Civil Disorder and the Separation of Powers

When:16 Oct 2018, 12:30pm - 2pm
Venue:Room 209, Level 2, Morven Brown Building, UNSW Sydney
Who:Peter Anstey FAHA, Professor of Philosophy, School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry, University of Sydney

Abstract: This paper charts the manner in which the theory of principles was applied to the problem of civil disorder in Montesquieu and the founding fathers of the American Constitution. It is well known that an effective solution to the problem of civil disorder, namely, the Separation of Powers, derives, in part, from Aristotle’s Politics. This paper takes the Aristotelian influence a step further by arguing that the early moderns framed the problem of civil disorder and the theory of the Separation of Powers in terms of the theory of knowledge acquisition that is set out in Aristotle’s Posterior Analytics. There is a very real sense then, in which The Constitution of the United States of America is an Aristotelian legacy.

Bio: Peter Anstey FAHA is Professor of Philosophy in the School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry at the University of Sydney. He specializes in early modern philosophy with a focus on John Locke and the French Philosophes. He is the author of John Locke and Natural Philosophy(Oxford, 2011) and editor of The Oxford Handbook of British Philosophy in the Seventeenth Century (Oxford, 2013). From 2012 to 2016 he was an Australian Research Council Future Fellow working on a project entitled ‘The nature and status of principles in early modern philosophy’. His collection on The Idea of Principles in Early Modern Thought: Interdisciplinary Perspectives was published by Routledge in 2017.

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