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Jeremy Pierce
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It's more than that. There's also a view of what sorts of actions involve participation in evil such that offering a plan covering these four contraceptive methods would amount to participating in the evil that is involved in using those devices. That's a controversial ethical claim, and it's one that Hobby Lobby and Conestoga are committed to, at least in part for religious reasons. But it's distinct from the view of the moral status of the conceptus.
The way I like to explain this to my students is that what exists of you has the fullest extent of happiness in the intermediate state but that there's more of you with greater capacities in the resurrected state, and so the fullest extent of your happiness is the resurrected state has a fullness of a different sort to it. It's not mathematically greater but there's more of you and more ways to appreciate it fully.
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Absolutely excellent post. I'll be posting on this soon, I think. One thing to think about: is it relevant that Jesus says those who rejected him in his day would have it worse than Sodom and Gomorrah, which assumes they were worse? I suspect they weren't morally worse in the ways you nicely detail in this post. Is it because they reject Jesus directly and in person? Or is he saying that rejection of him post-AD is worse than the biggest example of sin pre-AD? How does that affect the question of evaluating what Billy Graham said? I think it does change how we think about the question.
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I'm not trying to defend Sgt. Crowley here. You're right that the question I'm asking doesn't determine his innocence on the question of whether the arrest was legal. But it does have a bearing on whether Gates behaved badly in provoking the officer, and even if it doesn't excuse the officer it undermines the degree of victimhood Gates can claim. That does seem to me to be an important moral issue. What bothers me is that Gates hasn't questioned any particular elements within the report. Calling it fiction doesn't tell me any particular parts of it that he's insisting didn't happen. Since he's been willing to opine on the incident publicly, it's a bit surprising if he won't challenge any of the particulars of the report, if indeed it's inaccurate about what Gates did. I'd like for him to state what it is that he's calling fiction in the report. It's much harder for me to give the charge of fiction as much credence if he's not willing to make his charge specific.
Brian, last I'd heard Gates hadn't challenged anything in the police report. Is that still true? If it is, then it does somewhat undermine the claims that the police report is inaccurate. Given the claims Gates has since publicly made about this being an incident of racial profiling, there's nothing in the report that's all that surprising. I wouldn't have expected him to be the type to say the things in the report, but I also wouldn't have expected him to be the type to get all upset about an incident like this and call it racial profiling when there's genuine racial profiling directed against much less well-off black people who bear much more serious consequences from it. This incident reminds me those who complain about the so-called War on Christmas as if it's severe persecution of Christians, when Christians in Saudi Arabia and Indonesia are being beheaded for converting from Islam. Someone capable of that kind of exaggeration might well be prone to assume racism at the outset of an investigation into some very suspicious-looking behavior, and it's that very assumption of racism that seems to have gotten Crowley so upset (not that it follows that the arrest was justified). Scott, how is the Crooked Timber piece an apology for state violence? He does say that he thinks what Sgt. Crowley did is within the law, but he also said that he thinks President Obama was right to call it stupid. He insists that it was an unwise act that just happens to be within the letter of the law, but he thinks both parties did wrong. I'm seriously trying to figure out how that's an apology for state violence (not that any actual violence occurred here, from what I've seen; it's not as if Crowley and Gates got into a fistfight or anything).
I watched the whole hearings, and I find it ludicrous to say that the senators were "virtually ignoring the output of one of the longest judicial careers of any recent Supreme Court nominee". Most of the Republicans on the committee (I don't think all of them) did discuss the "wise Latina" comment. But i think only one or two devoted even equal time to political speeches when compared with decisions they wanted answers about. There were plenty of cases that got attention. These cases involved her jurisprudence on a wide variety of issues, from at least the 1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th, 8th, 14th, and 15th Amendments (off the top of my head; I'm sure more came up). As President Obama is fond of saying, it's the 5% of cases that are controversial that really matter, so it shouldn't be surprising that they focus on the convtroversial ones. But to suggest that they didn't discuss them at all and only discussed her speeches is at odds with the record. As for the speech itself, the worry is this. She said certain things in those speeches that seem at odds with how she now presents her judicial philosophy. The reason you can't just point to her appellate decisions to show that she's more like her confirmation-hearings way of describing things is that she made those decisions as an appellate judge, not as a Supreme Court justice. She was bound by precedent and would be reviewed potentially by the Supreme Court. Without those restrictions, she might not have quite the conservativish-sounding judicial philosophy that she has outlined in these hearings. Shouldn't judicial conservatives be worried about that? I certainly think so.
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I think a case can be made that Aristotle's theory is secular. He does appeal to the prime mover to explain the teleology that all things tend toward. The lesser gods imitate the prime mover, and all teleology on earth imitates them. But there's certainly no religion going on in this. It's a philosophical argument, just as Thomas Aquinas' arguments are philosophical rather than religious. The difference is that Aquinas supplements his philosophical arguments with a number of views that he fully admits he gets from special revelation (not that he bases his arguments for God on them but that he accepts further views like the Trinity on that basis), whereas Aristotle does no such thing. I do think some of these affect Aquinas' ethics, even if he seeks to develop his view without appeal to them. Aristotle's picture doesn't borrow in any way I know of from Greek religion. But I think what Parfit, Brink, and company are thinking of is appeal to a divine being as an explanation for ethical truths. Aristotle does in fact do that, even if you don't see him doing it in his explicitly ethical works. His ethics appeals to his teleology, which he does eventually trace back to the prime mover's perfection. In that respect, his ground of ethics isn't all that different from that of Thomas Aquinas. So he's not secular by that measure. But if Aristotle doesn't count as secular, surely Epicurean ethics does (and I would argue that Skeptical and Cynical views have no religious component). These figures were only the next generation. Epicurus does accept the existence of gods, because of course there must be something that explains what we see in the skies, and they had no contemporary theories for that, but he doesn't connect his ethics with them. If they're worthy of being called gods, they would be good Epicureans too, and they'd care about their own happiness, not ours, so there's no reason to fear them or to try to appease them. But the foundation of ethics has nothing to do with them, even if it turns out to be true (contingently) that there are beings called gods that are worth imitating. This ethical view is secular in its intrinsic structure. So the claim is just plain false. Parfit, Brink, and company are correct about one thing, though. Secular ethics didn't have much support in European philosophy during most of the Middle Ages. It was alive and well during Augustine's time, but it had almost disappeared by the time Thomas Aquinas was writing. I don't think there were very many notable figures I would count as developing a secular ethical view until Thomas Hobbes (although I'm sure there are a number I'm just unaware of or not thinking of at the moment).
The New Party describes themselves as social democrat, which is to the right of democratic socialism and to the left of the Democratic Party in the U.S. They agree with socialism on a number of things that most Democrats wouldn't agree with. They disagree that it will take armed revolution to achieve such things, but that's the main disagreement. As for Obama, it's clear in his books that he was pretty heavily invested in the leftist agenda of the community organizing groups under the Alinksy model. He has never repudiated those goals. What he chronicles, particularly in his first book, is his coming to accept that Alinsky's methods are never going to achieve anything. He encountered frustrating failure after frustrating failure in his community organizing attempts, and he decided if he was going to have an impact he'd need to be more pragmatic about it and work within the system as a legislator. That's when Ayers helped him get off the ground as a politician in the Chicago machine, and he's been implementing a gradualist/incrementalist strategy toward left ideas the whole time he's been in government. He's in some ways the John Roberts of the left. When he talks about his general tenor and immediate policies, he sounds moderate and not prone to making large changes at once, much like the Chief Justice. But Roberts is a real judicial conservative, and his time on the Supreme Court will indeed move things in a conservative direction very gradually if he has the votes on his side (and he's clearly been good at compromising to get narrower decisions that avoid sweeping left results while not achieving as much as he'd like; indeed he's defended that approach explicitly as what a good judge will do). Similarly, Obama is an idealist leftist in his ultimate goals, even if his immediate plans are much more moderate-sounding. It's not because he's moderate or even mainstream Democratic. It's because he realizes you have to start somewhere and might as well do only what you can get away with. Right now that means getting elected. Once in office, perhaps he'll remain somewhat moderated out of a desire for a second term. But with a Democratic Congress that will only get more Democratic, he'll be able to get away with a lot more, and the only ones to stop him will be the soon-diminishing blue dog presence in the House, who prevent the real liberals in the House from having a genuine majority.
Toggle Commented Oct 19, 2008 on Obama and Social Justice at Cobb
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The thing that frustrates me most about this is that McCain won't call Obama on any of this deceit. This is one issue, but there are two others that have been really bothering me. One is that Obama says he's going to decrease taxes (with no qualifier) on 95% of Americans. It's true that that's impossible if he's talking income taxes, for the reasons that this post should make clear to anyone thinking about it. But he doesn't say income taxes. He says taxes. Most Americans like me who don't make enough to pay income taxes do pay utility taxes, gas taxes, sales taxes (although that's all state and county), and so on. Those first two taxes will be increasing significantly over the next months and will skyrocket if Obama becomes president, as a direct result of policies that McCain would not implement. When you take those into account, I challenge anyone to figure out how his numbers are going to work so that I still get a tax decrease from my already-negative taxes given the huge increase in all the non-income taxes that I'll pay directly. The other element that's extremely deceptive in Obama's rhetoric is that he's completely ignoring the fact that when you implement policies like his you end up with more lay-offs, lower wages for those not fired, and higher prices on both necessities and conveniences, and I don't see McCain and Palin making this argument in response to his crazy 95% claim. It's unfortunate, because I'm convinced the turn in the polls toward him has largely been because people see McCain as having backward policies that will hurt them in the long run and see Obama as the next Reagan who will cut their taxes and make life a lot easier for them. If he's elected, they'll have done it not because they're getting what they thought they were getting, and the one person best placed to challenge these lies and deceptions (given that the media surely won't) is just not making the argument and simply leaving the most blatantly helpful argument Obama has stand without challenge. The fact is that McCain's policies would be much more helpful not just to the rich but to ordinary people who don't make all that much money, but the distorted presentation of it that McCain is allowing him to make disguises that fact extremely well.
Toggle Commented Oct 19, 2008 on Freakonomic Tax Numbers at Cobb
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I'm not myself a denier of some sense of white privilege, but I don't see most of these as plausible examples of it. There are certainly ways that white people face fewer obstacles to certain kinds of success. No discussion of that is comprehensive, however, without acknowledging that there are some, even if not as many, ways that black people are privileged and can accomplish certain things far more easily than whites. Several such ways even come to mind when skimming through this list. For example, I don't know of any white politicians who'd be able to get away with being called constitutional scholars when they'd never published a thing under their own name in peer-reviewed academic journals of any sort. Yet Obama regularly gets the standards lowered so he can be called by that unearned title. When a white woman manages to take white women voters who don't agree with her from the other party because she's a woman, it's because she's white. But Obama is immune to the same name-calling when he takes voters from the other party who don't agree with him on any issues. Many of them have even said they're voting for him because he's black. How is that not black privilege? It certainly undermines the claim that Palin is doing the same thing merely because she's white. I could see a relatively unknown black candidate energizing the GOP just as easily. Michael Steele was a lieutenant governor, not even a governor. Certainly not as qualified as Palin. The base would have loved him. J.C. Watts was in the House of Representatives, not even a senator. He would have been golden with the base. These aren't household names for most voters, even if political junkies know who they are (and any political junkie worth their salt would have known full well who Sarah Palin was at least a year before McCain picked her, because all the election blogs were touting her as a possible GOP VP pick that far back). I also have no doubt that most Democrats and most of middle America would have no problem supporting Obama (if they already do now) just because a daughter of his turned out to be pregnant. The GOP base would hem and haw about it, but they wouldn't vote for Obama to save their lives. Everyone else would say to leave his family alone and valiantly defend his daughter's right to her privacy. The only difference is that they'd also insist that she has a right to choose whether to abort, keep the child, or go with the adoption route, whereas conservatives generally don't consider the first option remotely compatible with basic human decency. This sort of hypothetical accusation is also not just a cheap shot but a pretty immoral one. It reminds me of Minority Report, where people get arrested for crimes they're about to commit but never end up committing because of their being arrested first. So they never did the thing they're condemned for. Many accusations of racism and sexism are of this sort. Some hypothetical is asserted without argument about what some large group of people would do in certain circumstances. Then that unsupported claim is supposed to support a racism charge, when in reality it's pure bootstrapping. There's also a lot of ridiculous overstatement here. It's a bit much to say Sarah Palin hasn't been criticized for firing people in her administration who weren't politically on the same page as her. It's well within her authority to fire them for any reason she might have. She's the chief executive. But she's been accused of abusing her power anyway. So why base a whole item in the list on the falsehood that she hasn't? Then there's the understatement that Obama merely knows some people in the Chicago political machine, when he learned under them as role models and owes his entire political career to their support. He consciously used the Alinksy model as a community organizer, and even though he's rejected it as a method for a more pragmatic, incremental approach, he hasn't rejected the far left ideals behind it.
Toggle Commented Sep 23, 2008 on Tim Wise Off The Deep End at Cobb
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I'm wondering what it means that philosophy isn't even on the list.
Toggle Commented Jul 27, 2008 on It Figures at Cobb
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One of these independent commissions (I don't remember which offhand) had also determined that the only thing keeping Saddam from reinitiating his nuclear program was the UN sanctions, which a number of people were trying to get the UN to stop. Saddam wasn't actively building any nukes, but he was on the verge of doing so and had materials in place to do so at a moment's notice if he could afford to do so. He was in fact on the way to such a place, or he wouldn't have been discussing purchasing more yellowcake from Niger. (Wilson's report didn't deny that he was in talks, only that he didn't purchase any.)
Toggle Commented Jul 9, 2008 on 500 Tons of Yellowcake at Cobb
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