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What in the World is Conservatism Anymore? -- Prof. Tal Scriven

January 23, 2020



Tuesday, April 7, 2020  11:00am - 1:00pm


San Luis Obispo Public Libary, Palm St.


$4 for LLCC members, $10 for non-members



Register Now for "Conservatism" on Brown Paper Tickets





In 1866 the great liberal philosopher John Stuart Mill declared that the British conservative party was “necessarily the stupidest party.” A hundred and fifty years later Hilary Clinton announced that half of her opponent’s supporters could be put into a “basket of deplorables.” Events since 2016 have done little to convince liberals otherwise. These days liberals tend to dismiss all conservative as idiots and bigots, just as conservatives tend to dismiss all liberals as left-wing crazies.  Neither does the other tradition justice, and such trash talk degrades public discourse.


This course will attempt to shed some light on where conservatism came from, what it has been and what it might become. The point is not to defend or advocate for conservatism (or any other position) but, rather, to try to understand it. The point is certainly not to just rail against it. There is plenty of that around. The point is to explore the possibility that there is something important, morally defensible, intellectually respectable and not so stupid about a view held by half of our fellow Americans.


For the last few years Tal Scriven has been working on a book about the philosophy of conservatism. This brief course would present some of the central features of his work, including including a defense of the idea that there really is a philosophy of conservatism—and one that is about 2500 years old.  He will place American conservatism on a spectrum between libertarianism and what is known as traditionalism in Britain and paleo-conservatism in the U.S. 

Professor Emeritus Tal Scriven, Philosophy Department, Cal Poly: Hired in 1980, Department Chair 1984-88 and 2005-2017. Author of Wrongness, Wisdom and Wilderness (SUNY Press) and many articles on decision theory, theoretical ethics, political philosophy and environmental ethics. B.A., M.A. University of South Florida (1977), Ph.D., University of Southern California (1980).


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