The Mass-Marketing of Hell

November 9, 2008 § 64 Comments

A number of people reacted rather strongly to this post (cross posted here), as if I had said something shocking. The part that got the strongest reaction is where I re-state the Catholic doctrine that formal cooperation with grave evil is mortal sin, and that when we commit mortal sin that means we will go to Hell for eternal damnation unless we repent, confess, and do penance.

(As I mentioned in the comments, I don’t know if God in His grace grants some or all a final chance at repentance upon death: I hope so, but too much of that kind of hope can easily turn into presumption, and in any case my hopes are not doctrine.)

I have a suspicion as to why the reaction to a simple restatement of doctrine in plain terms is so strong.

When we think about the phenomenon of mass democratic elections, of course we ourselves are very cognizant of Catholic doctrine with respect to remote material cooperation with grave evil. But we all know that the guy next door, the man sitting next to me at the ball game, my brother in law and even my brother, etc are not cognizant of Catholic doctrine nor do they much care to be cognizant of Catholic doctrine, even in many cases if they are Catholics, and even when we talk to them about it. We know, for example, that a lot of folks voted for Obama because they saw him as “tolerant” on abortion, that is, because he supports the legality and even expanded legality of abortion.

In other words, we know that for most people, including all these real faces and names surrounding us in our own day to day lives, and even if not for our enlightened and virtuous selves, mass democratic elections provide new and easy opportunities to engage in formal cooperation with grave evil: grave evil which is remote enough in real terms from a person’s actual life that it would not normally be one of his strong personal temptations. How many people, in their day to day lives, are faced with the real prospect and temptation to declare an unjust war? How many people, in their day to day lives, are faced with the real prospect and temptation to sign an executive order permitting abortions on military bases or releasing millions in funds for Planned Parenthood? How many people, in their day to day lives, are faced with the real prospect and temptation to authorize the torture of captives to extract information? Not many. But the phenomenon of mass democratic elections presents the opportunity for everyman to formally cooperate with these and many other grave evils.

I’ve mentioned before that engaging in hypotheticals about acts very far from the reality one actually personally faces presents new and unnecessary opportunities to formally cooperate with grave evil. Mass democratic elections insure that this is extended to the populace at large and embodied in concrete acts of formal cooperation through voting. Just as with hypotheticals more generally, it isn’t strictly necessary for individual acts of voting in mass democratic elections to involve formal cooperation with grave evil. But as a mass social phenomenon, for most people it does.

Giving everyday people many opportunities to formally cooperate with grave evil which would not ordinarily impinge on their own day to day lives seems to be part of the mass marketing strategy of Hell. And it seems to be working.

(Cross-posted)

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§ 64 Responses to The Mass-Marketing of Hell

  • Anonymous says:

    You seem to have a tendency to reiterate your points, Zippy Catholic. This is puzzling. If you write what you know to be true to Catholic dogma, you answer to no one but Christ. He never apologized for speaking truth and neither should you. Period.To vote for Obama was, in fact, wrong for Catholics. The Bishops were clear on the fact. I don’t like when my own wrong is illuminated, but I pray that I will always be accountable for my wrongs no matter how they are pointed out and confess them when necessary.Your readers should do the same.

  • zippy says:

    Well, I like to think that there are some new points in this post – in particular about democratic elections as a social and moral phenomenon – which build on previous ones, and are independent of the particulars of the latest election.

  • Anonymous says:

    The democratic has all but destroyed itself by it’s stubborn refusal to release liberalism and embrace it’s own immortality. This is why the party increasingly becomes more extreme–the further from God the party ventures, the closer to Hell the party finds itself. That this election was far from a landslide win is a sign of hope.Your leadline is appropriate. If those who read it are made uncomfortable, let them work out within their own souls the true source of why.

  • Anonymous says:

    Well Zippy, I hope you’ve repented for voting for Bush, whose decisions also led to the deaths of many innocent people. Oh wait, I forgot, Arabs aren’t people. Maybe you would care about them if they were fetuses?

  • Scott W. says:

    <>Well Zippy, I hope you’ve repented for voting for Bush, whose decisions also led to the deaths of many innocent people. Oh wait, I forgot, Arabs aren’t people. Maybe you would care about them if they were fetuses?<>If I recall correctly, Zippy didn’t vote for Bush either. We could probably have a good discussion on just war doctrine and application and whether anyone intends to kill innocent people with a war. Of course it would help if all parties dropped the desire to score a zinger on others. As the progressives would say, “Let’s dialog!” :)

  • Marion (Mael Muire) says:

    As the progressives would <>say, “Let’s dialog!”<>Can’t. Dialog. Anon 12:07 hasn’t distinguished between formal cooperation with evil and remote material cooperation with evil. Important distinction, for the purposes of this discussion. Can’t distinguish? Won’t distinguish? or Hasn’t yet, but able to distinguish? is the question that interests me about the thinking behind Anon 12:07′s post.

  • Scott W. says:

    <>Can’t distinguish? Won’t distinguish? or Hasn’t yet, but able to distinguish?<>Yeah. I was kinda of using it as sunlight to seperate the humans from the vampires. :)

  • zippy says:

    Just to confirm the comments:(1) I didn’t vote for Bush. I argued during both of his candidacies that we should not vote either for him or his major party opponent. Folks are welcome to evaluate post-facto the wisdom of my advocacy on those questions.(2) The anonymous commenter is indeed failing to distinguish between formal cooperation and remote material cooperation. The point to this post twofold: (1)to reiterate that formal cooperation with grave evil is mortal sin; and (2) to point out that whatever subtle theological arguments can be made in favor of remote material cooperation with evil through voting, the vast majority of voters formally cooperate with evil when they vote.Folks may draw their own conclusions, from those facts, about the main social and moral function actually performed by present-day mass market democratic elections (independent of what they are intended to do in the abstract); though the post title is a hint.

  • brendon says:

    <>Oh wait, I forgot, Arabs aren’t people. Maybe you would care about them if they were fetuses?<>I read that and I had to double-check the URL to make sure I didn’t accidentally go to the wrong blog, one written by some other “Zippy.” Because I have some vague memories of Zippy first coming to my attention by arguing that the Iraq war was unjust, and doing so in a manner that forced me to reconsider my position and eventually change my mind.Zippy, have you been seamlessly replaced by you Mirror Universe evil twin without anyone noticing? And did you always have that goatee?

  • zippy says:

    Welcome to the blog of < HREF="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bizarro_World" REL="nofollow">Bizarro Zippy<>.

  • Marion (Mael Muire) says:

    Oh! I thought Brendon was alluding to the alternative universe portrayed in Star Trek’s “Mirror, Mirror” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mirror,_Mirror_(Star_Trek).I like the picture of the evil Spock in a goatee and the evil Kirk wearing the “wife-beater” version of a Star Fleet uniform.

  • zippy says:

    Ah, that is logical.

  • Anonymous says:

    “With the Incarnation (Holy Communion in us), forever remove the curse that entered the world through Adam.”TO BE OR NOT TO BEThe current USCCB should focus THIS HIPER-SCANDAL:A surgical attendant in an abortion is automatically excommunicated and… the brains-leaders-law designers- (Biden, Pelosi, et all “Catholics”) of the cold blooded murder are not.And they are ALLOWED by the USCCB to name themselves “Catholic”. LEADING TENS OF MILLIONS OF FAITHFUL TO BE CONFUSED (VOTED FOR THE INFANTICIDE CANDIDATE, AND ESCR).THE SLAUGHTERED, BUTCHERED, DISEMBOWELED LITTLE VOICES CLAIM TO HEAVEN!!! More so than the Hitler's Holocoust (that was wraped).This genocide (biggest of mankind) is OPEN, “civilized, aseptic, & heralded as choice!”Lets illustrate this, with an anecdote:Abp. Wuerl, YESSS the one who refuses to take responsibility of the Eucharistic historic MEGA-SCANDAL in DC… represents the USCCB fog machine (of vague-darkening statements) going full blast.Said Wuerl:“‘Faithful Citizenship’ says, are the life issues. I believe that’s what we’re going to be judged by historically, down the road. I think one hundred years from now, people are going to look back and wonder how it was possible that we could have had a culture that builds into it the wholesale destruction of unborn life”.WOW! Does he 'look back & wonder', or is asking our forgiveness? Not. Neither the USCCB.It takes a very hardened face to pontificate anew this, after YEARS PASSED BY… eluding responsibility to teach and enforce JP II's Encyclical EVANGELIUM VITAE (1995):“The serious demographic, social and family problems which weigh upon many of the world's peoples and which require responsible and effective attention from national and international bodies, are left open to false and deceptive solutions, opposed to the truth and the good of persons and nations.The end result of this is tragic: not only is the fact of the destruction of so many human lives still to be born or in their final stage extremely grave and disturbing, but no less grave and disturbing is the fact that conscience itself, darkened as it were by such widespread conditioning, is finding it increasingly difficult to distinguish between good and evil in what concerns the basic value of human life”.Deep regardsGuillermo Bustamante

  • Anon says:

    <> Can’t distinguish? Won’t distinguish? or Hasn’t yet, but able to distinguish? is the question that interests me about the thinking behind Anon 12:07′s post.Well Zippy, I hope you’ve repented for voting for Bush, whose decisions also led to the deaths of many innocent people. Oh wait, I forgot, Arabs aren’t people. Maybe you would care about them if they were fetuses? <> Marion, I wish to make the comment, as Anon, that the poster you were criticizing posted as Anonymous. I am not Anonymous, and generally don’t post that way. I never post that way when I intend to follow up a thread more than once. Further, I would never have made that comment about Zippy. I knew he had not voted for Bush the second time, and suspected about the first. But even aside from that, gloating about the evils of Bush’s record if Zippy HAD voted for Bush would have been a far, far cry from intelligent in any case. I ain’t that knuckle-headed.

  • Anon says:

    <> How many people, in their day to day lives, are faced with the real prospect and temptation to declare an unjust war? <> But isn’t it true that any willing cooperation with an unjust war (that is, a war you could readily recognize as unjust if you opened your eyes to the facts available to all) would be immoral? Lot’s of people all over the world have that opportunity thrust upon them each year, as there is hardly a year gone by without some new unjust war breaking out. And as for abortion, well, the voting for it would not be so darn common if the actual act were not so darn common. If the average is 1.4 million a year, then probably a couple of my neighbors had one in the last couple of years.

  • e. says:

    Guillermo Bustamante:Dude, get a blog. seriously.While your comments are certainly welcome, the equivalent of what ostensibly seems a blog post are really beyond what comments generally are supposed to be.That is, unless of course, Zippy does indeed enjoy them; then, I withdraw my request accordingly and, furthermore, apologize to both gentlemen.

  • Anonymous says:

    “Marion, I wish to make the comment, as Anon, that the poster you were criticizing posted as Anonymous. I am not Anonymous, and generally don’t post that way. I never post that way when I intend to follow up a thread more than once.”Seriously, do you folks honestly believe that assuming the generic name of Anonymous, Anon would not have led to such confusion?

  • Anon says:

    There are certainly many people who prefer to leave their posting anonymous. If so, they would probably not want to bother going through the additional step of actually putting in a name. But since these blogs are inherently not verifiable, I could put in anything at all, and indeed anything at all rather than “Anonymous” is equally useful to identify me. What if my last name happened to be Anon, anyway? Would you rather I use George W. Aquinas? Oh, the thought is revolting.

  • JohnMcG says:

    But couldn’t the same be said of a lot of things?I’m recalling a series of posts earlier where we discussed that anyone who publicly took the side of Michael Schiavo was guilty of formal cooperation with murder.Without modern technology, most of us would not have the knowledge or the means to do such a thing.–I’m not sure voting per se is the problem, since as we have been over before, voting is a singularly ineffective form of expression.

  • Marion (Mael Muire) says:

    To Anonmyous, I see that you have put thought and care into your work, and mind it when your readers seem not to recognize and give you credit for this. If I’m right, then may I suggest to you that a handle of mere “Anonymous” doesn’t work? It’s necessary to establish a brand of some kind, either by using your real name (which you don’t care to do) or, if anonymously, under a <>nom de blog<>. Could be “Seven-Eleven”; “Saint Ethelwaeld”; “Speedy Gonzalez”; “Big Guy”; “Hebdomedarian”; doesn’t matter what it is. A person could pick one, use it, stick with it, invest it with brand integrity, and thereby give others the opportunity to get to know you and appreciate what you have to say. Brand integrity is everything on the blogs, and to have it, you’ve got to have some sort of recognizable handle.

  • zippy says:

    <>But couldn’t the same be said of a lot of things?<>Yes, certainly, though in few other things (other than watching television, perhaps, where we do not necessarily resolve our hypotheticals into a concrete act of choice) do we engage in so many hypotheticals involving so many grave evils so remote from our own concrete lives. So it comes back to weighing what good we are actually accomplishing in the act versus what evil effects proceed from it. I think where this leads to is that we ought – in statewide or national contests at least – to exercise our franchise like idealists, not like pragmatists. Pragmatism – meaning a concrete choice to materially cooperate with grave evil – in a context where our actual personal influence is so locally scoped, so disconnected from the remote outcome which weighs so heavily upon our choice, is just a deal with the devil.

  • JohnMcG says:

    On the other hand, most of us today don’t have the opportunity to be part of a literal lynch mob or cheer on an execution, which may have been a strong temptation in earlier times.Which may make today’s sins worse, since it is not under the same pressure.

  • zippy says:

    Well, OK, but I doubt that the opportunity to be a part of a lynch mob was a frequent occurrence in daily life in times past.

  • e. says:

    “If so, they would probably not want to bother going through the additional step of actually putting in a name. But since these blogs are inherently not verifiable, I could put in anything at all, and indeed anything at all rather than “Anonymous” is equally useful to identify me. What if my last name happened to be Anon, anyway? Would you rather I use George W. Aquinas? Oh, the thought is revolting.”You complain to Marion that he was not supposed to confuse you with another anonymous — how is he supposed to <>not<> do that???The purpose for my having requested you to assume a handle other than anonymous was in order to prevent that kind of confusion you were complaining to him about.I could care less about who you <>really<> are, as if you were some significant <>somebody<>; although, don’t come complaining yet again if you are confused with another <>anonymous<> when you have assumed for yourself a generic name in kind!

  • e. says:

    “Brand integrity is everything on the blogs, and to have it, you’ve got to have some sort of recognizable handle.”Indeed.Which is why most folks skip over anything “MM” while paying mind to things controversially marked “Zippy”.

  • Marion (Mael Muire) says:

    Ahem.Actually, this <>Marion<> is a “she”. And it’s my real-life, real first name. <>Marion<> is a medieval French diminutive of <>Marie<> (Mary or Maria). The <>-on<> ending is the medieval feminine diminutive ending, and may be seen also in <>Fanchon<> (diminuitive of Francoise – Frances) and the well-known <>Mignon<> (as in filet <>Mignon<>), another pet form of Marie. Many modern sources spell <>Maid Marian<> of <>Robin Hood<> fame with the <>-an<> ending, but many of the older sources use the more traditional <>-on<>.Early on, several French or Anglo-French families, (most likely descended from progenitrixes named Marion), took that as their family surname. After a few more generations, as the custom of bestowing on <>sons<> family surnames as given names gained ground – e.g., Winston, Sidney, Douglas, Clifford, Stewart, Warren, etc. – parents began to bestow the name <>Marion<> on their sons, as well. And their daughters. Both, actually. It is confusing.Actually, I started out posting on the blogs of one or two Catholic friends whom I know in “real life”. Through their blogs, I Internet-met others, such as Zippy. My posts are – always – constructed with the utmost care and seriousness, and I try hard to add <>something<> of value to the discussion; I consider that to do so is an opportunity to do the Lord’s work, and I also consider it a privilege to be allowed to post as a guest on another person’s website. Many women don’t want their full real-life names published on the Internet if they can avoid it; I’m one of them. So Marion (Mael Muire) is a handle that fills the bill. My real-life friends know me (“Ah, that’s Marion _____, at it again) and my ‘net-only friends know me, too.

  • e. says:

    Marion,Thanks for that tidbit of erudition there!Though, I must confess my distaste for William the Conqueror as I assign him the blame for the utter complexity of the English language.By the way, what does “Mael Muire” signify?God bless (and sincerest apologies for mistaking you as a ‘he’).

  • Marion (Mael Muire) says:

    Dear e, no apology necessary. And thanks for your kind inquiry.<>“Mael Muire”<> is <>Servant of (the Blessed Virgin) Mary<>” in the Irish Gaelic language.Interestingly, the Irish traditionally used several forms of the name <>Mary<>; some, such as <>Maire<> or <>Mairin<>, they would bestow on their daughters, but the form <>Muire<> was reserved for Our Lady alone.

  • e. says:

    Marion, my thanks once again!You provide quite the learning experience (especiall for one as ignorant as I about such things)!Please continue with your efforts at doing the Lord's work here & elsewhere.Blessings,e.

  • Blogger formerly known as Anon says:

    <> Seriously, do you folks honestly believe that assuming the generic name of Anonymous, Anon would not have led to such confusion?It’s necessary to establish a brand of some kind, either by using your real name (which you don’t care to do) or, if anonymously, under anom de blog. The purpose for my having requested you to assume a handle other than anonymous was in order to prevent that kind of confusion you were complaining to him about. <> Gee, I thought that the blog de plume “Anon” (a) was spelled differently from “Anonymous”, (b) had different # of syllables, (c) looked different from “Anonymous, and just all around would not be readily mistaken for someone who had clicked the “anonymous” button instead of putting in a name. I guess I was mistaken. On the other side of the coin, I guess there are people who leap to all sorts of unwarranted conclusions, like an assumption that someone who enters “Anon” is obviously the very same person as one who clicks the anonymous button…does this reflect on the quality of their regular posts? Zippy, at the immediate level of the town you will have a modest amount of mathematical impact with your vote, and at the county considerably less so, and at the state level effectively none at all (according to your method of evaluating a vote). Naturally the federal level will be still less significant, if you can have less than effectively none. But in a world where subsidiarity is used to devolve duties and governmental powers, it is impossible that there not be levels of government at a greater remove than the town or county. If elected democratically, either your vote is going to directly choose federal officers, or someone you elect is going to. If the former, your vote is effectively (according to you) useless. If the latter, all this does is put your vote at one remove from the action, and does not solve the negligibility problem in the least (this is actually the case: I did not vote for president, in reality I voted for members of the electoral college, who will vote for president.) How then can subsidiarity guide a large democracy without making voting a horrible mis-chance of temptations to sin without a good reason thereof? It seems to me that what you say about the use of a vote means that no political structure should ever be arranged that puts voting at a higher level than the county (maybe not even that). Which means democracy above that level is practically immoral if not essentially immoral. Interesting that no church authority ever noticed that before. Are you in the least bit concerned that the other forms – monarchy and aristocracy (besides anarchy, which we can discount), have similar if distinct inherent moral problems? If they do, then would you be willing to say that there should be NO government above the city / county level?

  • e. says:

    Yeah — we must be the dullards since, clearly, the words Anon & Anonymous are essentially no different — no matter what they both denotatively and connately indicate.

  • Marion (Mael Muire) says:

    The following variations of the name Shakespeare appeared in print in English publications during the years 1544 to 1603: Shakespeare; Shakespere; Shakespear; Shakspeare; Shackspeare; Shakspere; Shackespeare; Shackspere; Shackespere; Shaxspere; Shexpere; Shakspe~; Shaxpere; Shagspere; Shaksper; Shaxpeare; Shaxper; Shakespeare; Shakespe; Shakp.And did you know that as long as the cansononts are in thier cerroct pisotoins, most poeple are able to read and make perfect sense of intere paragraphs with the vewols scremblad aruond? That’s because most people who read at the college level read “whole word” rather than just letter-by-letter. Most college-level readers who come across the abbreviation <>Anon<> will automatically fill in the blanks and read it as <>Anonymous<>. It is done unconsciously and instantaneously.The human brain is a remarkable thing! And it’s very important to know and understand how it works. Particularly, other peoples’!

  • zippy says:

    <>If the former, your vote is effectively (according to you) useless.<>When I say “has a negligible effect on the outcome”, people steeped in a utilitarian culture hear “useless.” But just because a vote has negligible effect <>on the outcome<>, that doesn’t mean it is pointless. Rather, what this implies is that as the effect on the outcome becomes more and more negligible, utilitarian or pragmatic reasons for making one choice versus another have less and less force. This further implies that as the scale of an election goes up, the more one objectively ought to vote like an idealist. In statewide and national elections the franchise should be exercised to support morally upright and good candidates independent of tactical, outcome-based calculations. In local elections, on the other hand, there remains some justification to vote tactically.In a morally extreme (though all too common these days) case, with a candidate whose positions are radically opposed to the common good to such an extent that he actively pursues an agenda of mass-murdering the innocent, I see no reason whatsoever to vote for such a candidate in a large scale contest. There <>might<> be a justification to do so in a small-scale election, though there are still contrary indications: for example, local officials tend to become state and national officials over the course of their careers, etc.<>Are you in the least bit concerned that the other forms – monarchy and aristocracy (besides anarchy, which we can discount), have similar if distinct inherent moral problems?<>Sure.<>If they do, then would you be willing to say that there should be NO government above the city / county level?<>No, I don’t see how that follows at all, though I do think that republican forms tend to concretely instantiate subsidiarity better than democratic forms.

  • Anonymous says:

    Dear e.:I contribute to many blogs, and recently to gentle Zippy, mostly because his brandishing the Vox-Novas as Auschwitz Debate Club, which I copy often.My input today:Jesus LOVE propelle Him to brand as white sepulchres, hypocrites, pigs, vipers, until when will I have to stand you stupid, etc., to those fond of the first positions and fancy garments, among other deeds.THE NAKED FACT (NOT bitter JUDGMENT) IS:USA abortion lawmakers (dozens of them!), WERE allowed by the USCCB to use the name Catholic, to be direct-formal authors of INTELLECTUAL COLD-BLOODED-MURDER.The point STILL is: many bishops do talk the talk but NOT walk the walk of excommunicating them. RESULT: MILLIONS (just check the numbers) of “Catholics” bought the actual non-negotiable genocide as trivial.RegardsGuillermo Bustamante

  • Blogger formerly known as Anon says:

    <> Rather, what this implies is that as the effect on the outcome becomes more and more negligible <> Well, that’s what I meant by “useless”, not the absolutely useless of a non action, but the effectively uselessness of a vote that does not matter in the least in arriving at an outcome. (Which is just using one of your descriptions). I have no idea why a vote is worth the effort of going down to the polling place if its effect is so negligible as you make out, whether it is cast “ideally” or pragmatically. I think your conception of voting as a public ritual is what makes it appear worthwhile even when it has no effect on the outcome. I reject that line of reasoning, because the effects of voting as a ritual, as a symbol, as a political statement, are all secondary ends. St. Thomas points out that achieving secondary effects takes place through, and precisely by reason of, the primary. (If they don’t come through the primary, they are not secondary, but <> accidental <> ends.) If voting has no effect on the outcome, then it is not worth a cup of warm spit, and it don’t matter how you dress up the secondary purposes.

  • zippy says:

    <>If voting has [a negligible] effect on the outcome, then it is not worth a cup of warm spit, and it don’t matter how you dress up the secondary purposes.<>That is one opinion. An electoral utilitarian of that opinion must necessarily conclude that voting in a national election is not worth a cup of warm spit.

  • blogger formerly known as Anon says:

    Do you disagree with my comment that in voting the symbol, the national ritual, and the form of political speech are secondary to the outcome of the election? Or you disagree with the comment that secondary ends are achieved by way of the effort to achieve the primary? In other words, would you care to argue it?

  • zippy says:

    <>In other words, would you care to argue it?<>I don’t see that there is anything to argue. Labeling various things ‘primary’ and ‘secondary’ is just an assertive semantic move. Reality doesn’t care how assertive we are in our semantic moves. <>In fact<>, an individual’s vote in a mass-scale election has a negligible effect on the outcome. <>In fact<>, voting has outcome-independent effects in addition to outcome-dependent effects; and <>in fact<> the relative potency of those effects changes with the scale of the election. <>In fact<>, participation in elections has social significance and is not treated by participants as being of the same value as a cup of warm spit. Semantics, however assertive, aren’t capable of changing the facts.

  • e. says:

    NO COMMUNION FOR YOU!!!<>Priest: No communion for Obama supporters: <>Priest says it’s because the Democratic president-elect supports abortion<><>COLUMBIA, S.C. – A South Carolina Roman Catholic priest has told his parishioners that they should refrain from receiving Holy Communion if they voted for Barack Obama because the Democratic president-elect supports abortion, and supporting him “constitutes material cooperation with intrinsic evil.”http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/27705755/

  • Blogger formerly known as Anon says:

    <> I don’t see that there is anything to argue. Labeling various things ‘primary’ and ‘secondary’ is just an assertive semantic move. <> In fact, St. Thomas Aquinas does it on virtually every second page of the Summa. If you think he is just playing at semantics, then you show that you don’t understand philosophy, theology, or the Church’s embracing of St. Thomas’s approach to these.

  • zippy says:

    Aquinas makes the same argument you do about voting in modern national democratic elections on virtually every second page of the Summa? You must have a different copy from the one I have. The one I have doesn’t talk about modern mass scale democratic elections at all.

  • Blogger formerly known as Anon says:

    I quote: Zippy said <>Labeling various things ‘primary’ and ‘secondary’ is just an assertive semantic move. <> I said <> St. Thomas Aquinas does it on virtually every second page of the Summa. <>The “it” in my comment is clearly the subject I quoted from your comment. The subject is a described general class of actions: “Labeling various things primary and secondary.” Nothing in your comment limited the sense of the proposition about semantic labels to voting. It was a general proposition about secondary versus primary as argumentative tools. I took it as a general proposition, and treated it as such. If, instead, you meant that labeling the specific things I have labeled in <> voting <> as primary and secondary are incorrect labels and thus I am merely using them as semantic tools, then your comment is pure puffery because it merely makes a counterclaim without providing any justification, and because it presumes that I put forward these labels without any intention of using right reason. It is possible that my labels are wrong, but you have not advanced a reason to think this. Did you think calling them “semantic” is proof of some kind?

  • zippy says:

    Again:In ANY particular kind of thing, merely labeling one thing primary and another secondary doesn’t make it so; and in the case of voting and elections, the facts are contrary to your labeling.I am quite sure that St. Thomas would agree with me that <>labeling<> X primary and Y secondary doesn’t <>make<> X primary and Y secondary. From my perspective you are just making a semantic move so that you can put your argument into the form of a Thomist argument in order to give it the aura of credibility. (And frankly, it <>can<> be a problem with modern neo-Thomists that they confuse their own assertive labeling exercises with reality, as if constructing the form of a Thomist argument makes reality conform to that Thomist-form argument).There is absolutely no reason for anyone to accept your assignments of the labels “primary” and “secondary” in the face of a reality which begs to differ. If someone said “the primary end of sex is to provide the body exercise” and proceeded to construct a Thomist argument based on that premise, the fact that the argument has a Thomist form doesn’t confer an aura of validity. My response to that argument would be the same as my response to yours: I don’t see that there is anything in the meat of the argument worth arguing, since the whole thing is based on a question-begging semantic move which is clearly counter to the observed reality. You assert that refusing to take your bait is “pure puffery”, but reality begs to differ: In fact, an individual’s vote in a mass-scale election has a negligible effect on the outcome. In fact, voting has outcome-independent effects in addition to outcome-dependent effects; and in fact the relative potency of those effects changes with the scale of the election. In fact, participation in elections has social significance and is not treated by participants as being of the same value as a cup of warm spit.

  • Blogger formerly known as Anon says:

    <> is not treated by participants as being of the same value as a cup of warm spit. <> I agree.<> participation in elections has social significance <> I agree.<> In fact, participation in elections has social significance and is not treated by participants as being of the same value as a cup of warm spit. <> If by the “and” you mean two separate claims not hinged on each other, I agree with each one separately. If you mean by “and” that the second one is related to the first as effect to essential cause, I do not agree. Post quid does not make propter quid. <> In fact, an individual’s vote in a mass-scale election has a negligible effect on the outcome.<> In fact, the outcome of the election cannot be located in any proximate cause outside of the set of all those individual choices to vote. Therefore, each of the individual vote cast must be considered causal to the outcome. The primary intent in the individual who casts a vote is to affect the outcome. <> In fact, voting has outcome-independent effects in addition to outcome-dependent effects <> In fact, people are willing to take on the “outcome-independent” effects only because they first desire to affect the outcome. If they had no intent to affect the outcome, there would be insufficient motivation to bother about the “outcome-independent” effects. Therefore, the intent to affect the outcome is primary to the outcome-independent effects. <> n fact the relative potency of those effects changes with the scale of the election. <> There are principles that determine the manner in which a vote, or a set of votes, determines the outcome of an election. Those principles do not in any way depend on scale. Therefore, the principles apply as much in a large-scale election as to a small election.

  • zippy says:

    <>The primary intent in the individual who casts a vote is to affect the outcome.<>An individual with that primary intent in a mass-market election is a fool. Reality doesn’t care about our foolishness.<>There are principles that determine the manner in which a vote, or a set of votes, determines the outcome of an election. Those principles do not in any way depend on scale. Therefore, the principles apply as much in a large-scale election as to a small election.<>You can assert that scale makes no difference in one’s influence over the outcome all you want, and pretty the assertion up with any words you want; but that doesn’t make the assertion any less ridiculous.

  • Blogger formerly known as Anon says:

    Here is one principle that determines how votes effect an outcome:Whoever gets at least 50.1% of the vote wins. Does this depend on scale?

  • zippy says:

    It doesn’t matter. An individual voter’s ability to change the outcome of an election clearly <>does<> depend on scale. Building a set of principles deliberately excluding scale and saying “see, these principles don’t depend on scale” is just begging the question in the face of a manifestly contrary reality.

  • Blogger formerly known as Anon says:

    <> Building a set of principles deliberately excluding scale <>Obviously we disagree on how voting applies to getting a result, and how to understand that process of cause and effect. Simply saying that my conclusions differ from yours, over and over, does not resolve the disagreement. I was attempting to reduce my conclusions to their necessary premises. You don’t seem to be willing to allow that process to unfold. I was not saying I had educed all of the necessary principles that apply. <> in the face of a manifestly contrary reality. <> Your idea of manifest reality and mine are very different. There is a phenomenon out there: in a great many large elections the vote margin was many, many votes. This is a manifest reality. Neither of us disagrees with this reality. It is the accounting for this reality in connection with the simultaneous accounting for an individual act of voting that is where we differ. This accounting is not “reality” in the same sense. It is only a prodigiously proud person who proclaims their account of a complex and multi-faceted phenomenon is itself manifest reality. If your account and mine differ, and I attempt to explain my account with the reasons by which it makes sense while you repeat that your account is “manifest”, which is the better mode of proceeding?

  • zippy says:

    Well, sometimes Johnson’s response to Berkeley is the right response.I don’t claim to have a comprehensive account, by the way. I just claim that as the scale of an election goes up, the ability of the individual voter to change the outcome goes down. This feature is indeed manifest. If your account is missing this feature, well, so much the worse for your account.

  • Blogger formerly known as Anon says:

    <> I don’t claim to have a comprehensive account, by the way. <> Whatever partial account you do have, and have been putting forth, is what is at issue. I don’t need a comprehensive account to disagree with yours.<> If your account is missing this feature, well, so much the worse for your account. <> My account actually looks at people’s intentions for choosing to vote. If yours is missing that, well, so much the worse for your account. If your account requires saying that people who intend to have an effect on the result are fools, then your account also requires saying that the founding fathers of the country were fools, for they explicitly foresaw the growth in population and size that you say causes one vote to have no effect on the result. While I know that the founding fathers were not Catholics (mostly), what we are talking about is not a point of specifically Catholic teaching and is a matter accessible to natural reason. I think I would put a lot more weight on their understanding of how democracy and voting works than yours.

  • Blogger formerly known as Anon says:

    <> I just claim that as the scale of an election goes up, the ability of the individual voter to change the outcome goes down. <> No, it is not all you claim. First of all, your point is really that as the scale of an election goes up, the ability of the individual voter to change the outcome by himself goes down. You also claim this (expected) ratio of his vote count (i.e. 1) to the margin of the outcome is an overriding moral determinant of both the manner in which one should vote and the intentions one holds in voting. You cannot claim this is “manifest” in the way that my fist is manifest (re Boz).

  • zippy says:

    <>I don’t need a comprehensive account to disagree with yours.<>Sure. I was just responding to you saying that I had to be terrifically arrogant to think that my “account” is manifest. I don’t claim that my “account”, whatever you take that to be, is manifest. What I think is manifest is that an individual voter’s ability to affect the outcome of an election by how he chooses to personally vote diminishes with the size of the election. Arguing with someone who refuses to grant the point is like arguing with a solipsist. Sure, I can’t “prove” him wrong to his own satisfaction, but I’m not sure why I would even want to bother trying to do so.<>If your account requires saying that people who intend to have an effect on the result are fools, then your account also requires saying that the founding fathers of the country were fools, for they explicitly foresaw the growth in population and size that you say causes one vote to have no effect on the result.<>Well, in the first place, the argument “if Zippy is right the founding fathers were fools” is not a particularly moving argument, even if one takes for granted that the founding fathers thought just exactly what you say they thought. The whole line of criticism is irrelevant.In the second place, you are moving the goal posts in how you paraphrase me. I didn’t say that someone who votes with an intention of affecting the outcome is a fool. I said that someone who votes in a national election with that as his “primary intent”, in the technical sense in which you are using the term “primary intent”, that is, in a sense which renders his act pointless unless he expects to have a non-negligible affect on the actual outcome, is a fool. And he is.<>You also claim this (expected) ratio of his vote count (i.e. 1) to the margin of the outcome is an overriding moral determinant of both the manner in which one should vote and the intentions one holds in voting.<>I don’t claim anything so specific, nor do I have to. All I claim is that as the scale of an election goes up, the outcome-dependent effects realized by the voters actual act decrease in significance relative to outcome-independent effects. At some point, most certainly by the time we reach the scale of a Presidential election, the outcome-independent effects are dispositive in any rational evaluation of the morality of his act.

  • zippy says:

    “Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost.” – John Quincy Adams

  • Blogger formerly known as Anon says:

    Interesting. I said:<> You also claim this (expected) ratio of his vote count (i.e. 1) to the margin of the outcome is an overriding moral determinant <>Then you replied:<> don’t claim anything so specific. All I claim is that as the scale of an election goes up, the outcome-dependent effects realized by the voters actual act decrease in significance relative to outcome-independent effects…the outcome-independent effects are dispositive in any rational evaluation of the morality <> You mean the relative impact given to the (so-called) dispositive outcome-independent effects is not on account of the ratio of the voter’s vote and the margin? But this is just what you said a dozen times. That ratio is precisely the middle term between the sheer size of the election and the outcome impact that you are pointing to, so of course it is. You are claiming just what I said you are claiming, you just left out the middle term I made explicit. Without the middle term, there is no connection between sheer scale of the election and the impact relations. If, in small elections, the nature of the vote is such that the primary reason to vote is to affect the outcome, then the secondary effects of ritual participation, etc. must be said to be effectuated in connection with the primary. Changing the scale of the election would truly change the ratio between on voter’s vote and the margin. By that fact, if you want to measure the impact that way, the result is that the voter has less of an effect on the outcome, and <> thereby <> his vote would be less effective in the secondary ends of voting as well. You are denying that there is such a thing as the primary end of voting because if you don’t, your conclusion would force you to admit that changing the scale of the vote would change the primary end, and thus make large-scale voting an essentially different kind of act, different in nature. Which could be considered a semantic ploy rather than straight up debate for truth’s sake. So I ask you: is there such a thing as the primary end of voting in small scale elections?

  • zippy says:

    The primary end thing is your schtick, not mine. My argument doesn’t depend on it.

  • Blogger formerly known as Anon says:

    Was that a yes or a no? My schtick is that there is. Do you disagree?

  • zippy says:

    <>Was that a yes or a no?<>No, it wasn’t a yes or a no.

  • Blogger formerly known as Anon says:

    IN other words, you are unwilling to engage the issue because you are not comfortable with where that leads. I have noticed this before in your debates when the debate is carried beyond the first, surface level of discussion into underlying premise, Zippy, and it is not very pretty. You purport to say “I don’t have a view about that point, my view was about another point altogether.” Yet, when the 2 points are separate facets of the same overall concept, (and when the 2 facets are linked by underlying principles) you have an obligation to either try to see how your point is or is not supported by the proposed underlying premises, or <> admit that at least in appearance <> your position does not satisfactorily sit well with the proposed premise or principle. Anything else is disingenuous debate.

  • zippy says:

    <>IN other words, you are unwilling to engage the issue because you are not comfortable with where that leads.<>ROFL! Yeah, I’m unwilling to engage solipsism and flat-earthism too, because I’m “not comfortable with where that leads”.

  • [...] consideration I’ve discussed before is that for most people, voting involves formal cooperation with evil.  So even when you, dear reader, are well-formed enough to avoid formal cooperation with grave [...]

  • [...] principle of double effect – as the next step after we have already satisfied the requirement not to formally cooperate with evil in our intentions, per Faithful Citizenship and other teachings on licit material cooperation with evil  - we need [...]

  • [...] in formal cooperation with evil.    Formal cooperation with evil is almost certainly, by far, the most pervasive  moral problem when it comes to democratic elections; and the Bishops’ preaching on how to avoid formal [...]

  • [...] the Bishops have focused on (and what I also focused on years ago here) is the first and by far most important bus stop: avoiding mortal sin, the most pervasive form of [...]

  • [...] and blogging is immoral. With this latter I agree. I’ve suggested before that things like voting and blogging provide plenty of vicarious opportunities to do evil; and where there are pervasive [...]

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