Monday, July 8, 2019

Speaking (what you take to be) hard truths ≠ hatred


Suppose I was driving past you and you stopped me to warn that a bridge was out up ahead and that I was risking my life by continuing in that direction.  Suppose I reacted indignantly, accusing you of hating me and hoping that I drove off the bridge to my doom.  This would no doubt strike you as a most bizarre and irrational response.  Obviously, there is nothing whatsoever in what you said that entails any ill will toward me.  On the contrary, if anything, what you said is evidence of concern for me. 

Let’s add to the scenario.  Suppose that I knew that you were wrong about there being a bridge out ahead, and also knew you to be, in general, an ill-informed and irrational person prone to making strange warnings.  Would that justify my nasty reaction to you?  Obviously not.  It would justify me in rolling my eyes at you and perhaps even in showing some impatience, but it would still do nothing to justify accusing you of hatred or of wishing me harm.  An irrational or ill-informed person is not ipso facto a malicious person.

Consider a very different scenario.  Suppose you tried to convince me to follow a moral principle that I regarded as deeply irrational, such as an extreme version of fruitarianism according to which it would be wrong to eat anything except fruit that had already fallen from a plant.  Suppose you gave me arguments for this view that I judged to be sheer sophistries.  Suppose that in this case too I accused you of hating me, on the grounds that the way of life you were asking me to adopt would make me miserable, being contrary to deep seated desires, extremely difficult to follow, and likely to damage my health. 

Once again the charge would be silly.  You would indeed be mistaken in trying to get me to adopt your strange moral views, and maybe even irrational, but it would be unreasonable for me to accuse you of harboring hatred for me or of wishing me ill.  On the contrary, you would, in your own strange way, be trying to help me by encouraging me to follow what you sincerely believed would be a morally better way of life.

That is all obvious and no doubt uncontroversial, at least when the context has to do with warning a driver of dangerous road conditions or recommending an odd dietary morality.  Strangely, though, many people make exactly these sorts of bizarre accusations of hatred in other contexts.  For example, suppose a theologian warns people that eternal damnation is real and pleads with them to repent so that they will avoid it.  He is liable to be accused of sadism – of wanting there to be such a thing as hell and of wanting people to go there.  This is no less silly than accusing a person who warns you that a bridge is out of wanting the bridge to be out and of wanting you to fall to your death.

Of course, there might be a person who wants the bridge to be out, and there might be a person who wants there to be a hell.  But it doesn’t for a minute follow merely from the fact that a person believes that hell is real that he wants it to be real, any more than it follows from the fact that a person believes that the bridge is out that he wants it to be.  And notice that it makes no difference to the point whether you think belief in eternal damnation is ridiculous and irrational, any more than in the case of the bridge. 

Or suppose that the subject is sexual morality rather than dietary morality.  Suddenly people who hold that certain practices are immoral are accused of hating those who engage in those practices.  This is as stupid as accusing fruitarians of hating those who eat meat or who drink milk or who otherwise fail to abide by their austere moral standards.

Once again, the rationality or irrationality of the beliefs in question is irrelevant.  Let fruitarianism be as irrational and difficult to practice as you like, it simply doesn’t follow that it is motivated by hatred.  And by the same token, even if traditional sexual morality really were as irrational and difficult to practice as its critics claim it is, it doesn’t follow for a moment that its adherents are motivated by hatred.

You needn’t believe in hell or traditional sexual morality to see the point.  Consider the case of Australian rugby player Israel Folau, who was recently sacked for sending an Instagram message to the effect that “drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists, and idolaters” are in danger of hell.  Philosopher Peter Singer, though famously an atheist and a defender of the morality of homosexual behavior, came to Folau’s defense.  In his column at Project Syndicate, Singer wrote:

[Folau’s] post no more expresses hatred toward homosexuals than cigarette warnings express hatred toward smokers.

If that analogy seems implausible, that’s because you do not take Folau’s beliefs seriously.  Granted, for anyone outside that particular faith, it’s hard to take such beliefs seriously.  But try putting yourself in the position of someone with Folau’s beliefs.  You see people on a path toward a terrible fate – much worse than getting lung cancer, because death will not release them from their agony – and they are blind to what awaits them.  Wouldn’t you want to warn them, and give them the chance to avoid that awful fate?  I assume that is what Folau believes he is doing.  He even tells homosexuals that Jesus loves them, and calls on them to repent so that they can avoid burning in hell for eternity.  That doesn’t sound like hate speech.

End quote.  Why, then, is the “hatred” canard so common?  Largely, of course, because it is so useful as a political tactic – as some activists quite frankly admit, as I discussed in a post from a few years back.  And given the shrillness and venom with which the charge of “hatred” is usually flung, what the psychologists call “projection” is surely playing a role too – where the hatred that the projector projects is one of the daughters of lust identified by Aquinas.

151 comments:

  1. Wow. Just, wow. Me and Peter Singer breathing the same air. Wow.

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    1. LMAO. Indeed. "As I live an breath!" is another exclamation that fits this unusual alignment of planets.

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  2. While the accusation does not follow from the beliefs it is used to attack, and the beliefs do not necessarily flow from hatred, I think it pays to notice that the accusation is only made when it is plausible. It is plausible, for instance, that someone instinctively sees homosexual acts as disgusting, as many do. Similarly, if a fat man were to argue with me about dieting, it is plausible that he envies my slimmer body. The accusation is not made in the implausible situations you stated.

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    1. I think it pays to notice that the accusation is only made when it is plausible.

      This is not so. Or, at a minimum, it is not generally so. Have you ever heard "the Big Lie" concept? Big media and the liberal far left know perfectly well that a broad-scale attack through media on all levels will be persuasive to many people regardless of its basically having no inherent truth-value.

      It is plausible, for instance, that someone instinctively sees homosexual acts as disgusting, as many do.

      It is plausible that many DO see homosexual acts as disgusting, fine. That you add "instinctively" is already inserting a propaganda element of judgment into the observation. And deriving from "many people find homosexual acts as disgusting" that "most people act out of hatred of homosexuals when they publicly object to homosexual acts" is certainly a claim that needs support beyond "it's plausible". Many people find acts of pedophilia disgusting, but few assert the thesis that "when most people publicly object to pedophilia they are acting out of hatred of pedophiles."

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    2. That “most people act out of hatred of homosexuals when they publicly object to homosexual acts” is certainly beyond the scope of this comment. All that I said is that, whether or not the beliefs flow from hatred, the hatred itself is plausible. And I don’t mean that all people accused are plausibly disgusted by homosexual acts, but merely that disgust for homosexual acts is a plausible concept in itself, as opposed to hating someone’s bridge driving choices. People only accuse others of hating things which it is plausible to hate.

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    3. It is doubtless true that many persons find the acts themselves disgusting.

      This reaction, being a widely-recognized experience which crosses over many human cultural boundaries, is almost certainly an inborn inclination: an instinct. Like many inborn inclinations, it can of course be suppressed in social settings for politeness' sake. And it will be more strongly-felt in some persons, and more weakly in others, like all instincts. It can also, like many instinctive reactions, be mostly-eradicated from one's personality by a process of gradual desensitization.

      But in all of this, hatred of the person is simply not involved.

      Most persons are disgusted by the thought of their local medical examiner performing incisions on corpses, extracting bowels and spleen, and weighing the extracted organs. It's ridiculous, on such a basis, to accuse them of hating their medical examiner.

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  3. To expand upon my previous comment:

    The more plausible it is that someone holds a certain hatred, and the worse this someone’s arguments are, the more likely it is that the arguments are not being made in good faith but are in fact rationalizations of the hatred. Thus, the accusation may be likely true, even if it is not proven, and even if it is unrelated to the arguments.

    If you think someone’s arguments are extremely bad, you might be attempting to act charitably in deducing that they are not the real reason that the belief is held, seeing as it is less embarrassing to be driven by emotions than by awful and sophistical arguments – the former requires being ill-tempered, while the latter requires being stupid.

    Of course, however, it is probably not actually charitable to assume that someone is acting in bad faith for these reasons, especially since this seems to preclude seriously listening to the arguments.

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    1. Yes, this "Bayesian" reasoning captures why people infer malice from moral advice. Of course people aren't ideal Bayesians, but Bayesian formalism does capture their actual thinking pretty well in this case.

      Contra Feser, people aren't inferring malice from some axiom to the effect that bad advice can arise only from malice. If that were their reasoning, then Feser's post would be an adequate response. But what is actually happening is that people are interpreting the giving of the advice as something like Bayesian evidence regarding the possible beneficence or maliciousness of the advice-giver. They're combining this evidence with their prior beliefs in very context-specific ways before they infer malice.

      Feser's post doesn't really address this thinking, but it's the thinking that needs to be addressed.

      To adapt Feser's road-closure example, suppose that someone tells you that all the roads out of your current location are closed, so that you must stay right where you are. Then you might reasonably consider the possibility that this person is actually trying to constrain your movements for some ulterior motive. And if you had other evidence to draw on, this "possibly" might even become a "probably".

      This is how some people interpret moral advice. They're told, "Don't do this or you'll go to hell." But they hear this advice while already holding something like Bayesian priors that incline them to interpret the advice as an effort to constrain their actions out of some ulterior motive.

      And the conclusion that they arrive at is not so much, as Feser suggests, "You must really want me to suffer in hell." Rather, it's "You're trying to use hell to scare me into acting in ways that are to your advantage at my expense."

      Granted, they may sometimes be drawing these conclusions while laboring under all sorts of biases, fallacies, and delusions. But still, it's not as if it's always a mistake to infer malice from advice.

      All that being said, Feser's argument does have some relevance even to this Bayesian thinking. He reminds people of the important point that there are other reasons why people might give moral advice, besides a malicious effort to control. It shouldn't be necessary, but Feser is right to say it. Indeed, from a Bayesian perspective, a reader who'd forgotten this point should now give less credence to the maliciousness hypothesis, because that credence is now taken up by the alternatives that Feser suggests (good-hearted naïveté, etc.).

      But Feser shouldn't portray his post as a knock-down argument that the reader was in error to infer maliciousness in the first place. Even after taking Feser's point on board, maliciousness might still be the best explanation for why the advice was given.

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    2. I agree that the poverty of one's arguments can be evidence of bad faith. I think it's also true that there are views which we can say are nearly impossible to hold in good faith. For instance, an American with a remotely typical upbringing cannot in good faith hold that reinstituting slavery would be to the benefit of African Americans. It is not that holding such a view implies that one hates African Americans, but it is overwhelming evidence that one does.

      However, I also agree with Tony above that the accusation of hatred in respect of traditional sexual mores is not just made "when it is plausible." There are a lot of people (including powerful people, and people who will be powerful in the near future) who would take any expression of traditional sexual mores as an expression of hatred. I simply think they are wrong to think that traditional sexual mores cannot be defended in good faith in our contemporary circumstances. Even if traditional sexual mores are wrong, they would have quite a lot more going for them and a lot more inherent plausibility than other beliefs to which they are often compared.

      It is a substantive question, though, and to the fact that the problem of tolerance has no procedural solution.

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    3. It is not that holding such a view implies that one hates African Americans, but it is overwhelming evidence that one does.

      Actually, I think the word 'hate' in its ordinary usage fails to do justice to the kind of moral mistake being made here. For I think the salient feature of the good faith/bad faith distinction is that a view held in bad faith does not have to be a view that one doesn't really hold. The person who holds, in bad faith, that Africans are inferior does not have to be lying when he says so; he may really, sincerely believe it. But he holds it in bad faith; at some level he wants to hold it, and so has done things such as seek out confirming evidence, ignore counterevidence, talk himself into it, etc. While it may be possible to hate someone unconsciously (e.g., "It was at that moment I realized I hated my brother") I am not sure that that is what we are talking about when we say that someone who holds a view in bad faith about Africans hates them. (He need not manifest the phenomenal, emotional aspects of hatred; he need not rejoice at anything he would regard as bad for them, or despair at anything he would regard as good for them, for example.)

      But people have decided to use the word 'hate' for this sort of phenomenon. I am not sure it's anything more than being culpably wrong, though maybe it is.

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    4. I did not mean that the accusation of hatred in respect of traditional sexual mores is only made when it is plausible. I meant that it is always somewhat possible that someone hates homosexual acts, because hating homosexual acts is a plausible concept in itself, as opposed to the concept of hating certain choices of roads to drive on. Plenty of people find homosexual acts disgusting, and thus there is always some likelihood that such an accusation of hatred is true, while an accusation of hating someone’s road choices would always be extremely far-fetched.

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    5. I don't see what finding homosexual acts disgusting has to do with hating them, much less with hating homosexuals. I find all sorts of things disgusting that I do not hate and have no moral opinions about, and lots of people supportive of homosexual activity find it disgusting.

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    6. And the conclusion that they arrive at is not so much, as Feser suggests, "You must really want me to suffer in hell." Rather, it's "You're trying to use hell to scare me into acting in ways that are to your advantage at my expense."

      I think this is the real issue that is at the core of the "culture wars", and not just on homosexuality.

      In my experience, some of the biggest supporters of "pride" are monogamous heterosexual women with very conventional sex lives who were raised in very restrictive cultural or religious backgrounds. This should not be surprising: Gay rights would have gone nowhere without a lot of support from heterosexuals. Whether or not it is "OK to be gay" doesn't impact them personally, nor do they know that many people who are impacted personally.

      Yet they see a similarity between struggles of homosexuals and their own struggles. They, too, had to hide their sexuality. These restrictions were enforced through a variety of means ranging from disapproval to condemnation and abuse. The threat of hell was often used to reinforce the restriction. There was a double-standard where those in power were "forgiven" for their "human transgressions", while people like them were not. All this evidence points to bad faith. Therefore, they conclude that these rules were not a matter of concern for their souls, but another means of manipulation.

      Before one can have an ethical discussion, as the author is trying to have, one must establish that they are acting in good faith, first. Otherwise, it feels a lot like "hate speech".

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    7. Additionally, the fawning over Donald Trump, a notorious womanizer who has led a generally amoral life, by many religious leaders is seen as strong evidence of bad faith.

      The various Catholic priest scandals and lack of response from the Church are also seen as strong evidence of bad faith.

      The non-response to the humanitarian crisis at the border compared to the response toward hot button issues is also seen as strong evidence of bad faith.

      How do we know that Feser, Folau, and those who express similar positions are not acting in bad faith?

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    8. James,

      So, in other words, let's engage in gross fallacies. Homosexual acts are moral or immoral, whether or not you think that the someone making arguments over the issue has the right priorities about other moral and political topics. Talk about bad faith.

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    9. Jeremy Taylor,

      "If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal."

      One can make a bulletproof moral argument for or against anything, but people won't listen to it unless they are convinced that the person who makes it is doing so with their best interest in mind. Yes, this is fallacious and illogical, but that's how people work.

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    10. That's how some people work. So what?

      There's also some people who assume that you don't have their best interests at heart because they don't like your moral arguments and their conclusions, aren't there James. Some of these even cobble together tendentious, grossly generalising, often fallacious, many times hypocritical retorts, as if those meant much as a response to the arguments in question, don't they.

      And true Christian love isn't the same thing as sentimentalism.

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    11. It seems to me that this whole discussion, on this sub-thread, leads to the conclusion that the degree which Christians live out their beliefs in an authentic manner is the same degree that the culture will assume good faith, and not assume ulterior motives behind the proposition "don't do x or you are in danger of Hell".

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    12. That depends whether the extent to which Christians live out their beliefs in an authentic manner is the same as the extent to which it does not cost them much to do so. Not generally true, over the history of Christianity.

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  4. The rationale here demands little intellect to be understood. I am not sure if activists and their ilk are actually aware that their opponents are earnestly concerned and not any-of-the-various-phobes they so are obsessed with accusing people with.

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  5. What would make me think that Folau's post was based on hatred would be his failure to include the greedy in his list of people in danger of going to hell.

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    1. HIs list is about people who have taken action, not the motivations that lead them to action. For example, he has fornicators, not "the lustful". I suppose greed could come under idolators - those who sin because of their greed would be making an idol out of money or things.

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    2. Hatred of homosexuals, though? His post seems to have been a modification of 1 Corinthians 6:9, which already had homosexuals in there. The only additions he made were of drunks and atheists. If he acted out of some sort of hatred, it would have to have been either of drunks or of atheists.

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    3. Thiago, yes, 1 Corinthians 6 seems to be what he had in mind. Drunks are included in the list, as well as the greedy. So I think we could blame him for going easy on the greedy, but hard on the atheists, who are not included in the list.

      "Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God."

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    4. Bilbo, all he did was share a post that expressed a standard Christian view. Whether it related to a specific passage in the bible or whether he covered absolutely every single group is irrelevant.

      If you want to know Folau's motivations, you can just get that from him directly:

      "There's things that the bible might go against, things that people are doing, but from my perspective, I'm all about doing that from a place of love and believing in the bible, that if people have an opportunity to hear that so that if they do choose to repent and turn away from that then they have an opportunity to be in heaven one day, which is what I long for people to do." - Folau

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    5. A standard American Christian view, where greed is a virtue, not a vice.

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    6. Sins such as greed, wrath, theft, etc. don't have much of a public constituency. Since most places don't hold "thieves' pride" festivals and the like, we tend to assume that's the sort of sin we're broadly agreed on, and that it isn't crucial to spend our rhetorical energies on or stake out moral stances involving.

      If we had deep, consequential societal rifts over whether gluttony was bad, I'd expect more public witness on THAT subject.

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    7. Folau isn't an American. Also it's just stupid to suggest he must have left greed off his list because he has a sofy spot for the greedy. There's quite a bit of stupid in this thread.

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    8. I guess greed is a standard Australian virtue these days, too:

      https://www.foxsports.com.au/rugby/folau-hits-500k-in-donations-as-7m-property-empire-revealed/news-story/7d6a9d22dd33b5190d52f1efff03f7d1

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    9. Do you have anything not stupid and fallacious to say? The man's a professional athlete and rich. So what? Does that means necessarily mean he's greedy? It is nice to know that you can make windows into his soul, and his financial life, and find out.

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    10. One thing's for certain, the responses of several social liberals in this thread show that, whatever bad faith there might be among some moral traditionalists, they're hardly unique or special in this.

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    11. Taylor, if you are indirectly talking about me, I will note that I am no social liberal. I made my comments because, on the same day of the post, I actually had a discussion about dieting with some fat people. I merely defend the notion that the assumption of bad faith, about things which it is plausible to be in bad faith about, is not as much of an illogical leap as presented in this post, albeit still uncharitable. I’m sure this also defends some traditionalists, as they have also sometimes made similar accusations regarding abortion discussions.

      Also, if you are indirectly talking about me, I will note that talking indirectly about people is a bad habit.

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    12. Thiago

      No, I didn't have you in mind.

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    13. Coelho, by the way, it is a bad habit to refer to someone's surname only in a combox post to an interlocutor.

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  6. All good arguments, Ed, but I think you fail to take into consideration a history of hatred against "non-fruitarians." If there is a history of slurs, epithets and violence against a group, the targeted group may instinctively think that the contrary belief is motivated by hate.

    For example, many if not most Bible-believing Christians cite passages in the Bible which describe God's hatred for homosexuality (calling it an abomination). Well, if God hates it, why shouldn't believers hate it too?

    Since homosexuality is a perversion of natural law, so they say, the offense is more stark than two unmarried straight persons living in sin and hence, deserving of a greater degree of condemnation.

    I agree that that reaction is rationally unjustified (one should wait for actual evidence of hatred), but I think you can't gloss over the above history in making your argument.

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    1. Well, if God hates it, why shouldn't believers hate it too?

      Believers should, like God, hate every sin. Also like God, they should love every sinner. 'Hate the sin, love the sinner' does rile people up, particularly because liberal Christians like to think that the Gospel's call to love directly validates their political project, but... it's kinda just right. Any Christian would admit in regard to a non-sexual sin that 'Hate the sin, love the sinner' is the right attitude. I think the attitude does not make sense to the neo-pagan world, except in some cases vestigially, which is part of the reason why people suppose that you must morally approve of homosexual acts or else hate gay people.

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    2. @Greg

      Agreed, but many co-called Christians hate the sin and hate the sinner. Like I said, if a group has historically been the target of harassment, ridicule and violence, it is understandable though not rational why many consider opposition to same-sex-attraction (SSA) to be hate-driven against them personally.

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    3. The problem with the "hate the sin, love the sinner" formulation, besides that it's only imposed on those espousing traditional morality, is that it ends up meaning, "deal with the sin, not the sinner", "punish the sin, not the sinner."

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    4. @ thefederalist

      I don't understand your comment. Do you mean to say that "hate the sin, love the sinner" is only imposed by those espousing traditional morality? I would agree that it tends to be traditional Christians who explicitly endorse the principal, but I would think that any Christian who does anything to oppose sin is imposing it on others. (For instance, any Christian who critiques inequality with an aim of mobilizing wealthier people to be more generous is criticizing sin, but presumably would not admit to hating the wealthy.)

      I also do not understand your point about what the slogan ends up meaning, as I can't really make sense of either of the derivative slogans you bring up.

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    5. @Greg
      Look at Bill's comment just above mine, when he was responding to you. People who hate the sin of sodomy used to respond with "harassment, ridicule and violence" toward known sodomites. Bill thinks this is evidence of hatred toward the sodomite, not merely the sin of sodomy. Obviously, with any moral evil, one may reasonably debate whether it ought to be punished by society according to its laws, but deciding NOT to punish can't be made on the basis of "you're hating the sinner" personally, not "just the sin." The group of murderers, rapists and armed robbers "has historically been the target of harassment, ridicule and violence", so I guess it's understandable why many consider opposition to murder, rape and armed robbery to be hate-driven against them personally. Who would make such an argument?
      Sodomy is a vicious depraved act. Any open homosexual who experiences harassment and ridicule, but not violence, should experience that as not-hate.
      So that's what I mean. Any publicly expressed disapproval of any evil can be seen as hate-driven toward the evildoer rather than toward the evil itself. How is that in any way helpful, when those of us who hate evil are reminded that what's really important - for US - is to "hate the sin, love the sinner"? It becomes just a way to shut up the prophets.

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    6. @thefederalist

      And when you lump in consensual homosexual acts with "murderers, rapists and armed robbers," you're confirming in their minds that you ARE hate-driven. As unnatural and sinful as homosexual acts are, it isn't on par with murder, rape and robbery.

      Note, I've stated my agreement with Ed's argument. I commented because I don't think he considered the fact that many (probably not most) on the Right really do hate homosexuals personally. So, one shouldn't be surprised, given the history of violence against gays, that they suspect hatred as the motivating factor.

      On the other hand, if it's perfectly fine to hate "fags," then you shouldn't act surprised when people notice.

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    7. How might one publicly express disapproval of sodomical acts, in such a manner as not to be thought of as hating "gays" generally?
      If I'm a father of an eight-year-old son and a pair of men pretending to be married moves into the neighborhood, am I unjustly discriminating against them (to use the catechism's infelicitous formulation) if I express concern about my son's possible future interactions with them?

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    8. And, it seems evident to me, and I suspect most moral casuists, that sodomy falls somewhere between murder and rape on the heinousness scale.

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    9. @thefederalist

      You ask:

      How might one publicly express disapproval of sodomical acts, in such a manner as not to be thought of as hating "gays" generally?

      You're asking the wrong person because, as I said, I agree with Ed's post. One more time: Ed's analysis fails to consider the historical persecution gays have suffered at the hands of many who really do hate them personally. I also stated that reflexive accusations of hatred are irrational but at least understandable when juxtaposed with "fruitarians."

      A person can and should express h/er beliefs, and unless one has clear evidence to the contrary, alleging that said person harbors hatred is at best an empty claim.

      Last I checked, motive mongering is still an ad hominem fallacy.

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    10. On the other hand, if it's perfectly fine to hate "fags," then you shouldn't act surprised when people notice.

      I hate fags. I just hate it when someone pulls a fag out of his Marlboro box and lights up. In fact, I hate it when he pulls a fag out and just lets it sit there - I can still smell the tobacco and it stinks.

      On the other hand, I love stacking up a faggot of firewood and lighting up, on a cool evening. I guess there's no accounting for taste.

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    11. "Ed's analysis fails to consider the historical persecution gays have suffered at the hands of many who really do hate them personally."

      Ah, persecution. What you call persecution, others would call punishment for engaging in a criminal act. No one was ever jailed, or flogged, or even burned, for "being gay." He was punished for engaging in perverse and illegal acts, or for soliciting them.

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    12. This is probably true, at least in the US, since 1789.

      However, it is also true that plenty of people who have same-sex attraction disorder have been socially marginalized on account of their disorder, whether they ever attempted homosexual acts or not. Furthermore, plenty of males who are on the outer 1/4 of the curve of exhibiting effeminate traits have been socially marginalized for what is not even a disorder in their affections, but is merely a perceived higher probability of their having same sex attraction.

      And given the lack of civil rights at various times in the past, it is probable that at least a few such men WERE subject to stiff "legal" penalties (i.e. those imposed by the authorities) mainly because they suffered from SSA or because they were perceived to be effeminate and "might" be homosexuals. And (not to put too fine a point on it) there were probably some people who were found guilty of OTHER crimes, who were those suffering from SSA, more because of their social marginalization than because of their actual guilt and evidence for same. But this is true of ALL marginalized groups, it was not special to homosexuals.

      It is not wrong to point out that it is unjust to treat the condition of suffering from SSA as social offense, even while maintaining that it is just to punish criminal acts of homosexuality.

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    13. thefederalist writes:

      Ah, persecution. What you call persecution, others would call punishment for engaging in a criminal act.

      You need to look up the word "persecute." Although laws can be used to persecute groups, persecution is subjecting somebody to hostility or ill treatment. A person doesn't have to run afoul of the law to be persecuted. Why does this even have to be explained?

      Chasing people down and calling them "fags," or beating them up because they're "queer" are examples of persecution. You don't have to write that into law, and you don't have to go to Iran to find examples of that.

      I've told you more than once that I agree with Ed's argument, but you seem fixated on justifying....what? If it's okay to hate gays, go ahead and hate them. Just don't act surprised and don't feign outrage when your hatred is noticed. If you don't hate them but want to protect your speech rights, you've already been told there's no disagreement with that. If you're trying to deny that gays have been persecuted by those who genuinely hate them, you live in the Twilight Zone.

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  7. Aquinas believed that the VAST, vast majority of people are indeed going to hell and that part of the joy of heaven will be watching the damned suffer because it shows how just God is. The road to heaven is narrow and few find it. I think this is really the only valid Christian position. Is it politically correct? Absolutely not. But Christ didn't come to bring peace, but to bring a sword.

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    1. And this came from Augustine, with his distortion of Scripture to where "all" doesn't really mean "all" in "God will have all men to be saved".

      And this position is not only wrong but absolutely and simply sick. Much Church "tradition" simply belongs in the trash.

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    2. @Vince S

      I would rather trust the time-tested teachings of the Catholic Church than theological liberalism. Can you honestly say that most people you meet are ready for heaven? I think it is very rare to find such a person.

      Is it not an absolute miracle that the catholic Church to this very day is the only institution which STILL says no to abortion, same-sex marriage, and all other forms of liberalism? This all despite the imperfect nature of the Church's leadership. I submit to you that this is nothing short of miraculous.

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    3. "God will have all men to be saved" of course being an obscure rendering of "God wills (wants) all men to be saved". Augustine reading "all kinds of men" into the places that speak of salvation being offered for all is... jarring on the first look, but has to be understood in light of his theodicy. Either way though, it's quite obviously nonsense that he warped some apostolic doctrine of universalism given the many places that speak of damnation and the account of Lazarus and the rich man.

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    4. No, Augustine's idea of the massa damnata is absolutely sick and his twisting of "God will have all men to be saved" to get it in accord quite intellectually dishonest. Aquinas presents it in warmed-over version, but it's still essentially the same thing. Disagreeing with Augustine and Aquinas doesn't entail universalism or theological liberalism.

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    5. I don't have time to argue the biblical point, but I just want to say that:
      (1) "the VAST, vast majority of people are indeed going to hell" and:
      (2) Universalism is true and all will make it to Heaven--

      are not the only two options.

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    6. Vince, be careful since you are using quite the odd translation yourself. God wills that all men be saved is quite different from what the words you present mean.

      How is it sick? The world is a terrible place. There are sinners on every corner. People repeatedly offend God, so very often. How few truly repent or take to heart the words of the Gospel. One can hope against the damnation of so many, but as our Lord says, wide is one way and narrow the other. Prayer, making reparation...these are just some things faithful people can do. We can have hope! For though so many repeatedly offend God, He loves us all! We can take the plunge and let this love build us up in joy and ecstasy, and not be burned by it! So much does He care for the widow and the orphan. Let us pray for the repentance of many.
      But it is not wise to throw away right and worthy tradition of the Fathers, but accept the venerable teachings that have passed throughout the ages with humility and respect.

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    7. God wills that all men be saved means... that God wills all men be saved. It's Augustine, and not I, who distorted the plain meaning of the words. Or "God will have all men be saved" or whatever translation you prefer.

      But, according to Augustine, every man deserves hell due to the sin of Adam; humanity is a massa damnata. God selects a few for salvation from this massa damnata by giving them the graces to repent and believe in the Gospel which He refuses to everyone else. This gets a little warmed over in Aquinas and his followers with the distinction between efficacious and sufficient grace and so on, and the idea that God refuses efficacious grace precisely so He can manifest His justice by punishing, but it's still the same sick idea, justified by the same intellectual dishonesty with Scripture.

      I don't care what you say, or what anyone else says, no matter what title he may have. These ideas are sick and deserve no respect whatsoever.

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    8. Craig Payne, I would also point out that 1 & 2 can both be true.

      -Matt

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    9. I'm surprised nobody's pointed out so far that the person in the Bible who talks about Hell the most is... Jesus. So whatever proportion of mankind ends up in Heaven, belief in Hell isn't some Augustinian twisting of the plain meaning of Scripture.

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    10. Where did Aquinas say that the vast, vast majority of men go to hell? I missed it.

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  8. Well of course it doesn't follow, in the sense of entail, that these things are motivated by hatred. It also doesn't follow they aren't, or that such accusations are necessarily "bizarre". (The conclusion of "bizarreness" follows, naturally, from the Thomistic flair for abstraction and failing to see a concrete reality in a historical context.)

    Because the accusation of "hatred" is not at all unfounded when the sinfulness of homosexuality is told to the homosexual in an uncalled-for, insulting, in-your-face, "God hates fags", AIDS-is-a-punishment-from-heaven manner. Or when it is insinuated that the homosexual is a likely pedophile without evidence. Or many other things which clearly indicate motives which are not pure as the driven snow.

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    1. How many people actually make those extreme accusations though?

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    2. True, but if I want to know what Folau meant, I must ask what Folau meant; not some (real or imagined) amalgam of "Folaus". Otherwise, I would be just using conversation stoppers to shut my opponent down instead of advancing toward truth. Surely a Nominalist--more than anyone--would agree.

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    3. Some do, some don't. It depends on the context.

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    4. It's possible to go to far in the other direction, though, so that we're afraid to be frank about homosexual acts. It's not wrong to consider them disgusting or, in certain contexts, to say so. We don't hesitate for many other sins to speak frankly, or at least many of us don't. There's a balance to be had between compassion for the sinner and a kind of cringing reluctance to be candid that easily turns loving the sinner into excusing the sin.

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    5. Vince, but my point is that the kinda of approach you expressed is few and far between. The Westboro Baptist church's approach is a big outlier. How can it account for confusion of this magnitude? How can this number of people really think opposition presupposes hatred?

      In other circumstances, even ones with similar historical elements involved, you dont see this level of confusion this wide spread.

      It is indeed bizarre.

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    6. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  9. "Hate"--like "Nazi" and "Fascist"--is quickly becoming a word with no discernible meaning.

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  10. Perhaps, following the social justice crowd's tactic with racism, we could invent a distinction between "hatred"- a volitional mental act- and "systemic hatred"- a mostly non-volitional participation. Then, with the addition of perhaps plausible historical interpretation, one might still say Folao's words are hateful. I assume from his words that Folao is either Muslim or Christian, and I think that "anti gay" proclamations by members of these faiths are in fact viewed by many "pro gay" people as something like this "systemic hatred." I am not saying they are right, but that this is what they may mean when they label such statements as hatred.

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    1. Yes, but "systems" of hatred (or anything else) must have concrete, individual examples that illustrate the "systemic". If not, what proves the existence of the "system"? If I want to know what folau meant, I must examine what Folau meant, not what I imagine a "system" of Folaus meant.

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  11. I didn't think the Folau case caught the attention of anyone outside of Australia, NZ, and rugby fans.

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  12. I had a long conversation about this exact point on the NBA subreddit after someone accused the NBA analyst Chris Broussard of being a homophobe for affirming traditional Christian ethics. For those interested, you can find the thread here: https://np.reddit.com/r/nba/comments/ac09m9/stephen_a_smith_responds_to_david_blatt_calling/ed4rwi1/

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    1. @Brent

      So, you're "trees916," correct?

      Delete
    2. Correct. And go easy on me, I'm not as argumentatively skilled as many of the folks here.

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    3. @Brent

      I think you did a very good job. The guys arguing with you are typical liberal nutjobs whose elevators don't go to the top floor.

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  13. This is kind of a shameful thing isn't it?

    A truth that is too hard for you means that you're soft. It's one thing to have an embarrassing condition and keep it to yourself (like erectile dysfunction, or softness), but why would you advertise your softness by showing everyone how offended you are?

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  14. There's a Twitter account called Hate Graphs which exploits this irony. Can dry, technical charts and graphs be considered hate speech? They can when the point out inconvenient facts like gay men comprising 1-2% of the population and yet causing 2/3 of new HIV infections.

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  15. Before Ed bans me, please read this. You think to yourself "you're a fool Tom." I know that. I know that I am a fool. "All who are prudent act with knowledge, but fools expose their folly." (Proverbs 13:16). I go on the Internet to post my worthless opinions. "A fool does not delight in understanding, but only in airing his opinions." (Proverbs 18:2)

    But I am umbothered by the fact that I'm a fool. I am even unbothered by the fact that I am wise in my own eyes. Why? Because being a fool or being wise in your own eyes, while obviously not good, are not the worst things you can be.


    Being weak is.

    I have never once seen someone weak receive God's grace and receive salvation solely because they were weak. Never. They were either strong all along or received grace for a different reason.

    The greatest shame one can have is to show off how weak you are by having safe spaces, being triggered, or showing how offended you are because someone said something that is negative.

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  16. Steven Dutch addressed this issue in his blog which i think is no longer operating. But he basically said that a logical argument is like this: This is my position and my reasons are thus and thus. An argument is not "you are a racists" or "you are full of hatred etc.

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  17. Perhaps a better analogy would be that in the not too distant past, Frutarians had the political power to make eating meat illegal and the social power to make non-frutarians social pariahs. And that even today, omnivore children were being disowned by their frutarian parents for their dietary choices.

    While "hate speech" may not be the right term, in this context is is not hard to see how frutarian beliefs could be deeply harmful to non-frutarians and to society as a whole.

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    1. Of course, that assumes fruitarians are wrong. If they're right, they may well have acted wrongly in the past, but that is a a distinct issue from whether their core ethical contentions are correct.

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    2. Right: it matters whether the movement away from "establishment fruititarianism" involves explicit public support for an intrinsically evil act and way of life, or involves instead explicit public sympathy for a weakness some exhibit in having a disordered inclination, who sometimes fall in that inclination but are afterward sorry for their giving in to temptation.

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  18. The reason that hate is not defined is that any proposed definition would incriminate the hate labelers.

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  19. "...it's not as if it's always a mistake to infer malice from advice." But, absent CERTAIN knowledge in the particular case, it is always uncharitable.

    "Even after taking Feser's point on board, maliciousness might still be the best explanation for why the advice was given." But, unless it is the ONLY reasonable explanation for why the advice is given, it is better for one's own soul to attribute charity to the advisor.

    I think it might be helpful of Dr. Feser to explore the natural law underpinnings for the Church's teachings on rash judgment. Both in the context of combox disputes, and in public quarrels like "always believe victims."

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  20. My oldest son smoked cigarettes for a few years. My wife and I never told him to stop. I don't think we ever mentioned the issue in conversation. He grew up a house where we made no secret of how stupid we thought the habit was. He knew how we felt without us ever having to mention another word. When he finally came around and decided to quit, he came to us for help. It was easy to come to us because there was no history of lecturing or anger there -- no hard feelings to overcome.

    Attitude matters.

    Watch an episode of Jerry Springer. That's behavior modification as theater. Producers don't sit in meetings talking about how to give the rational perspective. The rational perspective is a ratings killer. Hate sells.

    Sure, that's just a show. But some people want to hate. Hate is all they really understand.

    Here in Hollywood people drag old furniture out to the street. The city picks it up eventually. A couple of weeks ago some "animal rights" extremist saw an old mattress as a billboard. A bright green message was painted on. Apparently evil people eat millions of innocent animals every year. That vegan hates. He wants me to be angry. He's not advising. He's demanding. It does not follow that all "fruitarians" hate. But some "fruitarians" really do hate.

    Every year before the Oscar show my wife and I walk up Highland to watch the limos arrive. Protesters carry signs like "God Hates ." They aim bullhorns and spew insults. They want me to be angry. They want me to join the hatred.

    My ex-smoker son is now 42. He hasn't been seriously involved with a girl for about 3 years. A couple of months ago he met someone, 39. They seemed to have a lot in common. He thought it might turn into something. But then the red flags started. She was a militant SJW. She didn't understand how he could be close to his parents at his age. Apparently she thought being "grown up" meant you had to view your parents like a 15 year old. Then she started asking him to get involved with her politics. I never met the girl, but I imagine she was like one of those girls The Family sent out to get recruits. Anyway, when my son refused to get into her politics, she became very insulting and demanding. It's either you're 100% with these people or you're the enemy. Needless to say, the two went separate ways after her crazy, almost stalking rants. She even accused him of being a product of "white privilege," which is laughable. People like her glorify hatred.

    My wife and I used to be in a screenwriting group. We met a young woman who appeared level-headed. My wife is still "friends' with her on Facebook. But this young woman has become very political in recent years. When my wife wouldn't "defriend" a "conservative," this young woman became very angry with my wife. Hatred is becoming a virtue. Spread the love has become spread the hatred.

    Honestly offered advice is so rare these days it's almost not worth considering. Most people probably don't know how to give it. I doubt many understand it when they receive it. It's very sad. Rolling our eyes and driving on may be the best response in an ideal world of rational beings. But that's not where we are. So the best response is not so clear.


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    1. How sad. I suggest you look for other circles to frequent. I admit that they may be harder to find than they ought to be, but they are out there.

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    2. Tony,

      You mean other circles than planet earth?

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    3. Well, I suppose there is that too, but I meant other than Hollywood and central LA. And other than shrines of hedonism.

      As a friendly note: we too made it very clear in our household how stupid starting to smoke is. One of my sons also took up smoking, as an experiment, when he was over 18. I discussed it with him, trying (so far as in me lies) not to lean on him like an elephant. He continued to experiment, but (perhaps even a little because of our discussion) he paid attention to how much it didn't make him feel good, and he eventually dropped it - fortunately, before he was thoroughly addicted. I thank God he was open to re-considering it and paying attention to input from many angles. Nobody can say for sure, but I have a suspicion that my not attempting to make his decisions for him helped him reach out for common sense and stop. Of course, I could be wrong.

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    4. I spent most of my life in Texas. There's plenty of hedonism there too. But this isn't really about hedonism.

      My wife and I were very strict on our sons when they were young. But we relaxed that policy as they aged. When other parents were cracking down on their kids in the teen years, we were letting ours loose. This worked well for us. I never lost sleep worrying about what mischief they were up to.

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    5. Don Jindra is a complicated man, like Shaft. He makes some great points here, but then you see his other posts... Fascinating guy.

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  21. "But, absent CERTAIN knowledge in the particular case, it is always uncharitable."

    I don't think that the inference of malice itself is soul-endangering. What is soul-endangering is the all-too-easy next step of returning malice for malice. There is no problem with identifying someone as your enemy if you can actually love your enemy.

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    1. Of course, in both cases I was responding to your assertions that malice is to be considered the most likely motivator of someone's reminding the world of the vicious depravity of sodomy. Which makes "assume malice" a not merely internal-to-himself struggle at this point.
      Of course, if I assume that someone bears me ill-will but never speak about or treat him as an enemy, my thoughts about him are practically irrelevant. But thought is still father to the action, and you present yourself to us as one who not only assumes malice, but encourages other readers to assume malice. And assumption of malice absent compelling evidence is becoming a marked feature of our public life.

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    2. "Of course, if I assume that someone bears me ill-will but never speak about or treat him as an enemy, my thoughts about him are practically irrelevant."

      A likelihood of malice should never be ignored. But there are ways of responding actively to malice that do not amount to treating the one who hates you with malice.

      This is why it is possible for you to heal the rupture caused by his hating you. (Far from certain, but possible.) If you can diagnose his hatred, then you have a chance of adapting your behavior to help him to realize that he shouldn't hate you.

      It is possible that ignoring his hatred is the best way to make it go away. Likewise, ignoring a disease is sometimes the best way to make it go away. But you can't assess whether this is the case unless you know the nature of the disease confronting you. Likewise, with a potentially malicious person, you can't judge whether assuming beneficence is the best approach unless you've determined as best you can the nature of his intentions toward you.

      [Y]ou present yourself to us as one who not only assumes malice, but encourages other readers to assume malice.

      I would accept that description only if it were highly qualified or amended.

      You can't "assume malice" as if it were some kind of axiom. You may, when the evidence as a whole is sufficient, infer that malice is likely in a particular case.

      Also, I would discourage readers from assuming malice, relative to how inclined people typically are to assume malice. That is why I praised Feser for reminding readers that there are other reasons why people offer moral advice besides malice.

      But I concede that I would encourage someone who refused ever to consider the possibility of malice to be more sensitive to the details of the particular case rather than to make blanket assumptions.

      And assumption of malice absent compelling evidence is becoming a marked feature of our public life.

      I agree. We may be arguing over the meaning of "compelling". I agree that the offering of advice can never alone be "compelling evidence". (Or at least I can't think of a case in which it would be.) But many pieces of evidence can be compelling in the aggregate, even if none on its own would be sufficient. And it can happen that the last piece of evidence that tips the scales is the giving of a certain piece of advice.

      But again, noticing malice needn't entail reacting with hatred. That further reaction is the "marked feature of public life" that concerns me.

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    3. Disgust doesn't necessarily equal malice. Malice suggests you actually wish to hurt someone or cause them objective evil. That isn't necessarily the same as finding their behaviour disgusting nor even to being scolding and forthright in denunciation of said behaviour.

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  22. What if doxastic voluntarism is true? Then the person who tells you that some horrible fate is in store unless you do X might be doing it at one level because he's concerned for your welfare... but then ye chose to believe such a thing because at a deeper level he finds it sweeeeet. Then you would be justified in accusing him of hatred.

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    1. Of course, that would be to 'save' a controversial position by appealing to another controversial position, so it wouldn't really deal with the problem.

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  23. This is slightly off topic, but I get the impression that this issue of citing hatred as the motivation for moral/political opinions is fairly pervasive in British politics at the moment, going way beyond issues with homosexuality.

    Three examples:

    1) Islamophobia; criticism or concern about Islamic beliefs and practices is always motivated by 'racial' hatred. There was a very recent attempt to enshrine this into law and make Islam and Muslimness a protected racial category.

    2) Criticism of historically unprecedented levels of immigration; hatred of foreigners and xenophobia is the main motivation.

    3)Brexit: again, unreasoning hatred of foreigners is the main motivation behind support for the UK leaving the EU.

    Simultaneously there is a tendency on the part of some to promote the idea that hate speech cannot be free speech and that law enforcement needs to expand its role in monitoring and supressing hate in society.

    So quite a timely post.

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    1. 2) Criticism of historically unprecedented levels of immigration; hatred of foreigners and xenophobia is the main motivation.

      Interesting viewpoint. What about people who actually enjoyed interacting with immigrants way back when they were somewhat uncommon (relatively speaking), but are now ... less so, but not across-the-board about it? Or people who go out of their way to help officially declared "refugees" who have a green card, but who go out of their way to criticize illegal immigrants?

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  24. "3)Brexit: again, unreasoning hatred of foreigners is the main motivation behind support for the UK leaving the EU."

    Where is your evidence for this? I voted to leave the EU but not for "hatred of foreigners". I voted to leave because the EU is a fundamentally undemocratic institution (and there IS plenty of evidence for that). There are concerns about immigration but that doesn't entail hatred of foreigners.

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    1. Joe, I think you're misreading the comment. I believe Anon is saying that such attributions are pervasive, not that the attitudes attributed actually are.

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  25. The whole problem is, IMO, a penchant to "make windows into mens' souls". Anything to avoid actually addressing the question involved. It's our old friend ad hominem, aka Bulverism.

    I'm also not inclined to buy the notion that bad arguments are strong evidence of bad faith. That would be true if we humans were in fact really good at reasoning. A few are. Most of us are more capable of reason that rational, at least much of the time.

    It is also not necessarily true that a bad argument is worthless. Often one can learn from it. At a minimum, it can be like Holmes seeing things because of Watson's errors; in others, the very analysis can be valuable. (E.g., Aquinas on Averroes's view that there is only one intellectual soul for all mankind.)

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  26. I support the free speech of soccer players and anti-gay, hell-proclaiming street preachers. But when Feser writes the following--"[S]uppose that the subject is sexual morality rather than dietary morality. Suddenly people who hold that certain practices are immoral are accused of hating those who engage in those practices"--one distinction he's not making that might be relevant here is disgust. Fruit eating does not illicit disgust, but homosexuality frequently does.

    When emotions of contempt and disgust are triggered in people--and these get attached to morality and tribal identification (who's in/who's out)--regardless of the stated motive (saving the sinner, etc.)--it is hard to untangle this motive from emotions that we associate with hate, Othering, and demonizing.

    Take the Martin Scorsese film, "Taxi Driver." Scorsese, riffing off of Dostoevsky's "Notes from Underground," depicts a marginalized man who is disgusted by the night life of NYC in the 1970s. He has this deep-seated revulsion toward blacks, gays, prostitutes, etc., which he then combines with moral outrage. He clearly cannot untangle his moral opinions from his visceral disgusts--and this leads to nonviolent political action (he asks a politician at one point in the film to "clean up the streets")--but it also, in the end, leads to violence.

    So we all know that the politics of disgust can lead to hate and violence. Thus calling an alcoholic a "drunk" (as the soccer player did) or Catholics "idolaters" as Protestant fundamentalists frequently do is somewhat callous and hateful--but such speech ought to be protected as in keeping with free speech. But let's not pretend that part of what's driving such usage of language entails dehumanization and hostility, not just a warding off of bad behavior.

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    1. "Fruit eating does not illicit disgust, but homosexuality frequently does."

      I think you misunderstood the analogy. The fruitarians not being compared to the LGBT positive. They are being compared to those who oppose it.

      I'm sure many fruitarians do look upon the diets of others with disgust, but hardly anyone makes the bizarre claim that fruitarians are full of hatred. Even when fruitarian activists are out yelling at people in public, people still dont general think they are full of hatred.

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    2. You make a good point, Billy, but maybe the underlying shadow of hostility should be noticed, nonetheless. Wouldn't Nietzsche and William Blake, for example, see in prohibition--whether of the censorious fruititarian/vegan type or the Christain moralist type--an underlying hatred of life, "ressentiment," and a desire to restrain the loosening of life energies? Blake wrote, "the lust of the goat is the bounty of God," and "In every voice, in every ban / the mind forged manacles I hear." I write this, by the way, against myself, for I am almost completely vegan (though I cheat on occasion).

      I think that when we don't acknowledge the complexity of the psyche, pretending that our motives are purely rational, good, or positive when they are clearly mixed in almost every case--that the feigning of outrage is a bit unseemly.

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    3. Stop butchering Blake. Go away!

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    4. The eagle should not take advice from the crow.

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    5. The troll should get lost.

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    6. Prudence is a rich ugly old maid courted by Incapacity.

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  27. Duh? The accusations of hate come from mental error or moral failure. Either they truly believe in the good of their actions and the ill will of others, or they don't truly believe in that good and are motivated by some kind of bad faith. I suspect both might obtain.

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  28. Notice that Atheists frequently say that Christians are "threatening" them with hellfire. But there is a difference between a threat and a warning.

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  29. @Jonathan Lewis: One can walk and chew gum at the same time. One can support free speech for hell preachers even as one also sees the dark, dark passions, grotesqueness, and psychological depravity underlying those who are warding off outsiders from going to hell.

    Hell is not an accidentally set fire in a forest. It is a place (presumably) created, quite deliberately, by God, where torture is deployed as punishment forever. God places people in hell. To affirm hell is thus to affirm God as a just authoritarian.

    Historically, hell was imagined--and perhaps is still imagined by many--as a place on which outrages against God and the saints in this life will be recompensed to the fullest measure. The saints will look into hell from heaven, not in horror at the injustice of God--not to weep--but with rejoicing. They will be witnessing just vindication over tormentors. Things will be cleansed; the earth made new.

    The right analogy is thus not with a warning to go around a dangerous bridge, but with Hitler youth warning a fellow German not to engage in homosexual practice so as to avoid the fate of Jews, joining them at Auschwitz. It is a very different type of warning from that given a stranger that there is a dangerous bridge ahead.

    Thus when Feser writes the following--"it doesn’t for a minute follow merely from the fact that a person believes that hell is real that he wants it to be real"--he is splitting hairs. A believer in hell is not, of necessity, a sadist, but if that person aligns with God and believes God is just, and that believer bears wounds of "ressentiment" (Nietzsche's term) toward nonbelievers, he is likely to be an apologist for God's creation of hell, and to hope for the vindication of the saints. To pretend that no dark emotions--including, or even especially, hatred--are likely to be at work in the psyche of the hell believer and apologist is something of a stretch.

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    1. The right analogy is thus not with a warning to go around a dangerous bridge, but with Hitler youth warning a fellow German not to engage in homosexual practice so as to avoid the fate of Jews, joining them at Auschwitz. It is a very different type of warning from that given a stranger that there is a dangerous bridge ahead.

      This doesn't seem correct to me because in this case the one giving warning himself will give punishment or whatever for engaging in the practice that was warned against.In case of both hell and dangerous bridge no human agency is involved in delivering the consequences.

      Also I get this impression from your post here that you don't think there can be any just punishment at all?

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    2. @Red: Bridges, having no conscious intentionality, don't "deliver consequences," but gods, being intentional beings, can. So if one acts as a willing messenger on behalf of a deity that "delivers consequences," aren't you affirming that deity as just--and thus cheering on the process of His carrying out acts of just torture? And as messenger from an intentional agent (God), you may have functioned as a final warning, adding to the accountability of the guilty (if they didn't heed your call).

      So it's one thing to warn the city that Godzilla is coming, another to warn the city that your master, Godzilla, is coming. In the first instance, one sees the destruction of the city as an unjust horror; in the second, justice is seen as having been made perfect.

      And isn't there thus psychological torture of others--and of oneself--in the latter stance? There's always a chance, after all, that you yourself could fall into the hands of an angry God(zilla). So isn't hell talk a deliberate instilling of fearful imaginings in oneself and others?

      In other words, to frighten oneself and others--perhaps even children--with imaginations of hell has an element of masochism and sadism attached to it, akin to being the ally and messenger of Godzilla. One imagines oneself safe if on the side of Godzilla--functioning as Godzilla's instrument or messenger--but that also makes one complicit--by silence or apologetics--in the acts of Godzilla.

      And on Earth as it is in Heaven. If one has a concept of a just authoritarian God(zilla) that tortures--and for eternity, no less--what sort of ethical reasoning might follow on Earth? God tortures. Can God's representatives on Earth torture?

      So there is a great deal of theatricality, disproportion, emotional manipulation, fanaticism, horror, hatred, and mental cruelty in any "sinners in the hands of an angry God" preaching about hell. People should be free to do it, but it also seems incumbent on those not under the spell of "hell talk" to notice that hell warning functions as an unethical cultural instrument of psychological domination, Othering, terror, and control over others.

      As with Aristotle's views on women, hell seems to be a concept worthy of retirement.

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    3. @Red: Bridges, having no conscious intentionality, don't "deliver consequences,"

      I don't think the notion in question necessarily requires consciousness. It simply requires that certain state of affairs are result of certain actions.

      Aren't you affirming that deity as just--and thus cheering on the process of His carrying out acts of just torture?.....
      ....So it's one thing to warn the city that Godzilla is coming, another to warn the city that your master, Godzilla, is coming. In the first instance, one sees the destruction of the city as an unjust horror; in the second, justice is seen as having been made perfect.

      Right, but important point and the point relevant to Dr.Feser's discussion is that this won't necessarily imply hatred towards the people of the city and a desire that they all get destroyed. Indeed the very reason for warning could be that the opposite is the case. Secondly, even in the first case consequences can be seen as deserved and truly unjust if people simply refused to listen when they should have.

      And isn't there thus psychological torture of others--and of oneself--in the latter stance? There's always a chance, after all, that you yourself could fall into the hands of an angry God(zilla). So isn't hell talk a deliberate instilling of fearful imaginings in oneself and others?

      I disagree because as per our stipulation here if the being we are talking about is essentially just then that would rule out such chancy punishment. Punishment then would only ever be just desserts.

      hell seems to be a concept worthy of retirement.

      I disagree, Its actually one of the more attractive theological doctrines to me. The foundation of hell are the concept of Moral responsibility, Obligations, Just desserts and Retributive justice. All these elements seem plausible.
      And you mention the fear inducing imagery of hell. Well it is definitely true that a lot of extremism here can be seen but still it doesn't follow that inducing such fear is inherently irrational or cruel. Fear is very complex kind of feeling and it has some important ties to other notions such as law and morality.

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    4. I meant to write ..deserved and nottruly unjust

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    5. @Red: You wrote, "[Hell is] actually one of the more attractive theological doctrines to me. The foundation of hell are the concept of Moral responsibility, Obligations, Just desserts and Retributive justice. All these elements seem plausible."

      But given our finite existence, aren't each of these, Red, akin to jay walking in relation to the severity of the punishments said to be dished out to those in an eternal hell?

      For example, "moral responsiblity" (your phrase) is a dicey proposition if free will doesn't wholly exist. How much moral responsibility can be assigned to the individual, intrinsically, and how much to extrinsic factors? Isn't it true that, given what we know about brains and genetics--and these in relation to the environment--that most neurologists, even without resorting to any particular metaphysical commitments, conclude that free will is problematic, at best? For instance, most psychopaths, the most obvious candidates for a hell realm, appear to have unmistakable brain characteristics associated with suppressed affect.

      And aren't you concerned that embracing hell as a concept might dampen your own emotional affect? How does one seriously call hell "attractive" (your word)? It just seems to me that actively convincing oneself that God tortures justly, and for eternity, can bring one to a place where, by habit of thought, one's own rationality, sense of proportion, and empathy can become crippled.

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    6. moral responsiblity" (your phrase) is a dicey proposition if free will doesn't wholly exist.

      Perhaps, but this seems much more plausible than not even given all the factors you mentioned. That we are responsible for a number of actions in our life, There are actions that we should or should not do. That we can rightly judge ourselves and others as being morally culpable or praiseworthy sometimes. This is all one needs to make sense of concept of hell, there could be room for lots of skepticism about these things but that would only affect the scope of hellish punishment.

      And aren't you concerned that embracing hell as a concept might dampen your own emotional affect?........It just seems to me that actively convincing oneself that God tortures justly, and for eternity, can bring one to a place where, by habit of thought, one's own rationality, sense of proportion, and empathy can become crippled.

      Well it can but No, It seems to me that you are simply taking extremism regarding one concept to define it and the beliefs of those who hold it. My own experience with many people who hold such view is a counter example to this claim of yours. I would just as much be concerned regarding rationality of those who deny all those things I mentioned which provide foundation for concept of hell. It also seems to me that that can empty things like empathy of all and any positive content.

      And well the thing is that these are the concepts that many take in as their theorizing about hell, if what you are saying here is completely correct then it simply follows that they are wrong, not necessarily full of hatred for those they think might end up in hell and that is what is close to the point Dr.Feser is trying to make. It at least makes sense in that context.

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    7. In last passage I am talking about all the factors you mention which can diminish our responsibility.

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    8. @Red. Thanks for you thoughtful replies. I'm not sure our discussion on this can advance much beyond where we have taken it, and the points we have made, but if you want to keep talking, I'll ask you a follow up question: If you had the power to create ex nihilo, would you, as a rational being, have set up a cosmos like the one we've got--and that culminates in the fate of eternal torture for most human beings? I would have done it differently. You?

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    9. Thank you too for the discussion.And well I don't claim to know answers to everything (though this goes for many things other than just theology) I was just trying to offer my perspective and what I think is the perspective of many which accept hell at least in principle. To your question, I don't know what to say right now and I also suspect that sort of discussion might be considered off topic here.

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  30. Love and hate can only be understood in the context of what is objectively good. Liberals have a distorted and perverted view of the good, thus to a liberal, love is hate and hate is love.

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    1. @Kurt. In this instance, your accusation that liberals are Orwellian surrounding the good doesn't work. Any time a person associates God, who is Himself supposed to be good and reasonable, with the creation of a hell realm in which the majority of humans is tortured for eternity, it is difficult not to notice that the person making the claim has actually made of God a monster. Monsters are unreasonable. They are not good.

      So a deity that tortures for eternity is akin, not just to, say, God(zilla), but to the Yahweh figure in Genesis who drowns all of humankind in a flood. (We would call the flood narrative an account of genocide today.)

      Again, such a deity is not reasonable; such a deity is not good. At least not in any human sense. To claim otherwise is, arguably, to be the Orwellian person in the discussion.

      So if God has indeed made a hell realm, His ways are not rational, but inscrutable--which is ironic, given the premise at this blog, that reason extends to the ground of being.

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    2. This is the perversion of good and evil I was getting at. The creation of a hell realm is exactly what a just God would do. Only a monster would reward an unrepentant serial killer.

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    3. @Kurt: The "thief on the cross" was brought to heaven by Jesus. If he had been the "serial killer on the cross" that went to Paradise, would that have marked Jesus as a "monster" (your word) for bringing him there? And psychopathy clearly has a powerful genetic/biological/brain architecture component associated with such things as a physical inability to feel empathy, etc., so what percentage of a psychopath's actions--or anyone else's--is he or she ultimately responsible for? In rendering a judgment, wouldn't responsibility be a unique, individual determination in each case, as to what ought to be assigned to intrinsic as opposed to extrinsic factors?

      There's also the question of proportion. One can be disproportionate in punishment, and therefore irrational and unjust in punishment. It's not just serial killers that are said to go to hell, but the majority of human beings on Earth. Heaven is for a remnant. Narrow is the way, etc. That doesn't seem reasonable.

      So does the idea of the majority of finite human beings that have ever lived on Earth being tortured in hell forever after death seem reasonable to you? Does the wiping out of all of humanity in a flood (save for Noah and seven other individuals) seem reasonable to you? What's reasonable about it? Why would God make so irrational and unjust an order, initiating two calamities of such grave magnitude: global flooding and eternal torture?

      I hope you can see why people like me, committed to reason, would think it irrational to believe that such a deity as this actually exists, and why such a deity would be more monstrous than any psychopath. In my opinion, God either doesn't exist or must be different from this. Why am I wrong?

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    4. You left out an extremely important word. I said unrepentant serial killer. Did the thief on the cross repent? And that really is the solution to the human predicament. Repentance. It may be difficult for many of us to understand, but those that call "evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness" want nothing to do with God. These individuals prefer hell.

      As to moral culpability, that does depend on the circumstances. A specific act is evil by its very nature (e.g adultery). There are no circumstances that can make adultery morally permissible, but circumstances can change morally culpability. For instance a man who mistakenly sleeps with another woman thinking she was his wife has committed adultery although he may not be culpable for this mistake.

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    5. <>

      This sounds like Calvinism. Do non-Calvinists accept this teaching? I don't think they do.

      <>

      If only Calvinists believe in the eternal damnation of the majority of humanity, continuing to present this as a problem for other Christians is not reasonable.

      Accepting certain parts of the flood narrative at face value while ignoring or denying others with no explanation is also not reasonable.

      If issues like this aren't addressed it sounds like you are just putting out strawman arguments.

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  31. Well, remember that on Thomism, God's justice is God's mercy.
    But what does mercy means if everybody gets what he deserves anyway?

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    1. @Walter: I'm guessing the standard reply to your question is that the books have to balance, and Jesus's crucifixion balances them for some people (those who accept him). Everyone else gets strict justice--which for most means torture in hell for eternity. But this punishment appears disproportionate to the crimes of finite beings, lacking in love and mercy, and even suggestive of hate (that God hates those who don't conform to His will and ends).

      Does hell seem to you a reasonable thing that a rational deity would create?

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    2. @Walter.
      Given that hell isn't necessarily a thomistic concept this might not be a problem for hell generally.

      If it is then its because the concept of mercy in relation to justice is in general very puzzling even in non theological context.

      see for example

      https://philpapers.org/archive/MARTPA-12.pdf

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    3. Red

      Hell isn't necessarily a thomistic concept, but it does seem to pose some serious problems for classical thomism, as does the fact that the concept of mercy in relation to justice is indeed very puzzling.

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    4. Santi

      The problem is that if some people deserve to be punished and others don't, Jesus's crucifixion doesn't have anything to do with it. God's strict justice on thomism is the same as God's (strict) mercy.

      And no, hell does not seem to me a reasonable thing that a rational deity would create.
      In fact I am 100 procent certain that hell does not exist.

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    5. @Walter.

      I am not sure about seriousness of this particular problem. I certainly won't reject thomism based on this.
      Thomists like everyone else, might need a proper understanding of mercy in mind or at least one which is intuitively plausible. I don't think that necessarily would be inconsistent with thomism.

      see for example what Dr.Feser says here.

      https://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2017/10/mcclamrock-on-by-man-shall-his-blood-be.html#more

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    6. Red

      I have read Feser's post but I still think this shows a big problem for thomists.
      You see, on thomism, there is only one proper understanding of divine mercy, namely that it is the same as divine justice.
      To say it is something more or something less is to deny one of the basic ideas of thomism, namely that God is absolutely simple and that every "property" of God is absolutely the same.

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    7. Right, but it seems to me the way the point is stated in that passage the two claims don't come out as contradictory.

      And my own thinking is that maybe even in non theological cases we should think of justice and mercy in similar terms.

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    8. The problem is that justice is objective and mercy is subjective.

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    9. Do you mean whether or not to show mercy is dependent on subject or that what counts as mercy is?

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    10. Why are you people feeding Santi? There has never been a blight on this blog, not even SP, as bad as that self-indulgent windbag. Stop feeding trolls.

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    11. Red

      Mercy is subjective in that it involves granting salvation to someone who objectively does not deserve it.
      Justice means that for crime X, the just punishment for person P is Y, mercy means that although the just punishment is Y, P does not get Y because the "judge" is merciful.
      So God's justice cannot be the same as God's mercy.

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    12. @Anonymous:

      Without Contraries is no progression. (Blake.)

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    13. @Walter: You wrote, "[H]ell does not seem to me a reasonable thing that a rational deity would create." Agreed. Nor does it seem to be in keeping with love.

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    14. @WVDA

      Right, so I gather you mean it in the first sense of the term I outlined above. See the paper I linked above, there seems to be a problems with these sort of desert based and Justice based analysis of mercy as they are called.

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    15. Red

      I don't think the paper solves the problem I raised, but as i told Tony, this is getting way off topic, so I am going to bow out.

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  32. But what does mercy means if everybody gets what he deserves anyway?

    How about the mere fact that a being exists: it cannot possibly deserve to exist before God decides to give it existence. That he wills beings to exist is more than they deserve. This preliminary gift is the ground for all other gifts and just desserts.

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    1. Oh, Tony, you're really reaching here! The mercy is in getting to be at all, and the justice is in getting to be in the place you deserve: hell? If God were really like this, (s)he would have an odd manner of distributing the gift of life to most people, for most end up suffering eternal torture (on the traditional religious account).

      God would thus be akin to Zeus, who famously tormented Tantalus by letting him exist, but always keeping water and nourishment just beyond his reach. Thanks for such a "gift" of being, but no thanks.

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  33. Tony

    Would God be just if he didn't give existence to X?
    If the answer is yes, then God creates X for another reason, perhaps love.
    But on Thomism, God's love is God's justice etc. so it seems that creating X is a matter of justice.
    Now if it's true that a being cannot deserve to exist before it actually exist, we are stuck with a conttadiction and the only way to get out of it seems to be to reject some aspects of Thomism.

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    1. If the answer is yes, then God creates X for another reason, perhaps love.


      That's not how God's will works in creating creatures. God does not create in order to have some fulfillment in himself that he would otherwise be without. He was absolutely free to create or not create, either result would be fully just and fully good.

      He doesn't "get" anything out of creating. God did not create for his good, but for ours. But he was free not to create.

      But on Thomism, God's love is God's justice etc. so it seems that creating X is a matter of justice.

      Not justice in the way you think. It is not a matter of justice TO THE CREATURE that God create it. IF (and only if) God chose to create, then creating is for him a matter of justice with respect to his own nature, in that in creating he does a good thing. But if he had chosen not to create, there too he would be just in respect to his own nature. There is no justice TO the creature in God's deciding to create it.

      The only justice there is that upon deciding to create it, God also decides to be just to it in relation to its nature by providing what is good for something of that nature - but only in respect of the WHOLE created order, not just for this creature alone. (Thus, he gives lions food fitting for lions, which is good for lions and not so great for its prey, but is ultimately good for the entire order). I.E. justice once given the mercy of its existing to begin with.

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    2. Would God be just if he didn't give existence to X?

      If a thing never existed, nothing can be "due" to it, and there is no justice in relation to it. Justice is a relation, there can be no justice relation to what does not exist.

      Also, just to be technically clear, I believe that justice properly only applies to a relation between intelligent beings, i.e. those with intellect and will. One can behave in a way that is fitting, or not fitting, with respect to a non-intelligent thing, but I think that this fails to amount to justice because the relation doesn't regard what the "owed" recipient has a moral claim to, because it isn't a moral being to begin with. People in justice owe it to GOD and to OTHER HUMANS to act fittingly with respect to air, rocks, plants, and animals, not (in justice) to these creatures. For example, we can eat a cow, which cannot be a matter of being just to a cow (no cow can deserve to be eaten), but equally cannot be a matter of injustice to a cow, because a cow does not have a moral claim not to be eaten. But we can kill it in a fitting way or an unfitting way, because WE are rational beings suited to being in lordship over animals and plants appropriately, and it is contrary to our rationality to deal unfittingly with the cow.

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    3. Tony

      If creating is for our good, then not creating is not for our good. That means that not creating would be unjust.
      Now this is getting way off topic, so I am going to bow out of this discussion.

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  34. Not to say your article is incomplete, but "for the sake of completeness," would you please give a few examples of true hate speech? Idealized and real examples would be helpful, as you did with faux hate speech.

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  35. @Tony. You wrote: "...[God] gives lions food fitting for lions, which is good for lions and not so great for its prey, but is ultimately good for the entire order." If I'm hearing you correctly, you're saying that justice ends with, and is given to, God and the entire order, not the individual. The individual qua individual does not receive justice, but provides it to these entities (God and the entire order) first. If the individual suffers pain, that's too bad for the individual, but maybe not for the moral order, which must be, after God, served above all.

    But in practice, how would one then go to court to obtain justice for oneself as an end in oneself (as a variant individual)? Would one have to establish that one's existence is good for the whole before making any claim to a relief of private pain or suffering? Do unique, variant claims to existence have to pass through the summum bonum--and who decides what that is, exactly?

    You also wrote: "People in justice owe it to GOD and to OTHER HUMANS to act fittingly with respect to air, rocks, plants, and animals, not (in justice) to these creatures....[A] cow does not have a moral claim not to be eaten." Fair enough, but isn't it also the case that the Aristotelian/Thomistic position that you're taking would require a systems thinking/environmental survey of Earth as a whole to determine the ethics surrounding the eating of a cow? And couldn't an Aristotelian lawyer then represent cows in a class action lawsuit to have this determination made BEFORE allowing the ongoing eating of cows?

    In other words, what moral responsibility does one have to yield to scientific determinations surrounding the global, ecological situation surrounding cattle? Even if you affirm natural law, or think the Bible allows meat eating, don't natural law/Bible believers still have to maintain a dialogue with environmental scientists in light of the contemporary ecological crisis--including surrounding the ethics of child-bearing? If scientists express widespread concern across numerous disciplines that human population needs to level off over the next century, and that consumption of cattle stresses the global ecosystem in a variety of ways, what should be one's moral response, given what you've written?

    Do you eat cows, for instance? And if so, how do you justify that behavior in 2019? Are historical, scientific, and situational considerations in play in your moral reasoning? Ditto considerations surrounding how many children to have in a world where population will top 10 billion in 2050. Is it moral to plan to have, say, eleven children in light of the global environmental situation on the ground?

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  36. I believe hate speech should be permissible under the First Amendment, but for a genuine example of it, I'd nominate "Send her back," the chant from a recent Trump rally in North Carolina, which targeted a black citizen who came to the United States as a refugee when she was a child. So I think it would be fair to call Trump's rally in North Carolina a hate rally.

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