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Powao, Jayford

October 2, 2014

AB PoSc PTS-IV

PTS 142

Eudaimonia in America
American Liberalism puts much importance on the values of liberty, freedom and
individualism. On this article, American Liberalism is heavily criticized by Deneen and
other conservative philosophers saying that deep in Americas public philosophy is
founded on unsustainable liberalism that has flawed philosophical promises about
individual choice and mans separation from nature which results to corrupt political
order , a collapsing economy and a degrading culture. These criticisms according to the
author can be divided into three broad claims: First, is a claim that America is a land of
moral nightmares. The second is a philosophical claim that the moral philosophy which is
organized in around a substantive human account of human happiness or fulfillment
(Eudaimonism) is incompatible with the liberal political philosophy that serves to justify
American political traditions and institutions. The third is: the moral nightmares result
from the mistaken philosophy.
The author argues that even if America is not a morally perfect nation because of its
historical sins and legalization of abortion, nonetheless it is still a good nation because of
its republican form of government, its free and fair elections, its respect for religious
liberty and other human rights, its commitment to the rule of law, the high standard of
living that the people enjoy, its efforts to improve the material conditions of society, its
great cultural achievements in the field of science, technology, law and economics. Even
if America is not a morally perfect nation which i doubt the existence of a morally
perfect nation, nonetheless America is a great nation. American Liberalism is grounded
on philosophy that is pragmatic liberalism rather than philosophical liberalism. The
author then makes a distinction among the two. Pragmatic Liberalism entails that
liberalism as a political system is justified not by some foundational doctrines but is
grounded on practicality. They view a liberal institution as embodying not grand
philosophical principles such as natural rights or positivists theories but rather reasonable,
pragmatic, political compromises worked out among individuals who disagree on the
view of morality in order for them to make peace and pursue their different goals and
interests. Philosophical liberals sees the teachings of liberalism as high moral principles.
For pragmatic liberals, those teachings are just political compromises made for human
beings who have different and diverse interests and adhere to diverse moral beliefs. These
compromises need not to be internally consistent but can be changed over time as
circumstances change. Pragmatic liberals tend to make decisions that are more realistic
and practicable rather than based on idealism. Meanwhile Philosophical liberals are the
ones who view political institutions as naturally and commonly justified on the basis of
political philosophies according to popular theorists like Locke, Hobbes, Kant, Rawls.
People who support liberal political systems on such bases are philosophical liberals.
So the second claims these philosophical claim that the moral philosophy which is
organized in around a substantive human account of human happiness or fulfillment
(Eudaimonism) is incompatible with the liberal political philosophy that serves to justify
American political traditions and institutions is proved to be false because American

public philosophy and institutions are grounded on Pragmatic Liberals whose moral
philosophy is not grounded on deep philosophical doctrines but on reasonable, pragmatic,
political compromises worked out among individuals to harmonize the diverse interests
of the individuals for them to be able to live in peace and purse their interests.
Third, the moral nightmares result from the mistaken philosophy which is entirely
false because social pathologies do not result primarily from philosophical mistakes. The
development of the political, economic, social and cultural life involves a tremendous
number of interacting causes not just a single philosophical mistake and assumptions. All
our social problems today do not arise from simple philosophical mistakes but are
product of various interacting and complicated causes. Putting the blame on mistaken
philosophy of our social problems today is stupid and absurd.
American political system adopts a pragmatic, political compromise among the different
interest groups designed to satisfy all of them enough to preserve social peace.
Aristotelian Thomists argues that the state has a mora obligation to promote the good
life of the people and that state should make men moral. The author argues that this is not
applicable to liberal states especially in America because the state should promote the
good life of its citizens all ways that, in the circumstances are reasonable. Today, the
society is composed of variety of individuals having different views coming from
different educations and walks of life. They hold a diverse range of moral views, thus
morality is subjective because what is moral to a person can be immoral to another. To
make it short, there is very little range in which it would be reasonable for the state to
make men moral. The American political system does not need to make men moral but
instead it needs a liberal political order which consists of a set of pragmatic political
compromises made to reconcile the different interests of the people that would allow
them to promote their interests and live the life they want.
Reaction:
What makes American Liberal Political System is not its adherence to the classic
thoughts of the liberal philosophies of Locke, Kant etc.. But its Pragmatic Liberal,
reasonable compromises that are made to settle the differences of the individuals who
have diverse interests and allow them to live in peace and pursue their goals. The authors
who attacked America as founded on unsustainable liberalism has failed to view the
advantages and the good things that American Political System such as religious liberty,
respect for human rights commitment to the rule of law which are essential for a liberal
democratic state and not to mention the high standard of living that the people enjoy, the
many opportunities available to the people and its accountable elections. Considering
America as a land of moral nightmares would undermine the many advantages and good
qualities that American Liberalism has brought to the people from economic, social and
cultural, political and humanitarian advantages. America maybe immoral in the guise of
traditional Christian lights because of its liberal policies which legalizes abortion, divorce
even cannabis to some states but the citizens are enjoying a stable political institution
built upon pragmatic and reasonable compromises that allows the people to live in peace
and live well. Contrary to the Philippines, where majority of the population belong to a
dominant religious group who teaches the people to be compassionate, loving, honesty,
kindness, peace but is long haunted by social problems like corrupt government officials,
dirty and unfair elections and poverty.