Rationalism in Politics and Other Essays

Rationalism in Politics and Other Essays

Rationalism in Politics, first published in 1962, has established the late Michael Oakeshott as the leading conservative political theorist in modern Britain. This expanded collection of essays astutely points out the limits of "reason" in rationalist politics. Oakeshott criticizes ideological schemes to reform society according to supposedly "scientific" or rationalistic principles that ignore the wealth and variety of human experience. "Rationalism in politics," says Oakeshott, "involves a misconception with regard to the nature of human knowledge." History has shown that it produces unexpected, often disastrous results. "Having cut himself off from the traditional knowledge of his society, and denied the value of any education more extensive than a training in a technique of analysis," the Rationalist succeeds only in undermining the institutions that hold civilized society together. In this regard, rationalism in politics is "a corruption of the mind." Timothy Fuller is Professor of Political Science and Dean of the College at Colorado College.

On History and Other Essays

On History and Other Essays

In five essays, including three on historiography, one of the greatest minds in English political thought in the twentieth century explores themes central to the human experience: the nature of history, the rule of law, and the quest for power that is intrinsic to the human condition. Michael Oakeshott believed, as Timothy Fuller observes, that “the historian’s effort to understand the past without ulterior motive [is the] effort which distinguishes the historian as historian from all who examine the past for the guidance they expect it to provide about practical concerns.” The essays on history are “Present, Future, and Past,” “Historical Events: The fortuitous, the causal, the similar, the correlative, the analogous, and the contingent,” and “Historical Change: Identity and continuity.” In “The Rule of Law,” Oakeshott takes the expression to mean a particular kind of ideal human relationship. In “The Tower of Babel”— one of two essays he wrote by the same title and on the same subject—Oakeshott discusses the various versions in which the Bible story has been told and the different circumstances which it has been used to illuminate. On History was originally published in 1983. Michael Oakeshott (1901–1990) was Professor of Political Science at the London School of Economics and a Fellow of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge. He was the author of many works, including Rationalism in Politics and Other Essays and Hobbes on Civil Association, both published by Liberty Fund. Timothy Fuller is Dean of Colorado College and has published widely on the works of Michael Oakeshott.

British Foreign Policy and the Anglican Church

Christian Engagement with the Contemporary World

British Foreign Policy and the Anglican Church

Whilst the views of leaders within the Church of England are frequently canvassed during periods of national crisis, little attention has been devoted to finding out whether there are Church perspectives on contemporary foreign policy issues. The Church of England has not been regarded as an actor with a strong input into international affairs, preferring to speak out on domestic and individual issues. Yet world politics present fundamental ethical dilemmas which call for careful deliberation and the Church has a role to play both in shaping the debate and arguing for particular policy directions. To what extent is national policy shaped by underlying Christian values. Do the campaigning efforts of faith groups really exert influence and guide the development of state policy? This book seeks to elucidate whether there are particular Christian perspectives on the role that Great Britain should play in the world today. It investigates the role that the Church of England has played in contemporary foreign policy issues: including the use of force - intervention, counter-terrorism and arms sales - and overseas trade, aid and debt forgiveness. The book brings together senior individuals from within the Church, academia and non-governmental organisations to investigate these various ethical dilemmas.

In Defence of Modernity

Vision and Philosophy in Michael Oakeshott

In Defence of Modernity

Although Oakeshott's philosophy has received considerable attention, the vision which underlies it has been almost completely ignored. This vision, which is rooted in the intellectual debates of his epoch, cements his ideas into a coherent whole and provides a compelling defence of modernity. The main feature of Oakeshott's vision of modernity is seen here as radical plurality resulting from 'fragmentation' of experience and society. On the level of experience, modernity denies the existence of the hierarchical medieval scheme and argues that there exist independent ways of understanding our world, such as science and history, which cannot be reduced to each other. On the level of society, modernity finds expression in liberal doctrine, according to which society is an aggregate of individuals each pursuing his or her own choices. For Oakeshott, to be modern means not only to recognise this condition of radical plurality but also to learn to appreciate and enjoy it. Oakeshott did not think that it was possible to find a comprehensive philosophical justification for modernity, therefore the only way to preserve modern civilisation seemed to be an appeal to sentiment. As a consequence he was a passionate defender of liberal education as the best way to underwrite the 'conversation of mankind.'

European Security in the Twenty-First Century

The Challenge of Multipolarity

European Security in the Twenty-First Century

Combining a sophisticated theoretical analysis with detailed empirical case-studies, this book provides an original view of the challenges and threats to a stable peace order in Europe. The end of Cold War bipolarity has transformed Europe. Using structural realist theory, Adrian Hyde-Price analyzes the new security agenda confronting Europe in the twenty-first century. Europe, he argues, is not ‘primed for peace’ as mainstream thinking suggests, rather, it faces new security threats and the challenge of multipolarity. This critical and original volume looks at European security after the Iraq War, the failure of the EU constitution and the change of government in Germany. Reflecting on the inherently competitive and tragic nature of international politics, it concludes that realism provides the only firm foundations for an ethical foreign and security policy. European Security in the Twenty-First Century will appeal to students and scholars of international relations, European politics and security studies.

A Theory of Republican Character and Related Essays

A Theory of Republican Character and Related Essays

This volume is a collection of four essays and two shorter pieces - all linked to the theme of the title essay. That title piece, "A Theory of Republican Character - for a Democratic Age," is a study in political theory. Taking his bearings from Aristotle's distinction in the Politics between the lowest form of mixed regime - a polity or republic - and the highest form of democracy, Wendell John Coats, Jr., attempts to establish a distinction within popular government between two kinds of characters or personalities, the republican and the democratic. The hallmark of the republican character is the practice of considering proposed laws and policies from the standpoint of their likely effects on both one's private interests and the general, authoritative context (i.e., a constitution) within which they occur and by which they are made possible. Coats makes his argument for the importance of such republican generalists in even an advanced, specialized democracy - necessary if political balance is to be maintained. The second essay, "Some Correspondences between Oakeshott's 'Civil Condition' and the Republican Tradition," appeared in a volume of The Political Science Reviewer devoted to the thought of the twentieth-century English political theorist Michael Oakeshott (1901-90). It is included in this collection for its exploration of convergences between republicanism and classical liberalism - and for its treatment of divergences of republicanism and classical liberalism from advanced democracy. "American Democracy and the Punitive Use of Force - Requiem for the McNamara Model," the third piece in this volume, is relevant not merely for its general policy considerations (which are still meaningful after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Gulf War), but because it views the use of armed force in the context of the preservation of a system of political authority - a republican affinity - rather than primarily as an "economic" exercise in the infliction of increments of "pain." The collection's fourth essay is entitled "Drama and Democracy." It attempts to show how the pedagogic use of drama in the college classroom can help to keep political ways of understanding alive and respectable - in the face of the onslaught of scientific modes of explanation. Two shorter pieces are included as appendices. The first, a public address entitled "Two Views of Aristotle's Politics" is included here for its opposition to the claim of some historians that Aristotle can hardly be of political relevance today. The second appendix is a review of Michael Oakeshott's The Voice of Liberal Learning, edited by Timothy Fuller. It is important here because Oakeshott's account of the liberal arts ideal of nurturing habits of comprehensive, individual judgment is typical of what Coats calls the "republican character."

Politics and Experience

Essays Presented to Professor Michael Oakeshott on the Occasion of His Retirement

Politics and Experience

This volume was compiled in 1968 to honour the retirement of the eminent political philosopher Professor Michael Oakeshott. Professor Oakeshott, widely regarded as one of the most important conservative intellectuals of the twentieth century, understood the need for political philosophy to conceive experience as a whole, and accordingly sought to address politics both historically and rationally. These essays engage with the common concerns of his major works, opportunistically exploring the ideas of this great thinker further. Moreover, they are a reflection of the contributors' academic interests, variously discussing tradition, the nature of political philosophy, ideology, revolution, education, history and rationalism. As the essays contained within are separate investigations of Oakeshott's ideas, they can be enjoyed both in and out of sequence. This volume will be of value to anyone with an appreciation of political philosophy and its history, and indeed, with an interest in the ideas of Professor Oakeshott himself.

Political and Social Thought in Post-Communist Russia

Political and Social Thought in Post-Communist Russia

This is the first comprehensive study of Russian political and social thought in the post-Communist era. The book portrays and critically examines the conceptual and theoretical attempts by Russian scholars and political thinkers to make sense of the challenges of post-communism and the trials of economic, political and social transformation. It brings together the various strands of political thought that have been formulated in the wake of the collapsed communist doctrine. It engages constructively with the numerous attempts by Russian political theorists and social scientists to articulate a coherent model of liberal democracy in their country. The book investigates critical, as well as favourable voices, in the Russian debate on liberal democracy, a debate often marked by eclecticism and, at times, little conceptual discipline. As such, the book will be of great interest both to Russian specialists, and to all those interested in political and social thought more widely.

Political Theory and Practice

Eight Essays on a Theme

Political Theory and Practice

The essays in this monograph address the relation of political theorizing to political practice and action collected in over two decades of teaching the canonical history of Western political theory. The issues were selected not on some deductive or speculative basis, but for the light they may shed on the political theory.

Post-Liberalism

Studies in Political Thought

Post-Liberalism

John Gray has become one of our liveliest and most influential political philosophers. This current volume is a sequel to his Liberalisms: Essays in Political Philosophy. The earlier book ended on a sceptical note, both in respect of what a post-liberal political philosophy might look like, and with respect to the claims of political philosophy itself. John Gray's new book gives post-liberal theory a more definite content. It does so by considering particular thinkers in the history of political thought, by criticizing the conventional wisdom, liberal and socialist, of the Western academic class, and most directly by specifying what remains of value in liberalism. The upshot of this line of thought is that we need not regret the failure of foundationalist liberalism, since we have all we need in the historic inheritance of the institutions of civil society. It is to the practice of liberty that these institutions encompass, rather than to empty liberal theory, that we should repair.