Skip to comments.Caseyjay...longtime freeper is dead
Posted on 09/07/2001 5:07:47 AM PDT by beowolf
click here to read article
Can't add anything to this, only echo it.
May the Lord watch over her, and give all of you strength and compassion in this time of hardship. God Bless, Bulldog905
Go with God Caseyjay.
How unbelievably tragic.
I am so sorry.
Please freepmail me when you get a chance. She was a wonderful woman indeed.
- Situational Ethics AND Absolute Principles
Published: 1/25/99 Author: Casey Jay
Posted on 06/23/2001 00:48:44 PDT by caseyjay
Before I start this essay, I would like to take a moment to clarify terminology. My use of the term Situational Ethics should not be confused with the term Moral Relativism. Moral Relativism in my opinion, involves manipulating and twisting core principles, in order to assuage ones conscience. While Situational Ethics implies (in my mind anyway) the ability to apply core principles to a variety of situations. And I sense that there is a real difference between these two terms that is sometimes overlooked when the issue of morality, and the governments role in this area, is discussed.
Also please note: the operative word in my title above is AND.
I have been concerned for some time now regarding the tendency in our country to enact absolute laws governing specific situations. Note, I am not an expert on this subject since I am far too lazy to become one, but I think that it might be helpful to step back and examine again this whole issue of legislating morality. To start off this discussion, I offer a quote from Thomas Jeffersons first Inaugural Address:
I shall often go wrong through defect of judgment. When right, I shall often be thought wrong by those whose positions will not command a view of the whole ground. I ask your indulgence for my own errors, which will never be intentional, and your support against the errors of others, who may condemn what they would not if seen in all its parts.
I interpret this to mean that we can not assign an absolute value of right or wrong to every possible action a person may take. In other words, what might be viewed as a wrong action to you, might be viewed as right for me, due to any number of (situational) reasons. And that if your are not privy to all of those reasons, your assessment of right or wrong regarding my actions would therefore be incomplete, and potentially subject to error.
Now that does not mean that we should not attempt to formulate judgments, but rather that you need to remain open to the possibility that your judgments may not encompass the full picture. And that our judgments need to be continually re-evaluated as we learn more of the situation(s) involved.
Therefore, it appears that while we may disagree on specific actions being right or wrong, we can still agree that there are core, absolute principles that apple in a country based upon freedom. These are our Inalienable Rights The Liberty to make choices in our pursuit of life. Even though how one chooses to act in any particular situation will depend upon the shoes you have walked in , and on how well you have learned your lessons in life.
In todays political climate, I have noticed that many discussions on morality between traditional parties (Democrats and Republicans) and newer parties (Reform and Libertarian) seem to boil down to a debate on Majority Rule versus Self Rule. But since I personally find that political labels can be misleading, I will call these different points of view Position A and Position B Majority Rule and Self Rule in this essay.
Position A people usually want government to regulate choices in some manner most often done under the guise of protecting people. And, in my opinion, these regulations are sometimes valid, but most often, not. Quite a few people from both of the traditional parties fit into this first camp; although they attempt to regulate different areas of our lives. The Position B folks on the other hand tend to take the approach of not wanting government to regulate any choices that do not harm others.
And I have found that Position A people, while acknowledging the Constitution and its basic principles for a free nation, also appear to think that a majority vote can override these basic principles. In other words, specific actions can be denoted (absolutely), along with the threat of force and punishment, as being right or wrong, as long as they can get enough people to agree with them.
The danger I sense in Position A is that there is no safeguard to prevent minority opinions (with regards to judging certain actions as right or wrong) from persecution and prosecution. And somehow, I just dont buy the idea that it is impossible for a lot of people (i.e. the majority) to be wrong. I expressed this concept once as follows:
Positions As basic premise: Any action can be considered wrong (by the majority) unless it is proven (by the minority) that the action does not deny another their Inalienable Rights.
Position Bs basic premise: No action can be considered wrong (by the majority OR the minority) unless it is proven (by either group) that the action does deny another their rights.
As I pointed out at the time, it appears that the premise of Position A requires one (i.e. the minority) to prove a negative in order to avoid persecution/prosecution from the majority decision. And I dont believe that this position is what Jefferson was advocating for our nation. As I read his words, it appears that he believed a legitimate government is one that protects our right to make errors, as long as those errors do not deny another that which is theirs; i.e. their Inalienable Rights.
The point I wish to make here is that from Jeffersons perspective, we all will make errors, and how we each judge the rightness or wrongness of those actions, and the severity of that judgment, will depend on our situation in life. But regardless or our individual judgments, the actions should be free to occur as long as they do not interfere with anothers right to choose otherwise.
To those of you who have not read many of my words before, I want to assure you that I am fully behind the concept of letting good ideas win and bad ones lose in the free marketplace of ideas. But it seems to me that the majority rule concept is quite vulnerable to dirty tricks and manipulation in the political arena; especially if the person currying votes has goodies to hand out. And sadly our current administration [circa the Clinton years] has provided ample evidence to attest to that including enacting laws and penalties that are at odds with our basic principles and the Constitution. This is why I believe that all laws, regulations, and court decisions should be confined by, and validated against, these core (absolute) principles (i.e. Inalienable Rights and equality under the Law) in order to be legitimate.
Times change and so do our views on vices. And as I understand from Jefferson and many others, the best way to overcome potentially harmful vices is to let people learn the true consequences of engaging in them, instead of using the power of the current majority to outlaw them. (But please note, this learning only seems to occur if no one artificially masks the outcome of one's actions.)
Many things atrophy from not being used. Might not our ability to make judgments, and to determine right and wrong, also begin to atrophy when it is unused when the government, empowered by the majority, is increasingly pre-judging our situational choices for us?
You obviously have many friends here and you are no doubt in their prayers and in their thoughts.
May God grant you peace beowolf
Yet the day wears,
And door succeeds door;
I try the fresh fortune--
Range the wide house from the wing to the centre.
Still the same chance! she goes out as I enter.
Spend my whole day in the quest,--who cares?
But 'tis twilight, you see,--with such suites to explore,
Such closets to search, such alcoves to importune!