who sought his advice during World War II as to whether he should stay with his mother or join the Free French forces. Veatch contends that Aristotle would agree with Sartre that a general apprehension of the end will not provide us with a priori recipes for answering "concrete moral questions," such as the dilemma posed in Sartre's anecdote. He would also agree that the young man must work out the answer for himself in the immediate context of action. But Veatch's Aristotle maintains, against Sartre, that moral agents can and should work out answers through "practical moral knowledge." Although this is an appealing construal of Aristotle's conception of rationality in action, it is not without opposition. John Cooper has challenged it in favor of the interpretation that deliberation may be completed with a decision on a type of action prior to the time of action. Cooper bases this interpretation on an extensive review of the texts. Nevertheless, as this essay attempts to show, the textual evidence clearly supports an interpretation along the lines suggested by Veatch. Section I considers the evidence concerning practical rationality and deliberation, and Section II that concerning practical insight and observation. (shrink)
What is the nature of law? Does our obligation to obey the law extend to unjust laws? From what source do lawmakers derive legitimate authority? What principles should guide us in the design of political institutions? These essays by prominent contemporary philosophers explore how these questions were addressed by ancient political thinkers. Classical theories of human nature and their implications for political theory are examined, as is the meaning of freedom and coercion in Plato's thought and his idea that philosophers (...) should be political rulers. Other essays ask what we can learn from ancient thinkers like Aristotle about the principles of constitutional design or the limits of political obligation. (shrink)
What is a person? What makes me the same person today that I was yesterday or will be tomorrow? Philosophers have long pondered these questions. In Plato's Symposium, Socrates observed that all of us are constantly undergoing change: we experience physical changes to our bodies, as well as changes in our 'manners, customs, opinions, desires, pleasures, pains, [and] fears'. Aristotle theorized that there must be some underlying 'substratum' that remains the same even as we undergo these changes. John Locke rejected (...) Aristotle's view and reformulated the problem of personal identity in his own way: is a person a physical organism that persists through time, or is a person identified by the persistence of psychological states, by memory? These essays - written by prominent philosophers and legal and economic theorists - offer valuable insights into the nature of personal identity and its implications for morality and public policy. (shrink)
These essays address some of the most intriguing questions raised by natural law theory and its implications for law, morality, and public policy. some of the essays explore the implications that natural law theory has for jurisprudence, asking what natural law suggests about the use of legal devices such as constitutions and precedents. Other essays examine the connections between natural law and various political concepts, such as citizens' rights and the obligation of citizens to obey their government.
The essays in this volume examine the nature of human flourishing and its relationship to a variety of other key concepts in moral theory. Some of them trace the link between flourishing and human nature, asking whether a theory of human nature can allow us to develop an objective list of goods that are of value to all agents, regardless of their individual purposes or aims. Some essays look at the role of friendships or parent-child relationships in a good life, (...) or seek to determine whether an ethical theory based on human flourishing can accommodate concern for others for their own sake. Other essays analyze the function of families or other social-political institutions in promoting the flourishing of individuals. Still others explore the implications of flourishing for political theory, asking whether considerations of human flourishing can help us to derive principles of social justice. (shrink)
The essays in this volume address questions about responsibility that arise in moral philosophy and legal theory. Some analyse different theories of causality, asking which theory offers the best account of human agency and the most satisfactory resolution of troubling controversies about free will and determinism. Some essays look at responsibility in the legal realm, seeking to determine how the law should assign liability for negligence, or whether the courts should allow defendants to offer excuses for their wrongdoing or to (...) claim some form of 'diminished responsibility'. Other essays explore libertarian views about political freedom and accountability, asking whether libertarian positions on consent, contract law, and responsibility are consistent, or whether restitution is superior to retribution or deterrence as a basis for a theory of corrective justice. Still others examine the notion of partial or divided responsibility, or the relationship between responsibility and the emotions. (shrink)
What is the good life? This question captured the attention of ancient philosophers and it remains with us today, because it compels us to consider what it is to be human. To inquire about the good life is to ask, not about the proper conduct in one specific situation, but about the proper course of an entire life. It is to ask what we ought to make of ourselves as moral beings, what standards we ought to follow, and what goals (...) we ought to aspire to. But does it make sense to talk about the good life or the human good, or are there many human goods and many ways of living a good life? If there are many goods, then ow are they related, and how are we to determine whether one good outweighs another? Does living one's own life well leave room for concern for the well-being of others? Are there other non-moral concerns that may sometimes take precedence over living a good life? These are a few of the questions that will be addressed by the essays in this issue. (shrink)
DEBATE CONTINUES OVER WHETHER AN “Aristotelian philosophy of mind” is still credible. Recent commentators wonder whether Aristotle’s view lies somewhere in the constellation of modern theories of mind, or whether he might point to an uncharted theory. Because he viewed his own account as an alternative to both Platonic dualism and Presocratic materialism, moderns seeking a middle way between Cartesian dualism and reductionist physicalism have looked to Aristotle for inspiration. As Jonathan Barnes observes, “Philosophy of mind has for centuries been (...) whirled between a Cartesian Charybdis and a scientific Scylla: Aristotle has the look of an Odysseus.”. (shrink)
PLATO ARGUES THAT ANTICIPATORY PLEASURES MAY BE FALSE. THE STRUCTURE OF HIS ARGUMENT IS CLARIFIED. THE CRUX IS NOT THE INFERENCE FROM 'FALSE BELIEF' TO 'FALSE PICTURE' TO 'FALSE PLEASURE,' BUT THE DOCTRINE THAT THROUGH MENTAL IMAGERY PLEASURE, LIKE BELIEF, MAY TAKE AS OBJECTS UNREALIZED STATES OF AFFAIRS. ASSUMING FALSITY IS A BAD-MAKING CHARACTERISTIC, SOCRATES USES THE THESIS AGAINST HEDONISM. THE INTERPRETATIONS OF GOSLING, KENNY, AND MCLAUGHLIN ARE CRITICIZED.
In Loren Lomasky's wry understatement, which serves as this book's motto, "A century that has witnessed the Holocaust and the Gulag is not one which can be aptly characterized as paying too much heed to basic rights". In opposition to twentieth-century statism, there arose libertarianism, a political philosophy committed to individual rights. Following the decline and collapse of the Soviet Union and other communist states and amid growing doubts about the welfare state, the editors and contributors to Liberty for the (...) 21st Century take the fin de siècle as an occasion for a new statement of libertarian theory, with the hope that it may become the dominant voice in the next century. (shrink)