The Good Society

“Morality is civilisation’s greatest attempt to humanise fate. The power of this vision is that it locates the source of action within ourselves. It restores the dignity of agency and responsibility. It leads us to see our lives not as the blind play of external causes – the genome, the free market, economic interests, social forces and advertising-induced fashions – but as a series of choices in pursuit of the right and good, choices in which we are not left unguided but for which a vast store of historical experience lies at our disposal. It reminds us that the acts we perform, the decisions we take, make a difference: to our family, to our friends and associates, to our sense of a life well lived. It teaches us to cherish and sustain the relationships – marriage, families, friendships, communities – which give us strength as we face the uncertainties of an open future. It removes the randomness of a life lived in border skirmishes between our desires and those of others. It allows us to see ourselves as on a journey, begun by those who came before us and whose histories we share, to be continued by those who come after us of whose hopes we are the guardians, a journey towards a remote but intelligible destination, the good society we are called on to create together.”

The Dignity of Difference, p. 68