This important new book takes as its points of departure two questions: What is the nature of valuing? and What morality can be justified in a society that deeply disagrees on what is truly valuable? In Part One, the author develops a theory of value that attempts to reconcile reason with passions. Part Two explores how this theory of value grounds our commitment to moral action. The author argues that rational moral action can neither be seen as a way of (...) simply maximising one's own values, nor derived from reason independent of one's values. Rather, our commitment to the moral point of view is presupposed by our value systems. The book concludes with a defense of liberal political morality. (shrink)
In this essay I sketch a philosophical argument for classical liberalism based on the requirements of public reason. I argue that we can develop a philosophical liberalism that, unlike so much recent philosophy, takes existing social facts and mores seriously while, at the same time, retaining the critical edge characteristic of the liberal tradition. I argue that once we develop such an account, we are led toward a vindication of “old” (qua classical) liberal morality—what Benjamin Constant called the “liberties of (...) the moderns.” A core thesis of the paper is that a regime of individual rights is crucial to the project of public justification because it disperses moral authority to individuals thus mitigating what I call the “burdens of justification.” Footnotesa Earlier versions of this essay were presented at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Philosophy Department workshop on the morality of capitalism, and at the conference on rights theory at the Murphy Institute, Tulane University. I am grateful for the comments of the participants; my special thanks to David Schmidtz, Julian Lamont, and Andrea Houchard for their useful written comments and suggestions. (shrink)
Under free institutions the exercise of human reason leads to a plurality of reasonable, yet irreconcilable doctrines. Rawls's political liberalism is intended as a response to this fundamental feature of modern democratic life. Justifying coercive political power by appeal to any one (or sample) of these doctrines is, Rawls believes, oppressive and illiberal. If we are to achieve unity without oppression, he tells us, we must all affirm a public political conception that is supported by these diverse reasonable doctrines. The (...) first part of this essay argues that the free use of human reason leads to reasonable pluralism over most of what we call the political. Rawls's notion of the political does not avoid the problem of state oppression under conditions of reasonable pluralism. The second part tries to show how justificatory liberalism provides (1) a conception of the political that takes seriously the fact that the free use of human reason leads us to sharply disagree in the domain of the political while (2) articulating a conception of the political according to which the coercive intervention of the state must be justified by public reasons. (shrink)
A. Two conceptions of moral legitimacy Socialism, understood as the rejection of markets based on private property in favor of comprehensive centralized economic planning, is no longer a serious political option. If the core of capitalism is the organization of the economy primarily through market competition based on private property, then capitalism has certainly defeated socialism. Markets have been accepted—and central planning abandoned—throughout most of the “third world” and the formerly Communist states. In the advanced industrial states of the West, (...) Labor and “democratic socialist” parties have rejected socialism, having deregulated markets and privatized industries, utilities, and transport. The United Kingdom Labour Party’s 1945 manifesto declared it to be a “Socialist Party, and proud of it. Its ultimate aim is the establishment of the Socialist Commonwealth of Great Britain.”1 Today it insists that markets are a given. (shrink)
William Perm summarized the Magna Carta thus: “First, It asserts Englishmen to be free; that's Liberty. Secondly, they that have free-holds, that's Property.” Since at least the seventeenth century, liberals have not only understood liberty and property to be fundamental, but to be somehow intimately related or interwoven. Here, however, consensus ends; liberals present an array of competing accounts of the relation between liberty and property. Many, for instance, defend an essentially instrumental view, typically seeing private property as justified because (...) it is necessary to maintain or protect other, more basic, liberty rights. Important to our constitutional tradition has been the idea that “[t]he right to property is the guardian of every other right, and to deprive a people of this, is in fact to deprive them of their liberty.” Along similar lines, it has been argued that only an economic system based on private property disperses power and resources, ensuring that private people in civil society have the resources to oppose the state and give effect to basic liberties. Alternatively, it is sometimes claimed that only those with property develop the independent characters that are necessary to preserve a regime of liberty. But not only have liberals insisted that, property is a means of preserving liberty, they have often conceived of it as an embodiment of liberty, or as a type of liberty, or indeed as identical to liberty. This latter view is popular among contemporary libertarians or classical liberals. Jan Narveson, for instance, bluntly asserts that “Liberty is Property,” while John Gray insists that “[t]he connection between property and the basic liberties is constitutive and not just instrumental.”. (shrink)
Liberal political theory is all too familiar with the divide between classical and welfare-state liberals. Classical liberals, as we all know, insist on the importance of small government, negative liberty, and private property. Welfare-state liberals, on the other hand, although they too stress civil rights, tend to be sympathetic to “positive liberty,” are for a much more expansive government, and are often ambivalent about private property. Although I do not go so far as to entirely deny the usefulness of this (...) familiar distinction, I think in many ways it is misleading. In an important sense, most free-market liberals are also “welfare-state” liberals. I say this because the overwhelming number of liberals, of both the pro-market and the pro-government variety, entertain a welfarist conception of political economy. On this dominant welfarist view, the ultimate justification of the politico-economic order is that it promotes human welfare. Traditional “welfare-state liberals” such as Robert E. Goodin manifestly adopt this welfarist conception. But it is certainly not only interventionists such as Goodin who insist that advancing welfare is the overriding goal of normative political economy. J. R. McCulloch, one of the great nineteenth-century laissez-faire political economists, was adamant that “freedom is not, as some appear to think, the end of government: the advancement of public prosperity and happiness is its end.” To be sure, McCulloch would have disagreed with Goodin about the optimal welfare-maximizing economic policy: the welfarist ideal, he and his fellow classical political economists believed, would best be advanced by provision of a legal and institutional framework — most importantly, the laws of property, contract, and the criminal code — that allows individuals to pursue their own interests in the market and, by so doing, promote public welfare. In general, what might be called the “classical-liberal welfare state” claims to advance welfare by providing the framework for individuals to seek wealth for themselves, while welfarists such as Goodin insist that a market order is seriously flawed as a mechanism for advancing human welfare and, in addition, that government has the competency to “correct market failures” in the provision of welfare. (shrink)
This essay analyses optimal voting rules for one form of deliberative democracy. Drawing on public choice analysis, it is argued that the voting rule that best institutionalises deliberative democracy is a type of a supermajority rule. Deliberative democracy is also committed to the standard neutrality condition according to which if x votes are enough to select alternative A, x votes must be enough to select not-A. Taken together, these imply that deliberative democracy will often be indeterminate. This result shows that (...) deliberative democracy is ill-equipped to provide guidance as to how actual political disputes are to be legitimately resolved. (shrink)
Rex Martin has written the most important analysis and justification of political authority and obligation since T. H. Green’s Lectures on the Principles of Political Obligation [hereafter LPO]. Indeed, defying a good deal of contemporary philosophical orthodoxy, Martin resurrects some fundamental claims of Green’s political philosophy.
The Routledge Companion to Social and Political Philosophy is a comprehensive, definitive reference work, providing an up-to-date survey of the field, charting its history and key figures and movements, and addressing enduring questions as ...
David lyons has recently argued that mill's ethics is an alternative to both act and rule utilitarianism. In the first part of this paper I argue that lyons makes mill out to be far too much of a rule utilitarian. The second part of the article then provides an account of mill's theory of moral rules based on an analysis of the four functions rules serve in his ethics. On this reading mill's theory is a hybrid of act and rule (...) utilitarianism: violation of a moral rule is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for wrongdoing. (shrink)
`This volume combines remarkable coverage and distinguished contributors. The inclusion of thematic, conceptual, and historical chapters will make it a valuable resource for scholars as well as students' - Professor George Klosko, Department of Politics, University of Virginia This major new Handbook provides a definitive state-of-the-art review to political theory, past and present. It offers a complete guide to all the main areas and fields of political and philosophical inquiry today by the world's leading theorists. The Handbook is divided into (...) five parts which together serve to illustrate: - the diversity of political theorizing - the substantive theories that provide an over-aching analysis of the nature/or justification of the state and political life - the political theories that have been either formulated or resurgent in recent years - the current state of the central debates within contemporary political theory - the history of western political thought and its interpretations - traditions in political thought outside a western perspective. The Handbook of Political Theory marks a benchmark publication at the cutting edge of its field. It is essential reading for all students and academics of political theory and political philosophy around the world. (shrink)
In this essay I dispute the widely held view that utility theory and decision theory are formalizations of instrumental rationality. I show that the decision theoretic framework has no deep problems accommodating the ?reasonable? qua a preference to engage in fair cooperation as such. All evaluative criteria relevant to choice can be built into a von Neumann?Morgenstern utility function. I focus on the claim that, while rational choice?driven agents are caught in the Pareto?inferior outcome, reasonable agents could ?solve? the PD (...) and cooperate. Not so, I argue. If reasonable people find themselves in PD situations they too would follow the dominant ?defect? strategy. The difference between instrumentally rational agents and those who are also reasonable is not that they would behave differently in Prisoner?s Dilemmas, but that reasonable people are more successful at avoiding the Prisoner?s Dilemma and tend to play more cooperative games. (shrink)