The Decalogue and Liberal Democracy

Rare is the scholar of politics or of law these days who would think to turn to the Ten Commandments to understand better the hard questions to which liberal democracy gives rise. But Leon Kass’s remarkable exploration of the Decalogue shows that these scholars have neglected a vital resource.

June 10, 2013 | Peter Berkowitz
About the author: Peter Berkowitz is the Tad and Dianne Taube Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. In 2019 and 2020, he served as Director of Policy Planning at the U.S. State Department. His writings are posted at
This is a response to The Ten Commandments, originally published in Mosaic in June 2013

Scholars of politics and law continue to debate whether liberal democracy—that form of government grounded in the consent of the governed and devoted to protecting the rights shared equally by all—is rooted in moral preconditions. Since liberal democracy obviously rests on the fundamental moral premise that all human beings are by nature free and equal, the persistence of this debate testifies to nothing so much as the ability of intellectuals to cloud almost any issue.

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