The Metaphysical Theory of the State: A Criticism

The Metaphysical Theory of the State: A Criticism

The Metaphysical Theory of the State: A Criticism

The Metaphysical Theory of the State: A Criticism

Excerpt

People naturally begin to think about social questions when they find that there is something going wrong in social life. Just as in the physical body it is the ailment that interests us, while the healthy processes go on without our being aware of them, so a society in which everything is working smoothly and in accordance with the accepted opinion of what is right and proper raises no question for its own members. We are first conscious of digestion when we are aware of indigestion, and we begin to think about law and government when we feel law to be oppressive or see that government is making mistakes. Thus the starting-point of social inquiry is the point at which we are moved by a wrong which we desire to set right, or, perhaps at a slightly higher remove, by a lack which we wish to make good. But from this starting- point reflection advances to a fuller and more general conception of society. If we begin by criticizing some particular injustice, we are led on to discuss what justice is. Beginning with some special social disorder, we are forced to examine the nature of social order and the purposes for which society exists. The social theory which we reach on these lines is a theory of ends, values, purposes, which leads us up to Ethics or Moral Philosophy, to questions of the rights and duties of man, and the means by which institutions of society may be made to . . .

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