The Complexity of Justice - A Challenge to the 21st Century

Heller, Agnes
September 2000
Ethical Theory & Moral Practice;Sep2000, Vol. 3 Issue 3, p247
Academic Journal
The author discusses two questions, the relation between liberalism and democracy, and the relation between ethics, morality and law. As to the first question, she argues that neither liberalism nor democracy are merely formal. Roughly spoken, it can be said that liberalism stands for negative liberties, whereas democracy stands for positive ones. She observes a non-contingent tension between the ethos of liberalism (personal freedom) and the ethos of democracy (equality; majority rule). It is the task of morality to maintain and restore the balance between these two kinds of ethos. As to the second question, she is worried about the balance between law (legal regulation), ethics, and morality. On the one hand, abolishing legal regulations would amount to abolishing the freedom of the moderns. On the other hand, the substitution of legal regulations for ethical regulations would lead to a similar result: the end of the freedom of the moderns through the homogenisation of life. In the former case, personal support, charity, magnanimity, and caring would get lost, while in the latter there would be no escape from community pressure towards uniformity.


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