3.25.2012

Angels vs. Demons

James Chastek, at Just Thomism, discusses one critique of "rights." Here is another:

In America, since at least the Civil War, the fiction of "rights" has been popularly used as a justification for violence, both physical and verbal, against whoever is perceived to be against the "rights" in question. Instead of speaking about justice, morality, virtue, the health of the community or the common good, we only hear of ever expanding rights that only an inhuman or, worse, subhuman creature could possibly oppose.

Once you limit the debate to the categories of those who are in favor of expanding "rights" and those who would deny this expansion, you have created a morality play in which "rights" proponents are angels whose cause is justified no matter the content. The popular arguments over homosexual "marriage" play out in just this way. A practice that makes absolutely no sense from any normal human metric of individual morality or the common good not only becomes acceptable, it becomes the default morally superior position. How can the pendulum swing so hard and fast? This is only possible when the discussion is framed in terms of "rights." Those who stand against such behaviors and actions can, in principle, have no justifiable reason for their opposition. They are demons, and demons do not have to be treated like human beings.

3.19.2012

Unnatural Relations VI

"The separation out of individual liberty and the placing it in conflict with the community by modern political philosophy has been the greatest asset imperialism has enjoyed - it has provided imperialism with its strongest motivating drive and its most powerful legal weapons. Government has aggrandized itself by posing as the defender of the individual against the community. To the Founders the community was the context into which the individual was born or admitted, a context which provided him with a secure identity and the possibility of realizing his potential as a human being. Community implied a degree of homogeneity and stability, of givenness. Cultural activity was an expression of the personality of the community. Political activity, in a healthy and republican community, was the effort to enhance the well-being of the community in regard to its domestic peace and its freedom from the foreign enemy.
...Individual liberty was thus a byproduct of membership in good standing of a free community, not a grant from government. Therefore, individual liberty was much more effectively guaranteed by limitation upon government than by grant of rights. To assume any other grounds for republican citizenship was to assume (and a great deal of what passes at present for democratic political philosophy does so assume) that man derived his worth from the government, that he had no intrinsic value. This may indeed be true of imperial man. It is not true of republican man. Even man's relation to the Almighty, while transcending nations and cultures, has no particular means to express and perpetuate itself except through the personality of a particular community."

-Citizens or Subjects?, Clyde N. Wilson

Men will always be placed under the rule of men. There is no absolute freedom. The question, then, is not whether we will be ruled, we most certainly will be. Rather, the question is whether rule will come from local authority or foreign authority. Local authority may sometimes rule poorly. Foreign authority always will.

3.14.2012

Not All Principles Are Causes

Not all principles are causes. A principle is that from which anything derives or proceeds. This definition might closely resemble a cause, yet there is a distinction. A privation, for instance, is a principle of change, but it is not a cause. There is a sense in which premises cause the conclusion, but it would be more accurate to say that they are principles of the conclusion. In the case of a privation, the difference is that a cause is more than mere non-being, which is accidental, it must be something which, in some way, is. And in the case of premises and conclusions, a cause must be a principle from which something really proceeds. Conclusions, properly speaking, only logically follow from premises.