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We ended last time talking about the narrative conception of the self.
We were testing the narrative conception of the self
and the idea of obligations of solidarity or membership
that did not flow from consent,
that claimed us for reasons unrelated to a contract or an agreement
or a choice we may have made.
And we were debating among ourselves
whether there are any obligations of this kind
or whether all apparent obligations of solidarity and membership
can be translated into consent or reciprocity
or universal duty that we owe persons qua persons.
And then there were those who defended the idea of loyalty and of patriotism.
So the idea of loyalty and of solidarity and of membership
gathered a certain kind of
intuitive moral force in our discussion.
And then, as we concluded,
we considered what seems to be a pretty powerful counter example to that idea.
Namely, the film of those southern segregationists in the 1950s.
And they talked all about their traditions,
their history, the way in which their identities were bound up
with their life history. Do you remember that?
And what flowed from that history, from that narrative sense of identity
for those southern segregationists?
They said we have to defend our way of life.
Is this a fatal or a decisive objection to the idea
of the narrative conception of the self?
That’s the question we were left with.
What I would like to do today
is to advance an argument and see what you make of it.
And let me tell you what that argument is.
I would like to defend
the narrative conception of the person
as against the voluntarist conception.
I would like to defend
the idea that there are obligations of solidarity or membership.
Then, I want to suggest
that there being such obligations
lends force to the idea, when we turn to justice,
that arguments about justice can’t be detached,
cannot be detached after all, from questions of the good.
But I wanted to distinguish two different ways
in which justice might be tied to the good
and argue for one of them.
Now, the voluntarist conception of the person of Kant and Rawls
we saw was powerful and liberating.
A further appeal is its universal aspiration.
The idea of treating persons as persons
without prejudice, without discrimination,
and I think that’s what led some among us to argue that,
okay, maybe there are obligations of membership but they are always subordinate.
They must always be subordinate
to the duties that we have to human beings as such, the universal duties.
But is that right?
If our encompassing loyalty should always take precedence
over more particular ones,
then the distinction between friends and strangers
should ideally be overcome.
A special concern for the welfare of friends would be a kind of prejudice,
a measure of our distance from universal human concern
But if you look closely at that idea,
what kind of a moral universe, what kind of moral imagination,
would that lead you to?
The enlightenment flows from Montesquieu
gives perhaps the most powerful, and I think,
the ultimately, the most honest account
of where this relentless universalizing tendency
leads the moral imagination.
Here’s how Montesquieu put it.
He said, "A truly virtuous man would come to the aid
of the most distant stranger as quickly as to his own friend."
And then he adds, listen to this,
"If men were perfectly virtuous, they wouldn't have friends."
But it’s difficult to imagine a world
in which persons were so virtuous that they had no friends,
only a universal disposition to friendliness.
The problem isn’t simply that such a world
would be difficult to bring about, that it's unrealistic.
The deeper problem is that such a world
would be difficult to recognize as a human world.
The love of humanity is a noble sentiment
but most of the time we live our lives by smaller solidarities.
This may reflect certain limits to the bounds of moral sympathy,
but more important, it reflects the fact
that we learn to love humanity, not in general,
but through its particular expressions.
So these are some considerations.
They’re not knock-down arguments,
but moral philosophy can’t offer knock-down arguments,
but considerations, of the kinds that we've been
discussing and arguing about all along.
Well, suppose that’s right.
One way of assessing whether this picture of the person
and of obligation is right, is to see
what are its consequences for justice.
And here is where is confronts a serious problem,
and here we go back to our southern segregationists.
They felt the weight of history.
Do we admire their character, these segregationists,
who wanted to preserve their way of life?
Are we committed to saying,
if we accept the idea of solidarity and membership,
are we committed to saying
that justice is tied to good in the sense that justice means
whatever a particular community or tradition says it means,
including those southern segregationists.
Here it’s important to distinguish two different ways
in which justice can be tied to the good.
One is a relativist way.
That’s the way that says,
to think about rights, to think about justice,
look to the values that happened to prevail
in any given community at any given time.
Don’t judge them by some outside standard,
but instead conceive justice as a matter of being faithful to the shared understandings
of a particular tradition.
But there’s a problem with this way of tying justice to the good.
The problem is that it makes justice wholly conventional.
A product of circumstance,
and this deprives justice of its critical character.
But there is a second way in which
justice can be tied with or bound up with the good.
On a second non-relativist way of linking justice with conceptions of the good,
principles of justice depend for their justification not on the values
that happened to prevail at any given moment in a certain place,
but instead on the moral worth or the intrinsic good of the ends rights serve.
On this non-relativist view the case for recognizing a right
depends on showing that it
honors or advances some important human good.
The second way of tying justice to the good
is not strictly speaking, communitarian,
if by communitarian you mean,
just giving over to a particular community the definition of justice.
Now, what I would like to suggest
that of these two different ways of linking justice to the good,
the first is insufficient.
Because the first leaves justice the creature of convention.
It doesn't give us enough
moral resources to respond to those southern segregationists
who invoke their way of life, their traditions,
their way of doing things.
But if justice is bound up with the good in a non-relativist way,
there is a big challenge, a big question to answer.
How can we reason about the good?
What about the fact that people hold different conceptions of the good?
Different ideas about the purposes of key social institutions.
Different ideas about what social goods and human goods
are worthy of honor and recognition.
We live in a pluralist society, people disagree about the good.
That’s one of the incentives to try to find principles of justice
and rights that don’t depend
on any particular ends or purposes or goods.
So is there a way to reason about the good?
Before addressing that question,
I want to address a slightly easier question.
Is it necessary, is it unavoidable, when arguing about justice
to argue about the good?
And my answer to that question is yes, it’s unavoidable.
It's necessary.
So for the remainder of today, I want to take up...
I want to try to advance that claim,
that reasoning about the good, about purposes, and ends,
is an unavoidable feature of arguing about justice,
it’s necessary.
Let me see if I can establish that.
And for that I’d like for us to begin a discussion of same sex marriage.
Now, same sex marriage draws on, implicateds,
deeply contested and controversial ideas,
morally and religiously.
And so there’s a powerful incentive
to embrace a conception of justice or of rights
that doesn’t require the society as a whole to pass judgment,
one way or another,
on those hotly contested moral and religious questions.
About the moral permissibility of homosexuality.
About the proper ends of marriage as a social institution.
So, clearly, if there’s an incentive to resolve this question,
to define people’s rights in a way that doesn’t require the society as a whole
to sort out those moral and religious disputes
that would be very attractive.
So what I would like to do now is to see,
using the same sex marriage case,
whether it’s possible to detach one’s use
about the moral permissibility of homosexuality and about
the purpose, the end of marriage,
detach those questions from the question of
whether the state should recognize same sex marriage or not.
So let's begin.
I would like to begin by hearing the arguments of those
who believe that there should be no same sex marriage
but that the state should only recognize marriage between a man and a woman.
Do I have volunteers? I had two.
There were two people I asked,
people who had voiced their views already on the justice blog.
Mark Loff and Ryan McCaffrey where are you?
Okay, Mark. And where is Ryan?
Alright, let’s go first to Mark.
I have sort of a theological understanding of
the purpose of sex and the purpose of marriage.
And I think that for people like myself, who are a a Christian and also a Catholic,
the purpose of sex is, one, for its procreative uses,
and two, for a unifying purpose between a man and a woman
within the institution of marriage.
You have a certain conception of the purpose or the telos... - Yeah.
...of human sexuality, which is bound up with procreation.
As well as union. - Yeah.
And the essence of marriage, the purpose of marriage as a social institution
is to give expression to that telos
and to honor that purpose, namely, the procreative purpose of marriage.
Is that a fair summary of your view? - Yeah.
Where is Ryan? Go ahead.
Do you agree more or less with Mark’s reasons?
Yes, I agree.
I think that the ideal of marriage involves procreation.
And it’s fine that, homosexuals would go off and cohabitate with each other
but the government doesn’t have a responsibility to encourage that.
All right, so the government should not encourage
homosexual behavior by conferring the recognition of marriage.
Yeah, it would be wrong to outlaw it but encouraging it is not necessary.
Who has a reply?
I just like to ask a question to Mark.
Let’s say you got married to a woman,
you did not have sex with her before marriage,
and then when you became married it became evident that
you’re an infertile couple.
Do you think that it should illegal for you to engage in sex
if children will not result from that act?
Yeah, I think that it is moral and that’s why I gave the two-fold purpose.
So like a woman, say...
I think older couples can get married,
someone... a woman who’s beyond...
she has already had menopause and who can’t have a child,
because I think that sex has these...
It has purposes beyond procreation.
I hate to be uncouth but have you ever engaged in masturbation?
You don’t have to answer that.
Right, make your...
I’d like to respond to that.
Wait. We’ve done pretty well over a whole semester
and we’re doing pretty well now dealing with
questions that most people think can’t even be discussed to any university settting
and, Hannah, you’ve got, you have a powerful point.
Make that point as a general argument rather than,
Rather than as an interrogative.
Okay. - But make the point.
What’s the principle that you’re appealing?
What’s the argument you have in mind?
Alrightt. Well, biblically... - Put it in the third person.
Yeah, okay. - Rather than...
...Rather than in a second person. Make the argument.
Okay. Biblically, masturbation or onanism, is not permissible
because it’s spilling your seed on the earth
when it’s not going to result in the birth of a child.
But what I’m saying is, you’re saying that sex,
there’s something wrong with sex if it doesn’t produce children
or reinforce the marriage bond. - Right.
But then how can you say that there’s something wrong,
that masturbation is permissible, if masturbation, obviously,
is not going to create a child?
I think marriage is society’s way to create a separate institution
where they say this is what we hold as a virtue.
Yes, every day we fall short and people fall short
in so many different other ways,
but I think that if you personally fall short,
and some morals fear, as we all do,
that doesn’t take the right of you to argue.
All right, I want you, to stay there.
I want to bring in some other voices and we'll continue.
Stay there if you would. Go ahead.
I think that the response to the masturbation-
Wait, tell us your name. - My name's Steve.
Steve, go ahead.
The response to the masturbation issue is,
it’s not something that’s permissible.
I don’t think anyone will argue that homosexual sex is impermissible.
It’s just that society has no place in letting you marry yourself
if masturbation is something that you do.
Well, all right, Hannah.
Alright, Steve has drawn... Alright, that's a good argument.
Steve has drawn our attention to the fact that there are two issues here.
One of them is the moral permissibility of various practices.
The other is the fit between certain practices,
whatever their moral permissibility,
with the honor or recognition
that the state should accord in allowing marriage.
So Steve has a pretty good counter argument.
What do you say to Steve?
Well, I think that it’s clear that human sexuality
is something that is inherent in, I believe, most people
and it’s not something you can avoid.
And masturbation, I mean, yeah, you can’t marry yourself
but I don’t think that takes away from the fact that
homosexuals are people too.
And I can’t understand why they wouldn’t be able to marry each other.
If you want to marry yourself,
I mean, I don’t know if you can legally do that.
That’s fine but I don’t think- - Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait!
Now, here we’re deciding, here we’re deliberating
as if legislators, what the law should be.
So you said, Steve, that’s fine.
Does that mean as a legislator you would vote
for a law of marriage that would be so broad
that it would let people marry themselves?
Well, I mean, that’s really beyond the pale of
anything that would really happen but
I don't think that- - But in principle.
Yeah, in principle? - Yes.
Yeah, sure, I mean if Steve wants to marry himself
I'm not going to stop him.
And you would confer state recognition on that solo marriage?
And while we’re at it,
what about consensual polygamous marriages?
I actually think that if the male and the female,
or that if the wives and the man, of the husbands and the wife
are consenting, it should be permissible.
Who else? I know there are a lot of people who...
Yes, okay, down here.
Stand up and tell us your name.
Victoria. - Victoria.
So we’re talking about the theological reasoning here for marriage
but I think the problem is that we’re talking about it within the Catholic viewpoint.
Whereas, the theological, and the point to marriage
for another religion or someone who’s an atheist
could be completely different.
And the government doesn’t have a right to impose
the theological reasoning for Catholicism on everyone in the state.
Which is what my problem is with not allowing same sex marriage.
Because, I mean, you’re beliefs are your beliefs, and that’s fine,
but civil union is not marriage within the Catholic Church.
And the state has a right to recognize a civil union between
whoever it wants, but does not have a right
to impose the beliefs of a certain minority or majority of whoever it is
based on religion within our state.
Alright, Victoria, good. A question.
Do you think the state should recognize same sex marriage
or just same sex civil unions as something short of marriage?
Well, I think that the state doesn’t have a right to recognize it
as marriage within a church, because that is not their place.
But whereas civil union, I see civil union as essentially the same thing except
not under a religion and that state has a right to recognize a civil union.
Alright, so, Victoria’s argument is that the state should not try to
decide the question of what the telos of marriage is.
That’s only something that religious communities can decide.
Who else?
My point is I don’t see why you feel like
the state should recognize marriages at all.
I’m like one of the 70 people who voted
that the state should not recognize any marriages
because I believe it is a union between male and a female
or two males or two females.
But there’s no reason to ask the state to give permission to me to unite myself.
And some might say that, if the state recognizes these marriages,
it will help children, it will have a binding effect.
But in reality, I don’t think it actually has a binding effect.
Alright, tell us your name. - Cezanne.
So, Victoria and Cezanne’s comments
differ from earlier parts of the conversation.
They say
the state shouldn’t be in the business
of honoring or recognizing or affirming
any particular telos, or purpose of marriage,
or of human sexuality.
And Cezanne is among those who says,
therefore, maybe the state should get out of the business
of recognizing marriage at all.
Here’s the question.
Unless, you adopt Cezanne’s position,
no state recognition of any kind of marriage,
is it possible to choose between...
...to decide the question of same sex marriage
without taking a stand on the moral and religious controversy
over the proper telos of marriage.
Thank you very much to all of you who have participated.
We’ll pick this up next time. You did a great job.
When we first came together some 13 weeks ago
I tried to warn you that once the familiar turns strange
once we begin to reflect on our circumstance,
it’s never quite the same again.
I hope you have by now experienced at least a little of this unease
because this is the tension that animates critical reflection
and political improvement
and maybe even the moral life as well.
We have two remaining questions to answer.
First, is it necessary, is it unavoidable
to take up questions of the good life in thinking about justice? Yes.
And is it possible to reason about justice?
Yes, I think so.
Let me try to develop those answers to those two questions.
Now, as a way of addressing those questions, we began last time
to discuss the question of same sex marriage.
And we heard from those who argued against same sex marriage
on the grounds that the purpose, or telos, or marriage
is at least in part, procreation,
the bearing and raising of children.
And then there were those who defended same sex marriage
and they contested that account of the purpose, or telos, of marriage
arguing we don’t require as a condition of heterosexual marriage
that couples be able or willing to procreate.
We allow infertile couples to marry.
This was Hannah’s point in the exchange with Mark.
Then there was another position
expressed at the end our discussion by Victoria,
who argued we shouldn’t try to decide this question.
We shouldn’t, at least at the level of the state, at the level of law,
try to come to any agreement on those questions about the good
because we live in a pluralist society where people had different
moral and religious convictions.
And so we should try to make law
in the framework of rights, neutral
with respect to these competing moral and religious views.
Now, it’s interesting that others, some others,
who favor the idea of neutrality
argued, not in favor of restricting marriage to a man and a woman,
nor in favor of permitting same sex marriage,
they argued in the name of neutrality,
for a third possibility.
Which is that government get out of the business
of recognizing any kind of marriage.
That was the third possibility.
Now, Andrea Mayrose had an interesting contribution to this debate.
She had a rejoinder to people who argue for neutrality.
Where is Andrea?
Alright, Andrea, would you be willing...
Share with us the view. If we can get you a microphone.
Share with us your view.
Why do you think that it’s a mistake
for the state to try to be neutral
moral and even religious questions like same sex marriage?
I don’t know that it is possible because people’s lives are
completely embedded in how they view the world.
And maybe I just agree with Aristotle that
the role of the government is helping people live in a sort of...
Having a collective understanding what is wrong and what is right.
Is it possible , and one could ask the same question of abortion,
that we’ve been asking of same sex marriage.
Do you think it’s possible
to decide whether abortion should be
permitted or prohibited
without taking a stand or making a judgment
about the moral permissibility of abortion?
No, I don’t think it is and I think that’s why it’s such a controversy
because people are so deeply committed to,
their fundamental beliefs about whether a fetus is a life or if it isn’t.
If I believe that, a fetus is a living being and has rights
and has fundamentally the right to live,
then it’s very hard for me to say,
"But I can put that aside and let you do what you want,"
because that’s like me saying,
"well, despite my beliefs, I’m going to let you commit what to me is murder."
So, I mean, that’s just one...
Alright, and the analogy in the same sex marriage case is,
you said, you’re a defender of same sex marriage. - Yes.
But you only came to that view
once you were persuaded
on the underlying moral question.
Right, well, I think particularly, in the US
so many people’s beliefs are driven by their religious beliefs
and like Mark the other day, I’m a Christian, I’m Catholic,
and I had to decide for myself on a lot of thought,
a lot of prayer, a lot of conversations with other people
that I disagreed with the Catholic standpoint
that homosexuality itself isn't a sin.
And once I came to that, sort of conclusion, in my personal relationship with god,
I mean, that’s sounds hokey, right? That’s like, oh, religious!
But a lot of people are religious and that’s where they draw
theif beliefs and their views from.
That’s when I could say, yeah, I’m down with the state saying,
"Go same sex marriage!"
because I’m okay with that and I think that’s morally okay.
Good, thank you.
Now, who would like to reply?
If you can, perhaps, hang on there for a moment.
Who would like to reply to Andrea’s idea
that in order to decide the question of same sex marriage,
it’s necessary to sort out the question about the
moral status of homosexuality
and figuring out the purpose, the telos, the proper end, of marriage?
Who disagrees with Andrea on that point?
Well, I think you absolutely can separate your moral opinion
and what you think the law should be.
For example, I think abortion is
unequivocally morally wrong.
But I do not believe that illegalizing abortion makes it go away.
I don’t believe illegalizing abortion stops it.
And, therefore, I am pro choice and I do believe the woman should have the choice
as it gives it more safety just as,
maybe, morally, I don’t want to get married to a man,
but I’m not going try to,
impede someone else’s freedom to do what they wish to do in terms of the law.
Whether the law makes something legal or illegal,
it’s implicitly approving or disapproving something.
So if you say, by making abortion legal, we’re saying it‘s okay.
As a society, collectively, we’re saying it’s okay with us in our society
to abort a fetus.
If we make it illegal, then we’re saying collectively as a society
it’s not okay, and that’s why societies have different beliefs.
Tell us your name before you... - My name is Daniel.
Daniel, what do you say?
Are we saying collectively that it’s okay?
Or are we saying that collectively we don’t
want women who are going to have an aboration anyway
to go to clinics in the side alleys
and have unsafe conditions?
Alright, bring it to the same sex marriage case.
Why don’t you have to decide that which position you’re in favor of
same sex marriage, Daniel, being legally permitted?
I think it absolutely should be legally permitted
because it’s not something telling me that I need to have...
I need to marry a man.
I absolutely don’t, I don’t see, if two men are consenting adults
and want to get married, I don’t see how I could even object to that.
Alright, there’s no harm. There's no harm done.
There’s no harm done either way,
even if it is morally wrong according to me.
Alright, let me turn to the way the Massachusetts court,
who made this landmark ruling in the same sex marriage case,
grappled with the very issue that Andrea and Dan had been
discussing here. Thanks to both of you very much.
What did the court say?
This was in the Goodridge case which
required the state of Massachusetts
to extend marriage to same sex couples.
The court started out, well, the court was conflicted.
If you read that opinion carefully, the court was conflicted
as between the two positions we’ve just been hearing,
defended by Andrea and by Dan.
The court begins, and this is Chief Justice Margaret Marshall’s opinion,
it begins with an attempt at liberal neutrality.
Many people hold deep-seated religious, moral and ethical convictions
that marriage should be limited to the union of one man and one woman,
and that homosexual conduct is immoral.
Many hold equally strong religous, moral, and ehtical convictions
that same sex souples are entitled to be married,
that homosexual persons should be treated no differently
than their heterosexual neighbors. This is the court.
Neither view answers the question before us.
What is at stake is "respect for individual autonomy and equality under law."
At stake is an individual freely choosing the person with whom
to share an exclusive commitment.
In other words, the issue is not the moral worth of the choice
but the right of the individual to make it.
So this is the liberal neutral strand in the court opinion,
voluntarist strand, the one that emphasizes autonomy,
choice, consent.
But the court seemed to realize that the liberal case,
the neutral case, for recognizing same sex marriage doesn’t succeed,
doesn’t get you all the way to that position,
because if it were only a matter of respect for individual autonomy,
if government were truly neutral on the moral worth
of voluntary intimate relationships,
then it should adopt a different policy.
Which is to remove government and the state all together
from according recognition to certain associations,
certain kinds of unions, rather than others.
If government really must be neutral,
then the consistent position is what we here
have been describing as the third position,
the one defended in the article by Michael Kinsley,
who argues for the abolition of marriage,
at least as a state function.
Perhaps a better term for this is the disestablishment of religion.
This is Kinsley’s proposal.
He points out that the reason for the opposition to same sex marriage
is that it would go beyond neutral toleration
and give same sex marriage a government stamp of approval.
That’s at the heart of the dispute.
In Aristotle’s terms, at issue here
is the proper distribution of offices and honors,
a matter of social recognition.
Same sex marriage can’t be justified
on the basis of liberal neutrality or non-discrimination or autonomy rights alone
because the question at stake in the public debate
is whether same sex unions have moral worth,
whether they’re worthy of honor and recognition,
and whether they fit the purpose of the social institution of marriage.
So Kinsley says, you want to be neutral?
Then, let churches and other religous institutions offer marriage ceremonies.
Let department stores and casinos get into the act if they want to.
This is Kinsley.
Let couples celebrate their union in any way they choose
and consider themselves married whenever they want.
And if three people want to get married,
or if one person wants to marry himself or herself,
and someone else wants to conduct a ceremony for them
and declare them married, let them.
If you and your government aren't implicated, what do you care?
This is Kinsley.
But this is not the position that the Supreme Judicial Court
of Massachusetts wanted.
They didn’t call for the abolition or for the disestablishment of marriage.
The court did not question government’s role in conferring
social recognition on some intimate associations rather than others.
To the contrary,
the court waxes eloquent about marriage
as, “one of our community’s most rewarding and cherished institutions.”
And then it goes on to expand the definition of marriage
to include partners of the same sex.
And in doing so it acknowledges
that marriage is more than a matter
of tolerating choices that individuals make.
It’s also a matter of social recognition and honor.
As Justice Marshall wrote.
In a real sense there are three partners to every civil marriage:
two willing spouses and an approving state.
Marriage is at once a deeply personal cimmitment,
but also a highly public celebration of the ideals of
mutuality, companionship, intimacy, fidelity, and family.
This is the court.
Now, this is reaching well beyond liberal neutrality.
This is celebrating and affirming marriage as an honorific,
as a form of public recognition.
And, therefore, the court found that it couldn’t avoid the debate
about the telos of marriage.
Justice Marshall’s opinion considers and rejects the notion
that the primary purpose of marriage is procreation.
She points out that there is no requirement
that applicants for marriage license, who are heterosexuals,
attest to their ability or their intention to conceive children.
Fertility is not a condition of marriage.
People who cannot stir from their deathbed, they marry.
So she advances all kinds of arguments,
along the lines that we began last time,
about the proper and the essential nature, the telos of marriage, is.
And she concludes, not procreation but the exclusive
and permanent commitment of the partners to one another
is the essential point and purpose of marriage.
Now, nothing I’ve said about this court opinion
is an argument for or against same sex marriage.
But it is an argument against the claim
that you can favor or oppose same sex marriage
while remaining neutral on the underlying moral and religious questions.
So all of this is to suggest
that at least in some of the hotly contested debates
about justice and rights that we have in our society,
the attempt to be neutral, the attempt to say,
it’s just a matter of consent and choice and autonomy,
we take no stand.
That doesn't succeed.
Even the court, which wants to be neutral on these moral and religious disputes,
finds that it can't.
What then about our second question?
If reasoning about the good is unavoidable
in debates about justice and rights,
is it possible?
If reasoning about the good means
that you must have a single principle or rule or maxim
or criterion for the good liffe,
that you simply plug in every time you have
a disagreement about morality, then the answer is, no.
But having a single principle or rule is not the only way,
not the best way of reasoning
either about the good life or about justice.
Think back, think back to the arguments that we’ve been having here
about justice and about rights and sometimes about the good life.
How have those arguments proceeded?
They’ve proceeded very much in the way
that Aristotle suggests moving back and forth
between our judgments about particulars,
particular cases, events, stories, questions,
back and forth between our judgments about particular cases
and more general principles that make sense
of our reasons for the positions we take on the particular cases.
This dialectical way of doing moral reasoning goes back
to the ancients, to Plato and Aristotle,
but it doesn’t stop with them,
because there is a version of Socratic or dialectical moral reasoning
that is defended with great clarity and force by John Rawls
in giving an account of his method of justifying a theory of justice.
You remember it’s not only the veil of ignorance and the principles
that Rawls argues for.
It’s also a method of moral reasoning,
reasoning about justice that he calls reflective equilibrium.
What is the method of reflective equilibrium?
It’s moving back and forth between our considered judgments about particular cases
and the general principles we would articulate
to make sense of those judgments.
And not just stopping there, because we might be wrong
in our initial intuitions.
Not stopping there but then sometimes revising our particular judgments
in the light of the principles once we work them out.
So sometimes we revise the principles, sometimes we revise our judgments
and intuitions in the particular cases.
The general point is this, and here I quote Rawls.
A conception of justice can't be deduced from self evicdent premises.
Its justification is a matter of the mustual support of many considerations,
of everything fitting together into one coheret view.
And later in the theory of justice, he writes,
moral philosophy is Socratic.
We may want to change our present considered judgments
once their regulative principles are brought to light.
Well, if Rawls accepts that idea
and advances that notion of reflective equilibrium,
the question we’re left with is,
he applies that to questions of justice,
not to questions of morality and the good life.
And that's why he remains committed to the priority
of the right over the good.
He thinks the method of reflective equilibrium
can generate shared judgments about justice in the right
but he doesn’t think they can generate shared judgments
about the good life, about what he calls
comprehensive moral and religious question.
And the reason he thinks that is that he says that
in modern societies there is a fact or reasonable pluralism about the good.
Even conscientious people who reason well,
will find that they disagree about questions
of the good life, about morality and religion.
And Rawls is likely right about that.
He’s not talking about the fact of disagreement in pluralist societies.
He’s also suggesting that there may be persisting
disagreements about the good life and about moral and religious questions.
But if that’s true, then
is he warranted in his further claim
that the same can’t be said about justice?
Isn’t it also true, not only that we, as a matter of fact, disagree
about justice in pluralist societies,
but that at least some of those disagreements are reasonable disagreements?
In the same way,
some people favor a libertarian theory of justice,
others are more egalitarian theory of justice and they argue.
And there is pluralism in our society as between free market laissez faire,
libertarian theories of justice and more egalitarian ones.
Is there any difference in principle
between the kind of moral reasoning and the kind of disagreements that arise
when we debate about justice
and the meaning of free speech
and the nature of religious liberty?
Look at the debates we have over
appointees to the Supreme Court.
These are all disagreements about justice and rights.
Is there any difference between the fact of reasonable pluralism
in the case of justice and rights and in the case of morality and religion?
In principle I don’t think that there is.
In both cases what we do when we disagree is
we engage with our interlocutor, as we’ve been doing here for an entire semester.
We consider the arguments that are provoked by particular cases.
We try to develop the reasons that lead us to go one way rather than another.
And then we listen to the reasons of other people.
And sometimes we’re persuaded to revise our view.
Other times we’re challenged at least to shore up and strengthen our view.
But this is how moral argument proceeds,
with justice, and so it seems to me, also
with questions of the good life.
Now, there remains a further worry
and it’s a liberal worry,
what about if we are going to think of our disagreements about morality and religion
as bound up with our disagreements about justice,
how are we ever going to find our way to a society
that accords respect to fellow citizens with whom we disagree?
It depends I think on which conception of respect one accepts.
On the liberal conception, to respect our fellow citizens’
moral and religious convictions, is, so to speak, to ignore them ,
for political purposes.
To rise above or to abstract from or to set aside
those moral and religious convictions.
To leave them undisturbed, to carry on our political debate
without reference to them.
But that isn’t the only way,
or perhaps even the most plausible way
of understanding the mutual respect
on which democratic life depends.
There is a different conception of respect according to which we respect
our fellow citizens’ moral and religious convictions,
not by ignoring, but by engaging them.
By attending to them.
Sometimes by challenging and contesting them.
Sometimes by listening and learning from them.
Now, there’s no guarantee that a politics
of moral and religious attention and engagement
will lead in any given case to agreement.
There is no guarantee it will lead even to appreciation
for the moral and religious convictions of others.
It’s always possible, after all,
that learning more about a religious or a moral doctrine
will lead us to like it less.
But the respect of deliberation and engagement
seems to me a more adequate, more suitable ideal for a pluralist society.
And to the extent that our moral and religious disagreements reflect
some ultimate plurality of human goods.
A politics of moral engagement will better enable us, so it seems to me,
to appreciate the distinctive goods our different lives expressed.
When we first came together some 13 weeks ago,
I spoke of the exhilaration of political philosophy
and also of its dangers.
About how philosophy works and has always worked
by estranging us from the familiar by unsettling our settled assumptions.
And I tried to warn you that once the familiar turns strange,
once we begin to reflect on our circumstance,
it’s never quite the same again.
I hope you have by now experienced at least a little of this unease
because this is the tension that animates critical reflection and political improvement
and maybe even the moral life as well.
And so our argument comes to an end, in a sense,
but in another sense goes on.
Why, we asked at the outset,
why did these arguments keep going even if they raise questions
that are impossible ever, finally, to resolve?
The reason is that we live some answer to these questions all the time.
In our public life, and in our personal lives,
philosophy is inescapable even if it sometimes seems impossible.
We began with the thought of Kant,
that skepticism is a resting place for human reason.
Where it can reflect upon its dogmatic wanderings,
but it is no dwelling place for permanent settlement.
To allow ourselves simply to acquiescence in skepticism
or in complacence, Kant wrote, can never suffice
to overcome the restlessness of reason.
The aim of this course has been to awaken
the restlessness of reason
and to see where it might lead.
And if we had done at least that,
and if the restlessness continues to afflict you
in the days and years to come,
then we together have achieved no small thing.
Thank you.


Michael Sandel:Justice What's The Right Thing To Do Episode 12 DEBATING SAME SEX MARRIAGE

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ethern 2014 年 4 月 27 日 に公開
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