From Politics to Philosophy
LEGAL PHILOSOPHY - 5 QUESTIONS, M.E.J. Nielsen and I. Farrell, eds., Automatic Press, 2007
Being reprinted in David Lyons, CONFRONTING INJUSTICE: Moral History and Political Theory, Oxford University Press, May 2013.
Posted: 18 Sep 2007 Last revised: 2 May 2013
This essay relates the author’s personal experience to my academic interests. Growing up under the New Deal, he acquired values it became dangerous to act upon during the Red Scare that followed World War Two. Intense political activity during the early 1950s led the author to abandon college and devote himself to political organizing. Changing circumstances and reflection later led him to resume his studies and to move from engineering to philosophy. The author’s political orientation led him to moral theory and experience made him skeptical of assumptions made by philosophers of good will, such as the idea of a moral obligation to obey unjust as well as just law in the real world. The historical study of political resistance led the author to focus on racial aspects of American history. The deeper he delved, the more he found Americans confronting systemic injustice, some facets of which the other essays in this volume explore.
Keywords: Politics, philosophy, Red Scare, McCarthyism, political resistance, political obligation, American history
JEL Classification: K39, K49
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation