This chapter will focus on the ideas of a number of important thinkers who identified politics and the most central of political institutions — the state — with the pursuit of ultimate moral values. For these thinkers, politics itself, and the organization of political institutions, played a crucial role in the practice of the virtue, and contributed thereby to the pursuit of human perfection. In other words, politics was seen as an activity that was centrally concerned with the promotion of human goodness. Some of the writers discussed in this chapter argued that a properly ordered state would directly promote the moral goodness of its members, while others saw political authority as a means of facilitating the pursuit of moral goodness by members of the state. In both cases, however, the focus on virtue did not mean that other ends — for example, happiness and freedom — were ignored. As we shall see, a number of important political philosophers argued that virtue and freedom are closely related, and it was generally held that true happiness is dependent upon a proper appreciation of moral goodness. In the conceptions of politics discussed in this chapter, however, values such as freedom or happiness were treated in relation to the pursuit of virtue: that is, they were valued because of their connection with moral goodness.
Swipe to navigate through the chapters of this book
Please log in to get access to this content
- Politics and Virtue
- Macmillan Education UK
- Sequence number
- Chapter number
- Chapter 2