By James R. Otteson
A security of the 'classical liberal' political culture, utilized to modern day ethical and political concerns.
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Additional resources for Actual Ethics
The first and closest circle is the one which a person has drawn as though around the centre, his own mind. . Next . . contains parents, siblings, wife, and children. The third one has in it uncles and aunts, grandparents, nephews, nieces, and cousins. . The next circle includes other relatives, and this is followed by the circle of local residents, then the circle of fellow-tribesmen, next that of fellow-citizens, and in the same way the circle of people from neighbouring towns, and the circle of fellowcountrymen.
Smith says that a government charged with the vague goal of enforcing positive virtue would soon institute something like a society-wide “inquisition” (TMS, p. 105), endeavoring to peer into the inner thoughts of people, asking neighbors to spy and give evidence on their neighbors, and so on. 21 I recommend instead, therefore, the Smithian conclusion that society should restrict its use of coercive power to enforcing adherence to the rules of negative justice. Leave the encouraging of positive virtue to other means.
For example, given the constitution of the human body we can know that ingesting certain substances, such as mercury, can be unhealthy or even fatal, whereas regular ingestion of other substances, such as fruits and vegetables, is nutritious and even necessary for good health. Or, given the constitution of human psychology, we can know, for example, that prolonged isolation from other human beings will tend to be detrimental to one’s well-being, whereas loving and close associations with others are usually necessary for one to flourish.