In addition to the traditionalist-conservative view covered last time, the other anti-Enlightenment school the course explores is contemporary communitarianism. While Burke and Devlin appealed to tradition as the basis for our values, communitarians appeal to the community-accepted values as the basis for what should guide us. Communitarian Richard Rorty criticizes the Enlightenment endeavor of justifying philosophy from the ground up from indubitable premises as a fool's errand and a dangerous mug's game. The main focus of this lecture is the communitarianism of Alasdair MacIntyre. Professor Shapiro introduces this school by exploring the symptoms of the problem wrought by the Enlightenment. One is the rise of emotivism and complete moral subjectivism--that is, the abandonment of the instruments for making moral judgments as a consequence of trying to justify philosophy from the ground up. The second symptom is the triumph of instrumentalism and the rejection of teleology, which is actually a coping mechanism for society's deep pluralism of values. Professor Shapiro discusses MacIntyre's two symptoms, as well as introduces his conceptions of practices and virtues.
MacIntyre, After Virtue, chapters 1-5
MacIntyre, After Virtue, chapters 6-8 [optional]
This course explores main answers to the question, "When do governments deserve our allegiance?" It starts with a survey of major political theories of the Enlightenment—Utilitarianism, Marxism, and the social contract tradition—through classical formulations, historical context, and contemporary debates relating to politics today. It then turns to the rejection of Enlightenment political thinking. Lastly, it deals with the nature of, and justifications for, democratic politics, and their relations to Enlightenment and Anti-Enlightenment political thinking. Practical implications of these arguments are covered through discussion of a variety of concrete problems.
This Yale College course, taught on campus twice per week for 50 minutes, was recorded for Open Yale Courses in Spring 2010.