Ethics in the Public Domain: Essays in the Morality of Law and Politics

Ethics in the Public Domain: Essays in the Morality of Law and Politics

Ethics in the Public Domain: Essays in the Morality of Law and Politics

Ethics in the Public Domain: Essays in the Morality of Law and Politics

Synopsis

This new collection of essays opens with a pivotal essay, not previously published, on the implications of the moral duties which arise out of concern for the well-being of others. The first part of the book concentrates on the consequences of two central aspects of well-being: the importance of membership in groups - the role of belonging - and the active character of well-being - that it largely consists in successful activities. Both aspects have far-reaching political implications, explored in essays on free expression, national self-determination, and multiculturalism, among others. Against the background of the moral and political views developed in the first part, the second part of the book explores various aspects of the dynamic inter-relations between law and morality, offering some building blocks towards a theory of law.

Excerpt

One is forever searching for understanding, and the further one travels the further off the goal appears. Most of the essays collected in this book were started with the intention to use them to illustrate the application to one or another political or jurisprudential problem of general views about morality and the law which I have argued for elsewhere. More often than not, in the course of writing I realized that the problems I was addressing gave rise to difficulties that I did not anticipate, and that I had not directly addressed before. Luckily (or was it a delusion?) I felt that the general approach I have been pursuing in previous writings was also suitable for dealing with these, to me new, difficulties. The result is--I hope--that the general position I espoused is enriched and strengthened by these new reflections.

I called the first part of the book 'The Ethics of Well-Being: Political Implications' to indicate that it follows the approach, endorsed by many writers on moral and political theory and adopted by me in The Morality of Freedom, according to which political morality is concerned primarily with protecting and promoting the well-being of people. The present volume continues (in essays 3-5) the attempt to defend this approach against some opposing arguments which restrict politics by imposing constraints of so-called 'neutrality among competing conceptions of the good', or which regard rights as constraints on political action whose force derives from considerations which are unrelated to individual well-being. But the emphasis of the book is constructive, rather than polemical. The opening essay explores the notion of well-being and the ways in which one's well-being can and cannot be served by others. The paperback reprint of the book includes an additional essay: "Liberating Duties", previously intended for use in a different--now abandoned--project. This complements the essays immediately preceding and following it in exploring the notion of individual well-being and the relations that has to rights and especially to duties. These essays prepare the ground for the exploration of two important aspects of well-being: the importance of membership in groups--the role of belonging in well-being--and the implication of the active character of well- being, of the fact that it largely consists in successful activities. Both aspects of well-being have far-reaching political implications.

The active aspect of well-being raises vital questions for policies designed to promote people's welfare. If people's well-being can only be achieved through their own activities, what can others do for them? Should people be left to their fate, to prove themselves by overcoming whatever difficulties it throws in their way? If we say that people's lives should be neither devoid of challenges nor full of awesome challenges, are we guided . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.