We have been asked to consider how a "Constitution of Civic Virtue" might contribute to a "good society." To answer this question, we need to have some idea of what a good society might be, and we need to be able to articulate that idea. Certainly, we think we know a good movie when we see it, a good book when we read it, a good argument when we hear it, and a good idea when we have one, but we are not sure we have a handle on what a good society is. Even what we think we know about good books, movies, arguments, and ideas gives us pause. For we are not sure we can always explain why we think a particular movie is good or a book is bad. And even when we can explain it, we find that many people disagree with us about such matters. Indeed, we, at times, even disagree with each other. By this we do not mean to suggest any skepticism about there being such a thing as a good book, a good film, a good wine, a good car, or even a good person. If there is one thing we think we know in this world, it is that there are good persons-quite amazingly good actually. Nor do we mean to deny that there may be such a thing as a good society, though we are not so confident about this. A lot depends on what is meant by those words. Having said this, we will set our skepticism aside and now offer a conception of a good society; but we no more expect everyone to agree with this conception then we expect them to agree with one of us that "The Tao of Steve" was a really good movie.
69 Fordham L. Rev. 1603-1615 (2001)
Scholarly Commons Citation
Barnett, Randy E. and Rasmussen, Douglas B., "The Right to Liberty in a Good Society" (2001). Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works. Paper 40.