The Political Morality of Liberal Democracy

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Moral Defeats and Majority Rule. How Rights Come In. The Scope of Liberty.

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The Political Morality of Liberal Democracy

Public Religion and Pursuit of the The Nature of Moral and Political Knowledge: Perry argues that even though the norm should be understood in principle to ban some laws, it should not be construed as a direct constitutional limit on the activity of individual legislators. This latter stricture would not only be exceedingly difficult for courts to enforce, it would also yield adverse political consequences A fourth question is whether liberal democracy as such, even those democracies with no constitutionally entrenched nonestablishment norm, should avoid adopting coercive laws for which the only plausible rationale is religious.

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Perry maintains that they should avoid laws of this sort, which essentially "impose" religion on some citizens and thereby violate their right to religious freedom This conclusion certainly has implications for a final question unfortunately not addressed in the chapter, namely, whether the moral requirements of citizenship instruct citizens and officials to refrain from relying solely on religious reasoning in their political advocacy and choice.

Perry had argued against a moral requirement of restraint. Yet one wonders whether that position is ultimately still consistent with his more recent account of religious and moral freedom. After all, Perry suggests that the right to moral freedom serves not only as the basis of legal rights but also as a "fundamental political-moral norm" that should inform the "political culture" of liberal democracy If voting citizens and officials recognize this norm and also realize that some coercive laws without secular justification would impose religion, should they not as a matter of moral duty or virtue exercise a measure of restraint when they can identify no adequate secular or, perhaps, public reason for their favored laws and policies?

It would seem that they should. Does a ban on pre-viability abortions, subject to certain exceptions, violate the right to moral freedom?

A Theory of Liberal Democracy

The answer depends, first, on whether the ban is necessary to serve a legitimate and sufficiently weighty governmental interest that is not disproportionately burdensome. Second, there must be a plausible secular rationale in support of the conclusion that the ban is necessary Perry's focus is on the second question, and he presents such a rationale about which he remains "agnostic": Perry's goal is not to decide the abortion issue by demonstrating that this reasoning is "ultimately persuasive"; rather, the argument that he examines is said to be both plausible and nonreligious, and so the policy it calls for is to that extent consistent with the right to moral freedom By contrast, refusal to provide official recognition to same-sex unions does amount to a violation of moral freedom.

Perry surveys the main arguments often adduced publicly in support of nonrecognition -- e. They often simply conceal the real motivation behind such refusals, namely, the notion that same-sex unions are immoral. This latter judgment does not specify a legitimate governmental interest consistent with the right to moral freedom. Moreover, the only arguments that could plausibly account for the judgment that same-sex unions are immoral depend on sectarian religious premises, and are not a permissible basis for nonrecognition according to both the nonestablishment norm and the political morality of liberal democracy.

Indeed Chapter 8's forceful defense of the rights of same-sex couples is implicit throughout the book, serving as an illustrative example in several earlier chapters and occupying Perry's attention again in the book's short "Conclusion. Perry concludes that a reversal of this decision granting equal adoption rights would be "So shameful as to later warrant both embarrassment and apology" The topic of anti-discrimination protection is also germane to the central question of Chapter 9, the book's longest chapter and the only one focusing on judicial enforcement and constitutional theory Part IV.

Supreme Court has the power of "judicial ultimacy "; its decisions about the constitutionality of a law cannot be overruled by ordinary legislation. How should that power be exercised? Drawing on the thought of the nineteenth-century jurist James Bradley Thayer, Perry suggests that the Court's orientation is deferential when it is "prepared to rule that a challenged law does not violate a constitutionally entrenched human rights norm if the claim that the law does not violate the norm is reasonable" Thus only those laws based on a "clear mistake" will be found unconstitutional A judicial orientation is nondeferential when judges rely on their own "specification" of constitutional norms to overturn a challenged law even if there is a reasonable counter-claim that no rights violation has occurred.

To register on our site and for the best user experience, please enable Javascript in your browser using these instructions. In this important new work in political and constitutional theory, Michael J.

Perry elaborates and defends an account of the political morality of liberal democracy: The fundamental questions addressed in this book concern 1 the grounding, 2 the content, 3 the implications for one or another moral controversy and 4 the judicial enforcement of the political morality of liberal democracy.

The particular issues discussed include whether government may ban pre-viability abortion, whether government may refuse to extend the benefit of law to same-sex couples and what role religion should play in the politics and law of a liberal democracy. Reviews of the hardback: Not the least strength of this volume is the way Perry artfully performs what he commends to us. The thoughtful, challenging arguments Perry offers teach us in the doing how Perry would have us conduct our political arguments with one another.

As a political liberal who belongs to a culturally conservative religion, I have found Professor Perry's work both intellectually enlightening and personally meaningful. The Political Morality of Liberal Democracy is an excellent work that forces one out of reflexive responses to religion in politics. Perry focuses on two of the most controversial cases in current debate: The argument of the book is clear and compelling.

Political Morality: A Theory of Liberal Democracy - Richard Vernon - Google Книги

He addresses a big, fundamental, and timely issue: He discusses the topic with verve, clarity, wide scope and astounding learning; and both formulates general rules and analyzes specific cases. If you have been unsettled by attacks over the past several decades on our form of government, The Political Morality of Liberal Democracy is the book to read to quiet your doubts.

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He finds secular defenses wanting. Both for religious supporters of liberal democracy and human rights and for secular supporters, Perry's book is must reading.


But the provocative chapters on such topics as religious freedom, abortion, same-sex unions and the role of courts provide additional reasons to read this book. The Political Morality of Liberal Democracy should be of interest to every conscientious citizen. Jegen Professor of Law, Indiana University.

Most of it has been written by philosophers and theologians.

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Michael Perry, however, makes a distinctive contribution in writing as an expert in constitutional law. This is a clearly written, logically organized, accessible, original book on an important and topical issue.

It brings together in a unified theory the many ideas of one of our most distinguished commentators on the proper role of religion in law and political life. Young, Philosophy in Review. Liberal democracy and human rights 2.