If we are to absolutely insist that no moral principles can be inforced by the state, we arrive at an anarchist position of denying the legitimacy of the state entirely. Why should the state enforce laws against force of fraud? They are, afterall, moral principles that have a religious origin.
Definitely not the same thing. No one wants to be the victim of robbery, fraud, assault, murder, etc. Thus if it is taken as a given that the state must treat all citizens equally, there is unanimous support for legal prohibition of, and punishment for these offenses. While the prohibitions are incorporated into virtually all religion's teachings, that is because they really are universal principles. They arise spontaneously in isolated communities, even absent any religious or governmental influence -- do away with the formal prohibitions and they pop up again almost immediately due to near-universal demand. Sure there are people who want to COMMIT these offenses, but even they don't want to be victims of them. Current conservative efforts to legislate their brand of morality, for example by campaigning for "defense of marriage" legislation and/or against same-sex marriage legislation, while preserving special legal privileges for people who organize their personal lives according to the religious precepts, are totally different. There, they ARE trying to impose religiously based moral precepts on unwilling people. They frequently make claims like "the institution of marriage would be threatened" if other people were allowed to marry differently, and then demand that government use its power to support this religiously based institution by decreeing that "you will marry this way or not at all, and the government will confer certain privileges on those who marry". The obvious corollary to this is that the institution does not have the overwhelming support of the people, and can only be maintained by government intervention (which I don't happen to believe -- only a handful of the flimsiest opposite-sex marriages would actually be weakened or ended by the advent of legal same-sex marriage).
"No one wants to be the victim of robbery, fraud, assault, murder, etc. Thus if it is taken as a given that the state must treat all citizens equally, there is unanimous support for legal prohibition of, and punishment for these offenses. While the prohibitions are incorporated into virtually all religion's teachings, that is because they really are universal principles."
The principles are universal, but their application most certainly is not. Furthermore, they are universal only in the sense that they apply to all of us by virtue of our common humanity. They are a LONG way from being universally recognized, from a historical perspective. From the ancient Pagans, to the Greek Sophists, to Machavelli, to Nietsche, there have always been those who believed that society should be run on the principle of "survival of the fittest", or "might makes right". In fact, during most of human history, it was not "treated as a given" at all, that "the state must treat all citizens equally". This is a relatively recent phenomenon that stems, to a large part, from the Judeo-Christian understanding of an individual human's dignity and Free Will.
posted on 12/22/2001 11:49:17 AM PST
What do you think of the idea that an intact family with one man, one woman and kids is absolutely the best means for raising kids to be productive contributing members of society; therefore the State has a legitimate incentive to promote traditional marriage as being of great benefit to all members of society and to the future of society?
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