Saturday, March 29, 2003

This and that

Canadian, eh? Check out Curt Gebeshuber's site, and don't miss the initial picture of matrimonial bliss. Makes me want to get married again.

You wanna hear singin'? Go rent the 1997 Peanuts cartoon, "It was my Best Birthday Ever, Charlie Brown." When you hear Linus's new heartthrob sing Puccini's "O mio babbino caro" you will swoon. Great song, great singer. Hey, I take it wherever I can get it.

Thursday, March 27, 2003


God of the Machine has commented on the excellence of our warriors, and so has Aristotle. Aristotle even said that the courage of the warrior is the quitessential moral virtue. Of course, experienced warriors, pacifists, and others report that war is hell and should not simply be glorified.

Make no mistake; both points of view are right. War is hell. I hope my son becomes a warrior. War is amongst the most awful of things. Facing it and standing fast on the side of right, even during the most intense onslaughts, is at the apex of human attainment. To face hell, in order to protect one's people against undeserved assault, and to have the nerve to fight with excellence, is fine. Those who simply glorify war and deny its horrors, and those who disparage the warrior, are not to be taken seriously. Take for example the leftist twits who say that the manufacture of military weaponry is evil. (Some of these twits are full professors of philosophy at U. of Toronto - check the letters to the editor of this week's Globe and Mail.) There is a reason they are able to say this. It's that they aren't dead. And the reason for that is that the warrior protects them. Sometimes people overlook the horror of war and simply glorify it. But when they are brought up short by the gore, they should avoid inferring that it is inappropriate to venerate our warriors and recognize that what they do is fine, even most fine.


Thanks, again, to all of you who so kindly asked me to keep blogging. You've reversed the tide. Resolved: to blog on, albeit maybe only a couple posts a week. (If you don't know what I'm talking about because you haven't been here in a while, go here.) I'd like to continue with John Kekes. (One more post on Facing Evil and then it's on to A Case for Conservatism.) This Fall, I'd like to dig into John Adams.

A Steynism

Here's a chuckle for you: a Mark Steynism from about six months ago. Steyn maintained that bin Laden was not alive but was instead somewhere in Afghanistan "pushing up daisy cutter bits." I giggle over that one once a week or so.

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Permissible and Obligatory

These are two categories of right action. Obligatory actions are a kind of permissible action. (If an action is obligatory, you can bet it's permissible.) The invasion is permissible for the allies to undertake, since it reduces the physical insecurity of those innocents affects; an action can't be wrong if it only helps innocents. I don't think the invasion is obligatory. We sacrifice too many of our men in undertaking it. This sacrifice outweighs the good it does for innocents. The reason is that the number of innocents under threat must be very, very high to make it obligatory for us to risk around 1,000 of our soldiers to help them. How high, I don't know, but you get the idea: much, much higher than 1,000. Millions. In other words, the invasion is a moral option. We may invade, or not. Whether it is prudentially rational for us to invade (as I think it is) is not relevant to the moral question of permissibility. It may be imprudent, even foolish not to invade and still permissible. (On the other hand, it may be obligatory for our government to invade if the government has a duty to protect us. But leave that aside. Consider the U.S. as a single person.)

The shame of Canada, then, is not that it fails its duty to aid Iraqi innocents. It's shame is that it argued against, and rejected, the permissibility of the invasion; it thus impeded the mission psychologically and distorted moral facts. It's shame is that it does nothing to support the invasion, in the way of moral, logistical or financial support. It's shame is that it is a security freeloader. It won't fight, but it will enjoy the security of reduction of terrorism. And as Aristotle would have put it, Canada's shame is that the invasion is an example of fine action; Canada backs down, in cowardice, hatred and envy, from an opportunity to engage in fine action with its friends. Canada has a duty to help the invasion in some way. Chretien was upbraided today in Parliament by a right-wing Alliance party member. He immediately justified his withholding support for the invasion on the following grounds: that Canada is a sovereign state that acts independently. This non sequitur is always the first reason Canadians give for maintaining their broken socialized health care system: difference from the U.S. This is shameful. Oddly, Canada had a duty to help the invasion where the U.S. perhaps did not have a duty to undertake it.

(Notice I don't speak of the shame of the French and Germans. They are shameless, and there is no point speaking about shame in their connection. They are morally dysfunctional societies.)

Some kinds of permissible action are supererogatory: beyond the call of duty: for the sake of others and requiring concession of one's own interests. The invasion of Iraq is not supererogatory, since it is in the U.S.'s interest to take out the Saddam regime. But since the invasion is not obligatory, the fact that similarly distressed peoples go without U.S. rescue is not an indication of U.S. hypocrisy. The U.S. has a right not to exercise its option to take out other murderous regimes. That it decides to exercise the option in the case of Iraq is therefore no grounds for the prevalent charge of hypocrisy heard today on the left. On the contrary, the fact that the U.S. clearly takes the rescue of Iraqis as one reason for invasion implies that it ought to be thanked by the rescued people, as I'm sure it already is and will be. One thanks a fireman who risks his life for one, even if he has additional, self-interested reasons for saving one.

Like I say, I think Philosoblog has only a couple weeks left, because I'm far behind on sleep, have to change careers, learn chemistry, move 600 miles, etc., all in the next couple months. So, I should quit blogging.

But, then, deep in my Gemini heart I know that's a lie. Geminis are driven to do many things at once.

No it isn't a lie. I guess. Anyway, thanks to those who've so kindly expressed regret that I'll be signing off.

Monday, March 24, 2003


The anti-war crowd exhibits a Stalinism: a disposition to psychopathic callousness to the suffering of innocents whenever compassion would hamper the leftist agenda. I just asked a lefty colleague about the Iraqis who are happy to be liberated. He denied these reports and shrugged the idea off. I repeat:

Knocking out Saddam's regime makes innocent people in the region safer, even taking into account the short-term dangers of the invasion. This is because the regime will kill many more, if it is allowed to continue into the indefinite future, than will be killed by the invasion. (Gulf War 1991 civilian deaths: less than 3,000; Saddam kills 3,500 per month.) There is therefore no grounds to protest the invasion. There isn't even a remotely plausible case that it is wrong. The anti-war protesters are motivated by dogma, hatred, envy and stupidity. (We may psychologize when our opponent in dispute lacks any plausible argument whatsoever. He must hold his position for reasons other than argument: psychological reasons.)


"But the U.S. doesn't take out many other evil regimes in the world." This is a red herring. It is permissible to destroy those regimes, too. At best you could say that the U.S. is remiss in not doing so. But this wouldn't have the slightest tendency to show that it shouldn't knock out the Iraqi regime.

"But the U.S. has self-interested motives: to dissarm Saddam/steal oil/take over the world." Red herring. The rightness of an action is independent of its motives.

"Ah, but, you see, the U.S. does intend to take over the world, and taking over Iraq is a step in that direction." Like Afghanistan and Bosnia, I guess. This is tin-foil hat stuff. This is genuine delusional mental illness caused by hatred.

"But it's against international law." False, but even if true, irrelevant. If an action would otherwise be morally permissible, the fact that it is illegal hasn't even the slightest tendency to override and show that it is wrong. And in this case, international law is a joke because there is no international government. "But it's illegal" is a moral reason only when the action in question would contribute to anarchy. But there already is anarchy in the international sphere.

"But then any country will be able to invade any other country, now that they know UN approval isn't necessary." This is loopy. Is there any evidence that the U.S.'s disposition to punish aggressors will encourage aggressors? Even very, very stupid aggressors, who say, "Well, the U.S. gets to invade people, so we do, too."? The idea that bad regimes will be encouraged to invade decent countries is bizarre and there is not the slightest bit of evidence for it. Moreover, if the U.S.'s actions encourage decent countries to take out evil regimes, then that's good, not bad.

Sunday, March 23, 2003

John Jay Ray

See John Jay Ray's post about mental illness and the anti-war position.

The 1991 Gulf War killed less than 3,000 Iraqi civilians. Saddam's regime kills more people than that every month, on average. Therefore, anyone who says that it is impermissible to invade in effort to knock the regime out is either evil, mentally ill, or stupid. There is no plausible case against invasion. Therefore, the anti-war movement is motivated by hatred for successful Americans. The hatred comes from envy. The envy comes from self-loathing.

In envy and self-loathing, Canada has spitefully left Iraqi children to be killed by Saddam into the indefinite future. Canada deserves to be punished for this treachery and cowardice.

Saturday, March 22, 2003

Anti-War Vitriol as Mental Illness

The big, unnoticed story about this moment is that the anti-war hysteria is mass psychosis, social disease, bonafide mental illness.

Eleanor Clift exhibits a delusional personality disorder. Rod Dreher takes a glance at the extent of the social psychosis. Toronto protester, seething with anger on CBC radio: "It's just an imperialist action, it's totally pointless." That's bonafide mental illness. Try to think about removing the Butcher of Baghdad as "pointless". Notice that the U.S. did not take over Afghanistan and does not have an empire. "Tony" (below) says that disobeying the UN by taking out Saddam is encouraging "tyranny". This is double-talk. Saddam's crimes go unacknowledged. One screams with hatred at a careful, international effort to take the Butcher out. The hysteria prevents rational thought. And, yet, the hysteria is long-term, settled; the rational thought is not just mometarily eclipsed but fundamentally crippled. This is mental illness.

Friday, March 21, 2003

Canada's Shame

This is the most shameful hour in Canadian history. A dozen British soldiers died in an effort intended, amongst other things, to stop the torture and murder of hundreds of innocents. Canada could not be bothered to lift a finger, mainly because it is envious of the U.S. Cowardly. Evil. The two 78-eight-year-old Canadian men in my jazz trio are ashamed of Canada. When the war is over, and the success apparent, Canada will be shamed. We should pull our businesses out of Canada. We should move GM and Ford to Australia, Britain, Poland, Spain, etc. This will ruin Canada. In overwhelming numbers, Canadians supported Chretien's stand against the effort to stop the Butcher of Baghdad. To hell with Canada, the land of "We stick with socialized health care because we are envious of American success and need something special to be proud of." I can't wait to be back in a country of moral substance.

UPDATE: On CBC television news this Friday night: images of southern Iraqis joyously celebrating their liberation by allied forces, and gleefully tearing down a poster of Saddam. How can Canadians look at themselves in the mirror? Canada begins the century by going on record as standing against one of the greatest military liberations of an oppressed people in history.

Thursday, March 20, 2003


Boy, am I extremely proud and extremely grateful to be American, and eager to get back in six weeks time. Here's hoping we don't lose too many of our guys and gals in the war.

It is obviously permissible to take out murderous dictators, such as Saddam Hussein, Mao, Stalin and Hitler. The only plausible argument against the right to invade Iraq is that is will cause as many deaths of innocents as will be caused by the indefinite continuation of the Hussein dynasty in Iraq. There is little evidence that it will do so. So, the invasion is robustly justified, in light of the depth of evil of that dynasty.

I've been listening to the CBC radio call-in show for a couple of hours. None of the anti-war callers makes that, the only remotely plausible argument. They only make stupid 'arguments,' such as that the invasion is illegal or that America, being evil, lacks the moral high ground, or that Bush is just an imperialist, or that the UN sanctions against Saddam are working, or that the UN said, "No," and we ought to obey it. Try listening to the CBC for an hour, hearing ten callers call in and argue that merely because America has done some bad thing many years ago, it lacks the moral license to take the Butcher of Baghdad out. This should fill you with revulsion and despair at the depth of evil of which simple, ordinary folk are capable. After much consideration of the anti-war 'arguments,' I've been driven to the conclusion that the anti-war position is largely stupid and evil. Of course, there are a few against the war who are neither evil nor stupid but merely understandably confused. But the majority are simply stupid or evil. Unavoidably, their position is that:

We should let the Butcher of Baghdad and his sons continue to butcher people.

Since the only other option is the use of force, there is no way around this. This is what you must believe if you are against the invasion, unless you have a plausible argument why taking Saddam out would cause even more grief to innocents. Very few make that argument, and it is weak. So, the anti-war folks are largely evil or stupid. They are advocating evil, perhaps to some degree without understanding. They are therefore stupid and/or evil.

We all know that more than 50% of the anti-war crowd, upon reading what I've just written, would reply, "If you think that Bush's motive is to stop the Butcher from killing innocent Iraqi's, then you're the stupid one." They would consider this adequate refutation of my argument that the invasion is justified by the fact that it will take out the Butcher. But this 50%+ statistic is conclusive evidence that my thesis is correct: the anti-war crowd is either evil or stupid. Anyone who thinks that it's wrong to kill Hitler unless one has selfless and pure motives is an idiot or a Nazi.

Canada is against the invasion and has decided not to help the U.S. take the Butcher out. Spain and Australia, and many other countries, but not Canada. Fuck Canada. I can't wait to leave this moral wasteland. There are many good and wise Canadians, and for their sake, I'm sorry to say this. But democracy here has spoken in overwhelming numbers. Canada demands that the Butcher of Baghdad be allowed to continue to torture innocents to death. This demand is either stupid or evil. I'm out of here in six weeks. Fuck this place. And to hell with all the assholes who oppose the removal of the Butcher merely because they hate America. I can't wait to see the looks on their faces after America pulls off another in its long string of successes, the ones that drive them insane with envy and hatred, insane to the extent that they would allow the Butcher to torture children to death, rather than see Americans succeed yet again. The human soul is at best half evil. The anti-war people prove it as readily as Saddam.

Suppose it was widely known in the 30s that Hitler was a butcher and no one demonstrated against his crimes. Then suppose that some demonstrated against the U.S. effort to invade and take him out. I don't know what else to consider those people but Nazi sympathizers. "Oh, I'm no fan of Hitler, mind you; he's a bad guy. But we shouldn't invade and take him out." That's a Nazi sympathizer and one who lies about it. Now just insert "90s" for "30s" and "Saddam" for "Hitler". To hell with the anti-war crowd. They are no better than Nazis, save that their stupidity is a mitigating factor.

UPDATE: Stockwell Day (Candian Alliance Party politician, arging in favor of invasion) argued on CBC radio this Friday morning that the US action in the 1991 Gulf War cost 3,500 innocent Iraqi lives, the exact number of innocents that Saddam's track record shows that he kills every month on average. That the UN prefers to allow Saddam to stay in power for the indefinite future means that the UN is evil. This is not a matter of principled difference of opinion. This is a matter of evil, stupidity, hatred and jealousy intending to rule the world. Fuck the UN, and especially the rep from South Africa who said, when asked by the CBC reporter this week how he could oppose the invasion in light of the moral question at stake, said, with a laugh, "Morals are subjective." That's a demon cackling.

UPDATE: An American named "Tony" called in to the CBC radio call in show this Friday at 3:45pm EST. He voiced his opposition to the invasion of Iraq. He stated that we must obey the UN's laws, unless we are to allow "tyranny". This clearly demarcates Tony as the devil. Think about it. Of course, Tony went on to state that Bush was not democratically elected but selected by the Supreme Court. He thinks this is relevant to whether it is justified to take out the Butcher of Baghdad. Tony has "I am evil and stupid" tatooed across his forhead.

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Don't. Stop.

Since yesterday, there's been a little voice, or some writing on the wall, or something. Call him "Plod". He says, "You don't have time for this blog." "Odd," say I. "I don't recall asking for your opinion." "Dude, you haven't even had time to read many of your favorite blogs (over there on the left) for six weeks." “Thanks for reminding me.” “You have to sell your house and move your family 600 miles in the next two months.” “Fascinating. You’re a tremendous conversationalist.” “And then there’s the little matter of grading hundreds of papers this April. And how can we forget about finishing up our study of organic chemistry by May, and also getting a good grasp on thermodynamics, quantum mechanics, and chemical kinetics by the end of July. Did I mention that you need to pound the pavement for a job in chemistry this Spring?” “Shut up, you busybody!” “Heh, struck a nerve. Say, you’re coworkers remarked on how tired you looked today. You don’t have time for this blog.” “That’s it, just stick the knife in and twist it!” "Well? How are you going to handle all these tasks? “Shut up,” I explained. “You're going to make a blogwidow out of your wife.” “Who? Oh, yes. Ach! Plod! Maybe I don’t have time for this blog.”

Monday, March 17, 2003

Nothing, Really

Here's hoping that the number of casualties amongst the allied forces and the innocent Iraqis is unbelievably low.

A couple of comments have disappeared into Haloscan's netherworld (one was Alan's). Sorry if this happens to you.

Does Stumbling Tongue exist? Go to the left and click it to find out.

Posting is light at Philosoblog because I'm trying to sell my house, take in intro quantum mechanics, guzzle organic chemistry, raise my boy, teach three classes, etc. There'll be a final post on Kekes's Facing Evil soon, and then we'll move on to his A Case for Conservatism.

Bush and Blair can as little decide to bring peace to the Israelis and Palestinians as square the circle. People whose principle objective is to wipe you off the face of the earth can't be negotiated with. "Oh, but they don't want that. Surely they're reasonable and will settle for a West Bank state. It's Bush and Blair's fault for not moving the process forward." No, it's not, any more than it was America and Britain's fault in 1939 for not negotiating peaceful coexistence between Hitler and Eastern Europe. Hitler's goal was to have Eastern Europe. What room had he to negotiate? Either you have or you do not have. "But you can offer them part of the land." This was done. Very bad move. It was done in the case of Hitler, and also in the case of the Palestinians. Israel already gave the Arabs they're "Austria and Chekoslovakia": West Bank and Gaza. Surely people are good deep down and reasonable? No. Bush and Blair (if it's not a cunning PR move) are avoiding this fact. Many innocent Israelis will die as a result.

Friday, March 14, 2003


I've given up hope. I don't think the blog is coming back. R.I.P..

Tuesday, March 11, 2003


Just one more breather from moral philosophy: the celebrated 'problem of induction'.

What would count as evidence that inductive reasoning was unreliable? Nothing would count. Any evidence put forth against the reliability of induction would be either deductive or inductive inferences. Deductive inferences won’t get you anywhere. In that department, there is only Hume telling us that induction is not deductively airtight. Hume famously pointed out that the evidence afforded by our experience of the past does not give us certainty of the future, where “certainty” refers to the logical impossibility of error. All one can distill off from this argument is that induction is not deduction, which is trivial.

As for inductive evidence that induction is unreliable, i.e., not conducive to reaching the truth, well, this is an incoherent idea.

So, the question, Are inductive inferences rational? or Is induction truth-conducive? is a non-question. There is no problem of induction. Inductive reasoning is by definition rational, reliable, truth-conducive. "Reasoning" means "using deduction or induction".

Monday, March 10, 2003


I just saw Daniel Pipes speak. There are two points of great moral depth underlying his message that I've never noticed before:

1. Evil simply cannot be tolerated; it must be faced and relentlessly opposed.

The Palestinian attitude toward Israel is evil. It should be opposed with all force necessary and with no negotiations. You don't negotiate with someone trying to kill you. You use brute force to shut him down.

2. People are free to decide how to act.

The Palestinians can simply accept the existence of Israel and stop killing Israelis. They can build their own society. It's up to them to do.

These are fundamental truths. They are regularly denied by many analysts of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Sunday, March 09, 2003

Let's take a break from moral philosophy for a moment.


Consciousness (i.e., all mental states) is just states of the brain, functional states, like software being run, but nevertheless physical like software, rather than non-physical. The program running your web browser right now is physical, and, by the same token, so is the consciousness in your brain. Here's why.

If consciousness were non-physical, we could conceive of a physical, human body operating normally, exhibiting the behavioral and brain states of a normal person but being devoid of any consciousness. "Hello," it might say, as it smiled and shook your hand, with the lights on but nobody home. In other words, if consciousness were non-physical, it could be peeled away from the brain in a thought experiment such as this. We could conceive of the brain working its neural net as usual but without any consciousness being generated by its activities. Such a being we could call a "zombie," but it wouldn't be like the zombies in the movies who act sleepy. Ex hypothesi it would act just like you and I.

This is all boilerplate in contemporary philosophy of mind. The problem is the whole field zigs where it should zag. It accepts that zombies are conceivable and then either tries to squirm out of the resultant dualism somehow or just gives up and accepts dualism. But we cannot conceive of zombies. To conceive of a kind of thing requires that one have an idea of what would count as evidence that there was a thing of that kind. To understand "apple" requires knowing what counts as evidence that there is an apple on the table, for example. But no one has any idea what would count as evidence that someone was a zombie. Look into its eyes, shake the hand, but, try as you might, you have in principle no way of telling that your new acquaintance is a zombie. Does he not cry when hurt? Does he not swoon during courtship? Ex hyposthesi he does. So, the concept of "zombie" is meaningless. The word "zombie" is as meaningless as "round square". Therefore, "consciousness is non-physical" is incoherent.

This proves that consciousness is nothing more than synapses firing. It is inconceivable that mind and body exist separately.

Saturday, March 08, 2003


I'm sorry this guy only took one class of mine (two years ago: business ethics). He came across me by Googling for "blog Huron College," and was surprised by my right-wing virulence. One of my old profs is not a lefty? Holy crap! Here's Hugh's Studied Authenticity. Me likey!
The Conservative Philosophy of John Kekes (#10)
The book Facing Evil, post D. Previous post here.
[All of these posts are free-standing; you can jump into the series at any point.]

Given the pervasiveness of evil in humanity, we can cope with it with a variety of alternative strategies. One is the “pragmatic,” a progressive, social engineering-type strategy, which aims to conquer evil by gaining and applying knowledge of human social psychology. The problem with this strategy is that it is ambitious and would give us power, when we, being the very ones prone to evil, are therefore certain to use this power and license to do great evil. The problem is the failure to face evil.

Another strategy is the rationalist, or ironic. It aims to conquer evil by putting aside all of our desires, moving to the level of pure reason, and looking upon society from a lofty, impersonal, desire-free and therefore bias- and evil-free vantage point. This is the stuff of Kant and the contemporary philosopher Thomas Nagel (who calls it “taking a view from nowhere”). There are three problems with this approach to evil. It assumes that there is such a thing as desire-free, objective, practical rationality, when in fact Hume has demolished the idea. It also assumes that by attempting to reach a desire-free level of “pure reason” we will not become ironic and nihilistic, like the psychotic or psychopath looking down ironically at ants and burning them to death with a magnifying glass. Indeed, I submit that it is no coincidence that leftist, rationalist regimes are nihilistic and tend to mass murder (and, yes, Marxism is a form of rationalism in that it demands that our traditional desires be relinquished and replaced with more rational ones). This is the reason it shouldn’t surprise us that Stalin referred to the death of one as a tragedy and the death of millions as a statistic. Rationalism means well, but by voiding itself of natural, traditional desires, it tends to nihilism (again: Hume showed that without desires there are no reasons). Finally, rationalism gives us no good reason why it should be rational to relinquish those desires or why we should need a justification for them. Kekes asks rhetorically, “What sort of justification would be required for caring reasonably about what matters to us?” I’ve been making this point to anyone who will listen for many years. All that matters is what matters to us; this is at the core of conservatism. The history of moral philosophy has been crippled for its inability to see the point of it. Think of utilitarianism and Kantianism. There are other examples. In any event, you can see that the rationalist strategy ignores the immanent possibility of evil. It takes a step toward nihilism and toward preventing millions from doing the only thing it is reasonable for them to do: fulfill their values.

Another strategy for coping with evil is the romantic. It fills up with the feelings of challenge, adventure and heroism of facing evil. It is glad there is evil, so that there can be such heroism and adventure. It thus veers towards embracing evil, rather than fighting it. And it thus tends to overlook it. In a fascinating discussion, Kekes shows that Martha Nussbaum is so enthusiastic about Euripides’s Hecuba that she overlooks the evil and despair of Polyxena. Polyxena is made to bear her breasts before a crowd and she is then has her throat slit by Achilles’s son. She is utterly hopeless and in despair. Nussbaum sees her as full of hope, triumphant. Nussbaum doesn’t mention much about the great evil of the throat slitting, preferring to focus on Polyxena’s covering her private parts in her dignity as she bleeds to death.

This brings us to the tragic approach to evil: to submit to it as inevitable and unchangeable. Kekes reads tragedies as advocating a realistic and tragic view of life, according to which we should only face evil. The tragic view is too pessimistic, preferring to dwell on the idea that we are as likely to resist evil as the young Oedipus was when he fled his home to avoid killing his father and lying with his mother. Kekes’s view (to be explained in the next post) is similar to the tragic, in that it is not overly optimistic, recognizing that efforts of partly evil people to change evil are likely to succumb to evil, too. But Kekes isn’t so pessimistic. There is room for hope, for pushing the enemy back a few yards: the enemy within and without, namely insufficiency of character, expediency, and malevolence: evil.

(I’m not sure about Kekes’s reading of the great tragedies. Are they recommending forlorn resignation? Or is tragedy a literary motif, calling forth the tempered, realistic, and moderate resolution to resist evil that Kekes advocates?)

Friday, March 07, 2003


Has Iraq. He's said this before: We'd be justified in invading Iraq, even if we knew that Iraq posed no threat to us at all. When you add in the threat and the right to self-defense, it's an overdetermined case for invasion.

He says, "The only legitimate excuse for opposing the removal of Saddam Hussein, the only one, is that you hadn't yet realized how immoral your position actually was." There is an excuse in the case of those opposing the war on reasonably plausible arguments. Whether to invade a country is a complicated matter. But I think most opposition to the war is not based on plausible argument. In the case of those who oppose for easily refutable reasons, bad arguments, peace dogma, and the like, there is no excuse. Believing oneself to be in the right is not an excuse. If we could verify that Lenin believed himself in the right, would that be case that he was not evil? No. Only if one arrives at the wrong moral position by following arguments that almost anyone might be fooled by does one get a pass for acting on the wrong moral judgment. There is a great deal of evil about, and it's inexcusable.

Jon Jay Ray has slightly changed his blog's address. The new one is this.

Thursday, March 06, 2003


Check this out: Libertarian Parent in the Countryside. She's just seen Vagina Monologues "[I]it wasn't at all as bad as I would have expected," Alice says. I guess she must have expected it to be abyssmal, then!

UPDATE: On second thought, "abysmal". Thanks to Jay Nordlinger at NRO for unknowingly giving me the tip today!
God of the Machine has just the cop for Khalid Shaikh Mohammed.

Tuesday, March 04, 2003


On the radio show Coast to Coast they were talking about the human shields in Iraq, the Americans protecting the enemy. The host and guest said the shields made their blood boil. "Are they traitors or just stupid?" "Just stupid." "Yes." "They mean well."

You see, that's what Kekes is talking about (see Kekes posts below). We are living under a regime of thought according to which someone can choose to do evil and get a pass, on the grounds that he's stupid and means well. But the shields are obviously not stupid. And they are in full awareness doing evil. So, they are evil. Do they believe they are doing right? There is no determinate answer to that, I think. There are elements of malevolence, hatred, and envy, as well as moral judgment in their decision. But it isn't straightforwardly true that they think they are doing right. Even if they do think they are doing right, their cognition of right is in such disorder that they are disposed to do evil. They are not deluded, mind you; their thinking is perverse. One is responsible for the perversity of one's thinking. It's not like being slipped a hallucinogen which causes one to have a psychotic episode resulting in murder. No one is responsible to be cognitively prepared to resist that sort of influence. The shields are evil and traitorous.

The only other question is whether it's okay for me to hope that they die when we bomb. This is like the question of whether it is okay to torture Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the mastermind of 9/11, to death. It would be good if moral monsters knew that an unspeakably miserable death awaited them were they to act on their inclinations. Yet, wiser heads than I say that an execution of this kind would be wrong. But I worry that the temptation to refrain from meeting the darkness with the full force required to repel it is cowardice disguised as wisdom. One thing I am sure of is that it is okay to torture Khalid Shaikh Mohammed to make him speak. In fact, it's obligatory. It may even be obligatory to torture him to death afterwards, let alone permissible. Won't moral monsters think twice, knowing that if they act, the unspeakable awaits them? Shall we allow another monster to kill thousands because we recoil at the prospect of delivering this punishment? Be careful: To say that you don't want to descend to that level, that you'd rather take the high road, is either begging the question or worse.

UPDATE: See the link just above. I suppose Applebaum wouldn't mind allowing Stalin to kill millions more, if that were the necessary consequence of her declining to torture him. In any event, she supplies no argument for the anti-torture position.
One Good Turn
...responds to my previous post. What he says is true.

Monday, March 03, 2003

Do and Allow

The Counterrevolutionary says that the fundamental error underlying leftism is its belief that "if you claim that your cause is humane then all your arguments and subsequent actions are excusable." This is quite a Kekesian diagnosis. (See my series of posts on Kekes below.) For Kekes, as for CR, people should be judged on the extent to which they are disposed to cause evil, not on whether they "meant well".

I add that there is another fundamental error: the erasure of the do-allow distinction. This is the deeply held value that doing harm is morally worse than allowing it. (E.g., not putting the neighbor's kids through college is not morally equivalent to actively depriving them of a college education; does the denial of this distinction ring a bell?) The distinction is one that we cherish and live by. The threat from leftism is one of violence. The distinction is part of what makes life worth living for us; it represents liberty, the right to live unbeholden to the desires of others. Since there is no argument against the distinction, the stance of leftism is simply in basic opposition to us. There is nothing left for it to do but violence to us, in order to bring about the desired "progress". We won't part with fundamental values without a fight to the death.

The leftist erasure of the distinction flows from facts such as these: The rich allow the poor to be poor. People maintaining traditional Western values allow allow alternative lifestyles to go unappreciated, uncelebrated. Israel allows Palestinians to suffer. The happy and fulfilled allow the unhappy to remain unhappy, and they do this happily. These facts drive the leftist to shrieks of outrage.

The leftist disguises envy and hatred as moral indignance. The unhappiness in the world can be eliminated if only the well-off would fulfill their duty and stop allowing the harms. Their allowing the harms is supposed to be morally equivalent to actually doing evil.

But we will not part with the do-allow distinction. In addition to the fact that we cherish the value and have been given no reason to relinquish it, there is another reason not to relinquish it. Doing away with it puts the good at the mercy of the wicked. People have a tendency to be lazy and wicked. The wicked and lazy may take what the good have procured, if do-allow is done away with. The good may not defend themselves against this attack if do-allow is done away with. The result is any one of the hell-holes known as communist states. Murder to get there, misery after you arrive. Liberty rights are not merely self-interested. They protect us all from evil, human nature being what it is.

CR may be right that it is time to stop playing the game of debating with leftists. There is no rational debate here. It's simply a cultural war. Many millions have died already.

UPDATE: The do-allow distinction should not be confused with the position that no one has a duty to help others (i.e., the position that it is never wrong to allow harm). It may be gravely wrong, even punishable, to allow someone to die. This does not entail that allowing harm is morally equivalent to doing harm.

Saturday, March 01, 2003


My employer, Huron College, has decided to lower admissions requirements for people who are not white men, on the grounds that the college ought to represent the various kinds of people in Canada and the various things about people that are important to them. Most importantly, their grounds are that "All people are of equal dignity and worth." Oh, yes, Osama bin Laden and the little brats who waste taxpayer money by coming here, not reading, not showing up to class, and defecating on educational values - these people are of equal dignity and worth to the students who study hard and perform wonderly, to John Adams, and to the people who took down the plane in Pennsylvania on 9/11. Equal dignity and worth. A civilization going down the toilet.

Jean Chretien said yesterday that Saddam should not be removed. In substandard English, he said that we should disarm him but not remove him on the grounds that, once you start changing regimes, where do you stop? Moron. You can't disarm Saddam unless you remove him from power. Chretien runs a country? I'm glad it isn't my country. Oh, yes, and "where do you stop?": Is that supposed to be an argument? From a head of state? On an important policy question? Oh, my god.

Some bitch named Parrish who is a Member of Parliament up here in Canada said of Americans that we are bastards and she hates us. She also claimed (as NRO dug up) that the U.S. gives Israel billions in military aid for the purpose of pounding on defenseless people huddled in tents. The reaction from Canada? A groan here and there, but mostly a yawn.

The lesson: attacking rich white men is in vogue. And it masquerades as taking the moral high ground. This is a widespread social disease. I suppose the cause is communications and envy. The modern world gave people the communications tools necessary to see spectacular freedom and success. They saw and envied. They also were treated to an education which, while not enough to compensate for their lack of cultural substance, did enable them to articulate their envy in crafty ways. In addition, there was French and German philosophy, 1750-1980. Rotgut. The two causes created the deplorable situation we face today. And there's probably more to it.