Liberalism is doomed to failure, John Kekes argues in this penetrating criticism of its basic assumptions. Liberals favor individual autonomy, a wide plurality of choices, and equal rights and resources, seeing them as essential for good lives. They oppose such evils as selfishness, intolerance, cruelty, and greed. Yet the more autonomy, equality, and pluralism there is, Kekes contends, the greater is the scope for evil. According to Kekes, liberalism is inconsistent because the conditions liberals regard as essential for good lives actually foster the very evils liberals want to avoid, and avoiding those evils depends on conditions contrary to the ones liberals favor.
Kekes argues further that the liberal conceptions of equality, justice, and pluralism require treating good and evil people with equal respect, distributing resources without regard to what recipients deserve, and restricting choices to those that conform to liberal preconceptions. All these policies are detrimental to good lives. Kekes concludes that liberalism cannot cope with the prevalence of evil, that it is vitiated by inconsistent commitments, and that-contrary to its aim-liberalism is an obstacle to good lives.
AUTHOR: "John Kekes is the author of many books, including The Roots of Evil, The Illusions of Egalitarianism, and The Art of Life, all from Cornell."