Sunday, March 28, 2004


One of the most common topics of conversation among people is whether or not various things are right or wrong so it is more than a little strange that Leftist intellectuals very often claim that there is no such thing as right or wrong. Clearly, then, the nature of right and wrong is an important topic if only for political reasons. So Keith Burgess-Jackson and I have each in our own way been trying in our recent postings to give a careful account of what morality is and what it can and cannot do.

I think Keith's most recent posting on the matter is a very clear one that very few people could have much argument with but I think it needs to be extended a bit to answer what Leftists say. So I will try to do that. Keith says that only values exist rather than any abstract properties of rightness or wrongness and I agree with that, as would most Leftists. Where do we go from there, however? Leftists draw the to-be-expected inconsistent conclusion that describing anything as "wrong" or "evil" is therefore silly unless it it applies to the actions of George W. Bush or other conservatives.

The conclusion I draw is that people use moral language in a variety of ways but they mostly mean something real and important by it that transcends the personal. They are not merely expressing their own preferences or values. They are conveying propositions that do have truth value. This can most clearly be seen in those cases where we feel that we could substitute the word "advantageous" for "good" or "right" with no loss of meaning or little loss of meaning. I take "advantageous" to mean "leading in the long term to a situation that you would prefer". So the saying "killing babies is wrong" translates not to "there is an immutable property of wrongness about killing babies" but to "Killing babies leads in the long term to a situation that you would not prefer over the alternative."

Now, obviously, many people DO want to say that killing babies has nothing to do with preferences and that it would still be wrong even if everyone in the universe said it was right. That is however a mere assertion or expression of personal opinion that is not testable and so has no truth value. I do not argue with such people. They are entitled to their opinion and to their way of using words. I simply want to point out that for many if not most people "advantageous" is either a large part or 100% of what they mean by "right" and that in such cases the statement is capable of being argued for as being either true or false. I could, for instance, argue against the proposition that "Killing babies leads in the long term to a situation that you would not prefer over the alternative" by saying that the ancient Greeks routinely killed babies and that theirs was the most brilliant society and civilization of its times so killing babies does not have consequences that are automatically or on the whole unpleasant. Many people would fault my argument in that respect (by presenting, for instance, reasons why Greece would have been even more brilliant if they had not killed babies) but the argument would be about what leads to what -- a scientific argument, if you like. It would not be a mere assertion of values.

So it is perfectly reasonable, rational, realistic and coherent to see "is right" statements as having truth value -- and Leftists who deny truth value to such statements are distorting or ignoring what many if not most people mean by such statements.



"The well-known inefficiencies of government operation are not empirical accidents, resulting perhaps from the lack of a civil-service tradition. They are inherent in all government enterprise, and the excessive demand fomented by free and other underpriced services is just one of the many reasons for this condition."

Bureaucratic lies: "Last fall, every state was required by the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act to identify schools with a 'persistently dangerous' atmosphere so parents would have a better idea of whether their children were being educated in a safe learning environment. When 44 states denied having any such schools and the remaining states admitted to having a combined total of fewer than 50, one safety expert greeted the publication of the lists with a Bronx cheer."

Bureaucrats take aim at doctors "Some doctors have been literally 'under the gun.' Government agents broke down the doors of Dr. Jonathan Wright's office in Washington state, seeking to investigate the heinous crime of using a form of Vitamin B12 that didn't meet the government?s idea of what a 'good vitamin' should be."

Drug hysteria: "I have long referred to the war on drugs as the war on some people who use some drugs, sometimes. Now there's a byproduct of that war -- a side effect, if you will -- a war against doctors who prescribe painkillers, putting a chill on legitimate pain treatment by physicians who fear prosecution."

Patient billed $1100 for 5min visit: ""Whether the doctor is there for 10 minutes or 10 hours, that is the standard charge for the management of labour," she said. "Her own doctor would have charged exactly the same fee. It is an item number set by Medicare and there is one set charge for that item regardless of how long it takes.""



Dick McDonald shows that John Kerry's latest tax proposals are a good way of DESTROYING millions of American jobs.

The Horny-headed one has an interesting graph showing that poverty was declining until the LBJ-era expansion of welfare. Poverty CLIMBED as more welfare became available. Then when welfare programs were cut back in the Clinton era, poverty went DOWN again! How strange? Not at all. The Happy Carpenter explains why.

The wicked one has several links about the idiocies of gun control.

My recipe today is for Vindaloo -- a well-known "hot" (spicy) curry. By making it yourself at home you can put as many chillies in it as you like (or none at all) and thus have it hot, medium or mild. It tastes great even without the chillies. See here.

I have put quite a few postings up on PC Watch lately. Political correctness is showing no signs of waning but there is the occasional victory over it.


The Left have always wanted more spent on welfare and made "Fascism" a swear-word. President Bush deposed a brutal Fascist dictator and sponsored a big expansion of welfare. But instead of being admired by the Left, he is hated with a passion. What does that tell you about the Left? It tells you that they have no principles at all: That everything they have ever claimed to stand for is fake.

Three more examples of Leftist dishonesty: They blame the 9/11 attacks on "poverty" in the Islamic world. Yet most of the attackers were Saudis and Saudi Arabia is one of the world's richest countries! They also say that they oppose racism yet support "affirmative action" -- which judges people by the colour of their skin! They say that they care about "the poor" but how often do you hear them calling for the one thing that would bring about a worldwide economic boom in poor countries -- the USA and the EU abandoning their agricultural protectionism? Leftists obviously care more about conservative farmers than they do about the poor!

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