Part I: A Retrospective Interpretation of the American System: Justice as Maximizing Utility for “All Men” Bounded by Kantian Ethical Restraints


A Retrospective Interpretation of the American System: Part I

Assumption One: The purpose of a just political system in the Western world is not to realize deep oral values. It is to maximize economic utility and political stability with Kantian ethical restraints.
Corollary One: The paradox. Activists are usually motivated by a desire to realize a deep moral value. All political movements that seek to attain a deep moral ideal lead to increased material suffering. Activists thus do not understand their own history.

Assumption Two: The primary goal of Western political philosophy has been to create a system which makes it possible for “all the parts” of society to function well; to “do their part”. The function of the system is not to let ‘the individual get rich or be free or to realize a deep moral value.

Assumption Three: Political movements that are based on a desire to achieve a particular moral value considered deeply meaningful always lead to a decline in the material well being of the average citizen. The two examples of this in the 20th century are Marxism (value: equality) and libertarianism in the US: (value: liberty).

Assumption Four: Successfully making a system which accomplishes (1) and (2) requires that we can PREDICT human behavior reasonably well from a macro perspective. There is not an “essential” human quality apart from observed behavior.

Assumption Five: The best way to predict behavior at a macro level is to have knowledge of what motivates most people most of the time. What motivates people most of the time is not to “be a good person” but to “maximize my economic well being in absolute and relative terms.”

Assumption Six: All men are created equal, but not in the way the public assumes. For politics, we are to assume that “all men” have a particular motive in common. All men are not equal as in “having the right to the same material benefits”. They are equal in having a particular motive in common. The motive is the desire to get basic needs met.

Assumption Seven: Prediction does not require that all cases conform to the prediction, but only the majority.

Assumption Eight: All successful political and social systems are based on two prongs: Description AND prescription. The public activist starts with neutral observation to determine what is the case. He then seeks to make policy in light of a desired good. We are not neutral towards the good and the bad, and we are not supposed to be neutral towards it.

Assumption Nine: There are “four types” that make up modern society. All but three function just as they do not as they ought, while one seeks to act in light of an ideal or an ought. The founder of states must have an intentionality to fill their role well.

Assumption Ten: The primary struggle in the history of humanity is between the strong man and the political philosopher. “Freedom” vs “tyranny” is based in “democratic government” vs. “the strong”. It is not reflected in “the individual” vs “the government” as is the common opinion.

Assumption Eleven: There is a deep tension between seeking to be a ‘good citizen’ and being a ‘good man’.

Assumption Twelve: Contrary to the common opinion, Plato did not seriously envision a philosopher-king. Plato envisioned philosopher types functioning to influence the writing of basic law, or Constitutions from “behind the scenes”.
Corrolary Twelve: The MOVEMENT in the Allegory of the Cave from inside to outside the cave as a metaphor for the historical and normative movement of Western PHILOSOPHERS. The movement from outside the cave to inside the cave as the normative movement of Western political-economies.

One Response to “Part I: A Retrospective Interpretation of the American System: Justice as Maximizing Utility for “All Men” Bounded by Kantian Ethical Restraints”

  1. Brij MOHAN says:

    Hi, T:
    Good to see you at work. Your writing is crystal clear, laconic and well conceptualized.
    Glad you continue your contributions as a philosopher in action.
    I doubt if return to the Platonic Cave can re-civilze Americans. Wait for my autobiography:

    KAFKA’S CAVE: AN ACADEMIC MEMOIRE (Scholar’s Pub., Toronto, 2016)

    Good luck with your endeavors.

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