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Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Precalculus for Christian Schools / What about Hiroshima ?

This is the kind of thing you have to be deprogrammed from : "Precalculus for Christian Schools".

"A line can be described either by its slope (a ratio) or by its inclination (an angle). These terms describe the deviation from the horizontal, but the word inclination also has a non-mathematical meaning. Without Christ, man is inclined to sin. The Word of God should shape our attitudes (inclinations)."

"If you are given the length of two sides and the angle measure opposite one of those sides, you can use the law of sines to solve the triangle. However, this does not always determine a unique triangle. As a result, it is called the ambiguous case. Ambiguous means open to multiple interpretations. Some people say that you can interpret the Bible in any way that you want. However, there is no ambiguity in the Bible."

"Now extend it to eternity: (the limit as x approaches infinity) 80/(80+x) = O. In other words, this life is very insignificant in light of eternity. It is no wonder James said that life is "vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away."



I mentioned before that many people think that war is not a moral issue. Now the crackpots at the Ayn Rand Institute are saying that nuking Hiroshima was a great job :

Facing extermination, the Japanese surrendered unconditionally. The invasion of Japan was cancelled, and countless American lives were saved. The Japanese accepted military occupation, embraced a constitutional government, and renounced war permanently. The effects were so beneficent, so wide-ranging and so long-term, that the bombings must be ranked among the most moral acts ever committed.


This is the kind of thing that reminds me why I'm not an Objectivist any more. The kind of insanity that holds that blowing up cities is "among the most moral acts ever committed" does not deserve discussion.

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22 Comments:

At 5/03/2006 2:14 AM, Blogger BlackSun declaimed...

It's called the "lesser of evils" doctrine. I don't find it that difficult to comprehend--nor does it require being an objectivist.

 
At 5/03/2006 3:22 AM, Blogger Francois Tremblay declaimed...

Then you are a better man than I, Sean. A better man than I.

 
At 5/03/2006 9:53 AM, Blogger Zachary Moore declaimed...

...and yet the lesser evil still is, in fact, evil. And there is always the third option, to walk away.

 
At 5/03/2006 12:33 PM, Blogger Hellbound Alleee declaimed...

So, it's better if I slap granny than kick her in the face?

 
At 5/03/2006 7:35 PM, Blogger Mike declaimed...

What would the ideal action have been, Zach? Is it a matter of thinking all States are equally evil, so it doesn't matter if the Nazis or the liberal democrats are running things?

 
At 5/03/2006 7:38 PM, Blogger breakerslion declaimed...

Even though I think Franc is right and it doesn't deserve discussion.... I have always been fascinated with the hangup about numbers. Is one murder no less a murder because it wasn't twenty murders? Is murdering 20 people not equivalent to murdering one person at a time twenty times?

The lesser of two evils? Killing little children in their baths versus soldiers in the field? Forget for a moment the bullshit dogma that is used to wind up a man for battle. Forget the problem of placing a higher value on an American life. These soldiers knew what they were in for, and were at least somewhat prepared for the contingency of death. The A-bomb was a WMD. Evil is how you define it.

 
At 5/03/2006 9:12 PM, Blogger Francois Tremblay declaimed...

"What would the ideal action have been, Zach? Is it a matter of thinking all States are equally evil, so it doesn't matter if the Nazis or the liberal democrats are running things?"

While it might matter to someoen getting executed by one state and not by another, ultimately no, it doesn't matter. No state is morally justified. Liberal democracy is ideologically bankrupt. Nazism is ideologically bankrupt.

 
At 5/04/2006 5:51 AM, Blogger Mike declaimed...

No state is morally justified. Liberal democracy is ideologically bankrupt. Nazism is ideologically bankrupt.

Would your actions and attitudes towards the government be identical in 1930s and 40s Germany as they are towards the 21st century Canadian government?

Is it really, truely an insignificant issue what kind of government you live under? I know I've basically asked this already... I just want to hear you say that living under Hitler is no worse than living under Stephen Harper.

 
At 5/04/2006 12:48 PM, Blogger Zachary Moore declaimed...

What would the ideal action have been, Zach?

This is a ridiculous question. Ideally, the war wouldn't have been fought in the first place. Duh.

But even granting the necessity of the war, it's pure myth to assume that incinerating innocent civilians was in any way necessary or morally superior.

 
At 5/04/2006 12:53 PM, Blogger Zachary Moore declaimed...

I just want to hear you say that living under Hitler is no worse than living under Stephen Harper.

That's not really what you're asking, though. You want to believe that there's more moral justification for Harper's government than there was for Hitler's. And of course there isn't.

Nazi Germany engaged in more blatant moral outrages than perhaps modern Canada, but so what? Is one mobster to be preferred over another because he's murdered fewer people?

 
At 5/04/2006 1:18 PM, Blogger Mike declaimed...

But even granting the necessity of the war, it's pure myth to assume that incinerating innocent civilians was in any way necessary or morally superior.

Necassary to what end?

Would a west-Atlantic to east-Pacific Third Reich be more or less desirable than the current situation?

That's not really what you're asking, though. You want to believe that there's more moral justification for Harper's government than there was for Hitler's. And of course there isn't.

No, that is NOT what I am asking. If I was asking that question, I would have said (pay attention!) "Is there more moral justification for Harper's government than there was for Hitler's?"

Notice I did not say that. Put my question in the context of my post. First answer the question about your hypothetic actions and attitudes towards a 1930s German government.

 
At 5/04/2006 2:35 PM, Blogger Francois Tremblay declaimed...

"Would your actions and attitudes towards the government be identical in 1930s and 40s Germany as they are towards the 21st century Canadian government?"

No.


"Is it really, truely an insignificant issue what kind of government you live under?"

I didn't say it was. I said that ultimately no state is morally justified. It's better if a bully only kicks me instead of killing me, but neither are justified.

 
At 5/04/2006 5:41 PM, Blogger Zachary Moore declaimed...

Necassary to what end?

The ending of the war.

Would a west-Atlantic to east-Pacific Third Reich be more or less desirable than the current situation?

Would you rather get punched in the nuts or shot in the face? Does that make punching you in the nuts moral? If so, where do you live?

No, that is NOT what I am asking. If I was asking that question, I would have said (pay attention!) "Is there more moral justification for Harper's government than there was for Hitler's?"

Ah, but you did say, "I just want to hear you say that living under Hitler is no worse than living under Stephen Harper." The inference from your question is that you believe that Harper's government is in some way "better" than Hitler's. Since the topic at hand is the morality of governments, I think I'm safe concluding that you believe modern Canada is more morally justified than Nazi Germany.

First answer the question about your hypothetic actions and attitudes towards a 1930s German government.

Isn't that clear by now? If there's no moral justification for any government, it doesn't matter what examples you throw up- Nazi Germany, Classical Athens, Elizabethan England, Modern America... they're all equally devoid of moral justification and should be treated as such.

 
At 5/05/2006 5:59 AM, Blogger BlackSun declaimed...

Anyone who thinks all governments are equal hasn't been paying attention. If you think western liberal democracy (even under Bush) is anything approaching fascism, you're out of your mind.

This fallacy comes from never having actually faced or lived under real tyranny. None of you has had family members rounded up and shot. No one has had to fear for their lives for expressing the types of views we express on our blogs. We are spoiled rich kids living in the garden of democratic eden. Democracy is the worst system of government known to man--except all of the others.

WWII was a particularly ugly war, with Japanese soldiers committed to fighting to their deaths for a "divine" emperor. I would think atheists would appreciate the similarity between their kamikaze attacks and today's Islamic suicide bombers. An invasion of Japan in 1945 would have made today's Iraq situation look like a picnic.

So the U.S. Army decided to try out their newest toy on Japan, and it worked. Am I happy about the people who were killed? No. Would I rather the same number of Americans have been killed? No.

Yes, in many situations, it IS necessary to choose between two evils. I'm not interested in getting into a long winded debate on WWII. I'm not a history major, and I don't frankly know enough about it. I'm sure most people on this thread don't either.

But to claim moral equivalence between all governments, and to deny the necessity for hard choices needing to be made in wartime, is the HEIGHT of naivete.

The anarchist meme is wearing thin. Sure we need less government. But try implementing these absolutist positions in the real world. You are talking about a world of nuance, where even minute changes take decades and are fought over in endless turf battles. You think this would change if somehow government disappeared? It sounds to me very similar to the communist idea whereby the state is eventually supposed to melt away, leaving a dictatorship of the proletariat.

All these fantasies completely ignore the unpredictable and complex nature of people, groups, coalitions, and nations. Political conflict is a bitch, and denying it exists is even worse.

Imagine wearing the shoes of Harry Truman, having to face the momentous decision you so easily classify as 'evil.' How easy it is to criticize. How difficult to actually lead.

 
At 5/05/2006 8:45 AM, Blogger Zachary Moore declaimed...

Anyone who thinks all governments are equal hasn't been paying attention.

Who's made that claim?

None of you has had family members rounded up and shot.

And that deprives us of moral agency because...?

WWII was a particularly ugly war, with Japanese soldiers committed to fighting to their deaths for a "divine" emperor.

And the Americans were only committed until they suffered a really bad bruise? Take a look at U.S. government propaganda from WWII.

An invasion of Japan in 1945 would have made today's Iraq situation look like a picnic.

And both were completely unnecessary.

So the U.S. Army decided to try out their newest toy on Japan, and it worked.

Oh, well, it was just a toy? I don't know what all the big fuss is about then. Did the Japanese enjoy playing with it?

Am I happy about the people who were killed? No. Would I rather the same number of Americans have been killed? No.

OK, now fill me in on the part where it's more moral for Japanese people to die than Americans.

Yes, in many situations, it IS necessary to choose between two evils.

As long as you're comfortable with the fact that you're accepting evil as a moral solution.

But to claim moral equivalence between all governments, and to deny the necessity for hard choices needing to be made in wartime, is the HEIGHT of naivete.

I'll grant you hard choices during wartime if you grant me the lack of moral justification for the governments that start wars.

Sure we need less government. But try implementing these absolutist positions in the real world.

Oh, so it's not that you like government, it's just so damn practical.

It sounds to me very similar to the communist idea whereby the state is eventually supposed to melt away, leaving a dictatorship of the proletariat.

No state needs to "melt away" if it doesn't exist in the first place.

All these fantasies completely ignore the unpredictable and complex nature of people,

Do governments make people any less unpredictible and complex?

How easy it is to criticize. How difficult to actually lead.

So we're supposed to respect the difficulty of choosing evil acts?

 
At 5/05/2006 12:51 PM, Blogger Francois Tremblay declaimed...

Sean, shut up before I lose all respect for you.

 
At 5/05/2006 1:34 PM, Blogger BlackSun declaimed...

"Sean, shut up before I lose all respect for you."

I think you already have.

 
At 5/05/2006 2:15 PM, Blogger Zachary Moore declaimed...

Such things tend to happen when you argue for the morality of mass murder...

 
At 5/05/2006 3:06 PM, Blogger Francois Tremblay declaimed...

I haven't lost all respect for you yet. But please stop arguing for the morality of organized murder.

 
At 5/06/2006 1:28 AM, Blogger BlackSun declaimed...

please stop arguing for the morality of organized murder.

You can't take the event out of context and simply say it is about mass murder.

Warfare is categorically different than other types of murder.

If a massive conventional bombing campaign, followed by a land invasion would have killed half a million people (hypothetically), and the nuclear detonations killed 200,000, then either way it would have been mass murder by your definition.

Given the fact that the U.S. was not going to let Imperial Japan continue to exist, dropping the bomb 'saved' a certain quantity of lives which would have otherwise been lost.

Surely this distinction is not moot. Please don't say we shouldn't have been in the war...etc...etc... The fact was, we were in the war, and we are only talking about the relative morality of a particular decision.

This is a particularly famous example of an issue that has been used for decades for practice between debating teams.

In an absolute sense, it would have been good if no one had to die. But in a world war that had already cost tens of millions of lives, leaders decided Hiroshima and Nagasaki were acceptable losses.

It's incredibly sad in human terms. I think any reasonable person can see the Hobson's choice Harry Truman was facing. Given the lesser of two evils, he probably made the right choice--though I wouldn't go so far as to say it was one of history's shining moments.

 
At 5/06/2006 8:31 AM, Blogger Zachary Moore declaimed...

Given the fact that the U.S. was not going to let Imperial Japan continue to exist, dropping the bomb 'saved' a certain quantity of lives which would have otherwise been lost.

This is the crucial premise. Why was it morally imperative that the U.S. could not allow Imperial Japan to exist? Stalinist Russia was worse by any objective standard, and yet we never dropped a single firecracker on it. This is special pleading of the worst sort.

 
At 5/06/2006 1:25 PM, Blogger BlackSun declaimed...

Russia was a U.S. ally in WWII, Japan had attacked the U.S. Do I really have to get this specific??

 

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