Saturday, 2 June 2007


Here is a scene from today’s penultimate stage of the Giro d’Italia, won by Italian Paolo Savoldelli, who averaged 30.63 miles per hour on the rain-slicked 26.7-mile course.

H. A. Prichard (1871-1947) on Moral Conflicts

[W]here obligations conflict, the decision of what we ought to do turns not on the question “Which of the alternative courses of action will originate the greater good?” but on the question “Which is the greater obligation?”

(H. A. Prichard, “Does Moral Philosophy Rest on a Mistake?” Mind, n.s., 21 [January 1912]: 21-37, at 30 n. 1)


John Rawls (1921-2002) was one of the greatest political philosophers of the 20th century, but he was notoriously aloof from public affairs. Read this passage from one of his late works and apply it to the invasion of Iraq. Progressives who opposed the invasion but admire Rawls might want to do some additional thinking on the matter.

From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

Your May 31 editorial “Injustice 5, Justice 4” is correct. The Supreme Court’s Ledbetter v. Goodyear opinion flies in the face of precedent and clear Congressional intent to reduce discrimination by facilitating employees’ civil suits, while it fails to recognize the pragmatic realities of the modern workplace.

Thus, Congress must expeditiously pass legislation that corrects this opinion and restores workers’ rights.

Carl Tobias
Richmond, Va., May 31, 2007
The writer is a professor of law at the University of Richmond.

Note from KBJ: The letter writer makes three criticisms of the Supreme Court ruling. First, he says that it “flies in the face of precedent.” As he knows, the principle of respect for precedent has significantly less weight for the Supreme Court than it does for lower courts. Did he complain when the Court overruled Bowers v. Hardwick? Second, he says that it “flies in the face of . . . clear Congressional intent.” If Congress thinks its intent was frustrated, it can amend the statute. Indeed, the letter writer advocates just that. Third, he says that it “fails to recognize the pragmatic realities of the modern workplace.” Recognizing “pragmatic realities” is not the job of a judge; it is the job of a legislator.

A Year Ago