Purpose, not selfishness

January 23, 2007

I am currently reading Patrick Keeney’s interesting book Liberalism, Communitarianism and Education . It is an attack on theories, Utilitarian or Kantian that focus on the primacy of individual rights. In effect it argues for the need for society to realise that it has legitimate ends of social interaction that exist without dependency on individual rights. In effect it picks up on my earlier comments on social atomism. There are two quotes in the early chapter that I thought worth sharing:

The failure of both out society and our education lies in its inabilty to discover ends, to discover purposes which can firnish a sufficient reason for our activities and so render those activities reasonable and satisfying

Alasdair MacIntyre

We forget about the range of needs which cannot be specified as rights and …. let them slip out of the language of politics. Rights language offers a rich vernacular for the claims an individual may make on or against the collectivity, but it is relative4ly impoverished as a means of expressing an individual’s need for the collectivity. We are more than rights-bearing creatures and there is more to respect to a person than his rights.

Michael Ignatieff

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