Tag Archives: ethics

Justice Scalia Meets T.E. Utley

This week on Facebook I posted six abstracts taken from a 1968  paper by T. E. Utley with the title What Laws May Cure. Some Eighteen years later, in 1986, Justice Scalia was appointed to the Supreme Court of The United States. Both men held morality central to their tenet and were both pragmatic conservatives, but whereas the former was concerned with politics formulating the law, the latter was concerned with the law dispensing justice. Discovering Justice Scalia’s views on morality and the law seems an apt moment to reintroduce the views of T.E. Utley¹.

Laws may be capable of doing little good, but we have learnt that they are powerful engines of evil, of consequences which their authors never intended or foresaw but which press hardly and deeply into the lives of ordinary people. T. E. Utley – What Laws May Cure Read more of this post


One of the most important tasks of the wise legislator in the field of morality is to do away with unnecessary restrictions which merely discredit authority. T.E. Utley – What Laws May Cure

In the end, it is not government which supplies the content of morals or even plays the main part in conveying them from one generation to the next. In Western civilisation it is the function of the family. How to strengthen that institution by emphasising instead of persistently diminishing its responsibilities is one of the main questions now facing us. Though it is much too large to be debated here, one aspect of this question must be briefly mentioned. Read more of this post

Issues Of Principle

The one fact which surely does emerge clearly is that legislation about morals, which so often raises passionate controversy, is peculiarly unsuitable for the attentions of either confirmed, profes­sional ‘reactionaries’ or confirmed, undiscriminating ‘progressives’. T.E. Utley – What Laws May Cure

We could, I am convinced, have spared ourselves a good deal of emotion and reached, on various matters, much sounder conclusions had this truth been recognised. Read more of this post

Liberty And Law

To an extent which is not generally realised, current controversy on the whole question of the relationship between legislation and moral­ity is still dominated by the thinking of John Stuart Mill a nineteenth century liberal intellectual. T. E. Utley – What Laws May Cure

Since liberty was a good to be preserved, it followed that self-regarding actions were wholly outside the proper sphere of the State. A man’s liberty could only reasonably be curtailed in order to protect the liberty of others. It could never be right to coerce him for his own good. Could it really be assumed utterly wrong in all circumstances to restrain a man’s actions for the sake of safe-guarding his own interests? Read more of this post

The Conservative Dilemma

The notion that, if the function of the State is not precisely to make men good, then at least it is to establish the conditions in which they will be helped to be good and to present them constantly with a pattern of what constitutes good living, is far from wholly extinct. T. E. Utley – What Laws May Cure

Today, it receives expression in such maxims as society being held together by a common moral tradition which the law must express and maintain. How can the laws be obeyed if they are not loved, and how can they be loved if they flout or even fail to assert the deepest moral convictions of the people? Burke’s admonition to Government was that it must tolerate frailties until they have festered into crimes. How can a party which is so deeply concerned with the dangers of State interference in economic affairs look with favour on the intrusions of government into far more intimate sectors of life? Read more of this post

A New Examination Of Morals And The Law

Author’s Note

I had never heard of T.E. Utley until some years ago when I became acquainted with his son on the now defunct My Telegraph (MyT) blog site. I have now been acquainted with Charles Utley for some time and it was remarks made by Charles on MyT regarding his father that prompted me to get a copy of his father’s paper What Laws May Cure.  Written in 1968 it may be seen as irrelevant today but over the intervening years I have tried to condense it into a form suitable for a blog, intending to show its relevance but, to my mind, with limited success. I suspect T.E.Utley’s paper lies in the archive — lost — as it would have been to me and if found only of interest to old men like me who, in their dotage, contemplate on such things.

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