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Many conservative writers share his religious interpretation of the contract across the generations. For Kirk 7 , established religion is among the traditions that conservatives value. But religious belief is not essential to conservatism, and Oakeshott was a secular conservative Cowling, xv. But they caused a stormy reaction from radicals. The parliament or the people of …had no more right to dispose of the people of the present day…. Paine Your imagination would have taken fire. Wollstonecraft In his later career, liberals believed, Burke showed himself a prisoner of the feudal and landed conception of society.
For most of his career, he was regarded as a moderate reforming Whig, campaigning against the corruption and brutality of the East India Company. Only at the end did he become the Tory scourge of Revolution. Indeed, Reflections is liberal compared to Letters on a Regicide Peace five years later, which demanded a war abroad and repression at home to extirpate revolutionary infection.
The 19 th century regarded him as a liberal, treating his later career as an aberration—an interpretation reversed in the 20 th century. Marx scathingly dismissed Burke as an opportunist:. The sycophant—who in the pay of the English oligarchy played the romantic…against the French Revolution just as, in the pay of the North American colonies…he had played the liberal against the English oligarchy—was an out-and-out vulgar bourgeois. Burke, l. Churchill 40—like Burke, he changed party and so may have identified with him. Was he anti-reason, or just against abstract reason? Did he supplant individual with collective reason?
A subtler view is that for him, individual reason cannot discern fully how social and political institutions work; it cannot see the entire process of communal adaptation, or understand by itself the principles on which it is based. As Hampsher-Monk puts it, institutions result from trial and error, embodying accumulated historical experience in institutional reason—like precedent within Common Law, which Burke had studied. Pocock ff. The British and American common law system is evolutionary, not abstract like Roman and Napoleonic coded law.
Judgment according to precedent, unlike a priori codified law, is better able to anticipate new circumstances. Burke [credited] educated prejudice as an antidote to its bigoted forms. This did not entail a renunciation of reason, but a suspicion of its inordinate pretensions. Bourke, in Dwan and Insole Scruton echoes Burke when he argues that beliefs that appear to be examples of prejudice may be useful and important; the attempt to justify them will merely lead to their loss. One might show prejudice as irrational, but there will be a loss if it is discarded Scruton We are afraid to put men to live and trade each on his own private stock of reason…the stock in each man is small, and…individuals would do better to avail themselves of the general bank and capital of nations and of ages….
Prejudice is of ready application in the emergency; it previously engages the mind in a steady course of wisdom and virtue and does not leave the man hesitating in the moment of decision sceptical, puzzled, and unresolved. Rejecting the dominant individualist cognitive tradition in Western epistemology, Burke regards political reason as historically accumulated in developed social institutions—including an unwritten constitution, practices of representation, and dispositions notably of compromise. According to Himmelfarb, there is for Burke good reason—reason itself—to praise prejudice, which exists on a continuum with theoretical reason Himmelfarb b.
However, Hampsher-Monk argues that. For Hume and Burke this is a customary framework; for religious thinkers such as Cardinal Newman it is fideistic, appealing to the extra-rational authority of religious doctrine. Prejudice is normative; the inability to subsume particular actions under a universal law does not imply radical relativism Vannatta For the classical liberal, in contrast, reason precisely does not operate within customary frameworks.
Burkean conservatism influenced Continental European traditions, but these also had a separate development. De Tocqueville —59 was probably the most Burkean among 19 th century Continental conservatives in his condemnation of the French Revolution:. Our revolutionaries had the same fondness for broad generalisations, cut-and-dried legislative systems, and a pedantic symmetry; the same contempt for hard facts; the same taste for reshaping institutions on novel, ingenious, original lines…[for reconstructing] the entire system instead of trying to rectify its faulty parts.
Though Beiser argues that they arrived at their position independently. The historians von Savigny — and von Ranke — assumed a Burkean organic development of societies. To reiterate, reaction is not Burkean conservatism, however. De Maistre — was a reactionary critic of reason, intellectuals and universal rights. In an alternative tradition to Burkean conservatism, Continental conservatives have subscribed to Thomist or Hegelian traditions, resulting in rational or systematic conservatism—which might include reactionary forms.
John Gray argues that. Conservatives have sometimes disdained theoretical reflection on political life, implying that political knowledge is…best left inarticulate, uncorrupted by rationalist systematising. The [19 th and 20 th ] centuries are nevertheless replete with conservative thought…as systematic and reflective as any found in the liberal tradition. Gray 78—9. Rational conservatives are, who maintain that a community with a hierarchy of authority is most conducive to human well-being—though they also regard agent-relative virtues such as loyalty and patriotism as fundamental, holding that it is universally true that patriotism is a virtue.
This is clearly the standpoint of authority rather than the standpoint of freedom see 1. Hegel — is a key figure in the understanding of rational conservatism. Surprisingly for a standpoint that stresses the value of experience, conservatism—Hume excepted—has been associated more with Idealism than with empiricism; philosophical empiricists have commonly been radicals. Hegel has been claimed for conservatism, but his political affiliation has been disputed since his earliest disciples.
For them, Geist did not invoke a transcendent power, as some Right Hegelians maintained, but was an anthropological and historical process of emancipation, propelled by contradiction and struggle. In the 20 th century, Hegel was regarded alternatively as a proto-totalitarian reactionary, a conservative, or a liberal. Hegel was ambivalent towards the French Revolution, the world-historical event against which his generation thought out their political philosophy and stance towards the Enlightenment Taylor Hegel Hegel — Some writers thus claim Hegel for liberalism rather than conservatism, regarding his philosophy as.
The contemporary consensus sees Hegel as attempting to synthesise liberalism and conservatism. For Cristi, his rapprochement is not an eclectic blend of liberal and conservative strands of thought, but a systematic synthesis:. Cristi —20, While Hegel does not appeal to non-human natural law or providential order, he attempts to reconcile human reason with historical laws and institutions:.
For Hegel, unlike Burke, the political order must ultimately be justified to human reason, although not in the individualistic manner that typifies Enlightenment rationalism. Franco The Idea of the state unites its divine character with the Rousseauean view that it is the product of human will and rationality Franco The essence of the modern state is that the universal should be linked with the complete freedom of particularity and the well-being of individuals…the personal knowledge and volition of the particular individuals who must retain their rights…Only when both moments are present in full measure can the state be regarded as…truly organised.
Hegel argues that in morality and politics, we judge for ourselves, but not by ourselves. We come to recognise rational norms historically, as actualised; we always reason in terms of the norms of our society, which we must nonetheless endorse only reflectively. But for Skorupski, Hegel holds that free thought or natural reason must be mediated by entrenched institutions of intellectual and spiritual authority: for Aquinas, the Church, for Hegel, a tradition of communal ethical life.
The right and the moral must have the ethical as their support and foundation, for the right lacks…subjectivity, while morality in turn possesses this [alone]. Hegel accepts that an ethical life is historically contingent, even arbitrary, in content, yet insists on its essential role in every society, and its need to develop organically.
For him, some kinds of Sittlichkeit are more advanced than others; at any one time, a more advanced society drives world history forward by realising it in its institutions, customs, culture new ideas. This position goes beyond the minimal rationality and universality of conservatism, which makes no reference to historical advance. Samuel Taylor Coleridge is the thinker chiefly responsible for introducing German Idealism to English-speaking readers, though in the person of Kant rather than Hegel.
He declared that. Coleridge Coleridge argued for a national Church exercising spiritual, moral and cultural leadership, maintaining schools in conjunction with the state. CW : The work of major Victorian thinker and writer Thomas Carlyle — bears a complex relationship with conservatism; in his later career he was a reactionary. Conservatism does not rest on a defence of a landed nobility, monarchy and established church, so even though the United States lacks these, an American conservatism is possible.
Thus Gray argues that right-wing thought in the USA is almost exclusively neo-conservative and libertarian, with a. But it is probably true that Burkean conservatism has not produced thinkers in North America of the depth of its leading British representatives, Burke himself, Coleridge and Oakeshott. Henry Sidgwick — arguably belongs in the ranks of modern conservatives. When all relevant facts are taken into consideration [he holds] it will scarcely ever be right on Utilitarian grounds for a Utilitarian openly to break or to recommend others to break the rules of morality commonly accepted in his society.
Broad ; see also Collini Hayward notes, with exasperation, that rather than insisting. Hayward in Schultz ed. An important issue that connects the conservatism of Hume, Burke, Sidgwick is what people have reason to expect over time. Suppose one holds that justice requires X , but that people have long been doing Y , which is incompatible with X , and have entered into life-plans that assume that X is how things are. If one tries to make society more just by preventing people doing Y , that in itself is an unjust action.
But in our actual imperfect world. Every reform of an imperfect practice or institution is likely to be unfair to someone …To change the rules in the middle of the game, even when those rules were not altogether fair, will disappoint the honest expectations of those whose prior commitments and life plans were made in genuine reliance on the…old rules. The propriety of changing the rules in a given case depends upon inter alia the degree of unfairness of the old rules and the extent and degree of the reliance placed upon them…we must weigh quite legitimate incompatible claims against each other in circumstances such that whichever judgment is reached it will be unfair to someone or other Feinberg Michael Oakeshott —90 was the last major exponent of the Idealist tradition, which enjoyed a period of eminence in Anglophone philosophy in the later 19 th and early 20 th century.
He has been regarded as a liberal Franco , while others claim him for the afore-mentioned maverick right Anderson 7. But Oakeshott is generally regarded as the most important modern conservative. Oakeshott He contrasted a state that has an economy, with a state effectively reduced to an economy, and bemoaned the domination of politics by the pursuit of economic growth as opposed to the good life. For Oakeshott, human knowledge is not the mother of practice, but only its stepchild…an exfoliation from [practices] that we have inherited…When we theorise our practices, we are discerning coherences within them, not imposing form without any set of abstract principles.
Gray , Other Internet Resources. In his book of essays Rationalism in Politics , Oakeshott is concerned with how the rationalist conception of knowledge has operated to the detriment of practice. This conception of knowledge holds that all genuine knowledge can be expressed entirely in propositional terms, in a theoretical system, or a set of rules or maxims.
Oakeshott holds that in the modern world, the resulting instrumental rationality has penetrated inappropriate areas such as law, education and the arts—his thought thus interestingly parallels that of Critical Theorists such as Adorno, and also Heidegger. Means-end thinking concerning the state is particularly inappropriate, as we have no choice but to belong to it, Oakeshott maintains. Politics is not the science of setting up a permanently impregnable society, it is the art of knowing where to go next in the exploration of an already existing traditional kind of society.
Ideologists make everything political, but politics is only a part of human life, he holds. For Oakeshott, civil associations, are fundamental to modern, free democracies, and opposed to the modern interventionist state. Enterprise associations, in contrast, are defined by a common purpose; society is not one of them. Politics, for Oakeshott, belongs to the mode of practice, along with religion and morality; the two other modes are science and history. We again see that conservatism, although a practical standpoint that appeals to experience, does not rest on philosophical empiricism.
Oakeshott is a Burkean particularist sceptic, for whom politics concerns people developing ways of living together in light of their history and traditions, not driven by universal extrinsic goals such as equality or elimination of poverty:. In political activity…men sail a boundless and bottomless sea: there is neither harbour for shelter nor floor for anchorage, neither starting-place nor appointed destination. The enterprise is to keep afloat on an even keel… When the mechanic has to mend a watch, he lets the wheels run out, but the living watchworks of the state have to be repaired while they act, and a wheel has to be exchanged for another during its revolutions.
Aesthetic Education , Letter 3. However, Gamble adds, that disposition gains substance from its connection with national ways of life and traditions:. For Oakeshott, the past conceived in this way is intensely liberating because it is a repository of a wealth of practical knowledge, which is needed to live the good life. Gamble For him, conversation is the model of education. In a position reminiscent of J. Unlike many non-Millian liberals, however, Oakeshott does not base his requirement of limited government in an abstract theory of human nature, and abstract rights.
Other notable 20 th century conservative thinkers include historian Maurice Cowling and philosopher Anthony Quinton. Probably the leading living thinker is Roger Scruton, who bases conservatism on three concepts: authority, allegiance and tradition Scruton He rejects post-Hobbesian contractualism, which presupposes. It is only somewhat Hegelian, because for Burkean conservatives, history lacks the moral or spiritual direction that Hegel discerned; there is no moral or spiritual progress, and people think collectively toward a common goal only during a crisis such as war.
As we saw, established power that originates in revolution poses a problem for conservatism. Non-relativistic conservatives 1. Relativistic conservatives, in contrast, might accept these systems. On his view, tradition is inescapable, and societies rather rigid. True conservatism is a decidedly English doctrine with little appeal…in other countries [because] only English and hence British institutions have ever been decent enough to allow a decent [person] to be conservative.
Graham —9. As conservatives such as Burke supported the Revolution, so they should support the non-violent uprisings of MacIntyre, We saw that Burke regarded tradition and individual reason as contradictory principles, but may have endorsed a notion of collective reason Beveridge and Turnbull Conservatives would reply that Burke does stress the importance of incremental change, while Oakeshott, like MacIntyre, has an interrogative attitude to tradition.
Moreover, the communitarian opposition to liberal values is limited, and does not extend to advocacy of religious intolerance and homogeneity or patriarchal authority see Taylor ; Waldron —though neither does the anti-liberalism of Burkean conservatives. A further consideration is that traditional methods may not always yield the most practical responses Scott Millian liberalism is less subject to the conservative charge of rationalism. As Gamble puts it,.
Oakeshott rejects the universal claims of liberalism, because he is only interested in claims that are grounded in English political experience. Bentham and—on some views—Burke seem to conceive only of legal rights; but if one can make sense of moral obligation, one can make sense of abstract rights. Some writers on the left find value in conservatism. Minogue holds that. As Kant wrote,.
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But as they are ought to read as we have made them by unjust coercion, by treacherous designs which the government is in a good position to carry out. Kant Neiman —9. Men make their own history, but [not] under circumstances chosen by themselves…The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living. Marx While Lenin aimed to impose a socialist blueprint through a vanguard party of specialists, for his Marxist critics Luxemburg and Kollontai, revolutionary tasks are unknowable in advance:.
Given the uncertainty of the endeavour, a plurality of experiments and initiatives will best reveal which lines of attack are fruitful…[and produce] a creative, conscious…and empowered working class. Scott —9. Lord Hugh Cecil postulates within modern conservatism what he calls innate conservatism: a psychological characteristic found in all people to some degree Cecil For C. D Broad, it has two sides:. The more worthy side [rational scepticism] [says] that social problems are so very complex that there is always a strong probability that some factor has been overlooked in any scheme of change…The less respectable side [mental inertia] is the dislike of novelty as such.
Rational scepticism, as a motive for rejecting a scheme that offers to remove admitted evils, involves two applications of probability. The first is…that social affairs are so complex that it is very improbable that all the effects of a given social change have been foreseen. But…we must have some ground for judging further that the unforeseen effects are more likely to be bad than good…this judgment cannot rest on the known nature of the effects of this particular measure [but only] on some general proposition, such as: It is more probable that the unforeseen effects of any social change will be bad than that they will be good.
Broad Broad is alluding to the fact that every philosophical standpoint must confront the problem of how to treat its own defining claims, by its own lights. Conservatism seems unduly pessimistic about the possibility of individual, explicit knowledge of society, therefore. There are some things about society that we can come to know—and government economic policy, for instance, seems justifiably dedicated to finding them out.
Conservatives must concede that radical change is sometimes acceptable; some major changes, for instance votes for women, are good. These must be prepared for—as they were in Britain in , compared with, say, —and preparing for change makes it less radical. What conservatives will insist is it that revolutionary change is unacceptable. Especially since the advent of green politics, there have been conservatives advocates for ecological conservation. A less noticed parallel is that between the opposition of cultural conservation and modernism, and that of conservatism and revolutionary Jacobinism Cohen , Other Internet Resources.
Conservatives would criticise both developments. Leading modernist poet T.
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Eliot — was also an important conservative thinker, and so occupies an ambivalent position. In contrast, the classical repertoire of Western art music is open and flexible, operating—when circumstances are propitious—as a living presence in contemporary culture. On a less exalted aesthetic level, the tuxedo is a living sartorial classic in this sense. These cultural issues are central to G. In this sense, everyone is conservative to some degree—for instance, in preferring to have cash in their pocket rather than converting to a cashless society.
Conservationism originated in the Victorian era. Morris argued that one should take delight in the history of old public buildings, and not seek to restore them to some pristine state of perfection. For Cohen, conservatives aim to conserve particular valuable things, rather than maximising value. The conservative policy is not to keep the value rating high but to keep the things that now contribute to that rating. Cohen 15, Other Internet Resources. Conservatism is a relatively expensive taste, because it sacrifices value, in order not to sacrifice things that have value. It does not follow that conservatives welcome good new things any less than non-conservatives do, Cohen argues.
However, Cohen continues, conservatives can regard modernisation as beneficial overall, while lamenting what has been lost—admiring a splendid new building, yet grieving over what it replaced. Market and planning logics tend against the truth that people want particular valuable things, not just satisfaction of general desiderata…market mania is deeply anti-conservative…If you want everything to be optimal, nothing will be good. Some things have to just be…there, if anything is to be good.
Cohen 28, Other Internet Resources. But although relativistic conservatives accept socially prevalent valuations, revising them piecemeal on the basis of internal inconsistency or impracticality, non-relativistic conservatives might deny that value can be quantified at all. This model rejects the blueprint model involving an individual creator. Rather, the town or building evolves—apparently spontaneously, over generations—without reference to a blueprint, and often without stylistic consistency. The church as a building—or on the conservative model, a society—are like organisms, seemingly not the product of individual intentional action, but evolving naturally.
Most English parish churches of medieval foundation were not built according to a single design, but developed by addition and subtraction; in the Middle Ages there was no profession of architect, and apparently little idea of an intentional, uniform schema generated prior to construction:.
A church building is inherently conservative, and except for the extraordinary intervention, changed very slowly. A large proportion of churches had been founded by at least the late 12 th century, many appearing in the Doomsday census of Elements from these early buildings often survive in the doorways or the base of towers, showing typical rounded arches and massive walls of the Norman style.
Additions over time could include a reconstructed window, a new baptismal font, a tomb sculpture, or a series of carved wooden choir stalls for the clergy, attesting to differing eras of piety and style. Stanbury and Raguin , Other Internet Resources. The parallel with conservative political thought is suggested by Scruton in his discussion of public space Scruton ; see also Hamilton, forthcoming. Scruton advocates a public art form on an urban scale, in the manner of treatises on urban decorum from the Renaissance onwards, which subordinate the style of the individual building to the whole.
Unlike models that achieve this subordination by conscious planning, Scruton envisages a process akin to the self-ordering of an ideal competitive market. The debate in architecture and aesthetics parallels that in the political sphere. For the conservative, there has to be some criterion of value in past things, involving in part their participation in a living tradition. To develop and defend such a criterion is one of the major challenges facing conservative thinkers, in both political and cultural spheres.
Conservatism First published Sat Aug 1, The Nature of Conservatism 1. The Development of Conservative Thought 2. Critiques of conservatism 3. Communitarian critique 3. Hoppit David Hume — is sometimes regarded as a conservative. Cobban 75 For conservatives, abstract propositions cannot be simply applied to specific circumstances.
Reform must be practically and not theoretically-based: I must see with my own eyes…touch with my own hands not only the fixed but the momentary circumstances, before I could venture to suggest any political project whatsoever Burke, WS III: For Kekes, conservatism adopts a stance of scepticism between extremes of rationalism and fideism belief based on faith , and steers a middle course of pessimism between claims of perfectibility and corruptibility 54, 89, Conservatives aim to conserve the political arrangements that have historically shown themselves to be conducive to good lives thus understood 27 ; they regard history [as] the best guide to understanding the present and planning for the future.
For Graham, conservative scepticism is not so much a scepticism about the moral perfection of mankind, as a scepticism about the knowledge necessary in politics. As Oakeshott argues A plan to resist all planning may be better than its opposite, but it belongs to the same style of politics. For him it is the intellectual justification of inequality and privilege, and the political justification of the authoritative relationships such inequalities and privileges demand. Aughey 23; also Honderich 45 It is true that no revolution has proclaimed inequality, while for Burke, the social order is rooted in it; and conservatives may defend an established ruling class, regarding ruling as a skill likely to be most highly developed there.
While conservatism should not be assimilated with neo-conservatism or neo-liberalism, many conservatives have converted to the latter: A political outlook that in Burke, Disraeli and Salisbury was sceptical of the project of the Enlightenment and suspicious of the promise of progress has mortgaged its future on a wager on indefinite economic growth and unfettered market forces. Gray 88 Scruton also laments this development, while John Harris comments on the enduring tensions that Thatcher exposed in Conservatism: If you profess to believe in both the unrestrained market and such old Tory touchstones as family, nation and community, you will Conservative thinking expresses the standpoint of paternalism: …the value of individual liberty is not absolute, but stands subject to…the authority of established government…the conservative will seek to uphold all those practices and institutions through which habits of allegiance are acquired.
Scruton 19, 30 Obedience, for Scruton, is the principal virtue of political subjects, without which societies atomise and crumble; real freedom is not in conflict with obedience, but is its other side Scruton, For Beiser, paternalism holds that the purpose of the state is to promote the welfare, religion and morality of its subjects, and not only to protect their rights. As Steiner comments, When Burke reflected and published, the French Revolution was in its Arcadian phase [and] his bloodstained previsions seemed nearly hysterical…Retroactively… his sombre clairvoyance took on formidable weight.
In a speech of , he held it preposterous to take the theories which learned and speculative men have made from that government, and then, supposing it made on those theories which were made from it, to accuse that government as not corresponding with them. As Pocock writes, the reason of the living, though it might clearly enough discern the disadvantages, might not fully perceive the advantages of existing and ancient institutions; there is always more in laws and institutions than [meets] the eye of critical reason. But to reiterate, Burke advocated organic and restorative reform, not reaction: a nation without the means of its own reform is without the means of its own preservation.
Burke, WS III: 83 Burke mistrusted appeals beyond positive law, but his writings on India allow, in its absence, an appeal to natural law though not natural right. Burke misrepresents the social contract of Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau as a rather temporary expedient, nothing better than a partnership agreement in a trade of pepper and coffee, calico, or tobacco, or some other such low concern, to be taken up for a little temporary interest, and to be dissolved by the fancy of the parties. Burke, WS III: But his position is genuinely distinct from theirs in crossing the generations: [The state] is a partnership in all science; a partnership in all art; a partnership in every virtue…As [its] ends…cannot be obtained in many generations, it becomes a partnership…between those who are living, those who are dead, and those who are to be born.
Ferguson Burke was a Christian thinker whose conservatism has been traced to his theological presuppositions Harris ; Cobban 94 ; he saw atheistic Jacobinism as a threat to Western cultural tradition. Mary Wollstonecraft, in her pamphlet A Vindication of the Rights of Men , said that had you been a Frenchman, you would have been, in spite of your respect for rank and antiquity, a violent revolutionist. Wollstonecraft 44 In his later career, liberals believed, Burke showed himself a prisoner of the feudal and landed conception of society.
Marx scathingly dismissed Burke as an opportunist: The sycophant—who in the pay of the English oligarchy played the romantic…against the French Revolution just as, in the pay of the North American colonies…he had played the liberal against the English oligarchy—was an out-and-out vulgar bourgeois. Others have variously attempted to reconcile the earlier and later Burke. Churchill argued that the Burke of Liberty and the Burke of Authority [sought] the same ideals of society and Government…defining them from assaults, now from one extreme, now from the other.
Bourke, in Dwan and Insole 29 Scruton echoes Burke when he argues that beliefs that appear to be examples of prejudice may be useful and important; the attempt to justify them will merely lead to their loss. Burke is opposed not to reason, but to the arrogance of individual reason, therefore: We are afraid to put men to live and trade each on his own private stock of reason…the stock in each man is small, and…individuals would do better to avail themselves of the general bank and capital of nations and of ages….
Burke, WS III: Rejecting the dominant individualist cognitive tradition in Western epistemology, Burke regards political reason as historically accumulated in developed social institutions—including an unwritten constitution, practices of representation, and dispositions notably of compromise. De Tocqueville —59 was probably the most Burkean among 19 th century Continental conservatives in his condemnation of the French Revolution: Our revolutionaries had the same fondness for broad generalisations, cut-and-dried legislative systems, and a pedantic symmetry; the same contempt for hard facts; the same taste for reshaping institutions on novel, ingenious, original lines…[for reconstructing] the entire system instead of trying to rectify its faulty parts.
John Gray argues that Conservatives have sometimes disdained theoretical reflection on political life, implying that political knowledge is…best left inarticulate, uncorrupted by rationalist systematising. Hegel — Rousseau put forward the will as the principle of the state, a principle which has thought not only as its form [but also] its content, and which is in fact thinking itself. Franco 3 The contemporary consensus sees Hegel as attempting to synthesise liberalism and conservatism. Cristi —20, While Hegel does not appeal to non-human natural law or providential order, he attempts to reconcile human reason with historical laws and institutions: For Hegel, unlike Burke, the political order must ultimately be justified to human reason, although not in the individualistic manner that typifies Enlightenment rationalism.
Hegel thus synthesises the universal and the particular: The essence of the modern state is that the universal should be linked with the complete freedom of particularity and the well-being of individuals…the personal knowledge and volition of the particular individuals who must retain their rights…Only when both moments are present in full measure can the state be regarded as…truly organised.
He declared that the consequences of the heroic medicines recommended by the Revolutionists [are] far more dreadful than the disease. Thus Gray argues that right-wing thought in the USA is almost exclusively neo-conservative and libertarian, with a virtual absence…of anything comparable to European conservatism…United States conservative thought is merely an indigenous variation on classical liberal themes of limited government, individualism and economic progress [reflecting the] near-ubiquity in American intellectual culture of individualist, universalist and Enlightenment themes.
Hayward notes, with exasperation, that rather than insisting that Sidgwick should be classified as this or that…it is extremely difficult to classify him at all. But in our actual imperfect world Every reform of an imperfect practice or institution is likely to be unfair to someone …To change the rules in the middle of the game, even when those rules were not altogether fair, will disappoint the honest expectations of those whose prior commitments and life plans were made in genuine reliance on the…old rules.
These are very Burkean themes.
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As Gray puts it, For Oakeshott, human knowledge is not the mother of practice, but only its stepchild…an exfoliation from [practices] that we have inherited…When we theorise our practices, we are discerning coherences within them, not imposing form without any set of abstract principles. Gray , Other Internet Resources In his book of essays Rationalism in Politics , Oakeshott is concerned with how the rationalist conception of knowledge has operated to the detriment of practice.
Oakeshott is a Burkean particularist sceptic, for whom politics concerns people developing ways of living together in light of their history and traditions, not driven by universal extrinsic goals such as equality or elimination of poverty: In political activity…men sail a boundless and bottomless sea: there is neither harbour for shelter nor floor for anchorage, neither starting-place nor appointed destination.
However, Gamble adds, that disposition gains substance from its connection with national ways of life and traditions: For Oakeshott, the past conceived in this way is intensely liberating because it is a repository of a wealth of practical knowledge, which is needed to live the good life.
He rejects post-Hobbesian contractualism, which presupposes shared institutions and a conception of human freedom which could not have their origin in a social contract which they serve to make possible. Communitarian critique As we saw, established power that originates in revolution poses a problem for conservatism. As Gamble puts it, Oakeshott rejects the universal claims of liberalism, because he is only interested in claims that are grounded in English political experience.
The great American charters of the late 18 th century are, for him, abridgements of British political experience, solidified into an eternal document. Gamble Bentham and—on some views—Burke seem to conceive only of legal rights; but if one can make sense of moral obligation, one can make sense of abstract rights. For Marx, in The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte , tradition is a dead weight: Men make their own history, but [not] under circumstances chosen by themselves…The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living.
While Lenin aimed to impose a socialist blueprint through a vanguard party of specialists, for his Marxist critics Luxemburg and Kollontai, revolutionary tasks are unknowable in advance: Given the uncertainty of the endeavour, a plurality of experiments and initiatives will best reveal which lines of attack are fruitful…[and produce] a creative, conscious…and empowered working class. Scott —9 On this view, radical change need not involve a fixed blueprint. D Broad, it has two sides: The more worthy side [rational scepticism] [says] that social problems are so very complex that there is always a strong probability that some factor has been overlooked in any scheme of change…The less respectable side [mental inertia] is the dislike of novelty as such.
He continues: Rational scepticism, as a motive for rejecting a scheme that offers to remove admitted evils, involves two applications of probability. Broad Broad is alluding to the fact that every philosophical standpoint must confront the problem of how to treat its own defining claims, by its own lights. Cultural conservatism and conservation Especially since the advent of green politics, there have been conservatives advocates for ecological conservation.
Cohen 15, Other Internet Resources Conservatism is a relatively expensive taste, because it sacrifices value, in order not to sacrifice things that have value. Most English parish churches of medieval foundation were not built according to a single design, but developed by addition and subtraction; in the Middle Ages there was no profession of architect, and apparently little idea of an intentional, uniform schema generated prior to construction: A church building is inherently conservative, and except for the extraordinary intervention, changed very slowly.
Stanbury and Raguin , Other Internet Resources The parallel with conservative political thought is suggested by Scruton in his discussion of public space Scruton ; see also Hamilton, forthcoming. Bibliography Abel, C. Anderson, P. Appiah, K. Arnold, M. Archer, J. Ashford, N. Aughey, A. Jones, and W. Beiser, F. Beveridge, C. Botwinick, A. Boucher, D. Bourke, R. Broad, C.
Burke, E. Pocock ed. Cambridge, MA: Hackett. Canavan, F. Churchill, W. Claeys, G. Clark, J. Cobban, A. White ed. IV , London, Collini, S. Schultz ed. Cowling, M. Craig, D. Cressy, D. Cristi, F. Dancy, J.
Deane, S. De Tocqueville, A. They believed, for example, that natural phenomena occurs because of certain rules made by god , not because god interfered directly unlike Al-Ghazali and his followers. Other notable political philosophers of the time include Nizam al-Mulk , a Persian scholar and vizier of the Seljuq Empire who composed the Siyasatnama , or the "Book of Government" in English. In it, he details the role of the state in terms of political affairs i. In his other work, he explains how the state should deal with other issues such as supplying jobs to immigrants like the Turkmens who were coming from the north present day southern Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
The 14th-century Arab scholar Ibn Khaldun is considered one of the greatest political theorists. The British philosopher-anthropologist Ernest Gellner considered Ibn Khaldun's definition of government , " For Ibn Khaldun, government should be restrained to a minimum for as a necessary evil, it is the constraint of men by other men. Medieval political philosophy in Europe was heavily influenced by Christian thinking. It had much in common with the Mutazilite Islamic thinking in that the Roman Catholics thought subordinating philosophy to theology did not subject reason to revelation but in the case of contradictions, subordinated reason to faith as the Asharite of Islam.
The Scholastics by combining the philosophy of Aristotle with the Christianity of St. Augustine emphasized the potential harmony inherent in reason and revelation. Thomas Aquinas who helped reintroduce Aristotle 's works, which had only been transmitted to Catholic Europe through Muslim Spain, along with the commentaries of Averroes.
Aquinas's use of them set the agenda, for scholastic political philosophy dominated European thought for centuries even unto the Renaissance. Some medieval political philosophers, such as Aquinas in his Summa Theologica , developed the idea that a king who is a tyrant is no king at all and could be overthrown. Others, like Nicole Oresme in his Livre de Politiques , categorically denied this right to overthrow an unjust ruler. The Magna Carta , viewed by many as a cornerstone of Anglo-American political liberty, explicitly proposes the right to revolt against the ruler for justice's sake.
Other documents similar to Magna Carta are found in other European countries such as Spain and Hungary. During the Renaissance secular political philosophy began to emerge after about a century of theological political thought in Europe. While the Middle Ages did see secular politics in practice under the rule of the Holy Roman Empire , the academic field was wholly scholastic and therefore Christian in nature. That work, as well as The Discourses , a rigorous analysis of classical antiquity , did much to influence modern political thought in the West.
A minority including Jean-Jacques Rousseau interpreted The Prince as a satire meant to be given to the Medici after their recapture of Florence and their subsequent expulsion of Machiavelli from Florence. At any rate, Machiavelli presents a pragmatic and somewhat consequentialist view of politics, whereby good and evil are mere means used to bring about an end—i.
Thomas Hobbes , well known for his theory of the social contract , goes on to expand this view at the start of the 17th century during the English Renaissance. Although neither Machiavelli nor Hobbes believed in the divine right of kings, they both believed in the inherent selfishness of the individual. It was necessarily this belief that led them to adopt a strong central power as the only means of preventing the disintegration of the social order.
During the Enlightenment period, new theories emerged about what the human was and is and about the definition of reality and the way it was perceived, along with the discovery of other societies in the Americas, and the changing needs of political societies especially in the wake of the English Civil War , the American Revolution , the French Revolution , and the Haitian Revolution.
These theorists were driven by two basic questions: one, by what right or need do people form states; and two, what the best form for a state could be. These fundamental questions involved a conceptual distinction between the concepts of "state" and "government. The term "government" would refer to a specific group of people who occupied the institutions of the state, and create the laws and ordinances by which the people, themselves included, would be bound. This conceptual distinction continues to operate in political science , although some political scientists, philosophers, historians and cultural anthropologists have argued that most political action in any given society occurs outside of its state, and that there are societies that are not organized into states that nevertheless must be considered in political terms.
As long as the concept of natural order was not introduced, the social sciences could not evolve independently of theistic thinking. Since the cultural revolution of the 17th century in England, which spread to France and the rest of Europe, society has been considered subject to natural laws akin to the physical world. Political and economic relations were drastically influenced by these theories as the concept of the guild was subordinated to the theory of free trade , and Roman Catholic dominance of theology was increasingly challenged by Protestant churches subordinate to each nation-state , which also in a fashion the Roman Catholic Church often decried angrily preached in the vulgar or native language of each region.
However, the enlightenment was an outright attack on religion, particularly Christianity. After Voltaire, religion would never be the same again in France. In the Ottoman Empire , these ideological reforms did not take place and these views did not integrate into common thought until much later.
As well, there was no spread of this doctrine within the New World and the advanced civilizations of the Aztec , Maya , Inca , Mohican , Delaware, Huron and especially the Iroquois. The Iroquois philosophy in particular gave much to Christian thought of the time and in many cases actually inspired some of the institutions adopted in the United States: for example, Benjamin Franklin was a great admirer of some of the methods of the Iroquois Confederacy , and much of early American literature emphasized the political philosophy of the natives.
John Locke in particular exemplified this new age of political theory with his work Two Treatises of Government. In it Locke proposes a state of nature theory that directly complements his conception of how political development occurs and how it can be founded through contractual obligation. Locke stood to refute Sir Robert Filmer 's paternally founded political theory in favor of a natural system based on nature in a particular given system. The theory of the divine right of kings became a passing fancy, exposed to the type of ridicule with which John Locke treated it.
Unlike Machiavelli and Hobbes but like Aquinas, Locke would accept Aristotle's dictum that man seeks to be happy in a state of social harmony as a social animal. Unlike Aquinas's preponderant view on the salvation of the soul from original sin , Locke believes man's mind comes into this world as tabula rasa. For Locke, knowledge is neither innate, revealed nor based on authority but subject to uncertainty tempered by reason, tolerance and moderation.
According to Locke, an absolute ruler as proposed by Hobbes is unnecessary, for natural law is based on reason and seeking peace and survival for man. The Marxist critique of capitalism—developed with Friedrich Engels —was, alongside liberalism and fascism, one of the defining ideological movements of the twentieth century.
The industrial revolution produced a parallel revolution in political thought. Urbanization and capitalism greatly reshaped society. During this same period, the socialist movement began to form. In the midth century, Marxism was developed, and socialism in general gained increasing popular support, mostly from the urban working class. Without breaking entirely from the past, Marx established principles that would be used by future revolutionaries of the 20th century namely Vladimir Lenin , Mao Zedong , Ho Chi Minh , and Fidel Castro.
Though Hegel 's philosophy of history is similar to Immanuel Kant 's, and Karl Marx 's theory of revolution towards the common good is partly based on Kant's view of history—Marx declared that he was turning Hegel's dialectic, which was "standing on its head", "the right side up again".
In addition, the various branches of anarchism , with thinkers such as Mikhail Bakunin , Pierre-Joseph Proudhon or Peter Kropotkin , and syndicalism also gained some prominence. In the Anglo-American world, anti-imperialism and pluralism began gaining currency at the turn of the 20th century. World War I was a watershed event in human history, changing views of governments and politics.
The Russian Revolution of and similar, albeit less successful, revolutions in many other European countries brought communism —and in particular the political theory of Leninism , but also on a smaller level Luxemburgism gradually —on the world stage. At the same time, social democratic parties won elections and formed governments for the first time, often as a result of the introduction of universal suffrage. From the end of World War II until , when John Rawls published A Theory of Justice , political philosophy declined in the Anglo-American academic world, as analytic philosophers expressed skepticism about the possibility that normative judgments had cognitive content, and political science turned toward statistical methods and behavioralism.
In continental Europe, on the other hand, the postwar decades saw a huge blossoming of political philosophy, with Marxism dominating the field. Communism remained an important focus especially during the s and s. Colonialism and racism were important issues that arose. In general, there was a marked trend towards a pragmatic approach to political issues, rather than a philosophical one.
Much academic debate regarded one or both of two pragmatic topics: how or whether to apply utilitarianism to problems of political policy, or how or whether to apply economic models such as rational choice theory to political issues. The rise of feminism , LGBT social movements and the end of colonial rule and of the political exclusion of such minorities as African Americans and sexual minorities in the developed world has led to feminist, postcolonial , and multicultural thought becoming significant.
This led to a challenge to the social contract by philosophers Charles W. Mills in his book The Racial Contract and Carole Pateman in her book The Sexual Contract that the social contract excluded persons of colour and women respectively. In Anglo-American academic political philosophy, the publication of John Rawls 's A Theory of Justice in is considered a milestone. Rawls used a thought experiment , the original position , in which representative parties choose principles of justice for the basic structure of society from behind a veil of ignorance.
Rawls also offered a criticism of utilitarian approaches to questions of political justice. Robert Nozick 's book Anarchy, State, and Utopia , which won a National Book Award , responded to Rawls from a libertarian perspective and gained academic respectability for libertarian viewpoints. Contemporaneously with the rise of analytic ethics in Anglo-American thought, in Europe several new lines of philosophy directed at critique of existing societies arose between the s and s. Most of these took elements of Marxist economic analysis, but combined them with a more cultural or ideological emphasis.
Along somewhat different lines, a number of other continental thinkers—still largely influenced by Marxism—put new emphases on structuralism and on a "return to Hegel ". Within the post- structuralist line though mostly not taking that label are thinkers such as Gilles Deleuze , Michel Foucault , Claude Lefort , and Jean Baudrillard. The Situationists were more influenced by Hegel; Guy Debord , in particular, moved a Marxist analysis of commodity fetishism to the realm of consumption, and looked at the relation between consumerism and dominant ideology formation.
Another debate developed around the distinct criticisms of liberal political theory made by Michael Walzer , Michael Sandel and Charles Taylor. The liberal - communitarian debate is often considered valuable for generating a new set of philosophical problems, rather than a profound and illuminating clash of perspective. Bell argue that, contra liberalism, communities are prior to individuals and therefore should be the center of political focus. Communitarians tend to support greater local control as well as economic and social policies which encourage the growth of social capital.
A pair of overlapping political perspectives arising toward the end of the 20th century are republicanism or neo- or civic-republicanism and the capability approach. The resurgent republican movement aims to provide an alternate definition of liberty from Isaiah Berlin 's positive and negative forms of liberty, namely "liberty as non-domination.
To a republican the mere status as a slave, regardless of how that slave is treated, is objectionable. Prominent republicans include historian Quentin Skinner , jurist Cass Sunstein , and political philosopher Philip Pettit. The capability approach, pioneered by economists Mahbub ul Haq and Amartya Sen and further developed by legal scholar Martha Nussbaum , understands freedom under allied lines: the real-world ability to act.
Both the capability approach and republicanism treat choice as something which must be resourced. In other words, it is not enough to be legally able to do something, but to have the real option of doing it. Current emphasis on "commoditization of the everyday" has been decried by many contemporary theorists, some of them arguing the full brunt of it would be felt in ten years' time. A prominent subject in recent political philosophy is the theory of deliberative democracy. A larger list of political philosophers is intended to be closer to exhaustive.
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An introduction to Political Philosophy. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, p. Macmillan International Higher Education. Lexington Books. The Arthashastra. Penguin UK. Mackenzie Greenwood Press. Deep and Deep Publications. Calcutta, Printed by order of the government, London reprinted, for J.