World Views

Latest Posts in World Views

The Social Contract: Who Needs It?

Let’s begin with some political theory. Aristotle, in his great treatise, the Politics, concluded that there are, basically, only two different kinds of governments in terms of the outcomes for a society — those that serve the common good, or the public interest, and those that have been co-opted to serve the self-interests of the people who hold political power. 

The Whole World is Watching

In "The Whole World is Watching," Patricia Vaccarino reminds us that fifty years have passed since the Chicago Democratic Convention anti-war protests took place in August, 1968. Now in 2018, the whole world is indeed watching to see what Americans will do to restore normalcy to the White House. Restoring normalcy means we need to take back our democracy.




The Iranian “Spring”: Will We Ever Learn?

The Iranian “Spring”:  Will We Ever Learn? Once again, we are witnessing the ancient truth (going back to Plato).  It seems that humankind is doomed endlessly to re-live an age-old story and then promptly forget it.  The root cause of the Arab Spring was desperation, coupled with a failure of leadership.  Iran represents only a variation on this common theme.Every organized society is, in effect, a “collective survival enterprise.”  Our basic needs lie at the heart of our implicit social contract. Any regime that does not understand this biologically-based “common good” and act accordingly is ultimately doomed.    


Ethics in the Garden of Evolution

Evolution and ethics may seem to be incompatible, perhaps even an oxymoron.  Isn’t natural selection all about individual competition and winner take all?  Logically, the end should justify the means, ethically speaking.   As I noted in a previous blog item on the “Survival of the Fittest,” this model is totally deficient.  Complex human societies have evolved as a cooperative enterprise, a “superorganism”, and our relationships with one another are highly relevant to the well-being of both the individual members and the whole.    

The Public Trust:  How It Trumps Capitalism and Property Rights

In an argument that goes back to the philosopher John Locke, many conservative and libertarian theorists claim that freedom (as in free market capitalism) and property rights have moral priority as inherent human rights (and there is a huge body of laws and legal precedents that support this claim), while the concept of the “common good” has no legal standing, or has a weaker claim.  This argument is flatly wrong.  In fact, the idea of a collective (societal) responsibility for the common good has a sturdy foundation in the ancient legal principle of the public trust.