RE: MD Understanding Quality And Power

From: Mark Steven Heyman (
Date: Wed Dec 22 2004 - 01:04:14 GMT

  • Next message: Mark Steven Heyman: "Re: MD Is Morality Relative? (or "Is there anything out there?")"

    Hi Keith, (Sam, all)

    It only takes a second to paste in your message. No problem. I
    appreciate your input.

    * * * * begin keith:
    With total respect to your wider discussion, I wasn't trying to come
    up with an analogy for the whole mess. I was simply trying to get to
    the point about 'we KNOW action C isn't moral because similar
    opportunities A and B have been ignored, or even actively

    My point is, if I tackle my weedy neighbour, even if we used to be
    friends and fell out over the desirability of his sun-lounger, then
    my actions are still in some way correct. Even if I'm open to the
    charge of hypocrisy and cowadice.

    I deliberately didn't describe what I meant by 'tackle' as I think
    that points towards Sam's points about just ends and un-just means -
    which I think you are already covering.

    I'm trying to not let you get away with dismissing the possibility
    that the action in Iraq isn't in some way the right thing to do,
    simply because the USA-UK don't take similar actions elsewhere, and
    even when they supported this regime previously (when it suited
    their own cause) i.e. They are cowards and hypocrits, but are they
    wrong in this case? I think if you can answer that question then you
    can get onto the question of how they've gone about it (not very well
    in my view).

    I think the Corleone and the swingset capture analogies point to the
    wider context, and maybe it's not possible to take these questions of
    just actions out of context, though that's what I was attempting to
    * * * * * end keith

    msh says:
    I think that we do need to consider context in making moral
    judgements in the real world. But I also believe that analogies such
    as the one you offered can be valuable in helping us to define our
    theories of morality.

    Your analogy highlights a valid point, with which I agree completely:
      the reason an action is taken has no effect on the morality of the
    action. Do you believe that my first attempt to refute the N8-P
    somehow involves claiming that acting to remove Hussein is immoral?
    Here's what I said:

    "The Norton 8-P has two obvious flaws, neither of which you have
    directly addressed. The first is that the argument is based on the
    combined ideas that the Iraqi people were suffering under Hussein,
    and that International Law was failing to protect them. I believe we
    had agreed that people suffering under a brutal dictator can't be the
    motivation for the US-UK invasion, given the evidence of history."

    I don't see this as an attempt to deny the morality of toppling
    Saddam Hussein. Sam's conclusion is that the UN was incapable of
    doing the right thing, and therefore the USG had to step in and do it
    for them. What I'm trying to do above, and with additional
    explication, is to show that the USG is not morally qualified to sit
    in judgement over the UN; nor was it legally or morally qualified to
    act unilaterally to topple Hussein, REGARDLESS of whether or not
    toppling Hussein was morally desirable.

    As for Sam's Corleone analogy, I was LOL because it's obvious he's
    been reading that nogoodnik Chomsky. In fact, the mafioso analogy
    very closely parallels the real world situation. The Don acts and,
    yes, a shopkeeper realizes some benefit (we'll forget about the other
    shops and citizens caught in the crossfire); but, the question is, do
    we really want to live in a world run by Don Corleone? Think of
    DMB's Sopranos story: it's very creepy, and telling, to realize
    that mafia types highly admire the USG's handling of foreign affairs.

    Best to all,
    Mark Steven Heyman (msh)
    InfoPro Consulting - The Professional Information Processors
    Custom Software Solutions for Windows, PDAs, and the Web Since 1983
    Web Site:

    "The shadows that a swinging lamp will throw,
            We come from nowhere and to nothing go."

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