Skip to comments.Unspeakable Ethics, Unnatural Law
Posted on 12/13/2010 10:10:21 PM PST by grey_whiskers
I want to believe -- and so do you -- in a complete, immanent, and transcendent set of propositions about right and wrong, findable rules that authoritatively and unambiguously direct us how to live righteously. I also want to believe -- and so do you -- in no such thing, but rather that we are wholly free, not only to choose for ourselves what we ought to do, but to decide for ourselves, individually and as a species, what we ought to be. What we want, Heaven help us, is simultaneously to be perfectly ruled and perfectly free, that is, at the same to discover the right and the good and to create it.
(Excerpt) Read more at scribd.com ...
Please pass it on to your own ping lists, if you think it would interest them...
Fascinating analogies to Law vs. Grace, if he but knew it.
Thanks, grey_whiskers. This is an article to bookmark, and read twice.
Fascinating. I was following along well until page 1237, which seems to be missing
A simplistic observation from up to that point: This gives some weight to the posting of the Ten Commandments in our public spaces.
LOL. I felt the same way, except I only got up to the second paragraph. waaaaay too early in the morning. this needs an “uber caffeine alert”.
Thanks for the ping; post. VERY interesting.
Life Is a Gift from God
We hold from God the gift which includes all others. This gift is life — physical, intellectual, and moral life.
But life cannot maintain itself alone. The Creator of life has entrusted us with the responsibility of preserving, developing, and perfecting it. In order that we may accomplish this, He has provided us with a collection of marvelous faculties. And He has put us in the midst of a variety of natural resources. By the application of our faculties to these natural resources we convert them into products, and use them. This process is necessary in order that life may run its appointed course.
Life, faculties, production—in other words, individuality, liberty, property — this is man. And in spite of the cunning of artful political leaders, these three gifts from God precede all human legislation, and are superior to it.
Life, liberty, and property do not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty, and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws in the first place.
What Is Law ?
What, then, is law? It is the collective organization of the individual right to lawful defense.
Ping and thanks to FReeper, raygun, for the link to Bastiat on this forum many years ago.
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The system for reading that too long ramble is not worht the effort or the frustration, with ads and inserts and pop ups ... thanks anyway.
Thanks, Grey... This IS certainly an excellent philosophical article...
I found my self anticipating his points, vis-a-vis, the Constitution and it's basis for Authority. I believe it underlines WHY the Liberals are so intent on undermining the Constitution and our other founding documents. It is also why they are so intent on undermining our Founding Fathers... they are a set authority that can be consulted on the establishment of principle for an Ethical system; they are a touchstone for such a system and cannot change their minds... they are dead and will not be open to being convinced to change their positions on what has already been discussed and decided. They ARE subject to interpretation, but they won't change.
This author brings up a LOT of points that first came to my attention when I read G.E.M. (Elizabeth) Anscombe's 1958 essay, "Modern Moral Philosophy." (So she anticipated Leff's points by 52 years.)
Anscombes MMP is an extraordinary piece of work. She boldly challenged the sheer relativism of almost all 20th century moral philosophers, as rubbish. (She didnt use the word rubbish, but if you read her careful academic prose, I think youd get the point.) Standing practically alone against the entire academic philosophical establishment, she defined, described, and pulled apart consequentialism, the view that there are no acts, no matter how evil, which cannot be justified if one is aiming for good consequences.
Think of the most patently wicked act you can imagine. Say, pronouncing and carrying out the death penalty on a person you know to be innocent. If consequentialism were right, then it would be legitimate to argue that executing innocent persons could be not only right, but a duty under certain circumstances. The Scriptures tell us that this is abominable and forbidden by Almighty God; but even without reference to religious law, this is completely outside of the bounds of Natural Law, of common decency, and of human civilization.
Yet so-called ethicists who think there really IS no right or wrong, still use terms like Moral Law as if one could be obliged to commit sodomy, or torture, or rape, or murder, if there were a good enough reason. Its as if God Almighty had said, Thou shalt not commit moral abominations --- unless thou are really, really, REALLY tempted.
According to Anscombe (and here he was writing in the language of, and referencing the assumptions of, secular academic ethics), if one does not acknowledge a divine Moral Lawgiver, one should be honest and stop using big authority-words like Moral Law. She says its dishonest.
Anscombe also said secular ethicists "should not" use terms like "ought," "right and wrong," "good and evil" or even "should and should not"! Otherwise, they are like a person who uses a big authority-word like verdict even though he has abolished judges and juries; or a person who claims to be an expert on ribs and joints, when he denies the existence of cells, tissues and bones.
This essay hit academic ethics----- like--- a ----bomb. It basically blew the stuffing out of the makeshift, ethically minimalist house of cards known as modern moral philosophy.
It remains a dilemma even today. Classic "Natural Law" philosophers maintain that moral law can be discovered by human reason, on the basis of a deep enough and wide enough examination of what it means "to be human" and what behaviors form the basis of true human flourishing (as persons, and as societies.)
But the problem seems to be that many people do not take a "deep enough and wide enough" view of what it means "to be human." Aristotle, Gautama Siddhartha, Marcus Aurelius, and Confucius tried, and we wouldn't do badly to look into what they wrote. Much of it embodies the "natural virtues," (courage, truthfulness, and so forth) and is naturally honorable.
But I fear that modern cultures have fallen far below the best of classical pagan antiquity. It would be hard for us --- on the basis of our secular culture, absent the Divine Judeo-Christian heritage --- to aspire to, or even recognize, Aristotelian virtue.
P.S. anybody else here interested in Anscombe? I have something real interesting I could send you.
Thanks for the ping!
Take my word for it, MHGinTN, the destination is worth the journey.
Take my word for it, MHGinTN, the destination is worth the journey.
I'm interested. It has been years since I dove into the "footless stocking without any leg" of modern moral philosophy and I enjoyed reading Leff's treatise... what ya got?
(Substituting the word veridical or veriferous for valid, that is.)
Please send me the additional materials.
I understand that I am under no obligation and that no salesman will call; but if I do not cancel within 30 days I may be billed a low monthly service fee of $5.95 (not valid in Alaska, Hawaii, or Kenya); and that I should always close the cover before striking. This material printed or recycled electrons. No philosophers were hurt in the production of this message.
Perhaps I could download it and read it that way. I read five or six pages but was developing a headache from eye strain.
Okay, I’ve read it all now. And God help us.
Your task for class reminds me of a question posed by a teenager in my Bible Study class, and the struggle I had in trying to come up with not only a coherent answer but the correct answer.
Her question was: 'How can a God of love allow such evil things to happen to the creation He loves, to the innocent in His created universe?... Does it mean that a God of love is coming up short, unable to prevent such atrocities?'
It is easy to pass the question off with a sweeping 'Because God made the universe the way it is, not the way we would want it to be.' It is a far deeper task to come up with the most succinct response that is correct, which is, 'If God the Creator became entwined in responding to every act of evil, the God Who created all would be subject to the vagaries of the creation and thus diminished in sovereignty.' Combining that notion with teaching on the role of free will and choosing right or wrong is why I really enjoyed that class so many years ago.
cf JRR Tolkien's Lord of The Rings, where Sam is in the topmost turret of the Towers of the Teeth:
Far above the mountains in the west, the night-sky was still dim and pale. There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty forever beyond its reach.
God is neither sullied nor contaminated by evil: but His supreme love and generosity is that He suffered Himself to become subject to *our* weakness -- we humans, who rebelled -- on the chance of saving us.
Being born in questionable circumstances
in a working-class household
of a persecuted minority group
in a country occupied by a foreign military
growing up an iternerant dependent upon charity
rejected by the religious and political leaders of the day--
to the point of being called demon-possessed and treasonous
betrayed by a close friend
convicted by an illegal kangaroo court
sentenced to an ignominious death by torture
with no appeal.
Truly a Christmas message! Thank you
Hi, I came across this while looking for something else.
Are you still willing and able to dig up and/or send me the "additional materials" on Anscombe?
Hope all is well with you and Don-o.
bookmark for later
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