Book Review: The Decent Society, By Avishai Margalit

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The Decent Society Avishai Margalit begins his book with a definition of a decent society, which according to him is such a society that does not institutionally humiliate its members and people in its orbit. In other words, it is a society that does not violate the rights of people that are dependent on it. Regarding institutions, he distinguished between their actual behaviour and the behaviour that they should perform according to the law. Society is then defined as a nation. He admits that there are also other forms of society but for the purpose of this book he will keep it as a nation because nation has an especially great potential for institutional humiliation. A decent society is further compared with a civilized society. Civilized society is defined as one whose members do not humiliate one another, while a decent society is one in which the institutions do not humiliate its members. The main difference is that regarding the concept of a just society we speak about the relationship that individuals have with each other unlike regarding a decent society we consider the relationship between people and their institutions and therefore we speak about the setup of the society as a whole. The book and then addresses the…show more content…
The most important comparison is between a decent society and a just society. Every just society must be a decent one but the opposite does not apply. Only a society with notion of rights can have a concept of self-respect. A decent society is one that does not violate the rights of people dependent on it. The question is which rights have to be honoured by an institution of a society for it to be considered a decent one? The violation of which rights provides a sufficient condition for humiliation? The answer is that it is a minimal condition for people’s freedom of action, without which they could not be considered moral agents. Human rights are symptoms for identifying human

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