July 2, 2013

Values and Virtues

Live Long and Prosper

Abraham Maslow (1908 – 1970)

Peterson and Seligman

VirtuesCharacter Strengths
Love of learning
Emotional intelligence










Appreciation of beauty and excellence

Moral Foundations Theory

(Jonathan Haidt)

John Steinbeck (1902 – 68):
There ain't no sin and there ain't no virtue.
There's just stuff people do.
It's all part of the same thing.
And some of the things people do is nice, and some ain't nice, but that's as far as any man got a right to say.
(The Grapes of Wrath, 1939)

Martin Luther King Jnr (1929 – 68):
Ultimately, it isn't so important how long you live.
The important thing is how well you live.

Noam Chomsky (1928):
[We] have two choices:
  • we can decide to be pessimistic, decide nothing's possible and quit and help guarantee that the [worst] will happen, or
  • we can put in whatever effort we can as individuals to try to improve things and maybe it will make the world better. …
That's not much of a choice.
(Noam Chomsky, American linguist, philosopher & activist, Sunday Profile, ABC Radio National, 6 November 2011)

John Stuart Mill (1806 – 73):
[The] utilitarian standard … enjoins and requires the cultivation of the love of virtue … as being above all things, important to the general happiness. …
(Chapter IV)

The entire history of social improvement has been a series of transitions by which one custom or institution after another, from being a supposed primary necessity of social existence, has passed into the rank of a universally stigmatized injustice and tyranny.
So it has been with the distinctions of
  • slaves and freeman,
  • nobles and serfs,
  • patricians and plebians;
and so it will be … with the aristocracies of color, race, and sex.
(Utilitarianism, Fraser's Magazine, 1961, Chapter V)

Karl Popper (1902 – 94):
Instead of the greatest happiness for the greatest number …
[One] should demand … the least amount of avoidable suffering for all …
(The Open Society and Its Enemies, Volume 1: The Spell of Plato, 1945)

Russel Hardin:
The moral impulse of utilitarianism is constant …
[But] our decisions under it are contingent on our knowledge and scientific understanding.
(Morality within the Limits of Reason, 1990)

G E Moore (1873 – 1958):
An ethical law has the nature not of a scientific law but of a scientific prediction …
[It] is always merely probable, although the probability may be very great.
(Principia Ethica, 1903)

Immanuel Kant (1724 – 1804):
To help others where one can is a duty, and besides this there are many spirits of so sympathetic a temper that, without any further motive of vanity or self-interest, they find an inner pleasure in spreading happiness around them and can take delight in the contentment of others as their own work.
Yet I maintain that … action of this kind [has] no genuinely moral worth [because] its maxim lacks moral content, namely the performance of such actions, not from inclination, but from duty.
(H J Paton, Translator, Kant, The Moral Law: Kant's Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals, Hutchinson, 1966, p 10, emphasis added)

Neal Stephenson (1959):
It is upon moral qualities that society is ultimately founded.
All the prosperity and technological sophistication is of no use without that foundation …
(The Diamond Age, Penguin, 1996, p 322)

John Rawls (1921 – 2002):
The natural distribution is neither just nor unjust; nor is it unjust that persons are born into society at some particular position. These are simply natural facts.
What is just and unjust is the way that institutions deal with these facts.
(Quoted by Michael Sandel, Justice: What's A Fair Start?, February 2011)


Ethics for Normal Human Beings

Fear of the Disabled

A Theory of Justice

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

To those whose cares have been our concern

Philosophical Quibbles

The Dominion of Fear

Values and Virtues

John Rawls (1921 – 2002)

Political Liberalism (1993)

  1. Each person has an equal right to a fully adequate scheme of equal basic liberties which is compatible with a similar scheme of liberties for all.
  2. Social and economic inequalities are to satisfy two conditions:
    • First, the must be attached to offices and positions open to all under conditions of fair equality of opportunity; and
    • second, they must be to the greatest benefit of the least advantage members of society.

(p 291)

A Theory of Justice (1971)

The Original Position

[Which] features are relevant, and which irrelevant, for the purposes of deliberating well about [justice?]

The original position is a hypothetical scenario in which a group of persons is set the task of reaching an agreement about the political and economic structure of a society which they are, once an agreement has been reached, to occupy.
Each individual, however, deliberates behind a "veil of ignorance."
Each lacks knowledge, for example, of his or her gender, race, age, intelligence, wealth, skills, education, and religion.

Principles of Justice

[The Equality Principle] establishes equal basic liberties for all citizens.
[Namely,] freedoms of
  • conscience,
  • association …
  • expression …
  • democratic rights [and]
  • a [right to own personal property …]

[But since] formal guarantees of political voice and freedom of assembly are of little real worth to the desperately poor and marginalized in society [a second two-principle is necessary to secure] meaningful options for all …
Demanding that everyone have exactly the same effective opportunities in life would almost certainly offend the very liberties that are supposedly being equalized. …
[Nevertheless, the needs to be sufficient distributive justice to [provide every individual in society with the capability to live a flourishing life. …]
  • [The Fair Equality of Opportunity principle] ensures that those with comparable talents and motivation face roughly similar life chances …
  • [The Difference Principle ensures] that inequalities in society work to the benefit of the least advantaged.

[These principles are] 'lexically ordered' to award priority to basic liberties over the more equality-oriented demands of the second principle.

(Wikipedia, 2 June 2013)

Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948)


  • Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,

  • Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,

  • Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law,

  • Whereas it is essential to promote the development of friendly relations between nations,

  • Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith
    • in fundamental human rights,
    • in the dignity and worth of the human person and
    • in the equal rights of men and women
    [And] have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,

  • Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in co-operation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms,

  • Whereas a common understanding of these rights and freedoms is of the greatest importance for the full realization of this pledge,

Now, Therefore THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY proclaims THIS UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.

Article 1

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Article 2

Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as
  • race,
  • colour,
  • sex,
  • language,
  • religion,
  • political or other opinion,
  • national or social origin,
  • property,
  • birth or other status [or …]
  • the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.

Article 3

Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

Article 4

No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.

Article 5

No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Article 6

Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.

Article 7

All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law.
All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.

Article 8

Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.

Article 9

No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.

Article 10

Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.

Article 11

  1. Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.
  2. No one shall be held guilty of any penal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a penal offence, under national or international law, at the time when it was committed.
    Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the penal offence was committed.

Article 12

No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation.
Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

Article 13

  1. Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.
  2. Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.

Article 14

  1. Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.
  2. This right may not be invoked in the case of prosecutions genuinely arising from non-political crimes or from acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

Article 15

  1. Everyone has the right to a nationality.
  2. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality.

Article 16

  1. Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family.
    They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.
  2. Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.
  3. The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.

Article 17

  1. Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others.
  2. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.

Article 18

Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion …
[This] right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

Article 19

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression …
[This] right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Article 20

  1. Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.
  2. No one may be compelled to belong to an association.

Article 21

  1. Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.
  2. Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country.
  3. The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government …
    [This] will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.

Article 22

Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.

Article 23

  1. Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
  2. Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.
  3. Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.
  4. Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.

Article 24

Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.

Article 25

  1. Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including
    • food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and
    • the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
  2. Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance.
    All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.

Article 26

  1. Everyone has the right to education.
    Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages.
    Elementary education shall be compulsory.
    Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.
  2. Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.
    It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace
  3. Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.

Article 27

  1. Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits. (2) Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.

Article 28

Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized.

Article 29

  1. Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible.
  2. In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.
  3. These rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

Article 30

Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.

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