Saturday, November 13, 2004

Value Neutral Democracy

With all the talk recently about moral values, there is a discussion going on around the blogsphere about values in a democracy. It started over on the Belmont Club, and I found it through Shades of Gray.

The push for value neutral democracy would have horrified the Founding Fathers. The Preamble to the Constitutions says that this was formed, in part "to secure blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity." This doesn't sound value-neutral to me.

The US was founded on the philosophy of the Enlightenment. This held that values like Liberty, Equality before the law, Justice were not relative, but could be absolutely determined through rational examination of the human condition. "Six Great Ideas" by Adler is good introduction. The six ideas are Truth, Goodness, Beauty, Liberty, Equality and Justice.

Democracy without an informing value system becomes just the rule of the mob. This is why Plato said in "The Republic" that tyranny arises from democracy. It has happened often enough - Weimar Germany, post revolution France, Athens, etc.

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