1. Openness Respect and State Neutrality

The preceding discussions of Ethics, Values and Free Will also have implications for political philosophy, law and social ethics in modern free and democratic societies, implica­tions we now explore. How should free and democratic governments deal with pluralism? What is the groun­ding for human rights? What should be the limits of free action and freedom of choice? To what degree can morality be enforced by law? To what degree can demo­cratic governments remain neutral with respect to competing conceptions of the good? Can we reconcile the demands of justice and care in democratic societies?

The preceding discussions have implications for all of these questions and many others regar­ding politics, law and democracy. We begin with an issue much discussed in contemporary political philosophy about what has come to be called “state neutrality.”

Influential political and legal philosophers, such as John Rawls, Ronald Dworkin, Bruce Acker­man, Charles Larmore, D. A. Lloyd-Thomas and others,[1] have argued in different ways that states or governments in modern free and pluralist societies should remain neutral with respect to (in Rawls’ terms) different “com­pre­hensive conceptions of the good,” not favoring or esta­blishing one such conception over others.

The general argument for such neutrality is that, in a pluralist state, where citizens have dif­fering conceptions of the good and competing ways of life, if the state favors one conception of the good (say, one religion, for example, or ideology or particular morality) over others, it cannot legitimately claim the full assent of all citizens whose religious or moral views differ from the favored one.[2]

This argument has appeal for many persons. But the ideal of state neutrality is also controver­sial and has many critics. Critics argue, for example, that complete state neutrality would appear to be an impossibility.[3] Every law, policy or political institution will inevitably favor some con­cep­tions of the good over others. By adopting tax policies, environmental regulations, zoning laws, by taking stands either for or against gambling, homosexuality, obscenity, legalization of drugs and many other matters, governments inevitably favor some ways of life and conceptions of the good over others.

Those sympathetic to neutrality frequently concede this point.[4] Government neutrality must be limited only to certain issues or reasons, they say. But then it is difficult to draw a line where neutrality is justified and where it is not without making substantive assumptions about the good that will favor some views over others. Ways of life that tolerate and even relish a great deal of freedom of choice and diversity of life-styles will more easily flourish in a state that remains neutral on most moral issues.

By contrast, adherents of traditional religious ways of life, and those who hold more conserva­tive moral views, will find such a free-wheeling neutral state less hospitable to their beliefs and ways of life.[5] They would prefer greater enforcement of morals and do not want their children exposed to ways of life they regard as corrupt and immoral. As such examples show, any degree of state neutrality will not really be neutral, for it will inevitably favor some substantive notions of the good and some ways of life over others.[6]

2. Neutrality and Openness

There is some justice therefore to the charge that complete political neutrality is an impossi­bility. The state must stand for something. Nonetheless, I think defenders of state neutrality are aiming at some­thing important for political theory under modern conditions of pluralism. What they are aiming at, however, can better be captured, I suggest, by focusing on an attitude that bears a superficial resemblance to neutrality, but turns out to be something quite different—namely, an attitude of openness respect in the search for the good.

The initial attitude of openness respect of the retreatants in the section on Ethics did not require that they remain neutral with respect to all points of view about values and to all ways of life implied by those points of view. To the contrary, their initial attitude of open­ness respect was to be a way of sepa­rating those points of view and ways of life that were worthy of such openness respect from those that were not.

We might therefore imagine a political order founded on a variation of the retreat of the section on Ethics in which those gathered are members of a single society or nation rather than peoples from all over the earth. As in the original retreat, those present represent different religions, ideologies, points of view and ways of life. And their goal is the same as in the original gathe­ring—to search for common ethical principles regarding how they would should relate to one another despite their differing points of views. But, in this case, the principles arrived at would be the basis for a political order of their society.

Understood in this way, the political order thereby arrived at would not be based on neutra­lity. It would presuppose certain universal ethical assumptions, such as the retreatants arrived at by their reasoning that the state would be required to uphold. These would include rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness that lie at the foundation of modern free societies. To res­pect these rights is an implication of the requirement to “treat all persons as ends in every situa­tion and no one as a mere means” (the Ends Principle) at which the retreatants would have arrived by trying to sustain an attitude of openness respect to all to the degree possible.

Thus interpreted, the principle enunciated by Thomas Jefferson that all humans have “inaliena­ble rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”—the principle that Abraham Lincoln called “the father of all moral principle”[7]—would be a guiding principle of such a political order. To say these rights are “inalienable,” however, would not mean that they are “unlimited,” for they would be limited at the point of moral sphere breakdown.

3. The Grounding of Rights and the Search for the Good

It is worth reminding ourselves that the retreatants did not arrive at these results by making a social contract; nor did they base them on a social contract. The retreatants did not do so be­cause they wanted their ethical principles to be applicable to all persons, including those who had left the retreat and would not agree or consent to the principles. All persons, including those who had left, would be accorded the same rights—up to the point where they would break the moral sphere and make it impossible to accord them such rights and all others as well.

Nor were the retreatants merely agreeing for mutual advantage to treat others as ends and not mere means, if those others would treat them in return as ends and not mere means. Their perspective was wider than that. They chose to treat each other (and all persons) initially with openness respect, in order to find out which persons and ways of life were objectively worthy of being so treated by all other persons and which were not.

The retreatants were thus engaged in a search for the objective good under conditions of plu­ralism; and the shared ethical and political principles they arrived at were the conditions for this search. If they were to form a state or polity in this manner, they would thereby be retrieving the ancient idea that political life involves a shared search for the good, while acknowledging that this search is to take place under modern conditions of pluralism.

The ethical foundations of a society thereby arrived at—it’s public morality, we might call it—would have considerable content, given the many implications of the Ends Principle regarding the moral sphere and its potential breakdown. When translated into law, these implications would provide a moral basis for both criminal and civil law of such a society .

On the criminal side, for example, a public morality defined by the Ends Principle would cover laws against murder, theft, assault, fraud, bribery, and so on through the criminal code. For all such crimes involve break­downs of the moral sphere described in parts 4 and 5 of the section on Ethics. Specifically, these crimes involve moral sphere breakdowns of “level 3” where some persons are using others as mere means to their own ends.

A public morality, so defined, would also have implications for the criminal justice system gene­rally, fair trials, punish­ment and treatment of the guilty and the accused. The level 3 prin­ciple of “Using minimum force to restore and preserve the moral sphere” when it has broken down, mandates concern for the rights of prisoners and those convicted of crimes, consistent with the fact that by their actions they have forfeited the full measure of respect for such rights due them in level 1 (the ideal moral sphere).

The other level 3 principle of “Restraining the guilty, not the inno­cent,” mandates further legal protections against wrongly convicting inno­cent persons, adequate representation for those accused, right to trial by a jury, and similar protections.

In civil law, public morality defined by the Ends Principle and moral sphere breakdown would be the basis for fair contracts and the just resolution of civil disputes and conflicts of interest under imperfect conditions. Insofar as civil law involves findings of liability or fault for harms done, it also involves level 3 concerns about guilt or innocence. But civil law also concerns level 2 breakdowns of the moral sphere where competing parties have claims that cannot be simultaneous satisfied.

The ideal solution for such “conflicts of interests” suggested in parts 4 and 5 of the section on Ethics was to seek a resolution that both parties could freely accept, thus respecting both as ends and treating none as mere means. Since such an ideal solution is often not possible, it was fur­ther argued that one must resort to “second best strategies” for resolving level 2 conflicts—third party arbi­trators, judges, juries, majority vote, choosing by lot and other procedural methods, private, legal and political. The underlying goal of such second-best strategies is the same as in all moral sphere breakdown: To depart as little as possible from the ideal of treating all parties with open­ness respect, when one must depart from that ideal to some degree. To the extent that these second-best strategies seek this goal, states based on these foundations would be justified in using them to resolve conflicts of interest.

Finally, in yet another sphere of public life—the political arena—public morality as defined by the Ends Principle and the moral sphere would be the basis for ethics legislation governing the behavior of legislators, lobbyists, and others involved in the political process as well as the fair­ness of elections. Indeed, as argued in part 4 of the Ethics section, democracy itself emerges as a strategy for dealing with conflicting interests that is justified by the same ethical goal: the goal of departing as little as possible from the ideal of treating all persons with openness respect when one must depart from that ideal to some degree, no matter what you do. This would of course require that democratic vote be fair and open to all.

4. Legal Moralism: Devlin, Hart, Dworkin, and others

In this manner a public morality arrived at by a shared search for good of the kind undertaken by the retrea­tants would provide a foundation for the legal and political systems of societies founded upon it. But such a public morality would have further ethical implications for the life of such societies and its citizens beyond these basic ones for law and politics. To see why, it is instructive to critically examine the views of those who argue for greater enforcement of morals in law and society with respect to private as well as public behavior.

A familiar and widely-debated argument favoring greater legal enforcement of morals in private matters is that of Patrick Devlin (1965), British judge and legal theorist, who first presented his case while arguing against efforts to liberalize England’s laws against homosexuality. Arguing against the liberalization of these laws, Devlin first noted that societies are based on a communi­ty of ideas, part of which must be a moral foundation, and that society has a right to protect this moral foundation for its own survival. “Society,” he says, “is held together by the invisible bonds of common thought. If the bonds are too far relaxed, the members would drift apart.”[8]

Devlin’s second point concerned the standards by which societal morals would be judged. They should be the “community standards” as determined by the “reasonable person,” or “man in the street” or the “person in the jury box.”[9] In matters of pornography, for example, questions about what is obscene or outside community standards may be put to grand juries that are supposed to be representative samplings of the community.

Devlin insists that the community reaction directly or through such representatives must be a strong one of disgust or indignation to justify legal sanctions. But when there is such a reaction, he argued, liberty can be restricted on moral grounds. A liberty-limiting principle that would justify restrictions of immoral behavior in such cases has been called by Joel Feinberg the principle of Legal Moralism.[10]

Not surprisingly, Devlin’s defense of Legal Moralism has given rise to much debate and criti­cism among legal scholars and others. Many critics, such as noted legal theorists H. L. A. Hart and Ronald Dworkin, argued that Devlin’s appeal to the criterion of community standards is vague and potentially dangerous.[11] Community moral standards may be based on ignorance or prejudice. Should they be given the status of law simply because they are widespread? And how wide­spread must community atti­tudes be? Will a majority suffice, and if so, is there a potential for the tyranny of the majority? The critics further point out that consensus or near-unanimity is not likely to be found in mo­dern societies on issues that concerned Devlin such as homosexua­lity, abortion or obscenity in art or literature.

These criticisms are nicely summed up by Dworkin when he says that the problem is not with Devlin’s “idea that the community’s morality counts, but his idea of what counts as the com­munity’s morality.”[12] Restrictions on liberty to prevent immoral behavior based on community standards as conceived by Devlin fail to adequately resolve a central question of pluralist societies: Whose idea of immoral behavior will be enforced when particular moralities differ?

5. The Public Morality Principle

Such objections to Devlin’s arguments for Legal Moralism have merit and justify skepticism about the Legal Moralism principle. Yet there is something to be said for Devlin’s view that “society is held together by the invisible bonds of common thought,” which must include some moral foundation or shared ethical beliefs.

Social philosophers from Plato to de Tocqueville to modern communitarians have supported such a claim.[13] And many of Devlin’s critics acknowledge it to some degree when they say, as Dworkin does, that the problem with Devlin’s position is not his idea that “the community’s morality counts,” but his idea of what counts as the community’s morality.

I now want to suggest that the objections made to Devlin’s Legal Moralism do not require that we abandon the idea of shared moral commitments to which de Tocqueville and modern commu­nitarians wish to draw our attention. That idea of shared moral commitments can be embodied, I would argue, in an alternative to the Legal Moralism principle that is entailed by the search for the good in the manner of the retreatants.

The public morality arrived at by such a search goes beyond its embodiment in criminal and civil law and politics of the kinds considered thus far, even if it would not go as far as Devlin would take it. The reason is that commitment to the ideal of treating all persons as ends, as the Ends Principle (EP) requires, also implies a commitment to “doing what one can do to maintain [and hence to sustain and preserve] a moral sphere in which all persons can be treated with openness respect by all others.” Such a commitment implies a further principle of social ethics that might aptly be called the

Public Morality Principle: Society has a legitimate interest in protecting and encouraging attitudes, practices, institutions and social conditions that tend to sustain the moral sphere, and in discouraging attitudes, practices, institutions and conditions that would lead to its breakdown.

Such a principle, which follows directly from the requirement of the Ends Principle to maintain the moral sphere to the degree possible, has numerous implications for social policy that go be­yond those discussed thus far. Maintaining a moral sphere to the degree possible does entail according persons rights and liberties against the interference of the state, of the kinds discussed so far. These rights and liberties are a central concern in free societies, as John Stuart Mill and other classi­cal liberal theorists have emphasized.

But other political theorists of diverse persuasions, including communitarians, social conserva­tives and feminists, and others, have often criticized liberal political theories for putting too much emphasis on individual freedoms, while paying too little attention to social institutions such as the family, the extended family, neigh­bor­hoods, schools, churches, associations, and the like, that make it possible for individual liberties to flourish.[14] If such supporting social institu­tions that are involved in morally educa­ting the young and maintaining societal bonds are dysfunctional, or ineffective, one can scarce­ly maintain a moral sphere in which individual freedoms can be exercised and everyone is treated as an end and not used as a mere means.[15]

The Public Morality Principle is meant to address these civic concerns by protecting and pro­moting attitudes, practices, institutions and social conditions that sustain the moral sphere. Such a principle would guide all social policy and private initiatives having to do with the health of families, moral education in the schools, social programs and community efforts —such as Head Start, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, boys and girls clubs, and others, that provide support in educating and morally directing the young.

It would guide programs dealing with teen pregnancy, drug abuse, drunk driving, disaster relief, job retraining, child abuse, gang violence, and society’s other pressing social problems that lead to breakdown of the moral sphere. It would encourage support groups for mental illness and al­co­­holism, rape crisis centers, suicide hotlines, shelters for battered spouses, hospices and coun­seling for runaways, half-way houses for parolees and those with mental problems, educational aids for the blind and deaf and others with disabilities, to allow them to become productive and respected members of society. Such efforts and many others of similar kinds would not merely be viewed as social programs, but as matters of public morality.

Importantly, the Public Morality Principle does not require that the state or government provide all these services. What it requires is only that a “good society” should provide them in some way or another, public or private. The presumptions of liberty and individual responsibility (which follow from the res­pect for persons enjoined by the Ends Principle) suggest that services supporting the moral sphere be provided to the degree possible by private institutions and initi­atives, beginning with the family, the most important institution of society for supporting the moral sphere. And where government must be involved, openness respect for persons implies that such services be supplied by local governments to the degree possible to maximize citizen input.

But government support at higher levels is usually helpful and often indispensable. Private insti­tutions themselves, such as the family, often need public support to do their job well. Where the line is to be drawn between state and private initiatives should therefore be a matter of continu­ing political debate in free and democratic societies. But the overriding goal implied by the moral sphere theory is that social initiatives of the kinds mentioned, falling under the Public Morality Principle, be attended to in some way or another if the moral order of such societies is to be sustained.

6. Moral Education and Democracy

One of the most important applications of the Public Morality Principle to the maintenance of a moral sphere concerns the moral education of the young. More will be said about this topic in the final section on Values Education. But there is one aspect of the issue of moral education in a democracy that has a particularly important bearing on the Public Morality Principle and is worth discussing here. It concerns current controversies about the teaching of virtues and what is more generally called “character education,” in publically supported school curricula. The teaching of virtues presents a problem similar to the teaching of values generally in democratic societies—the problem of pluralism.

Which virtues should be singled out, if virtues are to be a part of state supported education in pluralist societies? Will it not be the case that any chosen table of virtues will pri­vi­lege some particular morality or religion or some particular conception of the good that will be favored over others? And is this not another case of government or the state—in the person of public school teachers, school boards or local governments—being judgmental and imposing one favored view of the good on other people’s children? But is the alternative to avoid charac­ter education altogether in the public schools of democratic and pluralist societies? That also does not seem wise.

Viewing these controversies from the point of view of the Public Morality Principle provides insight into how they might be addressed. Consider, as an example, those virtues that have frequently been suggested by various public interest groups in the United States which have been promoting the teaching of virtues in the schools. Such groups have struggled to come up with a list of virtues that could gain general consensus and avoid dissent; and the lists of virtues they suggest differ in details.

But it is interesting that a core set of virtues appear again and again on their lists, including most commonly, the following six: honesty, respect, responsibility, fairness, trustworthiness and caring.[16] The proposals usually call for encouraging these virtues in young people by simple examples and activities from the earliest grades onward.

I suggest that we take a closer look at this list in the light of the Public Morality Principle: honesty, respect, responsibility, fairness, trust­worthiness and caring. Are these not just the traits of character one would wish to instill in young people in order to maintain and promote institu­tions and behavior that would sustain and preserve the moral sphere, as the Public Morality Principle requires?

To be dishonest and deceptive in dealing with others is to break the moral sphere. To respect others, in the sense of treating them to the degree possible as ends and not mere means to one’s own ends, is the essence of what it means to maintain a moral sphere. To be responsible about keeping one’s commitments and promises to others, including the commitments of marriage, parenthood, work, and friendship, is also part of what it means to treat those others as ends and not merely as means to one’s own ends; and such commitments (of parenthood, etc.) are essen­tial to the maintenance of a moral sphere. To be as fair as possible in resolving conflicts of interest in a manner that respects the interests of everyone involved, and to be trustworthy in one’s dealings with others in work, business and private life—all these are traits that would promote and sustain the moral sphere as required by the Public Morality Principle.

7. Justice and Care

The final virtue on this list, that of care for others (including those who are deprived or vulne ­rable, the young, the elderly, the disabled, sick and infirm), has a special place in this argument. A “good society” intent on maintaining a moral sphere as the Public Morality Principle requires would also make prominent the promotion of such a virtue in its citizenry.

This point has been emphasized in differing ways by some modern ethical and political theorists who emphasize the virtues in their theories.[17] It has also been emphasized by many feminist ethical and political theorists.[18] For example, feminist theorist, Virginia Held, along with many other feminist theorists, argues that society includes persons in various degrees of dependency, children, the elderly, the sick and infirm, etc., and caring is the glue that holds such a society together.[19]

Looking at this final virtue of care through the lens of the Public Morality Principle allows one to give a unified account of a distinction often made in contem­porary feminist ethi­cal theory between an “ethics of justice” and an “ethics of care.”[20] Maintaining social conditions that will support a moral sphere to the degree possible, as the Public Morality Principle requires, must take different forms depending on whether we are dealing with adult humans in their maturity, capable of choosing their own ends, or with children and others in various stages of depen­dency.

For adult persons, treating them with openness respect to the degree possible means allowing them to choose their own ends and to pursue their plans of action and ways of life without inter­ference to the degree that is consistent with maintaining a moral sphere for all. Such mutual openness respect for mature and reflective beings comprises an “ethics of justice.”

But when it comes to persons in various stages of dependency, such as children, the sick, the infirm, the disabled elderly, treating them with openness respect is more complex. It involves caring that their basic needs and interests are satisfied, so that they can choose their own ends to the degree possible given their dependent conditions. And it means doing what one can to enable these outcomes. Such care for the needs of those in various stages of dependency is characteristic of an “ethics of care.”

In the case of children, in particular, the goal of such care, in addition to seeing to their basic needs, would involve cultivating traits of character that, when they reach their maturity, would lead to their being sustainers of the moral sphere rather than breakers of it.

In summary, the Public Morality Principle directs our attention to the fact that maintaining a moral sphere in which all persons can pursue ends of their own choosing entails more than preserving individual rights and freedoms against the encroachment of the state. For the rights and freedoms in question are not self-sustaining and do not exist in a vacuum. They require the existence of a moral sphere; and that moral sphere is a vulnerable thing, depending for its preservation on the virtues and character of those who participate in it.

As James Madison said: “If there be no virtue among us, no form of government can render us secure. To suppose that any form of government will secure liberty and happiness without any virtue in the people is a chimerical idea.”[21]

The Public Morality Principle supports this idea, first, by requiring support for what might be called the “ethical infrastructure” of society—those institutions, such as home, family, schools, churches, neighborhoods, charitable organizations, and the like, that help to sustain the moral sphere; and second, by requiring the cultivation of attitudes and virtues that de Tocqueville called “habits of the heart” that make it possible to maintain a moral order.

8. Conclusion: Political Theory and the Quest for Wisdom

Among classical political philosophers, such as Plato and Aristotle, politics was continuous with the ethical search for the good and the good life. Many modern political thinkers have been sus­pi­cious of this traditional view because it seemed to imply that one must first determine by the use of one’s reason what the good life was and then arrange a political order to which everyone must conform in the light of this knowledge. For many modern thinkers, by contrast, the “condi­tions of modernity,” including plu­ralism and uncertainty, have made them far less confident than the great ancient thinkers were that it was possible to find definitive answers to, or agree­ment of reasonable people on, such deep questions.[22]

The suggestion made here is that the connection between politics and the search for the good need not be abandoned in the face of pluralism, uncertainty and other conditions of modernity, though it must be reconceived. We do not have to assume that the good or the good life can be known in a definitive way and such knowledge then applied to found a political order to which all should conform.

For it is not the attainment of knowledge of the final good that provides the basis for political order. Rather it is the search or quest for knowledge of a good as yet unknown and always to some degree beyond our grasp that provides the basis for a political order. Ethical principles arise as the conditions for this search or quest.

These remarks return us to central theme of the discussions of Ethics and Values:

Inquiry into the truth about ethical matters and the nature of the good life must involve practical engagement in the world, including engagement with others. But such practical engagement, if it is to yield ethical insight, must be part of an overall search for wisdom, in the sense of a search for what is objectively true and good from every point of view, not merely what is good for oneself or from one’s own point of view.

The attitude of openness respect is an expression of this latter requirement. By opening one’s minds initially to all points of view in an effort to find out what ways of life are worthy of respect from all points of view, and striving to maintain this ideal of openness respect to all in the face of obstacles in one’s practical engagements with others, one finds that some ways of life are more worthy of being treated with openness respect by others and some less worthy.

The retreatants who arrived at such conclusions were thus engaged in a search for the objective good under conditions of plura­lism; and the shared ethical and political principles they arrived at were the conditions of this search. If they were to form a state of polity in the same manner, they would thereby be retrieving the ancient idea that political life involves a shared search for the good, while acknowledging that this search is to take place under modern conditions of pluralism.

[1] In an excellent recent critical study of neutrality, Sher (1997) lists the following as defenders of neutrality in one form or another: Rawls 1971, Nozick 1974, Dworkin 1978, 1985, Ackerman 1982, Larmore 1987, Lloyd-Thomas 1988, Kymlicka 1989, Arneson 1990. If one includes all of these thinkers, however, it is important to note that they differ (sometimes markedly) in the details of their views and many qualify neutrality in significant ways.

[2] Dworkin 1978; Rawls 1971.

[3] Examples include Haksar 1977; Sandel 1983; Raz 1986; Gutmann 1987; Macedo 1990; Galston 1991; Barry 1995; McCabe 1995; Sher 1997; White 1997; Wall 1998. A useful collection on the issues is Goodin and Reeve eds. 1989.

[4] E.g., Kymlicka, 1989: chapter 1.

[5] White 1997 forcefully makes this point.

[6] Joseph Raz is one of many contemporary political and legal thinkers who concede this point.[6] Raz argues that free societies cannot be neutral with respect to all substantive questions about the good, but indeed must favor a certain kind of good above all others, the good of autonomy—­the capacity of individuals to make their own non-coerced choices about how they will live.[6] Whether or not one agrees with Raz on this point, defending autonomy above all other values is not a neutral stance, as he himself concedes. Doing so involves substantive assumptions about the best way for humans to live—assumptions not shared by all groups or persons. Other critics of neutrality (Haksar 1977; MacIntyre 1981; Sandel 1983; Hurka 1993; Sher 1997; White 1997, Wall 1998, and others) agree with Raz that substantive assumptions about the good cannot be ignored in political theory, while differing with him (and with each other) about what the relevant substantive assumptions should be.

[7] Lincoln 1953, vol. 2: 499-500. I am indebted to historian George Forgie for this reference.

[8] Ibid., 3.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Feinberg 1982-88: vol. 4.

[11] Hart 1965; Dworkin 1978, chapter 10: 240-59. See also Feinberg 1982-88, vol. 4: chapter 1.

[12] 1978: 245.

[13] Plato 1987; De Tocqueville 1974.

[14] For example, Bellah et al. 1985; Sandel 1983; Taylor 1989; Etzioni 1995 and communitarian contributors to Rasmussen (ed.) 1990. Kymlicka 2002, chapter 9, develops this theme in persuasive fashion. For feminist theorists see note 18.

[15] Loudon 2000 perceptively argues that such issues are addressed by Kant in what he calls the “impure” part of Kant’s ethics which is “not about deriving duties from the categorical imperative, but about making morality efficacious in human life.” In the MST, this “impure” part of ethics follows from the EP itself insofar as it requires “doing what one can to maintain the moral sphere” in adverse circumstances.

[16] Such core virtues also play a prominent role in the work of philosophers who discuss the psychology of moral character, e. g., Thomas 1989.

[17] Michael Slote (2007).

[18] Contemporary literature on feminist ethics supporting this claim is voluminous. A mere sampling would include Noddings 2002; Calhoun 1988; Jaggar 1995; Okin 1989; Ruddick 1989; Card ed. 1991; Card 1999; Held ed. 1995; Held 2006; Clement 1996; Harrington 1999. Mendus 2002 emphasizes the role of caring to moral education in general.

[19] Held 2006: 542ff.

[20] This distinction is central in a good deal of the feminist literature cited in note 18. Many of those cited there and other feminists argue that the ethics of justice and ethics of care are not competing theories, but complementary. A case for this is strongly made as well by Sterba 1998 and Kymlicka 2002. Sterba generally argues for common ground among apparently different ethical perspectives. Brock (1999) takes the argument for complementarity one step further by arguing that a coherent conception of just deserts, hence of justice broadly conceived, entails that we must also care about people’s starting positions and hence about their basic needs.

[21] Federalist Paper #10.

[22] Larmore spells out this theme at length in two astute studies (1987, 1996).

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