The standard that a society should actually embody its own professed principles is a utopian one, in the sense that moral principles contradict the way things really are --- and always will be. How things really are --- and always will be --- is neither all-evil nor all-good but deficient, inconsistent, inferior. Principles invite us to do something about the morass of contradictions in which we function morally. Principles invite us to clean up our act; to become intolerant of moral laxity and compromise and cowardice and the turning away from what is upsetting: that secret gnawing of the heart that tells us that what we are doing is not right, and so counsels us that we'd be better off just not thinking about it.


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