1st Edition

Government Action and Morality Some Principles and Concepts of Liberal-Deomocracy

By Robert (R. S.) Downie Copyright 1964

    This book was first published in 1964. Everything in politics has changed since then why a reprint? Because moral criticisms of governments haven’t changed. Indeed, historical comparison suggests a disconcerting similarity. We still accept a liberal-democratic morality and politics and believe that it is individuals who bear moral responsibility. How can we reconcile the corporate actions of governments with individual responsibility? Is the private life of politicians relevant to their official actions? Should politicians resign if they disagree with government policy? These problems are still with us, and the 1964 discussion of them remains illuminating. We elect governments to further our material interests, but we also believe that they should express our moral ideals, for example by providing vaccines, alleviating poverty or supporting oppressed countries. Are moral ideals consistent with political realism? The book reconciles these apparently opposed positions by introducing the concept of governments as ‘moral intermediaries.’ The reconciliation develops liberal-democracy in a way that will interest political theorists. As a whole the book offers a readable discussion of the many ways in which morality has a bearing on government action, and it captures and analyses contemporary political and moral aspirations.

    New Preface Preface 1. The Aim and the Approach 2. The Nature of Morality 3. The Nature of Government 4. Government Action and Morality: Part One 5. Government Action and Morality: Part Two References Index


    R. S. Downie