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Saturday, February 27, 2016

The Three Questions That Change A Political Philosophy

Ever since I was 21 or so, I self-identified as a political conservative, and a Republican. A reasonable person could easily argue that I came by it a little emotionally, and not by reason. A big part of it was simply wanting to hear an opposing view, unwilling to concede as a starting point that "liberals" are more intelligent, more informed, more compassionate than everyone else. I maintain a visceral distaste for smugness, though of course I am a hypocrite. I can be very unfair if I don't like someone, or some thing.

Anyway, the most basic question concerns the goodness of government as such. If governments of people hold power because those under its influence lack the force to overthrow it, or the willingness, one should say that that government is a permissible evil. Short of that position are countless others, advocating for more or less intervention according to preference.

These are the questions that have altered the moral landscape for me. They now require an affirmative answer:

1. Is the common good real?

2. Are there things that cannot, and should not be made into commodities?

3. Are government actions which do not violate the moral law presumed just, even if I think they are unwise?

Why I'm not a libertarian, in three simple questions.

2 comments:

Nathan said...

I'm a centrist, green-streaked libertarian. I would answer these questions:

Maybe; common goods are real, but why do you make it singular? Also, while real, common goods are dangerous excuses; Ahab and Jezebel are well motivated to declare Naboth's vineyard a 'common good.'
Yes, both types exist distinctly.
No. Something should only be presumed just if it is just. Otherwise, the presumption is in error. Why would this presumption be true? Governments have participated in most of the great injustices on record.

Jason said...

It's not an unassailable presumption, but it's a presumption. Governments are also bound by the principle of subsidiarity, a conviction that problems should be handled at the lowest level of social organization whenever possible. In addition, subsidiarity includes the willingness to assist people at lower levels to attain their ends. The other principle that is important is solidarity, a firm determination to act for the common good. Since private property is affirmed, (CCC, 2402-2403) the common good cannot be used to sanction the theft of private property.