POL 3102 B Lectures
Lecture 1- September 5, 2013
Opening to the course
How the 19 century thinkers respond to the failure of the enlightenment
o Decisive break with the start of the masters of suspicion: Nietzsche
The link between rationality and freedom
o What are the notions of freedom latent in the political theories we will
o How is freedom related to rationality?
o Height of enlightenment; freedom and rationality were almost
What is the link between freedom and democracy
What is the link between history and freedom
o More and more the shaping aspects of history become seen as
important, also increasing skepticism of the ideally detached agent
What binds these thinkers together?
o The importance of freedom and future of political thought
o This period continues he early modern period focus on
anthropocentric (the individual at the heart of the project) view of
politics. Developing an independence of thought. There is an
increasing sense of the importance of indigent historical situations in
shaping the future of politics. Sensible political theorists take into
account historical conditions at that time
Lecture 2- September 10, 2013
The Age of the Enlightenment
The sun coming through the clouds, making clear what was murky, image
strongly influenced by Plato allegory of the cave
When does it start? Matter f some contention, but general starting area is
start of the 17 century, coinciding with the beginning of the baroque era
o Transitional people: Hobbes Locke, Descartes
What did it illuminate? They challenged traditional sources of authority,
prior to the enlightenment and renaissance two unchallenged sources of
authority: scriptures and the classes. Each perpetuated the idea that current
civilization had somehow declined from a former golden age. Turn for the
past was what was needed; return to garden of Eden or Greek models of
o Renaissance and reclamation raised the authority of these texts 2
o Pre-enlightenment, turn to these sources, divine purpose was the
ultimate explanation of things. Ex. St Simond argued that the tactical
mistakes of the French army were all a part of gods plan and god
intervened to make the otherwise wise generals briefly foolish.
How did enlightenment happen, the erosion of these ideals? How was it so
successful? It was a new way of gaining knowledge, a new way for looking at
experience, the development of scientific method. The ascendency of a form
of pure rationalism as best depicted by Descartes. Brought with them
unprecedented optimism, most important characteristic of the
enlightenment, man has the power and ability to reshape society, to control
the material world and harness its energies. Becomes new ideal of the nature
of man in general. Man no longer a pawn in the history for the world but is
the master of his/her faith.
o Requires a new understanding of what we are as human beings.
Geological and scientific discoveries challenged idea that the way
things had been done in the west was the right way. Such as meeting
different cultures (with different creation stories, calendars, etc. ) We
are now just one civilization among many, one planet among many)
Political thinkers suggested we could master the natural state we exist in,
and that political order need not be structured according to religious beliefs.
Focus starts to be on the individual, and the individual’s agency in the world.
This leads to a focus on the individual’s own capacity for reason.
New criterion for truth is urgently needed as past ideas are crumbling into
the past. Francis Bailey provided this? Science; an individual can apply the
scientific theory on his own, and individual can be seen as a truth maker,
does not need an authority to find the truth. No longer just pawns; ultimate
discoverer of truth was Newton in the enlightenment.
Locks conception of knowledge; everyone is a blank slate. This also changes
idea of the idea of the nature of the self. Gives increased toleration and
individuals can be taught better or changed, leads to potential equality of
human beings. More importantly comes the idea that perhaps we could
organize society to improve and cultivate the citizens in it. This unleashes
drive to figure out how to better society, massive creative explosion.
Attempts to improve government, freedom to think, publish, and to
rationalize economic policy.
Early enlightenment represents early success of empiricism and inductive
methods of research, and political theory tries to mimic this.
Can we design institutions to provide better happiness? Believed will happen
best with use of rationality. Optimism shades into later enlightenment, a
belief of nificent province. Somehow things are set up to work for us, a
natural order to thank and it works to our advantage. Not only masters of our
fate, but also nature is such that things are generally going to work out for all
of us. These ideas crucial to Adam smith’s political and economic theory.
Adam Smith, The wealth of nations (1776) 3
Idea of an invisible hand guiding human beings as they develop. Smith, takes
up new conception of the human being. New modern individual is rational,
independent and egoistic. This leads us to the best of all possible social
worlds. Ana attempt to apply methods of inductive science to the study of
human society, see an emergence of the field of economics as a field in its
own right. The constant search for a natural order depends on the belief that
there is such a thing; economics in this sense is extremely optimistic.
Smith attempts to lay out such an order in his work. Invisible hand theory of
economics; our natural drives/ egoism, rather than tearing society apart
works to our advantage.
In some way smith’s works can be seen as transitional.
o Thinks natural drives take precedence over our rationality, they
dominate our reasoning abilities. This inquisitiveness ends up
promoting social welfare. Gives example of a poppers child; the child
labors relentlessly and discovers too alt that his wealth is but a
trinket. The search for wealth has been beneficial to society; in pursuit
of that wealth individuals have created technology etc. What may
seem like antisocial tendencies may work out for the best. To give an
account of a natural order where things will work out for the best.
Also eliminated classic Christian opposition between virtue and
Even makes sure that merchants and citizens prefer and
support domestic labor markets.
“ Greed is good”, the individuals pursuit of their own advantage naturally
leads to the advantage of a society as a whole. A very strong commitment to
the soundness of the individual citizens own decision making. A great deal of
optimism. Showing a great deal of rationality inherent in the order of things
should try and socially engineer something that is already set up for the best.
The emergence of civil society in the modern age. Self-interested moaning
creates unintentional consequences that benefit humanity. The increasing
productivity increased the division of labor, the result is happily “universal
opulence and general plenty” Will make life better for everyone. This division
of labor not result of some scientist simply arose out of the millions of
individual decisions from individual producers to make more stuff so they
have more to say. Pg. 455. Works at both the level of the worker and of the
owner, laziness drives innovation as well. A division of labor has allowed
even the uneducated to making things more efficient and it doesn’t take
much effort. Allows everyone to produce more stuff than they need
Now the worker will very quickly make enough stuff to cover their basic
need, and sell and trade their stuff for other stuff they cannot make. All these
benefits will help everyone involved (optimistic). All individual decisions
about what to sell and make is managed by a very complicated system of
millions of people. Could never be made not do this out of compulsion, what
you need is a world where by invisible hands are led by their own desires to
do what is good for all. Pg. 456. 4
Free markets love Smith, do not intervene in the markets, do not have others
come into the Canadian market as you are intervening.
pg 465 “ according to system of natural…sovereign three duties… duty of
protecting society from violence and invasion, duty of protecting every
member from injustice of other members… thirdly, the duty of maintaining
certain public works and institutions which it can never be for the interest of
any individual to erect and maintain. The reason because the prophet
would…..to a great society” these institutions would not be profitable, but
they are extremely valuable to society as a whole.
There are things this greed will not produce, and those goods are the ones
that the state should provide.
Relationship to the project of modernity, you can improve our society via
reason and the cultivation of the individual’s decisions.
Pay attention to the labor theory of value; will be influential idea for Marx
when we look at him
Lecture 3- September 13, 3013
He represents important moments in history of western thought, the
culmination of the enlightenment. Extreme example of enlightenment
One of central aspects is his emphasis on the individual (autonomy).
Represents a very clear defense of individual’s capacity to reason on his or
her own. This central emphasis that leads him to emphasize and value so
highly the value for autonomy.
Freedom is all, written at same time as American revolution
Politics is never power struggles, it is political philosophy based on the ideal
of creating autonomous individuals
What is autonomy?
o Self-directed, has to be stepping back from all the forces that are
trying to shape us into some being or another. Can stand back from
the vales and beliefs we believe in and judge them. To be autonomous
is not doing what you want. To be autonomous is to reflect, not just on
what society is telling you but what your natural inclinations are also
telling you to do. If you’re not autonomous you will just follow your
whims, just following your basic biological impulses (a slave to your
physical being) real autonomy is the conscious decision to want to do
something on the basis of rational reflection.
Cant understand Kant unless you understand the role of rational reason
To be autonomous is to follow a path for a reason, you can rationally choose.
Our desires don’t just push us around. If you are pushed around by your
biological needs you are just a machine.
If there is no such thing as rational reason this whole theory falls apart, it all
depends on the belief that people can self evaluate.
1785: the categorical imperative. “Act only in accordance to that maxim
which will at the same time will that it will become a universal law” Maxim 5
says that such and such should be done, so that your normative principle can
become a universal law. The possibility of willing such a thing, to will that
everyone act according to that normative principle. You have to be able to
will something that everyone does and it would be possible that everyone do
o Ex. A world where everyone lies; nobody would believe anything
anymore in a world where everyone les in expediency.
o What will happen if everyone does exactly what I’m about to do? This
test is purely individual. Something your own reason can work out.
This is why it is so crucial that this capacity to reflective thought
needs to be maintained. Because humans can be self directed being,
you can never use them as a means (as a machine). The basis of
respect for humans, for Kant. People should always be ends and not
means. The purpose of the state should be to ensure people aren’t
used as means and the state should never damage our capacity for
autonomy. State still needs to make the conditions for the use of
autonomy possible and protect us from infringement on our
Kant: What is enlightenment? (1784)
Start with him giving the sources of darkness, “ enlightenment is mans
emergence from his self imposed immaturity. Immaturity is the inability to
use ones reason without guidance from another…”
o He claims that immaturity is self-imposed. The thing that stops people
from doing this is laziness and cowardice. The problem seems to be
primarily located in the self, you have innately the capacity to say
“screw you” to all that. It is just laziness or lack or courage that holds
us back from doing so.
o Have the courage to use your own reason because the autonomy is
there. All you have to do is try and use it.
o It is important also to be able to be expressed publicly. (Stage 2), but
clergy and others might get in the way. This is an infringement on our
ability to be autonomous. Important for us to be ale to use our
autonomy in the public not in the private. The state should never limit
the use of reason. One of its central roles to prevent anyone from
interfering with another’s use of reason.
In the public that we can come up with these shared wills. Categorical
imperative is in a way fleshing out the generalities of the general will. It is
imperative that you come up with it on your own otherwise you’re still in
This call to the enlightenment seems to be addressed to the individual. But,
Kant says that it is hard for any single individual to work himself out of the
life under tutelage. Is it enough to have a society that just makes the freedom 6
for you to use your autonomy for that autonomy to exist? What if you have a
society that doesn’t have enough space for you to exercise this autonomy?
What is one that protects/ destroys autonomy? No answers in this piece. He
agrees that society could be set up in such a way to hurt autonomy.
Enlightenment belongs in the domain of practical rather than just theoretical.
It is not just simply getting more information, information gives us no reason
to accept or reject maxims.
Two separate stands of enlightenment vied for dominance
o Descartes: truth is to only be found by looking into your mind
o The strand that glorified imperial information
Kant is famous for trying to synthesize these two realms, trying to say there
is a certain kind of information tot includes both theoretical and irrational.
Reason will get us out of this not science.
Kant does not think that his stage is enlightened yet. It is happening, it is
starting, and we’re moving forward.
On the common saying (1793)
Written directly in the shadow of the French revolution
His explicit task to show relationship between
o National politics
o International politics
We have no duty to do what is impossible to do; any moral imperative must
be achievable by all members of the society if it is supposed to be moral.
The universe is set up to be able to come up with a number of these maxims.
Single universal human nature, at the fundamental level we share the same
thing, capacity and judgment is the same. This human nature is the ultimate
appeal to political questions. All laws now need to conform to basic apriori
(before experience) principles.
Changes the basis of the social contract because of his new faith in individual
reason. Politics is the practical application of the categorical imperative to
o Realize we need a legal system
Must be founded in the aim of making use of each individuals
Means Kant believes that this legal system has to be grounded
in a constitution that prioritizes those values of freedom. Any
law we produce has to be in law with that fundamental
purpose of society.
Any law must be one that all citizens can agree to, and all law’s
must be public.
o He looks to the contract as an idea of reason,
o The social contract is inherent in moral reason, it is what we ought to
agree to if we realized what was important in human life
o Social contract is a necessity of reason 7
Means a system of laws that we can all will, that si possible for
the rational individual to will. Test: could everyone text it
without falling into contradiction All laws should be regulated
by a constitution that tells us what kind of laws are ok. These
laws are conditioned for freedom.
Lecture 4- September 17 2013
The basic apriori form is that any political system must protect the capacity
for each individual to be autonomous, liberty is the central Kantian concept
Autonomy, is the property of the will by which it is allawed to itself
independent of any property of the objects of volition; its you that
determines what has value.
Hetternonomy: outside objects determine your objects
Because we recognize that each human being has this capacity; we have to
duty to never treat them as means.
Kant does not consider autonomy to be the same thing as political freedom;
political freedom is an external thing governed by slightly different rules.
o The freedom of the human being as sa ste: no one can coerce me to be
happy in his way…” our freedom must be compatible with a similar
freedom for everyone else th
Kant has one foot in enlightenment and another that sounds very 19
o People give up some liberty to protect a deeper liberty
o Our liberty nt just excluding the influence of others, but is protected
by the appropriate influence of others upon us. Others in a sense are
completely internal to our moral decisions, our objectives have to be
our own to be autonomous but have to be one that are acceptable
when all human beings are considered and one that all other human
beings can will.
o Pg 514, right is the restriction of freedom, the state cannot be
paternalistic. Cannot tell people what is of value and what they ought
topursueto be happy
In some ways kant is suspicious of democracy
o There is a truth to what is necessary to produce freedom and the
majority might limit the minority’s ability to pursue in the way they
seem fit. Respect for each individuals freedom relied on some basic
rules that limit the majority’s ability to limit the majority’s freedom.
Apriori rights, what is an acceptable law: ones that protect basic
liberties and protect us from majorities.
o via morality and rationality you arrive at a very modern form of
government , ant government that protects these basic freedoms is
legitimate whether it is a democracy or not
Perpetual peace 8
International level, logically necessary
Going to try to apply these same principles to the relationships between
states, categorical imperative
World in continuous state of war, so long as we are afraid of others. Means
“not actual open hostility, yet the constant threatening that an outbreak may
occur”. Sets up conditions for eternal peace between everyone with the
absence of fear between all nations.
Real peace that we trust each other not to shoot at each other
o Perpetual peace is required if individual autonomy is going to exist
o Thinks this is the logical extension of everything about individual
o The goal of political thought to establish conditions for genuine peace
o At the state need to ensure conditions for free rational agency, and
will never have security in your state so long a your state is worried
about being attacked by other states
If state worried about terrorist attacks, states start rolling back
freedoms in the name of security
We need to ensure there won’t be anything that affects negatively the
autonomy of our citizens; we cannot secure individual right in out state
unless conditions for individual right are established everywhere and in the
relations between and in states.
Task of setting up eternal; secure trust between everyone
o Its very easy to produce mistrust but very difficult to create trust
o True peace only possible in three basic conditions:
Each state eternally must protect individual right, set up
according to republican notions (constitutions and
fundamental rights). These kinds of states are generally more
There will never be peace until there is set up a voluntary
league of states whose goal is to come together to promote
We also need to ensure that nations are not single mindedly
focused on the rights of their citizens, but they are also
concerned about protecting the rights of foreigners
International right, the rightful regulation between states and international
individuals requires cosmopolitan right. These three conditions can only be
met jointly, need all three conditions for it to work. Al three condition are set
up in order to protect freedom.
Rights essentially an attempt to ensure the conditions of freedoms; right is
the restriction of each to the condition of it being compatible with everyone.
Public right is the sum of the external laws, which makes such a universal
harmony possible. Requires a just state with laws and the power of it to
uphold these laws.
o A more general notion than the notion of an individual right. 9
Republican state conditions:
o A state that is based on the principles of freedom and equality of
o Could everyone will this law? Not necessarily that everyone does
o Division of powers, those exercising sovereignty are just
representatives, not owners of the state, and the exercise of executive,
judicial , legislative etc cannot be in the hands of one person, must be
a separation of powers
Pg 574, “the only constitution which has its origin… is the
republican…in accordance with the law…”
1. Those who are directly affected by decision should be the ones to
be most directly connected to the choice Separate legislative and
executive to hold back power. Need an executive who are separate
from the legislative branch and who uphold the conditions of each
2. We need a league of states, a united nations. Need to secure
relations between states, how are relations between states
different than between individuals? Pg 577, “the latter no not
require…..to public laws. And cohesion”. Pg 578 “for sates in their
relation….no other way of advancing… than by giving up their
savage lawless freedom and yielding to public international
laws…states of nations….no state desires this and reject
…federation averting war” should come together and set up
international law but the states will just reject what they should
logically recognize. If all is not to be lost, are going to have to
accept something less.
3. Interactions between states and foreigners. Need to have some
form of law regarding the rights of foreign citizens in other
nations, subject to laws of that nation or your nation? Needs to be
some international regulation of this. Cosmopolitan right, notion of
harmonizing relations to maximize freedom. Includes not just the
theory of the state but those between states.
In terms of application of kant to the real world, does the Unites nations
today do what it should be doing in terms of protecting freedoms.
Lecture 5- September 20, 2013
Will drop the Madison reading and go straight to burke, Tuesday perpetual peace
Summary on Burke still due on the Tuesday
Try to pull out the main point
Process of condensing down to the core idea
o Could you find what really mattered in this piece
o What is its argument about the world
Strategy: write a longer one where you can judge the things you have written 10
o Burkes point is x, here is why
o One page of commentary
FIRST, don’t want to tell general; story about the whole piece.
Find some point in the piece in which you can make a
reasonable argument or say it is good. Focus on something, but
not something that is minor.
Can quote from the text, but it should be tid bits.
No secondary sources besides the text, which you need to cite
Lecture 6- September 24, 2013
Comments on Kant
Should strive for perpetual peace; trying to develop some security in the
world where there is a fellow feeling and trust of nations
o Has to be what we aim for
Driven by the fact that good politics comes out of logic
o Republican states; organized around constitution, grounded in notion
of fundamental rights
o A league of states: has to be some formal relationship between the
various nations one earth
o Cosmopolitan right: how states treat foreign individuals
Likelihood of such a thing arising and working out
o Kant realizes this is a tall order, it was hotly disputed from the get-go
What kind of rules are foreign people subject to, whose laws are their laws at
o If the rights of the individual are to be protected, shouldn’t just be
when they’re in their country, urge to universal order inherent here
What does Kant think chances are of it arising
o Because Kant thinks underneath we really are rational, he in a way
thinks that this is natural. He thinks it is in our nature to tend towards
this result. Nature itself has tended us towards this result. Humans
naturally form territorial nations; world has made it possible to form
nations. In a way nature is on our side
o pg.581 “ for according to the contrivance of nature, every people finds
a tribe in it neighborhood… of so sublime reform… but now nature
comes to the aid of universal derived will, which as much as we honor
it is powerless… yet at least a good citizen” even the order of nature
will tend to direct us down the road hat Kant is suggesting
o “Hence the mechanism of nature… the empire of right”
o We could neutralize these forces, similar to Adam smith
Optimism of the enlightenment, it’ll all work out 11
o “ if it is our duty to realize a state of public right…..this has to be the
goal” basic freedoms have to be the goal. If you take away the
individuals ability to use their autonomy to make decisions, you take
away the ability to be human. Always treat people as ends not as
means because they are able to make their own means, therefore all
political systems have to be concerned with autonomy.
Stands at the beginning of modern liberal democracy
Comments on Madison , federalist papers
Very rapid development of liberalism, see origins of modern liberalism
What is liberalism
o Political system that places primacy on the value of freedom. Has
great store in the importance of choice, reason, and toleration. Aims to
set up systems that depend and potentially promote these values.
Setting up independent sphere of activity that is protected from the
encroachments of others. A sphere free of the influence of church,
state. Individuals should be free to pursue their own preferences,
religious economic affairs. States have to be founded in some form of
basic rights. State to protect freedom of individual from the state
History of what is occurring
o What we see is this rejection of monarchy, aristocracy. One of the
developments that are happening are various small sub units are
developing. Everyone has a personal relation to god