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By Paul McLaughlin

Reading the political thought of anarchism from a philosophical and historic standpoint, Paul McLaughlin relates anarchism to the basic moral and political challenge of authority. The booklet will pay specific recognition to the authority of the country and the anarchist rejection of all conventional claims made for the legitimacy of kingdom authority, the writer either explaining and protecting the significant tenets of the anarchist critique of the state.The founding works of anarchist concept, through Godwin, Proudhon and Stirner, are explored and anarchism is tested in its ancient context, together with the effect of such occasions because the Enlightenment and the French Revolution on anarchist idea. ultimately, the key theoretical advancements of anarchism from the late-nineteenth century to the current are summarized and evaluated.This publication is either a hugely readable account of the improvement of anarchist considering and a lucid and well-reasoned defence of the anarchist philosophy.

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Extra info for Anarchism and Authority: A Philosophical Introduction to Classical Anarchism

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24 Descartes, Discourse on Method, p. 38. Emphasis added. 25 In other words, it centred on a socio-political scepticism, on profound doubt about the moral foundations of the social order itself – not on epistemological doubt as such. Scepticism of a socio-political – or fundamentally ethical – nature has classical origins in Socratic thought. Socrates is a sceptic (skeptikos) in the authentic sense: a provocative examiner of the powers that be, a moral inquirer into conventional wisdom. His sole mode of existence consists ‘in examining and searching people’s minds, to find out who is really wise among them, and who only thinks that he is’.

21 Anarchists, however, differ from Descartes in two respects. First, Descartes employs scepticism strategically, as a means of establishing solid foundations, that is, as a way ‘to overthrow the doubts of the sceptics’. 22 (Anarchists, by contrast, are willing to give scepticism full credit. From their perspective, if no ‘foundation’ for the legitimacy of a certain kind of authority can be found, so be it. ) Descartes ‘doubts in order to achieve certainty’, to reveal indubitable truths or foundations of knowledge within the human mind that are ‘buried or hidden under the debris of prejudices and opinions’, but nevertheless available to it.

Had [my] account been a linguistic account, an explanation of the meaning of “legitimate authority”, it would have followed that anyone who believes of a person that he has legitimate authority believes that that person satisfies the condition set by [my] justification thesis. This implication does not hold for a normative-explanatory account. In being normative it avows that it does not necessarily conform to everyone’s notion of authority in all detail. It does claim to be an explanatory account in singling out important features of people’s conception of authority.

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