Are Principles Enough? Virtues in Public Policy

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  • Author(s):
  • Included in: Public Justice Review: A Manifesto; Vol. 8, Issue 2, 2018
  • Published: July 18, 2018
  • Publisher: Center for Public Justice

In my office, just to the left of my desk, I have an overflowing bookshelf marked “Christian public policy.” The titles are a revealing contrast to the shelf just to the right that drops the “Christian” modifier. Pluralism and Freedom. In Pursuit of Justice. The Challenge of Pluralism. Serving the Claims of Justice. Free to Serve. Godly Republic. Equal Treatment of Religion in a Pluralistic Society. The Religious Problem with Religious Freedom. The message from these book covers is easy to judge: Policy analysis is not merely a technical matter of cost-benefit calculation or translation of group preferences into laws and regulations. It is a type of moral inquiry, a deduction from first principles rooted in biblical teachings and/or theological tradition. Those principles – justice and pluralism are among the obvious favorites – precede policy; they are the major premises in arguments that conclude with a policy vision.



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