Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Moralists, Continued

Just recently, I said here we should bring back the moralists in politics. By that, I meant that politics is both worthy and compelling to people when the relevant discussions are cast in moral terms. A possible danger is that we are all emotivists, motivated and polarized by feelings into tribes that never disarm, and never cooperate. Our polarization is quite in evidence. But empathy and civility are not simply desirable, and affectations for gaining power; they are tools to till the discussion space for a constructive moral discussion.

Then yesterday, a man named Matthew Continenti (sp?) argued that America's conservative party has abandoned the realm of moral argument entirely. I think he's right, and I hope it doesn't stay that way. When he asked, "Where are the moralists?" I said to myself, "Here I am; send me!" That moral case cannot be made up of issue positions like badges of tribal loyalty, but a comprehensive case that arises out of a coherent theory of the human person, and his or her destiny.

This all sounds lovely, but electoral politics is nasty, and people with real ideas finish poorly in the South Carolina primary, you might note. Governing is equally nasty. Granted. Making arguments and cooperation are not being praised right now. Still, we can try. And we should, until that task falls to others. If we don't, who will?

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