Tabula Escriba: A codification of Liberal norms

The duty in steering society, to create and promote norms, is not one that can be done without some effort to make these norms coherent and comprehensible to those who do not yet share them. Few people presently are capable or interested in creating a value system while to the extent traditional religious texts can act as such a codification they provide philosophies that use them as foundation a draw that secular philosophies lack. It has been suggested that the curricula of the sciences provide a counterpart to religious "knowledge", but this neglects that science says very little about norms. Paired with a philosophy, science pairs to form a complete Weltanschauung - advocates of any particular leaning/philosophy then are challenged to put forth their ideas for consideration. The purpose of this consideration can be understood in three parts (with some overlap): a basis for norms in government, a basis for norms in culture, and inspiration for free-thinkers. In the first, the norms and values people have help them decide, to the extent they have input into the system of government of the society in which they are immersed, what norms and values should be enshrined in law. In the second, the norms and values help them decide, outside the sphere of government, what norms/values they hold should see light in how they treat each other and how these are to be spread through society. Finally, for those doing work in the sphere of philosophy, both content and style of thought can be inspirational for further thought. This effort does not directly ask about forms of government, and the answers obtained have a degree of independence from actual form of a state both in theory and practice - while government and society are in some cases very close, except in societies that are completely hierarchial there is room for encapsulation of other systems (e.g. collectives in a capitalist state, which admittedly are easier with some degree of legal support), and legal systems tend to react to notions of a reasonable person (especially in Common Law systems) rather than dictate entirely what a reasonable person should be. We might visualise this task and that of specifying the form of the state as working from both sides towards each other.

I present a codification of my liberal norms, noting both that they may be better codified (which I may revisit to do so as appropriate) and that this is not the only notion or codification of liberalism that may be considered reasonable. The term "liberal" has a very long history across many different political traditions, with little actually in common (despite some common terms) between some of the uses. It would be appealing to some to suggest that there is an underlying theory linking the ideas in a given ideal of liberalism (or any other philosophy), but this is only rarely possible and rarely satisfying when built that way. Rather than building from political axioms, we shall seek underlying regularity, when possible and desirable, through what John Rawls calls reflective equilibrium, not aiming at complete regularity but feeling the acknowledgement of and recodification based on potential underlying regularities as an aesthetic tug.

The size of the topic suggests a light focus on topics close to the differential identity between the idealised liberalism we present and conservative traditions in Europe and the United States. Although value systems contain and position many of the values-axes that (in the guise of metavalues) they are judged by, and thus to provide them and have them adopted is a task of æsthetics, our task is to provide something akin to the values stated in religious works (but in the relevant philosophical tradition) for liberals (particular secular liberals). With such a text we both make dialogue among liberals on value questions more structured and allow those outside our social circles easier access to our modes of thought so that we may advance our values, in whole or in part, in them.


[Default of Autonomy] [Respect for Expertise] [Consideration of Tradition] [Concerns on Manipulation of Identity] [On Majority and Maturity] [On Egality and Equality] [On Privilege and Welfare] [On Honours and Class] [Scope of Identity] [No Lese Majeste]

Traditions and Societal Institutions


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Pat Gunn (aka Improv) <>