Judith Nisse Shklar (September 24, – September 17, ) was a political theorist, and Her second main idea concerns the “liberalism of fear” and is founded on her view that cruelty is the worst evil and that governments are prone to. In her classic essay “The Liberalism of Fear”, Judith Shklar focuses on developing a particular view of political liberalism. Liberalism, on her. Judith Shklar, Political Thought andPolitical Thinkers ed. Stanley Hoffmann ( Chicago: University of Chicago Press, ) C H A.
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When the Harvard University political theorist Judith Shklar died in at age 63, she was better known than she had ever been but still did not occupy center fdar of U. Hayek — who were similarly shaped by exile from European totalitarianism, she neither inspired a large school of followers nor did she comment regularly on current events.
Her intellectual style—a skepticism that occasionally bordered on pessimism — did not find much traction in the post-Cold War years of booming prosperity, deepening international trade, and a rising confidence that a liberal, humanitarian West would improve the world, by force if necessary.
Although Shklar has since earned a quiet renown as an influential teacher of teachers, a growing community is beginning to recognize that she is overdue for renewed consideration as a thinker. The book confirms that Shklar never produced a systematic doctrine that successors could carry forward, as her friend and Harvard colleague John Rawls did. Her study of U.
Judith N. Shklar – Wikipedia
Her masterpiece, Ordinary Viceshas become essential reading amid rampant accusations of partisan hypocrisy and demands for political purity. Over the course of the mid- to late 20th century, liberalism became encumbered by considerable cultural baggage in Western politics.
It had come to be associated with the progressive technocracy of a self-appointed best and brightest and the judicial enforcement of substantive policy outcomes; it was a school of thought that both claimed to represent the people and seemed to avoid the messy practice of democratic politics.
In part for that reason, some thinkers on both the right and the left came to use it as an epithet, shorthand for a halfhearted and weak-kneed lack of conviction. In her essay, Shklar tries to recenter liberalism by insisting it is essentially a political, not a philosophical or legal, doctrine.
Liberalism is concerned with freedom, but the substance of freedom is to be determined by the individuals seeking it for themselves, not the philosopher divining its nature from her office. By placing limits on liberalism, Shklar also wanted to give it more force, in the service of protecting people from undue power — state power, above all. Shklar avoided that error by building on a different foundation than other liberal theorists.
Judith N. Shklar
For Shklar, the capacity to sense injustice was independent of, and perhaps even more morally significant than, the sense of justice Rawls typically appealed to. This was how liberalism could ensure it remained anti-statist in the right way: In judih s, this struck many critics as an excessively modest vision, one that gave up on morally valuable aspirations and ambitions. Gatta wants to draw attention to the ways Shklar critiques traditional liberalism from the left and provides resources for a further push in that direction.
This is a complicated project, in some ways following the example Shklar herself set in interpreting the work of others. To her credit, Gatta does much the same with Shklar and mostly succeeds.
And Gatta gamely shows that a socialist or social democratic leftist could be so influenced. But the author also acknowledges that, consistent with her own left-leaning politics, she emphasizes some themes more than Shklar herself did and develops some in directions Shklar might have rejected.
But one might go through the whole book without knowing what Cold War liberalism, or the Cold War, was about. The casual reader might come away thinking that state violence and cruelty in the 20th century were the sole province of fascist and liberal regimes or that Shklar thought so.
As Gatta notes, Shklar rarely engaged with economic questions at all. Shklar never pretended to offer a complete normative theory of political economy. But if Shklar often turned to Hayek as a foil, she also saw in him someone relevant to the questions she considered important. Like Shklar, Hayek was a liberal concerned with the rule of law, in the broad tradition of Montesquieu, drawing more on history than on philosophical abstraction.
Judith Shklar, The Liberalism of Fear – PhilPapers
The distance between Hayek and those thinkers was perhaps too great to allow for any productive tension. But Hayek was enough an intellectual neighbor to Shklar to provide an especially useful and important point of contrast for her own views. Those of us concerned with shoring up liberal constitutionalism and free market liberalism in the face of current populist and authoritarian threats could stand to learn from them both.
Many free market-oriented liberals who think of themselves as defenders of liberty against state power too often underemphasize the power of police and prisons, border guards and armies, intelligence and investigative agencies. Many prioritize the international free movement of goods and capital over that of vulnerable refugees and migrants.
But in the wake of the political catastrophes of the 20th century, she saw more clearly than most what was truly important to the liberal political project. Without building a system or offering a blueprint for utopia, but also without retreating into anti-political disdain for the fallen world, she offered a theory rich with real political wisdom.
That kind of wisdom has been neglected, and is needed, in the defense of liberal governance against authoritarianism today. This article originally appeared in the July issue of Foreign Policy magazine. Trending Now Sponsored Links by Taboola. In the age of Trump, kudith can sustain those searching for the courage to resist the politics of division. We often ask why some people choose liberalusm resist authoritarian regimes. But the better question might be why so many decide to cooperate.
From Nazis to Newt Gingrich, a brief survey of the many ways government-by-the-people can perish from the earth. Sign up for free access to 3 articles per month and weekly email updates from expert policy analysts. Create a Foreign Policy account to access 3 articles per month and free newsletters developed by policy experts.
Meet the American philosopher who showed that Western politics could only move forward by first taking a step backward. Levy July fead,8: Photograph of Judith Shklar, March Levy is the Tomlinson professor of political theory at McGill University.
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