From Michael Huemer’s brief summary (right near the end of “Analytical Contents” – p. xxv) of Chapter 13 (“From Democracy to Anarchy”) Part 4 (“The Influence of Ideas”), of his newly published book The Problem of Political Authority:
The eventual arrival of anarchy is plausible due to the long-run tendency of human knowledge to progress and to the influence of ideas on the structure of society.
I originally had that up as a Samizdata quote of the day, but there already is one. Apologies for the muddle. However, I didn’t want either to scrub this posting or just leave it hanging about, so instead I am elaborating a little.
I think the word “plausible” in the above quote is apt. We can’t assume this kind of thing. But that doesn’t mean there is no reason to hope for such a thing. Why else would we be bothering?
I now have my copy of this book, and a brief glance through it suggests that there is plenty more SQotD material in it. Indeed, it seems to be the kind of book where you could pretty much pick an SQotD out with a pin.
Why don’t I try that? Let me open the book at random, and pick a paragraph at random, and see if it works as a disembodied quote. There are 365 pages in the entire book. Here is a paragraph from page 234:
But war is, putting it mildly, expensive. If a pair of agencies go to war with one another, both agencies, including the one that ultimately emerges the victor, will most likely suffer enormous damage to their property and their employees. It is highly improbable that a dispute between two clients would be worth this kind of expense. If at the same time there are other agencies in the region that have not been involved in any wars, the latter agencies will have a powerful economic advantage. In a competitive marketplace, agencies that find peaceful methods of resolving disputes will outperform those that fight unnecessary battles. Because this is easily predictable, each agency should be willing to resolve any dispute peacefully, provided that the other party is likewise willing.
Not original, but not bad. And again, plausible.
I share Michael Huemer’s optimism about the influence of (good) ideas on society. If I did not, I would occupy far less than I actually do occupy of my life arriving at and stating my own ideas, and publicising the ideas of others, such as Michael Huemer.