The Moral Standing of
Modus Vivendi Arrangements
by Fabian Wendt
While John Rawls made the notion of modus vivendi arrangements prominent
in political philosophy, he treats them rather short and dismissively.
Some political theorists like John Gray, on the other hand, praise modus vivendi
arrangements as the only available and legitimate goal of politics. In this article,
I would like to present the outlines of a different, more nuanced view of modus
vivendi arrangements and their moral standing.
I start with some brief remarks on what modus vivendi arrangements are,
and what I mean by "moral standing." Modus vivendi arrangements are, first of
all, institutions that enable us to live together in peace under circumstances of
disagreement and conflict. They usually take the form of rules and laws. Peace
should be understood, roughly, as the stable absence of violence.