JIm Ryan’s Self-Evident Truths of Social & Political Philosophy

Below is a blog post by Jim Ryan where he lists several “self-evident truths of social and political philosophy.

Some Self-Evident Truths

A “self-evident” proposition is one that is obviously true to anyone who understands it. These truths are self-evident:

1. To support a free market does not mean to oppose the regulation of commerce. On the contrary, the concept of a free market without the rule of law hardly makes any sense.

2. It is not theocratic to argue that abortion ought to be as illegal because it is the wrongful killing of a human being. The civil rights movement, as deeply Christian as much of it was, was not theocratic. It is not obvious that the current moral support for abortion is not as foolish and wrongheaded as the moral support for slavery was in the early 19th Century.

3. To argue that big government welfare destroys self-reliance and prosperity and makes national bankruptcy inevitable should not be confused with arguing that one should not offer assistance to the poor.

4. There is a wide array of values we have inherited: liberty, hard work, justice, limited government, courage, charity, involvement in civil society, etc. It makes no sense to raise equality in property above these values.

5. It is not clear that equality in property is ever preferable to liberty, hard work, team work, charity, and self-reliance. It is not clear what would count as a good reason to say that a society in which liberty, hard work, team work, charity, and self-reliance were flourishing would be even better if the the government decreased the achievement of those values so that equality in property could be increased. For this reason it is not clear that equality in property is even a value at all.

6. It is hypocritical for a wealthy person to maintain his great wealth while advocating equality in property and holding that it is unjust for some to be rich while others are poor.

7. To advocate a system in which a small group of leftwing leaders and their technocratic experts maintain enormous political power and wealth while they keep the overwhelming majority of people in society relatively powerless and poor is to advocate kleptocracy and totalitarianism, not to take any sort of moral stance at all.

8. Leftism and totalitarianism both advocate the government’s having great control over individuals’ economic endeavors and property. If all the preceding truths are self-evident, then it is not clear how a leftwing government can maintain power without controlling speech and thought in order to stop those truths from being communicated, explained, discussed, and understood. If that is true, it is not clear how a leftwing government can avoid full totalitarianism if it is to maintain power.

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2 thoughts on “JIm Ryan’s Self-Evident Truths of Social & Political Philosophy

    • I think you you’ll be ok with your understanding. I think Jim was making a statement with that title pointing to the common tendency that we all have to make either or judgments on opposing view points. What interesting about self-evident truth claims is they have a tendency to be self-evident only to the person perceiving them.

      A side note, I really enjoy the work you are doing over at afteraristotle.net

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