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Making Men Moral: Civil Liberties and Public Morality (Clarendon Paperbacks)

6 customer reviews
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: Clarendon Press (May 25, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0198260245
  • ISBN-13: 978-0198260240
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 0.6 x 5.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #304,267 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

84 of 92 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
Professor George provides a rigorous analysis of the liberal theory of law in contrast to a natural law or virtue approach to law. The first sentence in the book says that Law cannot make men moral by itself. Law cannot force conformity of one's internal attitude. However, law is not an irrelevant part in this creating a more moral community. Professor George concedes that not every moral law can be implemented, but in principle they can be permissible. However, just because a law is moral in principle in terms to preventing certain behaviors that damage a person's character and the moral ecology of a community, doesn't mean the law should be implemented. He agrees that a prudential judgment needs to be done before actually implementing the law. If a law will give too much power to the government, or will cause more harm to the greater society than the law should not be implemented.

Agree or disagree the arguments of Professor George, they are well articulated, very powerful, and must be responded to by those of the Millian liberal theory of law. His general point that private vice doesn't remain private forever, especially when practiced by wide number of people, does become of public interest. As Americans we should start overcoming our individualistic philosophy and think more in terms of what is the common good of the community. Our individual choices have greater effect than we know, especially when taken in large number. What these vices are, are up for debate and George makes this abundantly clear. A true public philosophy engages in the nature of the good and the character of its people. To not care about the well-being of one's community will eventually lead to a disintegration of communities on the whole.

In summary, George's books is worth the time but you need to read it carefully and if one is not familiar with philosophy, in particular analytic philosophy of law then this may be more difficult for you.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful 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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