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Analytical Political Philosophy

Analytical Political Philosophy: From Discourse, Edification

  • Book Info
    Analytical Political Philosophy
    Book Description:

    The analytic movement has long been the dominant philosophical tradition in English-speaking countries. InAnalytical Political Philosophy: From Discourse, Edification, distinguished Canadian philosopher David Braybrooke explores this movement by bringing together some of his earlier free-standing studies of the concepts of needs, rights, and rules. He combines the results with an analytical account of how to deal with consequences and thus, arrives at a program for public policy, comparable in generality at least and in trenchancy to the programs offered by Rawls, Nozick, and Gauthier.

    Braybrooke illustrates how his program can deal robustly with the worst evils of recent politics, which on point after point defy and reverse what the program calls for. An essay that relates the program to utilitarianism and natural law theory brings to an end, not only the present book, but the series of books, all published by University of Toronto Press, beginning withMoral Objectives, Rules, and the Forms of Social Change(1998), and continuing withNatural Law Modernized(2001) andUtilitarianism: Restorations; Repairs; Renovations(2004). The four books, which embrace all the main themes of Braybrooke's life-work, form a mutually reinforcing whole that invites being called the author's Summa Philosophica.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7082-2
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-10)

    The main business of this book is to demonstrate the usefulness of analytical political philosophy, first, in the relatively humble work of clarifying terms in received moral and political discourse; and, second, in the more exalted work of generating a grand program for political action. I shall offer specimens of my own work on the terms ‘needs,’ ‘rights,’ and ‘rules,’ then aggregate these terms, clarified, in a grand program, which will also incorporate an analytical-philosophical account of familiar practice in assessing the consequences of political choices.

    My subtitle,From Discourse, Edification,suggests, a little playfully, a link with the concerns...

  5. Part One: Free-Standing Studies of Political Terms

    • Section A: Needs

      • 1 The Concept of Needs, with a Heart-Warming Offer of Aid to Utilitarianism
        (pp. 15-31)

        My assigned task in the paper from which this chapter derives was to set forth a brief reprise of my account of the concept of needs inMeeting Needs¹. I shall carry out that task, but in the course of doing so I shall introduce some nuances to increase the flexibility of the account. I shall also give a prominent place to the ways in which the concept of needs, on such an account, can assist in making good the project of utilitarianism.

        Bentham’s original impulse, to hold social policies accountable to effective evidence of their impacts on human welfare,...

      • 2 Where Does the Moral Force of Needs Reside, and When?
        (pp. 32-48)

        My point of departure in the bookMeeting Needs¹was the conviction that the concept of needs has moral force, but the force has been dissipated and made hard to see by multiple complications including, but not confined to, multiple abuses. I now think that is only half the problem.

        To help restore the moral force to view for systematic application, I worked out a philosophical construction - a Schema - designed to give a stable foundation for the concept of needs in the uses in which it carries moral force. It is this Schema on which I shall focus...

    • Section B: Rights

      • 3 The Analysis of Rights
        (pp. 51-79)

        Rights, as I shall contend in the following chapter (4), are social and social in origin; they are not usually collective. There are such things as collective rights, which can be exercised only by collectivities. Graduates of the University of Oxford used to have, collectively, the right to elect a Member of Parliament. Most rights, however, are rights assigned individual persons - hence individualistic in application - and also individualistic in administration. There are, of course, social agencies that assist in the administration of rights - the police and the courts, for example -just as there are social agencies for...

      • 4 Our Natural Bodies, Our Social Rights
        (pp. 80-86)

        Samuel Wheeler’s amusing paper¹ demonstrates, wittingly or unwittingly, that it is as feasible in philosophy as in modern art to produce an undetectable spoof. Are the absurdities that it perpetrates in the course of assimilating every possible item of property to parts of the body, to be brought under the same right, meant to be taken seriously? If they are not, to proceed gravely against them with reasoned objections is ludicrous pedantry, like trying to put a ripple of laughter through a tea strainer. On the other hand, if they are to be taken as seriously intended - which, given...

    • Section C: Rules

      • 5 The Representation of Rules in Logic and Their Definition
        (pp. 89-110)

        The concept of rules joins the concept of needs and the concept of rights as the third tool in my kit for dealing with questions of public policy. I have already brought in the concept of rules to explain what I hold rights to be. There, however, I used the concept of rules without analysing it. Analysing it is the purpose of the present chapter. I shall start up the analysis by considering what aspects of rules come to light in a formal logic of rules, first, the logic of norms or rules offered by von Wright, then the logic...

  6. Part Two: Aggregating the Free-Standing Studies

    • [Part Two Introduction]
      (pp. 111-114)

      The idea of putting together the present book originated in the lecture on which the one chapter, chapter 6, in this part is based. The chapter was to serve as the keystone of the book; and anticipating its placement in the book, it has done so, in the historical sense of governing the plan of the book and the choice of contents. Is it still the keystone, in the plan now realized, with those contents? It is; and the fact that it will contain some repetitions of the contents of part one of the book does not stand in the...

    • 6 (The Keystone Chapter) Aggregating in a Distinctive Grand Program the Free-Standing Studies and an Account of the Serial Evaluation of Consequences
      (pp. 115-144)

      In the broad sense, analytical political philosophy embraces works like those of Rawls, Nozick, and Gauthier that deploy social contract theory, principles of justice, and rights in grand programs for social policy and political organization.¹ Rawls, Nozick, and Gauthier will be treated in part four. Ronald Dworkin’s recent work,The Sovereign Virtue,²which sets forth a grand program for equality, may justly rank with them in sweeping ambition. Also in analytical political philosophy can be found works (like those of Russell Hardin³) relating to the theory of what economists define technically as ‘public goods’; works that reflect acquaintance with social...

  7. Part Three: Analytical Political Philosophy Deals with Evil

    • 7 Through the Free-Standing Studies and Their Aggregation in a Grand Program, Analytical Political Philosophy Can Deal with Evil
      (pp. 149-172)

      Leaving concentrated treatment of the connections that analytical political philosophy can make with social change to other passages in this book and elsewhere, I concentrate in this chapter on the question, ‘How can analytical political philosophy deal with evil?’¹ If analytical political philosophy could not do this, it would fail an important test, which thinkers of another bent would justly hold against it. Appropriately enough for an entry in the present book, to establish a perspective for dealing with evil I shall use the list of things to be accomplished in politics that I have given in my discussion of...

  8. Part Four: Three Famous Grand Programs in Analytical Political Philosophy, with Comparisons

    • [Part Four Introduction]
      (pp. 173-178)

      One thing that I aim at in Part Four of this book is to remind readers of three grand programs that have been generated in recent analytical political philosophy, the programs, respectively, of John Rawls, Robert Nozick, and David Gauthier.

      One way of doing this would be to exhibit excerpts from those authors or set forth synopses of their works. That would be uncalled for, since the works in question are all readily available and excerpts from them or synopses can be found in dozens of textbooks and encyclopedia articles. Moreover, it would be misleading to present the positions of...

    • 8 Utilitarianism with a Difference: Rawls’s Position in Ethics
      (pp. 179-218)

      Rawls’s bookA Theory of Justicedid not need to be completed to inspire dozens of seminars based on advance instalments; it must have inspired dozens more² since its completion, with hundreds yet to come. No wonder: the book has in certain respects created the subject of social and political philosophy anew. It has the substantial mass and systematic aspirations that most contemporary works in social and political philosophy have lacked; indeed, few contemporary works in any field of philosophy have been as substantial. A philosopher could spend a fruitful lifetime pondering the connections and implications of the topics that Rawls...

    • 9 Sidgwick’s Critique of Nozick
      (pp. 219-228)

      Henry Sidgwick’sThe Principles of Political Economy(1883) andThe Elements of Politics¹(1891) have long been out of print, consigned by The University of Texas library (and no doubt other libraries) to remote storage, if not to discard. Paul Lyon has brought them back to availability by putting them on the Internet. But who reads these books nowadays (in contrast with Sidgwick’sMethods of Ethics[1874, and still in the public eye, at least among philosophers])?² Why, apart from antiquarian interest, should anyone read them in this progressive age? One telling reason is that those works contain a searching and unsettling critique...

    • 10 Social Contract Theory’s Fanciest Flight (with Gauthier)
      (pp. 229-245)

      Readers on the Right - any readers who stand with Milton Friedman and Frederic Bastiat or to the right of them - will rejoice in the political colouring given David Gauthier’sMorals by Agreement¹by its broad commitment to private property rights, its born-again enthusiasm for the market, and its repeated denunciation of ‘free riders’ and ‘parasites.’ Readers on the Left, one may fear, will view the book with dismay and derision as just one more instalment in a tradition inherited from Locke of mystifying anachronism. The hunter-gatherers contract again, but what has that to teach us about the distribution...

    • 11 Comparisons of the Other Grand Programs, Especially Rawls’s, with the Needs-Focused Combination Program
      (pp. 246-260)

      In the preceding chapters of this part, I have surveyed the grand programs of Rawls, Nozick, and Gauthier. Now I wish to compare them with each other and with the program of needs, rights, and wellconsidered rules - the needs-focused combination program, in comprehensiveness, in effect another grand program - arrived at earlier in this book by aggregating humbler free-standing analytical studies. I raise two questions: I ask of each program, first, can the program (that is to say, the principles that it offers for application to choices of policies) be understood by inexpert citizens? I ask, second, can it,...

  9. Part Five: An Epilogue to the Book and to the Four-Book Series That It Brings to an End:: Two Older Grand Programs

    • 12 The Relation of Utilitarianism to Natural Law Theory
      (pp. 265-282)

      At first glance, especially if we have in mind the history of utilitarianism as it has descended from Bentham, it must seem that the relation of utilitarianism to natural law theory is adversarial. Philosophers will think of Bentham’s scorn for natural rights (‘nonsense on stilts’¹) and its backing in the disparaging references to natural law in his review of alternatives to utilitarianism.² Moreover, is not utilitarianism a secular doctrine, in which God plays no part, and natural law theory a religious one, in which God’s part is indispensable?

      Yet whatever we make of Bentham’s scorn, the doctrines are not opposed...

  10. NOTES
    (pp. 283-308)
  11. INDEX
    (pp. 309-320)