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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Quote by James Madison - Happy Wednesday!

"If individuals be not influenced by moral principles; it is in vain to look for public virtue; it is, therefore, the duty of legislators to enforce, both by precept and example, the utility, as well as the necessity of a strict adherence to the rules of distributive justice."

--James Madison, response to Washington's first Inaugural address, 1789

8 comments:

Local MLIS student said...

I think you need to go re-read your Rawls and Walzer, as your intentions do not fit at all with the precepts of distributive justice.

(of course, I'm confident you haven't read any political philosophy at all, but that's a whole separate issue)

West Bend Citizen Advocate said...

Student,

What intentions? Which precepts? I simply like the quote.

Local MLIS student said...

Do you merely like the way the words sound as the roll of the tongue, or do you like what it "means"? Assuming you mean the latter, I'd suggest you go learn about distributive justice, because your claims that you represent "community standards" and "common sense" regarding your attempts to control access to materials at the public library fly in the face of everything Madison is trying to say in this quotation.

West Bend Citizen Advocate said...

MLIS:

Let's try rewording it a little, just for fun. Really!

"If people aren't driven by moral standards, why bother to to find morality out in the public realm? Since we ARE a people driven my morality, legislators should make it their goal in life, both by what they know is morally right and because of righteousness, itself, to apply moral standards to existing law."

Maybe not the greatest, but it was kind of enjoyable to play with it!

Your turn!

gothamnights said...

"Question with boldness even the existence of God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear." - Thomas Jefferson

"Religions are all alike - founded upon fables and mythologies." - Thomas Jefferson

"History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government." - Thomas Jefferson

"In no instance have . . . the churches been guardians of the liberties of the people." - James Madison

" The divinity of Jesus is made a convenient cover for absurdity." - John Adams

"Lighthouses are more helpful than churches." - Benjamin Franklin

"...the number, the industry, and the morality of the priesthood, and the devotion of the people, have been manifestly increased by the total separation of the church from the State - James Madison

"Every new and successful example, therefore, of a perfect separation between the ecclesiastical and civil matters, is of importance; and I have no doubt that every new example will succeed, as every past one has done, in showing that religion and Government will both exist in greater purity the less they are mixed together" - James Madison

West Bend Citizen Advocate said...

"We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion . . . Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." John Adams

Benjamin Rush, Signer of the Declaration of Independence said. "[T]he only foundation for a useful education in a republic is to be aid in religion. Without this there can be no virtue, and without virtue there can be no liberty, and liberty is the object and life of all republican governments. Without religion, I believe that learning does real mischief to the morals and principles of mankind."

Noah Webster, author of the first American Speller and the first Dictionary said, "[T]he Christian religion, in its purity, is the basis, or rather the source of all genuine freedom in government. . . . and I am persuaded that no civil government of a republican form can exist and be durable in which the principles of that religion have not a controlling influence."

Gouverneur Morris, Penman and Signer of the Constitution. "[F]or avoiding the extremes of despotism or anarchy . . . the only ground of hope must be on the morals of the people. I believe that religion is the only solid base of morals and that morals are the only possible support of free governments. [T]herefore education should teach the precepts of religion and the duties of man towards God."

James Wilson, Signer of the Constitution; U. S. Supreme Court Justice, "Human law must rest its authority ultimately upon the authority of that law which is divine. . . . Far from being rivals or enemies, religion and law are twin sisters, friends, and mutual assistants. Indeed, these two sciences run into each other."

Benjamin Franklin, Signer of the Declaration of Independence "[O]nly a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters."

"Whereas true religion and good morals are the only solid foundations of public liberty and happiness . . . it is hereby earnestly recommended to the several States to take the most effectual measures for the encouragement thereof." Continental Congress, 1778

"I never ... believed there was one code of morality for a public and another for a private man."
Thomas Jefferson, In a letter to Don Valentine de Feronda, 1809

"Without morals a republic cannot subsist any length of time; they therefore who are decrying the Christian religion, whose morality is so sublime and pure (and) which insures to the good eternal happiness, are undermining the solid foundation of morals, the best security for the duration of free governments."
Charles Carroll, signer of the Declaration of Independence

"Bad men cannot make good citizens. A vitiated state of morals, a corrupted public conscience are incompatible with freedom."
Patrick Henry

gothamnights said...

Your quotes on 'virtous men' being necessary for good governance ignore the fact that virtue can, and often does, exist outside of X-tianity. As I said elsewhere, Christian does NOT equal Christlike, and the morals/virtues that make for good governance also exist in humanism. Your quotes would assume that morality necessitates a Christian background, or a religious one, which is a false assumption. The Founding Fathers (not all, but several of the ones you quoted) were not Xtian.

Scott Hanley said...

You can read the entire "Reply" here. It's really a reply on behalf of the entire Senate, not necessarily reflecting the opinions of Madison (who tended to take the view that anyone who was counting on his politicians to be virtuous was already in deep trouble).

If you read the whole thing, you'll see that what the Senators were doing was just promising that they would put aside local interests and work for the benefit of the Union; there's nothing there about religious morality at all.