Volume 2, 2006
Social and Political Philosophy
State Morality Versus Individual Freedom
A Deweyan Solution
In the contemporary western, liberal, constitutional and secularized state, the need is felt for a cohesionconserving force. Human rights and citizenship, assets of Enlightenment and Revolution, prove to be individualizing powers that miss the communitarian inclination of former times. With the rise of violence, crime and other ways of breaking the law the state seems less able to fulfil its role as guardian of assets like freedom and security. The call for a strong state that interferes in people's behavior is often heard nowadays. Is there a way in which the state can promote a certain degree of moral substance without becoming paternalistic or even totalitarian? In this paper it is argued that the political philosophy of John Dewey might provide us with some tools to approach this problem in a refreshing way.