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Hobbes's preference for monarchical sovereign forms and his critique of democratic political organization are well known. In this article I suggest, however, that his opposition to democratic life constitutes the central frame through which we must understand some of the most important theoretical mutations that occur throughout the various stages of his civil science. Key alterations in the Hobbesian political theory from The Elements of Law to Leviathan can be interpreted as efforts to retroactively foreclose the emergence of a substantive democratic normativity that the prior theoretical framework allowed for or suggested. Hobbes's opposition to democracy is ultimately so significant so as to fundamentally structure various key elements of his political philosophy.
Scholars have emphasized Adam Smith's critique of the dangers of patriotism, but have not paid close attention to its potential value. This article recovers from Smith's work an attractive model of patriotism without nationalism. The potential value of patriotism lies in inspiring individuals to realize an ideal of impartial beneficence, which consists in overcoming selfishness and other subpolity partialities and in promoting the greater happiness of all fellow citizens. Smith defends virtuous patriotism against strong cosmopolitanism by arguing that a global division of labor, which directs individuals to benefit their compatriots, more effectively serves the interests of humanity than directly trying to promote global happiness. This article illuminates aspects of Smith's work that contrast with the “invisible hand” argument and favor the conscious pursuit of public interest in some contexts. It contributes to recent discussions of patriotism a distinctive way of understanding its relation to impartiality.
This article inquires into the moral successes and failings of the superrich in America. To do this, we turn to Alexis de Tocqueville who outlines a set of expectations for any privileged elite. Drawing from his Old Regime, Memoir on Pauperism, and Democracy in America, we argue that the superrich are obliged to a particular kind of charity, which we specify as philanthropy. To fulfill their philanthropic duties, the superrich must steadfastly attend to three obligations: maintaining their local communities, safeguarding local liberties, and providing moral leadership. In the conclusion, we suggest how the superrich might be disciplined unto this virtue.
Søren Kierkegaard's Fear and Trembling has traditionally attracted interest from scholars of political theory for its apparent hostility to political philosophy, and more recently for its compatibility with Marxism. This paper argues for a reconsideration of Kierkegaard's potential contributions to political theory by suggesting that the work's shortcomings belong to its pseudonymous author, Johannes de Silentio, and are in fact intended by Kierkegaard. Attentiveness to the literary development of the pseudonym allows us to see a Kierkegaard who is a deeper and more direct critic of Hegel's political philosophy than is usually presumed. By creating a pseudonym whose argument ultimately fails, Kierkegaard employs Socratic irony in order to point readers to the need to recover Socratic political philosophy as the appropriate adjunct to the faith of Abraham, and as an alternative to Hegelian, and post-Hegelian, political thought.
A Symposium on Jeremy Fortier's The Challenge of Nietzsche: How to Approach His Thought