RE: Extremism

From: Joe Dees (
Date: Mon Jan 08 2001 - 15:13:02 MST

('binary' encoding is not supported, stored as-is) >From: "Jerry Mitchell" <>
>To: <>
>Subject: RE: Extremism
>Date: Sun, 7 Jan 2001 15:18:53 -0500
>Harvey wrote:
> >My take on "extremism" is that extremists try to go as far as possible in
>one direction or the other. I think the real answer is always somewhere in
>the middle.
>Maybe I have this wrong, but are we suggesting that the guiding principle
>for making decisions is to be its placement on the scale of popular beliefs?
>Why not base your decisions on your rational analysis of the facts? Yes you
>might come to a position that many people may not hold, but you will have
>been honest with yourself and not compromised your opinions for the sake of
>being "non-combative" i.e. You want to figure out whether the 2nd amendment
>is morally sound? Well read it, then read the federalist papers, then read
>anything about it written by the authors (and anyone else) about why it is
>there. Then come to a conclusion and stand by it. I can understand why this
>angle may seem combative to majority of people, only because most people
>suffer from the lack of self esteem to trust their own decisions so they go
>for the nice gooey safe middle.
Should the right to keep and bear arms be infringed for children? For convicted violent criminals? For the clinically incompetent or insane? People who are not extremists believe so. Should there be background checks for gun purchases at gun shops, flea markets, pawn shops and gun shows in order to enforce such a prohibition? Most people who are not extremist believe so. Should people have a cap of, say, twelve a month on gun purchases? Most moderates believe so.
> >The fact of the matter is that any position can be taken to unreasonable
>I don't think the correct and "right" solution is to go too far. I can't
>imagine an engineer thinking like this when building a product. Like him
>saying "Steel is the hardest material we can build this bridge out of and
>Jell-O is the softest, lets find something in the middle to use". Just as
>the engineer building a product used the right material, a judge or lawyer
>should use the right law to build a correct objective moral system (the
>alternative is a system based on the whims of the masses).
>An extreme enginneer would build every bridge out of titanium; of course, mant bridges could not be built, due to lack of materials. Sometimes the majority is wrong (in the case of the Jim Crow south, for example), and sometimes they are right (in the case of contraceptive choice). Not evey consensus position is a whim. And morals are based upon ethics, which are values, and therefore subjective, not objective; the most we can hope for is an intersubjective consensus concerning them (ethics - the theory of what is good, right and fair) plus aesthetics (the theory of what is beauriful) comprise axiology, the theory of values).
> >It confuses them when they push for their solution and suddenly they go too
>Who decides what is too far?
WE do, when the stand cannot be practically implemented without deleterious effects to the society at large that violate the utilitarian principle (the greatest good for the greatest number).
> >They become disoriented when someone allows their solution to be applied
>"hypothetically" in all cases, to the point they start running into
>Applying the solution to all cases is starting to sound like the concept
>"principle". Yes, I think we can apply principles to many vast areas and
>must do so. They are not to be taken without context though, like killing
>someone that is breaking into your house with the intent of killing you and
>your family would be considered morally acceptable.
What does that have to do with the right of a five year old to pack a pistol in the playground? Or of a convicted murder to pack in prison? Or of a violent scizophrenic to pack in an asylum? That's what 'shall not be infringed' means, if taken to the EXTREME, which entails an absolute lack of contextual considerations, which extremists are forbidden to take into account.
> >As a self-test, I would argue that anybody who agrees with one side of an
>issue all the time is an extremist.
>I think the killing of innocent people is morally wrong 100% of the time
>(which is different then saying I wouldn't do it. i.e. WWII was brought to a
>quick ending in the Pacific with the use of the nuclear bomb. It was morally
>wrong to kill those people, but in the context of the war, more innocent
>people would have died if it wasn't done). So context is key here.
This follows the utilitarian principle that there was a net SAVING of life; thus it would have been immoral not to do so, if it is indeed true that it would have saved lives, and since the alternative is the road not taken, we can never be sure - just hope that it was the right decision.
> >No group is right 100% of the time.
>Is that statement correct 100% of the time? If so, then you just
>contradicted yourself ;P
He didn't say that no STATEMENT was right 100% of the time; you cannot invalidate A by showing B to be a self-contradiction - that is known in logic as a category error, or a lack of distributed middle. Is not 1 + 1 always 2? But humans are not infallible, even (in fact especially) in groups.
>Jerry Mitchell
>P.S. to board owner, can you write me and tell me why I am considered a
>non-member because I do get the list in email so I must be a member of it or
>is something else meant by non-member?

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