Should you ever do what anyone tells you to do, because that person tells you to do it? If you think so, then you think that you are sometimes justified in submitting yourself to the authority of another – whether it be a boss, a parent, a teacher or, more commonly, the law and its various representatives (legislators, judges, police officers, etc.).
Anarchists disagree: they think you are never justified in submitting yourself to authority. But why? One guiding idea in anarchist political philosophy is that authorities (like the law), by their very nature, prevent us from exercising certain capacities, ones that are good for us to exercise, capacities that in fact define us as persons. Anarchists say that obeying authorities are actually bad for us, in some deep and important sense, and necessarily so.
In this talk, Michael Sevel, from the University of Sydney Law School, will discuss the development of the theory of anarchism over the centuries, and various ways to understand its guiding idea. He will contrast it with an opposing idea that also has a long history in political philosophy (all the way back to Socrates), that authorities, especially legal authorities, are necessary in human society, are required for our flourishing, and are therefore deserving of our respect.
He will suggest, however, that anarchists might have a point: almost all the time, you really shouldn’t do what others tell you to do because they tell you to do it (except of course when we say: come to a meetup!).
Then it's up to us to bounce around our own perspectives on anarchism in the following discussion!
The next Socrates Café Newtown, held on 20th March from 6.30pm at Berkelouw Books at 6-8 O’Connell Street Newtown, Sydney.
The meeting will kick off with a 30 minute talk by Michael. Following a few minutes for questions, we'll move into the open discussion. At that point, we'll break off into groups, and discuss the topic at our leisure.
During this time, Michael will join each discussion group for a brief period, giving everyone a chance to bounce ideas around with him. After about 45 minutes, we'll reconvene and share the issues discussed in each group.
Socrates Café has a $5 door charge, which includes a tea or coffee from the café.
Note: there is no RSVP limit on this event, so arrive early to secure your spot! If you arrive late, it may be standing room only!
Hope to see you there!