Like a number of terms that have come to prominence in recent social and political discourse, ‘diversity’, along with ‘identity’ and ‘multiculturalism’, is commonly used not as a neutral term of sociological description, but as a title for a set of recommended normative views. In the ordinary descriptive usage a group might be said to be ‘diverse’ in respect any number of features: age, weight, physical ability, mental aptitude, education, culture, beliefs, interests, etc. As such, it would be an open question whether a group’s being diverse, similar, or uniform in any or all of these respects is good, bad or indifferent – and similarly for ‘identity’ and ‘culture’. In the current socio-political usage, however, there are two unstated assumptions: a) that only certain features count so far as diversity is concerned, and b) that diversity in respect of these is valuable. So, for example, ethnic, sexual, and/or cultural variety count, and are held to be desirable; but diversity of opinions about whether these are important or about the value of diversity do not. This might be termed ‘the paradox of diversity advocacy’. The rationale of advocating for it is the belief that existing features of society, specifically ones that manifest traditional norms of identity are unjust. Hence the linking of diversity advocacy with criticisms of ‘heteronormativity’, ‘the cultural canon’, ‘xenophobia’, ‘white privilege’ etc. One deep issue raised by diversity, most often discussed in relation to multiculturalism, is how far it can extend without undermining the coherence and unity necessary for the stable existence of society.
— Administrators and faculty are quick to appeal to and develop programs around “diversity.” But what is diversity? It is neither a virtue, nor a basic good, nor even a generally positive descriptor. The commitment to diversity at many universities requires more scrutiny than it is typically given.
— Notre Dame Law School NDLScholarship Journal Articles 2001 Publications Virtue and the Constitution of the United States John M. Finnis Notre Dame Law School, [email protected] Follow this and additional works at: https://scholarship.law.nd.edu/law_faculty_scholarship Part of the Constitutional Law Commons, and the Natural Law Commons Recommended Citation John M. Finnis, Virtue and the Constitution of the United States, 69 Fordham L. Rev. 1595 (2001). Available at: https://scholarship.law.nd.edu/law_faculty_scholarship/608 This Article is brought to you for free and open access by the Publications at NDLScholarship. It has been accepted for inclusion in Journal Articles by an authorized administrator of NDLScholarship. For more information, please contact [email protected]. Fordham Law Review Volume 69 Issue 5 2001 Virtue and the Constitution of the United States John Finnis Recommended Citation John Finnis, Virtue and the Constitution of the United States, 69 Fordham L. Rev. 1595 (2001). Available at: http://ir.lawnet.fordham.edu/flr/vol69/iss5/3 Article 3 This Article is brought to you for free and open access by FLASH: The Fordham Law Archive of Scholarship and History. It has been accepted for inclusion in Fordham Law Review by an authorized administrator of FLASH: The Fordham Law Archive of Scholarship and History. For more information, please contact [email protected]. VIRTUE AND THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES John Finnis** The five questions put to our panel provide a suitable framework for my reflections. 1. Does the Constitution require or presuppose, or thwart or even forbid, a formative project of government inculcating in citizens the civic virtue necessary to promote and sustain a good society? 2. To what extent can the institutions of civil society support or even supplant government in inculcating civic virtue? 3. What is the content of the civic virtue that should be inculcated in circumstances of moral disagreement, and how does it relate to traditional moral virtue? 4. Does it include respect for and appreciation of diversity? 5. Should a formative project include cultivating attitudes that are critical of practices that deny liberty and equality? I. CIVIC VIRTUES ARE MORAL VIRTUES Since it is sensible to think about ends before considering the means to them, it may be best to start with the central question, the third: What is civic virtue? How does it “relate to traditional moral virtue?" How is its content affected by circumstances of diversity? As Plato and Cicero make clear, civic virtue is a more “traditional" category than moral virtue. Just insofar as civic virtue is one's practical horizon, the traditions of one's civitas, one's polity, bound one's critical autonomy and one's appropriation of practical reasonableness. If the traditions of one's polity about what a decent person does are decent traditions, one will be encouraged in virtue. If not, not. If one has the misfortune to belong to a certain kind of traditional Southern Italian community, and cannot break with the pagan traditions alive under surface forms of Catholicism, one will make one's own the ethos of vendetta and an honor which is steeped in murder and deceit. If one has the misfortune to belong to the leisured male upper classes of the brilliant commercial republic of fifth century Athens, and lives in its traditions, one will be a contented * Biolchini Family Professor of Law, University of Notre Dame; Professor of Law and Legal Philosophy, Oxford University. 1595 1596 FORDHAM LAW REVIEW [Vol. 69 slave-owner, wise in the ways of seducing and masturbating on boys, with no thought of one's wife's true equality: that is how good citizens are, and affirm each other in being. And so forth. When one breaks tradition's hold, by asking and pressing questions which we formalize as "philosophy," or by hearing and living by a new and true gospel, one gets clear that there is only one genuine kind of virtue. In our language, it is moral virtue, of which civic virtue is one aspect. For virtue is nothing other than the whole set of dispositions which fit one as an individual and responsible acting person to make authentically reasonable choices-morally good and right choices-in every context where one can choose and act. So civic virtue, coherently considered, is simply moral virtues insofar as they bear on one's participation in community which extends beyond family to the forms of civic and political association: schools; cities; shops and marketplaces; highway traveling; churches; charitable, sporting and other voluntary associations; firms; professional dealings and associations; and state governmental activities such as jury trials, elections, military service, public administration, judging, legislating, and so forth. Relative to the distorted subordination of neighborliness to family in the vendetta, true civic virtue is morality's demand that justice be administered and wrongs righted by an impartial civic/political institution, the judge, and not by passionate parti pris. Relative to the private indulgence of classical Greek homosexual culture, and its Roman analogues, true civic virtue was located in morality's demand that one look with more egalitarian respect to one's wife, free one's slaves, and treat one's neighbors' sons as persons, still children, but to be fulfilled as spouses in loving marriage not as unequal and passive partners in one's own sensual indulgence, and so forth. All these reformations of "private" vices would tend, as Augustus to some extent perceived when enacting his Leges Iuliae against adultery and easy-going divorce, to benefit the city and the wider republic and empire-and not simply demographically. Here are a few instances of key elements in civic virtue: the impartial and zealous dutifulness of, say, the doctor or fireman who treats and rescues all who need that help, even those who are abusers of themselves or others or are in loathsome condition or feeble- minded or unconscious; the probity of the lawyer who fearlessly upholds the traditions of the Bar and ethics of the profession against the pressures of unfair judges, importunate clients, unscrupulous opponents, and the constant temptation to make success in the present proceedings the overriding criterion of choice; the honesty of the scholar who refuses to join the teams of scholars who regularly pollute the marketplace of ideas by manufacturing false histories in order to promote legal and other social causes they value; the fidelity of those who honor their contracts, marital or commercial, carry out 2001] VIRTUE AND THE CONSTITUTION 1597 their responsibilities as public or private trustees, and pay their debts, especially to needy creditors, rather than treat bankruptcy as wiping their own moral slate clean. And so on. How is all this affected by circumstances of diversity? Obviously, many of the aspects of virtue which I have mentioned involve overcoming hostility to the unfamiliar or the despised, and reaching to the person in need. Getting and maintaining these virtues may be specially difficult when there are long-standing traditions of presuming that everyone of a certain category has certain vices or weaknesses. So one model of civic virtue is the courage and clear- headedness of the Northern Irish Catholic who, precisely in order to be a good citizen of the res publica, joins the Royal Ulster Constabulary and uses her talents to participate in the daily work of thwarting and rectifying the injustice of criminals and of a ruthless armed force engaged in obviously unjust war against that res publica, the polity. The dangers and harms she is willing to undergo include not only murderous reprisals but blinkered hostility from those who will not consider the common good of the present community as it really is but prefer to remain in the horizons of old struggles and the loyalties and patterns of exclusion and reaction they fostered. II. CIVIC VIRTUE INCLUDES RESPECT FOR AND APPRECIATION OF PERSONS, HOWEVER DIVERSE Our fourth question asks whether civic virtue includes respect for and appreciation of diversity? The answer is clear enough. Diversity is a blessing for any community just to the extent that many diverse gifts make for more resourceful and adequate mutual help, and richer authentic human fulfillment for all. Diversity is a tragedy, a cross, for any community just to the extent that diversity of opinions and dispositions about fundamental questions about right and wrong, virtue and vice, blocks that community's pursuit of and participation in decent ways of living and interacting, and its ability to reform and overcome unworthy ways of living together: slavery, wealth- accumulation without sharing with those in need, baby-farming, cultivation of demeaning stereotypes (Prods and Micks), the socially facilitated and approved choice to destroy a baby rather than accept motherhood or fatherhood, and so forth. John Stuart Mill's neo- Humboldtian affection for diversity is little more than an aesthetic preference worthy of little admiration unless it extends to what is really at stake: not "diversity" but persons in and notwithstanding their diversity. What civic virtue calls for is respect for people of every kind, and appreciation of their humanity and of whatever good use they have 1. See the epigram from Willhelm von Humboldt on or after the title page of John Stuart Mill, On Liberty (1859).
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— Friends, there is a healthy and necessary tension between inclusion and exclusion in any rightly ordered society, including the Church. Are equity, diversity, and inclusivity valuable? Yes, precisely in the measure that they are expressions of love; no, in the measure that they stand athwart love. To grasp this is of crucial importance in the moral conversation that our society must have.
Bishop Barron on God, Equality, and the Founding of America: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hxA9aC0fiUg
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Bishop Barron on An Antidote to Hostility: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QwA_lRNPM6A
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— (Image: Brittani Burns/Unsplash.com) In the wake of the French Revolution, the triplet of “liberty, equality, fraternity” emerged as a moral compass for the secular society. Something similar has happened today in regard to “equity, diversity, and inclusion.” For most pundits and social activists, at least in the West, these three values function as fundamental norms, self-evident moral truths of absolute value that ought to guide our behavior at both the personal and institutional level. But this cannot be right. For whatever plays that determining role must be good in itself, valuable in every and any circumstance, incapable of being positioned by a higher value. Neither equity, diversity, nor inclusion enjoy these prerogatives, and this can be shown readily enough. First, let us consider equity. Fostering equality is indeed a high moral value in the measure that all people are identical in dignity and are equally deserving of respect. This ethical intuition is embedded in the Declaration of Independence: “All men are created equal and are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights.” It is, accordingly, a moral imperative that all people be considered one and the same before the law and provided, as far as possible, parity of opportunity in the educational, economic, and cultural spheres. But equity in all things? Absolutely not. Many inequalities that obtain within human society—differences in intelligence, creativity, skill, courage, energy, etc.—are naturally given and could be eliminated only through a brutally imposed leveling out. And what follows from these natural inequalities is dramatic inequity in outcome: varying levels of attainment in all arenas of life. To be sure, some of these differences are the result of prejudice and injustice, and when this is the case, strenuous action should be taken to right the wrong. But a blanket imposition of equity in outcome across all of our society would result in a massive violation of justice and would be made possible only by the most totalitarian sort of political arrangement. Now, let us look at diversity. Arguably the oldest problem in the history of philosophy is that of the one and the many—which is to say, how to think clearly about the relationship between unity and plurality at all levels of existence. I believe it is fair to say that, in the last forty years or so, we have massively emphasized the “many” side of this matter, celebrating at every opportunity variety, difference, and creativity, and tending to demonize unity as oppression. God knows that the awful totalitarianisms of the twentieth century provided ample evidence that unity carries a dark side. And multiformity in cultural expression, in personal style, in modes of thinking, in ethnicity, etc. is wonderful and enriching. So the cultivation of diversity is indeed a moral value. But is it an absolute value? Not at all—and a moment’s reflection makes this plain. When the many is one-sidedly emphasized, we lose any sense of the values and practices that ought to unite us. This is obvious in the stress today on the individual’s right to determine his or her own values and truths, even to the point of dictating one’s own gender and sexuality. This hyper-valorization of diversity effectively imprisons each of us on our own separate islands of self-regard and gives rise to constant bickering. We loudly demand that our decisions be respected and our stances tolerated, but the ties that bind us to one another are gone. And finally, let us cast a glance at inclusivity. Of the three, this is probably the one most treasured in the secular culture of today. At all costs, we are told over and again, we should be inclusive. Once again, there is an obvious moral value to this stance. Every one of us has felt the sting of unjust exclusion, that sense of being on the wrong side of an arbitrary social divide, not permitted to belong to the “in” crowd. That entire classes of people, indeed entire races and ethnic groups, have suffered this indignity is beyond question. Hence the summons to include rather than to exclude, to build bridges rather than walls, is entirely understandable and morally laudable. Nevertheless, inclusion cannot be an absolute value and good. We might first draw attention to a conundrum regarding inclusivity. When a person wants to be included, she wants to become part of a group or a society or an economy or a culture that has a particular form. For example, an immigrant who longs to be welcomed to America wants to participate in an altogether distinctive political society; when someone wants to be included in the Abraham Lincoln society, he seeks entry into a very circumscribed community. In other words, he or she desires to be included in a collectivity that is, at least to some degree, exclusive! Absolute or universal inclusivity is, in point of fact, operationally a contradiction. Perhaps this principle can be seen with greatest clarity in regard to the Church. On the one hand, the Church is meant to reach out to everyone—as is suggested symbolically by the Bernini colonnade outside of St. Peter’s Basilica. Yet, at the same time, the Church is a very definite society, with strict rules, expectations, and internal structures. By its nature, therefore, it excludes certain forms of thought and behavior. Cardinal Francis George was once asked whether all are welcome in the Church. He responded, “Yes, but on Christ’s terms, not their own.” In a word, there is a healthy and necessary tension between inclusion and exclusion in any rightly ordered community. Having shown that none of the three great secular values are in fact of absolute value, are we left in a lurch, forced to accept a kind of moral relativism? No! In point of fact, the supreme value that positions every other value, the unsurpassable moral good in which all subordinate goods participate, can be clearly named. It is love, which is willing the good of the other as other, which indeed is the very nature and essence of God. Are equity, diversity, and inclusivity valuable? Yes, precisely in the measure that they are expressions of love; no, in the measure that they stand athwart love. To grasp this is of crucial importance in the moral conversation that our society must have. If you value the news and views Catholic World Report provides, please consider donating to support our efforts. Your contribution will help us continue to make CWR available to all readers worldwide for free, without a subscription. Thank you for your generosity! Click here for more information on donating to CWR. Click here to sign up for our newsletter. About Bishop Robert Barron 203 Articles Bishop Robert Barron is an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and the founder of Word on Fire Catholic Ministries. He is the creator of the award winning documentary series, "Catholicism" and "Catholicism:The New Evangelization." Learn more at www.WordonFire.org. 12 Comments Cardinal Francis George answered, “Yes, but on Christ’s terms, not their own.” Bishop Barron raises the royal standard of Christ, the supreme value that reconciles all converting all to Himself. A reflexion is added to this. Is the endless journey without compass a journey to reinvent what is revealed in Christ? A fresco Christ naked a naked Judas Iscariot carried over his shoulder, a bust of Luther, a Pachamama goddess enshrined in God’s house, artifacts, devotionals of a pontiff give the answer. Reply Very well said. Reply My impression was that it was a very good article. I wish Bishop Barron would be more concise and reach his wonderful conclusion in a more timely manner. Reply Not going to happen. When a philosopher turns over an idea in his head, the result is going to be long and probably very involved. This is good and bad – good because he will deal with the problem in all its aspects, bad because some will tune him out. Reply Interesting that the formal order of goals in the global movement is diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). This can be verified at the World Economic Forum’s website and the local reach of it in Westerville, Ohio’s announcement of the creation of a new DEI department and director at https://www.westerville.org/Home/Components/News/News/6407/46?npage=10. Note the inclusion of religion and gender as being under their authority to define and enforce, which puts them on a collision course with the Catholic Church. No accident, I think, that the initials of the goals (DEI) mean “of God” in Latin (as in agnus Dei). Just a not-so-subtle indication of their claim to be the world’s source of moral standards that the silly Catholic faithful erroneously think belongs to God alone to communicate through His Magisterium. With the advent of digital currency and the potential to create a global one, the ability to control the world’s access to money is real, all the way down to local banks, where you will cooperate with the DEI agenda or have your bank account frozen or substantial fines deducted from it. Things promise to get very tough for Catholics (and faithful Protestants) to resist. At its root, this is a spiritual war that I wish more Catholic Bishops would wake up to and prepare their flocks for. Thanks to Bishop Barron for addressing it. Reply Can’t say I agree with this: <> The apostles effected it quite beautifully, with Christ (and therefore love) as their center. Reply Why are ‘equity, diversity and inclusivity’ not absolute values? That’s a silly question, but I’ll try to answer it – because they mean whatever you want them to mean. I would expect a more serious column from Bishop Barron. Reply Just be aware there are many names for CRT in your local schools: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Anti-racism (which is really racism) I have no doubt they will make up additional names in the near future to hide. But if you see your school implementing any of these things, it means they have taken a Marxist approach to education. It means they will try to hide what they are doing, and they will LIE about what they are doing. Never trust a school teacher or administrator. Your kid’s like may depend on your not trusting them at all. Reply Who would have imagined that Cathode Ray Tubes would become the bane of American society, just as has the unwitting Bureau of Land Management. Reply With all due respects to His Excellency . . . it’s not EDI. It’s DIE. Reply The French Revolution triplet of “liberty, equality, fraternity” in its Rein of Terror phase was the liberty(of death), the equality(of death), the fraternity(of death). In the graveyard everyone is fully, equally dead. Reply “In the wake of the French Revolution, the triplet of “liberty, equality, fraternity” emerged as a moral compass for the secular society. Something similar has happened today in regard to “equity, diversity, and inclusion.”” Are you subtly admitting that you know the truth about this new EVIL “trinity?” The original one was almost certainly cooked up in Masonic lodges. The new one is a matter of evil ideologues who could be themselves a part of another satanic plot. As for this “trinity” it would take more work than appears here to work it out. Somehow the writings of idealogues need to be analyzed. The hidden definitions will need to be established or discovered. I am not certain about the real hidden definition(s) of equity. Some have claimed that it is a matter of “stealing” from the rich (e.g. higher taxes) to give to the poor (e.g. social spending). Diversity appears to be a method of promoting conflict by enforcing “racial” integration (e.g. forced busing, quotas, etc.) and undermining morality by promoting moral relativism (e.g. promoting “intimate” immorality). There is a good book on diversity called “Diversity: The Invention of a Concept.” Inclusivity is about not condemning immoral behaviors and beliefs. It is the opposite of the virtue of fraternal correction (a species of charity), and is associated with the vice of laxity (i.e. failure to punish). Reply 1 Trackback / Pingback COMING SOON: Gabbi's Angel Reflections: Your Angel Loves You, Live Today as if You Will Die Tonight! - Mary, our Spiritual Mother leads us to Jesus! Leave a Reply Cancel reply Your email address will not be published. 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— A traditional motto of the United States is E pluribus unum: “out of many, one.” In recent decades, though, American unity has been increasingly challenged by the fact that citizens hold radically different worldviews. We disagree about both what policies we should pursue and how to live together in peace.
Frustration with this pluralism has led many on the political Left and Right to express hatred and intolerance. But what if pluralism could be better understood, or even accepted? What if it could be transformed from a political weakness into a political strength? And what might this look like in terms of political institutions and practices?
Renowned authors Yuval Levin and John Inazu joined David Corey on October 19th to explore how we can live together across our deep differences.
Baylor in Washington was pleased to co-sponsor this event with the Institute for Human Ecology and AEI's Initiative on Faith and Public Life.
Yuval Levin is the author most recently of The Fractured Republic: Renewing America’s Social Contract (2017) and A Time to Build: From Family and Community to Congress and the Campus, How Recommitting to Our Institutions Can Revive the American Dream (2020). He is the director of Social, Cultural, and Constitutional Studies at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) where he also holds the Beth and Ravenel Curry Chair in Public Policy.
John Inazu is the author most recently of Confident Pluralism: Surviving and Thriving Through Deep Difference (2016), and co-editor (with Tim Keller) of Uncommon Ground: Living Faithfully in a World of Difference (2020). He is the Sally D. Danforth Distinguished Professor of Law and Religion at Washington University in St. Louis.
Dr. David Corey is the Director of Baylor in Washington and a professor of Political Science focusing on political philosophy in the Honors Program at Baylor University. He is also an affiliated member of the departments of Philosophy and Political Science. He is the author of two books, The Just War Tradition (with J. Daryl Charles) (2012) and The Sophists in Plato’s Dialogues (2015).
— Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and Publishers Weekly Bestseller! Have you heard that language is violence and that science is sexist? Have you read that certain people shouldn't practice yoga or cook Chinese food? Or been told that being obese is healthy, that there is no such thing as biological sex, or that only white people can be racist? Are you confused by these ideas, and do you wonder how they have managed so quickly to challenge the very logic of Western society?In this probing and intrepid volume, Helen Pluckrose and James Lindsay document the evolution of the dogma that informs these ideas, from its coarse origins in French postmodernism to its refinement within activist academic fields. Today this dogma is recognizable as much by its effects, such as cancel culture and social-media dogpiles, as by its tenets, which are all too often embraced as axiomatic in mainstream media: knowledge is a social construct; science and reason are tools of oppression; all human interactions are sites of oppressive power play; and language is dangerous. As Pluckrose and Lindsay warn, the unchecked proliferation of these anti-Enlightenment beliefs present a threat not only to liberal democracy but also to modernity itself.While acknowledging the need to challenge the complacency of those who think a just society has been fully achieved, Pluckrose and Lindsay break down how this often-radical activist scholarship does far more harm than good, not least to those marginalized communities it claims to champion. They also detail its alarmingly inconsistent and illiberal ethics. Only through a proper understanding of the evolution of these ideas, they conclude, can those who value science, reason, and consistently liberal ethics successfully challenge this harmful and authoritarian orthodoxy—in the academy, in culture, and beyond.