Thursday, October 15, 2020

Lockdowns versus social justice

The phrase “social justice” has a long and honorable history in Catholic social thought going back to the nineteenth century, but is now typically deployed in defense of policies that are diametrically opposed to social justice as the Church and its thinkers have always understood it.  And unfortunately, this is true even in the case of many Catholics, who lazily adopt various leftist attitudes and policies simply because they are falsely but relentlessly presented as concomitants of “social justice.” 

Last April, Fr. John Naugle argued in an important article at Rorate Caeli that indefinite lockdowns violate the natural human right to labor in order to provide for oneself and one’s family, and thus are deeply contrary to social justice.  He revisits the issue in a follow-up article.  Some Catholic defenders of the lockdowns are people who, in other contexts, claim to stand up for the rights of workers and to oppose consequentialist thinking.  But as Fr. Naugle points out, their rationalizations for the lockdowns are precisely consequentialist in character – pitting the alleged benefits of lockdowns against inviolable natural rights – and harm workers far more than any other segment of society.

If you are inclined to write off such concerns as motivated by right-wing politics, I invite you to consider an interview with two public health experts from the left-wing journal Jacobin, to which Fr. Naugle draws our attention.  From the interview:

Children and young adults have minimal risk, and there is no scientific or public health rationale to close day care centers, schools, or colleges.  In-person education is critically important for both the intellectual and social development for all kids, but school closures are especially harmful for working-class children whose parents cannot afford tutors, pod schools, or private schools

Lockdowns have been vastly unfair in their impact and have exacerbated disparities in wealth and power.  Millions of working-class people have lost their jobs and find it impossible to find new ones in the current shuttered economy.  (It is remarkable that the media pay so little attention to the extreme economic hardship being endured by millions of people who were already struggling to make ends meet before the pandemic.) …

I think the lockdown is the worst assault on the working class in half a century, and especially on the urban working class.  In effect, we are protecting low-risk college students and young professionals who can work from home at the expense of older, high-risk, working-class people that have no choice but to work, leading to more deaths overall.  There have been studies, for example in Toronto, that show that lockdowns have primarily protected high-income, low-minority neighborhoods, but not low-income or high-minority neighborhoods…

Many of us pay lip service to equality and anti-racism, but we have chosen lockdowns to protect ourselves while throwing the working class under the bus…

I think the liberal elites’ adoption of this approach stems from the easy appeal of keeping “everyone” safe together with a class position for which the lockdown strategy is in fact safer as well as quite easy to ride out.  Liberal elites simply can’t see or can’t feel how this strategy continues to fail the working class and also small business owners.

End quote.  Read the whole thing, as they say.  The evidence in favor of these judgments – which are straightforward matters of fact, neither right-wing nor left-wing – mounts day by day.  Opening schools has not caused the virus to spread.  Even opening theme parks has not resulted in outbreaks.  In general, the lockdowns are not only not necessary to prevent the spread of the virus, but in fact have done little or nothing to prevent it.  And they have no effect on the illness’s mortality rate.  Meanwhile, they have benefited the rich while doing massive harm to the poor and the working class.  For example, they have benefited large corporations while harming small businesses.  They have brought about a crisis in mental health.  They have been imposed in a way that unjustly discriminates against Christians and Orthodox Jews.  As the Jacobin interview indicates, scientists and other public health experts are increasingly coming out against lockdowns.  The World Health Organization’s special envoy on COVID-19 has decried their overuse.  A number of prominent public health experts have issued the Great Barrington Declaration, calling for alternatives to lockdowns as a way of dealing with the virus.

In short, the lockdowns have done no provable good while causing massive manifest harm, especially to the weakest among us.  Accordingly, they amount to a grave social injustice. 

And yet Joe Biden – the same man who will not tell us whether he intends to destroy the independence of the judiciary – cynically bemoans the economic crisis of recent months while at the same time supporting the very lockdowns that caused it.   Worse, he has also indicated that if elected he might impose another pointless nationwide lockdown.  One-party dictatorship and economic collapse – quite the presidential platform.  Naturally, it is supported by the same sorts of lunatics who think that looting and burning down the businesses of poor and middle class people, and removing police protection from them, are great advances in “social justice.”

Related posts:

The rule of lawlessness

Scientism: America’s state religion

The experts have no one to blame but themselves

What “the science” is saying this week

The lockdown is no longer morally justifiable

The lockdown and appeals to authority

The burden of proof is on those who impose burdens

The lockdown’s loyal opposition

Some thoughts on the COVID-19 crisis

91 comments:

  1. Preach! I hope you touch on this topic during your spot at the virtual Catholic conference that Matt Fradd is putting on nest week

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  2. Ed, you should run for the United States Senate one of these years. You would have a field day annihilating the fallacies of the Dems.

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    1. Philosophers don't make good politicians though...

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    2. Yeah, unfortunately. Politics in a democracy practically rewards sophistry, not clear thought. Much better for a philosopher to sit behind the scenes and provide the intellectual ammunition for politicians (the non-RINOs, of course).

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    3. I would agree with you guys for 99% of philosophers. Ed isn't any ordinary philosopher though. He speaks well, he is funny, and he is also very relatable. Not to mention, he can dish it out when it is warranted.

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    4. @Mister Geocon

      Unfortunately, philosophers have an extremely poor track record when it comes to political views. Heidegger was literally a Nazi, St. Thomas Aquinas literally believed all women had brain of squirrel, Plato aided and abetted Dion of Syracuse, Marcus Aurellius was a persecutor of Christians, Confucius was a Machiavellian power-seeker, and there are many more bad examples I can name.

      The only philosophers I know of that were decent by moral standards were Jesus of Nazareth (and perhaps his great influence Philo of Alexandria), St. Edith Stein, Karl Popper, and Immanuel Kant.

      Sigh, and it looks like Dr. Feser is Hell-bent on continuing that ignominious tradition by supporting Trump.

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    5. DrUmPf Is lItTeRAlLy hItLEr!!!

      Yes, because preferring Trump to Biden is obviously a sign of great moral evil.



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    6. @Anonymous

      Under Biden's watch, Ebola entered the United States, was identified, and in the end only killed maybe 1 or 2 people.

      Under Trump's watch... you know the numbers.

      Both Trump and Hiter do, in fact, share one thing in common (besides DJT's latent antisemitism): both destroyed their respective continents but are venerated as gods by their supporters.

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    7. Ebola is quite a different disease to Covid. Of course, everywhere else has handled Covid much better. Oh wait...

      Trump is the most philo-Semitic president in US history and has a Jewish daughter and grandchildren. I think you mean the Democrats' latent, and sometimes not so latent, anti-Semitism.

      You sound unbalanced.

      Here's a question for you. Which candidate wishes to kill allow even more babies to be killed? What would Jesus say about that?

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    8. Which candidate wishes to kill allow even more babies to be killed? What would Jesus say about that?

      Would you vote for a Dixiecrat slave owner who was pro-life? He wants abortion banned under all circumstances because he's genuinely pro-life... that he can enslave. He loves nothing more than seeing new life being brought into the world (that he can enslave shortly after puberty).

      CLEARLY the hero of the story whom Jesus would back 120% amirite?

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    9. Are you incapable of writing anything that is not absurdly hyperbolic?

      In answer to your asinine scenario, I'd ask what the alternative was. A Dixiecrat who wanted to murder babies? Or an abolitionist baby murderer, maybe?

      Who said Trump was a hero? You seem to have a hard time grasping the difference between preferring one of two candidates and worshipping one of them. This, and the fact you clearly believe outlandish and unhinged things about Trump, is why you think that Feser preferring Trump to Biden is somehow morally problematic.

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    10. @Anonymous

      Would you support a pro-life enslaver or an abolitionist baby murderer?

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    11. Would you prefer Hitler or Stalin?

      More importantly, what does this unhinged scenario have to do with anything? Would you prefer a pro-life boor or a leftist baby murderer?

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    12. Trump is not just a boor. He's responsible for 200k people dying. And I'm sure at least a few of those 200k were babies. That makes Trump just as guilty of baby murder as Biden, does it not?

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    13. No, because, (1), that's hysterical bs and, (2), even if it were not, it would out of incompetence and not deliberate, presumably. I suppose though you may have just lost your mind completely and think Trump deliberately killed people with Covid.

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    14. I suppose though you may have just lost your mind completely and think Trump deliberately killed people with Covid.

      Murder by depraved indifference exists.

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    15. If only there were any relevance to that instead of it being part of your delusional fever dream. Besides, it isn't as bad as crushing the skulls of infants, is it.

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    16. Besides, it isn't as bad as crushing the skulls of infants, is it.

      This is appealing to disgust, which is argumentum ad affectum. Just because Trump murdered babies in a pretty way but Biden does in a disgusting way does not make Trump innocent.

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    17. If only there were any relevance to that instead of it being part of your delusional fever dream.

      200k people died. That isn't part of my delusional fever dream. The question is: what number of those 200k is Trump's fault?

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    18. No, it is an appeal to intent, obviously. I doubt you are even so deluded that you think Trump deliberately wanted people to die.

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    19. It's good to see you can actually differentiate the US Coronoavirus deaths under Trump from those he might have been responsible for. I was beginning to think your terminal TDS prevented you from even realizing there could be such a distinction.

      Trump talked some crap about Coronoavirus, but there's little evidence of widespread butchery in his administration's actual handling of the crisis. There's nothing on the scale of Cuomo's nursing home policy.

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    20. "Widespread botchery"

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    21. Abortion is the last bastion of the Trumpets. Tomorrow, he'll order his Nazi supporters to kill a 100 people as a show of force, and yall will still say, "But Biden would kill thousands of unborn babies, surely that would be worse!"

      There is no arguing with minds that are warped and twisted like this. So question, what must he do for you to stop supporting him? If he rapes a child in person, will that do?

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    22. "Abortion is the last bastion of the Trumpets" - if Biden is elected he will remove the Hyde Ammendment which saves tens of thousands of pre-born lives every single year. How can you support that? The slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Americans every year, abortion, is the preeminent injustice of our time, change my mind.

      If Trump rapes someone, I would support his removal from office, criminal prosecution, castration, and perhaps even capital punishment. Then I would support Mike Pence stepping up to the plate to lead the U.S.

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    23. But of course we both know that Trump isn't a nazi or a rapist nor has he done anything remotely deserving of such murderous slander. You just don't like the big orange man. For all his bluster and shortcomings he delivers on his word and has courage, two things lacking in almost every politician on both sides of the aisle. A sane person would at least give him that. These two things also happen to be the things most fundamental to a good politician in a democracy.

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    24. ...and has courage...

      He has boldness, not courage. Never confuse the two. "A wicked man puts on a bold face, but the upright gives thought to his ways." (Proverbs 21:29)

      But the truth is that there has never been a documented case of someone supporting a politician for exactly one or two reasons. Every time someone throws his or her support, there require three reasons at least.

      So the people who support Trump because he's against abortion are hiding something.

      And the people who support Trump because he's against abortion and protects religious freedom are STILL hiding something. What's the third reason, Dr. Feser?

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    25. Kyle,

      "How can I support that?" I'll tell you how - because I know that abortions won't stop with a ban, they'll just get bloodier. Had you not studied history? Remember the Prohibition and the Dry Law? Yeah, they both led to disastrous results. If you want abortions to end, the way to do it is to ensure that women don't want and don't have to undergo them. But of course, that's too close to the Scandinavian socialism for your liking. We can't let a pregnant woman take a maternity leave for 12 months, that's too hard on the employer. We need to protect the employers, and their money, because if we don't, they'll run to China and India. Same old warped thinking fostered by the irrational fear of the Mccarthyism era. It's no coincidence that predominantly white men in their 40s (and up) support the Reps. They were conditioned to.

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    26. So Stranger is pro-baby murder. I am very surprised.

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    27. Also the point about outlawing abortions not ending them is very weak. All sorts of crimes are still committed, even though they are illegal. We don't legalize these though because, for one thing, it seems likely they would be more common in that case and, as well, we think that intrinsically they should be illegal and punished, whether or not that actually prevents many of them. Why compare abortion to alcohol prohibition and not robbery or murder? Murder is illegal and yet still occurs. Perhaps we should legalize it then?

      So not only do you have to prove that banning abortion won't make a significant difference to the number of abortions that occur, but even if you can show this, it doesn't mean abortion shouldn't still be banned by its very nature.

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    28. Unbalanced, perhaps Feser also prefers Trump because he generally prefers the policies and platform of the Republicans?

      If we leave behind your paranoid delusions of Trump as a Nazi or personally going around infecting babies with Covid and presumably turning off ventilators when no one is looking , we can say that he's an is oaf and a jerk and the inner workings of his administration have sometimes been chaotic. However for a conservative his administration has generally governed okay and is far preferable to what a Clinton one would have been or what a Biden/Harris one will be like. There's nothing nefarious here. Many of us on the right don't much like Trump and even wish he wasn't on the top of the Republican ticket. If he loses in a few weeks, as seems likely, a good deal of the blame will be his. But that doesn't mean we agree with the fever dreams of those with terminal TDS or even think that he has done anything so bad that we are in conscience bound to vote for the increasingly hard left Democrats. If you experience any lucidity in the near future, hopefully you will grasp these obvious points.

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    29. I am absolutely baffled at Tryte's bizarre assertion that no single-issue voters (or even dual-issue voters, apparently) exist or ever have existed. Where on earth did you get that idea from, man? How on Earth do you know that's the case? Did you read every single record of someone giving their rationale for voting for a candidate, and note that every single one listed three or more reasons? Even if you had done that ludicrous task, it still wouldn't justify your claim, because there could easily be single-issue voters that didn't give an interview about their reasons for voting, or it could also be that the single-issue voters can also think of a couple of other, less important reasons why they like their candidate, but those are ancillary to their decision to vote for him, because their support is predicated primarily on his agreement with them on this key point.

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    30. @Cantus

      Tryte's

      Your curse back on your own head.

      @Anonymous

      Unbalanced

      Your curse back on your own head.

      Anyway think of the above as my parting presents, because I'm leaving. You see Dr. Feser knows that whenever a forum is unmoderated, they tend to have leftwing views proliferate. But instead of recognizing the obvious conclusion (conservatives stop posting out of their own free will because leftwing views are stronger than theirs) they invented something called "Conquest's three laws of organizations" that classifies it as something to be rooted out without mercy.

      It's like how Usenet used to be, when a neonazi would post something Hitlerish on alt.us.politics and subsequently get compared to Hitler. Instead of recognising that nobody else gets compared to Hitler except them and take that as evidence that maybe at least one thing about them resembles Hitler, the neonazis made up something called "Godwin's law" that bans people from identifing it.

      So it's really just waiting for Dr. Feser's other shoe to drop before he names "Conquest's Second Law" or whatever bs social convention conservatives confabulate.

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    31. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    32. Unbalanced, you should seek help. You do nothing but make hyperbolic rants. Who on earth has posted something Hitlerish?

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    33. Anonymous,

      Getoutta here with this nonsense. Takes five minutes of googling to find the relevant studies that show that abortion bans in other countries ended up doing more harm.

      And here's a hard concept that you need to diagest - murder is outlawed because the supermajority of people agree that it should be outlawed. A law only works when it is culturally popular. Women in the Arabic nations are ok with wearing hijabs, but try and force the American women to wear those, see what happens.

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    34. @Anonymous here's what a famous Jewish mathematician has to say about Trump:

      "But it’s also plausible that Trump simply declares himself the winner on election night, because the mail-in votes, urban votes, yet-to-be-counted votes, or any other votes that trend the wrong way are fake [...] I know, I know, I’m mentally ill, it’s Trump Derangement Syndrome, I see Nazis behind every corner just because they killed most of my relatives..."

      You can accuse me, a silly gentile, of being a shrill liberal, but what about a Jew who has Holocaust survivors in his lineage? Is he suffering from "Trump Derangement Syndrome" when he says Trump is being Hitlerish? The fact that Trump's daughter married a Jew (because DJT doesn't care about anyone other than himself) doesn't prove he's not an antisemite anymore than casting an African-American character in a sitcom proves that a casting director is against racism. It's just a shrewd political move... which makes Trump more dangerous than Hitler, because Hitler was a brain-damaged war veteran.

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    35. Stranger, you argue very poorly. Instead of responding to my actual points, you start talking about some vague claim of more harm. Do these studies show there are fewer abortions when it is banned? That's the point. Those of us who don't think infanticide is okay, consider this the main issue. Measures that allow infanticide but lessen other harms from abortion are sinply unacceptable.

      Your second paragraph has no direct relevance to our discussion. We were discussing whether those of us who are against baby murder should vote for Trump or Biden. If you want to argue for baby murder, do it somewhere else. Try to stick to the actual argument. Besides, it is irrelevant to the discussion of whether prohibiting abortion would lead to fewer abortions.

      Unbalanced, you are saying Trump had his daughter marry a Jewish and become Jewish for political reasons and to hide his Nazism? Dude, seriously? Have you missed your medication or something, Timotheus?

      Also Stranger is here defending baby murder. Aren't you a Catholic? Why are you more interesting in spouting conspiracies about Trump than that?

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    36. Unbalanced, you are saying Trump had his daughter marry a Jewish and become Jewish for political reasons and to hide his Nazism? Dude, seriously? Have you missed your medication or something, Timotheus?

      You can either listen to what Jews with family who went through the Holocaust say about Trump or not. The choice is yours.

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    37. But it’s also plausible that Trump simply declares himself the winner on election night, because the mail-in votes, urban votes, yet-to-be-counted votes, or any other votes that trend the wrong way are fake [...]

      That's a pretty funny charge, given that the Dems have, for DECADES, been busy with systemic mis-counting of ballots, losing them, etc. (I know it because my father caught them at it 50 years ago in my hometown.) Add in the nonsense of voting dead people, putting illegal immigrants on the rolls, etc. Not that doing so is a good thing, but if the Republicans start doing it, it's because they learned it from the Dems. So the Dems should clean up their own house before they accuse the Republicans.

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    38. @Tony Skepticism of the integrity of the voting system is seditious thinking. If you continue to put your ideology before natural law, you could end up in Hell!

      Go to confession. It is always open to sinners... who aren't stubborn. (1 Samuel 15:23)

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    39. Unbalanced, you can consult your therapist for help with your increasing paranoia or not. The choice is yours.

      How about we ask Ben Shapiro? An Orthodox Jew and the number one target for white supremacist threats and abuse online in 2016? He is no Trump fanatic, but he scoffs at paranoid delusions like Trump is a Nazi.

      I think Trump might not accept the results if he loses, much as the Dems haven't accepted his victory the first time around (are they going to hell?) and won't accept a surprise Trump win this time. But if so he will do it through Twitter and whinning. What he won't do is orchestrate a coup or hold himself up in the White House, Scarface style. Trump should be condemned for this, assuming that there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud, but so should the Dems the last four years (Stacey Abrams anyone?).

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  3. I’ve posted this link before, but in May, Unicef claimed lockdowns would kill 1.2 million children under 5 every six months, which makes the “cure” much, much worse than the disease. I don’t know if I believe that number, but to some people ignoring the cost of poverty has become an industry. My best guess is they hate Trump so bad they don’t care about anything else. Why they give the man so much rent-free space in their brains, I can’t say. TDS is real I guess.

    https://www.unicef.org/press-releases/covid-19-devastates-already-fragile-health-systems-over-6000-additional-children

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    1. I don't think it is just Trump, as the left has generally been more pro-lock down across the West. This isn't uniform though, because in Israel they tend to be more opposed than the mainstream right. I think a lot of it is that politics today is very oppositional. If one side takes one position, the other side must take the opposite position. This doesn't just affect the left, alas. But I think the left tend to be more okay with lock downs anyway because they are more at ease with government restrictions and are more likely to think that government payments can make up for employment and business activity restricted or prohibited during the lock downs. Some leftist lock down enthusiasts have shown bemusement at the idea that there is much difference between earning a wage and getting a welfare check. Finally, leftists, especially those who make the biggest noise on social media, are well-represented in upper middle class professions that have been less hard hit by lock downs. Most of the leftist lock down enthusiasts aren't factory workers or bar workers. At worst they have just had to work at home more, which for some is actually a benefit and not a cost of Covid restrictions.

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  4. The Catholic Church has a long and we'll defined track record of what it means by social justice. Nowadays it seems to mean however Jack Dorsey happens to feel on a given day.

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  5. It's a little saddening to see Dr. Feser promote things like The Great Barrington Declaration (see the review in Scinece-based Medicine, and referring to adding more judges as the hyperbolic "destroy the independence of the judiciary". It's very over-the-top rhetoric, not reasoned discussion.

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    1. One Brow, there's so much wrong here, I don't know where to begin.

      First, it's not even consensus that the lockdowns are necessary. Here's an article on the WHO claiming that the lockdowns should stop, along with many other experts: https://www.globalresearch.ca/who-europe-director-says-governments-should-stop-enforcing-lockdowns/5726758

      Second, your article talks about "Covid-19 Deniers", which is always a red flag for me for two reasons - 1) the language of "denier" brings to mind "Holocaust denier" by association, which implies that anyone who "denies Covid" is as much a threat to society as Nazism, which is pretty hyperbolic, and 2) those who deny that lockdowns are necessary do not deny that Covid-19 exists or is a health concern, only that the lockdowns are worse.

      Third, you refer to "court-packing" as not being that big a deal when it is. It's an attempt to radically change the court in whatever political direction the President of the United States desires it to go. That would, in some sense, "destroy the independence of the judiciary" because, at any time, the President can decide to push for adding more Supreme Court seats if he disagrees with the judiciary. If you think that that sort of thing isn't bad, then go right ahead. But don't be surprised when other people disagree with you.

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    2. Mister Geocon,

      It is the consensus in the US that lock downs are not necessary, because I am not aware of any lock downs in the US.

      Denialism is a style of argumentation. Perhaps your scope is so limited that you have only seen it applied to Holocaust denialism, but I have seen it used describing tobacco company rhetoric, opponents of climate change science, creationists, anti-vaxxers, and many other positions. So, perhaps you could try expanding your mind instead of expecting others to close theirs to meet your comfort.

      My only reference to "court packing" was that it is in no way the same as an the judiciary being independent. There were more cases decided 9-0 in the 2019-20 docket than there were decided 5-4.

      Adds for adding 2 more seats to SCOTUS, I think that is a mistake. However, I understand the impulse that when the other side is playing dirty and just for power, it's hard to take the high road (we could get into a discussion of who has played dirtier in the last 20 years, but that would be a long discussion and likely not change anyone's opinion). However, unless you have some way of restoring the 60-vote minimum after you add the seats, and making it stick, I don't see a stopping point to tit-for-tat escalation, and I don't want to see a 17-member SCOTUS.

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    3. One Brow,

      There are people arguing for lockdowns in America though, and on the basis of "the science."

      "Denialism" is an intellectual slur used to conflate a bunch of different things with Nazism. It does not describe "a style of argumentation."

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    4. One Brow,

      If you're using a word in an atypical sense (or at least in a sense that is not common among the group you are speaking to), it's common courtesy to explain the meaning you're using, since it's unreasonable to expect your interlocutors to go and read reams of literature in order to understand your point. Secondly, you don't seem to have actually answered the point about court-packing. Geocon claimed that it was ridiculous to think that court-packing wasn't a big deal, but your response didn't seem to really address that. First you say that the fact that most Supreme Court cases are unanimous or near-unanimous shows that the Court's independence wouldn't be threatened by packing. But that seems wrong - if the President can force the Court to rule in his favour, then the Court is not independent, even if the President rarely actually does so (he probably wouldn't, since there would rarely be a need for such a thing).

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    5. How is it hyperbolic to refer to court-packing as destroying the independence of the judiciary when it would be to literally destroy the last semblance that the judiciary is anything but political? Not only would this invite tit-for-tat from Republicans, but it would risk states and perhaps the executive just ignoring the courts. If a SCOTUS newly packed with Democratic appointees, for example, strikes down abortion regulations in Texas, then this would make it very tempting for Texas just to ignore the court. Why listen to a nakedly partisan body like that? In the past SCOTUS was seen as an independent, somewhat non-partisan whose decisions are somewhat outside normal partisan back and forth. Court-packing ends all semblance of that. Court-packing is constitutional terrorism, and about as far as you can go in hacking at the legitimacy of the courts and the constitutional order itself without using force. This is why I doubt Biden at least actually will go there. But there is no comparison between, at worst, the lack of niceties involved in not voting on Garland or in confirming Barrett and court-packing.

      By the way, we shouldn't pretend there is symmetry between Republican and Democrat appointees. Democrats continue to appoint people for whom law and ideological preference are inseparable, which is the root of the current issues with the court. Republicans tend to appoint people who try to separate their policy preferences from their jurisprudence. As Ilya Shapiro has shown, even the stats back this up: Republicans appointees are more likely than Democratic ones to rule against their presumed ideological preferences because the law requires it. The solution to the crisis is for the Democrats to follow Republicans in this and start appointing people who aren't ideologues in robes. They don't have to be originalists. They could be minimalists like Roberts, or they could have a common law- strongly precedence bound approach, but they need to have a judicial philosophy that separates law and policy. Perhaps it would be good for Republicans and Democrats to actually work together in this and come up with a framework for what is acceptable and what is not. Originalism is not entirely uniform, though it helps bring a degree of uniformity and actual jurisprudence back to the courts, and not all originalists are going to rule exactly as Bork or Scalia would have. But a common framework might help diffuse a lot of the issues.

      Denialism is a slur thrown around by those who wish to create some vague association to Holocaust denial. It's a strange use of open-mindedness to be open to such sophistry, but each to their own I suppose.

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    6. SciencebasedMedicine hardly seems a neutral publication. It is owned by the New England Skeptical Society. If you look at their main page, they clearly are clearly on the more panicked side of the Covid debates. What's needed is to steer a course between those who are too dismissive of Covid and those for whom hiking or driving in your car demands mask usage. Ben Shapiro actually does this well. Some on the right are too dismissive. You should wear a mask when in crowded places, for example, and close to people, especially if there is a Covid outbreak in your area. You don't need a mask when jogging, driving, or when you aren't in close contact with others. Lock downs are a bad idea, but social distancing is a good one. Covid is quite risky for the old and vulnerable, but isn't statistically for the young.

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    7. Mister Geocon,

      There are people arguing for lockdowns in America though, and on the basis of "the science."

      Since we don't have lock downs, they have lost.

      "Denialism" is an intellectual slur used to conflate a bunch of different things with Nazism. It does not describe "a style of argumentation."

      I don't know if it still exists online, but I went through Mark Hoodnagle's "Denialist Deck of Cards" a couple of times. It was entirely about tactics like false scientists, press releases, portraying odd events as normal, etc. Nothing about the Holocaust, Nazis, etc. You are the person making the association, for reasons I can only speculate on.

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    8. Cantus,

      If you're using a word in an atypical sense (or at least in a sense that is not common among the group you are speaking to), it's common courtesy to explain the meaning you're using, since it's unreasonable to expect your interlocutors to go and read reams of literature in order to understand your point.

      You are correct. That's why explained denialism as a style of argument, and did not once ask people to sort through reams of evidence about what denialism is. I wish I was surprised at the degree that you mischaracterized what I said.

      Secondly, you don't seem to have actually answered the point about court-packing.


      Because 1), my comment was on the notion of whether this would affect judicial independence, which no one has made a serious attempt to defend, and 2) as you failed to notice, I agree adding more justices is likely a bad idea.

      But that seems wrong - if the President can force the Court to rule in his favour, ...

      The President has no control over how the justices vote after they are appointed. I have heard a lot of over-blown rhetoric from the left about Barrett helping to decide the election in Trump's favor, and I consider it to be nonsense. I consider it also to be a nonsensical result from adding two more justices.

      Delete
    9. Sir Edward Coke,

      How is it hyperbolic to refer to court-packing as destroying the independence of the judiciary when it would be to literally destroy the last semblance that the judiciary is anything but political?

      The judiciary has been political since 1789, and independent since 1789. Adding justices won't change that.

      In the past SCOTUS was seen as an independent, somewhat non-partisan ...

      Nostalgia bias.

      By the way, we shouldn't pretend there is symmetry between Republican and Democrat appointees. Democrats continue to appoint people for whom law and ideological preference are inseparable, which is the root of the current issues with the court. Republicans tend to appoint people who try to separate their policy preferences from their jurisprudence.

      If you are that blinded to reality, there is little point in having a reasoned discussion with you. A great part of the reason the Federalist society exists is to ensure judicial purity in Republican appointments.

      As Ilya Shapiro has shown, even the stats back this up: Republicans appointees are more likely than Democratic ones to rule against their presumed ideological preferences because the law requires it.

      Perhaps the reason is that the Democratic position are more lawful to begin with.

      Denialism is a slur thrown around by those who wish to create some vague association to Holocaust denial.

      I've been online for over two decades, and I have never seen it used that way. There are a lot of people around here very sensitive to Holocaust denial. How interesting.

      It's a strange use of open-mindedness to be open to such sophistry, but each to their own I suppose.

      I see no reason to think you know sophistry when you see it.

      Delete
    10. Anonymous,
      SciencebasedMedicine hardly seems a neutral publication. It is owned by the New England Skeptical Society. If you look at their main page, they clearly are clearly on the more panicked side of the Covid debates.

      In political terms, I see their authors attacking Democratic support of alternative medicine just as harshly as Republican intransience on masks. However, I agree they are not neutral on covid19 responses. The mean position is not always correct.

      Delete
    11. One Brow, you seem to lack basic integrity. At multiple points in your response you seem to have gone out of your way to rely on dishonesty. Who doesn't realize the entire point of the term denialism is to evoke Holocaust denial? Why else would that specific term have been chosen?

      Your claims about the political nature of the judiciary in the past are unexplained and unsupported, but even allowing it has never been entirely remove politics from the courts, that's no reason to embrace the outright replacement of law by politics and ideology and jurists for ideologues in robes, which is what the Democrats have been doing increasingly for decades. Perfection is never possible, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't try do our best.

      Your point about the Federalist Society is a seemingly deliberate obfuscation. They are expressly committed to advocate not for judges that will give specific outcomes, but who hold judicial philosophies that treat the law as separate from politics and ideology. The existence and importance of bodies on the right like the Federalist Society actually supports my point, not yours. The Democrats have reached the point where basically all they care about in a judge is whether he will give them the outcomes they want in politically and socially important cases. This is entirely absent from the right, but it is far less prominent. There's no symmetry between Republicans and Democrats when it comes to politicizing the court. And the stats actually back this up, as I said. Republican appointees are far more likely than Democrat ones to rule against their presumed policy preferences because they think the law demands it.

      Delete
    12. *this isn't entirely absent from the right...

      Delete
    13. One Brow is well known for being a liar and a sophist. It probably isn't worth trying to engage him.

      Delete
    14. Sir Edward Coke,
      One Brow, you seem to lack basic integrity. At multiple points in your response you seem to have gone out of your way to rely on dishonesty. Who doesn't realize the entire point of the term denialism is to evoke Holocaust denial? Why else would that specific term have been chosen?

      I see no reason to give a fig for your evaluation of my integrity, you'd have to open your eyes to reality first before you could see. Denialism has been referred to regarding all sorts of beliefs and science-opposing positions for a long time now. Here's a book from 2010, for example:

      https://www.amazon.com/Denialism-Irrational-Thinking-Scientific-Threatens/dp/B003JTHRFU

      I see you attempt to claim I am equating you to Holocaust deniers as nothing more than a self-serving effort to shut down the conversation regarding a dishonest argumentation tactic.

      Your claims about the political nature of the judiciary in the past are unexplained and unsupported,

      As were yours. However, if you would like to have an extended conversation on the political lens through which the judiciary was seen in the 19th or early 20th century, we certainly can.

      ...Democrats have been doing increasingly for decades....

      Yet, the only people I read complaints from, regarding ideological purity of SCOTUS justices, are conservatives who say that justices like Souter have disappointed them.

      They are expressly committed to advocate not for judges that will give specific outcomes, but who hold judicial philosophies that treat the law as separate from politics and ideology.

      They expressly advocate for interpreting the law in a specific way ("originalism") that, as it benefitted the wealthy, white, male, landowners that were our founders, would also benefit wealthy, white, male, landowners today. It's a philosophy carefully chosen and developed to support a particular political point of view.

      Delete

    15. Anonymous,
      One Brow is well known for being a liar and a sophist. It probably isn't worth trying to engage him.

      We all know you are upset at your inability to hold a detailed, accurate argument with someone who disagrees with you. You don't need to broadcast it regularly.

      Delete
    16. Anon,

      It is clear you are right. He clearly is a troll and not worth bothering with. Look at his latest offerings! Lesson learnt.

      Delete
    17. For example, not only is his point about why Republicans believe in originalism crudely conspiratorial, almost a parody of hard left, Wokeness, it is an obvious genetic fallacy. Many Republicans and conservatives could favor originalism because it furthers their interests, but that is irrelevant to the truth or judicial utility of the theory. Anyway who argues in so obviously sophistical ways is either a stupid or dishonest or both. Whichever ever it is, he isn't worth arguing with.

      Delete
    18. Sir Edward Coke,
      For example, not only is his point about why Republicans believe in originalism crudely conspiratorial,

      Conspiratorial? The effort to sit sit right-leaning judges, using the cloak of originalism as a legal cover, is open knowledge and well-understood by anyone who pays attention. There is no conspiracy.


      ...almost a parody of hard left, Wokeness, it is an obvious genetic fallacy.

      Blindness to faults of those we agree with is a human fallacy.

      Many Republicans and conservatives could favor originalism because it furthers their interests, but that is irrelevant to the truth or judicial utility of the theory.

      There is no "truth" to a judicial theory, they are chosen by people because they produce the results they want, most of the time. As for "utility", every judicial theory can be utilized.

      Anyway who argues in so obviously sophistical ways is either a stupid or dishonest or both. Whichever ever it is, he isn't worth arguing with.

      Unlike you, I have no problem arguing with the stupid, dishonest, or self-blinded, because I am at heart an educator.

      Delete
    19. It isn't that there aren't issues to be explored here. Judicial philosophy is a complex and intriguing topic. But everything about your posts screams bad faith. You seem to constantly reach for the least charitable interpretations, as in your point about the utility of judicial theory, or to make extreme and simplistic assumptions, such as your writing off Originalism as a fig leaf for Republican self-interest. I will not be wasting my time with you.

      Delete
  6. I think the left-wing Jacobin has the best perspective. And yes, I concur with Dr. Feser's point about how the lockdowns are consequentialist in nature.

    ReplyDelete
  7. OP,
    "Children and young adults have minimal risk, and there is no scientific or public health rationale to close day care centers, schools, or colleges."
    Clearly the author has not thought in any significant depth about how infectious diseases spread.

    Schools are closed so kids don't become the vector to infect nearly everybody else. Pretty simple.

    Kids don't live in a vacuum. They are taught by older people called teachers. They go home to live with older people called parents, siblings, and grandparents.

    A number of states are experiencing increases in cases that are pushing health care to near maximum capacity.

    Opening up schools will cause an explosion in cases throughout the population and could very well push cases far past capacity, to say nothing of the suffering of all those cases on a human level.

    The responsible thing to do is continue mitigation measures until a vaccine is fielded.

    ReplyDelete
  8. OP,
    "who will not tell us whether he intends to destroy the independence of the judiciary"
    The Republicans already destroyed the independence of the judiciary by breaking the democratic norm of always seating a justice of the opposing party, if not the first nominee then a subsequent nominee.

    Democrats and Republicans alike have maintained that democratic norm for my entire life.

    I challenge Dr. Feser and all the readers here to cite another instance in your personal living memory wherein a president did not in fact seat a justice when a vacancy arose, if not his first nominee then a subsequent nominee of his in his term.

    McConnell destroyed that democratic norm and with the confirmation of Amy Barrett the Republican court packing that has destroyed the independence of the judiciary will be a completed fact.

    In response the Democrats should unpack the court.

    Biden expanding the court will be unpacking the court to restore the balance and to put us on a path to return to the democratic norms the Republicans have already destroyed.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Biden expanding the court will be unpacking the court to restore the balance and to put us on a path to return to the democratic norms the Republicans have already destroyed.

    Republicans actually toasted the court by embroidering democratic jelly beans, which put us on a jakooyoheehee to restore the flap.

    See, I can make up my own definitions, too, and I don't need a single citable source to back me up. I'm right and you are wrong, so you may as well agree with me.

    The court sits at nine. No packing was done, unless you can name one. Single. Source. That uses court packing in any other context than expanding it. Now you're saying black is white and expanding the court is UNpacking, leading everyone to weigh the options of concluding whether you are a teenager having fun trolling or an absolute idiot.

    One reputable source. One. Cite it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kevin,
      Cite one? You don’t read much, do you? Are you familiar with the use of google or other search engines?

      Below are just a few examples of how “packing” has been used over the years to describe an installation of allegedly or truthfully biased judges into a fixed number of seats. Duh.

      Irrespective of whether you agree or disagree with the underlying arguments and accusations there is zero doubt that “packing” with reference to a fixed number of seats is in the literature.

      But, I will appeal to something more basic, reason, presumably you have some.

      Jury Packing.

      Does jury packing require an expansion of the number of seats? Obviously not. A jury is a panel of citizen judges, people who hear arguments and render a binding legal judgment.

      To pack a jury in no way requires that the number of jurors be increased, and indeed, a packed jury is still just 12 people. The act of packing a jury is to use some sort of dishonest, hypocritical, biased, or corrupt means of installing biased individuals to render judgment.

      Packing is not expanding the number, that is an absurd assertion.

      Packing is pushing in biased members into a fixed number of seats, obviously. How is this even a question?

      This idiotic assertion that packing somehow requires increasing the number of seats is one of the stupidest things conservatives have said recently.

      But, for the google addled here are just a few citations. Whether you agree with the arguments or not is irrelevant, the language of court packing in reference to a fixed number of seats is in the record, obviously, duh.

      Chuck Grassley
      stated on June 3, 2013 in a news release:
      Says President Barack Obama is trying to "pack" the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.
      https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2013/jun/05/chuck-grassley/barack-obama-trying-pack-dc-circuit-court-appeals/

      Republicans Charge Obama With Court-Packing For Trying To Fill Empty Seats
      https://www.huffpost.com/entry/obama-court-packing_n_3347961

      Republicans already packing lower courts, even in California
      https://www.sfchronicle.com/nation/article/Republicans-are-already-packing-the-lower-courts-15651868.php

      Delete
  10. Are you familiar with the use of google or other search engines?

    Yes, in the other thread I cited several sources, including news, political, and historical organizations - including one that is dedicated to the Supreme Court itself - that, when they say "court packing", are referring specifically and exclusively to expanding the number of justices on the court.

    I don't care about juries. When you pack a suitcase, pack a jury, and pack the Supreme Court, they all mean different things. Juries are irrelevant.

    You cite a Politifact article that rates Grassley as "false" because his accusation of what Obama did does not meet the definition of court packing, which is expanding the number of seats. Your own source shot you down.

    Your Huffington Post article refutes Republicans' accusation because they agree that what Obama did was not court packing, because he did not expand the court. Your own source shot you down.

    The SF Chronicle site just made it up - they said it "could be labeled" as court-packing "of a different sort", despite no one else agreeing, but even that article calls expanding the court "packing". This is the closest to you providing a legitimate source, so that is progress.

    Conservatives made it up recently, did they? Look at the list I provided. Here it is:

    New York Times, the Washington Post, Fox News, CNN, CBS, NPR, Reuters, Politico, Newsweek, the LA Times, history.com, The Atlantic, Forbes, US News, NBC, Vox, the National Constitution Center, Smithsonian, the Supreme Court Historical Society, Duke, Cambridge, Politifact, and the Huffington Post.

    What a collection of conservative sites that say court packing is expanding the court!

    Since FDR tried to expand the court, court packing has referred to that practice. Everyone knows this and agrees with this. It is your little minority on the left that is attempting to change the definition to implicate Republicans, who have not packed the court and are against the practice currently.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kenin,
      "I don't care about juries. When you pack a suitcase, pack a jury, and pack the Supreme Court, they all mean different things. Juries are irrelevant. "
      My presumption that you possess reason was incorrect. I admit that error now.

      "What a collection of conservative sites that say court packing is expanding the court!"
      You are again committing the fallacy of affirming the consequent (concluding the antecedent having affirmed the consequent).

      In simpler terms you have it back to front.

      Just because an article in some publication refers to expanding the court as "court packing" (in scarequotes)in no way implies that court packing is and only is expanding the courts.

      Go away, learn how to think, and come back when you are capable of not saying such stupid things as packing the court necessarily requires expanding the court. Where did you ever get such an inane idea?

      Just enter "republican court packing" into google or another search engine. You will quickly find that the destruction of democratic norms perpetrated by McConnell in the Obama term, in combination with subsequent confirmations, is now very broadly understood to be already perpetrated...

      Republican Court Packing.

      Obviously, duh, what part of this don't you get?

      Delete
    2. Don't Feed the Trolls!October 19, 2020 at 12:25 AM

      As his behavior on this issue has amply demonstrated, Stardusty is a noxious troll and should be ignored.

      Delete
  11. First up, my apologies for an off topic question, however I was hoping that someone on this forum might be able to help. I am looking for an introductory book on philosophy for a young teenager. There are plenty of Thomistic/Aristotelian works for an older audience, but none that I can easily find aimed at this age group. The books I can find for this age seem to amplify the problems with philosophy aimed at the lay person. I.e. a chapter on Greece before leaping to Descartes and from there a discussion that presupposes all of the metaphysical questions that one would most like to see discussed. The net result is that the first introduction to philosophy comes laden with assumptions that then have to be unlearnt, as it were, later rather than starting the exposure to philosophy on a sounder footing from the get go. Can anyone help? My thanks in advance and apologies again for being off topic.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Politics are a pratical thing, the goal of politics is to find the best means to get our common good. This means that we can only discuss the subject if we agree about the ends. Trying to discuss the means when you guys don't even want the same thing is like cooking with a friend, except that you want ice cream and your friend want spaghetti: it will suck.

    The modern idea we have of a pluralistic democratic state has citizens that disagree alot about the ends but need to discuss and "choose" together the means. Given that the citizens disagree so much about what they want, there is no point of contact that they can use to actually discuss the best means, the best they can do is a glorified shouting match where you pick a side and act as tribalistic as you can. This, of course, means that on a modern democratic state all you will have is a few elite that learned to use this system to steal from the rest all they can while making the citizens canibalize each other, that while the country still mantains "unity".

    The only solution i can see is to give a middle finger to the enlightenment and stop with this nonsensical idea of pluralistic societies. Instead of forcing everyone to live together, we could just have smaller states where the rules reflect the majority opinion more.

    Sure, there are probably problems with that, but it is worse that having to act like the world is gonna end everytime we have to choose the next idiot that will command? We at least should discuss that more.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I largely agree with you, but at least in theory it would be possible to have a discussion about our different goals for what we think the "common good" should look like, and even come to some sort of compromise, reduced, imperfect goal that participates in whatever satisfies BOTH camps in terms of their separately conceived common goods. I tend to think that doing this would be a great deal more possible if we did in fact live in smaller, much more homogeneous "states" that, within each's own boundaries, did not have to put up with such pluralistic nonsense, and have the overarching federal entity with a greatly reduced role.

      Delete
    2. I agree that we could maybe do something like that IF we lived on smaller and more homogeneous societies, but i think that unless the diferent groups where kinda similar they would not get together very long, it is hard to mantain unity with nothing uniting.

      Think of something like Revolutionary Catalunia or some medieval kingdoms, in these cases you had some diferent groups that could kinda unite because of some fundamental agreement between them all. But when you have very diferent groups this is way harder, the tentation is to just think about your group and screw the rest.

      Delete
  13. I am pretty sure Feser's article is simply an exercise in shit-stirring, an opportune moment to throw red meat to his minions, most of whom here are of the Trumpist persuasion seeking desperately to rationalise and normalise their misguided subservience to Trump.
    It is gratifying, even a hint of hopefulness, a cleansing tsunami is about to sweep the US in a few days time, after which ethics and decency will again be the rightful touchstone for good-faith social relationships and unity going forward.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "I am pretty sure Feser's article is simply an exercise in shit-stirring"

      That is because you are a notorious New Atheist troll and an idiot. We have enough these already. Get lost.

      Delete
    2. What you refer to Anonymous may seem trollish; but the substance of my contribution largely reflects the truth of the prevailing circumstance. To the arch-conservative right wing, even centrist position looks like socialism bordering on communism, even the policies of Biden, himself a practising devout Catholic. Feser's position as reflected in his OP is simply self-serving grievance piety that hasn't even the good grace of acknowledging Biden's own catholicism.

      But we all have a front seat as the upcoming drama unfolds.
      Incidentally, one is not a troll when the truth is spoken. Talk to me after the election.

      Cheers

      Delete
    3. This is not a first offense. Your New Atheist style stupidity is well -known and well-remembered.

      What substance are you talking about? There's no substance in your post. It's just mindless, partisan insults at Feser and his readers.

      Anyway what would you know of Catholicism? Riddle me this. What is the Church's teaching on abortion? And what is the status of this teaching? Has Biden or has Biden not be refused communion because of his stance on abortion?

      Delete
    4. See you after the election. :)
      Then we may be able to talk sense.

      Delete
    5. Thanks for as good as admitting you don't know anything about Catholicism. That is unlikely to change after the election.

      Delete
    6. Papal,
      "cleansing tsunami is about to sweep the US in a few days time"
      Don't count your chickens before they are hatched.

      I know a lot of black people were not at all surprised Trump won because they understood the huge population of ignorance and bigotry that pervades so much of America, and is the majority in so many small states.

      Like a dormant virus these ignorant bigots lay low in their millions only to rise from the swamp on election day to install another minority clown that amuses them, only this time they got the worst con-man criminal incompetent president in history.

      Don't be so sure that mass if ignorant bigots has learned anything, in fact, those fools seem to embrace the criminal clown more and more with every crime he commits.

      Delete
    7. Well said Papalinton. Please continue to post as your comments and observations are appreciated by many. The maloderous cloacas who insult and abuse you and try to police the thread should just be passed over and ignored.

      Delete
    8. Unknown, you think Stardusty makes worthy contributions to the blog. In other words you're a partisan hack or an imbecile. Either way your opinion is worthless. Papalinton is no stranger here or on other religion/atheist blog. He has always been a tedious troll who couldn't argue his way out of a paper bag and he hasn't changed.

      Btw you had gone off in a huff at Feser. What happened? Don't let us detain you. We'd all rather you leave.

      Delete
    9. It is gratifying, even a hint of hopefulness, a cleansing tsunami is about to sweep the US in a few days time, after which ethics and decency will again be the rightful touchstone for good-faith social relationships and unity going forward.

      Democrats are not suddenly going to become decent people if they gain power.

      Delete
  14. In video, Catholic author Tom Woods gives a talk that might interest readers here: The Fact-free Covid Dystopia: https://youtu.be/Xy3tP-BW5do

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I sometimes have reservations about Woods here and there, but he makes a really important point about one aspect of the lockdowns: for a person who is poor and living hand-to-mouth (i.e. with no reserves, this day's income is needed immediately for today or tomorrow), saying "you may not perform your work, for the good of the community" is the same thing as saying "you must starve to death for the good of the community." This is NOT being kind to the poor. The assumption that people can just DEFER the vast majority of their life activities "until we figure out a solution" is simplistic, narrow-minded, and insensitive to the poor.

      Delete
  15. Surely there's a distinction between the inviolable right in itself to provide for oneself and one's family, and a right to do so in some specific manner, which isn't "inviolable" but is subject to the common good.

    And surely there's a distinction between lockdowns in themselves, which need not necessarily hugely adversely affect the working class, with wage replacements like they implemented in Scandinavian countries, and lockdowns as they were implemented in the U.S., with a cohort of Senate Republicans intransigently opposed to any such wage replacement/unemployment compensation measures (although giving mega$$$ to big corporations is A-OK).

    People with PhDs in philosophy are well aware of such distinctions. The failure to make them is simple intellectual dishonesty in fealty to a political agenda.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow. This place is really attracting an inferior variety of leftist these days. They all argue awfully, with begged questions, loaded language, and imbecility galore. What can Feser do to attract a better type of leftist?

      Delete