Anthropocene re-writes: democracy, economics, liberalism

Peter Brown, from McGill University, has published a couple of new pieces on, respectively, democracy and economics in the Anthropocene. These work in some interesting ways to the piece I noted earlier from Andrew Dobson on whether resource abundance wasn’t what allowed liberalism to become, as Immanuel Wallerstein put it, “triumphant”.

Here is the opening salvo from Peter’s article on democracy in the Anthropocene, it came out from the Center for Humans and Nature. The other is a pdf download on ethics and economics in Anthropocene that came out in the fall issue of Teilhard Studies.

“Contemporary science radically reframes a fundamental idea at the heart of democratic theory and practice: that each person is free to act as he or she wishes so long as that action does not harm other persons. Two important sources of this idea are John Locke’s A Letter Concerning Toleration (1689) and John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty (1859). Locke held that our religious beliefs are internal matters and hence should be beyond the legitimate reach of the state, whose principal tasks are external—to secure “life, liberty, and property.” Mill held that the state has no right to interfere in what he called “purely self-regarding acts”—though interpreting this phrase has proved contentious, even for Mill. Despite the pedigree of these two philosophers, the assumptions their ideas contain have become problematical.”


  1. […] Anthropocene re-writes: democracy, economics, liberalism – the anthropo.scene. […]

  2. […] been trying to keep some tabs on the growing literature on the Anthropocene (see here, here and here). So here goes take […]

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