Saturday, September 29, 2012

Convinced by Mr. Obama’s Website: Now I Can Vote in Good Conscience

It’s almost October and thus time for me to decide for whom I will vote for President this year.  This is always difficult for me.  While I could just forget about it, I would take that as a dereliction of my duty.  The moral standards I profess and attempt to uphold are grounded in the Christian faith as expressed in the historic Christian scripture, the Bible.

Without going into all the details here, those standards require, in the political realm, a maximization of human liberty that is consistent with such liberty for all.  This is what causes difficulty for me:  liberty maximization, even proposals for such, are hard to come by these days.

Also, in my state (actually, commonwealth, in my case) my only significant choices are Democrat or Republican.  I would probably vote for a pro-life Libertarian, were one on the ballot here, but that is not the case this time around.  (Even that can be problematic, because many Libertarians do not recognize liberty for people from the moment they are conceived.  But that’s another story.)

Here is where I was on all this until today:  nothing done or advocated by Barack Obama so far is a move toward greater liberty.  On the other hand, Mitt Romney struck me as a typical ‘middle’ Republican who would probably not move the country off its current anti-liberty status quo.

So today I studied the candidates’ web sites, and I was convinced to vote for one of the two major candidates.  But I was a little surprised how that came about.

I first visited Romney’s website.  I saw some (not all, but some) decent ideas that would tend toward liberty.  But I must say that I was not convinced by what the Romney site told me.

Then I explored the official Obama website.  What I found on the official Obama website convinced me to vote for Romney.

What convinced me to vote for Romney were some things that I found under “Get the FACTS” and then “Issues.”  Here Obama’s site lists what he says on various topics, followed by what the Obama team has selected that they claim Romney has said on the same matter.  Their Romney material is in red, which makes it stand out.

Reading through all the issues, what the Obama website attributed to Romney convinced me to vote for Romney.  I am giving the Obama people some benefit of the doubt in assuming that they have not distorted Romney by taking him out of context.  But the red-colored Romney material on the Obama website is about 90% what my ethical standards call for in the way of government policy on various issues.

If I were the Romney campaign, I would run on this material.  I am not na├»ve enough to think Romney will actually do all this.  But if he acts on even a fourth of it, the country will be a better place.

Mr. Obama, I am convinced by your website to vote for Mitt Romney.  (I am not being silly or tongue-in-cheek here at all.  If you love liberty and are having trouble deciding for whom to vote, go read the red Romney material on the Obama website.  If you are not convinced, you either don’t understand liberty, or you don’t love it.)

Thursday, September 20, 2012

A Cosmic Predisposition

This entry is a brief comment on a review of this book:

[Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly Wrong • By Thomas Nagel • Oxford University Press, 2012 • x + 130 pages] 

A review article, which brought it to my attention, is found here:

Moral Realism vs. Evolutionary Biology?

Mises Daily: Thursday, September 20, 2012 by David Gordon

If have read much philosophy you have come across the name Thomas Nagel.  I haven’t read the book, but I am somewhat familiar with Nagel’s work  Nagel is known for rejecting moral relativism during times when it was almost unquestioned in academic philosophical circles.  (I will never forget, just from the mental impact of the title, Nagel’s essay, “What is it like to be a bat?” which we once read in a philosophy of mind course.  It’s an amusing title, but it is Nagel at work opposing reductionism in another area.)

While Nagel doesn’t exactly think there is a moral reality ‘out there’ which is the proper basis of our moral judgments, he does think that moral reasons can’t be reduced (thus, ‘reductionism’) to something else.  Examples of ‘something else’ would be things like personal preference, social traditions, and the like.

Nagel thinks all, or at least most, versions of moral realism would be incompatible with Darwinism.  The usual approach is that since Darwinism must be true, moral realism must be false.  Nagel turns that around.  He contends that since many important considerations point to the truth of moral realism, we need to re-think our acceptance of Darwinism.

At this point I am right there with Nagel, so to speak.  So which way should we go given that Darwinism is under question?  As the reviewer puts it, “One alternative to the Darwinian view Nagel finds untrue to the moral facts is theism, but to this he is temperamentally averse. He prefers what he calls a teleological view.”

I wish I had a copy of the book to see what Nagel says about being “temperamentally adverse” to theism.  Whatever that means, here is Nagel’s current conclusion about all this as quoted in the book review:

But even though natural selection partly determines the details of the forms of life and consciousness that exist, and the relations among them, the existence of the genetic material and the possible forms it makes available for selection have to be explained in some other way. The teleological hypothesis is that these things may be determined not merely by value-free chemistry and physics but also by something else, namely a cosmic predisposition to the formation of life, consciousness, and the value that is inseparable from them. (p. 123)

So Nagel is temperamentally adverse to theism, and is then left with “a cosmic predisposition to the formation of life, consciousness, and the value that is inseparable from them.”

I’m sure Thomas Nagel is a much sharper philosophical cookie than am I, but it seems to me that, whatever he sees as the problems with theism, there are at least as many problems with a “cosmic predisposition.”  One starts to ask questions like, “What accounts for this cosmic predisposition?”  My best guess is that Nagel would say, “It’s just there.”

Nagel seems to be typical of the modern mind.  The rejection of theism is a temperamental adversity.  That seems to me another way of saying, “I’m just not comfortable with it; I just don’t like it.”  I’m sure many of us theists could come up with some good guesses as to why modern people just don’t like theism – three or four of which preachers might turn into sermons.

But this whole thing I found interesting enough to stop make these observations.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Same Old Show–Different Names

"There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what," Romney is shown saying in a video posted online by the magazine. "There are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it."
"Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax," Romney said.
Romney said in the video that his role "is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives." – Mitt Romney [link]
Kent comments:
Obama repulses me, but I am not a big fan of Mitt.  In that, I fear that I am like many considering the upcoming election.  People just won’t vote in significant numbers for third parties.  So hear we are.
But finally Mitt says something that catches my attention in a positive way.  If you don’t think there is a vast contingent of people who just want their stuff from the state, you are not being honest with yourself.  And in the vein of honesty, Republicans do not usually seriously challenge those with the “government should give me” mentality either.
The only problem with Mitt’s statement is that it’s only part of the story.  It’s not just the lower-income people who want their stuff from the government. Large corporations want it, unions want it, lobbying groups want it, well-to-do people want it.
But here a rather mainstream Republican finally at least says something accurate about this situation.  And what does he do?  Well, of course, he apologizes:
“It's not elegantly stated, let me put it that way. I was speaking off the cuff in response to a question. And I'm sure I could state it more clearly in a more effective way than I did in a setting like that," Romney said. "Of course I want to help all Americans. All Americans have a bright and prosperous future.”
Hey, Mitt – how about just reinforcing this something really good you said?  You are right - it is not the appropriate role of the government to “help all Americans.”  It is the appropriate role of government, fiscally speaking, to leave all Americans undisturbed so they can help themselves, if they care to do so.  And at this point, many do not.  And if they don’t, they don’t.  It’s called freedom.
Mitt Romney – what a weenie.  And we are back to our usual choices for President:  a leftist, collectivist, statist Democrat, or maybe-less-but-still-somewhat-statist weenie Republican.  Oh my!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Illegitimate Comments on ‘Legitimate Rape’

More on “legitimate rape” and the Akin campaign.

In commenting on this, John Stonestreet over at Breakpoint said:

Look, I quickly join my voice with the legions of others that despite our intentions, we should never use this phrase “legitimate rape” again. No rape is legitimate; all rape is devastating, evil, and dehumanizing. I also join with others in condemning the profoundly unscientific idea that a woman’s body prevents pregnancy in cases of rape.

Since Breakpoint is a Christian-oriented group, it seems fair enough to remind them that the Bible makes a distinction between legitimate rape, and other kinds of sexual encounters.  Deut. 22:23-27 seems to be making the very point that there are encounters that are legitimate rape, and others that are not.  So Akin’s distinction between real (legitimate) rape and other sexual encounters is not just common sense, it is Biblical.

Again, while Akin was factually mistaken about the results of rape, that doesn’t change the fact that the stupid media frenzy over the phrase “legitimate rape” was the kind of idiocy that we have come to expect from many media outlets.  It is also the kind of idiocy that writers at Breakpoint should be condemning, not repeating with approval.