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The return of goodness

Contemporary liberalism's insistence that morality is a mere matter of rights and obligations empties life of its ethical meaning. We need a return to the virtue ethics of the pre-moderns, and a renewed conception of the good life

By Edward Skidelsky   September 2008

Morality is once again on the lips of politicians and commentators. David Cameron has warned that we are “becoming quite literally a de-moralised society, where nobody will tell the truth any more about what is good and bad.” He is echoed by Richard Reeves, new director of Demos, who argued in last month’s Prospect that Britain’s poor lack not only the material but also the moral resources to better their lot in life.

Behind these comments lies a flickering recognition that our nation’s central problems are moral, not economic. But any deeper reflection runs up against a principle entrenched in…

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