Unnecessary Necessity

October 24, 2008 § 26 Comments

Tom has joined the throng of folks who disagree with my argument that nobody should vote for national candidates who support murdering the innocent, which I summarized here. He takes careful aim at the weakest spot in my argument: my specific premise that this kind of act of voting does election-outcome-independent harm to the persons who do it and those within their immediate sphere of influence. Tom notes that while such harm may be commonplace and grave, it isn’t necessary.

And I agree that it isn’t strictly necessary, though that isn’t something I highlighted in my argument summary, which is after all just a summary.

My position is not that the outcome-independent harm necessarily follows; just that it follows for almost everyone almost all the time. Given that it does, the chances are very good that it does for me, that is, the person considering the act; and given the negligible effect of my act on the election outcome, it would be imprudent for me to assume otherwise.

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§ 26 Responses to Unnecessary Necessity

  • Anonymous says:

    Please read in The Curt Jester:By Guillermo Bustamante on October 23, 2008 1:48 PM “The authors say nothing about Obama’s support for taxpayer funding of abortion, which the abortion lobby itself suggests will result in many, many more abortions; nothing about his stated commitment to make passing the “Freedom of Choice Act” the very first thing he does as President”…And the Obaminator wouldn’t be elected, if practicing Catholics demanded responsibilities from the self-complacent, negligent, lack of Catechesis from the USCCB.As a foreigner in my trips to USA I was baffled by the routine sacrilegious Eucharist receivers (unlike in Latin countries, where a big portion of churchgoers don’t receive, because they KNOW are in grave sin).I guess is the Protestant influence in your country, that many think that one can be a self-styled “Catholic pro-abortion” (sic), like so many scandalous lawmakers.

  • Anon says:

    <> just that it follows for almost everyone almost all the time. <> Well, maybe it does, and maybe it doesn’t. But that is not much of an argument either. Most people, even whenever they are doing a reasonably good act that is not wholly sacrificial, do it with some admixture of will that is not perfectly disposed. They do it from baser motives than simple, pure love of God: they don’t want to look bad in other’s eyes, they enjoy the praise of others who laud them, etc. This is in no way an argument that one should avoid doing acts that are in accordance with God’s will but are ALSO at least in part in harmony with one’s one preferences. Your suggestion would have us avoid all good acts that some people do with defective will. The correct argument then, is: do what the Pharisees say, but not <> in the manner <> they do it. Instead, do it with pure heart. If voting for a man who is bad but less bad than the alternative is the prudent way to vote, then go ahead and vote for him while at the same time keeping in mind the necessary strictures about material cooperation with evil.

  • zippy says:

    <>Your suggestion would have us avoid all good acts that some people do with defective will.<>Well, no. My suggestion would have us avoid acts which, almost all of the time, have bad effects on the persons who do them and/or those within their immediate sphere of influence, and at the same time have negligible capacity to achieve the good end at which they are directed.

  • Anon says:

    But all good acts that we do with impure or wrongful motives have a bad effect on us. The fact that someone else (or many, many someone elses) ALSO do these good acts with bad motives does not affect how I myself do it. The solution is not to stop doing these good acts, but to correct our motives. Zippy, far and away the vase majority of sexual acts are entered into with lust. For me, though, it is irrelevant how others enter into it – their moral harm in no way affects whether I enter into the act with evil heart and reap evil effects from it. My job is to enter into the act with pure motives, and this is open to me each time no matter how high a percentage of others’ such acts bring evil.

  • zippy says:

    <>The solution is not to stop doing these good acts, but to correct our motives.<>For acts of material cooperation with evil which are efficacious in achieving the good end at which they are aimed, I agree. Voting in a national election is not that kind of act though.

  • JohnMcG says:

    The behavior of Catholics who have committed to one of the two candidates is exhibit A for this view.I also think that some of these have troubled consciences, and paper over them by exaggerating the flaws of the other candidate, and thus those who support him (or those who refuse to support their candidate.This is causing some real wounds in the Body of Christ, which I fear more than the policies either of the candidates will enact.

  • JohnMcG says:

    With that in mind — let me propose one general rule that maybe even those (including myself) who might disagree on voting for candidates who support killing the innocent may agree on.Catholics should not commit to or endorse any candidate who supports killing the innocent or some other intrinsic or manifest evil. We should instead devoting ourselves to prayer, fasting, and work such that a candidate wil emerge with more acceptable positions. We should always hope that with God’s help, the candidates’ hearts might be changed.If Election Day arrives, and no candidates have done this, then we might get into double-effect type analysis. But until then, we should not give ourselves over to such a candidate.

  • Anon says:

    John, I don’t disagree with that – my family and I have been making a rosary novena for this sake. I don’t discount God’s power and grace, and pray for it to be showered on us in great abundance. And I suppose that it will, even if the outcome of the election does not LOOK like a vast outpouring of grace. Nevertheless, in talking about using wisdom, prudence, and purity in the election, it ALSO makes sense to examine and discuss likely alternatives. The chances of an alternative that one of the leading candidates will become pro-life and announce that by Tuesday is, for purposes of prudence, ummmmm…slight. When my pastor (a truly orthodox priest – who is telling people to re-think participating in Halloween because of its connection with superstition and worse), and my bishop, and Fr. Frank Pavone than whom nobody in this country is more pro-life, and a cardinal from the Vatican whom Fr. Pavone was interviewing on EWTN, all say the same thing, I have to think that it is pretty likely to be sound: using the right to vote prudently means taking the option that, in prudence, will bear on the best of the available choices that has a reasonable chance of succeeding. <> Voting in a national election is not that kind of act though. <> Zippy, give it a rest. I have been unable to locate even ONE single moralist of public weight who suggests even the merest hint that this line of reasoning has merit. And that includes past moralists as well. Your notion of how voting has its effect is just ludicrous.

  • JohnMcG says:

    I guess I would say that telegraphing that intent while some candidates still hold unacceptable positions makes it less likely that they will move to acceptable positions.

  • zippy says:

    <>Zippy, give it a rest.<>No. I will not give it a rest while Church parking lots are filled with bumper stickers singing the praises of candidates who support murdering the innocent. I will not give it a rest while the blogosphere and the Catholic media are filled with paeons to how pro-life McCain is, despite his status as an ESCR mass murderer. I will not give it a rest while pro-life organizations are busily and diligently removing ESCR from their comparisons of issues of import to pro-lifers. I will not give it a rest while Catholic lay organizations are frantically and desperately switching gears, from one election cycle to the next, from a polemic of ‘non-negotiables’ to a polemic of ‘proportionate reason’.I will not give it a rest until they put my cold, dead body in the ground.

  • zippy says:

    <>I have been unable to locate even ONE single moralist of public weight who suggests even the merest hint that this line of reasoning has merit.<>Oh, and not that I think the argument from missing authority has any merit, but I suppose < HREF="http://ethicscenter.nd.edu/archives/macintyre.shtml" REL="nofollow">Alasdair MacIntyre<> is a nobody?

  • Lydia McGrew says:

    John McG, just the other day you said“given that I am nevertheless likely going to vote for Obama.”And you’ve been saying things like that for months. I just searched your archives. You had a few second thoughts in August, it looks like, but by yesterday, was it, we were back to the above.So how was that again about not “telegraphing your intent” to vote for a candidate who supports the murder of the innocent? What was that again about not endorsing such candidates? I’m sort of…astonished to find you saying things like this here and things like that over there.

  • JohnMcG says:

    I’ve been thinking and praying about it.That my bishop has taken a stance has given me pause.

  • JohnMcG says:

    I think you should also note that that comment is in the context of a post defending single-issue voting.Which I think has been the character of most of my posts since the summer.

  • Lydia McGrew says:

    I agree with you about single-issue voting. Just makes it all the more baffling.I am very distressed about, and publicize, the compromise of the pro-life movement and the way it is being led astray by McCain boosterism, but a pro-lifer’s voting for Obama is entirely bizarre. I have said before quite clearly that I do acknowledge which is the _lesser_ evil, and that fairly evidently so. It is just that I have rejected the “lesser of two evils” approach to voting.

  • Anonymous says:

    Mr. Zippy:Please read my comments at The Curt Jester:By Guillermo Bustamante on October 22, 2008 12:14 PM “According to a Gallup poll published last year for an extensive study of U.S. Catholicism called American Catholics Today, 75 percent of U.S. Catholics said you can still be a good Catholic even if you don't obey church teachings on birth control”.NOT MUCH LESSER IS THE PERCENTILE OF MORONS WHO BELIEVE THIS utter oxymoron:The Infanticide Candidate will reduce abortions by promoting abortion! OR THAT YOU CAN BE A PRO-CHOICE CATHOLIC (sic).Unless we demand from the main responsible, USCCB, to excommunicate the morally bankrupt “personal opposed, but…” formal-direct abortion cooperators lawmakers Biden, Pelosi, Kerry, Kennedy, Dodd, etc., the Catholic blogs & multimedia will deservedly be mocked as:AUSCHWITZ DEBATE CLUBSPS:Congrats for your brilliant nickname to Vox Nova. I sort of made it mine.

  • Anonymous says:

    Plus:By Guillermo Bustamante on October 24, 2008 1:44 PM Powerful is your image. Now, do you want to bomb the murderers nest? Look:1) Congratulations for moving people to ask the intercession of San Martin de Porres, most fittingly, because he represents the two ethnic bloods mix (Hispanic + Black), who are TARGETED by the racist PP ads + abortion chambers-mills locations for the current genocide in USA.2) “It is a tragic irony that ‘pro-choice’ candidates have come to support homicide – the gravest injustice a society can tolerate – in the name of ‘social justice’. Scranton Diocese Bishop Joseph F. Martino”.So, where is the bomb? Is 1) + 2) = Pray to St. Martin to make the good bishop feel a tiny part of the pains felt by just one day aborted babies, in order to have the spine of “talk the talk and WALK THE WALK”.What walk?To bomb the murderers nest (USA Congress), via PUBLIC excommunication of HIS Diocese citizen, direct-formal cooperator of abortion Sen. Biden, who scandalizes the entire world bearing the title “Catholic candidate for VP of the most powerful country in the planet”.Is not that enough scandal?More to the point: Biden publicly snubbed Martino’s kind invitation to discuss in private the issue (1st step to be excommunicated). So?Walk step 2: Warn him publicly: “If you don’t recant publicly in five days notice…”Then walk to step 3:PUBLIC EXCOMMUNICATIONCAN YOU IMAGINE THIS BOMB FIVE DAYS BEFORE THE ELECTION?PS: I’m struck by an inane recounting of… How many USCCB bishops are in favor?Listen LOUD!Even all USCCBs can’t change! Rome’s clear doctrine on excommunicating formal direct abortion cooperators, or Evangelium Vitae!!We are Roman-Catholic! Not American-Catholic as some Protestantizers would like!Aaaand: nobody puts a pistol in your head to be orthodox! You are FREE to leave!!!By Guillermo Bustamante on October 24, 2008 2:01 PM My reference to Evangelium Vitae by JP II (1995), points that is horrendously compromised by USCCB’s “Faithful Citizenship” statements: are so vague that they can be taken by anyone to mean whatever they want (which is, vote for the Obaminator!).

  • Anonymous says:

    Mr. Zippy:“I will not give it a rest while the blogosphere and the Catholic media are filled with paeons to how pro-life McCain is, despite his status as an ESCR mass murderer”.Are you playing into the devil's dividing the faithful? Or is a matter of the lesser evil?Please read:By Guillermo Bustamante on October 24, 2008 8:59 PM Mr. Miller:This video encapsulates why Pro-Lifers are being defeated. How so?Quite simple: by one elementary political rule, Machiavelli’s “Divide and triumph”.Exactly (like in a Harvard’s case study) it illustrates how, this ONE MAIN non-negotiable: the historic-biggest genocide known to human kind, one that leaves Hitler’s Holocaust, and Stalin’s Gulags as mere apprentices, is put beside of multiple… Bingo! (Says the devil) others non negotiable!For starters you have ten non negotiable Commandments, and hundreds of derivates.So, the devil, laughing aloud yells: McCain supports ESCR!!! And there you go: the whole debate gyrates around his being an adulterer, his wife supporting rape-incest innocent’s abortions, or if you are a GOP puppet.Genocide's lawmakers dance in the fog.Jesus warned: Woe to you Pharisees who chase mosquitoes and let pass a camel!Yes, swallowed by the divisions game, the Catholic media (without a foggiest idea) end up contending for the AUSCHITZ DEBATE CLUB title, like Vox-Nova (obsessed by Palin being less prepared than Carter or Bush Jr.), or Inside Catholic’s censor Saint-Paul fixated on the ultimate mosquito, Palin scarf!, or his wife on Flannery, Hudson on the metaphysics of Catholics in the same footing than Evangelicals, and so on.In a previous post here I pointed:The general tenor of the USCCB's, has been mealy-mouthed. They consistently oppose abortion, but with the same tone and force they also oppose, for example, “poverty in America,” global warming, capital punishment, the war in Iraq — thus burying a moral absolute under a series of Democrat-friendly moral imponderables, and wantonly confusing an unambiguous doctrinal issue with a smorgasbord of secular judgment calls.Cordially By Guillermo Bustamante on October 25, 2008 9:02 PM Many millions of Catholics out and in USA are flabbergasted & appalled meditating:If we Christians Pro-Life were a SERIOUS (key title) majority, abortion would be history, and we wouldn’t be accepting scraps from the Republican Party table.So, to further the analysis of our divisions (direct cause of the defeat), we have to enlist the guide from the Blessed Mother (today 25th in Medjugorje):“Stop the devil's plan over this world, which is further from God every day, and which puts itself in the place of God and is destroying everything that is beautiful and good in the souls of each of you”.Nothing better than a case study to analyze this:Case: Auschwitz Debate Club (Vox-Nova). Policraticus -after months of hurting himself with Palin- wakes up, watching a video –posted there- which unlike the video criticized here, is not divided in 5 (of hundreds) non negotiable, but is focused ONLY in the Obaminator avowed increase of genocide.(The ONLY way to win a war is not to fight everywhere at the same time, but SERIOUSLY concentrate one battle at a time in the front line).Then what happened? His just married wife “destroying everything that is beautiful and good in…” their honeymoon, declares he will sleep in the couch, because she doesn’t like him voting for Godzilla.Mind you: in this saga of Alien-Obaminator versus Godzilla both are monstrous, but only one of them vows to increase the yearly million babies offered at the altar of Moloch.

  • Anon says:

    <> Voting in a national election is not that kind of act though. <> <> Zippy, give it a rest. I have been unable to locate even ONE single moralist of public weight who suggests even the merest hint that this line of reasoning has merit. And that includes past moralists as well. Your notion of how voting has its effect is just ludicrous. <> <> Oh, and not that I think the argument from missing authority has any merit, but I suppose Alasdair MacIntyre is a nobody? <> Zippy, I looked up this link, and it says not ONE SINGLE WORD about anything related to your hypothesis that my one vote, or your one vote, any anybody’s one vote, is irrelevant in terms of having an effect on the outcome of the election. The whole, complete article is about other matters: first how NEITHER major candidate is tolerable, and then it goes off on a thinly disguised liberal re-distributionist diatribe having nothing whatsoever to do with how a vote is or is not efficacious. I too don’t put too much weight into argument by authority as such. But when you are presenting a moral concept that shouldn’t be novel (we have, after all, been voting for several hundred years), there ought to be a reflective body of thought about it.

  • JohnMcG says:

    It is not Zippy’s “hypothesis” that your vote will not have an impact on who serves in the election — it is a manifestly obvious mathematical statement.Zippy’s hypothesis is that voting for a candidate who supports killing the innocent causes damage to oneself. MacIntyre’s article addresses the evil we do to ourselves when we accept a choice between evils.

  • zippy says:

    If you don’t like McIntyre, you can always try < HREF="http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-chat/1824376/posts" REL="nofollow">Plato<>:<>So now we can see why Plato had some unflattering opinions of democracy; for a philosopher concerned with the welfare of the soul, the idea of so many people – people that, in large groups, can be swayed easily by rhetoricians – being capable of unwittingly corrupting the health of their own souls must be horrifying.<>The idea that participation in democracy can in general corrupt the souls of participants is hardly some new novel invention of mine. Not to say that there aren’t some very sparsely explored ideas in my critique, mind you.

  • e. says:

    Zippy,You are aware, of course, that Plato advocated Monarchy over Democracy for that very reason; thus, the Philosopher-King?

  • zippy says:

    Of course. Monarchy of a sort, anyway. I have monarchist sympathies myself, not in the sense that I think we should transform ourselves into one right now, but in the sense that I think hubristic moderns should stop treating monarchy as a civic heresy.My purpose in bringing up Plato was just to counter the notion that this is all completely novel, hatched de novo from my own head like Jupiter from the brain of Minerva. I googled “Plato democracy critique” knowing I would instantly find something to counter the ‘complete novelty’ charge — though again, that doesn’t mean that the territory I’ve explored hasn’t been sparsely explored, nor does it mean that there is nothing whatsoever new in my exploration of it.

  • Anonymous says:

    By Guillermo Bustamante on October 29, 2008 8:01 PM POEM: THE SHADOWS OF THIS THREE MONUMENTS WILL GROW ON THE SEA’S HORIZON, AS THE SUN SETS BEHIND THE COASTAL MOUNTAINS…The light may diminish now, but will grow again tomorrow and will dawn historians record (as with the slaves’ treatment or Holocaust victims), on the inescapable responsibility of the USCCB in:1) USA abortion lawmakers (dozens of them!) being allowed by the USCCB to use the name Catholic to murder. Oh yes, many bishops did talk the talk BUT NOT walk the walk of excommunicating them, so –IN FACT- misleading MILLIONS of Catholics.2) The MEGA-SCANDAL of them sacrilegiously receiving the Eucharist in the Papal Mass at DC, and the USCCB refusing to take responsibility in this horrendous –and massive- desecration of the Holy Body of Christ.3) The Obaminator’ campaign being permitted by the USCCB to… dress their WOLFS UNDER SHEEP SKINS with these loopholes in “”Faithful Citizenship”:A) Stating that Catholics are allowed to vote for a supporter of abortion rights so long as they do not intend to support that position.B) That there are offsetting “morally grave reasons”.Enough to provide the Obaminator’s “Catholic” supporters, the escape clauses needed to convince that they could vote for a pro-abortion candidate in “good conscience”, and dismiss the pro-life concern as “single-issue” or “divisive” and “partisan.”IN SHORTTHERE IS NO WAY HISTORY WILL ERASE THE BLOOD IN THEIR HANDS: JUST MEASURE what situation we would have now, if the USCCB enforced Rome’s Law on those culprits YEARS AGO.

  • Anon says:

    <> So now we can see why Plato had some unflattering opinions of democracy; for a philosopher concerned with the welfare of the soul, the idea of so many people – people that, in large groups, can be swayed easily by rhetoricians – being capable of unwittingly corrupting the health of their own souls must be horrifying. <> This isn’t what Plato said, it’s what someone is saying about Plato. Further, it does not suggest that Plato is concerned about voting because it is inherently corruptive. Athenian democracy was corruptive of many because they were swayed by demagoguery to do things that are against reason, especially in a mob-style appeal where all vote at once. But what we are supposing here is a situation where the prudent course is a vote for a partially evil man in order to limit the overall evil. This is not formally “against reason”. It is not on account of demagoguery leading a person to vote without reason in a mob-style reaction. Therefore, the concern with damage to the soul does not obtain. And again, Plato was against democracy for reasons completely other than how a vote effects a result (or rather, fails to effect a result, according to Zippy). I have read about 12 of his plays, including the Republic, and I recall nothing of the sort. <> It is not Zippy’s “hypothesis” that your vote will not have an impact on who serves in the election — it is a manifestly obvious mathematical statement. <> Well, if you want to call it mathematical when there are equally obvious logical flaws, defects of equivocation and such, go ahead. But that doesn’t make it true. The arguments presented refuting this hypothesis are much more cogent than those in favor. <> MacIntyre’s article addresses the evil we do to ourselves when we accept a choice between evils. <> And I deny the validity of the argument. I just went to mass, and heard St. Paul’s exhortation to slaves to obey their master. He was telling them to cooperate with a lesser evil in order to avoid a greater evil, and <> thereby <> please God. You can’t argue that they were doing their souls harm in cooperating with a lesser evil if that was pleasing to God. But in any case, this argument is completely separate from whether a vote is efficacious in bringing about the result of an elected official.

  • zippy says:

    <>Athenian democracy was corruptive of many because they were swayed by demagoguery to do things that are against reason, especially in a mob-style appeal where all vote at once.<>Gee, that doesn’t sound familiar at all.

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