The Two Custodians – Thoughts On The Purpose Of The State

Traditionally, there are two great debates at the core of political philosophy. The first is what justifies political authority, and the second is what should be the form of the institution that assumes that authority. The first debate includes questions of fundamental justice. Issues like what the state owes to its subjects, and what the … Continue reading The Two Custodians – Thoughts On The Purpose Of The State

John Locke’s Property Rights

Does Locke offer a convincing account of an individual’s right to property? In his Second Treatise on Government, John Locke constructs a theory of property rights from two explicit arguments for the divine source of the moral claim of ownership, and one implicit argument for the divine source of value in labor. This essay will summarize each of these arguments, offer offer an assessment of the three arguments in combination, and conclude that Locke’s case is unconvincing in isolation. However, there are remedies which could make the case more convincing.

Hobbes, and the Injustice of the Sovereign

In the Leviathan, Thomas Hobbes posits the creation of a commonwealth by means of a social contract, and as part of that contract, Hobbes theorizes the creation of the office of a sovereign authority, the occupant of which is to act as the representative of the constituted wills of the individual parties of the contract. Hobbes insists that it is not possible for this sovereign authority to commit an injustice against those who have granted him his privileged position. This essay will briefly sketch the reasons Hobbes offers in defense of his position, and critically evaluate his arguments in light of some common objections.

Aristotle 101: The Zoon Politikon

Aristotle’s ‘political animal’ (zoon politikon) is not the creature we might expect today – a conventional construct enfranchised by legal edict and duty-bound only to his own individual happiness as a free agent in a democratic nation-state. Instead, what Aristotle had in mind was an animal that was best suited to realize his complete end or natural goal (his telos) in a community organized to that end as well. That community is known as a city-state (a polis). As an integrated part of a functional polis, man is a creature of the polis – a political animal.

Aristotle 101: The Aporia of Future Contingency

In On Interpretation, Aristotle presents the thought experiment of the sea battle in order to grapple with a logical paradox stemming from his commitment to correspondence in truth and the Law of Excluded Middle on the one hand, and his commitment to potentiality in the future, on the other. Given these commitments, if we are to say that there will be a sea battle tomorrow, then two questions (at least) need to be considered. First, is it already true that there will be one? Second, is its occurrence already determined by that? The term "already" is an important key to understanding these questions. It suggests a role for necessity in answering this problem. This essay will briefly summarize the logical problem, outline some possible solutions to the problem, and conclude with shrugging resignation at the fact that there isn't more extant writing from Aristotle on the question.

Aristotle 101: The Soul And The Faculty of Perception

According to Aristotle, the eyes are an organ of the body meant to inculcate the soul with the capacity for perceiving the forms of shape and color. If one recalls that Aristotle's theory of the soul is mean to account for the kinds of change that a living body undergoes, and that change is the transition from potentiality to actuality, then the question becomes, how do the eyes enable this kind of change? This essay will briefly summarize Aristotle's general theory of sense perception, provide a specific account for sight, and then raise some concerns about the efficacy of this theory in the context of Aristotle's theory of causes.