Doing evil is bad for us

June 30, 2008 § 19 Comments

Among other things, that is.

People are always trying to reduce discussion of moral evil to a discussion of subjective culpability. I think that badly distorts the discourse. An evil act is always self-destructive, even if, due to invincible ignorance or a non-culpable error in judgment, the acting subject is not culpable for the evil.

Suppose someone is of the opinion that existing pro-choice law should be maintained for the time being, that in the current context of the United States subsidiarity justifies the pro-choice position, and that abortion should be combatted only on other grounds. This person believes that eventually abortion laws should change, but that at present the existing ones should be upheld.

Now suppose he speaks publicly to that effect. In doing so, he has objectively done evil, no matter how sincere he may be as a subjective matter.

And non-culpable evil is also bad for us. It commits us to objectively evil positions, from which it can be difficult to extract ourselves. The fact that it may in principle not be culpable moral evil doesn’t mean that it is not moral evil. It doesn’t mean that repentance is unnecessary. It doesn’t mean that we do not need to relenquish our attachment to it.

Supporting Pro-Choice Law is Itself Immoral

June 30, 2008 § 7 Comments

It must in any case be clearly understood that whatever may be laid down by civil law in this matter, man can never obey a law which is in itself immoral, and such is the case of a law which would admit in principle the liceity of abortion. Nor can he take part in a propaganda campaign in favor of such a law, or vote for it.

(Emphasis mine)

Propaganda about ‘finding other ways’ while favoring existing permissive abortion law isn’t merely bad policy. It is evil. Even if someone genuinely thought it was an effective tactic, likely to improve abortion statistics more than unequivocally opposing the existing wicked laws, it would still be evil to do it.

Ultramontane Moral Relativism, Again

June 28, 2008 § 18 Comments

Nobody should make the mistake of thinking that Catholics should believe that the Iraq war was unjust because the Magisterium said it was as a particular judgement. In fact the Magisterium said no such thing, but even if she had, one should not believe it for that reason. That is ultramontane nonsense of the highest order.

The Iraq war was surely initiated unjustly, because the manifest facts do not conform to the Just War doctrine. But the notion that Weigel and company were wrong because they did not share in the prudential judgement of the facts as understood by the Magisterium is errant nonsense. The Magisterium herself claims no special charism, indeed expressly disclaims any special charism, in the assessment of such facts.

Weigel and company were wrong because their arguments depended on premises obviously counter to manifest facts combined with a self-serving (mis)interpretation of the JWD. They weren’t wrong because their opinion conflicted with the Magisterium on a particular judgment regarding the actual justice of the war.

The problem for those who supported invading Iraq isn’t that the Magisterium says they were wrong on the facts. It is that the facts say that they were wrong on the facts.

(This post is a slight edit of a comment I made in this thread)

What does the word "tergiversation" mean?

June 28, 2008 § 4 Comments

(HT: Get the Flick)

Consent Does Not Determine Justice

June 26, 2008 § 15 Comments

The saying goes that the just powers of a government derive from the consent of the governed.

That, not to put too fine a point on it, is complete poppycock.

A just power is an exercise of government authority which one is morally required to obey. “Give unto Caesar” is an archtypical example for Christians. One is morally required to give unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s. One cannot excuse onesself from this moral requirement by claiming that Caesar’s powers do not as an historical matter derive from the consent of the governed.

Under the hood the ‘consent of the governed’ narrative is designed to replace the natural law with consent: to equate what is good with what is willed. It is of a piece with the modern revolt against God and nature.

(Cross-posted at What’s Wrong with the World)

On the Power of Compounding Interest

June 25, 2008 § 25 Comments

I really fundamentally disagree with much of the modern way of looking at things, but sometimes you have to reach people where they are. The following is in many ways a terrible analogy from my perspective; but maybe someone will find it helpful just the same.

I propose the following game for reflection.

Suppose we have an account in which we store some currency. Lets call this currency ‘evil’. Our task is to keep it to a minimum.

Every four years we get to choose one of two interest rates on the principal. The interest rate can be either positive or negative, in theory – a negative interest rate would eat away at the principal, while a positive interest rate adds to the principal – but in practice the actual choices we are given are always positive numbers. Also, the process is such that the more positive the interest rate is in the previous cycle, the more likely we are to have higher rates this cycle.

How can we keep the balance of this account from growing without bounds?

Stop playing along with the stupid game, that’s how. It is one thing to err by making the perfect the enemy of the good; it is another entirely to make the lesser evil the friend of the greater.

Quote Guessing Game

June 25, 2008 § 4 Comments

So, who do you think said the following to the San Francisco Chronicle?

“I’d love to see a point where it is irrelevant, and could be repealed because abortion is no longer necessary. But certainly in the short term, or even the long term, I would not support repeal of Roe v. Wade, which would then force X number of women in America to [undergo] illegal and dangerous operations.”

If you guessed John McCain, you guessed right.

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