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ISBN-10: 1557868417

ISBN-13: 9781557868411

This huge quantity presents the main accomplished and authoritative choice of the fundamental fundamental readings in post-war political philosophy.

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Consequently, these groups can be superimposed on one another without mutual exclusion. Just as each has its part to play in historical development, they mutually complement each other in the present: each has its function. The family envelops the person in an altogether different way, and answers to different moral needs, than does the nation. It is not a matter then of making an exclusive choice among them. 5 8 Human Rights and the Picture of Morality Here we have a perfect match with the picture of morality.

To this degree, Bergson exposits a sociobiology without determinism. It is also clear, however, that every obligation has a biologically dictated limit. Granted, this limit is not specified in advance. It can be as small as a family or as big as a comity of nations. But obligation needs circumscription. As we have seen, it needs a group among others, and, potentially at least, it needs a group against others. In this respect, Bergson is a biological determinist. An especially contemporary dimension of Two Sources, therefore, is to show the cost of bracketing our biological makeup, as if politics could proceed either in abeyance of it or else by transcend- Bergson’s Critical Philosophy 31 ing it through education or culture.

Bergson’s thesis is that the reason why obligation can so easily confine itself to the group in wartime is because this has always been its nature. In peacetime, of course, society can extend the ambit of its duties to the whole of mankind. It can gladly uphold human rights. But not in war. When war strikes—and when what was putatively fair is now foul and what was putatively foul is now fair—the circle of duties retracts to an exclusive membership. In short, war shows us that the picture of morality is false.

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Contemporary Political Philosophy: An Anthology (Blackwell Philosophy Anthologies)


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