Throw Them Back in the Frozen Hudson

January 31, 2009 § 2 Comments

That is my suggestion for what to do with Fred Berretta, Tess Sosa, and George Morgado. And toss in Antonio Sales and Gabrielle Glenn with them.

How pathetic. Any of these ingrates who actually sues the airline deserves to be permanently ejected from the society of civilized men. I especially can’t believe Sosa, the lives of whose husband and young children were also saved by the heroic professionalism of Captain Sullenberger, First Officer Skiles, and the consummate professionals at US Airways.

(Cross-posted and HT: Man Bites Blog)


January 30, 2009 § Leave a comment

I beseech thee, saith he, be not angry, Lord, if I speak yet once more: What if ten should be found there? And he said: I will not destroy it for the sake of ten. – Genesis 18:32

I guess this means we have nine to go.

(Cross-posted and HT: The Curt Jester)

A Non Physicalist/Causal Account of Theft

January 29, 2009 § 20 Comments

It has been suggested that it is not possible to understand stealing as intrinsically immoral without appealing to a physicalist/causal account of theft. (I think the reason people think this is because our modern conception of property is a distortion of reality, as I have argued before). To refute this suggestion, I offer the following non physicalist/causal account of theft as an intrinsically immoral act. In this account we will be able to qualify as morally evil the choice to steal independent of the intention for which that choice is made.

Property is something over which an owner has some legitimate authority.

Authority, when it is legitimate, is a capacity to juridically impose moral obligations on other people. So for example the owner of a widget can impose a limited moral obligation on others not to run off with the widget, through the exercise of his legitimate juridical authority as owner. He can also let you borrow his widget or give you his widget.

If you take the owner’s widget against his legitimate juridical authority, you have stolen his widget. It is always and intrinsically immoral, without exception, to steal his widget, independent of the reason why you steal it.

However, every juridical authority exercised by an individual or a government has due limits. Beyond those limits there is no authority: that is, an attempt to exercise a juridical authority beyond its due limits does not impose a legitimate moral obligation on others. For example, a positive law requiring doctors to perform abortions does not impose a genuine moral obligation on doctors to perform abortions.

Suppose we have a baker, and a man who is literally starving to death. For the baker to deprive the starving man of that loaf of bread is (let us propose) an attempt to exercise juridical authority beyond its due limit. When the starving man becomes prosperous, expecting payment for that loaf of bread however is within the due limits of the baker’s juridical authority. So a starving man eating a loaf of bread is not stealing, but incurs a postponed debt; that same man failing to repay the baker if and when he becomes able is stealing, unless the baker forgives the debt.

The so-called “exceptions” to the absolute prohibition against stealing, then, can be seen to be no exceptions at all. Neither do these “exceptions” genuinely represent an appeal to the intentions of the acting subject, though it is possible to speak of them in those terms. Rather, they are simply a matter of making explicit some of the due limits on the juridical authority an owner has to impose moral obligations on non-owners: they are an expression of some of the truths intrinsic to the nature of ownership, which by its nature is a juridical authority to impose moral obligations on others, and therefore by nature has due limits.

Real Life Overtakes Parody

January 28, 2009 § 2 Comments

The Speaker of the House, a Catholic, justifies funding Planned Parenthood through a fiscal stimulus package based on cost reductions in social programs proceeding from the eugenic effects of contraception and abortion.

She is forced to leave this provision out of the bill by the most NARAL-friendly pro-abortion president in history.

What would be astonishing, if we weren’t in the “real life overtakes parody” phase of history, is that someone of Pelosi’s political tone-deafness actually managed to become, and remain, Speaker of the House.

All You Need …

January 26, 2009 § 3 Comments

“To estimate climate sensitivity, all you need is an accurate model of Earth’s atmosphere. Likewise, to get to Alpha Centauri, all you have to do is jump very high.” – Mencius Moldbug

Supporting Abortion Rights is Worse than Holocaust Denial

January 26, 2009 § 11 Comments

So the Pope has lifted the excommunications of the four illicitly consecrated Bishops of the Society of St. Pius X. For those who don’t follow Catholic inside baseball, the SSPX considers itself an ultra-traditionalist group with the goal of attempting to preserve the pre-Vatican II patrimony of the Catholic Church in the face of Vatican II reforms. Assuming I have it right, which I might not because I don’t have an intense interest in the matter, these four Bishops were consecrated – validly, that is to say, they really did sacramentally become bishops – but illicitly, that is, without the juridical permission of Rome. As a result they were excommunicated by Pope John Paul II. It is that excommunication which has been lifted by Pope Benedict XVI.

That is just background for what interests me in particular here, which is the hubbub over the fact that one of the four Bishops is apparently a Holocaust denier. (Note: I haven’t been able to view the video at dotCommonweal as of this writing, but we can stipulate all of this for my purposes here).

Now Bishop Williamson was not excommunicated for being a Holocaust denier: he was excommunicated for his deliberate illicit consecration as a Bishop. The one really has nothing to do with the other. Nevertheless, and understandably, lifting his excommunication has created a bit of a storm. Many people feel that Holocaust denial is so gravely immoral – not to mention loopy – that it warrants excommunication in itself; and I am sympathetic to this view.

However, that directly raises the general question of what moral wrongs are so gravely wicked that they warrant excommunication. Keep in mind that even a serial killer is not excommunicated on account of being a serial killer: he may be damned, if he does not repent, but he is not excommunicated.

Holocaust denial is inexcusably crazy and wicked, but it does not involve advocacy and support of an existing legal right to murder Jews. Furthermore, it is not Catholic doctrine that some historical event such as the American Revolution, the Civil War, the moon landing, or the Holocaust actually occurred. On the other hand, opposition to a legal right to abortion is Catholic doctrine. So if the time has come to start excommunicating the wicked – a proposition about which I reserve judgment – they had better get in line behind the heretics.


Coalition for Fog, Redux

January 24, 2009 § 3 Comments

Those who supported President Bush had a special obligation to publicly oppose his immoral policies: for example, Bush supporters had a special obligation to publicly oppose his policy of torturing prisoners for “actionable information”.

For the most part they didn’t, of course; indeed many did just the opposite, engaging in a lengthy propaganda campaign of excuse-making, misdirection, and general intransigence. Tom called the phenomenon “making the case for fog”; Mark adopted the term “Coalition for Fog” to describe the armies of folks who, while they often did not defend torture directly, did everything they could to, well, blanket the issue in a fog of misdirection. Mark’s colorful rhetoric earned him the subconscious admiration of his ideological enemies.

But now we have a new president, and, unlike his predecessor’s torture policies, his despicable policies on abortion are quite overt. Even if we completely failed to distinguish the gravity of the two issues, the fact that these policies are explicit and unapologetic takes things to a whole new level. So, naturally, it is out with the old Coalition for Fog, and in with the new. New, improved, and ten times more despicable than the competing brand! Plus ca change, and all that.

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