Politics and Ethics in Spinoza:  The Problem of Normativity


Rosenthal, Michael A. “Politics and Ethics in Spinoza:  The Problem of Normativity.” In Essays on Spinoza's Ethical Theory, edited by Matt Kisner and Andrew Youpa, 85-101. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014.

This essay defends a reading according to which Spinoza is a type of moral anti-realist. Since Spinoza allows that we can have certain knowledge of the good, this naturally invites the question, what is it that such knowledge is knowledge of? Spinoza’s political theory, in Rosenthal’s view, holds the answer to this question. Just as there is neither a transcendent nor a natural foundation for knowledge of the means to our good, Rosenthal argues that, for Spinoza, there is neither a transcendent nor a natural foundation for knowledge of justice and a just society.

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