Mihail Radu Solcan

  On the Logical Structure of Political Doctrines

Revue Roumaine de Sciences Sociales - Philosophie et Logique, October-December 1983

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The main aim of this paper was to show that a universal, all-encompassing political doctrine cannot be logically consistent. It is either universal and inconsistent, leaving thus a space for arbitrary power, or it is consistent and not universal, leaving a space for political pluralism.

The paper uses a logical technique developed by S.C.Kleene for the discussion of Church's theorem in the language of the Turing machines. The main point of the paper is in the final remarks which start in the last paragraph of the seventh page and continue on the eighth and the ninth pages.

The Sneed-style logical reconstruction used in the first pages plays an auxiliary role. Basically, a political doctrine is seen as analogous to an economic plan. However, a political doctrine is much more comprehensive. An universal doctrine would be an attempt to direct any action of any individual, all the time. Obviously, nobody has advanced such a doctrine, but I had in mind the then ubiquitous form of Marxism of Eastern Europe and the claims that this is the only correct political doctrine. I wanted to see if such an approach, pushed to its limits, doesn't face the same kinds of logical problems as a formal calculation device.

I have discussed again, in 2003, the limits of planning as limits of computability, but from an informal point of view, in my book Freedom, Minds, and Institutions. See section 8.4 of the book. The paper from 1983 is briefly summarized in note 83 at page 123.