The aspiration of humility

Sharp words from John Inazu’s paper:

The aspiration of humility requires even greater self-reflection and self-discipline than tolerance.  Within a confident pluralism, humility leads both the Liberal Egalitarian and the Conservative Moralist to recognize that their own beliefs and intuitions depend upon tradition-dependent values that cannot be empirically proven or fully justified by forms of rationality external to particular traditions. The liberal notion of “equality” and the conservative notion of
“morality” emerge from within particular traditions and practices whose basic premises are not endorsed by all members of the polity or by all of the private groups of civil society. Humility recognizes that we cannot presume these shared foundations within our current political practices and their epistemic limits.


  1. Sounds right to me. This is why, although I opposed gay marriage myself, in the context of a liberal democracy I have to recognize that people on the other side not only don’t see my point, they are pretty much incapable of seeing my point, because they’re operating from different premises. I can only hope for the same consideration towards my views, based on differing premises, on their part. If we can’t do that for each other, then we have no alternative but to fight over things.

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