Wednesday, September 15, 2004

The Way Things Are


"My principle is the Principle of Humanity.
It has to do with the great goods, our great desires.
These in my reckoning are for
(1) a decent length of life, say 75 years rather than 35,
(2) the further means to bodily well-being,
(3) freedom and power, including freedom and power as a people,
(4) respect and self-respect,
(5) personal and wider human relationships,
(6) the goods of culture, including knowledge and religion.
Bad lives are defined in terms of the denial of these goods,
the misery and other distress of that denial.

The Principle of Humanity
is that we are to take actually rational steps
to get people out of bad lives.
Rational steps, first, are effective ones,
not pretences and the like.
Secondly, they are humanly economical
-- they do not cost too much in terms of the great goods.
The principle gets filled out by way of certain policies
and prescriptions, several having to do with transfers
of means to well-being,
one large one having to do with equalities.
We're enough alike so that practices of equality are fundamental.
The concern with equality, however,
is consistent with the end or aim
of the principle being not relational at all,
but rather getting people out of bad lives."


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