Judge Bork: Plain but Deep

From a Roger Kimball review of Robert H. Bork’s Coercing Virtue that appeared in National Review:

Like many profound books, Coercing Virtue does not attempt to say anything new. Instead, it does something that is at once more valuable and more difficult: It reminds us of old, familiar truths–so familiar that they are everywhere neglected. “Democracy” means the rule of the people and its duly elected representatives, not the rule of unelected judges. Professional do-gooders, intoxicated by the emotion of virtue, are dangerous threats to public tranquility.

Traditional morality became traditional largely because it provided sound answers to the hard problems of human frailty. Custom and convention are generally not the enemy of freedom but, on the contrary, something closer to its precondition. The single-minded pursuit of self-fulfillment is self-defeating. Individuality, like freedom, thrives best when limited by commitment and respect for values that transcend the individual.
These are the sorts of insights — plain but deep –that form the moral background of Bork’s argument in Coercing Virtue.

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