Liberty and Justice for All discussed in Maury’s Notes for Four Explorations at NCCCR 2007
Note to reader: These are edited versions of excerpts from my notes that explore four values that come to bear in developing principles affecting strategy. They are from my participation in a class at the North Carolina Center for Creative Retirement of the University of NC at Ashville.
[This is a note addresses to the instructor. My comments to the web reader are in brackets.]
July 14, 2007… Subj: Comments on Great Books Style of Four Explorations in Philosophy
Since I really try to restrain my participation, I thought I would send you some comments that you may use or not, share or not, as suits you. I have kept them as brief as I could and focused on discussion leading to the second topic and putting the discussion of liberty in the context of why the essay is important. [Liberty is a critical value and it is worth exploring the concept in order to understand what one might see as a suitable strategy.]
Your opening statement on a way to approach reading the essays is well taken. The first part on understanding what the author is saying is clear. The second part, on understanding why it is important, may be interpreted as why is it important to the author, or why is it important to us, individually or collectively.
The context of the author’s comments is important because the issues he is addressing are relevant to his concerns, thus his paradigm will be directed to deal with the issues of concern to him. However, once written, the essay may have different meanings in different contexts. Thus, why the essay is important to us will depend on the perspective we are taking in identifying its relevance. [Reader, we want policies that respect liberty of both sides of a market transaction.]
The first essay, Adler’s “The Logic of Truth,” is clearly focused on laying claim to the word truth to mean truth as is correspondence theory, that which is an accurate statement for all time. His straw man of “poetic truth” is used to explain the “real meaning” of truth as in correspondence theory. He does not deal with truth in the Biblical sense of not what is but what ought to be.
If we consider the essay in the context of what it means to us, then what pops out is the brilliant selection of four topics (truth, liberty, happiness, and justice) that tie together in what may be one of the most important statements in Western civilization, “We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” [i] [This is the foundation on which we are developing strategy for new institutional arrangements that will avoid a recurrence of debacles such as what I am calling the “Great Recession” which I see as a result of the same forces as led to the subprime crisis.]
The ‘We hold” simply states our position. It is a claim without evidence and may be a truthful claim in the Adler sense, but remains to be proven. The “These truths to be self-evident” is a claim of reason, an empiricist view. The phrase “that they are endowed by their Creator” invokes the Biblical view of truth, that what ought to be rather than what is. [ii] Thus, whatever the basis of the belief, the statement is deemed true in one sense or another. The significance is that this belief, even if in error, is the basis for decisions.
The “created equal” in the phrase “all Men are created equal” is ambiguous as to what dimension, but probably as to rights rather than ability or opportunity. But, the realization of equality is a matter of justice, the subject of the fourth topic. Justice, however, is relevant in the discussion of liberty.
The John Stewart Mill essay, “On
The evolution of this protection moved to the position that the authority was derived from the people. The political exercise of this source of power is further discussed, but the key is in individual rights, consistent with the quote from The Declaration of Independence quote. [The federal government’s actions starting with the takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and including TARP and subsequent actions looks more like a European socialist tint starting with community concerns and working down to the individual than the American tint of the start with the rights of the individual. Even so, they may be looked at as extraordinary measures for extraordinary circumstances and not as precedents for following the European pattern. Rather, I expect that there will be a new enlightenment age reform (NEAR) which though containing values rooted in the Enlightenment (aka Age of Reason) will have other attributes making it quite different; not socialistic, but rather having greater concern for “positive liberty” in the Isaiah Berlin sense. See footnotes.]
The other essay, “On Pluralism,” by Isaiah
I have included explanatory footnotes in order to keep this memo as short as practicable. As noted, please feel free to use them or not, as well as the memo itself.
Thanks for an enlightening class. See you Tuesday. Maury
July 20, 2007… Comments on Third of Four Explorations in Philosophy [The previous memo covered two sessions].
Continuing with the discussion of the four explorations in the context of the Declaration of Independence quote, we now focus on what does Aristotle mean by happiness. Whatever it is, it is not clear to me, but, no doubt our discussion on Tuesday will help clarify. As best as I can see now, whatever happiness is relates to obtaining virtue which is related to the function of man and furthermore relates to man pursuing that function. Additionally, the pursuit of that function, as essential to happiness, involves obtaining knowledge. One big clue is that Aristotle’s mentor was Plato, and Plato’s mentor was Socrates who equated virtue with knowledge. So, maybe the idea is to obtain knowledge in order to lead a certain kind of life. [Web Reader, this is what it is all about on a societal scale as well as a personal scale. Please see essay as follows:
Since Aristotle is credited with originating formal logic, and his predecessors were accustomed to reason as a method of gaining knowledge, perhaps happiness is living the life of pursuing knowledge, using reason, and that doing so is the key virtue among the virtues of how man might live.
The quote we have been considering as the unifying concept to our four explorations
is as follows: “We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are
created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable
Rights, that among these are Life,
“Sec. 87. Man being born, as has been proved, with a title to perfect freedom, and an uncontrouled enjoyment of all the rights and privileges of the law of nature, equally with any other man, or number of men in the world, hath by nature a power, not only to preserve his property, that is, his life, liberty and estate, against the injuries and attempts of other men; but to judge of, and punish the breaches of that law in others, as he is persuaded the offence deserves, even with death itself, in crimes where the heinousness of the fact, in his opinion, requires it.
[Source: Original URL: http://www.constitution.org/jl/2ndtreat.htm Text Version
Maintained: Jon Roland of the Constitution Society.]
The phrase “pursuit of happiness” was not in the John Locke statement, although “property” was. We may speculate why “pursuit of happiness” was used by the Founding Fathers rather than property (Locke used property to include life, liberty and estate), which may be construed to include slaves. But perhaps the Mill piece, “What Utilitarianism is,” will shed some light.
It looks like his focus is on the higher faculties used in pursuing activities to achieve the chief good through acquiring knowledge. Presumably, this chief good is happiness.
His focus includes the state as well as the individual; and he ranks the study of politics as “most truly the master art.” [Degrees of truth?] He sees politics as the integrating discipline of a broad variety of disciplines.
Happiness may then be considered in light of one’s pursuing knowledge in order to live the good life, i.e., pursuing the “good.” This is in the context of living in a society with others in which the knowledge is leading to the rules for living among others; this is the lead into the next topic in our series of four, justice.
July 30, 2007…Subj: Comments on Justice as the Last of the Four Explorations in Philosophy
Although this is probably too late for distribution prior to class tomorrow, I thought to write it anyway. It helps clarify my thinking and may be useful to some of the members even after the class, especially since the thrust of the series of memos is to put the topics in the context of the Declaration of Independence quote that was an adaptation of the Locke statement on natural rights.
To better understand Hume’s part II, section 1, of justice and injustice it is helpful to take the opening sentence, “Justice, whether a natural or contrived virtue?” and put it in the context of Scottish Enlightenment.” “The Scottish Enlightenment contributed a new vision of human nature, economic activity, and history in works by David HUME, Adam SMITH, Thomas REID, Adam FERGUSON, and Francis HUCHESON. All these intellectual strands merged in the works of writers such as Benjamin FRANKLIN, Thomas JEFFERSON, John JAY, Samuel ADAMS, Richard PRICE, and JOSEPH priestly to create theoretical support for practical political claims.” 
Hume and Smith were more than contemporaries. They were concerned with the same issues of the Scottish Enlightenment and were dealing with political-economy at a philosophical level before the emergence of the seminal work of Adam Smith with his Wealth of Nations written in 1776. Smith’s earlier work, The Theory of Moral Sentiments was written in 1759. But, “Starting in about 1741, Smith set on the task of using Hume's experimental method (appealing to human experience) to replace the specific moral sense with a pluralistic approach to morality based on a multitude of psychological motives. The Theory of Moral Sentiments begins with the following assertion:
“How selfish soever man may be supposed, there are evidently some principles in his nature, which interest him in the fortunes of others, and render their happiness necessary to him, though he derives nothing from it, except the pleasure of seeing it. Of this kind is pity or compassion, the emotion we feel for the misery of others, when we either see it, or are made to conceive it in a very lively manner. That we often derive sorrow from the sorrows of others, is a matter of fact too obvious to require any instances to prove it; for this sentiment, like all the other original passions of human nature, is by no means confined to the virtuous or the humane, though they perhaps may feel it with the most exquisite sensibility. The greatest ruffian, the most hardened violator of the laws of society, is not altogether without it.
“Smith departed from the "moral sense" tradition of Shaftesbury, Hutcheson, and Hume, as the principle of sympathy takes the place of that organ. "Sympathy" was the term Smith used for the feeling of these moral sentiments. It was the feeling with the passions of others. It operated through a logic of mirroring, in which a spectator imaginatively reconstructed the experience of the person he watches: 
Hume was controversial. Another source notes, “Other notable critics were James Balfour, John Leland, and James Beattie who all criticised Hume for the same reason, namely, the wide scope of the virtues in Hume's theory. Amidst the negative attacks, in A Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759) Adam Smith praised Hume's view of utility. 
Some relevant excerpts of a summary from the same source follows:
“In Part 2, Hume examines the nature of justice and injustice. He begins arguing that justice is an artificial virtue. For Hume, virtues are the motives that lead to an agent's action. By examining what motivates us to act in certain ways, we can thereby determine the nature of a virtue, specifically whether it is natural or artificial. As to the nature of justice -- particularly justice relating to property ownership -- Hume considers some possible natural motivations for justice, such as self-love, public interest, and private benevolence. For various reasons these all fail as explanations and Hume concludes that our sense of justice is not naturally grounded, but artificially derived from education and human convention. Like Hobbes and Pufendorf, Hume describes how our sense of justice emerges within primitive societies and develops within more advanced societies. Hume argues that we depend on society to survive and, being motivated by self-love, we want to advance society. To this end, we train ourselves to respect each other's acquired possessions and to view the stability of possessions as a necessary means of keeping society intact. Slowly, this gives us a sense of common interest, a regard for rules, and a sense of confidence in the consistent behaviour of others. This process, then, is the basis of justice as well as the notions of property, right, and obligation. Hume notes that single acts of justice are commonly contrary to public good; however, our experiences tell us that the public good is served when we follow justice as a rule.” 
“Hume continues in Part 2 by describing how more complex social rules and institutions develop from our initial sense of justice. The three main rules of justice that emerge are those of the stability of possessions, transference by consent, and performances of promises. Although these rules are inventions, Hume follows the vocabulary of the natural law tradition and refers to these as laws of nature. Governments emerge as tools to both protect us in our agreements and to force us to make some agreements for our common end. Just as we invent the rules of justice to help serve our desire to live in a peaceful society, we also invent the civil duties that constitute political allegiance as well as the international laws of diplomacy...
…. Hume argues that we depend on society to survive and, being motivated by self-love, we want to advance society. To this end, we train ourselves to respect each other's acquired possessions and to view the stability of possessions as a necessary means of keeping society intact. Slowly, this gives us a sense of common interest, a regard for rules, and a sense of confidence in the consistent behaviour of others. This process, then, is the basis of justice as well as the notions of property, right, and obligation. Hume notes that single acts of justice are commonly contrary to public good; however, our experiences tell us that the public good is served when we follow justice as a rule.” 
Obviously we are focusing on justice as it relates to interpersonal relations and structuring society for justice in achieving are other goals, using our “natural” rights to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
But our readings also introduced religious concepts. But, it is now 9:25 on the eve of class, so I’ll treat that, along with the rest of what I have to say by simply cutting and pasting something that I wrote for another purpose. Here it is.
Justice. Justice may also be seen as an ethical notion rooted in what ought to be, at least in a political context from a traditional Muslim perspective. Consider the following quote from the Lewis book,
“For traditional Muslims, the converse of tyranny was not liberty, but justice. Justice in this context meant essentially two things, that the ruler was there by just right and not by usurpation, and that he governed according to God’s law, or at least according to recognizable moral and legal principles.” [Page 54.]
Different branches of Muslim faiths have different interpretations of the Koran. Armstrong writes in her book, History of God, that theological debates inspired by political questions include interpretations that,
“The Koran has a very strong conception of God’s absolute omnipotence and omniscience, and many texts could be used to support this view of predestination. But, the Koran is equally emphatic about human responsibility: ‘Verily, God does not change men’s conditions unless they change their inner selves.’ [Page 161.]
The paragraph continues and then concludes as follows;
“Like the Shiis, the Mutazilis declared that justice was the essence of God: he could not wrong anybody; he could not enjoin anything contrary to reason.” [History of God, page 164.]
Also in the political context, earlier in the chapter, Armstrong writes,
“Muslims regard themselves as committed to implementing a just society in accord with God’s will. The ummah has sacramental importance, as a ‘sign’ that God has blessed this endeavor to redeem humanity from oppression and injustice; its political health holds much the same place in a Muslim’s spirituality as a particular theological option (Catholic, Protestant, Methodist, Baptist) in the life of a Christian.” [Page 159.]
This transcendent view of justice is reflected as an element in Christian lives as well as in the lives of Muslims. A succinct statement from The World of Ideas is as follows:
“The goal of Christian life may be distilled in Jesus’s injunctions to his disciples to treat others with charity, mercy, justice, and most important love, and to work toward a perfect faith and obedience to God and his law. [Page 62.]
The transcendent view of justice is also reflected in Jewish life with specific biblical reference as noted in the box in the “Chapter 4, The Paradigm for Predicting Outcomes,” under the section “Ethics at the Heart of it All.” Part of it is rephrased here as follows:
One biblical passage… contains the following: “Justice, justice shall ye pursue.” The commentary in the text (Pentateuch & Haftorahs, edited by J. H. Hertz), is as follows:
“…The duplication of the word “justice,” brings out with the greatest possible emphasis the supreme duty of even-handed justice to all.” [Page 821.]
On the next page , the commentary continues,
“It must be noted that the idea of justice in Hebrew thought stands for something quite other than in Greek. In Plato’s Republic, for example it implies a harmonious arrangement of society, by which every human peg is put into its appropriate hole, so that those who perform humble functions shall be content to perform them in due subservience to their superiors. It stresses the inequalities of human nature; whereas in the Hebrew conception of justice, the equality is stressed....”
The secular views, as reflected in philosophy literature, are complex. One approach is to use the classifications by Aristotle in his Nicomachean Ethics. The idea of universal or lawful justice as compared to particular or fair and equal justice is one approach. The former refers to obeying the law as being just. The latter is divided into distributive and recitificatory justice. [The Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle as translated by David Ross with revision by J.L. Ackrill and J.O. Ursmon, pages 106-122.]
The fair and equal justice sub-classification of recitificatory refers to correcting a situation. This is a move toward a balance by going to the middle ground. Note that “Justice is a kind of mean…” [Page 123.] and it is part of the doctrine of the mean in which Aristotle saw moderation as an ideal virtue. This is a view of balance, one of the fundamental principles discussed in the next section of this chapter.
The distributive justice is based on a proportional concept that is merit in some sense. Aristotle uses geometric proportion as the explanatory concept, but there are other explanations.
Another explanation is in the approach that uses the classifications of commutative, distributive, and social. In Kaplan’s words,
“Distributive justice is the adherence to moral norms of both form and content in the allocation of resources and products [Page 418.]…Commutative justice is the allocation to each person of neither more nor less than he deserves. [Page 418.]…Social justice is a comprehensive category comprising a certain degree of equality and security, as well as distributive and commutative justice.” [Page 418.]
This leads us to inquire as to whether or not a particular society is just. Even a relativist might hold that some societies are not just when it comes to the special case of social justice. Consider the following paragraph from the Chapter “Relativism and Reflection in Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy, Bernard Williams. [Page 165.]
“The legitimate hierarchy offered in past societies, and the ways in which we see them, are relevant to what we say about the justice or injustice of those societies. This important for the relativism distance. “Just” and “unjust” are central terms that can be applied to societies as a whole, and in principle, at least, they can be applied to societies concretely and realistically conceived. Moreover, an assessment in terms of justice can, more obviously than other, be conducted, without involving the unhelpful question of whether anyone was to blame. The combination of these features makes social justice a special case in relation to relativism. Justice and injustice are certainly ethical notions, and arguably can be applied to past societies as a whole, even when we understand a good deal about them.” [Page 164.]
Relativism may be defined as
“Philosophical doctrine that no truths or values are absolute, but are related to our own personal, cultural, and historical perspective:” [Page 338 of A World of Ideas] Relativism attempts to explain away conflict.
The paragraph quoted from Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy follows a discussion of the options available to earlier societies. The idea of distance in the relativism relates to our grasp of their perspective. The “special case in relation to relativism” is in some measure based on the following quote;
“They may not have been wrong in thinking that their social order was necessary for them. It is rather the way in which they saw it as necessary – as religiously or metaphysically – that we cannot now accept. Where we see them as wrong in the myths that legitimated their hierarchies…(The current attempt by Islamic forces in particular to reverse the process – if that is what the attempts really are – do not show that the process is local or reversible, only that it can generate despair.)” [Page 165.]
An alternative to the view of relativism is incommensurability. This idea of incommensurability relates to differences in concepts such that can not be integrated into a consistent view. While they may not contradict each other, they do exclude each other. Relativism was mentioned at the end of the previous chapter as part of the discussion of pluralism. Berlin continued on the discussion quoted with the following referring to the comparison of pluralism with relativism;
“Relativism is something different: I take it to mean a doctrine according to which the judgment of man or a group, since it is the expression or statement of a taste, or an emotional attitude or outlook, is simply what it is, with no objective correlate which determines its truth or falsehood.
Certainly there are many elements in the concepts of justice that are common to both Islamic and Western views, especially as manifested in civil religion. It is the differences that are of concern. Of particular concern is the rights of the individual and the source of power for determination and administration of justice. This brings us to the infinite value of the individual, with individual liberty. This is in the context of the freedom in a free society. [The idea of “liberty and justice for all” is critical to our development of a strategy for institutional reform.]
Freedom. Freedom and liberty are here used to mean the same thing. The roots of our American heritage, as articulated in the Declaration of Independence, denote liberty as an inalienable right. The earlier quote, “We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” ranks liberty high in the values of our society. There are, however, issues of interpretation of the nature of liberty.
For our purposes we will focus on the two concepts of liberty discussed by
“What is the area within which the subject – a person or group of persons – is or should be left to do or be what he is able to do or be, without interference by other persons?”
The second concept, using the label of positive liberty, is,
“What, or who, is the source of control or interference that can determine someone to do, or be, this rather than that?”
“It will readily be seen that, if negative freedom as
An additional explanation, according to Michael Ignatieff in his book, Isaiah Berlin, is as follows:
“Until Rousseau, liberty had always been understood negatively, as the absence
of obstacles to courses of thought and action. With Rousseau, and then with
the Romantics, came the idea of liberty being achieved only when men are able
to realise their innermost natures.
These concepts of freedom or liberty are substantially different from those of freedom in the world of Islam. See discussion in the last section of this chapter, “Toward an Interdisciplinary Model of Development.”
Many values may conflict.
“What is clear is that values can clash – that is why civilisations are incompatible. They can be incompatible between cultures, or groups in the same culture, or between you and me…Justice, rigorous justice, is for some people an absolute value, but it is not compatible with what may be no less ultimate values for them – mercy, compassion – as arises in concrete cases.
…An artist, in order to create a masterpiece, may lead a life which plunges his family into misery and squalor to which he is indifferent. We may condemn him and declare that the masterpiece should be sacrificed to human needs, or we may take his side – but both attitudes embody values which for some men or women are ultimate, and which are intelligible to us all if we have any sympathy or imagination or understanding of human beings. Equality may demand the restraint of liberty of those who wish to dominate; liberty…may have to be curtailed in order to make room for social welfare, to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to shelter the homeless, to leave room for the liberty of others, to allow justice or fairness to be exercised.
…We are doomed to choose, and every choice may entail an irreparable loss. Happy are those who live under a discipline which they accept without question, who freely obey the orders of leaders, spiritual and temporal, whose word is fully accepted as unbreakable law; or who have by their own methods arrived at clear and unbreakable convictions about what to do and what to be that brook no possible doubt. I can only say that those who rest on such comfortable beds of dogmas are victims of self-induced myopia, blinkers that may make for contentment, but not for understanding of what it is to be human.” [Pages 12-14.]
Somehow, parts of the quotes brought to mind fundamentalism and Islam.
Our present interest is in the determination of the characteristics of liberty required by our view of a free society, a democratic society. We can see aspects of both of the concepts of liberty in what we have, or aspire to have, as the American way.
The heart of the thinking being developed here is that our society emerged
out of an assimilation of knowledge, which coupled with reason, enables us
to make wider choices than would be possible under the systems prevailing
All of this is further rooted in the idea of individual rights. To quote
“But if, as Kant held, all values are made so by the free acts of men, and called values only so far as they are this, there is no value higher than the individual.” [Page 137.]
We are further concerned with the conditions under which liberty is to be
“There is one further point which may be worth reiterating. It is important to discriminate between liberty and the conditions of its exercise. If a man is too poor or too ignorant or too feeble to make use of his legal rights, the liberty that those rights confer upon him is nothing to him, but it is not thereby annihilated. The obligation to promote education, health justice, to raise standards of living, to provide opportunity for growth of the arts and sciences, to prevent reactionary political or social or legal policies or arbitrary inequalities, is not made less stringent because it is not necessarily directed to the promotion of liberty itself, but to conditions in which alone its positions is of value, or to values which may be independent of it. And still, liberty is one thing, and the conditions for it are another."
In the essay he writes that liberty is not equality or fairness or justice. The quote is as follows:
“To avoid glaring inequality or widespread misery I am ready to sacrifice some, or all, of my freedom: I may do so willingly and freely: but it is freedom that I am giving up for the sake of justice or equality or the love of my fellow men. I should be guilt-stricken, and rightly so, if I were not, in some circumstances, ready to make this sacrifice. But a sacrifice is not an increase in what is being sacrificed, namely freedom, however great the moral need or the compensation for it. Everything is what it is: liberty is liberty, not equality or fairness or justice or culture, or human happiness or a quiet conscience.” [Page 125.]
This speaks to a quality of life which may be deemed to be a manifestation of other values.
Quality of Life. The pursuit of happiness infers to the pursuit of a quality of life that will bring happiness. The composition and dimensions of the attributes that go to make up the quality of life for the diversity of individuals in our American society ranges widely. They certainly range far wider than those in an observant Muslim society, or indeed any observant sect.
These attributes are rooted in a variety of values, built in some measure upon the desire to fulfill a variety of basic needs. Aside from the physical needs such as food, clothing, and shelter, there psychological needs such as purpose for living and respect or status.
Ethics speaks to the ways in which people lead their lives in pursuit of whatever goals they are pursuing. These ways are heavily dependent upon the environment in which they live. Please note that the earlier discussion of human natures attributes a great deal of human behavior to the environment. [See Chapter 4, side heading “Toward an Understanding of What Were They Thinking,” then, Habit as a Point of Departure, Habits of the Heart, Differences Emerge.]
A critical aspect of this environment is the mechanism by which progress is made. The Enlightenment provided a significant change in mechanism by increasing the role of reason. Out of that institutional change, and the changes made possible by the advances in the sciences, organizational structures changed. We operate our society through a variety of managed institutions. In the words of Peter F. Drucker, “The managed institution is society’s way of getting things done these days.” [Page 176 of article.]
Important values are imbedded in the mission to repair the world. A way to make progress in efforts to repair the world is to work through managed institutions. Different institutions may focus on different aspects of the quality of life, most of which are taking the tack of ameliorating hardships of underprivileged or providing highly valued amenities to the cultured as with the arts. Some institutions are in the business of preventing problems. The contrast is the curative and preventative.
A third approach, which will be further discussed in the final chapter, is what has been called the perfective approach. That approach attempts to achieve goals through the natural operation of the system, and modifies the operation of the system to that purpose. In the example of health, curative takes medicine after the fact. Preventative inoculates so as to fight off the potential disease. The perfective approach utilizes the proper foods, exercise, and the like so that the natural systems of the body can better function thereby avoiding many would be illnesses.
The issue here for quality of life is the design, development, operation, and modifications of managed institutions. But these institutions may not be generating the changes from internal forces. The source of the force is the changing environment and the change taking place in how individuals see what is that they cherish most. That is what value is all about – what one will give up for something else.
At the root of these values in our society is the individual and his or her views on truth, justice, and liberty. Values may change over time, but change in behavior is more likely to come through a better understanding of the system so that individuals and society can better manage their affairs within whatever values they choose.
Sorry I didn’t have time to shorten it. But maybe next year we can.
[Dear Web Reader, you have a great deal of patience to go through all of this, but pursuit of knowledge, as discussed is a virtue. Scholarship requires a great deal of patience and you are welcome to rework all of this to make it easier for others, with or without credit to me. But, I would like to see it in a blog and potentially as an addition to the main essay, “Subprime Crisis Strategic Decision-Making: A Discussion of What Went Wrong and Strategies to Deal With It.” [Provide link.]
The book referred to is the one noted as in progress for an earlier version of the Seminar on Stragic Decisions. It is on this website. [Provide link.]
 From the section on “American Revolution” in Encyclopedia of the Enlightenment by Peter Hanns Reill and Ellen Judy Wilson (New York, NY, Book Builders Inc., 1996) page 11.
 Op cit.
[i] Consider the following quote from Edward O. Wilson’s Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge; “In short, transcendentalism is fundamentally the same whether God is invoked or not.” [Page 261.] Then he comes up with a powerful statement on our American civil religion.
“For example, when Thomas Jefferson, following John Locke, derived
the doctrine of natural rights from natural law, he was more concerned with
the power of transcendental statements than in their divine or secular origin.
In the Declaration of Independence he blended secular and religious presumptions
in one transcendental sentence, thus covering all bets: ‘We hold these Truths
to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed
by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life,
Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.’ That assertion became the cardinal
In discussing the transcendent view as compared to the empiricist view, Wilson notes that since the transcendent view has been so perverted (one might say abused), we might do well to take empiricism more seriously. The following is a set of excerpts from three paragraphs.
“The importance of the empiricist view is its emphasis on objective knowledge…
“[We] should be able to fashion a wiser and more enduring ethical consensus than has gone before. The current expansion of scientific inquiry into the deeper process of human though makes this venture feasible.
“The choice between transcendentalism and empiricism will be the coming century’s version of the struggle for men’s souls…Where it settles will depend on which world view is proved correct, or at least which is more widely perceived to be correct.” [Page 262.]
[ii] Consider the following entry, by Steven S. Schwarzschild in Encyclopedia Judaica;
“In Judaism truth is primarily an ethical notion: it describes not what is but what
ought to be. Thus, in the Bible, truth is connected with peace, righteousness,
grace, justice, and even with salvation, ‘The world rests on three things—truth,
justice, and peace’... “God acts truthfully in that He keeps His word. Human
truthfulness is to be faithful to God and man. This is specified in many ways: to speak
truth even in one's heart; always to quote correctly; to engage in commerce honestly; and
to abstain from all deceit and hypocrisy. In sum, as God is truth so Judaism as a whole is
the practice of truth. “Jewish philosophers generally accepted the Greek notion of truth
as ‘correspondence with reality.’ Even such intellectualism, however, is ultimately . superseded by biblical ethicism.’ In modern Jewish philosophy, Hermann Cohen
designates the normative unity of cognition and ethics as ‘the fundamental law of truth’.
Martin Buber also identifies Jewish faith with truth as interpersonal trust. Thus, truth as a
human, ethical criterion is commonplace throughout the mainstream of Jewish thinking.
The same point on what
ought to be is made by Karen Armstrong in The Battle for God (
[iii] The quote that follows is from an Isaiah Berlin essay, “Two Concepts of
Liberty.” The first concept, using the label of negative liberty, is “What
is the area within which the subject – a person or group of persons – is or
should be left to do or be what he is able to do or be, without interference
by other persons?” The second concept, using the label of positive liberty,
is, “What, or who, is the source of control or interference that can determine
someone to do, or be, this rather than that?” [Four Essays on
“It will readily be seen that, if negative freedom as
[iv] An explanatory quote on pluralism from another Isaiah Berlin work, The Crooked Timber of Humanity is as follows:
“…the conception that there are many different ends that men may seek and still be fully rational, fully men, capable of understanding each other, as we derive it from reading Plato or the novels of medieval Japan – worlds outlooks, very remote from our own. Of course, if we did not have values in common with these distant figures, each civilisation would be enclosed in its own impenetrable bubble, and we could not understand them at all; this is what Spengler’s typology amounts to. Intercommunication between cultures in time and space is only possible because what makes men human is common to them, and acts as a bridge between them. But our values are ours, and their values are theirs. We are free to criticize the values of other cultures, to condemn them, but we cannot pretend not to understand them at all, or to regard them simply as subjective, the products of creatures in different circumstances with different tastes from our own, which do not speak to us at all. [, Page 11.]