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					                           and finally…
  5) Conservatism stifles         6) Inaccurate diagnosis of human
  progress:                       nature?
• Burke’s closed society        • Burke has little faith in man’s
  does not allow for existing     capability as a rational animal – this
  moral and social                forms the basis of his rejection of
  paradigms to be                 Enlightenment thought. Instead he
  challenged as this would        argues that humans are governed by
  lead to instability.            emotion & instinct.
• Pinchin uses the example      • Yet, is he right to be so sceptical?
  of clashes between              Liberals such as Mill will argue that
  science and the church.         individuals are able to apply reason in
• If moral certainty is to be     order to work out what is best for
  preserved then the              them. NB Liberalism is very much an
  outcome of such an              Enlightenment project.
  exchange may not be the       • Further, anarchists will also insist that
  truth.                          humans are capable of self
                                  government and should not be
                                  restricted by external influence.
    Many commentators differentiate
    between political and economic
    liberalism. Economic liberalism is
    sometimes referred to as
    “libertarianism” and is embraced by
    most Liberals and Conservatives. It
    advocates proliferation of the free
    market economy. Classical political
    liberalism, as advocated by J S Mill,
    focuses on individual freedom,
    expressed primarily in terms of freedom
    of speech and action. It is concerned
    with negative freedom, though recent
    manifestations advocate the positive e.g.
    Welfare Liberalism (Rawls – Original
    Position). Neo-liberalism is a term
    associated with the promotion of global
    free trade and rabid capitalism (guess
    where I pin my colours?!)
                     John Locke
• Key Work: Two Treatises of Civil Government.
• Ideology: Locke believed that the rights of
  individuals to life, liberty and estate come before
  the rights of society. He advocated a Social Contract
  Theory where the individual surrenders to the
  community his natural right to enforce the law of
  nature, in return for “the preservation of life,
  liberty and estate” by the community. Locke’s
  theory of government also established the
  “Separation of Powers” – legislative, executive and
Locke Quotes
 • "Government has no other end but the
   preservation of property."
 • "Where law ends, tyranny begins."
 • “The end of law is not to abolish or
   restrain, but to preserve and enlarge
   freedom. For in all the states of created
   beings capable of law, where there is no
   law, there is no freedom.”
 • “All mankind... being all equal and
   independent, no one ought to harm
   another in his life, health, liberty or
 • “Every man has a property in his own
   person. This nobody has a right to, but
 • Not hugely relevant, but one I like! -
   “Education begins the gentleman, but
   reading, good company and reflection
   must finish him.”
                The significance of law
• Each individual is aware of “natural laws” that include the
  right to liberty, equality, and self-preservation.
• Natural Laws are ordained by God and understood by all
  rational beings.
• Yet, each man will interpret the natural law differently,
  some using it to justify personal vendettas/ambition.
• As such, a social contract is again required to protect.
• Once entered, the social contract is totally binding and
  enforced by law. All who live under it are bound by it.
• The contract is established primarily to protect individual
  rights to life, liberty & property and is enforced by a
  limited government.
• As Nozick observes, Locke limits the State to that of a
  “protection agency”.
The central importance of Property
         • Locke argues that in the state of nature, God
           gave the earth to all human beings.
         • Men are free to make use of the earth’s
         • All humans are held to own their own
         • When they mix their labour with nature,
           that which they are utilising becomes their
           property and is no longer part of the
           common store. Consequently, humans can
           claim a natural right to property, upheld by
           the natural law.
         • Lockean provisos: i) no one should take more
           than they can make use of, ii) one must leave
           “enough and as good” for others.
                         Some Criticisms
• Nozick argues that it is difficult to justify the idea that mixing one’s
  labour with land gives one indefinite rights to that land – “If I own a
  can of tomato juice and spill it in the sea so that its molecules mingle
  evenly throughout the sea, do I thereby come to own the sea?”
  (Reductio ad absurdum)
• A right to inheritance of that land is even more difficult to uphold – if
  all is inherited, how can future generations “mix their labour?) – here
  it would seem that “property is theft!” (Proudhon)
• For Locke, property rights are an integral part of human freedom.
  Inequality simply reflects the way in which God rewards the
• Yet, such inequality surely excludes many from the freedoms that
  Locke appears to hold dear and does not satisfy any reasonable
  doctrine of distributive justice.
                                 John Stuart Mill
                                                  • Committed Utilitarian,
                                                    economist, activist, academic
                                                    and MP, Mill had a
                                                    considerable impact on the
                                                    world in which he lived and
                                                    continues to exert significant
                                                    influence in political thought
                                                  • Despite his obvious distaste
                                                    for the conservatism of his
                                                    day, modern conservatism
                                                    exhibits many liberal traits –
                                                    particularly economic ones.

The quote in full:
"I never meant to say that the Conservatives are generally stupid. I meant to say that stupid
people are generally Conservative. I believe that is so obviously and universally admitted a
principle that I hardly think any gentleman will deny it."
          Combining with Utilitarianism
• For Mill, his concept of freedom is underpinned by the
  principle of utility i.e. the experience of liberty inevitably
  leads to maximal happiness.
• This places enormous faith in the individual knowing what
  will make them happy.
• Yet, there is an apparent contradiction here – Mill’s
  writings on democracy suggest that the majority of people
  require representation as they do not always know what is
  good for them.
• Plus his qualitative utilitarianism appears paternalistic.
• That said, many critics have also argued that On Liberty
  focuses too much on negative freedom and fails to
  recognise the need to protect individuals from exploitation
  – Rawls later seeks to address this.
                  Negative Freedom
    “The only part of conduct of any one, for which he is
    amenable to society, is that which concerns others. In the
    part, which merely concerns himself, his independence is,
    of right, absolute. Over himself, over his own body and
    mind, the individual is sovereign.” (On Liberty)
•   Mill is obviously more concerned with “freedom from”
    (negative) rather than “freedom to” (positive).
•   The extent to which Mill was prepared to allow individual
    liberty was shocking to his contemporaries.
•   He advocated the “experiment of living” which serves to
    enliven both the individual and society
•   Liberty is also required if society is to resist stagnation.
                The harm principle
• “My freedom to swing my fist ends where your face
  begins” (Berlin summarising Mill)
• This quote sums up Mill’s central doctrine: that the
  individual has liberty in every aspect of existence other
  than that which causes harm to others.
• This emphasises negative, rather than positive freedom.
  Consequently, paternalism is rejected (though possible
  contradiction with writings on authority – see earlier notes)
• But what is harm? A strong criticism of the harm principle
  is that it fails to make clear what counts as harm.
• Physical harm is clear, but what of psychological damage?
• Mill agrees with Bentham’s diagnosis of
  natural nights as “nonsense on stilts”.
• He argues that freedom is not a natural
  right, but a right born of utilitarian
  justification i.e. reason is required to apply
  the principle of utility to the idea of a free
  future. It is only because freedom is
  advocated by this principle that it should
  be considered “a right”.

• NB Bentham believed Utilitarianism to be a
  scientific theory and rejected the idea the
  reason was required to implement it.
    Freedom of Speech and Action (Fallibility
• “If all mankind minus one were of one opinion, and only
  one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would
  be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if
  he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind.”
  (On Liberty)
• Controversial opinions/actions should never be suppressed
• 1, they may be right
• 2,even if wrong, discussion encourages better
• 3, if some truth is contained, discussion will enable it to
  come out.
• Mill claims that any attempt to suppress opinion is
  tantamount to claiming infallibility.
• He held a deep conviction that humans ought to
  pursue the truth and that this could not take place
  unless we open ourselves up to the possibility that
  we may be wrong and allow for change.
• Such a vision of the open society would obviously
  not be acceptable to conservatives such as Burke or
  absolutists such as Plato.
        Gibbs against the infallibility argument
• Gibbs criticises Mill’s infallibility argument – to remove freedom of
  speech infers infallibility. He argues that it is acceptable for a ruler to
  protect the public from dangerous opinion e.g. that British foreign
  policy is threatening national security.
• “A ruler might silence an opinion without assuming himself to be
  infallible, without even assuming that he knows this particular
  opinion to be false. He might know it to be true, and silence it
  because it is dangerous.”
• Such a perspective obviously runs contrary to Mill’s need for the
• Many would rather be subject to the consequences of the truth than
  have it denied them. (think Tom Cruise vs Jack Nicholson in A Few
  Good Men!)
• For others “Ignorance is bliss” (think Cypher in The Matrix – I don’t
  get out much!)
                  Gibbs on truth
• Gibbs also criticises Mill’s commitment to “truth”
• For Mill, the truth is always better than falsehood.
• This seems to contradict Mill’s commitment to a
  connection between utility and truth.
• Gibbs agrees that the truth is important, but claims
  that it should not take precedence over all else –
  “One would obviously have the
• Yet, Gibbs fails to show why this is the case.
• Mill very much directs his writing in favour of legal
  positivism. Morality is considered to be a private affair, not
  de jure (according to law).
• This stands in contrast to a more conservative perspective
  that advocates the overlapping thesis and commitment to
  a natural law theory.
• Mill also guards against “the tyranny of the majority” –
  social pressure to conform. Individuals should not have
  their freedom of speech/expression curtailed by the
  indignation of the masses – yes Mark, it’s alright to wear
  your mum’s Sunday dress. That said, there is no compulsion
  to approve of the behaviour/words of others.
• Devlin’s ideas were formed in response to
  the Wolfenden Report (1959) which
  recommended the decriminalisation of
• He argued that the idea of private morality
  harms society.
• Laws must reflect the moral values of
• In this sense, he is advocating an
  overlapping thesis (akin to natural law)
• The law ought to protect against vice!
• Thus, Mill’s position on freedom of
  expression is challenged – though we could
                                                If prostitution is…not the law’s
  argue that Devlin is simply redefining the    business, what concern has the
  harm principle.                               law with the ponce or the
           Where to draw the line?
• What counts as harm? Physical violence is reasonably clear
  cut, but what of my subscription to “Mammoth Melons
• For Mill, being offended does not count as harm. Does he
  understate the reality of psychological harm? It seems that
  sustained exposure to disturbing imagery can cause
  significant damage to the individual and those around.
• Child psychologist Dr Tanya Byron has recently argued for
  tighter controls on censorship, particularly with use of
  video games.
          Hart – “The Concept of Law”
• Hart famously reacted to Devlin’s conservative position, claiming that
  the State has no business interfering in people’s personal lives.
• Hart offers a defence of legal positivism. He restates Mill’s position,
  arguing that the “moral majority” should not be able to suppress
  individual expression.
• Actual harm must be evident and demonstrated by a panel of experts
  before human expression is subjugated.
• Is anyone so qualified to offer “expert” advice of this nature?
• To reduce application of the law to cover only “actual harm” may well
  lead to the continued suffering of many. E.g. what of my neighbour’s
  desire to play Val Doonican LPs at 3am every night? – do I experience
  actual harm?
                        Welfare Liberalism
• Key Work: John Rawls - A Theory of Justice

• Ideology: Contemporary libertarian and social contract theorist.
  Arguably the most important political philosopher of the 20th
  century, Rawls' guiding idea is that in a just society the laws and
  institutions would not confer advantages on some people at the
  expense of others based on natural and social contingencies that are
  arbitrary from a moral standpoint.

• In developing his own account of "justice as fairness," Rawls asks us
  to imagine ourselves choosing principles of justice from an original
  position of equality in which we lack knowledge of our social and
  economic standing, race, sex, natural abilities, and other socially
  relevant facts.

• Rawls argues that we would put priority, first, on providing equal
  liberties and fair opportunities for all and, second, on maximizing the
  share of income and wealth of those least advantaged.
     The Revolutionary Image (Socialism)
• Pinchin focuses primarily on Marx, though he is not the
  only, nor the first socialist. Yet, it is difficult to deny that he
  has been the most influential.
• Marx was inevitably influenced by a rich period of German
  philosophy that had preceded him. German Idealism had
  directed European philosophy in the 18th century with
  thinkers such as Kant, Schopenhauer, Hegel dominating the
• In particular, the ideas of Hegel and the materialist,
  Feuerbach, helped shape Marx’s philosophical vision.
                              John Rawls
                                  • Quotes: “Ideally citizens are
                                    to think of themselves as if
                                    they were legislators and
                                    ask themselves what
                                    statutes, supported by what
Space for a humorous interlude:     reasons satisfying the
man goes to the zoo.                criterion of reciprocity, they
There’s only one dog there.         would think is most
It’s a Shih Tzu.                    reasonable to enact.”
                                  • “The principles of justice are
                                    chosen behind a veil of
                 Anarchy, State and Utopia
• This is the title of Robert Nozick’s influential reply to his Harvard
  colleague, Rawls.
• Nozick argues that the state should not interfere with individual
  liberties, particularly economic freedoms.
• He refutes Proudhon’s claim that “property is theft”, believing instead
  that most property has been acquired fairly.
• Nozick is obviously a supporter of individualism. Welfare provision is
  rejected, with even income tax rejected as a type of forced labour -
  individuals are compelled to spend some time working to pay the
• Market forces should be left unhindered. Wealth should be
  distributed according to merit and good fortune.
• It is difficult to see how such a system could ever be considered just
  or, indeed, tolerated by the majority…but it is!
          John Donne – no man is an island
Donne rejects individualism, considering
us to be defined beyond material terms:
"All mankind is of one author, and is one
volume; when one man dies, one chapter is
not torn out of the book, but translated
into a better language; and every chapter
must be so translated...As therefore the
bell that rings to a sermon, calls not upon
the preacher only, but upon the
congregation to come: so this bell calls us
all: but how much more me, who am
brought so near the door by this
sickness....No man is an island, entire of
itself...any man's death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind; and
therefore never send to know for whom the
bell tolls; it tolls for thee.“
This leads us nicely to:
Marx Quotes
    • "The history of all hitherto existing
      societies is the history of class
    • “From each, according to his ability;
      to each, according to his need.”
    • “The theory of the Communists
      may be summed up in the single
      sentence: Abolition of private
    • “The proletarians have nothing to
      lose but their chains. They have a
      world to win.”
          Hegelian Dialectic & Feuerbach’s
• From Hegel, Marx developed the idea of history as process.
  Hegel viewed this as a spiritual process, involving thesis,
  antithesis and synthesis.
• Marx’s reading of Feuerbach enabled him to decouple
  Hegel’s dialectical process from his idealism. It also fuelled
  his atheistic ideas and helped him to develop a material
  view of history as process.
• Feuerbach viewed expressions of spirituality as mythical.
  Marx believed that such expressions were the product of
  man’s alienation from his true humanity and revealed a
  hope for a better life post mortem – “Religion is the sigh of
  the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and
  the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the
             Dialectical Materialism
• Marx viewed history as an economic process – a cycle
  whereby an underclass would rise up against their masters,
  overthrow them and then become the new ruling class.
• This is represented in the form of Thesis-Antithesis-
• For Marx, this is a scientific process. He viewed history as
  subject to deterministic economic laws. Changes are
  inevitable and ideas are reflections of economic interests.
• Marx identifies four great changes in history, each with a
  modal point (point of change).
                 Dialectic in process:
1.   Nomadic and pastoral era. Modal point: soil cultivation and
     domestication of animals.
2.   Classical period – concentrated wealth and slavery. Stability
     and development of the arts. Modal point: big, hairy
     Barbarians with sharp pointy sticks, too many orgies (what is
     too many?!) & need for decentralisation.
3.   Feudalism – conflict between land owners and serfs. Modal
     point: Industrialisation - need for urban workforce
4.   Capitalism and the Liberal ideology that supports Democracy.
     Conflict between bourgeoisie (industrialists etc) and
     proletariat (workers). Modal point: “the peasants are
     revolting!” – the proletariat become conscious of exploitation
     and seek to overthrow the ruling class, resulting in:
•   This will result in the abolition of private property and
    the creation of a truly socialist society. Modal point –
    none! Communism will signal the removal of the means
    of antagonism and conflict i.e. capitalism.
•   Communism brings an end to the pre-history of mankind.
•   Initially, the overthrow of capitalism will result in
    antagonisms and a brief “dictatorship of the proletariat”
    will be required. Once the class system has been
    abolished, “the state will wither away”
•   Yet, history has not borne this out – Russia etc
•   NB Fukuyama saw things differently – advent of
    libertarianism: end of history?!