Founder’s Keepers: Arkes on The Role of Govenment in Defining our Culture

SOURCE: Princeton University

Note: The Federalist Society presented this Showcase Panel at the 2006 Annual National Lawyers Convention on Saturday, November 18, 2006.

Anchoring Truths Co-Founder & JWI Founder and Director Hadley Arkes remarks on the proper role of government in when it comes to the culture:

“Of course, the government shapes the culture, and it shapes our moral understanding because that is built in the very nature of logic and law. When we legislate, we override personal choice and private freedom and replace them with uniform rule and public obligation. That movement is only coherent because we appeal to some principle that defines what is just and unjust more generally or universally. ” 

“When we move to the level of a moral judgment, we move away from statements of personal preference or private tastes, we begin to speak about right or wrong, or unjust for ourselves as well as others. So if we come to the judgment that it is wrong to own humans as slaves, we mean it would be wrong for everyone.”

To listen to Prof. Hadley Arkes’s full remarks, begin at 47:20 by clicking here.

Hadley Arkes is the Founder and Director of the James Wilson Institute as well as the Edward Ney Professor Emeritus of Jurisprudence at Amherst College.
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The James Wilson Institute’s Mission is to restore to a new generation of lawyers, judges, and citizens the understanding of the American Founders about the first principles of our law and the moral grounds of their own rights.
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