The Decent Society

The Decent Society

The Decent Society

The Decent Society

Synopsis

Margalit begins concretely where we live with all the infuriating acts of humiliation that make living in the world so difficult. He argues in a concrete way in the spirit of Judith Shklar and Isaiah Berlin. This is a social philosophy that resists all those menacing labels that promote moral laziness, just as it urges us to get beyond the behavior that labels other human beings.

Excerpt

Some twenty years ago I accompanied Sidney Morgenbesser to the airport. In the lounge, while waiting for his flight, we discussed Rawls's theory of justice, which had deeply impressed us both. Before parting, Morgenbesser announced to me--as well as to all the other passengers-- that the urgent problem was not the just society but the decent society. To this day I am not sure what he meant by this, but the expression made a great impression on me. This book owes its existence to that remark of Morgenbesser's. I myself owe Morgenbesser much of my philosophical apprenticeship and not a few of my social persuasions.

The idea of the decent society appealed to me, but for many years I was not able to flesh it out. Gradually conversations I had with Palestinians during their uprising (the Intifada) in the occupied territories, as well as conversations I had with new immigrants to Israel from the countries of the defunct Communist bloc, convinced me of the centrality of honor and humiliation in the lives of people--and, consequently, of the importance that ought to be allotted to the concepts of honor and humiliation in . . .

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