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« Free Reads -- De Palma | Main | TV Alert »

November 23, 2002

Free reads -- Philosoblog and Glenn Frazier

Friedrich --

Jim Ryan is an interesting case -- a philosopher with a lot of respect (including philosophical respect) for common sense. At Philosoblog, here, he writes mini-essays on provocative topics. The exchanges in his comments are a special pleasure. Today's topic is "A Rough Topology of Right and Wrong."

Sample passage:

In many cases, one has a right to act in his own self-interest. Also, everyone has a duty to sacrifice his interests in order to help others in some cases. There is a restriction on harming; it is wrong to inflict harm in many cases. But, it is also wrong to allow harm in some cases. Finally, the degree of harm and self-interest at stake matters.

And I just stumbled across this enlightening posting over at the always-interesting (here): a discussion of the differences between what he labels the radical liberal and the liberal conservative.

Sample passage:

The point is that it is very good to want to make life better for people, but it can't be done in ignorance to or without respect for the powerful world outside. The fundamentals of this world will not change, no matter our intentions. We have to go with what works.

And that is the statement that so chills the romantic, the radical, the liberal. And for good reason: "what works" does not constitute a good enough criterion for how we decide to live our lives. The liberal heart insists on doing "what's right." What separates the liberal conservative from the radical liberal is the idea of a balance of tensions between the two.

Exposure to the mainstream media can sometimes leave you wondering whether common sense, as well as horse-sense, have become things of the past. But blogdom seems to have given both a great new outlet.



posted by Michael at November 23, 2002


Thanks, Michael, I'm glad you like my blog. I agree with you about blogdom.

As for common sense moral reasoning, it's actually rather comical: thousands of "ethicists" spinning false theories in ivory towers, while ordinary folk use common sense analogical reasoning to determine right and wrong quite well. (If you want to see my enshrinement of common sense, see "How to Determine the Right Thing to Do" in my September archives.)

Posted by: Jim on November 23, 2002 6:31 PM

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