RE: MD Logic vs. reason

From: Kevin (
Date: Fri Nov 01 2002 - 17:48:29 GMT

  • Next message: jhmau: "MD Re: Overview of the MoQ Part 1"

    Please show how the MoQ sorts out the "grays of ethics" in Chap. 24 of
    Lila. It appears to me that Pirsig makes many black & white moral
    judgments based on the MoQ. You may want to pay special attention to
    the part where Pirsig says that sympathy towards criminals and
    lawlessness is "really stupid."

    You may be right, he may be wrong, but I think I'm closer to reflecting
    the MoQ position regarding terrorists than you or Buff who seem to be
    suffering from what Pirsig calls intellectual moral "paralysis." While
    agonize over the ifs, ands and buts of the ethical situation, terrorists

    target innocent civilians to kill by crashing planes into buildings and
    setting off explosives. That is just plain, unmitigated evil for which
    rationalization, no justification, no excuse is possible in a civilized

    I'm thankful that the MoQ doesn't shrink from identifying and
    condemning evil biological behavior.

    Again you oversimplify. No one is questioning whether it's moral to
    defend society from terrorism. That seems fairly plain. What was being
    discussed was the METHOD the Russian Special Forces used to "defend"
    society from terrorists. Are *all* methods moral? Does the end justify
    the means?

    I'm expecting your usual appeal to "moral ruthlessness", but I don't
    think Pirsig would advocate killing the infected patients to destroy the

    I referred to the "gray areas" of ethical questions. Nothing radical
    expressed there. Taking time to untangle issues at the various levels to
    discover the varying degrees of betterness or worseness is precisely the
    point. In LILA, Pirsig struggles to untangle some particularly messy
    ethical questions throughout the entire narrative of the book. He
    certainly doesn't fall into the trap of knee-jerk Black & White
    moralizing. He carefully deconstructs a given question to discover the
    interplay of the various levels, values each independently, then values
    them collectively and reaches a moral decision that seems best. I
    suppose it might be accurate to say that the reason we commonly refer to
    such issues as a "gray area" is because there seems to be right & wrong
    interactions on multiple levels competeing for supremecy. Only by taking
    the problem on in it's entirety (not just the most obvious level) and
    evaluating ALL the levels at work do you make the MOST MORAL decision.

    Perhaps we can say that the decision to use gas in the theater seemed a
    high moral decision but suffered from miserably miscalculated execution.
    That assumes, IMO, that the risks were either unknown or misjudged. I
    can't believe they were unknown since it's a pretty obvious and
    documented property of the chemical agent used. Did they misjudge the
    concentration of the gas or it's effects in a crowded closed space or
    it's potency on the weakened hostages? Did they calcuate it correctly
    but simply failed to execute the delivery of the agent in the
    quantity/concentration needed? Or did they just assume an attitude of
    complete "moral ruthlessness" and roll the dice on the lives of everyone
    in the theater? They might as well have set fire to the theater and shot
    every 5th person who exited. Why not simply carpet bomb Chechnya or use
    Napalm over the entire region to erradicate the terrorists with complete
    "moral ruthlessness"? Nuke 'em all! Gotta break some eggs, as they say.
    Wouldn't complete "moral ruthlessness" on the part of the State do
    nothing more than make the terrorists morally justified in fighting the
    state with complete "moral ruthlessness"? If a few thousand civilians
    have to die in order to bring down the Repressive Static State or end
    the civil war (thereby saving potentially hundreds of thousands), isn't
    that moral?

    Just because it's moral to defend against terrorists does not make ANY
    AND ALL actions to combat them moral.

    With hope,

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