Benjamin Franklin, Natural Right, and the Art of Virtue (Hardback)Kevin Slack (author)
Hardback 318 Pages / Published: 15/06/2017
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Benjamin Franklin's writings on politics are voluminous, and his own politics are well known, yet scholars debate -- often fiercely -- whether he had a political philosophy and, if so, what it was. Benjamin Franklin, Natural Right, and the Art of Virtue is a study of Franklin's political and philosophical writings, tracing the development of his political thought and elucidating the political philosophy he came to embrace and put into practice. Kevin Slack argues that Franklin, despite his reputation as a wit and clever politician, examined the nature of politics, virtue, and morality more deeply than any scholar has given him credit for. Franklin, as Slack demonstrates, rejected metaphysics during a period of youthful skepticism, adopting radical skepticism, but later abandoned that view for a third alternative, Shaftesbury's common-sense philosophy. Engaging in a rigorous critique of religious and political authorities, Franklin rejected all authoritative claims but that of reason, which he used to investigate the nature of justice, or natural right. Slack shows here that Franklin was a thinker in the tradition of Socrates, and thus a political philosopher in the truest and highest sense. Kevin Slack is assistant professor of politics at Hillsdale College.
Publisher: Boydell & Brewer Ltd
Number of pages: 318
Weight: 676 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 25 mm
The author's thoroughly researched and cogently argued thesis adds a new dimension to our understanding of one of America's most influential founding fathers. CERCLES Kevin Slack offers here a learned commentary on the ethical dilemma faced in the eighteenth century by Mandeville's dictum "private vice, public good." Slack shows how Franklin's political philosophy arises naturally from his creative efforts to resolve Mandeville's apparent ethical revolution. --Ralph Ketcham, Maxwell Professor Emeritus of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University Kevin Slack executes a tour de force through the oeuvre of Benjamin Franklin, uncovering some new attributions along the way. The Franklin he gives us is thoroughly modern, thoroughly Enlightenment, and thoroughly philosophical. At the same time, Slack shows how Franklin's life and thought were leavened with the common-sense humanism of Shaftesbury, creating a kinship with classical thought. Slack's is a stimulating and provocative take on Franklin. --Steven Forde, professor of political science, University of North Texas.
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