“The Illusion of Democracy”

By JC

Via the Turley Blog:

“For those long unhappy with the Democratic leadership, it was a telling symbolic moment. Once again, it appeared that Democratic voters (even delegates representing the most loyal activists) are given only the appearance of participation in their party. For years, Democratic leaders lied to their members about their knowledge and even support for Bush’s torture program and surveillance policies until it was revealed that key Democrats were briefed on the programs. The party leadership then worked with Bush to scuttle any effort to investigate torture and other alleged crimes to avoid implicating key Democratic members. Likewise, while the majority of Democratic voters opposed the continuation of the wars, the Democratic party leaders blocked efforts to force a pull out under both Obama and Bush. These controversies were seen by many that the Democratic Party is primarily run to ensure the continuation of a small number of leaders in power with voters treated as ignorant minions. It was a particularly poignant moment in an uncontested convention after Democratic voters were not given any alternative to Obama.

The image of the chair just ignoring the obvious opposition from the floor of the conventional symbolized this long simmering tension. For full disclosure, I have long been a critic of both parties and have argued for changes to break the monopoly on power by the two parties. It is really not the merits of these two changes that is most bothersome. Arguments can be made on both side of such issues. It is the disregard of the views of the members and the dishonesty in how the matter was handled. The illusion of democracy was all that the leaders wanted in the vote.

Notably, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa seemed to be ready to acknowledge that the delegates clearly rejected the change on the first vote. He then insisted on a second vote and it got worse. He seemed about to admit the failure of the motion and then called for a third vote which sounded even more lopsided (with not just a failure to get two-thirds but even a majority). Yet, he declared the motion passed to the boos and jeers of the delegates.

In creating the illusion of democratic voting, the delegates might have just as well bleated like sheep in protest. It did not matter. The message was clear that the delegates are just a backdrop to be used by party leaders to celebrate their reign.”

This one clip underscores why I have paid no attention to the conventions this year. Sadly, it all is just a meaningless show. Want to see a real platform that all democrats and left of center indies could support? Check it out.


  1. steve kelly

    More evidence that Obama or Romney will effectively (and proudly) serve out Reagan’s 9th term as President — posthumously, of course. Was Jimmy Carter even invited this year?

    • Carter started out the Democratic Convention. ANd Obama wanted those platform choices…. so what? Barry wants to run on the Party Platform. Unlike Mitt who picks and chooses what he will follow with his supposedly.

      And Madeleine Albright said the Jerusalem city conversation, was always in the negotiations with Palestines since the very beginning last night on the Convention floor with Lawrence McDonald.

      This is to me kinda the reason, we are always fighting among ourselves. A lot of us have no HIstorical context from which to draw from before opening our mouths, Carter was the first president, I voted for, and though I am not a deeply religious person( science based), I can agree that alot of people in our nation need, god for whatever reason they speak too, in their lives. Knocking Democratic Christians who believe in the true teachings of their God, not the corporate spin from Nutcases is just not helping our cooperation efforts for moving forward.

      There is a reason we have a big tent in the democratic party, because no where in the constitution did our founding fathers take away the rights to religion either. they just tried to keep it out of government. Separate it from social norms. ….

      Political Parties are not Governments. Even though the GOP, is trying to shove their Religious platform down our throat, and make no seperation of church and state. Now thats an Issue we can argue.

      It was, an unintentional “technical omission,” stop throwing the party on the defensive for shit that has been a part of the negotiations of Israel/ Palestine Conflict for years.

      “If the narrative being presented on your station … is the Democrats are godless people, they ought to know better,” Sen. Dick Durbin (D) of Illinois said about Fox News.

      That’s exactly the point: Republicans have exploited the image of Democrats as “godless” for decades – We aren’t.

      I really don’t give a damn who is and who isn’t religious…. I give a damn that everyone is included in Fairness, Equality and justice. The American dream belongs to the Middle class not the very RIch.

      Just because someone might be atheist in our party, shouldn’t give anyone pause, any more then a woman or a gay does. Just as long as we treat everyone with justice and equality.

      Your making a tempest in a teapot – after all, who reads party platforms, anyway? Dont make it a big, fat gift to the right-wing blogosphere who isn’t interested in reality.

      For Gods sake make the argument about the issues, not Petty differences in Religious doctrine, or the lack of it. We have more important fights then this for Montana.

      • JC

        Norma, the issue in the vote taken at the DNC was over Jerusalem being recognized as the capital of Israel. The delegates voted against it, but the plank was adopted anyways.

        I don’t know about you, but I think the issue of America’s foreign policy in regards to the middle east, Israel and Palestine is important. And given that the party rulers are willing to ignore the will of the delegates, of what use is a national convention particularly when there is no contest for the nomination?

        A platform is all about issues. But it seems that the issues are more a reflection of the few, than of the “big tent.” It is just that this time the emperor wore no clothes.

        • I feel ya JC but the argument is overblown and here my proof. Not a national Newspaper in the USA really talked about the story http://www.newseum.org/todaysfrontpages/default.asp

          September 6th papers just don’t give a rats ass about it!

          See making a mountain out of a mole hill doesn’t mean that its news

          • lizard19

            it’s symbolic, and if you followed foreign policy you’d know the motivation behind these undemocratic actions were in support of that belligerent mideast client state lusting to drag us into WWIII.

            • Yes and if that was the case we would be in that conflict already, further then peace negotiations and training with both countries. but you see I believe all sides want peace…. there just hasn’t been the courage and guts to do that. Trust me, We and other nations wont allow israel to destroy a People( Palestine) and those same people have evolved enough not to want it either. It is the fringe elements on either side that keep this conflict up.

              When they finally close those religious books in front of them and deal in the now, they will have peace. Thats something you and I cant do. And a lot of presidents have tried since the 67 war.

              This is something they might figure out in our lifetime, if the last bastions of dictatorships falls, and that is Iran and Syria.

              • lizard19

                calling Iran a dictatorship is very ignorant.

                and if you think Israel wants peace, then you must not be paying attention.

  2. Dave Budge

    This is actually why I watch the conventions. Earlier in the day some delegates were ridiculing the GOP for not seating Ron Paul delegates last week. It struck me as really odd since the GOP doesn’t have the Dems House of Lords super-delegate system. Because, you know, nothing says democracy like a permanent political class structure.

    But we’re not in any classical sense a democracy in the first place. But to some that’s not a bug it’s a feature (including most of the founders.)

    • JC

      Yep, “super delegates.” Forgot all about that crash course we all had in “a permanent political class structure” at the end of the Obama-Clinton primary battle. And nice to know that the GOP still is as repressive as ever.

      As to a debate about democracy, that’s not the point of this post. Let’s save that for another day. Suffice it to say that Turley’s reference to “the illusion of democracy” resonates with many of us. Him being such an ardent civil libertarian, I thought maybe you’d appreciate his take.

      As to watching the conventions, I don’t have tv, and my internet is too spotty to stream, so I have to put up with a few interesting clips pointed out to me.

      • Dave Budge

        I actually do appreciate his take. Very much. I was really trying (I guess failing) to show is how both parties are ruled by party elites. That’s all.

        • JC

          I guess on this we agree. Awesome…

        • Dave Budge

          Well yes… except for the Green Party thing at the end. ;)

  3. lizard19

    FUCK ME GENTLY WITH A CHAINSAW

    in the Bank of America stadium
    from a gutless projection of podium
    rolling on sound wave ka-ching
    sing inspiring surrogates of power
    hoping if they hold on long enough
    they can somehow steer us clear from
    the drop

    fucking stop!

    in the world beyond our borders
    I’m sure the corpses are worth it
    no biggie, just a peppering of drone strikes—
    and just a few dead US citizens
    you know that shit they say about omelets?
    every once in a while you drop
    a few eggs

    I hear the US tortured worse than Gaddafi
    I hear CNN bows in deference to Bahrain
    I hear fellatio of AIPAC is a political necessity
    because they know how to make it rain

    I hear the Honduran government is doing well
    killing pregnant women from a helicopter by mistake
    as DEA agents rode along
    and the coup in Paraguay came off great!

    shit, I gotta get with the program
    because it’s all about the middle class
    primetime tonight will be an inspiring sight
    they pray will last…to November

  4. I didn’t watch the convention JC – I was watching the football game – but after reading your post I looked at the clip.

    I don’t think this’ll get any press, because I don’t think hardly anybody was watching.

  5. This fiasco was broadcast in the first few minutes of CBS news this morning. Pretty awkward moment for the Democrats, but basically shows what happens when the chairman understands the political connotations of a decision, and was trying to save them from letting out the parties true beliefs. Yup, godless. I am pretty sure this is a big enough gaff that the democrats will lose many voters on this. Most Americans believe in God. Pretty much everybody except the radical left believes that Jerusalem is the capital Israel. Any party that wants to hold a majority of voters knows this. But then in our modern “democracy” a majority doesn’t mean anything anymore. That is why the opinion of the chairman was all that counted. Chairman Mao, chairman Stalin, chairman….

    Hopefully all those democrats who realize what is happening to the Democratic party will all vote for the Green Party. That will fix it! Get real.

    • lizard19

      oh Rev, don’t assume godless. try gods. try the gnostics who thought the god who claimed to be the only one yet forbade worshipping others was a liar.

      the only reason I even considered voting for Obama was because Romney is buddy buddy with Netanyahoo. I think Israel is the most dangerous player in geopolitics.

      I find the political necessity of groveling before AIPAC to be utterly disgusting.

      • No, godless. As in rejecting natural law theory. This is primarily expressed in the removal of all reference to God given human rights. American government has always recognized that our rights are not granted to us by government, but by transcendent natural law. We trust in God (expressed by your particular religion) because government cannot be trusted, because it is only a more perfect union, and not the perfect union, or solution to the all problems of man kind.

        If the nation is not under God, (once again according to your own freely chosen beliefs) then there is no freedom of conscience, and government will assume the power vacuum, and move toward oppression of individual freedoms, such as we see from the godless party which mandates to religious bodies that they must violate their own long standing values by requiring them to finance birth control. Separation of church and state only works one way for leftists.

        Under God=Natural Law, protection from tyranny.
        Godless=Government defines everything, and therefore controls. It becomes a false god.

        Many, many, many people understand this, and know what is really going on when someone desires to scour any reference to God in a party platform.

        • lizard19

          do you consider yourself a sovereign citizen, Rev?

          • Nope, just as far as conscience is concerned, but conscience shapes behavior and speech. I practice my religion.

            Here is a helpful related article.
            http://www.worldmag.com/2012/09/proclaiming_individual_religious_liberty

            • What a fucking loser: arouse your religious collective to raise enough money to have your head extracted from between your glutei; and, if you keep practicing, “Rev:” one day, maybe, you will emerge from behind the barricades you built around your soul.

        • The idea that the God is necessary for protection from tyranny, and that any Godless morality communicated by Government has is more likely to be tyrannical is just absurd…And contradictory to a significant amount of evidence,when the moral behavior of secular nations around the world is juxtaposed to nations “under god”..Though I suppose an objection to this would be the “which God” argument.

          Talking about “Natural Law” is simply a mysterious answer to a complicated question. It’s actually not an explanation at all. What the heck is this “natural law”? How can we detect it? Why don’t Christians, supposedly under the same god, identify the same “Natural Law”. Why have Christians been dead wrong on what “Natural Law” seem to be numerous times? Why is the “Natural Law” that is identified by a country, seemingly more dependent on Geography and cultural influences than a “trancendent natural law”. Why does the hypothesis of a “Natural Law” existing, seem less probable than the non-existence of a “Natural Law”. There are countless ways it could be made clearer that one exists, but it doesn’t pan out that way.

          The answer to all these questions is obvious.There is no transcendent law on which our morality or laws are based. Our Morality is part evolutionary psychology, part game theory,part cooperative self defence, part contract theory, part emotional satisfaction. And mostly based on a systematic declaration of our competing desires for ourselves and everyone. Notice the things I’m talking about actually exist. We know brains have evolved. We know that if large groups of people are going to achieve something together, than those groups of people need to agree on rules of behavior(contracts). We know that on the bell curve of human compassion, most of us fall under the larger portion of the curve and actually care about others, and so our desires will reflect that. We know all these things. But we have no idea what a “transcendent law” is. Or how it works, or how we detect it. On the background evidence, it is far more likely that our morality is derived not of a transcendent disembodied cosmic mind (something very complex and incoherent), but from things that actually exist, like our desires, our brains, and the fact that we need rules of behavior.

          Rev Gordish said, “Godless=Government defines everything, and therefore controls”.

          Uh, yeah. This is how society works. Governments made from individuals within a society oversee the organization and “rule making” for that society so that goals, collective and individual, can be achieved. I’m not saying these goals can’t come into conflict. It’s certainly not perfect. We can establish rules which we agree on, to limit tyranny, and we have. Whether they fall short or not is certainly not evidence toward this magical transcendent “thing” you propose. Evidence, of the empirical kind, would be nice.

          Cries of relativism don’t address the issue. OF COURSE our moral laws are relative to our desires. We came up with them. But they are far more collectively relative, than individually relative. We do after all, strive for democratic ideals.

          • Nice response. It would help your case if we knew who you were, and what your background is.

            You said, “But we have no idea what a “transcendent law” is. Or how it works, or how we detect it.”

            As far as our own government and nation is concerned, these transcendent laws are specifically enunciated in our foundational document, the Declaration of Independence. These transcendent universal rights derived from this law are attributed to the creator of all mankind. Democracy which breaks this social contract is overstepping its bounds and limits and the contract is broken and the government illegitimate. A new contract must be made, this of course is the nature of revolution, not democracy.

            Just as the Mayor of L.A. broke Roberts Rules of Order in ruling that God be mention in the Democratic Party platform. The entire Democratic platform is out of order with our social contract if it does not affirm that our rights are transcendent as opposed to the wax nose of the will of the majority. Which obviously they also rejected on the floor of their own party.

            There is my evidence. Now you justify the actions of the “democratic” Democratic Party. How do they fit your psychological theory of relativistic democratic ideals?

            We have come to a consensus and are actually born into, or immigrate into this consensus by being citizens of this country. If you break the contract you are a rebel, and not a democrat, or holding to democratic principles. Our government is therefore limited by universal principles. These rights and laws are transcendent to our government, even by democratic majority vote.

            • “It would help your case if we knew who you were, and what your background is.”

              I prefer to remain anonymous. Though having my real name accompany my words would add credibility to me as an individual, who I am or what my background is has no bearing whatsoever on the cogency of the arguments I presented.

              I pushed you to supply an explanation of what “Transcendent Law” actually is. You responded with, “These transcendent universal rights derived from this law are attributed to the creator of all mankind.” Attribution is certainly not an argument. Early on, the sun was attributed to be a god. It’s actually a gigantic nuclear furnace. Diseases were attributed to be demons. Then biology came along. The orbits of the planet and movement of the stars was attributed to the hand of God. Then Newtonian physics came along. The diversity of life and function of biological structures was attributed to a grand designer. Then we learned about alleles and evolution. The founders declared their deepest feelings, desires, and aspirations for how society should look and attributed it to a creator. Then evolutionary psychology, game theory, contract theory, and the history of societies was observed as a whole. We can explain the proclamations they came up with using a much more simple and plausible explanation.

              “Now you justify the actions of the “democratic” Democratic Party. How do they fit your psychological theory of relativistic democratic ideals?”

              I would prefer the word God be absent from any platform, as I see it an unnecessary and divisive addition. It’s not a battle I would pick and I can live with it if the other parts of the platform reflect my own interpretation of reality and desires. Of course a social contract can have statements about a God. That is in no way evidence though, that a God gave us the axioms for that contract. Good contracts around the world include God, and Good contracts around the world omit God. It really is irrelevant to the ontology of rights.

              “The entire Democratic platform is out of order with our social contract if it does not affirm that our rights are transcendent as opposed to the wax nose of the will of the majority.”

              This is just false. For the reasons in my earlier post. God need not be in the system for the system to exist. And again, what are these transcendent rights exactly? Not what have we found them to be. But what are they? What are they made of and how do we detect them? The Problem of Confusion comes into play here. If such a thing as objective transcendent rights did exist, why were the founders, supposedly drawing upon their knowledge of these rights, wrong on many of them? Why don’t all theistically driven Governments detect the same rights? Why don’t all those who believe in transcendental rights within the same religion detect the same rights. We would expect objective transcendent rights given to us by an omniscient, all good god to be clear. The fact that the “Transcendental Rights” that are supposedly detected(via mysterious means), are different based on Geography and Culture, is devastating evidence against the existence of such a thing. Using two competing hypothesis, one that assumes the rights we decide upon are cosmic in nature, and one that assumes they come from facts about humans we can observe. The latter comes out much more probable.

              “We have come to a consensus and are actually born into, or immigrate into this consensus by being citizens of this country. If you break the contract you are a rebel, and not a democrat, or holding to democratic principles. Our government is therefore limited by universal principles. These rights and laws are transcendent to our government, even by democratic majority vote.”

              I basically agree to the first two sentences of this statement. But I would edit the last two sentences. “Our Government is therefore limited by universal principles”. Is actually-Our Government is limited by principles we have agreed upon. (Again, this is something that actually happened.) Some of which are axioms the Government must adhere to , superceding all subsequent actions taken by Government.(Or something like that).

              Again, we needn’t attribute supernatural causes to our desires, goals, and the rules we agree upon for society and government, to explain where they came from.

              • I think we are far more in agreement than disagreement, but our point of difference is very important.

                I agree, it doesn’t matter whether God exists or not, but the words of the contract do matter, and those words have meaning. Weather those “self evident” truths were revealed by man’s consensus or divinely revealed doesn’t matter for my point.

                By attributing human rights to our creation, which is obviously not the will of the people, but of the divine, our Declaration protects us from the tyranny of the majority pertaining to those rights that were enumerated. No matter what the majority believes we cannot be robbed of liberty. If the majority comes to a consensus that the majority can remove the rights enumerated in our foundational document, that majority is not American, but revolutionary. They advocate a human tyranny, and abrogate the contract.

                The founders died for that contract, and shed their blood for our liberty. They didn’t do that because it was what the majority thought was right. They did it because they thought that it was universally right.

                You are obviously a radical materialist. I am obviously am a man of faith. But by sticking to the words of the contract it all works out. Saying that our rights are God given, and keeping “In God We Trust” on our coinage, and “under God” in our pledge express the very meaning of the contract.

                Whether you believe in the flying spaghetti monster or the Lord, Almighty, as long as you agree to keep your hands off the rights expressed in the contract all is well. When you turn it all upside down, and place the power in the majority who can vote those rights away then you are a revolutionary assuming power to the majority that will only lead to tyranny.

                Can you give me an example of such a free country that does not acknowledge God as the giver of human rights? (I’m hoping you say France!)

  6. Again, what the founders believed is irrelevant. Of course we would expect a mention of God in a society’s creation of ultimate laws when that society is mostly theistic.Human beings are largely religious animals, and have been since society was invented. That has nothing to do with the existence of transcendent “things” any more than a waning belief in theism worldwide in more educated countries has to do with the non-existence of a God. Does the inclusion of a certain God(or many Gods) make a declaration of transcendent rights any more legitimate?

    I am saying these “Transendental Rights”, do not exist.There is no such thing. Again, undetectable, unexplainable, mysterious messages or “things”, independent of our world, traversing existence as ultimate rights for human beings seems like a very complex, and thus improbable explanation. You keep referring to the implications of believing in such things. But the implications of a belief have no bearing on whether or not that belief is true.Essentially, we can have bad, or false reasons, for doing good things. Be sure though, actual reasons exist, or at least they always have, regardless of what we think the reasons really are, or what those before us thought. For one, there is incoherence between what these “rights” are. Secondly, there is incoherence in the assertion of where these rights come from. Allah? Yaweh? Monotheism, Polytheism, ditheism, pantheism? It doesn’t seem to matter does it?

    What of competing rights? Why did the creator give us transcendental rights but no metric of how to weigh priorities when these rights come into conflict with one another? It just becomes more and more implausible when we look at the world, where it has been, and what makes people tick.

    I have posed an explanation using things we can observe, things that have happened, and things that are exactly what we would expect given the hypothesis that rights are wholly dependent on the minds of men and women. Your hypothesis, fails the test of probability when we look at the world.

    We would expect transendental rights given by a perfect creator to be clear and just. But, the rights decided upon by those who feel they are transcendental in nature, don’t jive with one another, and have been historically egregious. I mean really, supposedly these “transcendent rights” are coming from something perfect.From which the premise that a perfect being would be a perfect communicator must be accepted. That is, if such a being wanted us to know something. No perfect messages exist, confusion abounds, inconsistencies occur through out time as well as spatially. Geography and culture are far better predictors of what these “rights” will be than a cosmic belief. But I’ll say it again, this is exactly what we would expect given the assumption that universal transcendent rights don’t exist, or that they are independent of culture and upbringing and desires.

    Of course we disagree. I feel though, that understanding that the rights we have established are a consensus framework based on numerous aspects of humanity and society, reflecting our collective goals and desires. We would be better off. For one, it would be more honest and factual. Secondly, it would reduce the confusion between competing transcendental sources(Gods) and the competing messages (same Gods produce different rights to different individuals.) But most importantly, it would remove the dangerous and arrogant view that the rights we establish or have establish are inerrant, and never to be questioned, or cannot be improved upon.

  7. You said, “I am saying these “Transendental Rights”, do not exist.There is no such thing.”

    Thank you for proving the point to all that atheism is amoral (not immoral).

    Now for a simple question about right and wrong. Is it right to break or void a social contract (i.e. The Declaration of Independence) if you believe that only the strong should be allowed to survive?

    Why or why not?

  8. “Thank you for proving the point to all that atheism is amoral (not immoral).”

    What an absurd thing to say. If you mean “Cosmically” amoral, then sure. I’ve already established that morals don’t transcend the cosmos. But, since humans come up with agreed upon ideas of the way people should act called morals, then morality abounds.

    If God is not incorporated into a moral theory then that theory fails? This is a false dilemma.

    What about social contract theory needs transendental rights? None of it.

    What about strategic reliabilism, error theory, or reward based theories of desire needs a God. None.

    What about utilitarianism, desirism, goal theory or game theory needs a God? None of it.

    What about categorical imperatives, bargaining, and a hundred other ethical theories needs a God. None.

    You seem to be unaware of numerous ethical theories that do not invoke the supernatural and rely wholly upon things we can observe.

    Further, God needn’t be necessary to believe in transcendental rights. Atheism is a lack of belief in God, not in the supernatural. So an individual could be an atheist but still believe in transcendental supernatural rights from some other source than a disembodied mind . In the same vein, I could believe in God,(a cosmic creator mind) but not believe in transendental rights. A belief in the existence of one does not follow from belief in the existence of the other.

    “Now for a simple question about right and wrong. Is it right to break or void a social contract (i.e. The Declaration of Independence) if you believe that only the strong should be allowed to survive?”

    I will answer this, but your question is framed poorly. The issue of whether or something is “right” or “Wrong” is categorical, depending upon circumstance. Things are not right or wrong independent of desired outcomes or frameworks. I am not going to give you a mystic answer, or one that appeals to emotion.The fact is that it would be wrong IN RESPECT TO THE FRAMEWORK OF THE CONTRACT(Capitalization for emphasis. Not Yelling)

    This is always the case of right or wrong. Things are right or wrong depending on expected and desired outcomes. Obviously there are shades of grey, but that isn’t evidence against this fact. It ‘s actually evidence for that fact. It’s exactly what we would expect given that competing desires and interests exist within the collective spectrum of human goals.

    Further, using real world examples and logic, I would be able to show such an individual that a belief that only the strong should survive is incompatible with the collective desires and goals of the society that came up with the contract. And therefore condemnation would be the appropriate response.

    If the point you are getting at is duty to act a certain way, in the cosmic sense. I concede my worldview offers none. Naturalism doesn’t invoke the cosmic or magical. It would be nice if we had some cosmic enforcer, and the “good” guys always won. But reality isn’t an emotional appeal.
    Neither Transcendental Rights, a cosmic enforcer, or a cosmic duty are necessary for the system to work. Under the bell curve of human compassion and reasonableness, most of us feel a duty to act a certain way for ourselves and for others. It’s not a cosmic duty, but it certainly moves us. We share common goals and desires. We despise suffering almost universally. And we are capable of stepping back, and establishing rules for the game of society under the assumption that we do not know the hand we will be dealt. This is why the social contracts we create largely work, and why when trying to convince others to act a certain way, we appeal to praise, condemnation, and logic, as opposed to cosmic “things” that *someone* detected *somehow*

    • Absurd argument? Why didn’t you solve my specific moral dilemma?

  9. Your “dilemma” assumes right and wrong are objective and transcendent. Right and wrong are not. They are propositional, dependent upon the framework they are working within, and therefore no dilemma exists.

    For example:

    Is a 20 year old sipping a beer around a campfire, and breaking the social contract, doing something wrong if that 20 year old’s beliefs are that an individual his age should be able to consume alcohol?

    The first thing to recognize is that what the individual who is breaking the contract believes about the contract personally is irrelevant. The contract is established by society. Imperfectly sure, but that’s exactly what we’d expect.

    Second, we can see that if the individual is in the United States, then what that individual is doing is “wrong”. But because wrong(and right) are dependent upon other propositions, we can move the 20 year old to a different contract(Canada) and now that individual is “right”.

    Right and wrong are not objective or transcendental, no matter how counter-intuitive it may seem when we use more disturbing examples, such as murder or slavery.

    Now, slavery could be wrong “to us” or “to America”, even if it were legal in some terrible country elsewhere. We are used to talking in certainties with right or wrong. The fact of right or wrong though, only makes sense when we include the “to us”. This is fine, because we can say “That’s Wrong”, with a lot of force about slavery, when we include “to nearly all humans” as the category determining wrongness/rightness.

    Of course I’m being oversimplistic. I’m not an ethicist. But contrary to what apologists claim, ethical theories do not need god to work.

    This is a far better way to view ethics as opposed to theistic viewpoints. It places the focus on the things it should. Rape isn’t wrong because it violates some cosmic rule. Rape is wrong because of the harm it causes to the victim. Sure, rules can be established without reasonable explanation, just like we do for children. But eventually, we have to have real world explanations of why those rules exist for those rules to seem worth following, and we can find these explanations in the real world without invoking any supernatural cause.

  10. JCC

    We pause this debate for a moment of clarity from Colbert.

  11. !!!AMAZING!!!!

    LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, THE ATHEIST PHILOSOPHER AND THE CHRISTIAN THEOLOGIAN HAVE COME TO AGREEMENT ON TWO POINTS!

    1. You said, “Right and wrong are not.” This is the very definition of amorality. Look it up. I agree that you and all logically consistent atheists are amoral. This is of course not absurd…look it up.

    2. You said, “Your “dilemma” assumes right and wrong are objective and transcendent. ” I totally agree, because my example is not theoretical, or even relative, but specific to the fundamental law of this specific nation, in effect at this specific time; the Declaration. You then give as an example laws relative to different governments, and equate legal with moral. This isn’t exactly the case, which you eluded to before, but in the specific case of our national law, it is assumed that right and wrong are objective and transcendent, therefore in order to act morally and legal, all laws and governments must accept this same assumption, or be illegal, and immoral. This is my point. This is your point.

    Now…

    ….would you care for another fine game of chess.

    • Dallas Reese

      I hate to break it to you Reverend, but the Declaration of Independence is not the law of the land. The Declaration was a statement of “why” the US needed to break away from British rule and has little to do with the argument you’re having with Nameless Range. The US Constitution and Bill of Rights ARE the law of the land and neither of them has any reference to God, Christianity, etc. The founding fathers made a very deliberate decision to exclude those types of religious references. Recall that during the time of the Constitution’s creation, state sanctioned religious persecution was a common practice and the founders were attempting to ensure that it didn’t happen here. Using the Declaration as your proof of our national Christianity, or not, is specious and has no relevance.

      I also take offense to your earlier statements regarding “freedom of conscience”. If we are truely “free” to live our lives based on our own conscience (within the dictates of society), why so many laws created to restrict our personal, but lawful, choices?

  12. You seem to not understand what amoral means. Just because right and wrong are not objective, that is, independent of human desires, hardly means that right and wrong do not exist, given certain propositions.

    One definition of amoral is: Not involving questions of right or wrong.
    Another is:Having no moral standards, restraints or principles.

    Neither of these are arrived at under any of the ethical theories I have offered.

    Your argument seems to be, “If it’s not cosmically right and wrong, then it is never right or wrong.” Or “If right and wrong are not objective, then they do not exist.

    I’m not trying to straw man you here but honestly.

    Yes, things are neither moral or immoral INDEPENDENT of anything else, but that does not mean we cannot establish moral judgements given certain propositions. You are committing a categorical error. Right and wrong are words we use to describe the way we feel about actions given certain desires, goals, frameworks, etc. They aren’t “things”. There is nothing mystical about this.

    From an acceptance of this though, in no way follows that all moral systems lacking supernatural ontology are amoral. That is just false. I posed legitimate objections to such claims.

    Take one of them: The social contract theory:If five people are locked in a house for the rest of their lives, and they come up with a contract stating rules for living. These rules would be based on their collective desires, goals, etc. Those actions breaking the contract would be called “wrong” while those endorsing or falling in line with the contract would be called “right”. The contract is what defines right and wrong. They aren’t things in and of themselves. No God necessary.

    “it is assumed that right and wrong are objective and transcendent, therefore in order to act morally and legal, all laws and governments must accept this same assumption, or be illegal, and immoral.”

    What is assumed is not what is. To say that this is what our founders believed, or what most people currently believe, and is therefore true, is a logical fallacy. Argumentum ad populum to be exact. I have made actual objections to your viewpoint.Real world objections, logical problems and probabilistic mountains of evidence against your hypothesis of the existence of transcendental, magical cosmic “qualities/things” which we base our morality on. But if an appeal to fallacy satisfies you, and the evidence means nothing, so be it.

  13. Max /// Bucks

    Sidewalk philosophers are a dime a dozen. And they all end up in hell, anyway.




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