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57 La. L. Rev. 1253 (1996-1997)
Relativism, Neutrality, and Transcendentalism: Beyond Autonomy

handle is hein.journals/louilr57 and id is 1291 raw text is: Relativism, Neutrality, and Transcendentalism: Beyond
Bobby Jindar
The promotion of human well-being is the function which accords just
societies legitimacy.   Thus, different political theorists transform  benign
assumptions, seemingly truisms, abouthuman welfare into startling conclusions by
focusing on particular aspects of human flourishing. For example, Rawls turns
equality into an absolute concern for the least advantaged; Dworkin starts with
people's preferences and concludes with elaborate social welfare programs; Nozick
goes from self-ownership to inviolable property rights, etc.' A theorist's
conception of human well-being, the good, determines the shape of his just society.
All conceptions of the good invoke transcendental assumptions; any
justification for acting in a non-random manner involves non-derivable morality.
Political disputes are not always mere matters of partisanship, but rather often
involve transcendental ideals; whether one appeals to justice, love, value of human
life, etc., one is appealing to a common belief in some abstract principle of good.
Even the nihilist must acknowledge some higher good, even if only the truth of his
perspective. Ethics, the study of how society and the individual promote
fundamental goods, is thus the core of a political conception of justice. However,
communitarianism, which enshrines societal preferences and traditions as morality,
incorrectly reduces ethics to the study of sociology; liberalism, as expressed by
Rawls' neutrality, does not even consider ethics relevant to the notion of justice.
Neither properly considers the realm of ethics in formulating principles of justice.
The liberal goal of neutrality, which makes autonomy man's most crucial and
defining right, is misguided and forces man to be hostage to his most base instincts,
with no hope to rise above himself and no appeal to external standards. The
communitarian goal of multiculturalism merely moves the focus from man to
society, claiming autonomy as a group, rather than individual, right. Plato
recognizes the danger of the relativists' perspective that morality is nothing more
than individual preferences or societal convention; he rightfully criticizes them for
being obsessed with the superficial accidents, as opposed to essences, of the world,
unable to abstract from their particular experiences to universal truth claims.'
Copyright 1997, by LOUISIANA LAW REVIEW.
*   Bobby Jindal Is the current Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals.
Mr. Jindal earned an M.Litt. in Politics while studying at New College, Oxford University on a
Rhodes Scholarship.
1. John Rawls, Distributive Justice, in Philosophy, Politics and Society 201 (Peter Laslett and
W.G. Runciman eds.. 3d series 1967) [hereinafter Distributive Justice]; John Rawls, A Kantian
Conception of Equality. in Readings in Social and Political Philisophy 187-95 (Robert M. Stewart
ed., 1975) [hereinafter A Kantian Conception of Equality]; Ronald Dworkin, A Matter of Principle
190-98 (1985); Ronald Dworkin, Taking Rights Seriously 191-94 (1977); Robert Nozick, Anarchy.
State, and Utopia 219 (1974).
2. Plato, The Republic 199-201 (Richard W. Sterling & William C. Scott trans., W.W. Norton
& Co. 1985).

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