Jon Pike joined the Open University in 1998, as Staff Tutor in the South East Region. His main area of teaching is Political Philosophy, on the course Reading Political Philosophy: Machiavelli to Mill (AA311) and on the MA in Philosophy. He is currently writing two books. One is on distributive justice and equality, centred on an analysis of the socialist slogan, 'from each according to their ability, to each according to their need'. The other is a text book on political philosophy. His research interests include Marx and the philosophical problems involved in various forms of political action, the theories of rights and their application, and the history of political philosophy more generally.
I joined the Open University in 1998, as Staff Tutor in the South East Region, but my origins as a philosopher probably lie in the lively arguments that were common around the supper table as I grew up. My parents’ humane Christianity was one influence, another was the political scene at the time - the early eighties. My studies before university encouraged rather than weakened my adoption of a critical standpoint - I began to question the starting points of textbook market economics, and to take an interest in the history of political thought.
The obvious degree for someone of my bent was in philosophy, politics and economics, and I went to Trinity College at Oxford in 1984. That was a particularly interesting time: not only was the miners’ strike at its height, but also Oxford had just made a Marxist - Jerry Cohen - its professor of political theory. Questions about fundamental moral values were raised by the strike; about principles of distributive justice and about the problems of political action: prisoners’ dilemmas were played out on the evening news and political actors all seemed to have dirty hands.
At the same time I began to study philosophy seriously. Frankly, I struggled. I scoured Blackwells for help and fortunately I hit on some Open University units on Hume, which gave me a kick start: the more I read, the more I understood. I soon realised that what was important was actually doing philosophy - that philosophy was not a body of knowledge to be remembered, but an activity to practice . This suited me well. The attractions of that activity never go away - I continued trying to be a philosopher because I couldn’t be fully satisfied doing anything else.
I still have an interest in Marx, and in the philosophical problems involved in various forms of political action, but I have since dropped the aspiration to be a Marxist. My first book From Aristotle to Marx which was published in 1999, gives an exposition, and defence of the Aristotelian underpinnings for Marx’s thought. I argue there that some basic notions from Aristotle’s Metaphysics, like the form/matter contrast and the notions of ‘coming-to-be’ and ‘passing-away’ are embedded in Marx’s account of how the world is.
For Open University course materials, I have written on Hobbes, Locke, and Marx, on political obligation, distibutive justice and equality, on cultural exemptions and leisure, on self-ownership, and on the morality of war.
I have research interests across contemporary political philosophy, and a growing research interest in the Philosophy of Sport. I am the vice chair of the British Philosophy of Sport Association.
'Snapping the Bonds: Marx and Antiquity in the Earliest Writings' in Critique 30-31 1998
'Strikes' in The Encyclopaedia of Applied Ethics (Academic Press) 1999
From Aristotle to Marx, Aristotelianism in Marxist Social Ontology (Avebury Series in Philosophy, Ashgate, 1999)
with Nigel Warburton and Derek Matravers Reading Political Philosophy: Machiavelli to Mill
(Routledge : New York, 2000)
'Aristotle and Marx: Egalitarianism, Civic Friendship and Rights', Skepsis 2001; 12: 142-156
ed. (with Derek Matravers) Debates in Contemporary Political Philosophy: An Anthology (Routledge: New York, 2003)
Political Philosophy (2011) (Open University text)
War (2014) (Open University text)
See Open Research Online for details of my most recent publications.
When I moved up to Glasgow University to embark on research on Marx and Aristotle, I was able to use my background in both Politics and Philosophy by teaching undergraduates in both departments. I also taught for Stirling University and for the Open University in Scotland. Nevertheless, there was still a time when I needed to work as a bouncer in one of Glasgow’s less salubrious nightclubs, in order to pay the rent.
My main area of teaching is Political Philosophy.