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2022 | Buch

Retrieving Liberalism from Rationalist Constructivism, Volume I

History and Its Betrayal

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This first volume, History and its Betrayal, traces the development of major themes of liberalism from the increase in human population beyond the limits of the face-to-face society of tribalism and small groups up until the present day. It shows that the principles underlying liberalism are the evolutionary development of social organizations that have resulted from the complexity of human action rather than any conscious design or purpose.

This book draws out the differences between the classical liberalism dependent upon spontaneous and tacit ordering as a result of evolution, and the explicit or conscious or directed version of progressivism. It shows that the most important recent developments in the philosophy of rationality and the methodology of scientific research, as well as in evolutionary epistemology and the philosophy of biology, actually stem from the theories of complex social organization of the moralists such as Hume, Ferguson, and Smith. The book shows clearly that classical liberalism was never refuted—indeed, no attempt to do so has been offered—it has simply been ignored in favour of programs which sound beneficial and soothing but which cannot be instituted without returning to tribalism.

Inhaltsverzeichnis

Frontmatter
Chapter 1. Introduction
Abstract
Liberalism arose as a theory of the organization and structure of human society. It is not in itself a political theory (which is prescriptive, dealing with how society ought to be governed). Political liberalism takes that theory of society as data constraining how governmental systems should be organized, simultaneously arguing against systems that would return society to more primitive, less beneficial forms of organization. Against that, rationalist constructivism claims that classical liberalism has been supplanted by deliberate reasoning and conscious planning of social organization. This chapter sets up that conflict, as it evolved in philosophy, law, political theory, epistemology, economics, and is even found in seemingly unrelated conflicts in psychology and linguistics.
Walter B. Weimer
Chapter 2. The History of the Conflict: From the Greeks to the Middle Ages
Abstract
Law, the oldest social study, distinguished between “grown” or spontaneously arisen rules of conduct (Greek Nomos) and deliberately made or explicit legislation (thesei) that serves particular purposes. Liberalism stresses the indispensable role of “grown” law and the role of the lawfinder. Found laws typically are negative in character, stating that one must not perform certain classes of behavior to avoid bad consequences. Rationalist constructivism attempts to replace spontaneous rules of conduct with “positive” deliberately legislated “laws” (from an elite lawgiver) specifying particular actions to be performed. Constructivist approaches cannot encompass unforeseen and unknown situations, limiting conduct to already known patterns. They are incompatible with the evolution of society. Constructivism also redefined reason as explicit conscious deliberation.
Walter B. Weimer
Chapter 3. The History of the Conflict: Descartes, the Enlightenment, and Positivism
Abstract
Cartesian rationalism in social theory began with Hobbes, Rousseau, Saint-Simon, and Comte. After Descartes (who had put sovereign reason outside the natural order to judge and correct it), these thinkers glorified explicit reason (clear and indubitable Cartesian common sense) as our savior, relocating sovereign power from an arbitrary hereditary sovereign to “the best and brightest,” conceived as themselves, the intellectual and scientific elites, who were to be benevolent dictators and organizers of traditional (thus disorganized and chaotic) society. Rational “positive” law was to replace “found” law, hereditary authority replaced by “democratic” elites, and (Comte especially) science and society to be organized by top-down control in a “rational” hierarchy. Sovereign control of society and politics were to be in the hands of Cartesian rational “organization men.” By the mid nineteenth century this constructivist doctrine had morphed into socialism.
Walter B. Weimer
Chapter 4. History Rewritten: The Twentieth-Century Constructivist Interpretation of Classical Liberalism
Abstract
Seeing liberalism as outmoded and inadequate for “modern” society, constructivism rewrote history. Russell’s A History of Western Philosophy provides an example. Constructivists abhor private property (they assume one man’s gain must come at another’s expense), laissez-faire (it encourages “unplanned” organization), freedom (it is outmoded, with sovereigns no longer absolute), and justice as freedom from coercion. Russell said it was necessary to supplant them with socialism (social organization for “equality”), utilitarianism (providing a goal for individuals), and distributive justice as fairness (to supplant “outmoded” freedom). This chapter examines Russell’s treatment of classic eighteenth-century liberals, showing these trends. One consequence was to substitute a pre-evolutionary view (based upon tribal dictatorial leadership and centralized control and ownership) for an evolutionary one (based upon competition and survival of the best adapted).
Walter B. Weimer
Chapter 5. The New Enlightenment: Russell on Organization and Socialism
Abstract
Russell, perhaps the most influential philosopher of his era, felt that the lack of explicit organization was the problem facing the twentieth century. His quest for certainty and organization, as well as hatred of private property coupled with his quest for happiness, made socialism the only possible form of social-political order his Cartesian common sense could imagine. The “old” liberalism, with its evils of competition and private property and wars, was to be replaced by top-down organization in the form of socialism. Competition, for Russell, is inalterably opposed to organization. Organization and equality he took to be the “peaceful” and “logical” successors to classical liberty. This chapter overviews his views and their interventionist consequences.
Walter B. Weimer
Chapter 6. The New Enlightenment: Chomsky on Cartesian Linguistics and Anarchist Socialism
Abstract
Chomsky revived Rousseau’s romantic libertarian position with a sophisticated methodological approach. Like Russell, Chomsky’s anarchist socialism combined incompatibles, attempting to graft a libertarian “flower child” approach to society as anarchistic, never realizing that his scientific achievements refuted his social-political position. In linguistics he advocated falsificationism, but based the study of language on unfalsifiable Cartesian clear cases as “common sense.” He argued for rule-governed creativity as the central fact of language (against Skinner’s denial of creativity as rule-governed and due only to external situational reinforcement). Chomsky’s social philosophy has always been laissez-faire anarchism (denying any rules governing behavior) as unleashing creative potential within individuals. Also, the uniqueness of language (full-blown in the Cartesian sense) is incompatible with evolution, and has been watered down. But the anarchist social thought has never been allowed to face criticism.
Walter B. Weimer
Chapter 7. The New Enlightenment: Skinner and the Search for System
Abstract
Comte was reborn in B. F. Skinner: both have elaborate (and false) theories of science as descriptive, both were terrified of freedom (it denies their god of “control”). They endorse metaphysical determinism—whereas Chomsky had a god named Creativity, Skinner’s was Control (schedules of reinforcement): no matter what happens, it is strictly determined by schedules of reinforcement. Freedom, dignity, and choice are outmoded, showing lack of awareness of controlling schedules. How to organize society? Put it in a rigid Skinner box—the grand conditioner, a Cartesian god outside the natural order, determines reinforcement and schedules. No “results of human action but not design.” No “inner man” to organize behavior: just schedules of reinforcement controlling behavior. Language? Just behavior. Skinner is Russell without happiness or a soul, with organization replaced by controlling reinforcements. Intellectual historians need to explain how this amalgam of pleonasm and pontification (refuted before Skinner was born) garnered so many followers.
Walter B. Weimer
Chapter 8. The New Enlightenment: The Abandoned Road
Abstract
Liberalism was never refuted. It was abandoned by constructivists because of alleged inadequacies (according to their Cartesian common sense). Doing so was abetted by two strategies: first, portraying liberalism as “nothing but” reactionary, a conservative defense of “laissez-faire” as the status quo; second, by “supplanting” it with freedom from want, utilitarian happiness, and justice as distributive. This “renascent” liberalism is actually nothing but socialism, involving the abandonment of the spontaneous market rules of order of society in favor of the equivalent of a tribal leader or dictatorship (central planning board) legislating “positive” commands to perform particular behaviors. Positive “freedoms” replace the “outmoded” negative constraints of true liberalism. “Rights” become “entitlements,” which are handouts from politicians. This chapter overviews how this retreat to primitivism occurred, and was proposed as a “scientific” improvement.
Walter B. Weimer
Chapter 9. Rationalist Constructivism in Protest Song Rhetoric
Abstract
Keynes’ academic scribblers need their views filtered down to the nonacademic masses. One way this occurred in the twentieth-century technological society is through music, and some lyrics of popular rock and roll music are examined in this chapter for their overt and subliminal rationalist constructivist themes. The rock ‘n roll era insinuated progressivist themes seamlessly into its protestation of, for example, the generation gap, racial discrimination, the horror of war, generational alienation, and other legitimate concerns of the post-World War II era. Rarely aware of actual consequences of these views, the “lost” youth of the era grew up with nostalgia for the direction and seeming satisfaction these themes provide. Even when they had “grown up” and moved on from their protest days, the progressivist themes continued to infect their attitudes and adult behavior.
Walter B. Weimer
Chapter 10. Retrieving History: Liberalism and the Study of Spontaneous Social Orders
Abstract
Progressivism—with top-down control by explicit reason directing behaviors specified in advance—is a return to primitivism and tribalism in a pre-evolutionary conception. Static conceptions cannot respond to unknown and unforeseen events nor provide any mechanism for novel behavior or knowledge. And there is no justice in the commands of a dictator (who must favor one individual or group with distributions), only in the negative rules of order of the spontaneous cosmos (where justice is “blind to the particular”). Law is purposeless. No society can deliberately give itself common laws. They evolve as a result of unintended consequences of action. Based upon our inevitable ignorance of particulars, liberalism is a theory of adaptability to an unknown and unforeseen environment, not just to one already known. Adaptation is learning what mistakes to avoid, without restricting novel behavior. We are the product of abstract rules of order in which we are embedded, not their conscious creators.
Walter B. Weimer
Chapter 11. Retrieving History: The Legacy of David Hume
Abstract
Hume was a consistent evolutionary theorist, and the first significant non-justificational philosopher. Not the pure skeptic portrayed by justificationists such as Russell, he had a “positive” approach to philosophy and theory of society in his essential negatives. Hume “whittled down the claims of false—i.e., Cartesian—reason” by consistent analysis of its own claims. He abandoned the quest for justification entirely, reducing knowledge from Cartesian apodictic certainty to what it is—“mere” animal expectation and anticipation. Reason, the “glory” of humanity to the Cartesian, is a slave to the passions, a recent evolutionary outgrowth from the primitive fight or flight judgments of animals. There is no possible instant rational assessment—reason emerges slowly, over time, when actions follow general rules in the ever-changing events we face. Learning results from the constant winnowing of judgments by testing them against reality. The Moralists were “Darwinians before Darwin.”
Walter B. Weimer
Chapter 12. Toward a Rational Theory of Tradition: Order, Knowledge, and Tradition
Abstract
We have no idea why we do traditional things, so we rationalize explanations. We assume “the enlightened” are right to replace grown institutions with what explicit reason dictates. But reason—rationality—lies in the fact that groups who followed those traditions survived and displaced those who did not. We resulted from group selection, not explicit reason. Minds and culture developed concurrently. This chapter develops ramifications of evolution, fundamental social phenomena—the economy of knowledge and division of labor. They allow spontaneously ordered systems to provide for disparate, often conflicting, ends for individuals without common goals. Market orders use ignorance to pursue unique ends because they are not decided in advance, so are not restricted to common ends. Markets depend upon constraints (general rules) specifying only a framework in which the game of catallaxy is played. Utilizing that function is the superior power of liberalism—“improvements” would actually destroy civilization and society.
Walter B. Weimer
Chapter 13. Toward a Rational Theory of Tradition: Methodological and Conceptual Issues
Abstract
Liberalism entails realism in the study of the social and psychological, unlike collectivism (which assumes alleged wholes—crowds or classes—are real and causal entities). Liberalism finds only individuals exist and act, even though they sometimes appear in groups or different occupations. Methodological individualism rules out organic and transpersonal models of society (conspiracy theories), or any rigid determinism. The social domain of unintended consequences of action can never be reduced to the psychological (individual) domain. Society is a group phenomenon—evolutionary group selection—its most salient aspect is the tacit dimension of organization. We are its products, not its creators. Explicit reason will never replace that evolved organization. This chapter explores such themes, and how the tacit dimension of cognition interacts with the tacit dimension of society: what Ferguson knew in 1767 when he said “Mankind are to be taken in groups, as they have always subsisted.”
Walter B. Weimer
Backmatter
Metadaten
Titel
Retrieving Liberalism from Rationalist Constructivism, Volume I
verfasst von
Dr. Walter B. Weimer
Copyright-Jahr
2022
Electronic ISBN
978-3-030-94858-0
Print ISBN
978-3-030-94857-3
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-94858-0

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