More Liberalism is...

In the recent hysteria over how liberals have lost their ability to connect with America's moral center, conversation about what constitutes an ethical culture has been regrettably stifled. Ethics are, in fact, central to the liberal vision of society, and required for its proper function. Applied liberal ethics can be broken down into three different sectors:

Institutional Ethics. The liberal society is highly contingent upon robust institutions, and upon ethical codes which govern those instititions and the individuals who work in them in the place of the heavy hand of government intervention. Liberal ethics constrain firms from violating standards of competition and consumers' trust, nonprofits from abusing their mandate to exercise the greatest good for the individuals they serve, and governments themselves from imposing undue leverage on the governed.

Community Ethics. Despite the myth of rugged individualism, communitarian responsibility is central to the American ethos. Vital commitments to one's community both reduce the need for government and ensure the strength of democracy. Furthermore, the community ethic ultimately enables liberal government by justifying redistributive measures and taxation.

Individual Ethics. The most obvious ethical responsibility of the individual in liberal society is adherence to the rule of law. But that is hardly the extent of indivudal ethics. Liberalism requires the embrace of a number of personal ethical stances if it is to work. Fairness, Equality, Tolerance, Justice, and Reason at the individual level constitute a basic code from which liberal society grows. And while religious doctrine may sometimes be at odds with these ethics, it is folly to assume that these qualities are not fundamentally tied to faith. As liberals, we recognize that the ethical dialogue between secular government and faith has a deep common ground which must be emphasized in the face of intermittent friction.


Post a Comment

<< Home