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Making Men Moral: Civil Liberties and Public Morality (Clarendon Paperbacks) Paperback – May 25, 1995

ISBN-13: 978-0198260240 ISBN-10: 0198260245

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Editorial Reviews


"George is an accomplished controversialist; his arguments are always clear, sophisticated, and highly interesting. Making Men Moral deserves the attention of moral, political, and legal theorists."--Choice

"Making Men Moral is a strong defense of morals laws against arguments critical of traditional jurisprudence by contemporary liberal legal scholars."--Modern Age

"...contains much erudition and wisdom worthy of study and reflection."--Modern Age

"There is much to praise in George's book."--Ethics

"This book is clear, incisive, and well argued. I highly recommend it."The Review of Metaphysics

About the Author

Robert P. George, Associate Professor of Politics, Princeton University

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Product Details

  • Series: Clarendon Paperbacks
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (May 25, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0198260245
  • ISBN-13: 978-0198260240
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,124,680 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

78 of 86 people found the following review helpful By M. Golkar on December 9, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book is a strong response to the widely held view that morality as such cannot be enforced by the law. According to Prof. George, society may legitimately seek to "make men moral" as long as the moral sentiment expressed is legitimate. The last qualification is important, because it does set a limit on how far the law may go in interfering with personal autonomy. Therefore, we can say that it is premised on a natural law foundation, which is foreign to most people today. Most of the arguments are made in the course of criticizing the opposing views of some heavyweight philosophers like Ronald Dworkin, John Rawls, and Joseph Raz. Especially good is a chapter on the famous debate between H.L.A. Hart and Patrick Devlin. Though George's position is closer to that of Devlin, he does a good job explaining how Devlin's views are in many ways deficient and incompatible with a free society. This is a fine book no matter what your political views, though it does help to have a background in political and moral philosophy to fully grasp the arguments.
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Format: Paperback
In this relatively short work, conservative thinker Robert P. George outlines his view of what should be the structure of a just and well-ordered society.

George argues in this book the state has a strong role to enforce morality, particularly in the private as well as the public sphere. As well as stopping things such as theft, fraud and murder, the state in George's view should also regulate matters such as pornography, homosexuality and deviant sexual behaviour. In his view, the state has a legitimate interest in protecting institutions such as the nuclear heterosexual family against inroads from proponents of gay rights or irregular family structures.

To his credit George is an intelligent man who thinks about what he says. The main weakness of the book is very often it reads like a veiled defence of the conservative Catholic religion George follows (or at least claims to follow), rather than being a true attempt to work out a rational order for society that all can agree on. Ultimately by premising a lot of his work on natural law arguments derived from the teaching of the church, George (along with other natural lawyers and Catholic writers like Finnis, Gricez and Boyle) seem to simply offer a sectarian view of the world few outside of traditionalist or fundamentalist religious circles would accept. Even an evangelical Protestant or Pentecostal would stop at the Catholic church, and an agnostic or atheist at the mention of religion.

Sadly while George offers some good arguments for regulating activities like pornography and prostitution to protect society's moral fabric, he fails to make the case for the rigid legal and moral code he obviously wants society to follow.
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By Jeanne on February 21, 2014
Format: Paperback
Regardless of what your personal belief system holds this book is an excellent read because it is thought provoking no matter what side of the fence your beliefs sit. The reason everyone should read this book is because there is sound explanation for the reasons George believes as he does.
Moral standards have been around since the days of the Roman Empire and it is interesting to see how man views fairness and how if you were to have to choose laws for everyone to follow without any background or knowledge we would all choose that which is globally fair for all.
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4 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Peter P. Fuchs on January 2, 2012
Format: Paperback
It is dawning on Robert George that he and his friends will be treated as society does white suprematists today. Not because he believes that straight marriage is a better option for him and those he would counsel. Rather, because he has bought and propagandized for a scam-version of modern Thomism with vaguely theocratic intentions, by which he hoped to restrict the civil rights of those he does not agree with. He does not get it. No one asks him or his friends or family to live any way they do not wish to. But he has made a career trying to smuggle in his authoritarian intent as if it were self-evident reason. This blog post shows that not only is he mad he will not be able to do it. He is aghast, as I am sure Oxford University will be, that they will be taken as the authors and publishers of fantastically hateful and cussed attempts at violence against other people's civil right, in the future. Quite the come down from an illustrious past. Let them and their descendants not look for forgiveness and understanding. There will be none. They will only get the hard judgment of history. To wit:

""What will happen to Catholics and others . . . ?"

One of my superstar former students, writing about his experience at one of our nation's premier law schools, sent me a note after reading my MOJ post on marriage, religious liberty, and the "grand bargain." Here is the text, with names removed to protect the innocent:

I had a first-hand experience with this reality in law school. One of my constitutional law professors taught the section of our course relating to same-sex marriage under the "inevitability" banner.
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