Norms of Liberty: A Perfectionist Basis for Non-Perfectionist Politics

Paperback | September 1, 2005

byDouglas B. Rasmussen, Douglas J. Den Uyl

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How can we establish a political/legal order that in principle does not require the human flourishing of any person or group to be given structured preference over that of any other? Addressing this question as the central problem of political philosophy, Norms of Liberty offers a new conceptual foundation for political liberalism that takes protecting liberty, understood in terms of individual negative rights, as the primary aim of the political/legal order.

Rasmussen and Den Uyl argue for construing individual rights as metanormative principles, directly tied to politics, that are used to establish the political/ legal conditions under which full moral conduct can take place. These they distinguish from normative principles, used to provide guidance for moral conduct within the ambit of normative ethics. This crucial distinction allows them to develop liberalism as a metanormative theory, not a guide for moral conduct. The moral universe need not be minimized or morality grounded in sentiment or contracts to support liberalism, they show. Rather, liberalism can be supported, and many of its internal tensions avoided, with an ethical framework of Aristotelian inspiration—one that understands human flourishing to be an objective, inclusive, individualized, agent-relative, social, and self-directed activity.

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How can we establish a political/legal order that in principle does not require the human flourishing of any person or group to be given structured preference over that of any other? Addressing this question as the central problem of political philosophy, Norms of Liberty offers a new conceptual foundation for political liberalism that...

Douglas B. Rasmussen is Professor of Philosophy at St. John's University in New York City. Douglas J. Den Uyl is Vice President of Educational Programs at Liberty Fund in Indianapolis.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:464 pages, 9.28 × 6.18 × 1.13 inPublished:September 1, 2005Publisher:Penn State University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0271027010

ISBN - 13:9780271027012

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Table of Contents

Contents

Preface

Part I: Liberalism and the Political Order

1. Liberalism in Crisis

2. Liberalism and Ethics

3. Liberalism’s Past and Precedents

4. Why Individual Rights? Rights as Metanormative Principles

5. The Natural Right to Private Property

Part II: A New Deep Structure for Liberalism

6. Individualistic Perfectionism

7. Defending Individualistic Perfectionism

8. Natural Law and the Common Good

9. Self-Ownership

Part III: Defending Liberalism

10. Communitarian and Conservative Critics

11. The Structure of the Argument for Individual Rights

12. Defending Individualistic Non-Perfectionist Politics

Epilogue

Index

Editorial Reviews

“The book is well written, drawing on a wide range of contemporary literature. Its controversial claims will be of keen interest to graduate students and scholars, and accessible to advanced undergraduates.”

—J. D. Moon, Choice