Monday, January 13, 2014

Timothy Sandefur Blogging At Volokh

On the notion of the Declaration of Independence and constitutional interpretation. Check it out here. Here is his book published by Cato.

A taste from his first Volokh post:
The American founders held that people are inherently free—that is, no person has a basic entitlement to dictate how other people may lead their lives. Although today it’s common for intellectuals to dismiss the notion of natural rights as mysticism or emotionalism, it is actually a sound philosophical position. People are “created equal” in the sense that they possess their own selves (and can’t give them up; hence “inalienability”). Given that initial position of individual freedom, there must be some good reason for limiting freedom.

6 comments:

Tom Van Dyke said...

Given that initial position of individual freedom, there must be some good reason for limiting freedom.

I like Tim Sandefur. I just realized that both Tim and I are ex-blogbrothers of Jason Kuznicki. The "ex" under stress.

I was tempted to jump into that Volokh fray, but it's a waste of time to climb the Tower of Babel.

What is missing here is the concept of community vs. radical individualism. Why the Puritans fled England. They wanted to live as a Puritan community. The discussion of "liberty" is improperly framed here.

This is key to our studies here. The Pilgrims did not hire the Mayflower just to come to america and disperse every which way as "individuals."

In the olden days, they unanimously used to say "liberty is not license," from Locke to GWash.

You can't screw on the sidewalk. Although with the perversions of the Constitution and 1st via the 14th Amendment, I expect that one to be declared unconstitutional any day now.

Lee said...

Yes TVD, Sandefur misses the communal aspect of the American regime. While what he says about the US Constitution and liberty is essentially accurate, he overlooks the role of the states in cultivating virtue among their citizens. Virtue, like religion (and perhaps the very public purpose of religion) was left to the states.

Lee said...

I think he also errs when he states that democracy is an instrumental end to the more fundamental end of freedom.

Liberty is just one of several ends listed in the preamble to the US Constitution. And I believe that state constitutions list "happiness" as the end or purpose of government, not freedom.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Exc points, Lee, esp

Liberty is just one of several ends listed in the preamble to the US Constitution.

which is home run!

Tom Van Dyke said...

This one's not bad either:

...he overlooks the role of the states in cultivating virtue among their citizens. Virtue, like religion (and perhaps the very public purpose of religion) was left to the states.


http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2539100/How-religion-cuts-crime-Attending-church-makes-likely-shoplift-drugs-download-music-illegally.html

I think that's the argument missing in the Naked Public Square debate--and in some of the Supreme Court "strict separation" decisions---that rather than a "neutral" matter, religion is a public good.

"In other words, our form of government has no sense unless it is founded in a deeply felt religious faith, and I don't care what it is."

---Ike, Address at the Freedoms Foundation, Waldorf-Astoria, New York City, New York, 12/22/52

Lee said...

The role of the states and the virtue of their citizens is also missing in most of the classic books on conservatism. Over the past two year, I've been reading some of the classics by Kirk, Buckley, Evans, Kendall, and Meyer. A debate has raged between the libertarian wing (who emphasize Liberty) and the traditionalists (who emphasize virtue). But it is always discussed in term of the federal government. I have yet to see any of these writers note that under our regime, it is the states that have the authority to attempt to cultivate virtue among the citizens through laws, schools, etc.