- Department: Philosophy
- Module co-ordinator: Dr. Christopher Jay
- Credit value: 20 credits
- Credit level: I
- Academic year of delivery: 2021-22
In some ways, it is hard to imagine two more diametrically opposed philosophies than anarchism and conservatism. But both anarchism and conservatism come in many varieties, and there are interesting and surprising things that some anarchists and some conservatives agree about. This module will investigate views about liberty, authority, value and justice, and explore the ways in which scepticism and an emphasis on liberty can be developed in very different directions.
|A||Autumn Term 2021-22|
To understand different forms of two political philosophies.
To introduce students to the critical study of demanding historical and contemporary texts which deal with often controversial subjects in a measured and analytical way.
To think carefully about various issues in value theory and other moral and political issues.
To gain confidence and improve students’ ability to write and communicate clearly and precisely.
By the end of this module, students should:
know - what proponents of several forms of conservatism and anarchism believe, and why.
understand - some of the arguments motivating conservativism and anarchism, and some of the issues in value theory and other areas of philosophy which those arguments are about.
be able to – articulate clearly and precisely what is at issue in debates about political authority, the value of tradition, rationalism in politics, and liberty; and reach a careful judgement about what to say in those debates.
Many anarchists agree with many conservatives about the importance of liberty, and in their trust of individuals. But anarchism is a radical political philosophy, whilst conservativism is (often) resistant to radical politics. How do these shared commitments lead to such different political ideals? In fact, both anarchism and conservatism are broad churches, with deep disputes between different kinds of anarchists and between different kinds of conservatives. We will investigate some of the ideological connections between, and some of the divisions within, anarchism and conservativism.
Along the way, we will consider various issues including the value of liberty, scepticism about political institutions, the role of tradition and the rationality of ‘status quo bias’, whether we have a general obligation to obey the law, the advantages and dangers of optimism and of pessimism, and how to think about justice. We will read historical and contemporary texts, some famous and some more obscure, and we will consider arguments which those texts present and, in many cases, reconstruct missing arguments and take a step back to consider broader philosophical ideas, from philosophy of law, ethics and the study of rationality, as well as political philosophy, which inform or give us a useful perspective on the claims of our authors.
|Task||Length||% of module mark|
The formative 1,500-word Reflective/Critical Task will be submitted on Monday, Week 6 of the Autumn Term.
The 2,500-word summative essay is due on Monday, Week 1 of the Spring Term.
The 1-hour summative closed exam will take place in Week 1 of the Spring Term.
|Task||Length||% of module mark|
Written feedback on formative work will be provided within two weeks of the submission deadline.
Written feedback will be given on summative essays within four weeks of the submission deadline, and there will be an opportunity for students to view their exam scripts and receive oral feedback on their exam performance.
Key texts might include:
Ruth Kinna, The Government of No One: The Theory and Practice of Anarchism
Rationalist Utilitarian Anarchism
William Godwin, An Enquiry Concerning Political Justice (1st Ed. ) (Oxford: OUP (2013)), Book III Chapters 3–6
Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, ‘The Authority Principle’  in Daniel Guérin (ed.) No Gods, No Masters: An Anthology of Anarchism (Compete Edition, Oakland, CA: AK Press, 2005), pp. 81–98.
Emma Goldman, ‘Anarchism: What it Really Stands For’ in Anarchism and Other Essays (New York: Mother Earth Publishing Association, 1911)
Petr Kropotkin, The Conquest of Bread (Cambridge: CUP), Chapter 4.
Michel Bakunin, God and the State etc. in Readings from the Founder of Anarchism
Ruth Kinna, ‘Kropotkin’s Theory of Mutual Aid in Historical Context’, International Review of Social History 40 (1995), pp. 259–83.
Conservativism as an Attitude to Change, and the Rationality of Status-Quo Bias
Michael Oakeshott, ‘On Being Conservative’ in Rationalism in Politics (London: Methuen & Co., 1962)
Geoffrey Brennan & Alan Hamlin, ‘Practical Conservativism’, The Monist 99:4 (2016), pp. 336–51
F. A. Hayek, The Constitution of Liberty , ‘Postscript: Why I am Not a Conservative’, in The Constitution of Liberty: The Definitive Edition (Chicago, Ill.: University of Chicago Press, 2011)
G. A. Cohen, ‘Rescuing Conservativism: A Defence of Existing Value’ in Finding Oneself in the Other (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press)
Geoffrey Brennan & Alan Hamlin, ‘Conservative Value’, The Monist 99:4 (2016), pp. 352–71
Conservativism, Epistemology and Organisation
F. A. Hayek, Law, Legislation and Liberty: A New Statement of the Liberal Principles of Justice and Political Economy (London: Routledge, 1982 [1973–9]), Vol. 1 Chapter 2 (‘Cosmos and Taxis’)
Amy R. Baehr, ‘Conservatism, Feminism, and Elizabeth Fox-Genovese’, Hypatia 24:2 (2009), pp. 101–124
Roger Scruton, Green Philosophy: How to Think Seriously About the Planet (London: Atlantic, 2012), Chapters 1 & 8.
Anarchism and Conservatism
Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, selections from Property is Theft
Petr Kropotkin, The Conquest of Bread (Cambridge: CUP), Chapter 1 Section II
Voltairine de Cleyre, ‘In Defence of Emma Goldman and the Right of Expropriation’ , reprinted in The Voltairine de Cleyre Reader (ed. A. J. Brigati, Oakland, Cal.: AK Press, 2004).)
Jeffrey Brennan, Why Not Capitalism? (Oxford: Routledge, 2014), Chapter 4. (Read Chapter 2 as background.)