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  1. TSA and following the money.

    If those pornoscans become permanent, I’m going to be even more disappointed with Americans. I mean I know nobody ever went broke underestimating the American people but there’s got to be a bottom somewhere, right? Please?

    Moral obligations in the midst of immoral behavior.

    And this gets to the heart of what’s wrong with religion and “objective morality.” It does not (sufficiently) distinguish between acts that are immoral because they hurt people directly (e.g. spreading HIV/AIDS) and those that they consider immoral that don’t hurt people directly but are more “purity”-type issues (e.g. male prostitution.) Not only that, but religions often prioritize the latter category over the former, as the Catholic church has done in this case for decades.

  2. Boonton says:

    I get the ‘seconardy morality’ argument. The gist of it is that a normally immoral act may be moral in the context of a larger immoral act. The example used on First Things is a bank robbery. Threatening lives is normally immoral but warning everyone that they will get killed if they act like a hero is more moral when robbing a bank than simply walking into the bank and killing everyone.

    I think its interesting that he didn’t address it in terms of female prostitutes. This leaves the question open of whether Catholic doctrine considers the link between sex and the creation of children so important that its better for female prostitutes to risk HIV than disrupt the ‘possibility’ that their acts may create children? If so this would seem to elevate not unborn children to the moral level of born children but hypothetical children to the level of actual children.

  3. Boonton says:

    US, China and currency manipulation.

    I’m always impressed how free market types criticize US policy while making excuses for China. Leave aside all the glowing media reports about China’s robust economy and growing businesses. The fact remains China is a communist run economy with massive gov’t intervention and currency manipulation. QE by the Fed is nothing of the sort.

  4. Boonton, I wouldn’t say it’s more moral. It’s less immoral. It’s more in the direction of morality but far enough from it that “more moral” sounds to me to be very misleading.

    Just what do you mean by “not unborn” children if it doesn’t mean born children?

    So how exactly does leaving an issue not clarified amount to taking a stance on it? It can’t seem to elevate anything if it doesn’t involve a comment on it.

    Jewish Atheist: Your comment is question-begging. It assumes that harm is the only explanation of what would make something wrong, but it also assumes that something’s immorality is not itself harmful. Socrates and Plato would clearly disagree with you. Being an immoral person is the worst harm that can happen to you, in their view, much worse than having some bodily harm occur. If the Catholic view of homosexuality is correct, then a gay couple having sexual relations not only involves themselves in evil together, but each harms both himself and the other person. So on the Catholic view, it’s not a question of harmful immorality vs. non-harmful immorality. The latter category is empty. You have to distinguish between actions that cause harm to others independent of the moral harm and actions that cause harm to others only in terms of the moral harm. But if the moral harm is worse, as Socrates and Plato would have argued (and as I think is correct), then even a consequentialist has to say that your view is just incommensurable with theirs. There’s no neutral standard of evaluating harms by which you can criticize them that they would consider compatible with their view. Thus the charge of begging the question. Your complaint assumes that their view is false and then argues on that basis that the view is false.

  5. Mark says:

    I have not criticized either. I’m just pointing out the hypocrisy inherent in the Administration’s willingness to accuse China of manipulating its currency and then before the echoes of their claims have died out they do the same.

  6. Boonton says:


    1. The Fed != The administration.

    2. The Fed’s quantitative easing was done targeting longer term US Treasuries, not foreign currencies. This is like calling it protectionism for a farmer in the US to grow rice because that may displace some rice imports from China. Lower interest rates in the US may lower the value of the US dollar because parking wealth in the form of dollars becomes less attractive to investors but that’s hardly the same as the trillions of direct dollar purchases China has made to keep its currency cheap.

  7. Jeremy Pierce:

    I agree that my comment was assuming that, for example, spreading HIV/AIDS is (vastly) more immoral than being gay, but I wasn’t trying to prove that’s the case so it’s not question begging. Now obviously if you believe that the church is right about homosexuality, then you’ll also probably believe that homosexuality is harmful.

    The point, though, is if you’re NOT a member of one of the religions that teaches that, you wouldn’t believe that since there’s no empirical basis for such a belief. In that case, you can see that the Church’s categorization of such non-harmful behaviors as immoral, even more immoral than such empirically harmful behaviors as spreading HIV/AIDS, is a grievous problem. In that way, to the non-Catholic, it can be easily seen that religious/”objective” morality is extremely problematic as compared to the much-maligned (by the religious) “subjective” morality, which is based less on tradition and religious bullshit and more on empiricism and concern for who is harmed.

    Note even that many Catholic priests were rebelling against the Pope’s previous teaching on condoms, and that this is probably why the Pope felt he had to change the rules. It’s not that God told him the rules changed, or that he came to a sudden realization because he cares so much about the victims of HIV/AIDS, but (this is my unproven belief) he was worried about PR and about maintaining authority of the church over the priests who couldn’t go along with the official position because they felt it was too immoral.