How did the concept of Western liberalism, rooted in the notions of religious toleration and universal human rights, evolve into the "anything goes" moral relativism of our own late twentieth century society? This is the question at the heart of David Peterson's fascinating examination of the Positivist tradition, one of the most far-reaching philosophical movements of the past two centuries. The book begins prior to the official birth of Positivism with the rise of British Empiricism under David Hume and John Locke. From there, Peterson shifts focus to the writings of the French free thinker Auguste Comte, before moving on to the work of the late nineteenth century "Vienna Circle," and finally to the corpus of three seminal thinkers of the twentieth century: Bertrand Russell, Friedrich von Hayek, and Karl Popper. By weaving together contemporary social and political debates (such as the rise and fall of "supply-side" economics and the abortion controversy) with their antecedents in modern intellectual history, Revoking the Moral Order not only brings to life seemingly arcane philosophical texts but also provides important context for contemporary issues that sometimes seem to be without precedent. This book will especially appeal to philosophers and historians and to the educated general reader seeking historical insight into the social and intellectual dilemmas of our time.
David J. Peterson is a freelance writer and high school instructor in the Chicago area. He has contributed articles to various publications, including the National Catholic Register, Fidelity, and Social Justice Review. Since 1995 he has been a regular features writer for Fidelity/Culture Wars.
Chapter 1 Liberalism and the Conflict with Cristianity Chapter 2 Auguste Comte and Positivism Chapter 3 Herbert Spencer and the Rise of Social Darwinism Chapter 4 Old Vienna and the Vienna Circle Chapter 5 Bertrand Russell: Apostole of the New Age Chapter 6 Friedrich Von Hayek and Positive Economics Chapter 7 The Open Society of Sir Karl Popper Chapter 8 Turning the Tide Against Positivism