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Human Nature: Human nature is the fundamental dispositions and characteristics - including ways of thinking, feeling, and acting - that humans are said to have naturally. Some assumed traits are sociality, intelligence, creativity, empathy, and Morality. Also see Intelligence, Morality, Actions, Action theory, Humans, Community, Society.
Annotation: The above characterizations of concepts are neither definitions nor exhausting presentations of problems related to them. Instead, they are intended to give a short introduction to the contributions below. – Lexicon of Arguments.

Author Concept Summary/Quotes Sources

Conservatism on Human Nature - Dictionary of Arguments

Gaus I 134
Human Nature/Conservatism/Kekes: [Pluralism] regards some political arrangements as necessary for good lives, but it allows for a generous plurality of possible political arrangements beyond the necessary minimum.
standard operates in the realm of moral necessity, and it leaves open what happens in the realm of moral possibility. The standard thus accommodates part of the universal values of absolutism and part of the context-dependent values of relativism. >Values/Relativism
Absolutism prevails in the realm of moral necessity; relativism in the realm of moral possibility. >Absolutism/Kekes.
Human Nature: The source of this standard is human nature. (For a general account of the political significance of human nature for politics, see Berry, 1986(1). For the specific connection between human nature and conservatism, see Berry, 1983(2).) To understand human nature sufficiently for the purposes of this standard does not require plumbing the depths of the soul, unravelling the obscure springs of human motivation, or conducting scientific research. It does not call for any metaphysical commitment and it can be
Gaus I 135
held without subscribing to the existence of a natural law. It is enoug tor it to concentrate on n
people in a commonsensical way. It will then become obvious that good lives depend on the satis-
faction of basic physiological, psychological, and social needs: for nutrition, shelter, and rest; for companionship, self-respect, and the hope for a good or better life; for the division of labour, justice, and predictability in human affairs; and so forth.
Absolutism: Society: Absolutists go beyond the minimum and think that their universal and objective standard applies all the way up to the achievement of good lives.
Relativism: Relativists deny that there is such a standard. Values/Relativism.
Pluralism: In this respect, pluralists side with relativists and oppose absolutists. Pluralists think that beyond the minimum level there is a plurality of values, of ways of ranking them, and of good lives that embody these values and rankings. According to pluralists, then, the political arrangements of a society ought to protect the minimum requirements of good lives and
ought to foster a plurality of good lives beyond the minimum. >Values/Pluralism, >Conserevatism/Kekes.

1. Berry, Christopher J. (1986) Human Nature. London: Macmillan.
2. Berry, Christopher J. (1983) 'Conservatism and human nature'. In Ian Forbes and Steve Smith, eds, Politics and Human Nature. London: Pinter.

Kekes, John 2004. „Conservtive Theories“. In: Gaus, Gerald F. & Kukathas, Chandran 2004. Handbook of Political Theory. SAGE Publications

Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments
The note [Concept/Author], [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] resp. "problem:"/"solution:", "old:"/"new:" and "thesis:" is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
Gaus I
Gerald F. Gaus
Chandran Kukathas
Handbook of Political Theory London 2004

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