Fred Miller offers a controversial reappraisal of the Politics, suggesting that nature, justice, and rights are central to Aristotle's political thought. He sheds new light on Aristotle's relation to modern natural rights theorists, and to the current liberalism-communitarianism debate.
This comprehensive study of Aristotle's Politics argues that nature, justice, and rights are central to Aristotle's political thought. Miller challenges the widely held view that the concept of rights is alien to Aristotle's thought, and presents evidence for talk of rights in Aristotle's writings. He argues further that Aristotle's theory of justice supports claims of individual rights that are political and based in nature.
A central idea in moral and political philosophy, 'autonomy' is generally understood as some form of self-governance or self-direction. Certain Stoics, modern philosophers such as Spinoza, and most importantly, Immanuel Kant, are among the great philosophers who have offered important insights on the concept. Some theorists analyze autonomy in terms of the self being moved by its higher-order desires. Others argue that autonomy must be understood in terms of acting from reason or from a sense of moral duty independent of (...) the passions. Autonomy seems closely related to the notion of freedom, but in what sense: freedom from coercion, freedom from psychological constraints, or freedom from material necessity? Various approaches to these and similar questions yield different implications for public policy. Is capitalism, social democracy or socialism more favorable to autonomy? The essays in this volume address these important questions. (shrink)
WHEN Aristotle takes up the task of establishing the foundations of ethics in the Nicomachean Ethics, he understands this task in a quite different way from many modern moral philosophers. For one thing, he explicitly distinguishes inquiries such as ethics and politics from more precise disciplines such as mathematics, and emphasizes that their end is action rather than knowledge. Moreover, he differs from many modern ethicists in the importance which he assigns to knowledge of what to do in a concrete (...) situation. Practical knowledge for Aristotle has two indispensable, interrelated components: apprehension of the ultimate end of human action, and practical rationality in virtue of which one knows how to pursue this end in concrete situations. As a moral epistemologist Aristotle is exceptional in the emphasis he places upon practical rationality. Even if one correctly apprehends the ultimate end, knowing how to attain it in action is no trivial matter of perfunctorily applying general precepts. Henry Veatch illustrates this important feature of Aristotle's thought by relating it to Sartre's anecdote of the young man who sought his advice during World War II as to whether he should stay with his mother or join the Free French forces. Veatch contends that Aristotle would agree with Sartre that a general apprehension of the end will not provide us with a priori recipes for answering "concrete moral questions," such as the dilemma posed in Sartre's anecdote. He would also agree that the young man must work out the answer for himself in the immediate context of action. But Veatch's Aristotle maintains, against Sartre, that moral agents can and should work out answers through "practical moral knowledge." Although this is an appealing construal of Aristotle's conception of rationality in action, it is not without opposition. John Cooper has challenged it in favor of the interpretation that deliberation may be completed with a decision on a type of action prior to the time of action. Cooper bases this interpretation on an extensive review of the texts. Nevertheless, as this essay attempts to show, the textual evidence clearly supports an interpretation along the lines suggested by Veatch. Section I considers the evidence concerning practical rationality and deliberation, and Section II that concerning practical insight and observation. (shrink)
What is the nature of law? Does our obligation to obey the law extend to unjust laws? From what source do lawmakers derive legitimate authority? What principles should guide us in the design of political institutions? These essays by prominent contemporary philosophers explore how these questions were addressed by ancient political thinkers. Classical theories of human nature and their implications for political theory are examined, as is the meaning of freedom and coercion in Plato's thought and his idea that philosophers (...) should be political rulers. Other essays ask what we can learn from ancient thinkers like Aristotle about the principles of constitutional design or the limits of political obligation. (shrink)
S. Sara Monoson challenges “the canonical view of Plato as a virulent antidemocrat”. More precisely, she undertakes “to render problematic the standard view that Plato’s texts are unequivocally hostile to democracy”. “Although Plato’s dialogues are unquestionably and radically critical of elements of Athenian democracy, it is not accurate to claim further that they attack democracy unrelentingly”. Rather, “Plato’s dialogues contain explicit, albeit qualified, expressions of acceptance of the wide dispersal of political power characteristic of democracy, enlist certain celebrated Athenian democratic (...) principles in the design of his critique of democratic politics, and depict the practice of philosophy as indebted to Athenian democratic culture”. On this basis Monoson denies that Plato “is unambiguously opposed to democratic culture.” On the contrary “the ethos and culture of democratic Athens subtly informs his presentation of the work of philosophy”. (shrink)
DEBATE CONTINUES OVER WHETHER AN “Aristotelian philosophy of mind” is still credible. Recent commentators wonder whether Aristotle’s view lies somewhere in the constellation of modern theories of mind, or whether he might point to an uncharted theory. Because he viewed his own account as an alternative to both Platonic dualism and Presocratic materialism, moderns seeking a middle way between Cartesian dualism and reductionist physicalism have looked to Aristotle for inspiration. As Jonathan Barnes observes, “Philosophy of mind has for centuries been (...) whirled between a Cartesian Charybdis and a scientific Scylla: Aristotle has the look of an Odysseus.”. (shrink)
PLATO ARGUES THAT ANTICIPATORY PLEASURES MAY BE FALSE. THE STRUCTURE OF HIS ARGUMENT IS CLARIFIED. THE CRUX IS NOT THE INFERENCE FROM 'FALSE BELIEF' TO 'FALSE PICTURE' TO 'FALSE PLEASURE,' BUT THE DOCTRINE THAT THROUGH MENTAL IMAGERY PLEASURE, LIKE BELIEF, MAY TAKE AS OBJECTS UNREALIZED STATES OF AFFAIRS. ASSUMING FALSITY IS A BAD-MAKING CHARACTERISTIC, SOCRATES USES THE THESIS AGAINST HEDONISM. THE INTERPRETATIONS OF GOSLING, KENNY, AND MCLAUGHLIN ARE CRITICIZED.
TheFederalist, written by in 1787-1788 in defense of the proposed constitution of the United States, endorses a fundamental principle of political legitimacy: namely, This essay argues that this principlemay be traced back to Plato. Part I of the essay seeks to show that Plato's Statesman offers a clearer understanding of the rule of reason than his more famous Republic, and it also indicates how this principle gave rise to the ideal of constitutionalism, which was adopted and reformulated by Aristotle, Polybius, (...) and Cicero, as well as moderns including Locke and Montesquieu. Part II argues that TheFederalist agrees with Plato when it argues that popular sovereignty must be tempered by the rule of reason. A proper distance should be maintained between the people and the actual exercise of power in order that political decisions be based on reason rather than passion. The people must therefore act through a federal system divided between national government and state governments, and these governments must themselves possess separated powers which control each other by means of checks and balances. Indeed, federalism itself may be viewed as a modern counterpart of Plato's which unites naturally disparate and opposed parts of the city-state into a concordant whole. In declaring, TheFederalist concedes that politics is the art of the possible. But statesmanship is not an exercise in pragmatism devoid of principles. Here shares Plato's vision of politics as a that is, an attempt to approximate the ideal of rational governance as far as possible in ordinary politics. (shrink)
The first-ever multivolume treatment of the issues in legal philosophy and general jurisprudence, from both a theoretical and a historical perspective. The work is aimed at jurists as well as legal and practical philosophers. Edited by the renowned theorist Enrico Pattaro and his team, this book is a classical reference work that would be of great interest to legal and practical philosophers as well as to jurists and legal scholar at all levels. The work is divided in two parts. The (...) theoretical part, consisting of five volumes, covers the main topics of the contemporary debate; the historical part, consisting of six volumes, accounts for the development of legal thought from ancient Greek times through the twentieth century. The entire set will be completed with an index. Volume 6: A History of the Philosophy of Law from the Ancient Greeks to the Scholastics 2nd revised edition, edited by Fred D. Miller, Jr. and Carrie-Ann Biondi Volume 6 is the first of the Treatise’s historical volumes and is dedicated to the philosophers’ philosophy of law from ancient Greece to the 16th century. The volume thus begins with the dawning of legal philosophy in Greek and Roman philosophical thought and then covers the birth and development of European medieval legal philosophy, the influence of Judaism and the Islamic philosophers, the revival of Roman and Christian canon law, and the rise of scholastic philosophy in the late Middle Ages, which paved the way for early-modern Western legal philosophy. This second, revised edition comes with an entirely new chapter devoted to the later Scholastics and an epilogue on the legacy of ancient and medieval thought for modern legal philosophy, as well as with updated references and indexes. (shrink)