Modern Political Philosophy

 

 

I.  Epistemology:  The move from appeal to religious authority to appeal to reason

 

A.  An inadequate model of reason:  Proof in geometry.

Universal truths known a priori

Hobbes

even Locke

Rousseau

Kant

 

B.  Knowledge of indirect effects and latent causes. 

Contingent truths known a posteriori.

Smith

Burke

Tocqueville

Marx

 

But what is the status of the claim that the government should promote the good of all?

 

C.  Hegelian Dialectic:  The Discovery of Universal Truths 

Hegel

 

How can Hegel know what is being discovered?

 

D.  The Next Stage:  Postmodern Epistemology

Moral Judgment After the Replacement of Religion (Appeals to Religious Authority) with Philosophy (Reasoning)

 

Because moral judgment (right/wrong, justice/injustice) was so identified with religion, it was easy to think that giving up appeals to religious authority required giving up genuine moral judgment:  Hobbes.

 

The Alternative:  the development of a secular political morality.

Locke as the key transitional figure.

 


What Has Been Discovered?

 

The Secular Distinction between Right and Mere Might, Justice and Injustice, Legitimate and Illegitimate Exercise of Power.

The Importance of Consent (actual or hypothetical)

 

The Secular Version of the Golden Rule:  Cooperation in a Collective Action Problem.  When is cooperation reasonable?

 

The Concept of Individual Rights as the Explanation of the Difference Between Justice and Injustice

Objections to Individualism:  It Produces Conflict Rather than Harmony.

The Idea of Justice as Oneness and the Absence of Disagreement or Conflicts of Interest.

 

An Alternative to the Vision of Justice as the Absence of Disagreement and Conflicts of Interest:

The Idea that Justice is the Product of Disagreement and Conflict of Interests.

 

The Replacement of the Fixed Model of a Hierarchical Structure of Society in the Middle Ages with a Dynamic Model of Social and, Especially, Moral Progress.