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To: dighton
Thank you for the ping. I should be quite a bit less hard on Dalrymple in the Albanian cell then he was himself, and for the reason he puts forth later in the article. A stand on principle that forces one's opponent to acknowledge it is a brave and wonderful thing; a stand on principle that keeps one's opponent from backing down from being in the wrong is actually counterproductive both to principle and to outcome. And it isn't always obvious which situation one is in. Sometimes it's both at once.

Even today, the interpretation of the ubiquitous black-marketeers under the Occupation is much disputed: were they ruthless predators concerned only for their own good, were they quietly undermining the occupiers (who were trying to extract as much economic surplus from France as possible, which diversion of goods on to the black market reduced, thereby improving the lot of ordinary Frenchmen), or were they in fact assisting the occupiers by making the whole system viable, which it would not have been without the black market? Or were they all of these things at once?

The latter, I think. The reason there is such moral ambiguity here is that there are two sources of guidance at play: principle in the absence of any knowledge other than the immediate conditions, and a perfect knowledge of outcomes of the alternatives, wherein the principle involved is which outcome is to be preferred. Both of these extremes are exceedingly rare in the real world.

My point is that these are two different principles. Hence our moral choices will always contain in them the seed of uncertainty. Because such principles conflict, as they did for the black marketeers, as they did for Dalrymple. The mind that can know all of this and infallibly choose the correct course is not, I think, the mind of Man.

6 posted on 09/02/2008 7:52:04 PM PDT by Billthedrill
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To: Billthedrill

Nighttime bump for an article and comment worth reading.


7 posted on 09/02/2008 11:17:50 PM PDT by dighton
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