Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Liberal Consensus

...is reached, as Crunchy Con Mr. Dreher explains, by redefining every human institution with the discourse of rights. So consensus, by definition, excludes every traditional or even social consideration. Consensus also excludes any public recognition of the natural fact that people are more than beings with rights. The "consensus model"--which depends on letting Locke completely out of the Locke box--leads to progressivist judicial, bureaucratic, and professorial activism. The "conflict model"--preferred, say, by President Bush’s Council on Bioethics--leads citizens to moral deliberation about who we are, deliberation about tough questions that don’t have easy answers.

Discussions - 8 Comments

You could have just cut to the chase and mentioned a phrase uttered by then Cardinal Ratzinger, id est, "dictatorship of relativism."

One thing I have learned monitoring this site is that neocons are not interested in consensus. So by definition the neocon never enters honestly into debate or conversation, by which I mean they are never truly open to the possibilities of being changed by the debate or the conversation. So the 'conflict' model is definitely what Bush was all about. He possessed all truth with evangelical certainty, and there is no point to any discussion except to convert others by missionary means. Just don't think for a moment that such leads to 'moral deliberation' about tough questions. The Bush administration was incapable of such reflection.

Yeah, Dan, because relativism doesn't raise any "tough questions" . . .

Ren, drop the neocon fixation; it's boring. Besides, it's increasingly dated.

Matt, you missed my point. But then again, what's the point of even having a point in a mental universe where all points are equally valid, all offer equally compelling positions for narrative. So why should I bother responding? And why did you respond to me? Could it be that maybe somewhere you believe that some positions are better than others, some opinions more grounded, some conclusions more solid?

Perhaps you should first lay out where you concur with relativism, and where you dissent, if you do dissent that is. Because otherwise, --------- why should we waste time? Why bother with a conversation at all?

Perhaps too you might consider how in a universe of relativism even civil discourse becomes an impossibility, and what's more, an imbecility.

Ren, I tend to agree. But in truth I think politics reins in the limits of the philosophic conversation...much can be considered and pondered...but NOW in the case of the democrats and NRL in the case of the republicans dictate what moral claims can be given approval(On the abortion/stem cell front) In the end neither party can accept a premise that undermines or weakens its basic policy positions.

The idea that either Bush or Obama(or any politician for that matter) are free agents in regards to accepting moral/philosophic arguments/premises is laughable. In opposition to Dan's claim that we live in a moral universe where all points are equally valid...nothing could be further from the truth...If this were the case then RJR would find great satisfaction in the fact that it gets free publicity in Truth commercials.

The fact that a commerical can advertise for a product or against one, means that there exists a standard of right and wrong, good and bad.

We excercise our "relativism/judgement" when we can step back from the product being offered and consider its merits/value, independent of the moral/merit horizon put forward in the advertising.

In other words while there are good and bad arguments and good and bad advertising, political gaffes included...we can, if we have leisure step back from the product being sold and consider its veracity.

If we feel a salesman is being dishonest we can reject the offer.

Not all lawyers are equal, not all politicians are equal, and not all products are equal, and they are not equal precisely because relativism in its strawman form is distant from the opperative truth.

While it is quite easy to get lost in philosophic debate, and enter into depths of near madness...

The truth of the matter is that we can tell if a commerical is good, we can tell if a lawyer is good, we can judge if a worker is competent in the performance of a task. There is near universal agreement on probity, and in my more clairvoyant moods I can even get a good read on the stock market or the political climate in Washington.

In some sense moral and philosophic debate is narrowly senseless because it has been eclipsed by sociology and economics, our general view of what can and cannot be sold as good eclipses and modifies what we argue is good. In many ways nothing is less true than the proposition that a mental universe exists where all points are equally valid. If anything we find ourselves in a universe where our bubbles are quickly punctured, where we actually have to adapt fairly quickly to standards of excellence and competence.

In this sense I am Darwinian if the name is apt...(that post really put me into a strange/depressed mood)

Yet if we are to argue morality and not Darwianism then I propose the following arguement/difficulty:

If cognitive faculties have evolved because they had the greatest survival value in the past...and given that there are considerably more beliefs with survival value than there are true beliefs...then the likelyhood of our cognitive faculties enabling us to have true beliefs is rather low.

In other words the problem is that true beliefs or morality is hardly likely to be of survival value, and we are more likely simply to call whatever has survival value moral or true belief. In other words once you become Darwinian there is no guarantee that true ethical values will have came about or be advantageous.

In other words:
"The strong write history, deal with it."

It isn't the case howhever that this ends up looking any worse than america really is, in some sense we might have darwianian minds and moral codes...If so we are stuck with probity.

Of course even if we are darwinian this does not ensure that we do not clothe our inner monkey in moral argument...but if everyone thinks its a jungle out there but argues as if transcendent morality exists then everyone thinks that they are simply being dupped by a confidence man, by the simple fact that they themselves are being confidence men in other instances(all this of course is to be found in Hegel).

red herring. One thing I have learned monitoring this site is that neocons are not interested in consensus. So by definition the neocon never enters honestly into debate or conversation, by which I mean they are never truly open to the possibilities of being changed by the debate or the conversation. Thank you Ashland for allowing me to skip out on math with analytical philosophy.

Consensus has nothing to do with being open to new ideas. Changing you mind based on consensus assumes that the majority is always right. I might suggest that its best to go against consensus because most people are stupid sheep who's opinion is not worth considering, but that would be mean. (its not like our politicans do that on issues like the mexican border) However, I think neo cons or neo libs or neo nazis are not likely to enter a discussion looking to come away with a new outlook. Why else do liberals read al franken and cons ann coulter.

If we are Darwinian in regards to morality, then we grab feeble minded kids in the Virginia hills and steralize them to keep their negative traits from being a stain on our race. You are right, we have been Darwinian for a while now. Although, I thinks it is really dangerous to consider morality in this way for reasons that must be all too obvious. Outside of social darwinism I think it is just plain wrong. What happended to the meek inheriting the earth? It may never come to pass but tying morals to survival of the fittest makes me uneasy. It sounds like the justifying of the shady way someone got on top. I really don't think people have changed at all or evovled in any way. Sure we may be bigger faster stronger....errr bigger slower dumber, but we are still the same thing. No matter how much technology you wrap around people they still are faced with the same problems of family, values, and how to protect their property without giving too much authority to the strong man who promises to do the job. I think history has gotten too involved in the trends(all the stuff on sex and gender studdies) and lacks the cohesive fact that people are facing the same battle as always: have vs. have not in a really crude way of puting it.

I'm pretty sure neither party is interested in "moral deliberation" and frankly why should they be?

"progressivist?" Is that a Frank Luntz term? It reminds me of "Democrat Party" or "Death Tax."

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