British Idealism and Political Theory

British Idealism and Political Theory
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Rather, there are more fundamental principles—do not force people to violate their core religious identities; do not legislate against the overwhelming democratic will of the people—which themselves explain why we get one verdict in one set of circumstances, and a different verdict in another. So he can acknowledge much of the context-sensitivity that Miller helpfully points us towards.

Well, according to Cohen, we can only explain why particular circumstances must be taken into account by providing more general principles that specify how they do so. Moreover, one requires such fundamental principles to adjudicate more borderline cases. To return to our example: what if the turban-wearing group is a sizeable minority, for example, but nowhere near a democratic majority—what policy is appropriate then? We want to make room for people to pursue the good life as they see it, informed by their own historical, cultural and religious perspectives—and not to be told by the state what is good for them and what to value.

But, as the old point goes, there is only reason to be tolerant if tolerance has a value that is not itself relative. And it is an important insight of political philosophy that not every moral truth is an appropriate basis for the state to legislate on. For instance, it might be that, as private individuals, we are morally obligated to give a lot more money to charities, especially to those in the developing world, than most of us do.

Past a certain point, individual citizens in a liberal society must be free to come up morally short—and it is citizens, not the state, that are accountable for such failings. But, once again, this does not show that political philosophy should not try to formulate universal principles. The claim that states should not enforce particular moral conceptions on people is itself a moral claim: a claim about what the state has the right to legitimately do.

And we need principles to fix the limits of the sphere in which the state is justified in compelling private citizens. If, like Miller, you think that there need not be such deeper universal principles underlying particular prescriptions, what does make such prescriptions appropriate in one context but not another? For example, Miller suggests that even basic democratic principles are not applicable in some societies.

Since formulating political principles is about articulating our convictions, says Miller, democratic principles may be inappropriate in a society where people do not support democracy. And this is not just a hypothetical scenario: recent polling data suggests that democracy does not always find popular support—even in countries such as Libya which have been portrayed as swept up in recent pro-democracy movements. One way to justify the claim that democratic principles do not apply in such countries would be to say that basic political structures ought to be arranged in the way the citizenry want them to be.

Whether convincing or not—and it looks rather self-defeating—Miller would be unlikely to pursue this line of argument. After all, it attempts to explain why democracy is appropriate in some contexts but not others in terms of a deeper principle: political structures should reflect the wishes of the citizenry. This is not just to say that our convictions are all we have to go on in working out what is just. Rather, it is to say that, since justice is a human invention, there is no fact of the matter about what is just: only what we think is just.

There is no way to fundamentally justify such claims, and all political philosophy can aspire to do is to articulate them and make them consistent.

What Did the British Idealists Ever Do for Us?

This puts us in a somewhat precarious position. When we have convictions about what is just, part of what makes them convictions is the feeling that they are not just arbitrary. Of course, you should acknowledge that not all others share your view and that they are entitled to their views. Most importantly, it is unclear what the point of giving a systematic articulation of our convictions would be if they were just arbitrary, and did not get at some deeper truth. If the convictions are arbitrary, why should I care what the convictions of my society as a whole are, as opposed to my own convictions, or those of my family, or gym club, or racial group?

Admittedly, Miller would probably not accept this somewhat nihilistic picture.

The University

British Idealism - influenced by the character of German Idealist thought at the end of the eighteenth century, developed by Kant, Fichte and Hegel - began to. British Idealism and Political Theory [David Boucher, Andrew Vincent] on giarosaclihochs.ga *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. British Idealism - influenced by the.

He does think that political philosophy should be more than a description of how we currently think. The question, however, is whether this is reconcilable with his view that justice is an invention, and that even the most fundamental norms should not be applied where they are not accepted. As many radical political philosophers have stressed, one key task of political philosophy is to alert us to the ways in which our existing political beliefs are distorted by bias and ideology, and thereby to seek to revise them.

Things can only be distorted if there is a truth to distort. It may be right that political philosophers will marginalise themselves by seeming wildly out of touch with reality.

Avital Simhony

Striking the balance here is a difficult task, and what strategy works best is an empirical question which we should not try to settle from the armchair. Nevertheless, these questions are not fundamentally about what justice is, but rather about how best to realise it. Does the exact methodology of political philosophy really affect its chance of influencing political practice?

A subtle methodological shift in the way political philosophy is practiced is unlikely to give it significantly more influence. In light of this, we should think twice about compromising its critical function, insofar as it has some influence through universities and think tanks, rather than put it in danger of becoming an apology for the failings of our society. Who was John Rawls? Ben Rogers looks at why he wrote it. The origins of globalisation : Can historians change the way we think about the modern world? Richard Rorty : He was arguably the most influential philosopher of our time: a radical American who is against war in Iraq — and against truth, reason and science.

Yet his radicalism turns out to be oddly disarming, argues Simon Blackburn. Forgotten password? We'll even send you our e-book— Writing with punch —with some of the finest writing from the Prospect archive, at no extra cost!

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Your password will then be emailed to you. Thank you for your support of Prospect and we hope that you enjoy everything the site has to offer. The influential wrongness of AJ Ayer. Why philosophy should be a carnival, not a museum.

Share with friends Facebook Twitter Linkedin Email. Alyson May 17, at As soon as a theocracy or one-party system denies some elements of the population any of these three pre-requisites, then rule of law is not open to improvement, to universal human rights or multi-culturalism.

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It is easy to stifle dissent when the penalties are too high to mount an effective challenge to the ruling cadres. Ramesh Raghuvanshi May 18, at What may philosopher wrote that one his unconscious autobiography. All philosophers are wrote about ideal society which they want to be come in reality. All readers are expected guidance from philosopher how live on earth.

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From Plato to Sartre. If they tell the truth people may stone them. Just consider how many generation of west abused to Machiavelli because he told truth. John Black May 18, at David Miller says that our sense of justice is a human construct. The human eye is not a human construct.

Are altruism and concern for others human constructs? We seem to share these impulses with other mammals and without them human society and species survival seem unlikely. Greg McColm May 18, at Actually, "realism" in political philosophy goes back to Thomas Hobbes and Machiavelli, and their are signs of it in Aristotle and Han Fei.

Meanwhile, this looks like a debate over situation ethics what should we do given the situation than political philosophy what is really happening?

Idealism (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

Charles May 19, at If you think Plato didn't concern himself with the messiness of the reality of politics as his wrote his Republic and Laws, the you haven't read either book ver well. By covering all major philosophers invol By covering all major philosophers involved in the movement not merely the most famous ones like Bradley, Green, McTaggart and Bosanquet but the lesser known figures like the Caird brothers, Henry Jones, A.

Pringle-Pattison and R.

Background

Eccleshall, R. This discussion also bears on the question of the relation of individualism and liberalism. They cannot be regarded fundamentally as abstractions either from things or from ideas; since both alike can, if anything is to be true of them, composed of nothing but concepts. This book offers an introduction to British Idealism through a study of each of the seven key thinkers - T. This concern began with the famous objection of F. On a related issue, Trainor argues that, unless one has a clear account of moral truth, one cannot have sound professional practice in social work and social policy.

Haldane and by looking at all branches of philosophy not just the familiar topics of ethics, political thought, and metaphysics but also the less well documented work on logic, religion, aesthetics and the history of philosophy the book brings out the movement's complex living pattern of unity and difference; something which other more limited accounts have tended to obscure. Pringle-Pattison , Haldane. Forgot password? Don't have an account? All Rights Reserved. OSO version 0. University Press Scholarship Online. JavaScript is currently disabled, this site works much better if you enable JavaScript in your browser.