Entitlement ontology

April 3, 2014 § 8 Comments

… or, choosing an apple vs choosing what it is to be an apple.

Just because we’ve been permitted by the sovereign to do something it doesn’t follow that we are entitled to do it.

For example, immigration/emigration are in general matters of prudence falling under the authority of the sovereign, rightly understood. We may be permitted by our particular sovereign to emigrate and thereby subject ourselves to a different sovereign in some circumstances.  It does not follow that we are capable of arbitrarily choosing whether we should (note the word “should”) obey this sovereign or that. Our moral obligations are, generally speaking, not a matter of personal choice.

We are free to choose good or evil, but we are not free to choose what is good or what is evil.

In general the fact that we can choose X does not imply that we may morally choose X, and even when we are expressly permitted to choose X it does not follow that we are entitled to choose X.

Even more generally, we don’t get to choose the essences of things.

§ 8 Responses to Entitlement ontology

  • Chad says:

    I have to laugh.

    The result of this post is that I imagine the progressive vehemently arguing with God that the forbidden fruit really isn’t the one God meant to forbid.

    How could something so delicious be forbidden?
    Something so shiny?
    Something so wonderful of appearance?
    Surely there’s nothing bad about it!
    Any consequences are due to not eating it sooner.

    Surely God meant to forbid that other fruit. Yes, that one over there, in the corner. The one that has nothing appealing at first glance, but that we’ve eaten and found strength in for generations. It’s obviously of lower class, as it has less appeal.

    We’ll find more strength in the forbidden.

    In this imaginative interaction, I see God letting them run down like a clock. At the end, when they have nothing left, he responds simply to all their rationalizations. With utmost mourning and strength, he declares:


    And leave them to work towards their salvation by coming back to him, humbled and justified to the Lord.

  • vetdoctor says:

    I like Chad’s remarks. My mind even drifted to the complaint

    you wouldn’t have made it look desirable if you hadn’t meant for me to eat it.

  • vishmehr24 says:

    To clarify the terminology, what exactly is meant by
    “our particular sovereign” in these particular cases:

    1) If I am an American citizen living in Paris,
    2) If I am antebellum American slave
    3) If I am an Indian in British Raj

  • Zippy says:

    What laws do you think that the person is subject to in those cases?

  • […] Zippy Catholic on How We Don’t Get to Chose Which Fruit is Forbidden […]

  • […] general sense. There are only societies where what is permitted and forbidden is aligned with the good, and societies where what is permitted and forbidden is not aligned with the […]

  • […] From a certain point of view, sure. But when we step back, we realize this difference in coercion is not actually […]

  • […] From a certain point of view, sure. But when we step back, we realize this difference in coercion is not actually […]

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