The libertarian view of the state’s proper role is that it should protect rights but not legislate or enforce morality, particularly when it comes to victimless crimes. Robert George counters that in Making Men Moral. Morals legislation, George argues, is crucial in establishing the moral environment necessary for citizens to lead good and virtuous lives. He spends much of the book critiquing several liberal philosophers in the non-perfectionist tradition, a strain of thought that, like libertarianism, holds that it isn’t proper for the state to force a particular conception of morality (beyond the morality of respecting rights) upon its citizens. From George’s perspective, it is very much the state’s role to morally perfect its subjects. This view ought to deeply concern libertarians—but it isn’t one they can safely ignore.
Making Men Moral: Civil Liberties and Public Morality
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