Political Philosophy: The Narrow Path to Social Progress

Political Philosophy: The Narrow Path to Social Progress

Political Philosophy: The Narrow Path to Social Progress

Political Philosophy: The Narrow Path to Social Progress

Synopsis

Are there any points where conservatives and liberals can agree? What do we mean by social progress and how do we know which way to go? How do the values of individual liberty and group loyalty, equal sharing versus reward for achievement, come into play at different stages of civilization's development?

The author shows how our shared set of cohesive and consistent values built the successful Western culture we enjoy today, which is what allows us the luxury of helping others to a very great extent.

He convincingly argues for the family and private property as key elements in building a successful society.
While we might all love for everyone to get along, to help the needy, and for the wars to end, we need to explain how people can reach this point in their biological growth and development by promoting social progress. Liberals believe social conservatives are oppressive white men who worship outdated ideas, and social conservatives believe liberals live in a world where nothing is sacred--life, religion, the nation... We can move ahead if we learn from each other and make decisions based on more than our feelings. Looking at population growth and increased societal complexity, 'wants' versus 'needs,' and what is fair and what works, the author ponders how to balance the interests and responsibilities of the individual and of society as a whole.

In that context, issues that divide Western society today, including immigration and refugee policies, gender issues, and capitalism versus socialism, can be examined critically to see why certain choices are more promising than others, despite some very well-intended counterarguments. Drawing on thinkers from Heraclitus to Hegel and Haidt, the author presents well-reasoned arguments for a moderate conservative outlook on life and offers readers new ways to think about and evaluate their own arguments.

Excerpt

Moral communities are fragile things, hard to build and
easy to destroy. When we think about very large commu
nities such as nations, the challenge is extraordinary and
the threat of moral entropy is intense. —Jonathan Haidt

The search for what this book is about begins with my previous book, The Political Spectrum: the Rational Foundations of Liberty and Prosperity. My hope is this book stands alone as a positive contribution to the debate, but just as I could not have written this book without having first written The Political Spectrum, the reader of this book would benefit from first reading The Political Spectrum. I will highlight and summarize key points from that book to advance the argument in this book, but this will not be sufficient to convey what the reader needs to know and understand.

The primary goal of The Political Spectrum was to analyze two of the most important outside-the-mind truths about society (in particular, a modern state) that will help us shape the political debate in important ways. the first outside-the-mind truth, in the context of resource management, was that society as a whole must be a net producer of resources to sustain society. To show why this is true, if we think about society as a water bucket with a slow leak, then to prevent the bucket from going empty, we have to add enough water to the bucket to offset the loss of water from the leak, or we will find ourselves with an empty bucket. This is a mathematical fact that should shape our behavior. This truth is important for political philosophy because it means that resource production should take primacy over resource distribution. Focusing our attention on resource production might make our resource distribution system seem less than fair or just . . .

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