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Oakeshott, Libertarianism and Judaism

Here’s a nice rendering by Mary Campbell of a photo of Oakeshott given to me by his son Simon (the photo was taken at Caius circa 1933). Speaking of Oakeshott, the following must rate as the most bizarre invocation of Oakeshott I’ve come across (Jewish Political Studies Review 19:1-2, Spring 2007). Michael Oakeshott (1901-1990) was a…

Hayek: cognitive scientist avant la lettre

Here is the uncorrected proof of my essay – do not cite.

Alan Turing

The BBC has been running a series of articles on Turing. For those of us who often discuss the conceptual aspects of liberty through the great works of social and political philosophy, we should stop and think about how our liberty was, to a great extent, preserved by Alan Turing. According to Winston Churchill, Turing…

Orders and Borders

This past weekend I had the good fortune to be able to attend the Second Conference on Emergent Order and Society held in Portsmouth, NH. The term “conference” doesn’t really characterise the format – it is more akin to a colloquium where the emphasis is on genuine discussion and conversation in an intimate group (18 in all)…

Liberalism for Dummies

It’s been a while since I’ve made a posting in political philosophy. With the US election about to take place I thought it an opportune time to bang on about getting one’s terms adequately defined. It’s clear that so-called conservatives neither self-avowed liberals can give an adequate characterization of liberalism. For a sound overview of liberalism see…

The Intellectual Legacy of Michael Oakeshott

A rather belated plug for this book. The follow up is currently being edited.

Hayek on distributed knowledge

Cass Sunstein writes on the TPM Blog that Hayek’s ideas of distributed knowledge “bear directly on open source software, wikis, prediction markets, and perhaps much more”.  Yes, indeed. The mechanism that captures this aggregating phenomenon is called STIGMERGY: the phenomenon of indirect communication mediated by modifications of the environment. Indeed, much of what goes on in the complex…

Is Mill’s theory of liberty inconsistent with his utilitarian premisses?

Motivated by a brief paragraph posted by Colin McGinn, I offer the following thoughts.  Mill’s Utilitarianism in Focus (1) Utilitarianism contains two essential components: (a) an axiology, i.e. a theory of intrinsic value (a theory of what we’re to take as good in itself or good for its own sake, and (b) a consequentialist ethical theory. The two…