Monday, May 10, 2021

Grisez on balancing health against other considerations

Now that millions have been vaccinated, bogeyman Donald Trump has departed, and life is starting to get back to normal, some people are getting some critical distance on the health crisis of the last year – which was caused by the reaction to the virus no less than the virus itself.  Liberal magazine The Atlantic criticizes “the liberals who can’t quit lockdown.”  On Real Time, Bill Maher challenges his fellow left-wingers to own up to their exaggerations and misinformation on the subject of COVID-19.  On Daily Clout, feminist Naomi Wolf interviews Stanford’s Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, who says that the lockdowns were “biggest public health mistake we've ever made” and caused harms “worse than COVID.”

The disaster had several sources.  There was politics, which poisons nearly everything today.  There was the cult of expertise, whose members believe that rational thinking is essentially a matter of shrieking “Science!” in the face of anyone who disagrees with you.  But there was also the paradoxical fact that sometimes the worst thing you can do when dealing with a crisis is to fixate on it.  A wise man sees a problem, but a fanatic sees only the problem.  

The philosopher James Ross once characterized a fellow philosopher’s needlessly technical and ineffective argument as analogous to dropping an atom bomb in order to try to kill an ant, and missing.  I wouldn’t say that COVID-19 is like an ant, exactly, but it is certainly far less lethal than people feared a year ago.  And locking down vast populations of healthy people in order to deal with it has certainly turned out to be like dropping an atom bomb and missing, causing enormous damage to people’s livelihoods and mental health and to children’s education, with no evidence that it produced any good effects that could not have been achieved in a less extreme way.  Meanwhile, those who urged caution were shrilly dismissed as “grandma killers,” as putting the economy before lives, etc.  This is the voice of a fanaticism that refuses to see anything but the problem.

The Catholic “new natural law” moral theologian Germain Grisez can hardly be accused of putting insufficient value on human life.  He not only thought that it is morally better in practice never to use capital punishment (a view that a Catholic is at liberty to take), but that capital punishment is always and intrinsically evil, wrong even in principle (a view that is heterodox, as Joe Bessette and I have shown).  He thought that, given its health risks, the regular smoking of tobacco is gravely sinful, a view that in my opinion is too extreme.  (See pp. 600-603 of volume 3 of Grisez’s The Way of the Lord Jesus.)

At the same time, even Grisez was clear that it is a mistake to emphasize life and health to the point that other important goods are undermined.  Here he is perfectly in line with traditional natural law reasoning and Catholic moral theology.  Certain actions are ruled out as absolutely forbidden (such as the direct and intentional killing of the innocent in abortion and euthanasia) and others are absolutely required (such as providing the ordinary means of survival to the ill, like food and water).  But there is a wide range of treatments and policies which, though they might be conducive to health and the preservation of life, have to be balanced against other goods, so that they cannot be absolutely required.  Whether or not to make use of them is a matter of prudential judgment, about which people of good will can reasonably disagree.

In Volume 2 of The Way of the Lord Jesus (specifically, in Question F of Chapter 8), Grisez sets out some important relevant principles.  First he warns that our notion of health “should not be expanded to include total human well-being” (p. 520).  There is a tendency among some to include just any old thing that is somehow conducive to our well-being as a matter of “health,” and thus to fall within the purview of “public health.”  This is sophistry, conceptually sloppy and prone to encourage demagoguery.

A similar semantic sloppiness can be seen in the use to which many left-of-center Catholics now put the expression “pro-life.”  This expression has no Catholic doctrinal or theological significance at all.  It is merely a political slogan that is historically associated with right-of-center opposition to abortion.  But some have seen fit to deploy the rhetorical trick of defining “life” so broadly that anything that might be in some way arguably be conducive to health and well-being – government provision of health care, liberalized immigration laws, “safer at home” policies, etc. – is characterized as “pro-life.”  The next move is to insist that anyone who claims to be “pro-life” but opposes socialized medicine, open borders, lockdowns, etc. is a hypocrite and perhaps even a dissenter from Catholic teaching.

The sophistry here is effective to the extent that it is precisely because it is so shameless.  The differences between the traditional concerns of “pro-lifers” and current left-wing enthusiasms are both obvious and more important than any similarities.  Abortion and euthanasia are intrinsically evil, wrong regardless of circumstances.  By contrast, how best to fund health care, how many immigrants to allow into a country and under what conditions, how best to deal with a pandemic, etc. are matters of prudential judgment that have to balance a variety of relevant moral principles and concrete circumstances, so that people of good will can reasonably disagree about specific policies.   Papering over these crucial differences by appropriating the political slogan “pro-life” and flinging it back at one’s opponents has exactly zero doctrinal or theological force.  You might as well use this stupid rhetorical trick to argue that since Catholics are “pro-life,” they should be vegetarians, or should convert to Jainism. 

Anyway, when, as Grisez advises, we use “health” and related words with precision rather than merely as rhetorical cudgels, it is clear that it is a fallacy to suppose that shouting such words ought to stop all debate about whether lockdowns are a good idea.

Grisez also points out that a tendency to let considerations about health trump everything else can reflect a worldly mindset rather than a Christian one.  He writes:

Choices concerning health should take other goods into account.  Partly because health is an aspect of the basic good of life and a means to other goods, but also partly because many people excessively fear death and greatly esteem health care technology, people in affluent nations sometimes tend to think of health as if it were the most important value.  As a result, they assume that other goods must yield to health’s paramount claims, and so deliberate and make choices regarding health without duly considering their other responsibilities.  Important as it is, however, health is only one good among others, and Christians should harmonize choices concerning health with other elements of their personal vocations.  This seldom means that health should be neglected entirely, but it often demands that the means used to protect and promote health be selected and limited to avoid interfering with other areas of life. (p. 521)

What other areas would those be?  Summarizing Catholic teaching about how to decide whether or not to resort to extraordinary means in order to prolong life, Grisez writes:

The burdens of health care can provide an adequate reason to forgo it.  Life is like other basic human goods: it does not override every other good, nor does it always deserve preference.  There always are reasons not to do something that would protect life or promote health, since health care always involves burdens.  Hence, sound judgment requires identifying both the prospective benefits and burdens of possible forms of care.  In this matter, the Holy See teaches:

It is also permissible to make do with the normal means that medicine can offer.  Therefore one cannot impose on anyone the obligation to have recourse to a technique which is already in use but which carries a risk or is burdensome.  Such a refusal is not the equivalent of suicide; on the contrary, it should be considered as an acceptance of the human condition, or a wish to avoid the application of a medical procedure disproportionate to the results that can be expected, or a desire not to impose excessive expense on the family or the community. [Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Declaration on Euthanasia]

Therefore, burdens that attach to the care itself can provide adequate reasons to forgo it.  These burdens can be grouped in three categories:

i) Care imposes economic costs and utilizes facilities and services which usually could be put to other good uses.

ii) Many things which can be done for the sake of health also can have bad side effects for health itself.  Surgery always carries some risks of death and/or disability; medications often interfere with various functions.  Examinations and treatments often are painful, and pain can interfere with good functioning, especially at the psychic level.

iii) Many things which can be done for the sake of health have bad side effects for other human goods.  They may restrict one’s inner life and activity, prevent one from moving about freely, isolate one from family and associates, and so on. (pp. 526-27)

Notice that considerations about economic costs, psychological costs, loss of freedom of movement, isolation from family and others, and the like are among the things that Catholic teaching says can override whatever benefits to life and health a treatment might be thought to have.  But these are exactly the sorts of considerations that critics of the lockdowns appealed to.  It is outrageous and demagogic, then, for any Catholic to pretend that those among his fellows who opposed the lockdowns were ipso facto disloyal or insufficiently “pro-life.” 

Because of his fidelity to the Magisterium, Grisez is often associated with the “right,” but where some matters of life and health are concerned (such as his views on capital punishment and smoking) he was decidedly to the “left.”  Hence his position on the real but limited value of considerations about health cannot easily be dismissed by left-of-center Catholics.  In any event, in this case he was not merely presenting his own opinion, but the teaching of the Church and of the broader natural law tradition.

Related posts:

Preventive war and quarantining the healthy

Lockdowns versus social justice

The rule of lawlessness

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


  1. "Therefore one cannot impose on anyone the obligation to have recourse to a technique which is already in use but which carries a risk [...] [I]t should be considered as [...] a wish to avoid the application of a medical procedure disproportionate to the results that can be expected"

    COVID vaccines fall under this rubric, specifically, should the vaccine appear risky (insufficiently tested, novel technique, etc.) and especially when the actual danger the virus poses is taken into account.

    "Choices concerning health should take other goods into account. [...] Life is like other basic human goods: it does not override every other good, nor does it always deserve preference."

    Add to this the wish to avoid remote cooperation with a grave evil bound up with the testing and production of at least some of these vaccines and they begin to look like a hard sell to Catholics.

    Furthermore, vaccines aren't treating an existing illness, but are preventative in nature. That is, we are balancing the risks of the vaccine with the risk not of contracting the virus, but of developing sufficiently severe illness. That seems to further weaken the case than this vaccine can be compelled.

    1. As far as I have read until today, I quote "but are preventative in nature. ", it is an open question whether vaccination is preventive at all. Maybe it remains an open question. I still have to study this subject. Maybe it has to be put in the next way: In what way is it preventive and at what costs?

  2. I had the two shot vaccine. I am 63 so I reluctantly considered the remote cooperation with an abortion half a century ago in testing to be balanced by my enhanced danger in regards to covid.

  3. Don't you know that the great American sacrament is personal comfort and safety, and it's the government's role to define these and dole them out?

    1. WCB wrote:

      If you think a mask is uncomfortable, wait until you get to wear a ventilator mask.


  4. From WCB

    Today, the FDA gave the OK for adolescence 12 to 15 year olds to be vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine. What this means is, many young Americans are not at this point in time, vaccinated. So those goofball that think they don't have to wear a mask,follow social distancing, or get vaccinated, are putting a lot of people at risk.

    Then we have the numerous groups of people who refuse to practice social distancing and wearing masks. Groups of young people at beach parties, etc, Right winged nut jobs making pests of themselves at stores, restaurants, and on airlines. Not to mention those goobers who refuse to wear masks while attending their conservative churches.

    There have been over half a million deaths from covid so far, and then we have the fact that many people do not die, but suffer severe illnesses some that are long term. And the new variants,some may not be halted by Pfizer vaccines.

    This ain't over yet. Wear your mask, Get vaccinated. Social distancing where ever possible. This is not over yet, and failure to act responsibly and resolutely will drag us down into more lock downs and deaths.

    This is not over yet.


    1. Supposing that masks and social distancing are meant to be means of preventing you from getting infected, and supposing that the vaccine works, why should people who get the vaccine be forced to wear masks and social distance?

      If this is to prevent us from experiencing some mysterious "new variants," then what's stopping those in charge from using the threat of new variants to keep us in these conditions indefinitely?

    2. Not trying to interfere with tedious american politics, but i suppose that even after you get the vaccine you can still have the virus on your body, so you can still contamine others.

    3. Geocon

      Paranoid as ever I see.

      The vaccines are not 100% efficaceous in preventing infection, and reduce but do not prevent transmission. It is therefore very sensible to maintain vigilance and preventative measures, reducing them gradually partly as the proportion of people vaccinated in a given region increases. It should be obvious that the positive effects of a certain percentage of people being vaccinated can be offset if a much greater number them start to be careless and ignore social distancing and other measures. This is all about being concerned for other people, both individually and by maintaining the good functioning of the health system, something you would know little about as a selfish paranoid libertarian individualist.

      Restrictions should surely be lifted gradually in response to the level of case numbers and vaccinations , the effectiveness of the vaccines and the ability of the health system to cope. Is that not the rational and pragmatic policy here?

    4. Anon,

      This is the general level of argumentation I get from you.

      I'm the paranoid one for not wanting to maintain maximum precaution until the vaccines are 100% effective. Any objection to this rather insane view is based on "selfish paranoid libertarian individualism." I mean, would calling you a monomaniacal, nanny-state-supporting, socialistic control freak be a fair characterization of your views? I don't think it would be, so you must admit that characterizing me the way you have is unfair.

      No, your preferred policies are not rational and pragmatic at all. It seems to be based on sheer panic and paranoia. They remind me of the mother who puts her child in a plastic bubble to protect him from germs or physical injuries, only allowing filtered air in and out of it. If only we had restrictions lifted gradually in response to the number of case studies, the effectiveness of vaccines, and the ability of the health care system (in addition to the concerns brought up by Professor Feser in this article), we wouldn't have all of our institutions being the mixed-message masters. We would be addressing how lockdowns have actually contributed to deaths during the pandemic. We would be looking at the scientific evidence that masks don't work and addressing that. All of this would be public and calm, and there wouldn't be idiotic epithets lobbed at our partisan enemies in the middle of a pandemic. Unfortunately, we live in a liberal democracy, so insanity is the norm.

    5. Geocon 11.03PM

      You imply that I want to maintain maximum protections until the vaccines are 100% effective. That is not so at all as you well know, so stop misrepresenting me. Read the post at 9.46PM again, then apologise immediately.

      You present yourself as reasonable while in fact being a dangerous extremist. How can it not be rational to lift restrictions gradually and appropriately in response to the indicators that really matter, like levels of vaccination, case numbers and stress on the health system? Instead you would presumably like to see an immediate end to all legal restrictions, which would nullify the gains so far made by vaccination and risk setting us back to square one. Absolutely insane.

      I typified you as being a selfish, paranoid, libertarian individualist, yet in the RC integralist order you dream about ( word chosen advisedly ) you would be an obedient, authoritarian conformist, no doubt enthusiastically assisting the priestly morality police to hunt down dissidents and heretics. Your love of freedom is only skin deep Geocon.

    6. Anonymous,

      "How can it not be rational to lift restrictions gradually and appropriately in response to the indicators that really matter, like levels of vaccination, case numbers and stress on the health system?"

      This is my position, actually. I want the same thing that you do. I just think that what policies you are advocating for go against what you claim to want. I, for instance, think that much of the precautions taken against the virus were, as a matter of scientific fact, ineffective from the start and shouldn't have been implemented to begin with. I also want to take into account the points Feser brought up in this essay. I thus have a very different standard for what is an appropriate response to the issue.

      You have the audacity to ask me to apologize for misrepresenting you, yet you continue to make nonsensical, contradictory insults (I'm a libertarian individualist and a integralist authoritarian conformist simultaneously, apparently). I apologize for misreading what you said and will endeavor not to misrepresent it, but can you apologize for just going off on me?

    7. Geocon 11.57PM

      You say that ' I want the same thing as you do, I just think that the policies you are advocating go against what you claim to want.'

      Oh, what policies are they then? It would be interesting to know how you came by this information as I have never posted on this issue before.

    8. Anon,

      I notice that Geocon admitted that it would be unfair of him to throw insults at you based on caricatures of your positions, and asked for the same courtesy from you, to which you responded by throwing insults at him based on a caricature of his position. Even if you think this assessment is accurate and true (which you no doubt do), this is *extremely* rude.

    9. Well Anon, make sure you put on a box of masks and stay in your closet. That way you'll be nice and healthy when the sun monster kills us in 12 years.

    10. TN

      Do you have to practice to be such an dicksplash or were you born that way? My guess is genetics as no amount of practice could make you that good.

    11. Cantus 3.17AM

      I respond to Geocon by throwing more insults at him based on a further caricature of his position did I? What insults were they exactly, and how do you construe what I said as a caricature?

      You ought not to be such a nosey snowflake Cantus.

    12. Anon,

      "I respond to Geocon by throwing more insults at him based on a further caricature of his position did I? What insults were they exactly, and how do you construe what I said as a caricature?"

      Selfish libertarian individualistic Catholic integralist conformist authoritarianism anyone?

      You began this post thread by complaining about how unvaccinated young people and right-wingers nutjobs are looking to spread COVID. To this, you support the actions of the institutions that continue to implement lockdowns to stop these mass-spreaders against the urgings of Feser to ease up on the restrictions. But if the vaccine is effective, then why do people still have to wear masks and social distance? There's no good answer to this question that I've heard from any supporter of these extreme policies.

    13. Geocon 9.43AM

      You are multiply confused I am afraid.

      Firstly , you have interacted with two people using the tag 'Anonymous', one of whom also always adds 'from WCB'. He is the one who started the post thread , though you confuse
      him with me.

      Secondly, Cantus at 3.17AM accussed me of further insulting you after my initial response to you ( in my second response at 11.57PM ). So when I ask that this allegation be demonstrated
      ( you quote him in your first paragraph ), it will not do to just repeat the original offence!

      Come on Mr Geocon, wakey wakey, pay attention!

      Whether it is a good idea to end mask wearing and social distancing as the vaccination program proceeds depends of course on the levels of infection and extent of vaccination, and can only be decided on a case by case basis. Clearly, if the level of infections is quite low and vaccine uptake high ( as is now the case in the UK ) there is much scope for rolling back restrictions, but if the level of infection is high, and /or the proportion of the population vaccinated is low, then we have to proceed much more cautiously. Isn't that obvious?

      To illustrate, suppose that vaccination reduces ones chance of contracting covid to 1/10 of what it would otherwise have been, and of serious illness to 1/400, but perhaps only 40% of the population has been vaccinated . If all restrictions then end, the boost that would give to the number of opportunities for the virus to spread could easily more than nullify the gains of vaccination - unless of course the level of infection is very low .

      More nuanced thinking reqiired Mr G!

    14. Of course this is the same Anon(unknown or WCB or whatever) who cries like a wee girl whenever I am fierce toward an opponent and turns around and abuses people at will.

      Ye cana debate sociopaths ladds.

      Anyway some food for thought.

      Apparently arguing over wither you can force vaccines or not or wither or not they where good or not was disputed by three Popes in succession to one another.

      Pius VII vs Leo XII vs Gregory XVI.

      Even Popes can disagree on prudent judgements. I have no problem with the Vaccines and I have taken one dose already.
      But forcing them is wrong and continuing to lock down or treat Vaccinated people as infectious ironically gives a stick to anti-Vaccination person by which to beat them.

      Fully Vaccinated people should not be wearing masks.

      One does get the impression some people do not want to quit lockdown.

    15. Son of Ya'kov

      Love you too Ben xxxx

      By the way, what do you think of Nicola Sturgen?

    16. If yer showing "love" I would hate to see hatred mate.

    17. Son of Ya'kov

      Learned it all from you mate, most recently when you announced that it was best to treat Gnu-atheists harshly, and then - after admitting that Papilinton was a 'gentle soul' - sticking the boot in and calling him a wanker among other things. Of course, that started such an undignified fire storm that Feser deleted the entire discussion thread. Your subsequent obseqious behaviour to Feser was embarrassing to behold, even for a sociopath like me.

      I did post that at least Feser would now know where to go when he needed a blowjob, but for some reason he deleted that too.

    18. Anon,

      You're playing word games at this point. Geocon tried to be reasonable with you, then after that you called him a selfish authoritarian bootlicker. Which precise post these insults were in or what precise time they were made at is irrelevant.

    19. @Anon responding to Ya'kov

      Oh, really now? In that case, I offer you a deal. If you agree to turn down the heat on the rhetoric then so will I, and I'm sure Yakov would be happy to do so likewise. If you really are a genuine truth-seeker hardened into vitriol by us, then surely you should be willing to go back to reasonable discussion by any means possible, right?

    20. Cantus 11.37AM

      You have no need to turn down your heat and rhetoric as you seem to be a very reasonable fellow to me. What really pisses me off big time though is the total absence of comment or intervention from any of you during Ya'kovs sometimes extremely abusive and interminable tirades, so I have decided to police the matter myself. If Ya'kov behaves himself all well and good, but I will not be holding my breath.

      By the way, I have never called Geocon a bootlicker, authoritarian or otherwise.

    21. Cantus I would love it but you know.

      Gnus and militant leftists are sociopaths and the fact they post as various Unknowns (stealing poor Ghostman's original handle) or various Anon's or carry on conversations with themselves as Feser said. Proves they are beyond reason. They are here to piss on this blog not debate in good faith. I changed my monker from BenYachov to Son of etc years ago. I don't create muliple posts. Everyone knows who I am and who they deal with.

      But the Gnus dina care. They just want to be wee c**ts for its own sake.

      I love talking to rational and philosophically competent Atheists. I is a pure joy to do so.

      But I hold Gnus in naked contempt because they are contemptible irrational thugs. They are as Bill Maher said & I paraphrase "all the worst parts of fundamentalism".

      >By the way, I have never called Geocon a bootlicker, authoritarian or otherwise.

      How do we know that? Some Anon said it and ye dina have the decency to pick a nickname and stick with it.

      Twats the lot of ya.

      Cheers Cantus yer brillant btw.

    22. Cantus

      See what I mean about Yako? Got anything to say about him, or do you only intervene to berate those you deem problematic when they are not 'in-house' and Thomists? Nice little grovelling flourish to you at the end there but not as nauseating as the verbal fallatio he regularly delivers to Feser.

      I am not bashful and so will not use asterisks. Yakov is a cunt pure and simple, and I will thoroughly enjoy myself winding the twat up.

  5. Although it's not much talked about, draconic lockdowna have really HURT a lot of people's mental health.

    Although suicide rates have not risen significantly overall, the rate seems to have shifted to higher numbers in minorities ( this has affected both people's mental health and development (especially youths) and that things have overall worsened. (;

    The effects have not been catastrophic (as some fake news claimed, such as the debunked 200% rise in suicide rate claim), but clearly prolonged isolation is not good for most people, since humans are by nature social animals.

    Also inability to see therapists and counselors in person also affects deeply those who already suffer from mental conditions.

    Moreover mental health is much harder to gauge and things like prolong isolation might affect it long term, with grave symptoms only showing later on.

    So clearly policies need to aim not only at physical safety from the virus, but also at minimizing the collateral damage on mental health, not to mention the economy and personal development.

    1. Yes, this is clear, but sadly it was not to a great number of the population for most of 2020, and continues to be invisible to many of them even now. The truly incredible, irrational levels of fear shown by many was a primal emotional reaction, impenetrable by logic and demanding emotional comfort and reassurance. It's true that mental health has suffered greatly from the lockdowns, but when you fear for your life you are incapable of taking such things into consideration, because you're not making a rational analysis or weighing the importance of different needs - you are In Danger, and you Need To Be Safe. That's all there is, and nothing else seems important. To be clear, I'm not blaming most of these people - getting COVID is a frightening idea, and the media certainly didn't help by their never-ending fearmongering (which has likely had a considerable mental health impact of its own).

    2. Moreover mental health is much harder to gauge and things like prolong isolation might affect it long term, with grave symptoms only showing later on.

      Equally true is that it is difficult, and may remain permanently impossible, to accurately measure or determine the damage done to the young in terms of good social development, by (a) being locked into an incredibly narrow social circle for a year plus, and (especially for babies and toddlers) seeing people other than Mom and Dad ONLY with masks on during a critical developmental phase of life. We don't even have a good guess at how much mental and emotional / social developmental growth occurs by little kids seeing the full face of those they interact with, but it is clearly non-trivial.

      Something similar is true of touching: human physiology clearly requires physical touch to stimulate certain processes, e.g. the release of hormones, serotonin, etc. A social environment which creates intense FEAR of touching others may have long term consequences that we are ill equipped even to measure, much less deal with.

      These are aside from the known side-effects of the lock-downs.

  6. WCB posted

    Mister GeoconMay 10, 2021 at 7:47 PM

    "Supposing that masks and social distancing are meant to be means of preventing you from getting infected, and supposing that the vaccine works, why should people who get the vaccine be forced to wear masks and social distance?"

    Because we have mass infectionms in Brazil, India etc. We already have a varient from South Africa that seems to not be stopped by the Pfizer vaccine. We have a vast breeding found world wide giving us new variants that are vaccine resistant and so thinking you are vaccinated and virus proof is not a good attitude just yet. It is foolish to take unnecessary chances given this problem.

    The fools who refuse to wear masks and get vaccinated will be the ones to get these new variants and spread them around like little plague rats. Nobody can say how bad this will all get, but it may not be negligible.

    I have had my two Pfizer shots but intend to be suspicious and take no chances and will be careful to avoid the maskless fools in my vicinty because it makes very good sense to do so.


    1. By this logic, though, wouldn't it be best for everyone to remain locked down and in hiding until the entire thing had completely passed everywhere throughout the world? And if new variants are being bred in India, why should that mean that Americans have to show more caution, unless they've been to India recently? Closing the borders to Indian, Brazilian, and South American travel surely makes more sense as a way to combat those than requiring increased caution from Americans.

    2. Correction: I meant to say "South African" instead of "South American" in my last post.

    3. WCB writes:

      A variant of the coronavirus first spotted in India has been detected in the U.S. and 18 other countries and territories, adding to a growing roster of evolutionary spinoffs of the virus that scientists and health authorities are keeping under close observation.

      The variant, known as B.1.617, isn’t as well studied as other worrisome variants—some of which are also circulating in India—and its role in driving India’s current wave of infection isn’t entirely clear. The surge in cases followed a loosening of restrictions and a large number of religious and political gatherings.

      These troublesome variants are already here. The South African variant is here. Heads up people!

      This is not going to be over this year. What exactly the future holds, nobody can predict.

    4. Anonymous, how does the kind of argument you're using not justify locking down everything until all diseases are cured, period?

    5. So the CDC has just said vaccinated people don't need to wear masks or social distance indoors or outdoors, even if among unvaccinated people.

      Let's see how long before those claiming otherwise try to pretend they were following "the science", and weren't just following orders blindly.

  7. This sounds like a good approach. Although the costs referred to by Grisez and the CDF specifically concern those who are ill, the argument applies a fortiori to society in general.

  8. Well, "health" might as well be "infrastructure" too--everything else is.

  9. Even Obergruppenf├╝hrer VonWitmer is now saying that people are capable of conducting themselves according to their best judgements for their own health (I guess this means she up for reelection soon). Why this wasn't true a year ago is anyone's guess.

  10. Pathologist John Lee on the many mishandlings of the pandemic.,-prof-of:b

  11. "There was politics, which poisons nearly everything today" Yep. As soon as it became a 'left vs right' thing, any chance of a rational discussion about it completely went out the window

  12. Given what we know about this disease, what is the moral case for forcing a healthy 5 year old, without his parents’ informed consent, to tightly cover the two holes in his body which are necessary for breathing?

    When are adults going to behave like adults?

    1. Where has that occurred Unknown? Sounds like a scare story to me.

      Usually there are sensible lower age bounds for face covering directives as apart from anything else, young children will hardly wear masks correctly and consistantly.

    2. All over the place, including my very red state and across public and religious schools. From what I understand, we are virtually alone in the western world on this.

    3. In the UK people aged 15 and above are required to wear face coverings in certain potentially congested areas, like in stores or on public transport. Schools have just gone through a period where older students - age 11 + - were required to wear them in classrooms, but that is about to end and they will soon only have to wear them in corridors. We have never been required to wear face coverings outdoors.

      Our governmrnt has repeatedly failed to heed the advice of its scientific and medical advisers, and has been too slow to enact necessary measures, only to perform U-turns later on after back pedelling on ludicrously optimistic prognosis. Having finally learned lessons from several disasterous mistakes though , it is now behaving very responsibly. We have a road map detailing how restrictions are to be lifted over time, which is reassessed every 6 weeks in relation to key indicators, in particular infection levels, the progress of the vaccination program and levels of stress on the nhs. For once they are being cautious and evidence led, and it seems probable that they will achieve their goal of ending almost all legal restrictions by July.

    4. I believe it was Michigan who just EXPANDED mandatory face coverings (including outside?) down to 2-4 years old. Just 2 weeks ago.

      Before that, the rule only(!?!) required face masks for kids FIVE years old!

      California mandated masks in all public spaces for EVERYONE aged 2 and older!!!!! Good deal, that, only infants are left alone.

    5. Tony

      I would be interested to know how the measures you outline above work out in practice. I mean, quite independently of any moral concerns, or scientific ones about the effectiveness of face coverings and the degree of covid transmission in the very young, just how do you get five year olds ( let alone 2-4 year olds ) to keep their masks on, and take proper care with hygene? Obviously you cannot. So I wonder if these measures are simply symbolic of serious intent by the authorities and not actually enforced. Does anyone out there know?

    6. Anon,

      "how do you get five year olds ( let alone 2-4 year olds ) to keep their masks on, and take proper care with hygene?"

      By filling them with extreme fear at every waking moment of their lives, like this:

  13. Simply put... yes, Covid is a risk, but there are MANY risks, all of which must be weighed and taken into account, including the risks that arise from countermeasures taken to avert one of the risks.

  14. Well, Australia did rather well in controlling Covid19 with lockdowns, socialized medicine and financial assistance to businesses that temporarily closed.

  15. From WCB

    Mister Geocon May 10, 2021 at 7:47 PM

    "Supposing that masks and social distancing are meant to be means of preventing you from getting infected, and supposing that the vaccine works, why should people who get the vaccine be forced to wear masks and social distance?"

    Because, the New Variants are seemingly not prevented by the new vaccines! "We are Americans! we don't need no steenking masks or vaccines!" So we have morons like Florida's De Santis who has made sure the mask mandate is now history. Wheeee! Covid-19 for all?

    With new variants of covid-19 hitting our shores, we could soon be back to massive death tolls because anti-mask, anti vaccination militancy. This seems not to be a matter of if, but when and how bad will it get?

    And if worst case comes to pass, we are going to see an explosion of hate for MAGAt plague rats and their media darlings like Faux Nooz, and political GOP leaders who allowed all this to come to pass.


    1. WCB
      Trump might well have been re-elected if he and his sycophants hadn't grossly mishandled the virus. You can hear Trump telling Bob Woodward on a recorded call in February 2020 that he had been warned how deadly the virus was. He knew, but of course, as he infamously told the public, the virus would "go away just like a miracle." The only miracle that happened was that our democractic process prevailed and he is out of office.

    2. I know that I will get a good kicking here for saying this, but I really did not want Trump to recover when he succumbed to covid , as nothing could have undercut the misinformation that he helped spread about the virus more than his very public demise at its hands. Mind you, when he opined that injecting disinfectant might be a way forward in combatting the virus, I hoped that would get him too, but unfortunately he did not take that idea sufficiently seriously!

      Just being honest!

    3. "when he opined that injecting disinfectant might be a way forward in combatting the virus"

      Please provide a citation.

    4. TN 10.52AM

      Whitehouse Coronavirus Task Force briefing, Thursday 23 April 2020 .

      'Then I see the disinfectant where it knocks it out in a minute. One minute. And is there a way we can do something like that by injecting inside or almost cleaning. So it would be interesting to check that out.'


    5. Some study showed that sunlight and cleaning agents kill the virus and he asked if this information could somehow be used to treat Covid patients. And because of this, you wanted him to die?

      Flushing out the lungs with Saline is a fairly common medical procedure, I think (my grandfather had it done when he was sick). So asking questions like this is "spreading misinformation"?

      Now Trump certainly babbles and says goofy things, but you can't get past that? Biden says bizarre things, do you want him dead too?

      What exactly is the issue? You wanted him to die because he asked some medical people about using some study to find a treatment. Seriously?

    6. TN

      The comment about hoping that injecting disinfectant might get him was meant as a humerous rider to the previous one of how many lives would have been saved if he had not recovered from covid. I would not have mourned the scum for a whole host of other reasons too.

      As regards disinfectant, it is a household product used by all and so it is universal knowledge that it is potentially very dangerous to the skin and should be handled with great care. The idea of injecting it is utterly moronic. The lady health officer present at that press briefing was clearly mortified by his comments, and throughout the world governments and health officials immediately sprang into action to contradict and condemn him, lest his comments raise completely unjustified hopes or actually lead some to inject or otherwise clean themselves internally by drinking disinfectant.

      C'mon TN, get a sense of humour, and stop doting over even the most irresponsible and idiotic things your darling Trump says.

    7. “it is universal knowledge that it is potentially very dangerous”

      Which makes me wonder why you think you have to protect everyone from an off-the-cuff gaff. Since it’s “universal knowledge” that drinking cleaning products is ridiculous, there’s no need attribute such gravity to the comment.

      The claim that it’s all just lighthearted fun is contradicted by the inability to show any restraint of the hatred, and the nonsensical assumption that anyone who doesn’t dogpile on even the most ridiculous catastrophizing of every word Trump says is a Trump “darling”.

      Trump has broken your brain.

  16. "He thought that, given its health risks, the regular smoking of tobacco is gravely sinful, a view that in my opinion is too extreme."

    I'm really curious why Ed thinks this, particularly in an age where the dangers of tobacco use are well known.

    1. Also interested on Dr. Feser views about smoking. Specially knowing that they are pretty addictive.

    2. I'd like to echo that too, and also request that Feser explains his views about the huge corporate international tobacco industry, which is of course a purveyor of misery and death on a colossal scale among people who are addicted to their product and so have lost full volitional control over their actions. As western governments become ever more inimical to their interests, so they inevitably shift their attention to developing countries which lack the wealth and health infrastructure to even attempt to ameliorate the damage wrought.

      I had an exchange with Daniel about this issue on the previous post thread should anyone be interested in reading it. I was very surprised that there were absolutely no other contributors to the discussion - hopefully all you Catholics were just too embarrassed at the silence of your masters about this and their bizarre notion of acceptable moderation in the face of an addiction. I mean, it is not as if the very dangerous long term health effects of tobacco smoking ( immediate for asthmatics and people with respiratory disorders ) are but a recent discovery or are contraversial!

      The silence and inaction of the church in the face of this gargantuan international evil should be telling you that it is human, all too human, and not inspired and guided by an omnipotent deity in its assessment of ethical matters as it ludicrously claims.

    3. Referring back to my post above, if anyone is interested in reading the exchange between Daniel and me about smoking in the previous post thread (the post was 'Idols of the Mind ), it is part of a thread begun by Daniel on May 5th at 6.06AM. I picked him up about the list of supposedly acceptable pleasures he had presented, which included tobacco smoking. Start from the 'Anonymous' contribution at 10.12AM.

    4. From WCB

      Yeah, be like Rush Limbaugh, Drugs, Oxycontin and big fat cigars. Then doctors don't know what they are talking about. And Rush claimed he should "Be given an award for smoking". He got that, lung cancer. I gave up smoking in the mid 80's. Because it was intelligent to do so.

      With lung cancer, emphysema, heart disease, throat cancer, smoking is a fool's habit.

      One wonders when the US will finally get around to outlawing smoking.


    5. I am in favour of outlawing smoking in public places such as in shops, cinemas, pubs, on public transport etc, and offering state funded assistance for those who wish to stop ( that is the state of play in the UK now ), but not an outright ban - that would infringe our liberties and would create an appalling situation for those so addicted.

      In the UK the anti-smoking lobby has been successful in removing well ventilated smokers rooms from hospitals and workplaces, so now smokers may be even more frightened of going into hospital because of the enforced nicatine detox, and getting that fix at work has become a big issue for many . Don't know about you, but I do not want my bus driver to be experiencing drug withdrawl while he is driving me around! So measures to reduce smoking must be measured , sensible and humane.

    6. I was looking around for some direct quotes about the goodness or badness of smoking. I haven't found any direct discussions on the topic yet, but he does use it to illustrate other points. For example:

      "Now, modern people are hardly reluctant to stigmatize things – cigarette smoking, politically incorrect language, etc. They are also highly sentimental about children. Yet they would never dream of stigmatizing fornication and oversexualized pop culture for the sake of the well-being of children. Indeed, they are so attached to the stupid clich├ę that what one does in the bedroom has no effect on anyone else that they have great difficulty seeing what, for most human beings historically, has been blindingly obvious – that sexual immorality in fact has a massive effect precisely on these weakest members of society."

      Also another one here about falsification:

      "For example, take the claim that heavy smoking over a long period of time has a strong tendency to cause cancer. Obviously this is not falsified by the fact that some heavy smokers never develop cancer, because the claim has been phrased in a way that takes account of that. It speaks only of a strong tendency, and even a strong tendency needn’t always be realized. But neither is the claim made vacuous by that qualification. If it turned out that only five percent of people who smoke heavily over the course of many years ended up getting cancer, we could reasonably say that the claim had been falsified. Whereas if it turned out that sixty percent of those who smoke heavily over the course of many years end up getting cancer, we would say that the claim had survived falsification, even though sixty percent is well short of one hundred percent. Indeed, even if the percentage were much lower than that -- suppose it were forty percent, for example -- it would not necessarily follow that the claim had been falsified."

      It appears to be a useful example of social censorship and how scientific consensus emerges.

      This is a very funny post that quotes some other author's analysis of liberals and conservatives on multiple issues, including smoking (I only have room to post the liberal version, so see the article for the conservative one):

      "To the charge that liberals are (or, given their principles, should be) in favor of X [where X = legalizing abortion, liberalizing obscenity laws, banning smoking on private property, legalizing “same-sex marriage,” outlawing the public advocacy of traditional sexual morality, etc. etc.], the standard liberal response goes through about five stages (with, it seems, roughly 5-10 years passing between each stage, though sometimes the transition is much quicker than that). Here they are:

      Stage 1: “Oh please. Only a far-right-wing nutjob would make such a paranoid and ridiculous accusation - I suppose next you’ll accuse us of wanting to poison your precious bodily fluids!”

      Stage 2: “Well, I wouldn’t go as far as X. All the same, it’s good to be open-minded about these things. I mean, people used to think ending slavery was a crazy idea too…”

      Stage 3: “Hey, the Europeans have had X for years and the sky hasn’t fallen. But no, I admit that this backward country probably isn’t ready for X yet.”

      Stage 4: “Of course I’m in favor of X - it’s in the Constitution! Only a far-right-wing nutjob could possibly oppose it.”

      Stage 5: “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can be used against you in a court of law…”


    7. Daniel

      You need to work on your sense of humour mate.

    8. I will hazard a comment on the moral status. Disclaimer: I have never smoked, find it obnoxious, and have known people who died of smoking-related cancer.

      I think it necessary to dissociate the intrinsic moral issues from the prudential moral issues.

      Speaking only about the intrinsic ones first: smoking one cigarette or pipe or cigar has some deleterious effects and some good ones. It is not manifest that the bad ones per se overwhelm the good ones. And it is not manifest that the act of smoking per se defeats any normative good for the person. Therefore, I cannot locate a sure and certain basis for thinking that the act is intrinsically wrong.

      Due to (a) the long-term damaging effects, together with (b) the extraordinarily strong addictive qualities, the decision to START smoking on a regular enough basis to (probably) become addicted does seem to be matter for grave sin. It is grave as to degree because it damages health and life span in a grave way (even though only down the road). It is matter for sin because the order of the good effects are clearly of a lesser order than the order of bad effects, on the user. The effects on others (second-hand smoke, and supporting a corrupt industry) also weigh very strongly against.

      This result is specifically buttressed by the fact that it is in general a serious matter to intend to become addicted to ANYTHING, i.e. to intentionally set aside one's full freedom to choose well, but it becomes matter for grave sin when the addiction is to something which has so many evil effects and only narrowly beneficial good ones, and those relatively low-value at that.

      On the other hand: I have known more than one person who took up smoking "ad hoc", i.e. not in any devoted or regular way, intending explicitly NOT to smoke regularly enough to become addicted... AND SUCCEEDED in just that. They never became addicted, and later stopped even the ad hoc smoking without effort. Consequently, I suggest that SINGLE acts of smoking can be engaged in without the grave sin of intentionally taking on a bad habit, IF (and, perhaps, ONLY if) the person is of such mind and character as to (i) have sufficient strength of will to smoke only very irregularly, and (ii) have sufficient moral clarity to not be fooling himself about (i). This DOES NOT encompass everyone.

      This would seem to imply that "smoking" is not universally, always, by its very nature, intrinsically and gravely wrong (because it can be done with a reasoned and justifiably confident intent to not become addicted); but it would still be potentially and OFTEN gravely wrong, and typically at least imprudently sinful (especially when done in such a way as to ignore or actually invite addiction).

    9. Talmid, can you define addiction to me?

    10. That is a odd request, specially when Tony posted a more interesting post, but why not.

      I guess, from the top of my head, that a addiction would be something like "disordely disposition to do something in excess" or something like that. I admit that the Organon was a hard reading.

    11. A different Unknown

      Beware Talmid, you are probably now going to be told that such a thing does not exist, and that the label is an excuse for behaviours freely entered into with full volitional control. Unless of course 'addiction' is yet another Thomist term that means something completely different from what ordinary people mean ( must admit that I did not understand your understand your reference to Organon ).

    12. Tony

      By your logic, e.g. masturbation isn't not universally, always, by its very nature, intrinsically and gravely wrong either.

    13. Apparantly masturbatiion isn't universally, always , by its very nature, intrinsically and gravely wrong ( see Mr Van den Acker at 1.07AM above ). Phew, that's a relief!

      Only joking!

      Although I do not subscribe to Tony's world view, I am impressed by the distinctions he draws and the discernment in his analysis. As Mr Van den Acker states, such an analysis would lead to caveats about the sinfulness of masterbation, and other things too like suicide for example. That is all to the good, and a big advance on simplistic black and white thinking displayed by many religionists. I see this more and more in 'sophisticated' modern Catholic writers, but it seems absent in the even more benighted pre-Vat II days. But why would the ethical evaluations of the one true church, inspired and guided by God, vary in sophistication depending upon the wider culture? Is God not a loud enough signal to cut through all the societal noise?

    14. Walter's claim that "by my logic" masturbation is not intrinsically wrong, is an invalid claim. But more significantly here, his claim is neither obvious nor in the least supported by argument, and (had he tried) he might have noticed that it isn't easy to MAKE the argument. Furthermore, had he tried, he might have noticed that the argument he would need must run through theses and principles that I DID NOT employ, and so his argument would be by HIS logic, not mine.

      Simply put, the Catholic position on masturbation is that the human capacity for sexual pleasure and orgasm is meant to be devoted to the conjugal act of reproduction. Hence any use of the capacity separated from the conjugal act is disordered.

      No such exclusivity as "meant to be devoted to" has been claimed about, say, breathing in. Nobody, for example, has ever suggested that breathing in helium in order to sound like Donald Duck is intrinsically disordered. Nobody has ever suggested that breathing in air with somewhat higher levels of non-air particulates when you are free to do otherwise constitutes an inherent disorder - or they would have had to say all of the campfires of the boy scouts and girl scouts is immoral. The same applies to perfumes and other scent-making products. Indeed, since the human faculty of smell depends upon breathing in non-air particulates, this constitutes a heavy objection to any notion that breathing in is exclusively for getting the oxygen needed for respiration.

      So, is there any useful commentary on my suggested analysis? I offered it in the hopes that I might contribute to the overall point of this post, which is that moral considerations of behavior affecting health tend to be complex and often are NOT resolvable to simple results. As far as I can tell, my conclusion nearly matches what Dr. Feser said Grisez asserted, with small room for exception. But does not imply that smoking is inherently gravely immoral.

    15. Tony

      If we accept your claim that smoking is not inherently gravely immoral according to how your church evaluates these things, is it not still gravely immoral in practice because of cooperation with evil, after all when you purchase your ciggies you are supporting a highly progitable international corporate death and misery industry.

    16. Hey Tony,

      I was just about to post on your thread when you posted your follow up. It is well argued. I'm not sure I can provide useful commentary, but here goes anyway. :)

      What you stated above makes sense. I suppose it comes down to how we define the intrinsic final causality of a human power. The intrinsic final causality is exclusive, as per the Catholic Church, with regard to the sexual powers, but not, exclusive to oxygen for the power of breathing, but can include other elements, such as knock out gas when getting surgery, ventalin for people with Asthma, and so on.

      Plus, the aspect of making health the only criteria for determining prudentially whether something is good or not seems excessive. For example, it was the native Americans who introduced the Eurpean world to smoking. For them, smoking had a religious significance, similar to the Catholic use of incense. There are other social factors at play, and health is only one such factor. For example, I've heard it say that the very air we breath causes oxidation to our bodies and literally harms us. It is one cause, among others, of the aging process. And yet we don't ban breathing!

    17. "disordely disposition to do something in excess" Talmid, is that "disposition" under the power of the will or not?

    18. UnknownMay 12, 2021 at 11:03 PM give me your definition

    19. Tony

      It should be abundantly clear to anyone that, if the breathing faculties are "meant to be devoted to" breathing, which is, taking in oxygen etc. in order for the human body to function.
      So, by this logic, breathing in helium in order to sound like Donald Duck is intrinsically disordered, because it frustrates the natural end of the breathing faculty.
      The fact that nobody has ever suggested that it is intrisically disordered is because of inconsistent logic.
      The fact that breathing helium or smoking tobacco carry severe health risks, whereas masturbation doesn't, should ring a bell.

    20. Walter

      How " breathing in helium in order to sound like Donald Duck" frustrates the natural end of the breathing faculty?

      Just from the point of view of science, I dont see many people claiming that masturbation is innocente. People is now realizing that masturbation harms our brains and our relationships.

    21. Unknown 9.31AM

      You ask for my definition of addiction. Well, with the underdranding that I am neither a medical scientist or clinical psychologist, and in full appreciation of the fact that the concept is sometimes a little slippery, I would say that it is a consistant intense compulsion to engage in certain behaviours which generally leads to their execution, and which is not fully or at all under volitional control. We have to be sensible here and exclude the consumption of food and water in biologically necessary amounts of course.

      As an example, after having smoked for a period of time, most people will find it extremely difficult or impossible to kick the habit, feeling an intense desire for a nicotine fix that will dominate their thoughts, and experiencing unpleasant effects if they do attempt to combat the urge.

      Now tell Talmid and me why you are asking the question.

    22. If it is a compulsion, how my uncle stopped drinking alcohol?

    23. I ask the question because you guys are saying that smoking is bad because addiction.

    24. Your definition leads to a contradiction:

      " I would say that it is a consistant intense compulsion to engage in certain behaviours which generally leads to their execution, and which is not fully or at all under volitional control."

      How do you square that circle?

    25. @ Anonymous of 7:34am: Even if you don't want to create a profile, you could at least add an identifier to your comments to ddistinguish you from the OTHER anonymous posters. That would be a help to the rest of us.

      is it not still gravely immoral in practice because of cooperation with evil

      The whole Catholic business about whether an act that is "cooperation with evil" is morally licit generally attends a discussion where there are two acting parties, one the "primary" agent, and the other the "cooperating" agent whose action is somehow "tied to" the primary agent's action so that evil character of the primary agent's act does, or does not, also characterize the cooperating agent's act. Here, though, the primary agent's act is "selling a cigarette (or cigar)", and the cooperating agent's act is "buying a cigarette". Or, say, a pack of cigarettes, since that is how they are usually sold. If we decide that the buyer, in buying a pack of cigarettes to smoke over the course of 6 months is NOT immoral (in his particular case) taken on its own merits, then the neither would the primary agent's act of selling that pack of cigarettes.

      What you seem to be suggesting is that in buying a pack, the buyer then becomes a cooperating agent in all the other activities the cigarette company engages in. But this is NOT what the Catholic teaching on "cooperation with evil" says. The fundamental analysis is the analysis at the level of cooperating with the specific act that the primary agent is doing, because it is the specific act (and its evil character) that may, under the right conditions, control the moral character of the cooperating act. The moral character of the primary AGENT AS A WHOLE is never the fundamental consideration driving the analysis. A very bad man may be doing a very good act which the cooperating actor participates in.

      It may become a secondary, derivative consideration for the moral analysis, but ALWAYS on the level of weighting prudential pros and cons. At that level, it is VALID to say that "cooperating with the cigarette company sits on the negative side of the scales". But at the same time, it is necessary to say HOW MUCH it does so - what degree. And degree comes in also on how closely your act "participates" with the primary agent's moral status at-the-entity-level (rather than the moral status of the specific act). And it has been generally admitted that buying an item of mass production generally constitutes an extremely miniscule level of "participation with" the producer entity itself; it is of such small moral weight that we are GENERALLY permitted to engage in mere commerce even with known wicked people (and wicked businesses). This is, in part, because the act of buying THIS ITEM engages the seller primarily only with respect to this item and its worth, and does not constitute any kind of commentary on all the other commerce the seller may be engaged in. The alternative would seem to imply that we could not work with ANYONE who sins, on ANY project...which would make it impossible to act in the real world.

      There may be cases where the (admittedly) small secondary moral negative of "dealing with" a wicked company actually outweighs the benefit of a proposed transaction; and the small "benefits" of a pack of cigarettes (once you deduct from the benefits the costs to health and other negatives) might be just the sort of thing that ends up too low to outweigh the small moral negative of "associating with" cigarette companies - for some people, at least. The difficulty is being able to say, across all individuals, and all sellers, that the small moral negatives ALWAYS outweigh the small positives. I don't know how I or anyone would have sufficient information to conclude that.

    26. Unknown at 1.26pm and 1.33pm

      I am not going to get caught up in an interminable exchange about the precise definition of addiction. Suffice it to say that in the case of smoking, the practice leads to a very strong compulsion to continue, which most people find extremely hard or impossible to break without assistance ( CBT, nicotine patches, vaping etc ) and if they are successful it is often only a temporary achievement. Also, the process of 'coming off' nicotine has unpleasant psychological and physiological consequences. None of this applies to the consumption of sprouts for example, so without getting too obsessed about precise definitions we can say that cigarette smoking is addictive, but not so the eating of sprouts.

      I did not say that the smoking is bad because it is addictive per se ( maybe the Thomists think that addictive behaviours are always bad things per se, I wouldn't know ), but because it is medically very dangerous if practised over a long period, and its addictive quality generally ensures that this is precisely what happens.

    27. So, you want to discuss a thing without bother to give a definition of it. Great. That was what I thought.

    28. Seeing Unknowns discuss is weird. Anyway:

      @One off the Unknowns

      ""disordely disposition to do something in excess" Talmid, is that "disposition" under the power of the will or not?"

      In principle, yes. A disposition is a diferent thing, so while it can influence the will it can't by itself do everything. The will is in the driver seat.

      On real life things get tricker. The disposition can be so strong that the particular will can't resist it, this is what happens in most cases(at least before treatment), that is why catholic moral theology defends that a addiction can diminish or turn null the responsability by some particular normally-bad act.

    29. Unknown 12:07

      Breathing helium to sound like Donald Duck frustrates the natural end of the breathing faculty because the natural end of that faculty is to inhale and process substances that the human body needs. Actively and knowingly Using the faculty to substances that are harmful is an active frustration of the faculty.

      And masturbation doesn't harm our brain and our relationship. Excessive masturbation may be harmful in some way, but so is excessive wtater drinking.

    30. @Walter, have you read Dr. Feser's paper on the perverted faculty argument?

    31. Breathing helium to sound like Donald Duck frustrates the natural end of the breathing faculty because the natural end of that faculty is to inhale and process substances that the human body needs.

      It is always important to be cautious in the case of bodily parts, organ systems, and faculties, that have multiple uses. "The purpose" of the hand is not solely to hold, and the purpose of the foot is not solely to walk. They have many purposes: the hand is used to caress, to strike, to signal, etc. The foot is used to kick, to strike, etc.

      Walter would have us believe that drawing in breath to administer CPR to another, or to blow up a balloon, or to smell a perfume, or to become anesthetized, or to squeek like a duck, or to blow out candles, are all intrinsically disordered, as perversions of the faculty of breathing.

      As far as I can surmise, Walter is doing this in order to achieve a kind of reductio proof against ALL of the Catholic teachings based on perverted faculty arguments: prove that even ONE perverted faculty thesis results in a clear absurdity, and you prove that the whole perverted faculty model of argument fails.

      Well, it probably wouldn't anyway, but in order to get off the ground, you have to actually HAVE one such perverted faculty argument that the Church makes. Walter, it is ONLY YOU who thinks there is a perverted faculty argument to be made for breathing air for respiration alone, not the Catholic Church, so your approach doesn't work with this.

      @Walter, have you read Dr. Feser's paper on the perverted faculty argument?

      Kyle, I am fairly confident Walter has read some of Feser's points on perverted faculties (even if not that specific post). He has a habit of interpreting Catholic teachings in an extreme way, a way that exceeds what any Catholic would say, and try to use those extreme theses to make an argument to reject Catholic teaching. It is one form of the "straw man" fallacy.

      But in any case, the perverted faculty argument takes in a situation where the proposed action DEFEATS the purpose. In smoking, the smoker does in fact take in oxygen, along with other stuff, and the smoke does not simply defeat respiration. In addition, is simply is NOT true that breathing is for one thing only, and Walter's assertions to the contrary are not supported by the facts or argument.

    32. Kyle

      Yes, I have read it.


      No, I would not have you believe that drawing in breath to administer CPR to another, or to blow up a balloon, or to smell a perfume, or to become anesthetized, or to blow out candles, are all intrinsically disordered, as perversions of the faculty of breathing.
      In order for something to count as a perversion, it must actively frustrate the natural end of the breathing faculty, which is breathing. Non of the things you mention prevents the breathing of air, except, maybe, becoming anesthetized, which is a medical procedure that is sometimes necessary.
      "Breathing" helium to sound like a duck, however, does prevent the breathing faculties function of taking in the substances needed for the body to function. And so does smoking. Although you do in fact take in oxygen while smoking, the deliberate inhaling of toxic substances is definitely not one of the things breathing is meant for.
      It's not about using a faculty that has multiple uses, it's about using a faculty for something that it is absolutely not its use.

    33. Tony

      "As far as I can surmise, Walter is doing this in order to achieve a kind of reductio proof against ALL of the Catholic teachings based on perverted faculty arguments: prove that even ONE perverted faculty thesis results in a clear absurdity, and you prove that the whole perverted faculty model of argument fails."

      No, that is not what i am trying to do. I am not concerned with any Catholic teaching, I am only concerned with consistent logic.
      And a logic that fails to see that using a faculty for something it is definitely not its natural use and which is really harmful, is wrong while at the same time claiming that using a faculty for something that is a least part of its function (e.g. pleasure) while it causes no harm whatsoever is morally wrong, is not an example of consistent logic.

    34. And a logic that fails to see that using a faculty for something it is definitely not its natural use and which is really harmful, is wrong

      As long as the use is not opposed to its natural purpose, why is it wrong? If it's wrong because it is harmful, then the use being outside of the natural object of the faculty is beside the point.

    35. Smoking and breathing helium are opposed to the natural function of the breathing faculty because they prevent the breathing faculty from doing what it's supposed to do, and namely, taking in substances the body needs, and on top of that, they actively destroy part of the faculty.

  17. Dr Feser
    You have railed about cancel culture on the Left. Tomorrow (Wed) the Right (the Republican Party), will cancel a stalwart conservative, Rep.Liz Cheney, because she will not support Trump's Big Lie that the election was stolen. What say you about that?

    1. "Cancelling" is not just punishing or criticizing people because they don't meet some standard of behavior.

      The issue with "cancel culture" is that the left cancels people that are not really guilty of the things they are being accused of.

      There is also an element of the disproportional nature of left-wing "cancellations." Anything from mild and jokes to calm, rational resistance to PC doctrines gets met with calls to fire the person, smearing, libeling, defaming, doxxing, and so on.

      I don't know anything about Liz Cheney or what she believes regarding the election, or what Republicans are threatening to do if she breaks from the party line. But I think if it's based on an honest assessment of her "guilt" and the reaction is proportional, then I think the most you could say is that the standard they are holding people to (the standard of believing the election is stolen) is a stupid standard. But IMO it wouldn't rise to the level of "cancelling".

    2. JMM
      If u don't know what the Repubs DID to Rep. Cheney u are not well informed. And cancel culture is very much practiced by the Right. Google "16 things conservatives tried to cancel."

    3. They aren't pushing her out for refusing to support Trump's big lie. They are pushing her out because Trump left 4 months ago, and yet its still all she cares about.

      The GOP are currently focused on challenging the bad and silly actions of Biden and the Democrats in congress, and all Cheney wants to do is talk about Trump. The GOP have moved past Trump. Who among them is saying anything substantial about the big lie? None (except maybe Taylor Greene), they don't care, they want to move on and focus on the current political situations. The big lie a massive distraction they don't want to give any air.

    4. Billy,

      "The GOP have moved past Trump."

      Well, maybe. Have his supporters? I'm in a blue state (due mainly to a big city I won't name) but live in a rural red area. I still mainly see cheerleading for the guy and see 'Trump 2024' signs. I'm mystified by this personality cult but maybe it will have abated by then....

    5. Billy
      You are wrong about Cheney's removal.On May 3, Trump said" The Fraudulent Presidential election of 2020 will from this day be known as the Big Lie."

      The same day Cheney tweeted "The 2020 election was not stolen.Anyone who says that it was is spreading the Big Lie."

      On May 5 Trump called Cheney a "Warmongering fool" and called for Rep.Stefanik to replace her as House Republican Conference Chair.

      So to please Trump and the 70% of Republicans who believe the Big Lie, Leader McCarthy had her removed. Cheney has something Trump will never have: honor and integrity.

    6. Anon,

      You just proved my point. Cheney, instead of focusing on Biden and the Dems and the political events of the present, is still talking about Trump, which is just a distraction. She clearly has more interest in talking about Trump than what is currently affecting the lives of Americans. If she had integrity and honor, she wouldn't even be talking about the big lie.

      If the GOP cared so much about pleasing Trump, why are they not pushing the big lie? Instead they are just ignoring it and focusing on the issues facing Americans right now. Your story simply doesn't add up.

  18. Cantus,

    It's not about science, it's about moralistic dumbasses claiming their cognitive and political superiority. CDC did a major analysis of about a dozen studies from all over the world and reported on May 26, 2020 that "masks are insignificant" in preventing the spread of Covid specifically and influenza generally. The only way to prevent breathing other people's exhalation is a full-blown $200 hazmat hood with a ventilator that has filtering far beyond N97 specs.

    And at first, masks were said to be racist. Then Trump was nonchalant about the issue, so suddenly masks were "science".

    Have someone who smokes do a video of them taking a puff, then sliding on a mask, then exhaling while shouting "Follow the science! Wearing masks will save us from the Nazis and Fascists! This is scientific proof!"

  19. It was far, far worse than the "“biggest public health mistake we've ever made.” It was - and remains ongoing - the greatest single collective crime against humanity ever perpetrated.

    Every politician, public health official, influential "private" citizen like Gates, Big Pharma execs, etc., responsible for everything that has been inflicted on the world for the past 14 months and counting should be imprisoned, tried for crimes against humanity, and then marched to the nearest scaffold.

    1. DLW:

      The current silences are coded.

      But because the courts too are compromised, there won't be any trials. That's a pipe dream by very sincere but unaware white hats.

      The whole situation is headed for a mix of direct non-organizational blockchain-cooirdinated takeouts of wit progz, then elites (because the blackpills want to see them freak out along the way) plus Jim Bell AP-style lotteries (the real reason Bitcoin is controversial, which no one dares talk about). It'll be messy at first.

      But msm/socialmedia left-right rhetoric is just naive retail BS. All chatter of consequence is now on unassigned radio/tv/sw/sat/cell frequencies, via irc, exit/urbit, etc.

      The political conversation has been over for more than a year.

    2. DLW
      "Marched to the nearest scaffold!" Like the scaffold that was erected at the Capitol riot? Really? Are you publicly threatening Bill Gates with violence? That's a crime, you know. IP addresses from a blog can be traced.

  20. I have been reading the comment threads from several years ago, and although there were fewer comments on average back then , the quality was far superior. Now bickering, obscenity and rancour seems the norm. It is just not the same anymore, but has taken a definite turn for the worse so visiting here can be unpleasant. Why is this, and can anything be done about it?

    1. The general political climate probably has some effect. But the largest part, I imagine, is that some people come here to an A/T discussion board and act as if it's their special mission in life to show everyone how dumb A/T philosophy, and Feser, are. They think they are the Apostles to the stupid people.

      To add to the irony, most of them have never read or seriously considered the points on which they pontificate, and they could certainly never consider that the people who come here to read A/T issues don't care about the opinions of trolls who incessantly want to turn every issue to their pet concern.

      That and one of the people using "anonymous" is 12 years old and thinks that fighting with Mr Geocon is a cool way to spend time.

    2. I have noticed that despite Dr Feser's repeated pleas not to, many people repeatedly 'feed' those they accuse of being trolls, or 'bite' to their provacations, or even launch provacations of their own. As Blogspot does not allow for the banning of contributors and Dr Feser does not have the time or inclination to properly moderate , the only way this blog is going to be cleaned up is if regulars display more self control and reign in those who do not.

    3. Hear, hear! This Unknown deserves a medal - and, I might argue, a name other than Unknown. As well, let's pin a medal on the Professor's chest too for his sound advice: don't feed the trolls. I've been guilty of it myself. Feeding them, fighting them, it gives one a kind of a high. But getting high isn't the point of any of this.

      And T N makes a good point too. I'd add that a lot of people have TDS, and I guess a good number the opposite disorder - although I haven't seen the latter in my part of the world. That's made almost any public activity, nevermind public discourse, a real PITA. You know, you could say, "I like pizza," and the next thing you know, Madame Guillotine. Half the folks hate pizza because the tomato sauce can look orange and the other half love it and think you're some kind of hamburger gatekeeper.

    4. "the quality was far superior."

      Mainly because people like you were not here. You are one of said trolls

    5. FM
      The quality was superior because vermin like DLW didn't post here years ago.

    6. Anonymous 10.16PM

      Who is DLW?

    7. Anonymous

      In reply to myself above , I see that DLW posted just a few comments ago at the head of the previous comments thread of 10.53AM. I can see why you called him vermin - I just took him to be completely unhinged with such a ludicrous post. Is he usually so unmeasured and extreme?


    "imagine a doctrine of original sin so potent that your own lack of grace not only pollutes you but all those with whom you come in contact.

    "imagine that this sin is so ingrained into you that even those washed of it, contrite, and granted absolution can STILL never be free of it. it will haunt their lives and dreams forevermore and sustain itself as the driving factor of their place in and relation to society.

    "if this sounds like a sect you are keen to join, then look no further, the branch covidians are still accepting new members!"

    1. No shortage of members. Seriously, despite annoying us no end over this, the lefties have managed to acquire serious mental health issues over this. Notice how they they just can't psychologically accept moving out of lockdown mode? They want to continue their professional lives via zoom indefinitely (witness their scary, crazy visages staring wildly out of screens?). They really have come to believe their own line and that's bad for them. I think they're coming out of this more fragile and disfunctional than the rest of the population. In Mediterranean countries they're fighting a losing battle against the masses who want to have fun and haven't forgotten how. A little secret for dealing with the femo-nazi control freaks: laugh at them. It kills them.


      The link shows the official total (all-causes) death rate numbers from Sweden from 1968-2020 by age group. Sweden was well and truly vilified for doing basically nothing about covid-19. The plot also shows the percent change in total death rates in 2020 vs. the 2000-2019 mean. Note the 90+ age group is the only age group with a slightly higher death rate in 2020 vs. the 2000-2019 mean. I use all-causes death rate data because covid-19 specific data are not trustworthy.

      This virus does kill but the vast majority of reactions by government/media (and about half the population who are actually loving these overreactions) across the world are grossly (and damagingly) disproportionate to the lethality of the disease.

  22. IMHO, the culture war against masks and vaccines is the DUMBEST culture war ever. It is a tiny sacrifice, like wearing a seatbelt, that could have tremendous positive impact. But because Conservatives decided to make this a culture war, it moved from common sense, to common contempt. Emphasizing health is not the same as emphasizing ONLY health.

    Also, if the author defines "pro-life" to exclude "pro-health", then "pro-life" simply means "pro-birth".

    1. It's a bit like wearing a seat belt, true; just over your face instead of your waist. And, instead of while you're driving, while your sitting in a chair at home. - Simon James

    2. Masks were never required in one's home.

  23. Hey, Ed: Google Chrome is labeling this blog post a "deceptive site." You might want to take a look at that.

  24. Google Chrome is correct. It should be de-platformed.

    1. There should certainly be a warning about it, explaining that although it is the blog of an apparently respectable minor professor, it is in fact a proaganda site for highly contentious and widely rejected beliefs, which if implemented, would severely constrain the freedoms of ordinary people. It is also the playground of numerous extreme right wing nutjobs and extremists.

    2. It’s so nice to see people openly rejecting freedom of speech.

  25. From WCB

    One would hope that the problem with systematic racism would get some attention from modern day theologians and philosophers.


  26. The vaccine is the mark of the beast and I ain't taking it. Its all about Bill Gates and Fauci wanting to tag you so they can later bag you.


    Zoom Meetings as Cause of Lockdowns.

    It all was social justice from the beginning...