Morality reestablished in politics
Posted on July 26, 2012
For a long time, moral beliefs and values have been either rejected as unfit for political discussions, or else thought of as the domain of far-right religious groups. But all that’s changing, according to philosopher Julian Baggini. Now, Baggini says, politicians often cite moral reasons for and against public policies. So, what’s changed?
What has changed is that it has finally been accepted that we can’t function without values. (Indeed, the very project of avoiding moral judgments itself rests on the firm belief that they are wrong.) But the suppression of morality-talk has served another very good purpose: the language itself is being used differently, as if it needed time in retreat in order to purge itself of its puritanical associations. It left the stage muttering about people shagging each other and strode back on later lamenting how the privileged are screwing the masses. Look at how the uses of moral language have been pressed into service in recent weeks and you’ll find that they do not concern mere private behaviour but the point at which individual actions have consequences for wider society. Morality has recovered its political dimension.