18. The "Political-not-Metaphysical" Legacy

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Moral Foundations of Politics (PLSC 118)

The mature Rawls departed quite a bit from his earlier theory of justice, choosing instead an overlapping consensus, or "political, not metaphysical" approach. Professor Shapiro argues that this is a significant departure from the Enlightenment tradition. In a wrap-up of the class's examination of the Enlightenment, Professor Shapiro charts its evolution from Locke to Bentham to Mill to Marx to contemporary theorists. As for the Enlightenment commitment to science and reason as the basis for politics, the early Enlightenment identified science with certainty, while the mature Enlightenment beginning with Mill emphasized the fallibility of science. But how rational are individuals after all? As for the second Enlightenment normative ideal of individual rights, the efforts to secularize the workmanship ideal after Locke were very problematic, culminating in the numerous and sound critiques of Marx and the intuitively disturbing radicalism of Rawls's moral arbitrariness. Professor Shapiro then introduces the backlash of the at-times unsatisfying consequences of the Enlightenment tradition, the anti-Enlightenment.

00:00 - Chapter 1. Introduction: Last Class Recap and Class Agenda
07:05 - Chapter 2. Course Recap
18:49 - Chapter 3. Political, Not Metaphysical
28:35 - Chapter 4. The Normative Idea of Individual Rights

Complete course materials are available at the Open Yale Courses website: http://open.yale.edu/courses

This course was recorded in Spring 2010.