Table of Contents Avishai Margalit builds his social philosophy on this foundation: a decent society, or a civilized society, is one whose institutions do not humiliate the people under their authority, and whose citizens do not humiliate one another. What political philosophy needs urgently is a way that will permit us to live together without humiliation and with dignity. Most of the philosophical attention nowadays is drawn to the ideal of the just society based on the right balance between freedom and equality. The ideal of the just society is a sublime one but hard to realize.
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Start your review of The Decent Society Write a review Jun 04, Graeme rated it really liked it A very interesting work on the notion of the decent society as one with non-humiliating political institutions. However, one weakness of the work is that humiliation is connected to being given a reason to feel ashamed of belonging to a morally legitimate encompassing group. Yet, the exact nature of what it means to be given a reason to feel humiliated, versus being caused to feel humiliated is a bit murky.
Margalit sees the fact that a member of a disadvantaged group feels humiliated as a prima A very interesting work on the notion of the decent society as one with non-humiliating political institutions.
Margalit sees the fact that a member of a disadvantaged group feels humiliated as a prima facie reason to think they had a reason to feel humiliated, but it is not clear what would constitute evidence that they did in fact not have a reason to feel humiliated, but were just overtly sensitive to criticism or negative images.
Similarly, the notion of morally legitimate encompassing groups is not given enough explanation. Margalit points out that nations are morally legitimate encompassing groups, while the mafia is not, and therefore a society is decent, even if it gives members of the mafia a reason to feel humiliated.
Presumably this is because the mafia is committed to violence, crime and intimidation, whereas nations are not. However, if this is the case, then the ethic of decency seems to presume a liberal understanding of the morally legitimate. I happen to agree with this understanding of the morally legitimate, but it needs to be defended rather than assumed. Humiliation occurs when someone dependent on a state or a group is considered outside the boundary of concern, and treated as less than those who consider themselves members of that state or group.
Margalit examines unemployment and prisoners in his exposition of humiliation and decency, and in his pursuit of justice. A fascinating and The decent society is a necessary prelude to a just society according to Margalit, and a decent society is one that does not humiliate those who depend on it. A fascinating and friendly read, on the easily comprehensible side of political philosophy, with an approach applicable to relationships and social goods as areas of concern.
He was educated in Jerusalem and did his army service in the airborne Nahal. In he started his studies at the Hebrew University, majoring in philosophy and economics. He earned his B. During his years of study he worked as an instructor in a youth village, working with immigrant children who arrived with the mass wave of immigration in the s. Thanks to a British Council scholarship he went to Queens College in Oxford University , where he stayed from to D summa cum laude from the Hebrew University.
The Decent Society
Read preview Synopsis Margalit begins concretely where we live with all the infuriating acts of humiliation that make living in the world so difficult. He argues in a concrete way in the spirit of Judith Shklar and Isaiah Berlin. This is a social philosophy that resists all those menacing labels that promote moral laziness, just as it urges us to get beyond the behavior that labels other human beings. Excerpt Some twenty years ago I accompanied Sidney Morgenbesser to the airport. Before parting, Morgenbesser announced to me--as well as to all the other passengers-- that the urgent problem was not the just society but the decent society.
He argues in a concrete way in the spirit of Judith Shklar and Isaiah Berlin. This is a social philosophy that resists all those menacing labels that promote moral laziness, just as it urges us to get beyond the behavior that labels other human beings. It is serious without being ponderous, it is unassuming but ambitious, and it is engagingly unorthodox, both in its concerns and in the way it pursues them. A highly engaging and original book. The work is sure to be important for scholars with academic interest in the topics of humiliation and self-respect in their own right. And it will be a stimulating resource for applied political theorists working on a variety of issues of cultural and social policy. In The Decent Society, Avishai Margalit, Professor of Philosophy at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, offers an equally wide-ranging analysis which would see decency as the primary goal