Monday, October 10, 2005

Class tomorrow

Catching up tomorrow. The first hour will be devoted to the advances in liberal theory and practice associated with the American revolution. The second hour will be devoted to the theoretical advances in liberal political philosophy on the other side of the Atlantic around the same time; specifically those associated with the theory of free market capitalism (Smith) and free and functioning minds associated with "enlightenment" (Kant). Kant's hope that liberal and republican ideas, in practice, could lead to a more peaceful world go hand in hand with Smith's hope that a liberal economic order will lead to a more productive and wealthy world. Late 18th century is characterized by a sort of cautious optimism about the future. A few questions:

Is Madison (author of Federalist 10 and 51) best characterized as an optimist or a pessimist about human affairs? Why?

What powers does Hamilton (78) wish to give the federal courts, and why? Why might liberal political philosophy be particularly interested in a strong version of judicial review?

How does Kant define "enlightenment"? Can you think of examples of "enlightened" or "unenlightened" behavior common in our modern lives?

Why, for Kant, is it important that we be free in our private exercise of reason but not our public exercise of it?

What, according to Adam Smith, is the essence of human nature? How does this inform his political theory?


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