Quick Roundup 79

Monday, July 24, 2006

Disproportionate Response

The one small consolation of increased fighting in the war is that it seems to provoke more posting from Amit Ghate. His post on "Disproportionate Response" is worth a read, if you haven't seen it already.

Roundup at Mike's Eyes

Mike has a nice roundup over at his blog which includes a couple of intriguing links to a pair of writers (Jim Woods and Matt May) I am not currently in the habit of following. I'll be there later on today.

It's a failure to grasp principles as such.

This article (via Glenn Reynolds) at the Volokh Conspiracy makes me sigh. The author, in his attempt to understand why Libertarians can't reach any fundamental agreement concerning the war in Iraq, demonstrates what the problem is, but clearly doesn't understand that he does.

Ilya Somin starts out by citing a disagreement on the war between Milton Friedman and his wife, and cites part of an interview with the two. Mr. Friedman, like so many other Libertarians, plainly takes the principle against initiation of force as a philosophical primary rather than as just one conclusion along a complex chain of philosophical reasoning.

This causes him to ignore the entire moral distinction between America and Hussein's regime, not to mention the purpose of government (i.e., protection of individual rights) and simply dismiss the whole invasion as "aggression". Mrs. Friedman favors the war, although her reasoning is not mentioned in the excerpt.

And then Somin weighs in, saying:

One possibl[e] theory is that this disagreement tracks the longstanding division between those who endorse an absolutist interpretation of libertarian principle versus those who take a maximizing approach. Wars clearly lead to violations of rights to life, liberty, and property. If you are a deontological absolutist who believes it is always (or almost always) wrong to violate such rights regardless of consequences, then that gives you a logical reason to oppose virtually any war, possibly excepting a strictly defensive one, with "defense" defined very narrowly. By contrast, if you take a maximizing approach, you will be more willing to accept some rights violations now in order to reduce the total incidence of violations in the long run.
Is it really any surprise that someone who, say, takes "non-initiation of force" out of context and treats it as if it is a self-evident principle finds that he either gets absurd results by applying it "consistently" or has to tolerate its "violation"? When one does this, one invariably finds that his principles are not as they should be: universally applicable.

I recommend to the interested reader Don Watkin's discussion of "innocents" in war as an example of the proper application of philosophical principles to the problem of warfare. And I would further recommend Peter Schwartz's pamphlet, "Libertarianism: The Perversion of Liberty" for its excellent examination of what is fundamentally wrong with Libertarianism.

Drawing on pamphlet, I said the following some time ago.
... I am no fan of Libertarianism. The most succinct (and my favorite) criticism of that political movement comes from Peter Schwartz's outstanding polemic, ... In which he says "Libertarianism deserves only one fundamental criticism: it does not value liberty." How can a proponent of the philosophy of Ayn Rand, whom many falsely believe to be a Libertarian, and who is a defender of laissez-faire capitalism, say this? In a nutshell, because that party is an evasive attempt to ignore the fact that the idea of liberty is a complicated concept that is anything but uncontroversial. Furthermore, a proper defense of that concept requires an entire philosophical hierarchy starting, not just with the nature of man, but of reality and how we know what we know. To value liberty, one must first understand it, and this is where the Libertarians fail. To take a common example that happens to occur in the article, some Libertarians are anarchists. But a thorough understanding of what liberty is -- freedom from compulsion from others -- and what liberty requires will reveal that one must have some form of government to protect that freedom. Thus the "big tent" approach of Libertarianism results in a political movement loaded with people like anarchists who do not value freedom. Worse still, in having done this, the movement has, conveniently for the social conservatives, set up such concepts as liberty and capitalism as straw men to be torn down by a hack like Robert Locke. ...
But what will most Libertarians do upon reading this? Sneer and mutter "Randroid", most likely.

Like I'm the one who can't or won't think.

For what it's worth, there's your problem.

Femmes Fatales, Literally, They Hope

Here's just one example from a list of female prisoners Hamas wants Israel to hand over in exchange for its captured soldiers (from before the Hezbollah kidnapping) and a temporary end to hostilities from the "Palestinians". (HT: Atheist Jew)
Sana Shachada, 27 from the Kalandia refugee camp confessed in her investigation that together with Kahira Sa'adi she was involved in the smuggling of a suicide bomber.

Sana also said in her investigation that she was a friend and supporter of Neazar Shavish, a senior terrorist of the Islamic Jihad terrorist organization in Jenin. Shavish was arrested by security forces and was contacted in order to help in the smuggling of a terrorist into Jerusalem.

She also confessed that at a checkpoint to the entrance of the city she bought flowers, holding them in order to be assimilated better among those crossing, as it was Mother's Day the day of the attack. She also said in her investigation that before she entered the city with Shavish, Shavish stepped back at a distance of 50 meters from Kahira Saidi and the suicide bomber because she wore an Arab traditional garment and did not want to stir any suspicion. [bold added]
Funny that this is the first I'd ever heard about any of these.... Decency forbids me to use the four-letter word that comes to mind.

How to Annoy an ex-Christian

I am either very fortunate to not be subjected to a constant barrage of such comments, or I have become very good at figuring out how to end conversations that promise only to waste my time over the years.

Just a few here:
  1. Ask them why they are bitter against God. [Check. Actually, I was "informed" of this "fact".]
  2. Tell them that they might as well go out and kill people if there's no God. [Check.]
  3. Ask them to pray with you. [Check.]
  4. Invite their children to go to church with you. [Not yet.]
  5. Insist that there is a God and show them in the Bible where it says so. [Check. If a college roommate thumping a Bible to make the point counts.]
  6. Hide Chick tracts in clever places around their office.
  7. Tell them that the Universe is too complex to "Just Exist" and must have been created by a God who "Just Exists" [Check]
  8. Make up statistics to help prove Christianity. [Check.]
  9. End a discussion with "Well, you're smarter than me, but I know I'm right."
  10. Tell them that you feel they're persecuting you.
Six out of ten, and most happened in college. Not bad. There are over 140 of these, many of which are quite amusing.

-- CAV


7-27-06: Corrected entry on Libertarianism for gender of author.

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