TitleSociability and self interest
NameKing, Kristy M. (author), Bronner, Stephen (chair), Bathory, Dennis (internal member), Murphy, Andrew (internal member), Kaufman-Osborn, Timothy (outside member), Rutgers University, Graduate School - New Brunswick,
DescriptionSeventeenth and eighteenth century liberalism emerged in the context of the evolution of natural law jurisprudence into a theory of natural rights. This dissertation traces the development of natural law theory into a theory of natural rights and liberalism through the work of Hugo Grotius, Samuel Pufendorf, John Locke and Adam Smith. I explore the ways that the concepts of sociability and self-interest emerge from the natural law tradition and shape liberal notions of the individual and his obligations to the community. The results of this analysis are, I hope, the recovery of a moral basis for liberal political thought and a more nuanced reading of the individual and individual obligation in that discourse.
The development of natural law and liberal political thought shows an increasing political and moral legitimacy accorded to self-love and self-interest. But if self-love has the capacity to be socially productive, so too does it always threaten to tend towards egoism and solipsism. My reading of the natural law and liberal traditions indicates that thinkers who seek to validate self-interest also acknowledge that this self-love must be contained and restrained by sociability. If individuals are self-interested and self-loving, they also sociable and potentially other-regarding. The tradition which is the subject of this dissertation reveals the ways in which self-love is conceived as legitimate and socially productive because of the power of sociability to moderate and contain the potential excesses of self-love both ontologically and institutionally.
In this dissertation I seek to show that a close reading of the relationships between self-love and sociability point us to a more enriched understanding of the liberal individual and his formal relationships with his fellow men. Liberal self-interest, liberal rights and the liberal individual are always and already dependent on a sociable attitude towards others. The intellectual acknowledgment of this dependence and the subsequent creation of sociable institutions is essential to liberal political thought. This nuance will, I hope, enable us to conceive of the historical evolution of liberal political thought in more complicated terms than is usually done.
NoteIncludes bibliographical references (p. 211-215)
Noteby Kristy M. King
CollectionGraduate School - New Brunswick Electronic Theses and Dissertations
Organization NameRutgers, The State University of New Jersey
RightsThe author owns the copyright to this work