Innovation in politics is not innovation in moral principles

Allegory of Reason at the Basilica of Notre Dame in Lyon. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Allegory of Reason at the Basilica of Notre Dame in Lyon. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Innovation is never a matter of imitation, but it in the case of politics, this can be especially true. Kant wrote once that the worse service that can be done for morality is trying to get it with a deduction from some examples, because any example would be judged following principles of morality in order to know if it can be used as an original example, as a model. The example never can provide the concept of morality. For him, imitation has not got a place in the field of morality. Examples can be only stimuli moving people to act following moral rules. He thought that there are not moral principles out the pure reason. This thinking would be opposite to the scientific method. Morality would not be under the scientific field because it is not knowledge that can be acquired from any experimental method.

That former discussion is intending to show that scientific method could not be applied to all the human activities, and this is especially important in politics. Economic science can be used in order to understand how economy is working but it may not be applied directly to political decisions about economic actions if we want that politicians drive our societies following moral principles. This thinking would be shared by John Stuart Mill. For him, the aim of political economy is to understand the effect of political actions on economy but some political decisions could be made far from the economic principles searching for economic efficiency due to moral reasons.

Modern political parties all over the world are being configured without a strong moral basement. There is a growing trend to despise traditional moral principles that are never substituted by new ones, only they are substituted by economic principles in some cases, and morality and economy are two different spheres of the human societies. To build a society from morality without economic knowledge is not possible because economy is linked to natural resources, and we cannot search for a perfect moral world against the natural laws. On the other hand neither to build a society without morality is possible because morality is a part of the human nature too.

Both options selected sometimes by certain political parties are the reason why the complexity of our societies is growing. You cannot put gates to the countryside, or in more proper words, nature can be understood by science but it never will be able to be totally locked by technology. Human societies can improve their survival and comfort from technology. It can change the natural environment, but they cannot change natural laws.

Politics is a matter of reaching agreements, and agreements are easier to get when different parties in a society share the same moral basement, as in the previous centuries. The lack of a common moral basement in modern societies is driving our societies to a perpetual political confrontation. Following Kant’s thinking, it would be very difficult because morality would be an ‘a priori’ principle of the pure reason.

However, it is true that not all thinkers share Kant’s work.  There are people that think that moral can be built and innovated from examples or opinion surveys. A person can have some certain moral principles and four years later he can follow a different set of moral principles. But this kind of political candidates is not reliable, and although Kant may be wrong, can anybody think that it is good for the economic development of a country that it can be ruled by a kind of politician that does not provide stability to the actions of the state?

If we are tempted to change fast of moral principles and imitate other ones we had better look back to the history and try to measure which set of common moral principles around the world have produced the more advanced, freer and happier societies in the world and which ones are the reasons why they are entered in a declining state. Probably we will find that the main reason usually is the abandon of the moral principles that were basement of their social and economic development.


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