In an article published March 7 in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin Journal Sentinel, Dr. RJ Snell of Eastern University addressed the philosophical angle in a recent political debate. This debate taking place between Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and public unions has raised many questions concerning union versus government sovereignty. Dr. Snell’s article, “Walker and the unions: Libertarian twins?” addresses one of those questions discovered in the similarities between the foundations of Gov. Walker’s and the unions’ arguments.
The evaluation of Gov. Walker’s and the unions’ arguments which Dr. Snell presents summarizes the issue as a matter of distinction between individualism and communalism. “Unions serve a genuine and reasonable social good by seeking the good of the community,” Dr. Snell argues. “That is, unions serve the good of the community when they do not act like a mob of individuals.” In other words, Snell claims that unions involved in this dispute are acting more out of an individualistic libertarianism than a communal motivation toward the common good. Dr. Snell contends that this puts the unions on par with Gov. Walker and state Republicans in that the foundations of their arguments are both primarily driven by selfish ambition.
According to Dr. Snell, “Political discourse has ossified into competing camps talking past each other; one of the tasks of philosophy is to foster discourse and the conditions of inquiry, including the introduction and differentiation of terms to break up log-jams of thought. The ‘common good’ is, unfortunately, a term not used to guide our political discourse, and its use and understanding would be helpful.” As a result of the analysis which Dr. Snell has given, it is safe to say that food for thought has been added to this current political dilemma.
To read Dr. Snell’s article and other information concerning Governor Walker and the unions, please go to http://www.jsonline.com/news/opinion/117552263.html.
Dr. RJ Snell is Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Institute for Civic Virtue and the Common Good at Eastern University.