Tamar Gendler, Department of Philosophy Chair at Yale University, Cognitive Scientist

Who gets what and who says so? These two questions underlie and inform every social arrangement from the resolution of schoolyard squabbles to the meta-structure of human societies. They are also the basis of political philosophy. Professor Tamar Gendler uses the work of three titans of the discipline, Thomas Hobbes, John Rawls, and Robert Nozick, as a lens to guide us through the taut debate about the role of government in society, asking "Will we embrace the radical state of nature or will we surrender our freedom to the leviathan of the state?"

The Floating University
Originally released September 2011.

Tags: culture, economics, income, philosophy, social contract, society, wealth

Views: 67

Replies to This Discussion

Ms. Gendler, I'm surprised; I listened to your entire presentation and learned more about Rawls and Nozick than I'd known. Having read Mutual Aid by Kropotkin(sp?) and other works, and having considered the effects on Hobbes of probable early life experiences, I don't value highly his "nasty, mean, poor, brutal, and short" conclusion.

I studied math, economics and physics; worked in and "retired early" from the mainframe computer industry. I retired early because my interest and activity in the politics of water and the taxes I would pay, which included an attempt to win political office, led me into an environment made dangerous by realities seldom if ever addressed in college. That environment included the 1976 murder of Don Bolles, an investigative reporter in Arizona. It's described in Wikipedia. My participation was a more exciting, and personally valuable, education than I would have imagined.

Two of those realities seldom if ever addressed in college are:

1) we are citizens not of a democracy but of an oligarchy, and

2) the campaign financing that in truth is bribery and extortion and its effects on the decisions of America's oligarchs.

I defend 1) above by citing words spoken in the 1787 Federal Convention by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and others in Max Farrand's work.

I defend 2) above by citing my experience in my attempt at political office, followed by decades of activism.

In what ways would consideration of the above realities affect the work of Rawls and Nozick and your analysis?

If those affects can be explained briefly enough for this medium, I will appreciate your doing so.

BTW, the views of Mitt Romney last year seem to echo those of Nozick.)

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