Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Goldberg’s Commencent Address

Jonah Goldberg gave his first commencement address, at the Hillsdale Academy in Michigan. Pretty funny. Worth a read. I thought about putting up my first high commencement address that I gave a week or so ago to St. Peter’s High School (in Mansfield)--my daughter Becky was in the graduating class--but it really was prosaic compared to Jonah’s, so I will not put it up. I just told the graduates to go out there and love unto exhaustion, work unto exhaustion, and walk unto exhaustion.

Discussions - 1 Comment

Jonah could have pointed out that the slippery slope arguments are actually named after a logical fallacy... namely the slippery slope fallacy... On the other hand I think that there is something to slippery slope type arguments that are true. Don’t small lies often times commit you to larger ones?

I once rigged a gumball machine, only to be harshly scolded by my mother. She told me that people who steal gum and gets away with it ends up stealing cars... I still remember the incident because it was on a trip to Louisiana and when my mother discovered all the gum balls I had, she made my father turn around and drive us an hour back to return the gum balls and appologize to the Win Dixie mannager. It must have worked because I haven’t stolen a car since then... but then again... it is doubtfull I would ever have stolen a car, even if I would have gotten away with my raid on the gum ball machine...

On a certain level I agree with Jonah, there are no slippery slopes, we control our own destinies(or is this cliche?)but if this was expressed as a moral doctrine, how would it relate to the role of habit in making decisions, or forming the "I" that is making the decisions?

If there really are no slipery slopes whatsoever, this would seem to cause a serious problem for ethics... When doing the right thing is inconvenient, and the odds are good that no one will find out, why not go ahead and do what is easy? After all I can make a distinction between stealing a gum ball and stealing a car. I can make a distinction between a little white lie and a huge web of deceit. I can order my life such that one does not lead me to another. If free will means what Jonah says it does, then we are in complete control of how our past actions impact our future decision making. I just don’t think this is true, it all depends on the role of habits/Aristotle, and the Libertarian position in free will. You make your own destiny but what role does the formation of the "you" play in your future destiny creation? Or do you create this as well?

Jonah says: "There are no slippery slopes for you, or for any of us. Our destinies are our own. You will make mistakes and if you are lucky, you will learn the right lessons from them." But if learning the right lessons is just a matter of luck...

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