|I checked it, but I wish I could have given it half a check -- or "spent" two or threee, rather than four, Atlases on it. It is good. |
I am taking a class in Law Enforcement Ethics right now and I bring essays like this to my instructor because as a liberal, she needs them -- and as an honest liberal, she appreciates them. Her stated goal in the class is to get these people (young cops) to think about alternatives. So, while she does hardsell Rawls and softsell Hayek, she does mention both.
I have been looking for a good essay to take in for the class, something that fits on one page or two at most that I can set up, xerox and pass out. This is almost it. I say "almost" because I perceive a weak link in the sorites.
Ethical formalisms such as Objectivism or Marxism begin with universal truths. From them, they derive prescriptions for human behavior. Objectivism assigns universal value to individual rights as an intrinsic characteristic of human beings. Intrinsicism here refers both to (1) the "fact" (claim) that each of us instrinsically possesses rights and to (2) the "fact" (claim) that we should value the rights of others.
There is the business owner's quip, "I would never cheat a customer. I prefer that my customers cheat me." The cartoon engineer, Dilbert, confronts his pet, Dogbert, who is running an investment seminar to sell securities in a company that he alone owns. "Isn't that a conflict of interest?" Dilbert asks. Dogbert replies, "A conflict of interest is predicated on the assumption that I have any concern for their well-being." If we all have different values, why should we value -- or even recognize -- the rights of others?
The missing link in the sorites is the establishment of individualism apart from universalism. We are all different, yet we are all alike. What differences are important? Which similarities are essential?
A few months ago, Joseph Rowlands criticized a post of mine for "instrinsicism.' I have been giving that a lot of thought. I need more time and I take all I need. In a Zane Grey novel, the hero says that he is not too smart, but he can turn a thing around in his mind while looking into the campfire and figure out what he needs to do to set things right. That is my paradigm. I am a terrible debater. I do not think well on my feet. I have few quips, zingers or, barbs to toss out. But this thing with intricism, I can turn it over in my mind and I see that intrincisms can be derived from Objectivist principles -- and that Objectivist principles can be asserted as intrinsic truths.
There is a difference between "passing moral judgment" and expecting other people to change. I have eaten delightful pizzas in restaurants with pictures of the Pope on the wall. In the words of Ernst Samhaber, a good merchant does not argue religion with his clients. Relevant to this discussion, the point is that what other people do or do not value is beyond your control. Dealing with that is the missing link in the sorites.
(Edited by Michael E. Marotta on 10/14, 8:06am)