The Decent Society
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Decent Society by Avishai Margalit
Book DescriptionHow to be decent, how to build a decent society, emerges out of the author's analysis of the corrosive functioning of humiliation in its many forms. Avishai Margalit writes from experience at the borderlands of conflicts between Eastern Europeans and Westerners, and Palestinians and Israelis.
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Book DetailsISBN: 9780674194373
(210mm x 140mm x 21mm)
Imprint: Harvard University Press
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Publish Date: 27-Feb-1998
Country of Publication: United States
Books By Author Avishai Margalit
On Betrayal, Hardback (February 2017)
Betrayal seems to have lost its grip on the public consciousness in liberal societies, yet it is all around us, dissolving the thick glue of trust that holds friends, families, and communities together. By focusing on the ethics of betrayal, Avishai Margalit offers a philosophical account of what we owe those who give us our sense of belonging.
Power of Ideas, Paperback (November 2013)
Collects essays whose connecting theme is the crucial social and political role - past, present and future - of ideas, and of their progenitors. This book covers a variety of subject-matters - from philosophy to education, from Russia to Israel, from Marxism to romanticism - so that the truth of Heine's warning is exemplified on a broad front.
Occidentalism, Paperback / softback (March 2005)» View all books by Avishai Margalit
"Succinct, elegant, and challenging . . . Its insights and the link it makes are illuminating, and help show that the divide between the West and its enemies is an old one."--"The Economist."
US Kirkus Review » Down to the last detail, an overly theoretical and abstract elaboration of exactly what would and would not comprise a decent society. In his seminal work A Theory of Justice, John Rawls postulated an ideal Kantian society designed along strict equalitarian lines. As a philosophical construct, it has been enormously influential. But in practical terms it has stood just a bit too far above the wicked ways of man. So, as a kind of compromise, Margalit (Philosophy/Hebrew Univ., Israel) offers a slightly more realizable societal framework, one in which "institutions do not humiliate people." Roughly modeled on George Orwell's passionate brand of humanitarian socialism, this is the decent society, the next best thing to Rawls's ideal society. Margalit is aware of the possible problems, quibbles, and exceptions to his beautiful model, and he feels compelled to chase after all of them. With a syllogistic fervor worthy of Aristotle, he proves this, refutes that, and argues about the other, until the law of diminishing returns has taken over completely and he is seriously fretting about such venal trivialities as snobbery and gossip. While the formal logic behind his arguments is impeccable, he sometimes veers close to elaborate tautology (always a problem with such metaphor- and definition-based reasoning). And many of the assertions buttressing the high towers of theory are extremely debatable. For example: "Punishment is the litmus test of the decent society." America has capital punishment. Mexico doesn't. Which is the more decent society? Even though his construct is more practicable than that of Rawls, Margalit seems less interested in political possibility than philosophical soundness, particularly in his absolutist conception of decency. Like a crossword puzzle, an ingeniously constructed matrix that cannot quite rise above being just a clever diversion. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Avishai Margalit
Avishai Margalit is the Schulman Professor of Philosophy at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is also the George F. Kennan Professor in the School of Historical Studies at the Institute for Advanced Studies. He writes regularly for the New York Review of Books.
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