Reason, Freedom, and Justice

Mark Philp and Z. A. Pelczynski

in Machiavelli, Hobbes, and Rousseau

Published in print June 2012 | ISBN: 9780199645060
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191741616 | DOI:
Reason, Freedom, and Justice

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Plamenatz distinguishes between the freedom secured in the Social Contract (freedom in a just society) and Emile (the freedom of the just man in the unjust society) and inquires whether a just man in an unjust society can really be free. Rousseau suggestion that only just principles can be rational and stable is examined, alongside the idea that morality is rational. Much that Rousseau says seems to root morality in feeling, rather than reason, but he also has a conception of an ordered life, lived in accord with coherent and realistic principles and pursuing coherent aims in conditions of equality, and that view, particularly the concern with equality, is more contentious. So too is the suggestion that the rich are more than ordinarily subject to vanity and are thus necessarily unfree.

Keywords: Rousseau; reason; freedom; justice; morality; order; natural law; amour de soi; pity; inequality; order; vanity; dependence

Chapter.  12552 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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