[lit-ideas] Re: The Rise & Fall of Somalia's Islamic Courts: An Online History (The Fourth Rail)

  • From: "Mike Geary" <atlas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Fri, 5 Jan 2007 19:31:49 -0600

 I believe the Moral-Equivalence concept originated on the Left during the Cold 

I don't think so.  It's at least as old as Jesus: "Let he who is without sin 
cast the first stone."   "Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine 
own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy 
brother's eye." (Matthew 7:5)  

  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Lawrence Helm 
  To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx 
  Sent: Friday, January 05, 2007 7:07 PM
  Subject: [lit-ideas] Re: The Rise & Fall of Somalia's Islamic Courts: An 
Online History (The Fourth Rail)



  You might be annoyed that I didn't find your expressions self-authenticating 
but 'tis the nature of dialogue, sir.  We are never ever understood as well as 
we think we ought to be.    


  See, here is dialogue at work:  You don't understand that "assumption" is one 
of the synonyms for "premise," and I am happy to explain that to you.   
Sometimes in such discussions I also use the words "presupposition" or 
"presumption" depending upon the context. 


  "Logical Assumption" is a common term.  Perhaps it isn't as precise as others 
terms we might use.  It is the antithesis of "Fallacious assumption."  It means 
an assumption in a Logical argument.  The Moral Equivalent adherents have not 
produced "Logical assumptions" - they have not produced premises to support 
their conclusions about Moral Equivalence - they have not produced an argument 
in which there are premises or assumptions of such a nature as to demand their 
"Moral-Equivalence" conclusions.  


  The argument you present as being in defense of Moral Equivalence doesn't 
serve the current purpose.  I discussed something close to that some time ago 
in regard to the idea of the "enemy."  Namely, that since the Militant Islamics 
have a set of arguments that demand that they kill infidels.  And we have a set 
of arguments that demand that we defend ourselves against people trying to kill 
us.  There is no point in wasting time over trying to make these arguments 
mesh.  We should simply understand that the people trying to kill us are 
"enemies."  Even though equivalent arguments can be produced, those wishing to 
kill us are not the same as us and we are not the same as them.  This doesn't 
mean that we are neutralized and prevented from acting in accordance with our 
own prnciples because we can't make the arguments meld.  We have a set of 
standards that they violate.  It is wrong from our perspective for them to kill 
us.  It is quite right in accordance with our standards that we should defend 
ourselves against those trying to kill us.  The fact that those trying to kill 
us have equivalent believes ought not to confuse us.  We are mutual enemies.  
We shall be trying to kill each other off and on for years to come.  We should 
understand that.


  So you intended an attack on me in your original note.  Well, I missed that 
as well.  I'm afraid your comments haven't dissuaded me from the belief that 
those advancing "Moral Equivalence" schemes are deficient in an understanding 
of logical argument.  The ME adherents believed there was no moral difference 
between the Communists and those fighting the Communists.  They were the same 
morally.  There was no right or wrong in this because the Communists thought 
they were right and so did the West.  I have no problem with part of this 
concept for it is certainly true that the Communists and the West both thought 
they were right, just as it is presently true that Militant Islamics and 
Westerners both think they are right.  But a difficulty arises when someone 
uses Moral Equivalence to imply that it is immoral of us to operate in 
accordance with our own standards.  I don't believe they can demonstrate this 







  -----Original Message-----
  From: lit-ideas-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:lit-ideas-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] 
On Behalf Of Phil Enns
  Sent: Friday, January 05, 2007 3:09 PM
  To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  Subject: [lit-ideas] Re: The Rise & Fall of Somalia's Islamic Courts: An 
Online History (The Fourth Rail)


  Lawrence Helm wrote:


  "I don't understand the significance of your saying 'this is not even close

  to what I wrote'.  I was interested in 'application' not 'duplication'.

  What I wrote was my understanding of what you wrote applied to the matter of

  'Moral Equivalence'."


  You were discussing my so-called theory.  I pointed out that your discussion

  of what I was saying did not remotely resemble what I said.  You may be

  interested in 'application', but I am interested in accurate attribution.  I

  don't mind being wrong, but I do mind when claims that I would never make

  are attributed to me.



  Lawrence continues:


  "In regard to my present confusion, you say you don't know what a 'logical

  assumption' is.  I'll take that at face value although I find it surprising.

  It is necessary to have at least two assumptions in any argument - two

  assumptions and a conclusion, we could also describe this as a major and

  minor premise and a conclusion.  The assumptions or premises don't

  necessarily have to be stated they can be realized by the reader if the

  writer is clear enough."


  So, you have described the structure of a syllogism, which contains two

  premises (not assumptions!) and a conclusion.  I am still waiting for a

  description of a 'logical assumption'.



  Lawrence continues:


  "Since no believers in 'Moral Equivalence' have thus far produced a logical

  argument I produced one for them."


  Here is one that has been given on this list, but not in this form, by a

  variety of people on various occasions.


  Major Premise: All judgments regarding what is right and wrong proceed from

  one's social and cultural context.

  Minor Premise: The application of the label 'terrorist' is a judgment.

  Conclusion: The application of the label 'terrorist' proceeds from one's

  social and cultural context.



  Lawrence again:


  "An argument is either logical or illogical.  There is no third choice."


  Apparently there is something called a 'logical assumption'.




  Lawrence concludes:


  "Are your statements aimed at those who use the Moral Equivalence argument?

  Are you telling them that Eric isn't morally wrong because Eric was raised

  to believe it morally right to defend oneself and one's nation?"


  My comments were aimed at you for suggesting that the inability to

  distinguish between terrorist and someone fighting terrorism was the

  consequence of a faulty education in logic.





  Phil Enns

  Glen Haven, NS

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