The Individual and the Political Order: An Introduction to Social and Political Philosophy

By Norman E. Bowie; Robert L. Simon | Go to book overview

been secured for everyone, loss of additional wealth is less likely to hinder inquiry than loss of liberty. Accordingly, as affluence increases, there seem to be good reasons for weighing liberty more and more heavily relative to competing values. These reasons may be overridden on occasion, and perhaps properly so, but they seem at least sufficient to shift the burden of proof to those who would constrain liberty in particular cases.


CONCLUDING REMARKS

Rights arise from the equal claims of individuals to some level of possession of a fundamental or primary good. Liberty is such a good. However, the right to liberty, like other fundamental rights, is a prima facie right. In cases of conflict, it sometimes is proper that it give way. But the right to liberty should give way only to other claims of right, not to the maximization of utility, the glory of the nation state, the claims of religious orthodoxy or current standards of offensiveness or personal preferences and tastes of the majority. Where liberty clashes with other rights, the other rights usually are those to the economic or material prerequisites of an at least minimally decent human existence. In such cases, the conflict is to be adjudicated by the democratic process suitably constrained by requirements of justice, compromise and desire to reconcile competing claims without allowing any one kind of right to be completely subordinated.


NOTES
1
John Stuart Mill, The Subjection of Women, 1869 ( London and New York: Longmans, Green and Co., 1911), pp. 42-43.
2
This point is made by William A. Parent, "Some Recent Work on the Concept of Liberty," American Philosophical Quarterly 11, no. 3 ( 1974): 151.
3
Joel Feinberg, Social Philosophy (Englewood Cliffs, NJ.: Prentice-Hall, 1973), p. 7.
4
Isaiah Berlin, "Two Concepts of Liberty," in Berlin's Four Essays on Liberty ( New York: Oxford University Press, 1969), pp. 121-22.
5
Ibid., p. 122.
6
Ibid.
7
Berlin seems to have adopted such a position recently. See, for example, his remarks in the introduction to Four Essays on Liberty, p. xlviiff.
8
Ibid., p. 131.
9
Ibid., p. 133.
10
On this point, see C. B. Macpherson discussion in Democratic Theory: Essays in Retrieval ( New York: Oxford University Press, 1973), chap. 5.
11
This is suggested by Feinberg, Social Philosophy, pp. 12-14.
12
Gerald C. MacCallum Jr., "Negative and Positive Freedom," Philosophical Review 76, no. 3 ( 1967): 314.
13
See the arguments of chap. 3, in the section on "Justification."

-168-

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The Individual and the Political Order: An Introduction to Social and Political Philosophy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • Introduction 1
  • Selected Readings 5
  • One Love It or Leave It? Individual Conscience and Political Authority 7
  • Suggested Readings 26
  • Two Utilitarianism 28
  • Notes 46
  • Notes 47
  • Three Natural Rights: Meaning and Justification 72
  • Notes 74
  • Suggested Readings 75
  • Four Justice 77
  • Suggested Readings 112
  • Five Democracy and Political Obligation 114
  • Suggested Readings 140
  • Six Liberty 141
  • Notes 168
  • Notes 170
  • Seven Law and Order 171
  • Articles 201
  • Eight an Evaluation of Preferential Treatment 202
  • Notes 228
  • Notes 230
  • Nine Ethics and International Affairs 231
  • Notes 257
  • Notes 259
  • Index 260
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