Social Principles and the Democratic State

Social Principles and the Democratic State

Social Principles and the Democratic State

Social Principles and the Democratic State

Excerpt

There are a great number of students who take Social Philosophy as part either of an Honours Degree or of a Diploma in Social Studies, Sociology, or Public Administration. The authors, in teaching such students, have been constantly embarrassed by the absence of a textbook which takes account of recent developments in philosophy without being too remote from the institutions of the modern welfare state. They therefore set to work with the limited intention of providing a text-book in this field, Richard Peters tackling the ethics and Stanley Benn the politics and institutional analysis. The hope was that there would be a kind of intellectual osmosis in the middle region of social principles.

But this was not how the plan eventually worked out. The chapters on Moral Theory and Justice and Equality were the first to be written and discussed, and they showed that the authors were thinking on remarkably similar lines. These chapters became a growing point for the rest of the book, which thus grew from the centre outwards. This has two results. Firstly, instead of merely 'covering the syllabus' in the mundane manner originally planned, the authors found themselves developing, in a concrete institutional setting, a few central social principles. Secondly, it became increasingly difficult, especially in the central part of the book, to disentangle the ideas of one of the authors from those of the other. They are both to blame, therefore, for whatever defects the book has. And if it be a defect for a modern book on Social Philosophy to have a definite point of view -- a cautious Utilitarianism which takes full account of the principle of impartiality -- they are equally responsible for that too. They do attempt, however, to give reasons for it. Indeed, this is in a way the theme of the book: the close relationship between what is implied in 'being reasonable' and the principles and institutions of the democratic state.

Thanks are due to Maurice Cranston for his comments on Ch. 15, to A. Phillips Griffiths for his comments on Ch. 11, to Dr Peter Richards and Professor W. E. Armstrong for their comments on Chs. 5, 6, and 7, and to Professor H. L. Hart for his comments on some of the material of Ch. 8 (a substantial part of which was published in an article in Philosophy, October 1958) and to Anthony Manser, on whom Stanley Benn tried out many ideas before ever they reached paper, and who helped to point a way out of many difficulties. The authors are especially grateful to Professor W. Harrison who made detailed comments on the completed MS. Thanks are due, too, to Mrs Dunn and Miss Rouse for typing the MS and to Miss Marshallsay for compiling the index. Miriam Benn did much to clarify the ideas, and laboured to . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.