Moral­ity and rights

The Washington Times Weekly - - Culture, Etc. -

“Much as we might value both het­ero­gene­ity and so­cial cap­i­tal, as­sum­ing that the one will or should en­cour­age the other may be a form of wish­ful think­ing.

“That is be­cause moral­ity and rights arise from dif­fer­ent sources. [. . .] [M]oral­ity arises from sym­pa­thy among like-minded per­sons: first the fam­ily, then friends and col­leagues. Rights, on the other hand, grow from con­vic­tions about how we ought to man­age re­la­tions with peo­ple not like us, con­vic­tions that are nour­ished by ed­u­ca­tion, re­li­gion, and ex­pe­ri­ence.

“Peo­ple who cel­e­brate di­ver­sity (and its par­al­lel, mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism) are en­dors­ing only one part of what it means to be a com­plete hu­man be­ing, ne­glect­ing moral­ity (and its par­al­lel, group and na­tional pride). Just as we can­not be whole per­sons if we deny the fun­da­men­tal rights of oth­ers, so we can­not be whole per­sons if we live in ways that dis­cour­age de­cency, co­op­er­a­tion and char­ity.

“In ev­ery so­ci­ety, peo­ple must ar­range for trade­offs be­tween de­sir­able but mu­tu­ally in­con­sis­tent goals. [. . .] When it comes to the com­pet­ing val­ues of di­ver­sity and the for­ma­tion of so­cial cap­i­tal, as when it comes to other ar­range­ments in a democ­racy, bal­ance is all.”

— James Q. Wil­son, writ­ing on “Bowl­ing With Oth­ers,” in the Oc­to­ber is­sue of Com­men­tary

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