Wednesday, November 16, 2005
Chappell - Forster's 'John Locke's Politics of Moral Consensus'
"Despite the title, the book is not confined to Locke's political thought. Forster surveys Locke's epistemology, his ethical theory, and his philosophy of religion, as well as his political philosophy. He focuses primarily on the works in which Locke's "mature thought" is expressed: the Essay, the Letter Concerning Toleration, and the Reasonableness of Christianity, as well as the Two Treatises. The philosophy contained in these four works, Forster contends, has a "coherent architecture"; it constitutes a single "system" of thought, that is, a "set of mutually consistent arguments that fit together to form a unified philosophic structure". During the time that he was writing these works, Forster contends, Locke had an overriding "political project", which was to "unite members of different religious groups into a single political community". The only way to do this, Forster believes (and claims that Locke believed), is by establishing a moral consensus, a set of shared normative convictions and commitments which will "justify the coercive rules that are the only hope of keeping a multireligious society from falling apart at the seams". So Locke's aim in these works was to "construct a moral theory that can accomplish this goal"." - NDPR.