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Chapter

This chapter examines whether it is possible for human beings to live in a state of nature. Sometimes it is claimed that not only have human beings always lived under a state, but that it is the only way they possibly could live. On this view, which is often associated with Aristotle, the state exists naturally in the sense of being natural to human beings. In response, some theorists argue that human beings have been able to live without the state. To elucidate the issue further, this chapter analyses the views of Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. It also considers the arguments of anarchists and suggests that the gap between rational anarchism and the defence of the state is vanishingly small.

Chapter

David Bates

This chapter examines the key ideas and concepts of ‘classical’ anarchist thinkers. Among the ideas associated with anarchism are: a belief in the potential of human nature, and a corresponding critique of arbitrary authority; a refusal of state authority; a rejection of the institution of private property; militant atheism; and an emphasis on the importance of revolutionary politics. The chapter first considers how anarchist views on human nature, the state, political action, private property, and religion vary, and where possible, what unites them. It then discusses recent critical responses to anarchism, particularly ‘post-anarchism’, and specific historical examples of anarchism. It also analyses the extent to which anarchism can be regarded as a cohesive political ideology.

Chapter

John Gregson

This chapter examines the basic features of socialism and communism. Socialism is a complex ideology with numerous variants that are often strongly opposed to each other on one or more central questions or issues. Variants of socialism have converged with other classical ideologies (such as liberalism) in their beliefs and values, yet other variants have remained vehemently opposed to much within liberalism. The chapter first provides a brief historical background on socialism before discussing the key beliefs, values, and assumptions of socialism. In particular, it looks at socialism's critique of industrial capitalism and its vision of the good society, along with its its conception of human nature, community, and freedom. The chapter proceeds by considering some variants of socialism, especially communism and social democracy, as well as the overlap between socialism and other ideologies like liberalism. Finally, it assesses the historical, contemporary, and future impact of socialism.

Chapter

Paul Wetherly

This chapter examines conceptions of human nature and ideological responses to globalization. It begins with a discussion of the two reasons for the persistence of ideological dispute regarding human nature. First, ideologies differ in their views of human nature, and these differences continue to generate competing visions of the good society consistent with this nature. Second, disagreement about the good society might be built into human nature. The chapter considers the different ideological conceptions of human nature and the implications of globalization for existing political ideologies such as liberalism, conservatism, feminism, environmentalism, multiculturalism, and religious fundamentalism. It also explores a range of arguments that suggest the possibility of resolving or ending ideological debate, asking whether it is possible to show the failure of a particular ideology, whether there can be a non-ideological way of doing politics, or whether there could there be an end of ideology.

Chapter

Tony Burns

This chapter examines the argument of Aristotle's Politics in relation to the theory of justice that he articulates in his Nicomachean Ethics. It first provides a biography of Aristotle before discussing his view of human nature, the starting point for understanding his views on both ethics and politics. In particular, it considers what Aristotle means when he describes man as a ‘social and political animal’ (zoon politikon). It goes on to explore the theory of justice developed in Aristotle's Ethics, focusing on the notions of proportional and arithmetical equality. It also analyses the two areas of social life in which the concept of justice has a practical application: the spheres of rectificatory and distributive justice. The chapter concludes with an assessment of the continuing relevance of Aristotle for political philosophy today, especially for the debate between John Rawls and his communitarian critics.

Chapter

Cary J. Nederman

This chapter examines Cicero's social and political theory, which rests upon his conception of human nature, namely that human beings are capable of speech and reason. It first provides a short biography of Cicero before discussing his discursive approach to republican rule based on the claim that human nature can only be fully realized through articulate and wise speech. For Cicero, social order requires wise leaders who direct citizens toward the proper goals of cooperation and mutual advantage and who thus seek peace rather than war. The chapter proceeds by analysing Cicero's argument that political institutions must be built upon natural law and virtue, especially justice, along with his notion of patriotic citizenship and his views on war and peace; statesmanship, courage, and otium; the origins of political inequality; and republican government.

Chapter

Deborah Baumgold

This chapter examines Thomas Hobbes's key political ideas. After providing a short biography of Hobbes, the chapter traces the development of his political theory as articulated in the Leviathan. In particular, it considers whether Hobbism rests on the assumption of egoism and whether Hobbes's theory depends on the idea of a social contract. It also describes the sequential composition of the three versions of Hobbes's theory and shows that his basic assumption about human nature is a form of solipsism. According to Hobbes, our thinking is necessarily self-referential, which need not be equivalent to holding that we are necessarily self-interested (egoistic). The chapter concludes with a discussion of Hobbesian contractarianism, agency, and authorization as well as three strands of contractarian reasoning to illustrate the importance of the idea of consent in Hobbes's political arguments.

Chapter

John Garnett and John Baylis

This chapter examines theories that explain the causes of war. It considers ideas advanced by political scientists, sociologists, biologists and philosophers, showing that different explanations of war give rise to different requirements or conditions for peace. After highlighting the difficulties in studying war, the chapter discusses human nature explanations of war, citing such factors as frustration, misperception, misunderstanding, miscalculation, and errors of judgement as well as the role of human collectives including factions, tribes, nations and states. It then describes the bargaining model of war before turning to inter-state wars, intra-state conflicts, and ethnic conflicts. It also explores the debate over whether ‘greed’ or ‘grievance’ are the main causes of civil wars. The chapter concludes that identifying a single cause appropriate to all wars is an exercise in futility and that a worldwide ‘just’ peace is unattainable.