Friday, 14 September 2007

Ayn Rand

Here is a New York Times story about the influence of Ayn Rand (1905-1982), who continues to scare the dickens out of moral philosophers. They can’t refute her, so they disparage her.

A. P. Martinich on Hobbes’s Compatibilism

Hobbes thinks that the doctrine of free will is not only false but incoherent. Many proponents of free will think that if people are free, then they do not act with necessity. Hobbes disagrees. Freedom and necessity are compatible. Hobbes was simply giving a philosophical defense of the Christian view championed by Calvin, who wrote in the Institutes: “we posited a distinction between compulsion and necessity from which it appears that man, while he sins of necessity, yet sins no less voluntarily.” Hobbes wrote, “It may be his Lordship thinks it all one to say, ‘I was free to write it’, and, ‘It was not necessary I should write it’. But I think otherwise.” According to Hobbes, a person is free to do something if she can do it if she wants to and free not to do something if she can choose not [to] do it if she does not want to. Yet if she does it, then the antecedent circumstances were such that it was necessary that she would want to do it; and if she does not do it, then the antecedent circumstances were such that it was necessary that she would not want to do it.

(A. P. Martinich, Hobbes: A Biography [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999], 198 [italics in original; endnotes omitted])

From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

America’s Guardian Myths,” by Susan Faludi (Op-Ed, Sept. 7), is very insightful. For a very brief time after 9/11 we North Americans had a chance to learn from our pain. One of its lessons might have been how much we are like others in our vulnerability, our suffering and our flawed leadership.

Since we were getting a flood of messages of sympathy and solidarity from around the world, we might have learned from them how to turn pain into compassion and wisdom. Then we could have begun to address the causes of the miseries that lead to terrorism.

We could have seen that terrorism is not simply born of evil but comes from histories of inferiority and the consequent desire for revenge. The way to counter terrorism is to advocate not for our own brand of “democracy” but for the just distribution of the world’s resources.

Instead, we used 9/11 to bolster our own feelings of “us versus them,” our illusory dream of invulnerability and our search for enemies rather than friends. This mentality, a blend of machismo and militarism, has given us bloody Iraq, tempts us to nuke Iran and requires us to look under every rock for dangerous foes.

Given this mentality, we will find them.

Tom F. Driver
Sheffield, Mass., Sept. 7, 2007
The writer is emeritus professor of theology and culture, Union Theological Seminary.

Note from KBJ: So that’s it! Terrorism is caused by (1) miseries, (2) histories of inferiority, (3) the desire for revenge, and (4) unjust distribution of the world’s resources. And all this time I thought it was caused by evil people.


Would the editorial board of the New York Times have written this editorial opinion if the rejected candidate had been a conservative, such as Robert P. George or Rick Garnett?


Here is Peggy Noonan’s latest column. Here is Peg Kaplan’s latest (okay, next to latest) post.

Best of the Web Today


Yankee Watch

The New York Yankees play the Boston Red Sox (in Fenway Park) in 55 minutes. I can’t wait to watch it on ESPN in high definition (on my Dell 42-inch plasma television). Enjoy the game, Yankee fans. Your team must sweep the Red Sox this weekend to have any chance of winning the East Division title. That gagging sound you hear is Alex Rodriguez choking.

A Year Ago