Is there a “recipe” for democratic government? Is democracy contingent? Can political decay be reversed? To understand the pressures on democracy in the 21st century, it’s important to understand what modern democracy is and where it came from. Francis Fukuyama aims to build that foundation in his book The Origins of Political Order. Continue reading for the book’s takeaways on understanding democracy in the world today.
What is communitarianism? How does communitarianism differ from liberalism and utilitarianism? Communitarianism is a political ideology that prioritizes the connection between the individual and the community. According to political philosopher Michael Sandel, communitarianism is the best principle for organizing human societies. Keep reading to learn about communitarianism, according to Michael Sandel.
Is inequality inevitable? How did we come to view inequality this way and get stuck in unequal state-level societies? David Graeber and David Wengrow raise these questions in The Dawn of Everything. They suggest that understanding the complexity and diversity of different kinds of societies throughout history might prompt us to broaden our ideas about the possibilities for our contemporary societies. Keep reading for an invitation to consider these important questions, including an exercise to help you think through alternatives.
What is libertarianism in philosophy? Is there a safe limit to how much freedom individuals may have? Libertarianism states that the goal of the state is to maximize personal freedom. This goal comes from the libertarian belief that people own themselves. That said, libertarians do recognize that it’s the government’s role to prevent people from limiting the freedom of others. Keep reading to learn about the key tenets of libertarian philosophy.
Is it a good idea to get married and tie your life with one person in the 21st century? What are some reasons not to get married? In his book The Unplugged Alpha, Richard Cooper strongly advises men against ever getting married. As Cooper points out, even if you do get married, you’re likely to get divorced. Here’s why you should steer clear of marriage, according to Cooper.
What were the origins of the Black Death? What impact did the plague have on society? Are there similarities to the Covid-19 pandemic? In The Silk Roads, historian Peter Frankopan discusses the Black Death in the context of East-West dynamics. He notes how it changed the world economy and the balance of power. Some commentators compare that shift to today’s Great Resignation. Keep reading to understand the impact of the Black Death and how it compares to what we’re seeing with Covid-19.
What is utilitarianism in philosophy? How do utilitarians define morality? Utilitarianism is a moral philosophy arguing that the morality of an action or choice depends on how much happiness or pain it creates. “Happiness” to utilitarians (which they call “utility”) means pleasure and the fulfillment of desires, while a lack of happiness means pain or deprivation of desires. Keep reading to learn about the key tenets of utilitarianism philosophy and how they apply to real-life political issues.
Are democracies safe as long as they respect the rule of law? What does history tell us? A major component of modern liberal democracies is the rule of law—the belief that the state is constrained by some higher standard of conduct. However, the rule of law is not a complete safeguard of democracy. Continue reading to learn about the limitations of the rule of law.
Why does inequality exist, and when did it start? Is inequality a necessary evil of any large, complex society? David Graeber and David Wengrow attempted to answer these questions by looking at historical and anthropological research. They found that our beliefs about the evolution of societies have been wrong. They discuss their findings in the book The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity. Keep reading for an overview of this thought-provoking book.
Why is the rule of law important to modern democracies? Where does it come from? A major component of modern liberal democracy is the rule of law. Francis Fukuyama explains where the rule of law comes from, how it affects the political order, and how its absence (or weakness) leads to authoritarianism. Read more for a discussion about the rule of law and its importance to society.