The legacy of Joseph Raz

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Does liberalism without individualism, human rights at its foundation, and a belief that the state should stay out of people’s lives even make sense? Joseph Raz, who died on May 2nd, believed it did.  Raz was a world-renowned legal and political philosopher whose book, The Morality of Freedom, offered a way of marrying liberalism with a traditionally opposed political philosophy: perfectionism. According to the latter, the state has a duty to actively promote the good of its subjects, whereas liberalism has been traditionally understood as supporting the state’s neutrality when it comes to how people live their lives. Political philosopher and past doctoral student of Joseph Raz, Steven Wall, explains how seeing autonomy as a fundamental human good allowed the marriage of liberalism and perfectionism. Liberal political theory is a family of competing views.  The differences between the members of the family are important, and have occupied the attention of writers for some time, but it…

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