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Social Statics: The Conditions Essential to Human Happiness Specified, and The First of Them Developed Hardcover – December 1, 1995

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 430 pages
  • Publisher: Robert Schalkenbach Foundation (December 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0911312331
  • ISBN-13: 978-0911312331
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 5.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #439,257 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover
If it were not for one mistaken aplication of his maxim, I would have to say that this is one of the most astounding, consistent exposition of libertarian theory in history. However, Spencer is not wholly consistent, and his main inconsistency is so important, that it cannot be safely overlooked. The lapse that I speak of is his absurd and anti-libertarian position on the private ownership of land. He believes that land cannot be rightfully held in private hands, but rather that "society" owns the land. This indeed is an extremely specious piece of logic for a man who upholds the rights of the individual over the "state," the "majority," and "society." Not only that, it mars his entire concept of a free society. Otherwise, this work represents a landmark in libertarian individualist thought. His theory of "equal freedom" is almost identical in spirit to the non-aggression maxims utilized by thinkers such as Ayn Rand and Murray Rothbard. His application of of this basic axiom is also impressive. He thoroughly any function of the state beyond the absolute minimum. Even further, he even acknowledges the "Right To Ignore The State." Nevertheless, his views on the private ownership of land are so out of line that I cannot honestly give this book the degree of praise that it could have very easily earned.
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Format: Hardcover
Spencer's Social Statics ranks among the greatest books in political philosophy. Its liberalism implies not conformity, but liberty. Its progressivism implies not primitivism, but progress. Thus, it stands as an exemplar of liberal progressivism in the truest sense.

If we have a correct estimate of the Social Statics, what explains its current obscurity? Some might claim it was obsoleted by modern variants of liberal progressivism, though this merely repeats our strange fact in more detail. Perhaps the absence of value-neutrality in Spencer's outlook, that is, the presence of Victorian moralism, tells us more. Much of modern sociology, like a large sector of modern philosophy, pursues truth in a detached, purely analytic manner, suppressing considerations of morality, which are believed to be unscientific emotions, from its explanatory principles. Spencer's generalism, part and parcel with his synthetic method and popular rhetoric, had no natural home in the 1900s, a century that celebrated specialists. Many of us now have never suffered the twentieth-century condition described by D.C. Stove as Horror Victorianorum, and therefore have an opportunity to re-explore Spencer and other Victorian thinkers with fresh minds.

Spencer's politics, as expounded in the Social Statics, can be classified as teleodeontic, a term I just coined right here, right now. Remember in ethics, not all teleological systems of ethics are organized in the same fashion. Most teleological ethics can currently be classified as consequentialist, which means morally right acts are defined as aiming to produce some specified kind of good outcomes; the concept of good plays the central role in such a system. But not all end-driven/teleological ethics are consequentialist.
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Format: Hardcover
Herbert Spencer (1820-1903) was an English philosopher, biologist, anthropologist, sociologist, and prominent classical liberal political theorist of the Victorian era. He is perhaps best remembered for coining the expression "survival of the fittest" in his book, The Principles of Biology; but he is also increasingly recognized for his contributions to libertarian/anarchist thought. Some of his other writings are excerpted in Herbert Spencer On Social Evolution.

He states in the Introduction of this 1851 book, "See here, then, the predicament. A system of moral philosophy professes to be a code of correct rules for the control of human beings---fitted for the regulation of the best as well as the worst members of the race---applicable, if true, to the guidance of humanity in its highest conceivable perfection. Government, however, is an institution originating in man's imperfection; an institution confessedly begotten by necessity out of evil; one which might be dispensed with were the world peopled with the unselfish, the conscientious, the philanthropic; one, in short, inconsistent with this `highest conceivable perfection.' How, then, can that be a true system of morality which adopts government as one of its premises?" (Part I, pg. 16)

In Part II, he states the famous and influential principle: "every man may claim the fullest liberty to exercise his faculties compatible with the possession of like liberty by every other man." (Ch. IV, pg.
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