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By Rick - 15 Apr 2018

In Reference to: 15 April 2018 - Faith Produces Righteousness

Whose good becomes the common good?  That’s Rawls’ anguish.  How can we have stability in a morally pluralistic society.  Rawlsian justice is justice as fairness, it is procedural rather than normative.  Sandel’s response and that of many Rawlsian critics of the republican, Aristotelian, and communitarian positions is that we must have a more robust notion of common good, but they are still stymied by the question:  who decides, how do they decide. 

So, we go from the question of “what is justice” to “what is morally right”.  Is abortion morally permissible?  Is homosexuality?  Is pornography?  Is corporal punishment of children within the family?  Imagine a list of morally contested positions, positions in which otherwise reasonable and even “good”/“righteous” persons take dramatically and even fiercely held positions.  How do we reconcile them?  Or, think about your own fiercely held moral positions.  Would you be willing to impose those moral positions on all persons?  Would you want to live in a community in which there is one common good, one notion of the morally permissible – even if it were yours?

One of the reasons that political and moral philosophy is, has been, and should be unsettling is that there is no single answer, there is no single morally right answer.  Recall Nussbaum’s notion of grounding experiences.  There is not a single moral response to these common human questions, there are many cutting across time and across cultures.

No  canonical answers, just questions – but the exploration of those questions and the exploration of the various responses to those questions can and does inform our individual lives and our individual responses.  We do not explore these topics and these readings to find a solution for the ills of humanity.  We do seek understanding, and we do seek, I think, a way of being a more thoughtful and more deliberative citizen. 


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