wholly flourishing life
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an American politics of virtue
  authentic values

gary e. davis
October 6, 2020
Last month, Biden appealed to our sense of fairness and government’s duty of care when he spoke against confirming a replacement for Justice Ginsberg prior to the November election. He was speaking to those “who know deep down what is right for the country … not just what’s best for their party.” He appealed to the Senate, “please, follow your conscience.”

The basis for fairness is ultimately a scale of care that is also the basis for the derivative sense of duty of care, which is fundamental to law. Care grows up in lives whose conscience scales care to the degree that it authentically deserves.

Earlier I noted that Biden’s August DNC bonding of “love for America” with “love for each other” can be made sacred, born and based in potential of our humanity. That kind of theme is central to philosopher Martha Nussbaum’s exploration of “why love matters for justice,” ch. 11 of Political Emotions, 2013: “…‘Love is what gives respect for humanity its life,’ Nussbaum writes” (quoting the publisher’s description): “…public emotions rooted in love--in intense attachments to things outside our control--can foster commitment to shared goals and keep at bay the forces of disgust and envy.”

More abstractly, we can deeply understand the point of authentic values as life oriental, gaining normative stature for one’s ownmost flourishing.

We’re free to insist that the terms of flourishing—importance, non-monetary worth, normative stature—deserve large horizon.

five integral values: for authentic life, for genuine society

In private life, you can’t care about others any better than you care for yourself.
But you can’t care for yourself alone. You’re dependent on the ecology that supports you, resources you, and provides opportunity.

Humanitarian care can’t be any better than Our care to advance good society.


A healthy society, like a healthy life, at times faces ill health, too. Healthy life isn’t without some ill health. Not facing that shows an unhealthy life. Likewise, not facing social ills shows an unhealthy society.


Insisting on fair access to support, resources, and opportunity—distributive fairness—is a human right, warranted by one’s intrinsic potential for flourishing (which requires thriving, i.e., healthy life).

Having that right heard is part of a healthy society. Having rights fairly addressed rightfully challenges government to adequately serve social progress toward better quality of lives.

During the DNC, Barack noted that our struggling, oppressed ancestors “joined together and said somehow, some way, we are going to make this work. We are going to bring those words, in our founding documents, to life.”

Michelle Obama: “That’s the story of America. All those folks who sacrificed and overcame so much in their own times because they wanted something more, something better for their kids….There’s a lot of beauty in that story. There’s a lot of pain in it, too.”


Michelle Obama at the DNC: “Look, we have already sacrificed so much this year. So many of you are already going that extra mile. Even when you’re exhausted, you’re mustering up unimaginable courage to put on those scrubs and give our loved ones a fighting chance. Even when you’re anxious, you’re delivering those packages, stocking those shelves, and doing all that essential work so that all of us can keep moving forward. Even when it all feels so overwhelming, working parents are somehow piecing it all together without child care. Teachers are getting creative so that our kids can still learn and grow. Our young people are desperately fighting to pursue their dreams.”


American society has no limit to indicting itself and others with charges of carelessness and unfaced ill health. That is healthy: being realistic.

People who chronically ignore the risks to their health and the duality of caring (self <—> other) suffer consequences for which they’re responsible—to themselves and
to others. Inasmuch as such ignore-ance causes harm, the ignorant are accountable for remedy—for their own life and for the others who’ve been harmed—which also pertains to social authorities and accountable governing.

American society shows no limit to requiring others to be accountable. The obvious prevalence of identified unaccountability is proof of freedom to require account-ability. That’s healthy.  


next—> sanctity of principled institutions



  Be fair. © 2020, g. e. davis