Monday, February 04, 2008

Goldberg and the Conservative View of Deliberation

A few years ago, Jonah Goldberg had an insight into the conservative view of moral and political deliberation. He included it in his recent book, to the delight of one of his readers:

I have to say though, that I think one of my favorite sentences in the whole book is when you say, "But what the conservative understands is that progress comes from working out inconsistencies within our tradition, not by throwing it away." That is the conservatism I love and I wish more people understood this basic principle.

Coherentism is a little-known view in normative ethics, best articulated on this blog and also in Alan H. Goldman's books on ethics. I don't believe Goldman, my dissertation advisor, ever saw his way clear to conservatism, but it is an intrinsically conservative position, as Goldberg apparently recognizes. I think that coherentism (I've also called it common-senseism) is the best moral theory. It is also the best theory of conservative deliberation over matters moral and political, an issue which is motivated by the questions, What distinguishes a reactionary from a conservative? and How can one be conservative and change one's moral or political opinion when reason requires it? Coherentism carries a lot of weight and does so quite successfully. So, I admired Goldberg's having reaching a similar conclusion, although he hasn't developed it in any detail or depth. That's the philosopher's job.

Here are posts which develop this moral philosophy of conservatism:

Here's one.
Here's a second.
Here's a third.
Here's a fourth.
Here's a fifth.
Here's a sixth.