Past Vice President’s New Book

Rod Bower / 16 October 2012

By all accounts, the new book on ‘Social Humanism’ by Brian Ellis (ex RSA Vice President) is a must read and a potential world changer.

E. J. Lowe, Professor of Philosophy, University of Durham says:

This is a remarkable and potentially very important book, not only for academic philosophers but also for social policy makers and the public at large. What [Ellis] does in this book is something not really attempted on this scale since Immanuel Kant, namely, the articulation of a metaphysical basis for a new approach to morality and politics, unifying these and arguing for the global applicability of the key precepts of the resulting theory, which he calls ‘social humanism’. The theory extends the purview of morality beyond the domain of individual agents to include social organizations and defends an egalitarian and welfarist approach to political theory and social policy, incorporating a new form of utilitarianism, ‘social contractual utilitarianism’. In defending the theory, Ellis also explains why its major rivals, including Marxist communism and individualistic free-market capitalism, are inherently unstable and doomed to failure. It is clearly but rigorously constructed and written, in a way that makes it at once a pleasure to read and deeply thought-provoking. I hope and expect that it will have a [wide] audience and impact, of the kind achieved by, for example, John Rawls’s A Theory of Justice, which Ellis’s book matches in scope and even exceeds in its ambitions. As remarked above, we really have to return to Kant to see a prior attempt on this scale to provide a universal metaphysical foundation for morals and politics. Although Brian Ellis has already published some extremely important books, Social Humanism may well turn out to be his most abiding and influential contribution to philosophy and to the intellectual and ethical development of humanity more generally.

All the more reason.