Thursday, May 12, 2005


I have just been reading a book with the title given above. It is written by a Scotsman named Hugh V. McLachlan, at Glasgow Caledonian University. He looks at the usual Leftist claims about social justice and human rights and applies relentless logic to them. And he covers what could be fairly abstruse philosophical questions in a remarkably clear and simple way. It would be a very good book for people who want to get their thinking clear on many of the usual Left/Right issues.

He starts out trying to makes sense of postmodernism but rightly concludes that it is self-refuting. To simplify a little, postmodernists claim that no statement is true but if that is so then all statements made by postmodernists are also untrue. So why should we heed them? Fun! Applying logic like that to postmodernists does not bother them at all of course. They only aim to sound clever, not to clarify or explain anything. They would only be bothered if everybody laughed at them and since lots of people seem to take them seriously, they are happy with their "ideas".

McLachlan devotes a fair bit of space to the concept of "rights", "fairness" and "justice" but he also applies his conclusions to things like health care, inequality, education, unemployment, affirmative action, poverty and taxation. His approach is as a philosopher rather than as an economist so his views are "moderate" rather than being outright conservative. He does for instance think that Britain's nationalized health service is justifiable in some form. But that perspective probably helps if one is going to take any of his arguments into discussions with Leftists.

There is more about the book here. Prof. McLachlan can be contacted on


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