In Political Liberalism, Rawls argues against his critics, insisting that the original position was merely a thought experiment meant to aid in the intuitive realization of the principles of justice according to a uniform standard of fairness. This essay will briefly summarize the original position (and the veil of ignorance that completes it), explain the metaphysical view of the self the critics imply, and conclude by disagreeing with the critics, but wondering what Rawls is up to, if its not metaphysical.
Plato and Aristotle were very different thinkers. They came at the same fundamental philosophical problems from radically different directions. Rafael nicely characterized this in his famous “School of Athens” painting – Plato, ever the tutor, sternly pointing to the sky; Aristotle, the indignant pupil, gesturing reflexively toward the earth. But this image is somewhat deceiving. To anyone unfamiliar with the territory, you might walk away from the work thinking that Plato and Aristotle differed fundamentally, rather than merely instrumentally. Indeed, since … Plato Versus Aristotle – Two Routes To The Same Goodread more
The new Libertarians are still trying to push the Enlightenment principle of self-governance (individual sovereignty) as far over as it will go, without collapsing into anarchism. But they’ve divorced themselves from the ground that made self-governance possible in the first place: a commitment to virtue. That commitment can come from religion, or a shared set of philosophically derived metaphysical commitments. But the end result is an individual that has a commitment to the good life, as a life lived in the pursuit of excellence (and, arguably, measured against the transcendent values of truth, goodness, and beauty). Single mothers, whoring themselves out in order to pay for their 15 year old daughters’ birth control pills is about as far from that ideal, as you can get. And that is what the Libertarian needs to grapple with.
for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.
Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and, accordingly, all experience has shown, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But, when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off … The Declaration of Independence. Part 3: A Long Train Of Abusesread more
This is, of course, the passage that everyone is (more or less) familiar with — at least the first sentence. In the United States, the first sentence has been crystalized into a kind of religious creed, similar in tone and meter to opening lines of the Apostle’s Creed: “We believe in one God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth…”, and so forth. But Jefferson had philosophical notions in mind when he wrote this, however pious he may (or may not) have been.
Wherein, I pull apart the Declaration of Independence, one paragraph at a time, and analyse the contents. This is an attempt to re-think and improve the analysis I did a few years ago.
There are a number of questions that constantly resurface around philosophy as a discipline. What is it? What is it for? What has it produced? Are its products useful? Does it make progress? And so forth. Today, we are asked to consider the singular question, “What has philosophy done for us?” I’m not going to answer this question, but I will say this. This question presupposes three underlying assumptions: That philosophy must be for something, That something must be a collective good of … What Is Philosophy For?read more
The human animal is thought by some to have a “divine spark” in him. What is this? I don’t mean, in a metaphysical or definitional sense. I mean, what do humans do, what capacity do they have, what power are they endowed with, that sets them apart from the other animals so much so that they are thought to have this spark? Why on earth would anyone say humans are “touched by the divine”?
Traditionally, there are two great debates at the core of political philosophy. The first is what justifies political authority, and the second is what should be the form of the institution that assumes that authority. The first debate includes questions of fundamental justice. Issues like what the state owes to its subjects, and what the subjects owe to each other, are central to the debate. The second debate depends somewhat on the answer to the first, in that it seeks to … The Two Custodians – Thoughts On The Purpose Of The Stateread more