Debate: Equality, Law & Common Good

March 5, 2012 § Leave a comment

The first comment below was a status update on my Facebook wall, which was followed by a short discussion on ideas of law, equality, founding principals to law, and into the self-defeating nature of moral relativism.

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Mike

The principal of the common good is deeper than the principal of equality. Special privileges are due some when it is to the good of all.

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David

Exactly. That is why you and all will be better off when you agree that I am to be the benevolent dictator of the world for the common good. You will impart me special priviledges as the “some” for the good of all.

Ummm, spelling error. “privileges” like creative spelling. You will burn for noticing my imperfect spelling in my reign.

I think my point is made. A thinking man like you letting out a very flawed proposition like this makes me wonder if you are not burdened by undue stress, and maybe need some help rethinking some things?

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Mike

Is a dictatorship ever “for the good of all”?

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David

I have heard that throughout history, the best form of government for most is benevolent dictatorship. Unfortunately it is almost always followed by a leader less and less benevolent.

I am having trouble finding my original source of that information, but will post when I locate it.

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Mike

I think with the possible exception of Singapore, dictatorships, even those with good intentions, fail. Ultimate power corrupts, especially when you start with humans prone to sin.

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David

Fair enough. There will always be those whose ambition is power and control. To easy to lose sight when power exceeds benevolence.

FYI: I believe (from a short Google search and without further reading) that the statement came from Plato’s Republic.

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Mike

Ah yes, that sounds about right (just read Crito the other night to Levi while he was taking a bath. Assumed he was bored of it but when I paused he asked me to go on).

My original thought in the post wasn’t so broad. Secular society idolizes “equality” without really knowing what it means.

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David

Ok.. I am calling you out then. You are talking about something specific and I guessed that from the start.

Explain your position, please.

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Mike

Haha Dave… Somehow I knew you’d inquire. 🙂 Although I waited until now as I didn’t want you to spend time with media and not with your wife on your anniversary. That’s trouble, my friend. Plus, we were out.

Really there wasn’t much thought to the post. It’s a summation of part of a book I’m reading, Written on the Heart: A Case for Natural Law by J. Budziszewski. In short, natural law (God given) births human law, a varied form of which is civil law–a filling in of the blanks of how we enforce more foundational law, penalties and the details. And we should fill them in by considering the common good. He raises a question from Thomas Aquinas: Does the fact that law must serve the common good mean it must affect everyone in the exact same way? An overtly pluralistic society says Of Course! Nobody should have special privileges. But clearly we believe in some special privileges: grown-ups buy liquor, citizens (not aliens) vote, law-abiding citizens are free; criminals are not. And so on. So the principal of how we apply special privileges should depend on what is for the good of all.

What I said about idolizing equality is just my view that a pluralistic, often morally relativistic society rallies under the banner of equality on issues like employment, marriage, abortion… (Well smaller issues too) without really thinking about it. Although often the debate is over what is the common good, leading the discussion right back to natural law.

Well, That’s way more thought than I gave it last night. 🙂

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David

Although the specific cause and detail I could not guess, I was fairly on target.

I have learned a lot about life over the years, Mike. Hard learned lessons. Sometimes too hard… But I am here and growing as an earned result, because I desire it. I will share some findings, knowing full well I expose myself personally for expected, and maybe deserved, scrutiny.

Gay marriage: You can call me a former homophobe (although I have a problem with the term as it implies fear, which was not what I felt), or more so someone who shined hatred on these people. Never violence, but a strong vocal dislike. I did not understand their attraction to same sex, but I learned I do not have to. My wife and I have developed many close friendships with gay and lesbian people, we have attended beautiful and literally inspiring commitment ceremonies, and although they live differently, they are as good and socially as harmless as anyone. Love is good. Marriage is a commitment, and I welcome any two consenting human beings to share the benefits that I hold sacred. I just do not see any real harm in allowing for it.

Abortion: I am proud to state that I have impregnated one woman in my life, one time… On purpose, and it produced my beloved son. I have been responsible. I struggle with the procedure of abortion because I have had personal affect by it (which I will not discuss). I find the procedure disgusting in every way, and have witnessed the damage that choice makes. But, it has never been and never will be a choice I will have the power to make. I am torn to this day as to believe that a society should limit an individual’s choices. It is not my business, but it is my business to not create an unwanted pregnancy.

Birth control: see abortion. No government intervention, limiting, or financing please. Should be readily available to all those who have the sense to know its value to a welfare and population burdened world. Sex is natural and well understood, yet people have proven their irresponsibility to prevent unwanted pregnancies. Abortion should be a sad rememberance of an invasive past with the tools readily available for prevention. Abstinence is a fool’s wish.

Employment: Work. I do, you do, and those who avoid it because they can should be left to learn its value by being hungry for it. Help those who need so they may learn to help themselves, but a handout should be received with a lot of humility and a desire to feed one’s self and those they are responsible for. Irresponsibility should be punished. Shame and humility should motivate, instead of being suppressed for delusional purposes.

As you know, I do not agree that morality or law comes from higher power. What is right can be said to be self-evident… But that is debatable as well fitting the many vocal views that oppose. This in no way defaults to a divine answer. We are here to determine what is right, and it will be determined by majority. Some things should be left for the individual to live/deal with as the result of their free will.

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Ryan

‎”Free will”. A sacred phrase that should be held sacred by both believers in God and non-believers in a free, democratic society. I think too many politicians on both sides of the aisle in our country work tirelessly to corrupt what nature or God, depending on your viewpoint, bestowed on mankind. Whether or not you believe in a higher authority or simply in reason, or both (they are not mutually exclusive), to paraphrase Rousseau’s axiom “man is born free but every he is in chains” still holds true for mankind. We may disagree on how best to loosen those chains, but one thing is clear: secular government should work its darndest to alleviate those chains. No handouts, no enabling, keep the peace. Let each other choose their own ends. End of story. (I wish).

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David

If any one statement of purpose existed that would be so universally non-invasive, non-threatening and acceptable by all good people, it would be:

“Do no harm”.

Thoughts and views expressed are just words. You can only allow them to harm you. But actions, whether forced upon or by denying free-will personal choices, I find to be harmful.

I live with my choices. I want others to live with theirs, but not on my back.

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Mike

“Free will” is important to everyone, and so is “do no harm” (or do as little harm as possible), but often what we want the freedom to do, does harm, and that’s what is often debated. For example, redefining (or un-defining) marriage causes no harm as immediately as stepping onto a busy freeway would, but I don’t think revamping the way humans have flourished for thousands of years can occur without significant harm. Needless to say, full participation in gay marriage would effectively bring an end to the human race. A majority participation in it would greatly endanger the human race. Of course, nobody expects full or majority participation, but when someone suggests something that, if carried out fully, would wipe out humanity, and derived from the process of forcing the morals of the minority on the moral majority, I have to question if such a thing is for the common good. This is saying nothing of harm in terms of health risks/HIV/AIDS, which shouldn’t be an issue in exclusive relationships, but it’s inevitable and statistically supportable that gays entering into such unions will bring high costs into health coverage. Another inevitability will be a host of legal issues and discrimination lawsuits that I think qualify as “harm” moreso than “good for all.” After all, it is an attempt to restructure the morals of a society. Granted, there are problems in traditional marriages, but we are weighing harm.

But wouldn’t all this be nothing if it were truly a fight for freedom and basic human rights? That is where I believe the illusion is. Every human already has the basic right and equal freedom to marry any non-relative of the opposite sex they choose. When you weigh the the harm in not obtaining the same legal recognition and special privileges as married couples to the potential harm on society, I don’t think it’s worth it. The paradox is clearer (I think) with abortion, where the harm felt by a parent burdened with a child somehow outweighs the ultimate harm, the murder of a human being deprived of value and rights because he/she has yet to see daylight.

I haven’t even mentioned the harm that comes from turning against God’s design for relationships and the sanctity He put on human life, which I understand as something we don’t all agree upon as a concept that even exists. That will always be part of the foundational argument for me as I can see no other reasonable explanation for such basic notions as free will and do no harm that we value and treat as universal and objective rules we expect everyone to follow. Even atheists expect our concepts of God to follow these rules (A question I posted here http://askanatheist.wordpress.com/2011/12/06/do-atheists-judge-gods-morality/)

So really a debate like this reaches back to one we’ve already had, Dave, more than once. 🙂

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David

Your god and your following your gods words are fine. The problem is when you choose to apply that to those that don’t believe in your interpretation or your god’s existance, yet in your mind, since you believe, your god still has dominion over everyone.

I assure you that is not the case, and is frankly more dangerous then letting a pair of women or men marry.

The rest is fearmongering and baseless. To think that healthcare costs would rise significantly is ludicrous. There are statistics for any argument, and not every one is going to be valid.

You don’t have to change your morals. Not like there will be a spike in straight guys wanting to marry another guy… They are straight. They want to be with a woman. The gay men I know desire men… That is how it is. They are good people, some who go to churches that aren’t relics of the ancient denying past and accept them. They don’t recruit, rape, or want much more than to be left alone. Oh yeah, and to get married to someone they love. I would assume if Jesus existed and could come back to check things out he would enjoy the love angle, since he was big on that. Then he would puke as intelligence and posturing was used to twist up a very simple and positive message into 1500 differing denominations and a politically infused power structure. Here we are.

It is inevitable Mike. Your state allows it and everything is a-ok, no fire and brimstone, no pillars of salt. It will remain that way even if gay marriage goes worldwide. You can wait, but no one is coming. Nothing to fear. We will all raise our kids and do our jobs and live just fine as good examples, out of other peoples business that in all reality in no way has anything to do with us, morality, societal decline or financial burden. They will live next door to you, mow their lawn, have fights, and pay their taxes. They would probably be fine with you ignoring them, but would be rightfully pissed off when you told them about all that hell they are going to. Blacks were treated as subhuman, and society feared making them equal. Turned out ok.

I look the other way in the silliness of people’s personal beliefs… They can look the other way when someone else does their thing. Unless, I guess, they feel divinely instructed to control, corral and attempt to change them to fit their own intrusive viewpoint.

Jesus was love Mike. Love is good. Let love happen between consenting adults as it does, and all will be well.

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Mike

If Jesus were to “come back to check things out” (which would be a strange thing for a transcendent, omnipresent Being to have to do) I’m sure He would take issue with much of what we’ve done in the name of religion. Although the same way we know Jesus was big on love, we also know that He didn’t leave it to us to redefine marriage, because He said in Matt. 19:4-6, “Haven’t you read…that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” There’s a right way and a whole lotta wrong ways to do it. Some love to harm, so it doesn’t follow that all ‘love’ is good.

This is classic moral relativism: The basis for wrongness is the degree of perceived harm, even though a subjective morality can’t justify the wrongness of harm. The reality is things are right or wrong independent of how much apparent harm they bring. It also explains the position that because something is deemed inevitable, there is no reason to take a position against it. If morality is truly subjective, then majority opinion means if something becomes popular it becomes right. Unless of course the relativist disagrees.

By the way, comparing blacks to gays is a false analogy; we can prove skin color to be completely independent of behavior and moral responsibility.

We question how something should be treated in terms of civil law by asking whether or not it is for the common good. But even before we get that far, we’ve already decided if something is right or wrong. That decision is based on innate moral obligation. The most clarity or articulation you can wring out of your brand of morality is “What is right can be said to be self-evident”. But why do you think that is? What makes something self-evident? What does that even mean on moral relativism? There is no basis for the most basic ethical convictions we absolutely can’t not know outside of a moral God who created us in His image (or something exactly like that, I suppose). Unanchored morality means that nothing we say would have any meaning anyway. 🙂

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David

Not enough time to reply fully, so I have to go from the hip…

I think the analogy is pretty valid, fitting the zeitgeist.

Mike, your arguments are beginning to seem like you are coming to a knife fight with a million ping pong balls. Throw enough of them and they become no so much formidable, but more things to trip over to get to the real deal.

I really have no need to articulate my brand of morality… It is a sidebar, an anecdote, a path chosen. God is just a word, and the anchor that god is… Is metaphorical. I have no need.

How do I not kill and cheat and lie and rape and steal without god and his divine morality? How about all athiests, and non christians? Because meaning comes regardless.

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Mike

Sorry, I thought this was much more like a ping-pong match than a knife fight. 😉 Really, I’m not trying to trip you up; I think your worldview does that. Moral relativism can’t be articulated because it defeats itself once it has been articulated. I think if you felt the need to articulate it, you would have no logical basis to do so.

And how does one live morally without God and His moral law? The answer to that complex dilemma is incredibly simple: NO ONE IS without God and His moral law. Anyone can choose not to believe in the objective reality of air and still use it to breath out an argument against it, relying on that air to carry the argument to the ears of listeners.

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David

I thought it was funny. Anyway. I try to bring ping pong balls into conversation as often as possible. Not in the right frame of mind for a happy or healthy debate, and I see no point in getting rude.

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