Our text is King’s “The Letter from Birmingham Jail” – an “open letter” of April 16, 1963.I indicate where my commentary ends by using our writer’s avatar where the primary text begins:
What Utilitarianism Is
According to the Greatest Happiness Principle… [hilite]the ultimate end[/hilite], with reference to and for the sake of which all other things are desirable (whether we are considering our own good or that of other people), [hilite]is an existence exempt as far as possible from pain, and as rich as possible in enjoyments[/hilite], both in point of quantity and quality; the test of quality, and the rule for measuring it against quantity, being the preference felt by those who in their opportunities of experience, to which must be added their habits of self-consciousness and self-observation, are best furnished with the means of comparison.
For at least the next 200 years, weather forecasts predict shitstorms, with global temperatures now set to remain elevated for hundreds of years to come. The latest IPCC report explains that our emissions are nearing the point of no return. Even if industrialized nations switched to solar power overnight, it is now too late to fully reverse the planet’s course. Geologists have officially termed this new epoch, where the human species has irreparably shaped earth’s geological history, the
Anthropocene. Policymakers no longer have the luxury to decide how we might “stop” global warming. Instead, we have to figure out how we’ll manage amidst climate instability.
I hold it to be an impious and an execrable maxim that, politically speaking, a people has a right to do whatsoever it pleases, and yet I have asserted that all authority originates in the will of the majority. Am I then, in contradiction with myself? A general law—which bears the name of Justice—has been made and sanctioned, not only by a majority of this or that people, but by a majority of mankind. The rights of every people are consequently confined within the limits of what is just.
Our text comes from Plato: The Collected Dialogues (17a to 42a), Eds. Huntington and Cairns. Trans. Hugh Tredennick. Princeton University Press, 1961. 4-26. I have included some section headings from Jowett’s translation. I’ve used a highlighter so that you should be able to read the marked portions for an overview on your first look through.Numerals styled like thisreflect 16th century “Stephanus pagination”, still standard for references.I indicate where my commentary ends by using our writer’s avatar where the primary text begins:
Our selections come from the common Jowett translation of Plato’s Republic. For further study, I recommend C.D.C. Reeve’s better, albeit non-free, translation for Hackett Publishing, from 2004.Numerals styled like thisreflect 16th century “Stephanus pagination”, still standard for references.I’ve inserted speaker-labels (e.g., Socrates) to indicate the flow of dialogue — even in cases where Socrates is reporting what the speaker said. Once characters are established, I thin them out.I indicate where my commentary ends by using our writer’s avatar where the primary text begins: