The Legacy of Enlightenment
By Amy Willis
In this week’s episode, host Russ Roberts returns to the question of the Enlightenment- and the extent to which we have lost its legacy. Continuing with a theme started on EconTalk by Patrick Deneen, continued by Richard Reinsch, and then Yoram Hazony. So much how progress have we made in the enterprise of Enlightenment?
In what respect(s) has the Enlightenment project gone too far? Nor far enough? And what can we learn from the Enlightenment, and John Locke in particular, that’s of relevance to our circumstances today?
Let’s hear what you have to say in response to this week’s conversation. Our only objective in these Extras is to continue the conversation… So let us hear from you. Respond to one of the prompts below in the comments, send us an email with your thoughts, or join the conversation on social media. As always, we love to hear from you.
1- How does Berkowitz mean “liberalism,” and how does this differ from the definitions used by the guests mentioned above? How does Berkowitz think Locke’s Two Treatises on Government constitutes a turning point in the history of liberalism? Who and what else have been important in this evolution?
2- Roberts asks Berkowitz, “When Locke said that human beings are free, what do you think he meant by that?” How does Berkowitz respond, and how does this compare to the way we think about freedom today?
3- In discussing redistribution measures, Roberts opines, “… almost no one is willing to defend the abstract level of income distribution that would happen in a free market society, without the safety net, without social welfare spending, without interventions in the economy like the minimum wage.” Is he right? If so, why???
4- How does Berkowitz describe Locke’s position on parents’ obligation to educate their children? Given that educating one’s children would qualify as an intervention, how is such an obligation based on a principle of freedom, according to Berkowitz? What do you think? Is there an obligation to educate children? If so, on whom does this obligation rest, and why? What ought to be the consequence for failing to uphold this obligation?
5- Berkowitz alleges that both Deneen and Hazony get Locke and his role in the Enlightenment wrong. What’s wrong with their analysis, according to Berkowitz, and why does it matter? Which part of their analysis of Locke does Berkowitz agree with, and why?