Transcript: Roger Scruton | Jan 06, 2007

[Theme music plays]

The opening sequence rolls. The logo of "Big Ideas" featuring a lit lamp bulb appears against an animated green slate.
Then, Andrew Moodie appears in the studio. The walls are decorated with screens featuring lit lamp bulbs, and two signs read "Big Ideas."
Andrew is in his early forties, clean-shaven, with short curly black hair. He's wearing a brown coat over a black shirt.

He says HELLO!
THIS IS
BIG IDEAS
AND I'M
ANDREW MOODIE.
EVERY ERA HAS ITS HOT-BUTTON
ISSUES.
THEIR USEFULNESS LIES IN
CREATING DEBATES WHICH POINT TO
IDEOLOGICAL FAULT LINES THAT
SHAPE OUR POLITICAL LANDSCAPE.
NOW, THE TRADITIONAL FAULT LINE
IS THE ONE DIVIDING THOSE WHO
BELIEVE THAT THE WORLD TO COME
WILL BE BETTER THAN WHAT EXISTS,
OR WHAT WAS IN THE PAST, AND ON
THE OTHER SIDE ARE THOSE WHO
FEEL STRONGLY THAT CHANGES TEND
TO UNDERMINE THE SOLIDITY OF
TRADITIONAL SOCIAL ARRANGEMENTS.
ROGER SCRUTON REPRESENTS THE
LATTER.
HE HAS THE TRADITIONAL TORY
BRAND OF CONSERVATISM WHOSE
GENERAL STANCE HE MOST
SUCCINCTLY EXPRESSED IN THIS
QUOTE...
"THE SINGLE-MINDED PURSUIT OF
COMPETITIVE MARKETS IS JUST AS
MUCH A THREAT TO SOCIAL ORDER AS
THE SINGLE-MINDED PURSUIT OF
EQUALITY."
SCRUTON DOES MANY THINGS.
MOST TELLINGLY, HE IS A
PHILOSOPHER WHO COMPOSES OPERAS.
HIS LATEST BOOK IS CALLED
ARGUMENTS FOR CONSERVATISM
AND HIS LATEST OPERA IS CALLED
VIOLET.
THE TALK WE ARE ABOUT TO PRESENT
WAS TAPED RECENTLY AT A
SYMPOSIUM IN OTTAWA ORGANIZED BY
THE CENTRE FOR CULTURAL RENEWAL.
THE TITLE OF ROGER SCRUTON'S
TALK IS "HARMING ONESELF AND
HARMING OTHERS: WHAT SHOULD THE LAW FORBID?"

A clip plays, in which says Roger Scruton stands behind a wooden lectern and addresses a small audience. A banner behind him reads "Centre for cultural renewal."
Roger is in his late fifties, clean-shaven, with short tousled blond hair. He's wearing a beige suit, checkered blue shirt, and brown tie.

He says WE IN WESTERN
DEMOCRACIES PRIDE OURSELVES ON
OUR LIBERAL TRADITIONS.
OUR LEGAL SYSTEMS, WE SAY, ARE
LIBERAL IN THE TRUE SENSE OF THE
WORD, WHICH IS THAT THEY PERMIT
EVERYTHING EXCEPT THAT WHICH
THEY EXPRESSLY FORBID.
AND THEY FORBID ONLY THOSE
THINGS THAT THREATEN A FREE
SOCIETY.
OUR PHILOSOPHERS HAVE GONE
FURTHER...
LOCKE, MILL, HART...
ALL HAVE EMPHASIZED THE LIBERAL
AXIOM, THAT THE PURPOSE IS LAW
IS NOT TO CURTAIL LIBERTY BUT TO
ENHANCE IT.
IF WE FORBID SOME THINGS, IT'S
BECAUSE THOSE THINGS ARE A
THREAT TO THE LIBERAL ORDER.
IN OTHER WORDS, BECAUSE THEY
BELONG NOT TO LIBERTY BUT TO
LICENCE, A DISTINCTION MADE TO
GREAT RHETORICAL EFFECT BY LOCKE.
A LIBERAL STATE IS ONE THAT
OFFERS THE SAME FREEDOMS TO EACH
OF ITS CITIZENS, AND WHICH
ATTEMPTS TO ENLARGE THOSE
FREEDOMS TO THE GREATEST EXTENT
COMPATIBLE WITH ACCORDING EQUAL
FREEDOMS TO ALL.
IT MAY FORBID THOSE ACTS WHICH
ENCROACH ON THE FREEDOMS OF THE
CITIZEN BUT NOT THOSE WHICH
LEAVE HIS FREEDOMS UNDIMINISHED
AND HIS PERSON UNHARMED.
I DOUBT THAT THERE'S ANYONE IN
THIS ROOM WHO DOESN'T FEEL
SYMPATHY FOR THOSE THOUGHTS, OR
WHO DOUBTS THEIR EXTREME
IMPORTANCE TODAY WHEN SO MANY OF
OUR TRADITIONAL LIBERTIES SEEM
TO BE UNDER THREAT EITHER FROM
THE INCREASING ROLE OF THE STATE
IN REGULATING AND LIMITING OUR
CONDUCT, OR FROM THE ISLAMIC
MILITANTS WHO BELIEVE THAT LAW
EXISTS NOT TO PERMIT THINGS BUT
TO FORBID THEM.
LAW FOR THE ISLAMIST IS NOT A
HUMAN INVENTION BUT A COMMAND OF
GOD, AND THE IDEA THAT GOD IS
INTERESTED IN OUR FREEDOM RATHER
THAN OUR OBEDIENCE TO BE LITTLE
SHORT OF BLASPHEMY.
FORTUNATELY, WE DO NOT YET TO
ADMIT THE SHARIA AS A GROUND OF
LEGAL ORDER, AND WE ARE
BEGINNING IN A SLUMBERING WAY TO
TAKE NOTE OF THE GROWING
DETERMINATION AMONG ISLAMIST
MILITANTS TO EXTINGUISH FREEDOM
OF SPEECH AND CONSCIENCE
WHEREVER THEY CAN.
HOWEVER, THE BATTLE HAS ONLY
JUST BEGUN AND IF WE HAD TO WAKE
UP FULLY AND FIGHT IT
SUCCESSFULLY, IT IS VITAL THAT
WE BECOME CONSCIOUS OF THE
NATURE AND EXTENT OF THE
LIBERTIES ENSHRINED IN OUR LAW.
MILL, JOHN STUART MILL, LAID
DOWN A PRINCIPLE WHICH IS
INVARIABLY MENTIONED IN
DISCUSSING THE LIMITS OF FREEDOM.

A caption appears on screen. It reads "Roger Scruton. Visiting Professor of Philosophy, Princeton University. Centre for Cultural Renewal, Ottawa. November 23, 2006."

Roger continues "THE ONLY
PURPOSE FOR WHICH POWER CAN BE
RIGHTFULLY EXERCISED OVER ANY
MEMBER OF A CIVILIZED COMMUNITY
AGAINST ITS WILL," HE WROTE,
"IS TO PREVENT HARM TO OTHERS."
BY POWER, MILL MEANT BOTH THE
COERCION EXERTED BY THE LAW AND
THE POWER EXERTED IN OTHER WAYS
BY OSTRACISM, INTIMIDATION, OR
SIMILAR SOCIAL PRESSURES.
"IN A LIBERAL
SOCIETY," HE ARGUED, "WE ARE ALL
GENUS PROTECTORS OF EACH OTHER'S
LIBERTIES.
IF PEOPLE DO THINGS OF WHICH WE
DISAPPROVE, THE CONSEQUENCES OF
WHICH FALL ONLY ON THEMSELVES,
THEN WE BELIEVE THAT WE MAY
EXPRESS OUR DISAPPROVAL IN
PEACEFUL WAYS BUT NOT IN WAYS
THAT AMOUNT TO COERCION."
MILL'S PRINCIPLE WAS EXTREMELY
INFLUENTIAL DURING THE SEXUAL
REVOLUTION OF THE 60s AND 70s,
LEADING TO CHANGES IN THE LAW
GOVERNING SEXUAL RELATIONS.
HENCEFORTH, MOST THINGS DONE
BETWEEN CONSENTING ADULTS IN
PRIVATE WERE TO BE PROTECTED ON
THE ASSUMPTION THAT WHATEVER
HARM PEOPLE DO IN SUCH
CIRCUMSTANCES IS TOO REMOTE FOR
THE LAW TO BE CONCERNED WITH IT.
THE LIBERAL ARGUMENT TENDS TO
TAKE THE FOLLOWING FORM...
YOU MAY DISAPPROVE OF
HOMOSEXUALITY, ADULTERY, ORGIES,
OR WHATEVER, BUT IF THESE THINGS
ARE FREELY ENGAGED IN AND
INFLICT NO HARM ON OTHERS, THEN
THERE IS NO REASON FOR THE LAW
TO PREVENT THEM.
IF THE ONLY FREEDOMS PERMITTED
WERE THOSE ENDORSED BY SOME
PRIOR MORAL CODE, THEN A
SUPPOSEDLY LIBERAL SOCIETY WILL
BE NO DIFFERENT FROM ONE
OPPRESSED BY A THEOCRACY OF
PURITANS.
ONLY IF WE PRISE LAW AND
MORALITY APART SO AS TO GRANT
LEGAL PERMISSION TO WHAT IS,
THOUGH HARMLESS TO OTHERS,
MORALLY DISAPPROVED, DO WE HAVE
A SOCIETY IN WHICH FREE CHOICE,
FREEDOM OF CONSCIENCE, AND
FREEDOM OF LIFESTYLE ARE
GENUINELY GUARANTEED?
THE ARGUMENT IS USUALLY TAKEN A
STEP FURTHER.
ANY LEGISLATION DESIGNED TO
SUPPRESS SOME ACTION, IT IS
SAID, MUST BE JUSTIFIED IN
TERMS OF THE HARM WHICH THAT
ACTION CAUSES.
THE INVOCATION OF MORALITY IS
PRIMA FACIE ILLEGITIMATE UNLESS
IT CAN BE BACKED UP BY SOME
GENUINE PROOF OF HARM.
THE LAW SHOULD THEREFORE BE
FREED FROM ANY SPECIFIC MORAL
CODE, INCLUDING THE CODE THAT
EXPRESSES THE SOCIAL CONSENSUS
OF THE DAY.
SOCIETY MAY DISAPPROVE OF
HOMOSEXUALITY, FOR EXAMPLE, BUT
THIS DISAPPROVAL IS NOT AN
ARGUMENT FOR PUNISHING
HOMOSEXUALITY AS A CRIME.
WHAT IS NEEDED IS SOME PROOF
THAT HOMOSEXUAL ACTS FREELY
ENGAGED IN HARM OTHERS WHO ARE
NOT PARTY TO THEM, AND NO SUCH
PROOF IS FORTHCOMING.
NOW IT'S EASY TO FEEL SYMPATHY
FOR THAT ARGUMENT AND I DON'T
PROPOSE TO REJECT IT.
HOWEVER, I WANT TO REFLECT ON
TWO GREAT WEAKNESSES IN IT.
THE FIRST IS THAT IT DEPENDS
UPON A CONCEPT, THAT OF HARM,
WHICH IT DOESN'T DEFINE.
THE SECOND IS THAT THOSE WHO
HAVE USED THE ARGUMENT TO
ADVANCE THEIR SOCIAL AND LEGAL
AGENDA DON'T ACTUALLY BELIEVE
IT.
THE REAL EFFECT OF THE ARGUMENT
HAS NOT BEEN TO SEPARATE THE LAW
FROM SOCIAL MORALITY BUT TO
REMORALIZE THE LAW IN ANOTHER
UNLIBERAL DIRECTION.
FIRST, LET ME SAY A FEW THINGS
ABOUT HARM.
PEOPLE ARE HARMED IN MANY WAYS...
PHYSICALLY, MENTALLY,
SPIRITUALLY.
WE HAVE A CLEAR CONCEPTION OF
PHYSICAL HARM AND THE DELIBERATE
INFLICTION OF PHYSICAL INJURY
HAS ALWAYS BEEN REGARDED AS A
CRIME.
BUT WHAT ABOUT MENTAL AND
SPIRITUAL HARM?
THESE ARE JUST AS REAL, JUST AS
DEVASTATING AND, IN SOME CASES,
JUST AS EASY TO PREVENT.
BUT HOW FAR DO THEY EXTEND?
AND TO WHAT EXTENT SHOULD THE
LAW TAKE NOTE OF THEM?
CONSIDER THE FOLLOWING CASE...
A WOMAN HAS A CHILD BY A MAN WHO
LEAVES HER.
SHE TAKES A LOVER, WHO MOVES IN
WITH HER AND WHO RESENTS THE
PRESENCE OF THE CHILD.
HE TREATS THE CHILD BADLY,
THOUGH WITHOUT PHYSICALLY
ABUSING HIM.
THE MOTHER BECOMES NEGLECTFUL OF
THE CHILD AND ALSO RESENTFUL OF
HIM AS AN OBSTACLE TO CEMENTING
HER NEW RELATIONSHIP.
SUCH A CHILD IS SERIOUSLY HARMED
BY THE SITUATION, IN WHICH HE IS
NOW CONDEMNED TO LIVE, AND HE IS
HARMED BY THE ADULTS INVOLVED.
BUT THE HARM IS MENTAL HARM, NOT
PHYSICAL.
OF COURSE, WE KNOW THAT WE
CANNOT PREVENT THIS KIND OF HARM
TO CHILDREN WITHOUT MASSIVELY
INTERFERING IN THE FREEDOMS OF
ADULTS, IN PARTICULAR THE
FREEDOM TO CONDUCT THEIR
REPRODUCTIVE LIFE ACCORDING TO
THEIR OWN DECISIONS.
HENCE, LIBERAL JURISDICTIONS ON
THE WHOLE TOLERATE THE HARM
INFLICTED ON CHILDREN BY THIS
KIND OF SEXUAL FREEDOM.
BUT THAT IS IN PART BECAUSE THEY
ARE ANIMATED BY A NEW MORALITY...
THE MORALITY OF THE CONSENTING
ADULT, WHICH LEAVES CHILDREN OUT
OF ACCOUNT.
THAT THIS MORALITY EXISTS AND IS
ENDORSED BY MANY OF OUR
LAWMAKERS TODAY IS SURELY
EVIDENT.
FOR THE MOST PART, THE
LIBERALIZATION OF THE LAWS
GOVERNING SEXUAL CONDUCT HAS
BEEN PROMOTED BY PEOPLE WITH
LITTLE ATTACHMENT TO THE OLD
MORALITY, ACCORDING TO WHICH
HETEROSEXUAL MARRIAGE AND THE
FAMILY ARE THE PRIVILEGE AND
UNIQUE ILLEGITIMATE EXPRESSIONS
OF SEXUAL DESIRE.
LIBERAL MOVES TO REFORM THE LAW
WERE MOTIVATED BY A SENSE THAT
THERE IS, IN FACT, NOTHING WRONG
WITH THE SEXUAL FREEDOMS WHICH
WE WITNESS IN OUR SOCIETIES
TODAY.
THE REFORM OF THE LAW WAS NOT
DESIGNED TO FREE THE LAW FROM
ALL MORAL CODES BUT TO FREE IT
FROM THE OLD CODE ON THE
ASSUMPTION THAT CONSENSUAL SEX
HOWEVER RECREATIONAL IN
INTENTION, IS NO LONGER MORALLY
FORBIDDEN.
SEX BECOMES A PLEASURE LIKE ANY
OTHER TO BE OFFERED AND ACCEPTED
FREELY, AND WITH NO MORAL
CONSTRAINT OTHER THAN THAT
CONTAINED IN A FREELY CHOSEN
CONTRACT.
SEXUAL MORALITY BECOMES A
SPECIAL CASE OF THE MORALITY OF
CONTRACT, WHOSE RULING PRINCIPLE
IS THAT WE SHOULD HONOUR OUR
AGREEMENTS, WHATEVER THEY ARE.
NOW THERE ARE HUMAN BEINGS WHO
ARE AFFECTED BY OUR SEXUAL
ARRANGEMENTS OTHER THAN THOSE
WHO VOLUNTARILY TAKE PART IN
THEM.
THE PRINCIPAL OF SUCH HUMAN
BEINGS ARE CHILDREN, AND
ESPECIALLY THOSE PRODUCED BY OUR
SEXUAL UNIONS.
THE OLD MORALITY WAS BASED ON
THE ASSUMPTION THAT CHILDREN ARE
BOTH NECESSARY AND VULNERABLE,
AND THAT THEY CAN BE HARMED IN
MANY WAYS, NOT LEAST BY THE
EASYGOING RELATIONSHIPS OF THEIR
PARENTS.
EVEN ON MILL'S CRITERIA, AND
THEREFORE, IT COULD BE THAT THE
OLD MORALITY HAD A CLAIM TO BE
ENSHRINED IN LAW.
BUT THE EASE WITH WHICH OUR
LEGISLATORS HAVE DISMISSED THAT
ARGUMENT, IGNORING THE
OVERWHELMING SOCIOLOGICAL
EVIDENCE THAT CHILDREN REALLY
ARE DAMAGED IN A SOCIETY THAT NO
LONGER PRIVILEGES HETEROSEXUAL
MARRIAGE AND THE COMMITTED
FAMILY, SUGGESTS THAT MILL'S
HARM CRITERION CARRIES LESS
WEIGHT WITH THEM THAN THAT
EXERTED BY THEIR OWN LIBERTARIAN
MORALITY.
IN PROOF OF THIS, IT IS
INTERESTING TO TURN TO OTHER
AREAS OF SOCIAL POLICY, WHERE
THE NEW MORALITY OF A LIBERAL
ELITE IS IN CONFLICT WITH THE
CUSTOMS AND PASTIMES OF ORDINARY
OLD-FASHIONED PEOPLE, AND I'LL
TAKE AN EXAMPLE FROM MY COUNTRY.
WHEN THE LABOUR PARTY TOOK
OFFICE IN 1996, THE HOUSE OF
COMMONS WAS CERTAINLY FILLED
WITH PEOPLE ANIMATED BY
FASHIONABLE LEFT-LIBERAL CAUSES,
MANY OF THEM CONCERNING ANIMALS
AND THEIR SUPPOSED RIGHTS; BUT
MANY ALSO CONCERNING THE
EXTENSION OF THE PERMISSIVE
AGENDA IN MATTERS OF SEX.
DURING THE NEXT DECADE, WE SAW
THE AGE OF CONSENT FOR
HOMOSEXUAL INTERCOURSE LOWERED
FROM 18 TO 16; LEGISLATION TO
PERMIT THE TEACHING OF
HOMOSEXUALITY AS AN OPTION IN
SCHOOLS; AND LEGISLATION
INTRODUCING CIVIL UNIONS IN
QUASI-MARITAL RIGHTS BETWEEN
HOMOSEXUAL PARTNERS.
ALL THIS WAS SUPPORTED WITH THE
ARGUMENTS OF THE KIND ADVANCED
BY MILL TO THE EFFECT THAT YOU
MAY THINK IT IMMORAL, BUT IF YOU
CANNOT PROVE THAT IT HARMS
ANYONE, YOU CANNOT FORBID IT.
AND NO ATTEMPT WAS MADE TO
INVESTIGATE WHETHER THE REFORMS
OPPOSED MIGHT LEAD TO
RECOGNIZABLE HARM.
AT THE SAME TIME, HOWEVER, WHEN
IT CAME TO ANIMALS, OUR
LEGISLATORS TOOK QUITE THE
OPPOSITE VIEW.
ONE OF THEIR NUMBER INTRODUCED A
PRIVATE MEMBER'S BILL TO BAN
FUR-FARMING, WHICH WAS
SUBSEQUENTLY CONVERTED INTO
GOVERNMENT POLICY.
THE ARGUMENTS GIVEN FOR THE BILL
CAREFULLY AVOIDED ALL MENTION OF
LIBERTY, RIGHTS, AND HARM.
THOSE CONCEPTS BELONG, AFTER
ALL, TO THE OPPOSITION, WHICH
COULD REASONABLY CLAIM THE
LIBERTIES OF FUR FARMERS WERE
BEING CURTAILED WITH NO PROOF OF
HARM TO OTHER PEOPLE AND,
INCIDENTALLY, NO PROOF OF HARM
TO THE ANIMALS EITHER.
THE ARGUMENTS GIVEN FOR THE BILL
HINGED ON SOMETHING CALLED
PUBLIC MORALITY.
BY THIS WAS MEANT THE ASPECT OF
MORALITY WITH WHICH THE LAW
RIGHTLY CONCERNS ITSELF WITH A
VIEW TO IMPROVING THE OBSERVABLE
CONDUCT OF THE NATION.
TO REAR ANIMALS FOR THEIR SKINS,
WHEN THESE WERE TO BE USED
ENTIRELY FOR THE PRODUCTION OF
LUXURIES, WAS REGARDED AS SO
OFFENSIVE TO PUBLIC MORALITY
THAT IT WAS WELL WITHIN THE
REMIT OF A DEMOCRATIC STATE TO
PASS A LAW FORBIDDING IT.
IT GOES WITHOUT SAYING THAT THIS
ARGUMENT REVERSES AT A STROKE
THE JURISPRUDENTIAL FOUNDATIONS
OF LEGAL REFORMS CONCERNING
SEXUAL OFFENCES.
WHEN PROFESSOR HART AND LORD
DEVLIN ARGUED OVER THE
ENFORCEMENT OF MORALS IN THE
60s, IT WAS LORD DEVLIN'S
CONTENTION THAT THE LAW HAD
EVERY RIGHT TO UPHOLD THE MORAL
CONSENSUS IN THE FACE OF LIBERAL
REFORMS, WHICH WOULD OTHERWISE
PERMIT ACTS REGARDED AS DEEPLY
OFFENSIVE BY THE MAJORITY.
THIS ARGUMENT WAS DISMISSED BY
OUR LEGISLATORS AS BOTH
OPPRESSIVE AND QUAINT.
FACED WITH THE OPPORTUNITY TO
IMPOSE THEIR MORALITY ON THE
NATION, HOWEVER, OUR LEGISLATORS
TOOK EXACTLY THE SAME LINE...
WITH ONE NOTABLE DIFFERENCE,
NAMELY, THAT THE PUBLIC MORALITY
WHICH THEY CHOSE TO ENFORCE WAS
NOT THAT OF A MAJORITY BUT THAT
OF A MINORITY OF
BIEN PENSANT
PURITANS WHO, DESPITE THEIR
HABIT OF WEARING LEATHER SHOES
AND WOOLLEN CARDIGANS, CANNOT
BEAR THE SIGHT OF A VENUS IN
FURS.
THE ARGUMENT FROM PUBLIC
MORALITY, IN OTHER WORDS, IS
BEING USED TO FORBID WHAT IS
DISAPPROVED OF, AND THAT FROM
LIBERTY TO PERMIT WHAT IS
DESIRED.
THERE IS NEITHER CONSISTENCY
HERE NOR PRINCIPLE BUT SIMPLY
OPPORTUNISM.
AND I THINK WE CAN ALL OF US
THINK OF MANY OTHER CASES THAT
HAVE COME UP RECENTLY OF THIS
KIND, AND SERIOUS ASSAULTS ON
OLD-FASHIONED ASSUMPTIONS IN THE
NAME OF LIBERTY AND IMPOSITIONS
OF NEWFANGLED MORALITY IN THE
NAME OF SOCIAL MORALITY OR
PUBLIC ORDER.
FOR INSTANCE, AT A TIME WHEN
LEFT-LEANING INTELLECTUALS
ROUTINELY DENIED THE TRUTH ABOUT
COMMUNISM AND GLAMORIZED THOSE
INVOLVED IN IMPOSING IT, THE
DENIAL OF THE HOLOCAUST HAS
BECOME A CRIMINAL OFFENCE IN
MANY EUROPEAN COUNTRIES.
IN FRANCE, IT IS EVEN A CRIME TO
DENY THE ARMENIAN GENOCIDE, A
RECKLESS PIECE OF LEGISLATION
PASSED BY PEOPLE WHO ARE IN NO
WAY QUALIFIED TO DISCUSS THE
HISTORY OF THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE.
NOW I DON'T SAY THAT ALL THOSE
SUCH DECISIONS ARE WRONG,
OR THAT THEY ARE NOT STRONG
ARGUMENTS IN FAVOUR OF THE
RESTRICTIONS OF FREEDOM THAT OUR
NEW ESTABLISHMENTS WISH TO
IMPOSE.
I SAY ONLY THAT IS NOT FREEDOM
THAT MOVES THEIR AGENDA BUT
MORALITY, AND THAT THE NEW
ESTABLISHMENT IS AS KEEN TO
POLICE THE PRIVATE CONDUCT OF
THOSE WHO DON'T BELONG TO IT AS
THE OLD CONSERVATIVIST
ESTABLISHMENT AGAINST WHICH IT
ORIGINALLY REBELLED.
IF THAT IS SO,
HOWEVER, IT RAISES THE QUESTION
OF WHICH MORALITY WE SHOULD
UPHOLD, WHETHER WE SHOULD USE
THE LAW TO UPHOLD IT, AND IF
SO, HOW?
AND THOSE OTHER QUESTIONS I WISH
TO CONSIDER IN THE REMAINDER OF
THIS TALK.
CASES LIKE THE
NOW FAMOUS SWINGER'S CASE IN
MONTREAL REMIND US VIVIDLY THAT
THE OLD NORMS OF DECENCY AND
RESTRAINT WHICH CONTROLLED THE
PRIVATE AND SEMI-PRIVATE DISPLAY
OF SEXUAL APPETITE CAN EASILY BE
BREACHED IN THE NAME OF FREEDOM,
AND THAT WHEN THEY ARE BREACHED,
THE CONSEQUENCES ARE FELT NOT
MERELY BY THOSE WHO WISH TO
ENJOY THE NEW FREEDOMS BUT ALSO
BY THOSE WHO ARE DISTRESSED AT
THE THOUGHT THAT THINGS HAVE
COME TO SUCH A PASS.
WHO IS RIGHT AND HOW WOULD WE
KNOW?
LET US RETURN FOR A MOMENT TO
MILL'S HARM PRINCIPLE.
NOW I WANT TO JUST CONSIDER THE
CASE OF PORNOGRAPHY IN RELATION
TO THIS.
THE LIBERAL DEFENCE OF
PORNOGRAPHY IS USUALLY FRAMED IN
MILL'S TERMS.
"WHATEVER HARM MIGHT RESULT IS
SUFFERED ONLY BY THOSE WHO
FREELY UNDERTAKE THE RISK OF IT
AND NOT INFLICTED ON THIRD
PARTIES."
HOWEVER, I THINK A MOMENT'S
REFLECTION REVEALS THAT IT IS
NOT SO.
PORNOGRAPHY, ONCE PERMITTED,
REACHES OUT TO CLAIM NEW
RECRUITS.
IT IS SERIOUSLY ADDICTIVE; MORE
ADDICTIVE THAN ALCOHOL AND
POSSIBLY MORE ADDICTIVE THAN
COCAINE.
AND THE DAMAGE THAT IT DOES IS
LIKE THE DAMAGE DONE BY HARD
DRUGS.
IT ERODES AN IMPORTANT SEGMENT
OF THE MORAL SENSE BY REPLACING
OTHER-DIRECTED EROTIC SENTIMENT
WITH VICARIOUS AND SELF-DIRECTED
FANTASY.
THERE IS REASON TO THINK THAT
IT SO SEPARATES THE SEXUAL URGE
FROM ANY MATURE ADULT COMMITMENT
AS TO UNFIT THE ADDICT FOR REAL
SEXUAL RELATIONS.
THIS IS NOT A HARM TO HIMSELF
ONLY; IT IS A HARM TO OTHERS,
INCLUDING THOSE OTHERS WHO SEEK
TO JOIN WITH HIM IN RELATIONS OF
COMMITMENT AND LOVE.
NOW MILL'S HARM CRITERION WAS
DESIGNED CRITERION WAS DESIGNED
TO REINFORCE THE DISTINCTION
BETWEEN THREATS TO CIVIL PEACE
ON THE ONE HAND AND THE MORAL
MISTAKES AND PRIVATE
DERELICTIONS THAT WE ALL ENGAGE
IN THAT POSE NO THREAT AGAINST
WHICH OTHERS WOULD FEEL BOUND TO
DEFEND THEMSELVES AND WHICH
WOULD, THEREFORE, PROVOKE A
DISTURBANCE ONLY AMONG PEOPLE
WHOSE MORAL ANTENNA HAS SOMEHOW
OVERREACHED BOUNDARIES OF THEIR
OWN PHYSICAL SAFETY.
BUT OF COURSE THE NEAT
SEPARATION WHICH MILL WAS AIMING
AT CANNOT BE ACHIEVED.
IT IS TRUE THAT THE CRIMINAL LAW
IS CONCERNED PRIMARILY TO FORBID
SHORT-TERM THREATS TO CIVIL
PEACE ARISING FROM OUR NATURAL
ABILITY TO TAKE ARMS IN OUR OWN
DEFENCE.
IT ALSO HAS A VIEW TO LONG-TERM
THREATS TO CIVIL PEACE,
RECOGNIZING THAT MORALITY ALONE
MIGHT NOT BE ENOUGH TO PREVENT
THEM, AND THAT IT NEEDS TO ADD
ITS COERCIVE FORCE TO THE VOICE
OF CONSCIENCE.
A NOTABLE EXAMPLE OF THIS, AS
I'VE ALREADY JUST MENTIONED, IS
PROVIDED BY MIND-ALTERING DRUGS.
AT VARIOUS STAGES IN THE
DEVELOPMENT OF MODERN LAW, THE
ATTEMPT HAS BEEN MADE TO FORBID
BY LAW ONE OR OTHER OF THE
DAMAGING ADDICTIONS TO WHICH
HUMAN BEINGS ARE PRONE.
IN GENERAL, THE THOUGHT HAS BEEN
THAT WE SHOULD DISTINGUISH THOSE
WHICH ALTER THE ABILITY TO MAKE
RESPONSIBLE CHOICES AND SOUND
MORAL JUDGMENTS FROM THOSE THAT
MERELY POSE A RISK TO HEALTH.
THUS, THERE SEEMS TO BE A
CONSENSUS THAT IT IS REASONABLE
TO CRIMINALIZE HEROIN, FOR
EXAMPLE, WHICH UNDERMINES THE
MORAL SENSE OF THE PERSON
ADDICTED TO IT, BUT NOT TOBACCO,
WHICH MERELY DAMAGES HIS
PHYSICAL HEALTH.
OF COURSE, THERE ARE PROBLEMATIC
CASES.
ALCOHOL, FOR EXAMPLE, CANNABIS,
AND TELEVISION, ALL OF WHICH
DAMAGE THE MIND AND THE MORAL
SENSE OF THOSE ADDICTED TO THEM.
BUT, HOWEVER THE LAW COMES DOWN,
WE KNOW THAT IT IS GUIDED BY A
SENSE THAT THINGS THAT DO NOT
POSE A SHORT-TERM THREAT TO
CIVIL PEACE MAY NEVERTHELESS
POSE A LONG-TERM THREAT AND
THAT SOME LONG-TERM THREATS,
SUCH AS THOSE POSED BY
TELEVISION, CAN BE LIVED WITH...
I DON'T AGREE WITH THAT BUT MOST
PEOPLE DO...
AND OTHERS SUCH AS THOSE POSED
BY HARD DRUGS CANNOT.
NOW THE EXAMPLE IS INTERESTING
FOR TWO REASONS.
FIRST, IT SHOWS THE INTERACTION
BETWEEN LEGAL AND MORAL
PROHIBITION.
THE LAW PROHIBITING ALCOHOL IN
THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA WAS
IMPOSED ON AN UNWILLING MAJORITY
BY A PURITAN MINORITY.
IT DID NOT HAVE POPULAR
ENDORSEMENT FOR THE REASON THAT
THERE IS NO MORAL CONSENSUS
AGAINST THE CONSUMPTION OF
ALCOHOL; ONLY AGAINST PUBLIC
DRUNKENNESS, THAT WHICH WAS A
CRIME ALREADY.
CONVERSELY, THE LAW WAS AGAINST
HARD DRUGS; HAVE, AT LEAST UNTIL
RECENTLY, HAD THE SUPPORT OF A
POPULAR MORAL CONSENSUS WITHOUT
WHICH THEY WOULD PROBABLY BE
INAPPLICABLE.
PARENTS TRY TO STOP THEIR
CHILDREN TAKING DRUGS BECAUSE
THEY FEAR THE DESTRUCTION OF THE
MORAL SENSE AND THE ABILITY TO
TAKE CHARGE OF LIFE THAT
INEVITABLY ENSUES FROM
ADDICTION, AND THEY ARE ANXIOUS
THAT THE LAW LENDS ITS SUPPORT
TO THEM.
IN A WORLD OF DEEP MORAL
DISAGREEMENTS, IT MATTERS THAT
ONE'S OPINION HAS THE
ENDORSEMENT OF THE LAW FOR IT
MAKES THE OPINION FIRMER.
THE EXAMPLE IS INTERESTING FOR
ANOTHER REASON...
FOR IT SHOWS THAT SHORT-TERM
THREATS TO CIVIL PEACE ARE NOT
THE ONLY ONES THAT THE LAW
FORBIDS OR MORALITY DISAPPROVES.
IF CALLED UPON TO JUSTIFY THE
LAWS FORBIDDING HARD DRUGS, THE
ORDINARY CONSCIENCE WILL POINT
TO THE WAY IN WHICH THOSE DRUGS
HOLD SOMEONE ENTHRALLED,
UNDERMINE HIS MORAL SENSE AND
HIS AUTONOMY, AND SO MAKE HIM A
THREAT NOT ONLY TO HIMSELF BUT,
IN DUE COURSE, TO OTHERS AS THE
BARRIERS AGAINST FRAUD,
TREACHERY, AND VIOLENCE ARE ONE
BY ONE KNOCKED DOWN.
HERE, THE THREAT IS TO THE
INDIVIDUAL IMMEDIATELY BUT HIS
RIGHT TO RUIN HIMSELF IS PUT IN
DOUBT BY THE INEVITABLE EFFECT
ON OTHERS AND ON THE SOCIAL
NETWORK OF WHICH HE IS A PART.
THE LIBERAL POSITION THAT
EMERGED IN THE 60s, AND WHICH
WAS TYPIFIED BY PROFESSOR HART'S
CONTROVERSY WITH LORD DEVLIN,
HELD THAT SEXUAL MORALITY IS A
PRIVATE MATTER, AND THAT IT WAS
NO BUSINESS OF THE LAW TO
CONTROL WHAT ADULTS DO WITH EACH
OTHER IN PRIVATE.
WHATEVER OUR MORAL VIEWS, THESE
HAVE NO BEARING ON THE ORDER OF
CIVIL PEACE AND THAT SO LONG AS
BREACHES IN THE MORAL CONSENSUS
OCCUR IN PRIVATE, THEY CAN
NEITHER HARM OTHERS NOR DEPRAVE
THEM.
IT WAS ONLY PURITANISM WHICH
WOULD RULE AGAINST THIS CONDUCT
AND PURITANISM WOULD BE AS
INEFFECTIVE HERE AS IT WAS IN
THE ATTEMPT TO PROHIBIT ALCOHOL.
WHEN THOSE ARGUMENTS WERE MADE,
IT WAS IN THE CONTEXT OF A
RELATIVELY STABLE BACKGROUND OF
POPULAR MORALITY, WHICH ENDORSED
THE TWO-PARENT FAMILY, WAS
SUSPICIOUS OF DIVORCE, AND
REGARDED SEXUAL CONDUCT AS
CONSTRAINED BY A MORALITY OF
FAITHFUL ATTACHMENT BETWEEN MAN
AND WOMAN.
THE LIBERAL ARGUMENTS WERE
ADVANCED ON BEHALF OF
HOMOSEXUALITY ON THE
UNDERSTANDING THAT PEOPLE
ALREADY ACCEPTED THAT SOME FORMS
OF SEXUAL CONDUCT, WHETHER OR
NOT MORALLY REPREHENSIBLE, WERE
OUTSIDE THE ILLEGITIMATE REACH
OF THE LAW.
ADULTERY, FOR EXAMPLE.
SINCE THAT TIME, THE SEXUAL
REVOLUTION HAS PROCEEDED THE
PACE AND IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO
DENY THAT SHORT-TERM GAINS IN
HUMAN FREEDOM HAVE BEEN PAID FOR
BY LONG-TERM LOSSES OF SOCIAL
COHESION.
WERE THOSE LOSSES FORESEEABLE,
AND IF SO, SHOULD THEY HAVE BEEN
TAKEN INTO ACCOUNT?
THAT, I THINK, IS THE QUESTION
THAT STILL REMAINS WITH US AND
WHICH I FIND EXTREMELY DIFFICULT
TO ANSWER, AND I'M SURE
EVERYBODY IN THIS ROOM FINDS IT
DIFFICULT TO ANSWER, TOO.
BUT LET ME JUST PAUSE TO REVIEW
SOME OF THE LOSSES THAT WE HAVE
SUFFERED.
FIRST, THE STEADY EROSION OF THE
MARRIAGE TIE AS A FORM OF
LIFELONG COMMITMENT, WITH THE
HOME AS ITS FOCUS AND CHILDREN
AS ITS NATURAL PRODUCT.
AND THAT WAS AN IDEA THAT WE
HAVE LOST.
SECONDLY, THE STEADY INCREASE IN
BIRTHS OUT OF WEDLOCK TO THE
POINT WHERE, IN SOME COUNTRIES...
SWEDEN, FOR EXAMPLE...
BIRTHS WITHIN MARRIAGE ARE THE
EXCEPTION RATHER THAN THE RULE.
THIRDLY, THE STEADY REPLACEMENT
OF LASTING PARTNERSHIPS WITH
RECREATIONAL SEX, IN WHICH THE
SEXUAL ACT IS DIVORCED ENTIRELY
FROM PERSONAL LOVE,
CHILD-BEARING, OR ANYTHING ELSE
THAT WOULD INTERRUPT THE
FLEETING PLEASURE OF THE
PARTICIPANTS.
FOURTHLY, A CULTURE OF
LIBIDINOUSNESS, INTO WHICH
CHILDREN ARE INITIATED THROUGH
THE OFFICIAL LESSONS IN SEX
EDUCATION, WHICH DOMINATES THE
INTERNET IN THE FORM OF
PORNOGRAPHY, AND FROM WHICH
PARENTS STRIVE IN VAIN TO
PROTECT THEIR CHILDREN.
THAT ALL THOSE THINGS TEND TO
UNDERMINE SOCIAL STABILITY AND
TO DAMAGE A SOCIETY'S CAPACITY
TO REPRODUCE ITSELF ARE FACTS
TOO WELL-KNOWN TO DESERVE
COMMENTARY.
THE POINTED ISSUE, HOWEVER, ARE
THESE...
COULD THE LAW HAVE BEEN USED TO
ARREST OR DELAY THOSE
DEVELOPMENTS?
AND, IF SO, WOULD THAT HAVE
JUSTIFIED SUCH A USE OF THE LAW?
IT SEEMS TO ME THAT THE SECOND
QUESTION IS EXACTLY ON A PAR
WITH THAT ABOUT HARD DRUGS.
IF THESE ARE CRIMINALIZED, IT IS
SURELY BECAUSE WE THINK THAT THE
ANTISOCIAL EFFECTS OF THEIR USE
WILL, IN THE LONG RUN, PROVE A
THREAT TO THE WELL-BEING OF
OTHERS AND NOT MERELY TO THE
WELL-BEING OF THE USER.
COULD THE SAME ARGUMENT BE USED
IN THE CASE OF THE WIDESPREAD
ABUSE OF SEX?
CANNOT WE SAY THAT THE THREAT TO
SOCIETY GENERATED BY THE
COLLAPSE OF THE FAMILY, BIRTHS
OUT OF WEDLOCK, AND THE LOSS OF
LASTINGNESS IN THE SEXUAL BOND
IS SUCH THAT A LAW THAT HAD A
CHANCE OF REMEDYING THE
SITUATION WOULD BE JUSTIFIED?
FOR IT WOULD BE A LAW FORBIDDING
NOT LIBERTY BUT LICENCE.
HOWEVER, THE DIFFICULTY LIES
WITH THE FIRST POINT THAT I
MENTIONED.
COULD THE LAW REALLY HAVE
PREVENTED OR DELAYED THESE
THINGS?
AND HERE, AGAIN, WE SEE THE
PARALLEL WITH THE CASE WITH
DRUGS.
IT'S OFTEN ARGUED THAT THE
ATTEMPT TO BAN THE USE OF HARD
DRUGS IS FUTILE, THAT PEOPLE
WHO WANT TO USE THEM WILL
ALWAYS OBTAIN THEM, AND THAT THE
LAW MERELY ADDS GLAMOUR TO WHAT
WOULD OTHERWISE BE SEEN FOR WHAT
IT IS...
AN ACT OF SELF-DESTRUCTION.
SO THE LOSS OF FREEDOM IN
FORBIDDING HARD DRUGS IS
BALANCED BY NO BENEFIT TO
SOCIETY IN TERMS OF LONG-TERM
STABILITY.
INDEED, WHAT SHOULD BE
FORBIDDEN, SOME PEOPLE ARGUE, IS
NOT THE TAKING OF DRUGS BUT THE
ATTEMPT TO RESCUE THOSE WHO DO
IT.
IT IS ONLY THE BELIEF THAT THEY
CAN BE RESCUED, AFTER ALL, THAT
TEMPTS PEOPLE ALONG THIS PATH.
FORBID THE POLICIES OF RESCUE
AND ADDICTS WILL CEASE TO BE A
THREAT BEFORE THEY CAN DRAG
OTHERS DOWN THE PATH THAT THEY
HAVE TAKEN.
HOWEVER, THE PARALLEL WITH THIS
ACTUAL CASE HERE BREAKS DOWN.
THERE IS NO WAY IN WHICH THE
COST OF SEXUAL LICENCE CAN BE
CONFINED TO THOSE WHO ENGAGE IN
IT, FOR IT IS AN INHERENTLY
PREDATORY CONDITION WHICH
CREATES A SPHERE OF TEMPTATION
INTO WHICH OTHERS ARE DRAWN.
MORAL DISAPPROVAL HAS, DOWN THE
CENTURIES, CONFINED THAT SPHERE
TO A WALLED ENCLAVE OUTSIDE THE
FAMILY AND OUTSIDE THE
INSTITUTIONS IN WHICH CHILDREN
ARE RAISED.
BUT IT CAN NO LONGER WORK TO
THIS EFFECT.
THE VERY PUBLIC DISPLAY AND
PUBLIC CHATTER ABOUT SEX, WHICH
OUR LIBERAL LEGISLATION HAS
PROMOTED, WORK TO IMPEDE THE
PROCESSES WHEREBY CHILDREN CAN
BE SHIELDED FROM THE RESULTS.
THE PERVADING SENSE THAT THESE
THINGS LIE OUTSIDE THE PROVINCE
OF THE LAW HAS ENCOURAGED A
STEADY DECAY IN TRADITIONAL
DECENCIES AND A KIND OF
COARSENESS THAT ERODES THE VERY
CAPACITY TO BE OFFENDED BY
SEXUAL DISPLAYS.
THERE ARE, OF COURSE, LIBERAL
THINKERS WHO CLAIM TO WELCOME
THIS; WHO SEE THE LOSS OF SHAME,
DECENCY, HESITATION, AND
CHASTITY AS ADVANCES IN THE
GENERAL EMANCIPATION OF MANKIND.
BUT THESE ADVANCES ARE ALSO
RETREATS...
RETREATS FROM THE CONDITION OF
PERSONHOOD, OF FREE AND
RESPONSIBLE COMMITMENTS, OF
GENUINE RELATIONS BETWEEN SELF
AND OTHER.
SO THIS PORTENDED GAIN IN
FREEDOM IS ALSO A LOSS SINCE IT
INVOLVES DESTROYING THE PROCESS
WHEREBY WE LEARN TO GIVE
OURSELVES AND ALSO TO WITHHOLD
OURSELVES IN PERSONAL RELATIONS.
IT INVOLVES
DESTROYING THE ARENA IN WHICH
FREEDOM IS PRINCIPALLY
EXERCISED, AND IN WHICH IT
REQUIRES ITS SUPREME VALUE.
THERE IS NO VALUE IN FREEDOM IF
IT MEANS THE FREEDOM TO HAVE
CERTAIN SENSATIONS.
THERE IS EVERY
VALUE IN FREEDOM IF IT MEANS THE
FREEDOM TO ENTER INTO CERTAIN
COMMITMENTS.
THE SECOND KIND OF FREEDOM
INVOLVES THE BUILDING OF A LIFE
AND THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS
WITHIN IT.
THE FIRST KIND INVOLVES THE
RETREAT FROM LIFE TO TAKE REFUGE
IN A KIND OF NARCISSISTIC DREAM.
OF COURSE, TO SAY THAT IS TO
MAKE LARGE CLAIMS THAT NEED TO
BE BACKED UP, BUT I BELIEVE THAT
THEY CAN BE BACKED UP...
BOTH AT THE LEVEL OF
PHILOSOPHICAL ANTHROPOLOGY AND
ALSO AT THE LEVEL OF EMPIRICAL
OBSERVATION.
ON THE OTHER HAND, THE CLAIMS
THAT I HAVE JUST MADE RAISE A
DEEP QUESTION ABOUT THE
DISTINCTION FAMILIAR FROM A
FAMOUS ARTICLE BY ISAIAH BERLIN
BETWEEN POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE
LIBERTY.
THE LIBERAL APPROACH TO LAW HAS
NOT REGARDED LAW AS AN
INSTRUMENT FOR PRODUCING LIBERTY
IN ANY POSITIVE SENSE OF
SELF-REALIZATION, OR AUTONOMY,
OR RESPONSIBLE PERSONHOOD.
SO IT IS SAID, AT LEAST.
IT HAS REGARDED LAW MERELY AS A
GUARANTEE OF FREEDOM IN THE
NEGATIVE SENSE, IN WHICH FREEDOM
MEANS THE ABSENCE OF CONSTRAINT.
LIBERALISM, AS ANDREW SULLIVAN
HAS PUT THE POINT IN THE DEFENCE
OF GAY MARRIAGE, ENTAILS, I
QUOTE, "THE RIGHT TO FREEDOM
EVEN IF THAT FREEDOM IS ABUSED,
SO LONG AS THAT ABUSE DOES NOT
HARM THE FUNDAMENTAL RIGHT OF
ANY OTHER INDIVIDUAL TO ABUSE
HIS FREEDOM AS WELL."
HE ADDS THAT LIBERALISM IS
DESIGNED TO DEAL WITH MEANS, NOT
ENDS.
HIS CONCERN IS WITH LIBERTY, NOT
A BETTER SOCIETY.
ATTEMPTS TO TRADE LIBERTY FOR
BETTER, MORE DURABLE, MORE
PERSONALLY-FULFILLING OR MORE
SOCIALLY-BENEFICIAL SEXUAL
RELATIONS ARE JUST THAT...
ATTEMPTS TO TRADE LIBERTY FOR
SOMETHING ELSE.
BY DESCRIBING THAT SOMETHING
ELSE AS ANOTHER AND HIGHER FORM
OF LIBERTY, WE DO NOT ANSWER THE
LIBERAL BUT MERELY OBSCURE THE
QUESTION.
WE CONCEAL THE SENSE IN WHICH
LIBERTY, CONSTRUED IN THE ONLY
WAY THAT THE LAW CAN PROVIDE IT,
NAMELY AS NEGATIVE LIBERTY, IS
INCOMPATIBLE WITH THE
LEGISLATION OF MORAL NORMS OTHER
THAN THOSE WHICH LIBERTY ITSELF
REQUIRES.
IT'S AT THIS POINT, HOWEVER,
THAT LIBERALS TEND TO SHIFT TO
THEIR REAL DEFAULT POSITION
WHICH I THINK CONCERNS THE
LEGISLATION OF MORALS RATHER
THAN THE PREVENTION OF HARM.
THE OLD FORMS OF MARRIAGE, THEY
WOULD TELL US, WERE IN FACT
PATRIARCHAL, OPPRESSIVE,
INIMICAL TO THE FREE DEVELOPMENT
OF PARTNERS WITHIN THEM.
THEY INVOLVED PRIVILEGING
HETEROSEXUAL OVER HOMOSEXUALITY
RELATIONS AND MAN OVER WOMAN AS
THE HEAD OF THE FAMILY.
IN SHORT, THEY WERE AN OFFENCE
TO THE NEW SEXUAL MORALITY.
HENCE, THERE IS A STRONG MORAL
ARGUMENT FOR LEGISLATING NEW
FORMS OF MARITAL UNION IN ORDER
TO UNDERMINE THE PRIVILEGES OF
THE OLD.
ALREADY WE DISCOVER, THEREFORE,
THAT HOT ON THE HEELS OF GAY
MARRIAGE COMES THE ADVOCACY OF
BIGAMY AND POLYANDRY...
PRACTICES WHICH, ONCE ACCEPTED,
WILL MAKE ALL ATTEMPTS TO SAVE
CANADA FROM THE SWINGERS
ENTIRELY OTIOSE.
ONCE THE DEFAULT POSITION IS
ADOPTED, HOWEVER, I THINK WE
KNOW WHERE WE STAND.
THE ARGUMENT CAN NOW BE
CONDUCTED ON REALISTIC PREMISES
AND WITH REALISTIC STEPS.
THE PREMISES ARE TWO.
FIRST, THAT LAW IN A LIBERAL
DEMOCRACY MUST GRANT AND UPHOLD
FREEDOMS WHENEVER DOING SO DOES
NO HARM TO THOSE NOT INVOLVED.
I AGREE WITH THAT PREMISE OF
JOHN STUART MILL.
SECONDLY, HOWEVER, THE LAW HAS A
PROTECTIVE FUNCTION AND MUST
PROTECT THOSE INSTITUTIONS OF
SOCIETY ON WHICH PEACEFUL
CONTINUITY AND THE TRANSFER OF
SOCIAL CAPITAL DEPEND.
FREEDOMS THAT ERODE THOSE
INSTITUTIONS SHOULD NOT BE
GRANTED WITHOUT CAREFUL
CONSIDERATION OF THEIR LONG-TERM
EFFECT.
TO EXPERIMENT WITH THE CORE
INSTITUTIONS OF SOCIETY AS
THOUGH MERELY WIDENING THE
OPTIONS OF PERSONAL CHOICE IS TO
FAIL TO SEE WHAT IS AT STAKE,
NAMELY, THE ABILITY OF THE
SOCIAL ORDER TO REPRODUCE
ITSELF.
IT IS AT THIS LEVEL, I THINK,
THAT THE ARGUMENT WITH THE
LIBERTARIAN MORALITY MUST BE
CONDUCTED.
AND WHILE LIBERALS MAY BE RIGHT
TO SEEK REFORM OF OUR CORE
INSTITUTIONS, CONSERVATIVES ARE
SURELY ALSO RIGHT TO BELIEVE
THAT MORE IS AT STAKE IN THIS
REFORM THAN THE FREEDOM OF THE
INDIVIDUAL OR THE PLEASURES OF
THOSE WHO JUST HAPPEN TO BE
ALIVE.
THANK YOU.

[Applause]

A black slate reads "Questions and answers."

A man in his fifties rises from the audience and says
IN YOU DISCUSSION OF FREEDOMS
AND LIBERTIES, AND YOUR
NOT-TOO-HEAVILY VEILED CRITICISM
OF SAME-SEX MARRIAGE, I NEVER
HEARD THE WORD "EQUALITY."
UH...
SO I GUESS MY QUESTION IS, WHERE
DOES THE EQUALITY VALUE FIT INTO
THE ANALYSIS THAT YOU'VE
PRESENTED TONIGHT?

Roger says I TAKE IT THAT
THERE IS ALWAYS A TENSION
BETWEEN LIBERTY AND EQUALITY
BECAUSE, AFTER ALL, ONE THING
THAT PEOPLE TEND TO DO WITH
THEIR LIBERTY IS TO DISTINGUISH
THEMSELVES FROM THEIR NEIGHBOURS
AND SET UP IN COMPETITION WITH
THEM.
THIS DOESN'T MEAN, OF COURSE,
THAT THERE AREN'T EQUALITIES
THAT WE ALSO STRIVE TO PROVIDE,
LIKE EQUALITY OF OPPORTUNITY OR
EQUALITY BEFORE THE LAW, AND SO
ON.
BUT IT DOES MEAN THAT WE HAVE A
NATURAL TENDENCY TO BUILD
INSTITUTIONS WHICH DISCRIMINATE
AND...
SUCH AS THE INSTITUTION OF
MARRIAGE, WHICH DISCRIMINATES
BETWEEN THOSE WHO ARE PART OF IT
AND THOSE WHO ARE NOT.
AND THAT, I THINK, IS MAYBE
NECESSARY TO THE CONTINUITY OF
HUMAN COMMUNITIES, THAT THOSE
INSTITUTIONS GROW.
CANADIANS PUT EQUALITY
ABSOLUTELY IN THE CENTRE OF
THEIR WORLDVIEW.
IT'S A MYSTERY TO ME; I DON'T
ACCEPT IT.
I'VE NEVER SEEN ANY REASON FOR
BELIEVING THAT HUMAN BEINGS ARE
EQUAL OR SHOULD BE MADE TO BE
EQUAL IN ANY OTHER RESPECT THAN
THE FORMAL EQUALITY BEFORE THE
LAW THAT WE HAVE ALL ENJOYED IN
OUR TRADITIONAL JURISDICTIONS.
BUT I KNOW THAT, IN CANADA,
EQUALITY IS REGARDED AS A GOOD
IN ITSELF.
I...
BUT I WOULD LIKE TO KNOW WHAT
YOU WOULD SAY TO SOMEBODY WHO
SAYS, "I JUST DON'T ACCEPT THAT."
WHAT IS WRONG WITH INEQUALITY?

The man from the audience says OF COURSE, YOU'RE RIGHT THAT
PERFECT EQUALITY IS
UNATTAINABLE.
BUT...
AND WE DO HAVE A SECTION 15 IN
OUR CHARTER, WHICH GUARANTEES
EQUALITY, BUT IT'S DEFINED AS
TRYING TO JUSTIFY FORMS OF
DISCRIMINATION.
DISCRIMINATION IS WHAT IS SEEN
AS THE WRONG, BUT DISCRIMINATION
HAS TO BE JUSTIFIED, AND I
HAVEN'T HEARD YOU PROVIDE ANY
JUSTIFICATION FOR DISCRIMINATION
AGAINST GAY AND LESBIAN COUPLES
IN TERMS OF THEIR OPPORTUNITY
FOR MARRIAGE.

Roger says WELL, LET ME
SAY I WASN'T ACTUALLY TALKING
ABOUT GAY MARRIAGE.
I MENTIONED THAT THAT WAS, ALONG
THE WAY, AS ONE OF THE THICK
ISSUES OVER WHICH LIBERALS AND
CONSERVATIVES HAVE DISAGREED.
I WAS REALLY TRYING TO PUT THE
LOGICAL FRAMEWORK OF THAT
DISAGREEMENT.
BUT WHAT I WOULD SAY IS THAT...
THERE IS NO...
SUPPOSE YOU DEFINE MARRIAGE AS
LIFELONG COMMITMENT BETWEEN MAN
AND WOMAN ENTERED INTO BY VOWS
OF A CERTAIN KIND.
THAT IS OPEN TO ALL OF US.
OF COURSE, GAYS AND LESBIANS
DON'T WANT THAT.
THEY WANT SOMETHING ELSE;
ANOTHER INSTITUTION WHICH IS
LIKE THAT OF TRADITIONAL
MARRIAGE, ONLY THE CONDITION OF
THAT BEING DIFFERENT-SEXED BEING
REMOVED.
IT'S NOT A DISCRIMINATION TO SAY
THAT YOU'RE NOT PROVIDING THAT
OTHER INSTITUTION.
THERE'S LOTS OF INSTITUTIONS
THAT I WOULD LIKE, LIKE THE
INSTITUTION OF KINGSHIP, WHICH
IS NOT AVAILABLE TO ME, AND IT'S
NOT AVAILABLE TO...
THE AVAILABILITY TO ME IS, PART
OF ITS EXISTING AT ALL.
I TAKE THE CHRISTIAN VIEW OF
MARRIAGE THAT IT'S PART OF IT
EXISTING AT ALL, THAT IT IS THE
KIND OF THING THAT I SAID THAT I
DESCRIBED EARLIER...
THAT KIND OF EXISTENTIAL UNION
FOR LIFE BETWEEN MAN AND WOMAN.
BUT I HAVE NO PROBLEMS IN SAYING
THAT THERE CAN BE OTHER
RELATIONSHIPS.
BUT IT'S NOT A FORM OF
DISCRIMINATION TO SAY THAT, YOU
KNOW, THAT PEOPLE CAN'T...
PEOPLE DON'T WANT TO MARRY,
GOING THE TRADITIONAL
DESCRIPTION OF IT, DON'T, YOU
KNOW...
ARE FREE NOT TO DO SO.
SO THESE ARE...
YOU KNOW, IT ALL DEPENDS HOW YOU
DEFINE DISCRIMINATION.
NOBODY EVER THOUGHT THAT...
AND I WAS BROUGHT UP IN
CAMBRIDGE, THE CAMBRIDGE OF THE
1960s, WHICH WAS ALMOST 90 percent
HOMOSEXUAL.
AND PEOPLE DID, ON THE WHOLE,
SETTLE DOWN TOGETHER AFTER AN
AWFUL LOT OF BEATING EACH OTHER
UP.
NOBODY EVER EXPECTED THIS TO BE
LEGITIMIZED BY SOMETHING CALLED
A MARRIAGE, YOU KNOW.
MOST OF THEM HARBOURED HOPES OF
ONE DAY MARRYING SOMEBODY WITH
GREAT WEALTH AND TITLES AND
ESTATES, WHICH WOULD REDEEM THEM
FROM THIS CONDITION ANYWAY.
AND THAT WAS THE WAY IT WAS.
IT ONLY...
IT SUDDENLY BECAME AN ISSUE WHEN
PEOPLE DECIDED THAT THERE WAS
SOMETHING THAT COULD BE CALLED
MARRIAGE, WHICH WAS INDIFFERENT
TO THE SEXUAL NATURE OF THE
PARTNERS.
BUT, YOU KNOW, THEY CALL IT
MARRIAGE BUT...
BUT IT ISN'T.

Now another man in his late fifties rises from the audience and says
IN YOUR TALK, YOU REFER TO AN
OPPOSITION BETWEEN THE OLD
MORALITY AND THE NEW MORALITY,
AND MORALITIES ARE USUALLY
ROOTED IN ANTHROPOLOGY.
A CERTAIN UNDERSTANDING OF HUMAN
NATURE.
I JUST WOULD LIKE TO GET A SENSE
OF...
HOW DO YOU DEFINE THE OLD
MORALITY?
IS IT ROOTED IN THE NATURAL LAW
TRADITION...
COULD YOU EXPLAIN THAT?

Roger says WELL, YES.
I THINK WE ALL IN THIS ROOM HAVE
A SENSE OF WHAT THE OLD MORALITY
IS, OR WAS, AND...
YOU KNOW, THE FACT IS THAT IT'S
UNDER PRESSURE.
THE PEOPLE WOULDN'T BE
DISCUSSING THE LABAYE CASE IF
THEY DIDN'T HAVE A SENSE THAT
THERE WAS AN OLD MORAL ORDER
WHICH FORBADE THIS KIND OF
CONDUCT AND A NEW MORAL ORDER
WHICH PERMITS IT, AND THE
QUESTION IS, WHICH WAY IS THE
LAW GOING TO GO, AND WHAT ARE
THE ARGUMENTS THAT WOULD MAKE IT
GO ONE WAY RATHER THAN ANOTHER.
BUT, OF COURSE, IT'S ABSOLUTELY
TRUE THAT, IN THE END, ANY
MORALITY IS FOUNDED UPON A
VISION OF HUMAN NATURE; IN
PARTICULAR, A VISION OF WHAT
FULFILLS HUMAN BEINGS OR...
AND WHAT FRUSTRATES THEM.
AND, UM...
YES, THE OLD NATURAL LAW
TRADITION HAS A LOT TO TELL US
BUT I PERSONALLY THINK THAT IT
MUST TAKE SECOND PLACE TO THE
KINDS OF THINGS THAT ARISTOTLE
TOLD US...
IN PARTICULAR THAT HUMAN BEINGS
ARE FULFILLED IN THIS LIFE, AT
LEAST, ONLY IF THEY HAVE CERTAIN
ROOTED VIRTUES WHICH ENABLE THEM
TO CONDUCT THEMSELVES
SUCCESSFULLY IN THEIR
RELATIONS WITH OTHERS, AND IN
THEIR PURSUIT OF THEIR OWN
GOALS.
AND, UM, THAT MEANS THAT THEY
HAVE TO BE COURAGEOUS,
TEMPERATE, PRUDENT, AND JUST.
THAT'S, YOU KNOW...
THOSE ARE THE FOUR CARDINAL
VIRTUES, AND YOU CAN ADD A FEW
MORE TO THAT.
BUT I THINK
NOTHING BETTER HAS EVER BEEN
SAID ABOUT WHAT HUMAN BEINGS
NEED.
AND I THINK THE DISCUSSION,
WHEN IT COMES TO THINGS LIKE
SEXUAL MORALITY THAT WE'VE
BEEN DISCUSSING TODAY, THAT HAS
A LOT TO DO WITH WHETHER WE ARE
LE TO ORGANIZE OUR SEXUAL
LIVES ACCORDING TO THE RULE OF
TEMPERANCE ON THE ONE HAND AND
JUSTICE ON THE OTHER.
AND THIS HAS
BEEN A HUGE DIFFICULTY FOR
HUMANITY DOWN THE AGES, AND THAT
WHICH IS WHY SEXUAL MORALITIES
ARE THE MOST FLUID OF ALL THE
MORALITIES THAT THERE ARE.
A FREEDOM, ONCE GRANTED, IS
EXTREMELY DIFFICULT TO TAKE
AWAY, AND THAT'S PERHAPS AS IT
SHOULD BE.
AFTER ALL, UM, YOU KNOW...
WEO PRIDE OURSELVES ON THE
FACT THAT FREEDOM'S OUR
FUNDAMENTAL VALUE TO US.
AND IF THEY'RE BEING GRANTED AND
SOMEHOW SOCIETY HAS SURVIVED,
ISN'T THAT A PROOF THAT, AFTER
ALL, YOU KNOW, THERE WASN'T
ANYTHING WRONG WITH THOSE
FREEDOMS.
THERE IS A QUESTION, HOWEVER, AS
TO HOW MANY CAN BE GRANTED AND
SOCIETY, THE SURVIVOR SOCIETY,
BE GUARANTEED.
WHAT WE HAVEN'T RECKONED WITH IS
THAT WE'RE IN A SITUATION OF
STRICT COMPETITION WITH
SOCIETIES NOW PLANTED IN OUR
MIDST THAT DON'T RECOGNIZE THOSE
FREEDOMS, AND WHICH SEEM TO BE
TAKING ADVANTAGE OF THE
REPRODUCTIVE ADVANTAGE AS A
RESULT.
BUT, UM...
SO I DON'T KNOW.
YOU KNOW, I THINK SOME MATTERS,
PUBLIC OPINION ACTUALLY HAS
SWUNG THE OTHER WAY.
LOOK AT ABORTION, FOR INSTANCE.
THAT WAS THE GREAT LIBERAL CAUSE
IN THE 60s...
NOT THE 60s, THE 70s.
AND IN AMERICA, ESPECIALLY,
ABORTION RIGHTS WERE THE...
YOU KNOW, THEY WERE PROOF OF
YOUR LIBERAL CREDENTIALS, THAT
YOU SUPPORTED THEM.
BUT NOW, EVEN LIBERALS ARE
EMBARRASSED BY THIS, AND I THINK
PUBLIC OPINION IN AMERICA, EVEN
IN THE LIBERAL ELITE, IS
SWINGING MUCH IN THE OTHER
DIRECTION BECAUSE PEOPLE, I
THINK, ARE RECOGNIZING THAT
THERE'S SOMETHING HORRIBLE ABOUT
THE KIND OF GENOCIDE THAT HAS
RESULTED.

A woman in her late forties rises from the audience and says
EVERYTHING YOU SAY IS VERY
PERSUASIVE AND, UH...
EXCEPT THAT, YOU KNOW, IT
DOESN'T REALLY HELP US.
NOW...

[Some laughter]

The woman says SO...

Roger says I KNOW IT.

The woman says YEAH, YOU KNOW IT.
OKAY.
SO, I, YOU KNOW, I'M JUST
SCORING A LOT OF WHAT YOU SAY,
CERTAINLY CONCERNS ABOUT
SEXUALITY AND CONCERNS ABOUT THE
FAMILY.
SO I JUST WANT TO POINT OUT
THREE THINGS AND THE THREE
THINKERS...
HOBBES, LOCKE, JOHN STUART MILL.
THESE ARE THE FOUNDATIONS OF
WESTERN LIBERALISM.
HOBBES FAMOUSLY SAYS IN THE
LEVIATHAN...
BECAUSE HE'S THE GUY WHO FIRST
TALKS ABOUT THE FACT THAT PEOPLE
HAVE NATURAL RIGHTS, WHICH THEN
ARE FORFEITED IN ORDER TO ENTER
INTO CONTRACTUAL RELATIONS IN
THE STATE.
WHEN IT GETS TO THE SEXUAL
RELATIONS, HOBBES SAYS THAT, IN
THE STATE OF NATURE, BEFORE
THERE'S ANY POLITICAL
ASSOCIATION, THAT CHILDREN
PROPERLY BELONG TO THEIR MOTHERS
BECAUSE NO MAN CAN KNOW WHO HIS
CHILD IS.
SO IT'S ONLY POLITICAL
INSTITUTIONS THAT MAKE THE
FAMILY POSSIBLE IN A LIBERAL
SOCIETY BECAUSE OF THE POLITICAL
COMMUNITY, WHICH ESTABLISHES THE
FAMILY, WHICH MAKES IT POSSIBLE
FOR MEN TO ESTABLISH
PROPRIETORSHIP IN THEIR WIVES
AND THEIR CHILDREN.
SO THAT'S THE FIRST THING IN
HOBBES.
SECONDLY, IN LOCKE, HE HAS A
WHOLE CHAPTER IN THE SECOND
TREATISE OF GOVERNMENT, WHICH IS
THE FOUNDATION OF PARLIAMENTARY
INSTITUTIONS, IN WHICH HE TALKS
ABOUT PATERNAL DOMINION AND,
REALLY, IF YOU READ THAT CHAPTER
CAREFULLY, WHAT LOCKE SAYS THERE
IS THAT THE CHILDREN REALLY...
PARENTS HAVE NO REAL NATURAL
OBLIGATIONS TO THEIR CHILDREN,
NOR DO CHILDREN TO THEIR
PARENTS, AND SO THE WHOLE
RELATIONS WILL NOW BE BASED ON
PROPERTY.
AND THE REASON THAT PARENTS WILL
BE KIND TO THEIR CHILDREN AND
EDUCATE THEM AND SO ON, IS
BECAUSE THEY WILL HOPE THAT THE
CHILDREN WILL LOOK AFTER THEM IN
THEIR OLD AGE.
THIRDLY, IN JOHN STUART MILL, HE
TALKS ABOUT
[Indistinct]
MEN AND WOMEN.
ANYWAY, I MENTIONED ALL THAT IN
A SORT OF RAW, WINDED WAY TO
TALK ABOUT HOW DEEPLY, DEEPLY,
DEEPLY EMBEDDED IN LIBERAL
THEORY, NO MATTER WHERE YOU TURN
FOR ITS ORIGIN, IS THE
FUNDAMENTAL EQUALITY OF THE
SEXES AND THE COMPLETE
OVERTURNING OF THE UNDERSTANDING
OF TRADITIONAL FAMILY.
SO, UNLESS YOU'RE WILLING TO
FORGO ENTIRELY THE MODERN
LIBERAL CULTURE AND TURN TO A
PRE-MODERN CULTURE, WHICH IS
NON-EQUAL, NON-LIBERAL, THAT IS
THE ONLY PLACE THAT YOU'RE GOING
TO FIND A JUSTIFICATION FOR THE
TRADITIONAL FAMILY.
AND IF WE ARE REALLY CONCERNED
ABOUT PROTECTING CHILDREN, WE
HAVE TO TALK ABOUT IN THESE...
IN WAYS THAT DOES NOT RELY UPON
THE ORGANIC FAMILY, AS LONG AS
WE'RE WORKING WITHIN A LIBERAL,
DEMOCRATIC, MODERN STRUCTURE.

Roger says THAT'S A VERY,
UM...
YOU KNOW, OBVIOUSLY A VERY
IMPORTANT LECTURE ON THE
POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY, WHICH I
SHOULD'VE TAKEN INTO ACCOUNT
HERE, OBVIOUSLY, ALONG THE WAY.
BUT, UM...
I'M NOT SURE THAT I ENTIRELY
ENDORSE IT.
I'LL JUST SAY TWO THINGS IN
RESPONSE TO IT.
ONE IS THAT, IF WHAT YOU SAY IS
TRUE, THEN THAT'S A REASON FOR
REJECTING THAT TRADITION OF
POLITICAL THOUGHT.
AND, UM...
THERE ARE ALTERNATIVES WHICH ARE
EQUALLY MODERN, SUCH AS HEIGL'S
CONCEPTION OF THE ORGANIC FAMILY
AS INTEGRAL TO THE MODERN STATE.
AND I'M MORE INCLINED TO ENDORSE
THAT THAN THE IDEA THAT SOMEHOW
THE RELATION BETWEEN PARENTS AND
CHILDREN AS A CONTRACTUAL ONE.
AND, YOU KNOW, THOSE EMPIRICISTS
WERE TERRIBLE OBSERVERS OF HUMAN
NATURE.
LOCKE DIDN'T GET A SINGLE THING
RIGHT ABOUT HUMAN PSYCHOLOGY.
HE WAS VERY GOOD ABOUT THE LOGIC
OF CONTRACT BUT, UM, PEOPLE
AREN'T LIKE THAT.
ATTACHMENT BETWEEN PARENTS AND
CHILDREN IS A PARADIGM,
NON-CONTRACTUAL RELATION.
IN ANY SOCIETY, IT'S GOING TO BE.
AND, YOU KNOW, THE
PSYCHOTHERAPISTS HAVE PROVED
THIS EVEN IF THE PHILOSOPHERS
ARE WILLING TO ACKNOWLEDGE IT.
AND IF IT WEREN'T THE CASE, WE
HAVE TO REMEMBER THAT WE'RE IN
HOT COMPETITION WITH SOCIETIES
WHICH DO HAVE ORGANIC FAMILIES.
AND THEY'RE RIGHT IN OUR MIDST,
PRODUCING A HELL OF A LOT OF
CHILDREN.
AND THERE WON'T BE A LIBERAL
ORDER IF WE DON'T MATCH UP TO
THE CHALLENGE.
THE MODEL, THE WESTERN MODEL
UNTIL, SAY, 50 YEARS AGO, WAS
THAT THE STATE CREATED THE
FREEDOMS IN WHICH CIVIL SOCIETY
FLOURISHED.
THE PRINCIPAL WAY IN WHICH
CHILDREN WERE BROUGHT UP WAS IN
THE FAMILY, AND THE FAMILY
TAUGHT THEM THESE VIRTUES,
TAUGHT THEM GOOD MANNERS,
RESPECT FOR PERSONS, COURAGE,
JUSTICE, AND WISDOM, AND, UM...
AND THEN, OF COURSE, THINGS WENT
ON AS THEY'D ALWAYS GONE ON.
THERE'D BE BAD GUYS, THE LAW
WOULD PUNISH THEM, BUT THE
ACTUAL SOCIAL NORMS WOULD BE
REPRODUCED FROM GENERATION TO
GENERATION.
WHAT WE'RE NOW...
THE SITUATION WHICH WE'RE NOW IN
MIGHT BE ONE IN WHICH PEOPLE ARE
LOOKING TO THE STATE TO DO THIS
BUSINESS, TO BRING UP THE NEXT
GENERATION OF CHILDREN, BECAUSE
WE ADULTS HAVE DEVELOPED A
COMPLETELY IRRESPONSIBLE
ATTITUDE...
NOT ONLY TOWARDS OUR OWN SEXUAL
RELATIONS...
BUT TOWARDS THE CHILDREN THAT
RESULT FROM THEM.
BUT I DON'T THINK THE STATE CAN
DO THIS.
AND THOSE SORT OF PLATONIC
SCHEMES FOR GETTING THE STATE TO
DO THIS ARE DEEPLY REPUGNANT TO
US, AND AS FAR AS WE UNDERSTAND
THAT ATTEMPTS BY THE STATE TO DO
IT LIKE IN MAOIST CHINA, THEY'VE
BEEN EVEN MORE REPUGNANT THAN
WHAT WE READ IN PLATO.
SO I FEEL WE MUST TAKE THAT
MODEL, THE MODEL IN WHICH THE
TEACHING OF VIRTUE IS A PRIVATE
AFFAIR BETWEEN GENERATIONS.
TAKE THAT AND MAKE WHAT WE CAN
OF IT IN THE DIFFICULT SITUATION
THAT WE'RE NOW IN.
SO I DON'T THINK WE'VE EVER BEEN
GRANTED ANY OTHER VISION.

Now a man in his fifties rises from the audience and says
I JUST WANT TO TAKE A
LONGVIEW FOR A SECOND, I MEAN,
IF WE LOOK BACK AT THE HISTORY
OF THE FAMILY FOR 300 OR 400
YEARS...
OR EVEN 150 YEARS AGO, THE
TYPICAL FAMILY IN SOUTHERN
UNITED STATES, BUT, UH...
THE HUSBAND AND WIFE AND
CHILDREN, AND SOME BLACK SLAVES
AND, YOU KNOW, SOME BLACK MAIDS
AND SO ON.
AND THAT HAPPENED EVEN INTO THE
MIDDLE OF THE 19th CENTURY.
AND THEN, YOU KNOW, JOHN STUART
MILL HAS A VERY VIVID
DESCRIPTION OF WHAT MARRIAGE WAS
LIKE IN BRITAIN AND HOW UNJUST
IT WAS.
BOTH ON A LEGAL AND A MORAL
BASIS DURING THE 19th CENTURY.
HIS BOOK ON THE SUBJECTION OF
WOMEN MUST BE VERY INFLUENTIAL.
SO WE HAVE THIS, WE HAVE CHANGED
OUR CONCEPTION OF WHAT THE HAPPY
FAMILY IS OR WHAT THE GOOD
MARRIAGE IS.
WE HAVE CHANGED REPEATEDLY OVER
THE LAST 200 YEARS.
NOW WE HAVE COME TO A PLACE
WHERE WE'RE DIGGING IN OUR
HEELS.
WE'RE SAYING, "WELL, NO FURTHER.
THIS IS AS FAR AS WE GO."

Roger says I DON'T...
I THINK SOMETHING'S BEING PINNED
ON ME WHICH I HAVEN'T SAID.
I WASN'T REALLY TALKING ABOUT
THE FAMILY AND ITS FUTURE,
OR EVEN WISHING PARTICULARLY TO
DEFEND THE TRADITIONAL FAMILY.
WHAT I WAS TRYING TO SAY WAS
THAT THE MORAL QUESTIONS HERE
ARE WHAT OTHER ONES THAT ARE
REALLY AT ISSUE, AND THAT JOHN
STUART MILL'S HARM PRINCIPLE IS
NOT GOING TO HELP US TO DEFINE
THOSE MORAL QUESTIONS.
BUT NOW, YOU'VE MENTIONED IT.
LET'S JUST THINK ABOUT THE
FAMILY.
THE WORD "FAMILY" COMES FROM
LATIN "FAMULUS," WHICH MEANS "A
SLAVE."
SO THE ACTUAL ORIGINS OF THE
INSTITUTION ARE PRETTY BLEAK.
BUT, AS YOU SAY, THE WHOLE
PROCESS OF EMANCIPATION HAS
OCCURRED ALONG THE WAY AND JOHN
STUART MILL, AS YOU RIGHTLY SAY,
WAS VERY KEEN ON THIS
EMANCIPATION.
JOHN STUART MILL, HOWEVER,
DIDN'T GET MUCH OUT OF IT BY WAY
OF SEXUAL OR REPRODUCTIVE
SUCCESS.
BUT THAT WAS, YOU KNOW,
OBVIOUSLY HIS PARTICULAR
DIFFICULTY.
BUT WE, IT'S TRUE, HAVE
INHERITED A PARTICULAR IDEA OF
THE FAMILY, WHICH I GUESS IS...
IT GOES BACK, ACTUALLY, TO THE
MIDDLE AGES; IT'S NOT AS RECENT
A THING AS YOU'RE IMPLYING.
BUT THE REAL QUESTION IS, NOT
HOW...
WHERE THAT COULD CHANGE.
OF COURSE IT CAN CHANGE IN LOTS
OF DIRECTIONS.
WE HAVE...
WE ALREADY HAVE ACCOMMODATED A
CONSIDERABLE AMOUNT OF, YOU
KNOW, DIVORCE, AND THE IDEA OF A
STEPFAMILY HAS BECOME FAIRLY
WIDELY ACCEPTED.
THOUGH WE KNOW VERY WELL THAT
IT'S ALSO AN EXTREMELY DIFFICULT
DISCIPLINE TO MAINTAIN A
STEPFAMILY AS A SUCCESSFUL
REPRODUCTIVE UNIT, AND PEOPLE
HAVEN'T YET LEARNED HOW TO DO
THAT.
BUT OF COURSE, IF THEY COULD
LEARN HOW TO DO IT, THAT WOULD
BE A POSITIVE ACHIEVEMENT;
SOMETHING THAT WE ALL HAVE TO
CONCENTRATE ON.
BUT THERE MIGHT BE STILL WAYS IN
WHICH IT MIGHT GO, WHICH WOULD...
IN WHICH IT WOULDN'T BE A FAMILY
AT ALL.
NOW OUR REAL QUESTION'S AS TO
WHETHER THE SINGLE PARENT OR THE
SINGLE-MOTHER FAMILY LIVING ON
WELFARE BENEFITS IS REALLY A
FAMILY, YOU KNOW.
WHAT DO WE EXPECT A FAMILY TO
BE?
WHAT FORMS OF ATTACHMENT ARE
NECESSARY FOR THE DEVELOPMENT
OF...
THE NATURAL DEVELOPMENT OF
CHILDREN, FOR A START.
AND AFTER ALL, WHAT PLATO
ADVOCATED IN THE REPUBLIC, WHICH
WAS THE OWNERSHIP OF CHILDREN BY
THE STATE, AND NURTURE IN
COLLECTIVE FARMS...
IN BATTERY FARMS, AND IN A SORT
OF AMERICAN MODEL...
WOULD BE A SOLUTION TO THE
PROBLEM, BUT YOU WOULDN'T WANT
TO CALL THAT THE FAMILY.
YOU WOULD WANT TO SAY THAT THIS
IS A DIFFERENT WAY...
A DIFFERENT MANNER OF SOCIAL
REPRODUCTION.
ONE OF THE QUESTIONS THAT...
TO GO BACK TO THE PREVIOUS
QUESTION...
ONE OF THE QUESTIONS I DON'T
HAVE TO RAISE IS THE
ANTHROPOLOGICAL QUESTION, WHERE
THE SOCIAL CAPITAL COULD BE
PASSED ON IN THOSE
CIRCUMSTANCES.
OR WHETHER EACH GENERATION
WOULDN'T, ON THE CONTRARY, BE
CONDEMNED TO DISCOVER EVERYTHING
ANEW FOR ITSELF.
AND I THINK, YOU KNOW, I TAKE
THE LINE THAT THE NUCLEAR FAMILY
HAS BEEN ONE OF THE GREAT HUMAN
ACHIEVEMENTS; THE MOST EFFECTIVE
WAY OF PASSING ON SOCIAL CAPITAL
ACROSS THE GENERATIONS.
AND IF WE DON'T DO IT, SOMEONE
ELSE IS GOING TO DO IT AND DRIVE
US OUT.

[Theme music playing]

The animated slate for Big Ideas flashes by, and Andrew reappears in the studio with a caption that reads "Andrew Moodie."

He says THERE HAS
ALWAYS BEEN A TENSION BETWEEN
LIBERTY AND EQUALITY.
SCRUTON IS ABSOLUTELY CORRECT ABOUT THAT.
THE QUESTION IS WHY SOME OPT FOR
EQUALITY AND OTHERS FOR LIBERTY?
THERE IS LITTLE DOUBT THAT WHEN
PUSH COMES TO SHOVE.
PERSONALLY, I OPT FOR EQUALITY.
WHY?
WELL, I'LL THINK ABOUT IT.
PERHAPS I ASSOCIATE EQUALITY
WITH JUSTICE?
BUT WHY DOESN'T SCRUTON...
OR SOME OF YOU WHO AGREE WITH
HIM...
WHY DO WE DISAGREE?
NOW THERE IS A LECTURE I'D LOVE
TO HEAR.
WOULDN'T YOU?
BUT LET ME SAY ONE MORE THING
ABOUT GAY MARRIAGE.
UNLESS OTHERWISE PERSUADED,
PERSONALLY, I THINK THAT GAY
MARRIAGE IS ABOUT BOTH EQUALITY
AND LIBERTY.
NEXT WEEK, WE ARE BACK FOR THE
2007 BEST LECTURER COMPETITION.
TEN FINALISTS WILL COMPETE FOR
THE HONOUR TO BE THE BEST, WHILE
YOU, THE VIEWER, CAN WIN A
50-INCH HIGH-DEFINITION HOME
THEATRE SYSTEM.

A picture shows a flat screen TV next to a home theatre system.

Andrew continues NOT A BAD DEAL, IF I CAN SAY SO
MYSELF, ESPECIALLY GIVEN THAT
I'M NOT ALLOWED TO EVEN TRY TO
WIN IT.
I'M ANDREW MOODIE AND WE'LL SEE
YOU NEXT WEEK.

[Theme music plays]

The end credits roll.

bigideas@tvo.org

416-484-2746

Big Ideas. Producer, Wodek Szemberg.

Producers, Lara Hindle, Mike Miner, Gregg Thurlbeck.

Logos: Unifor, Canadian Media Guild.

A production of TVOntario. Copyright 2006, The Ontario Educational Communications Authority.

Watch: Roger Scruton