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Actual Ethics - download pdf or read online

By James R. Otteson

A protection of the 'classical liberal' political culture, utilized to contemporary ethical and political concerns.

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Example text

But my suggestion is that one should not be held punitively responsible for something one did not do. That leads to the conclusion that an inactive passerby might be horribly vicious, but not jailably unjust. We examine Singer’s argument in more detail in chapter 4, but the implication for the time being is that there should be no laws requiring a person to help a drowning child, and no laws to punish a person if he fails to help. More generally, we should legally or coercively punish only breaches of justice; failures to fulfill positive virtue fall outside the state’s proper purview.

The other half is that you need to be held accountable for your decisions too. If you are allowed to decide for yourself how to use your credit card, but then, when you have run the balance up to its limit, someone else pays the bill, you will not be developing your judgment. If you never clean up your messes or dress appropriately or open the door for another when you should, but no one ever calls you on it, then, well, so what? What difference will it make to me that I am imprudent, inconsiderate, rude, or selfish, if those I care about do not require me to change?

Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom. ” Personhood and Judgment 25 paradigm, or template by which to determine whether future actions or decisions were just. The second traditional method of figuring out what justice is, is connected more generally with Plato’s student Aristotle. For Aristotle, determining what counts as justice is a rather more empirical and pragmatic affair. His view is roughly that we investigate conceptions of justice historically held, we examine those currently in practice in our own and in other communities, and then—here is the crucial part—we look to see what works.

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Actual Ethics by James R. Otteson


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