Monday, February 09, 2015

World War T

With the Supreme Court poised to sanction the incoherence known as gay marriage, the left has begun to wage what Steve Sailer calls World War T

In light of that development, here is a cogent take on the latest absurdity:

Our mental faculties, like our physical ones, are ordered toward various ends. Among these ends is the attainment of truth. To this extent, it is perfective of our mental faculties to recognize how we truly are (and thus apprehend a truth). It is for this reason that we can make sense of mental disorders such as anorexia nervosa as disorders: they involve persons' having persistent, false beliefs about their identity or how they really are. In the case of the anorexic, someone who is dangerously underweight believes falsely (but tenaciously) that he is really overweight. It would be a proper procedure of medicine, then, for a therapist to help an anorexic individual to do away with his anorexia, restoring the individual’s mental faculties to their properly functioning state.

Well put.  The entire premise of mental illness presupposes an objective good that exists outside of the patient's subjective frame of reference.  If my uncle insists that he is King Henry VIII that does not make him so.  Nor would we be doing him any favors if we went along with the conceit.  If he is otherwise a well-functioning member of society, we may not press the point too hard, but that would not mean we had granted the argument.

The analogy with anorexia is a helpful one because those who fight against us in World War T positively loathe the Henry VIII argument.  To sane individuals, they are seen as analogous, but they only get so far as the comparison with one who is mentally ill before erupting into a paroxysm of rage. 

No wonder they have such trouble thinking clearly.  All those emotions are always getting in the way. 

To continue:

But what are we to make of this “gender reassignment” surgery? Insofar as such a surgical procedure involves the intentional damaging and mutilating of otherwise perfectly functioning bodily faculties by twisting them to an end toward which they are not ordered, such a thing cannot, in principle, possibly be considered a medical procedure. And because love compels us to seek the good for another, it is thus a grave evil to condone such surgical procedures.

This is also well articulated, and dovetails nicely with what I posted about previously.  As Chesterton once put it, "There are some desires that are not desirable." 

Read the rest of the piece.  It's all quite good.

Anyway, this war for the transgendered is only going to accelerate.  If these coherent arguments aren't liable to be taken seriously in our degenerate times, it nonetheless profits us to be familiar with them, both for our own edification, and on the off chance we meet someone who has yet to be taken in by what passes for the left's system of thought.


In my civilian life, I'm a software developer.  Those who lack proficiency with computers assume that I'm something of a wizard.  Alas, I do not possess any magical powers. 

When you distil it down, I am paid to solve problems.  I do so in a very specific way: by translating the requirements of the business into pieces of code that can be repeatedly executed by a computer. 

It might seem obvious that to solve a problem, one must first define it.  The business is really good at creating a wish list: they desire an application with such-and-such a set of features.  But, in the midst of all of the excitement about features, they often lose sight of the problem they are trying to solve.  We may end up creating an application with all the bells and whistles which nonetheless fails to meet the needs of the users.

So we find, curiously enough, that the end is a very good place to start.  It is the same with ethics.  Before we can determine whether something is good or evil, we must know the end to which man ought to be directed.

As obvious as this seems, that's not the way we speak about ethics.  We speak not of ends, but means.  If we wish to engage in a particular act, we will insist that this behavior doesn't affect anyone else.  If we desire to sanction a particular act, we will appeal to some nebulous moral majority.  One wouldn't want to be caught on the wrong side of history.

For our purposes, it is not essential that I posit an entire teleology.  It is enough to insist that the good of man requires that he be alive.  Said otherwise, his life is a good.  In our decadent times, such a modest proposal might be considered controversial, but it will have to do for now.

It follows from this end that there are behaviours that are not conducive to the good of man, most obviously, suicide.  Some would insist that suicide "doesn't affect anyone else."  In most cases, this is a lie, but even if it were true, this behavior would still be a moral evil since it acts against the good of man.

This is the manner in which we ought to think about ethics, but it is not the way in which we do so.  As a result, our discussions fail to go anywhere.

Just as it is with ethics, so too with medicine.  We can only know if a pill is good if we know that it will work towards the good of man.  We can only recommend a procedure if we know that it too works towards that end.  Reducing fever is conducive to the end of man; terminating a pregnancy is not.

Now, there are procedures that go wrong, just as there are medicine that fail to work.  This is a separate point.  If the fever fails to come down, we must seek a more effective means to this end.

If we keep the necessity of the end in mind, we will improve our ability to minimize our confusion, be it in business, ethics, or medicine. 

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Romney out

It appears that the Stupid Party will not be re-running the unelectable loser Mitt Romney in 2016:

On a ski lift high above the powdery slopes of Deer Valley, Utah, Mitt Romney made it clear: His quest for the White House, which had dominated nearly a decade of his life, was coming to a close.

The selling point for Romney was that he was "electable" in a way that his opponents were not.  This is the manner of things: the rich who bankroll the party coalesce behind a boring figure of no significant threat to the status quo.  Objections from the party rank and file are then brushed aside, for while the other candidates may have stronger credentials, they are, alas, not electable.

Romney could not run again because he had proven this argument false.  His only appeal was that he was thought to be a winner.  But he was not, so the Stupid Party has turned on to duller and more depressing things:

People were much more excited about Jeb [Bush] than Mitt,” said Ron Gidwitz, a Chicago financier who helped raise millions for Mr. Romney and allied groups in 2012. “Mitt ran twice before unsuccessfully. He’s a great guy. But winning is everything in this business.”

The elites are uniting behind another Bush. Heaven help us all. 

On the one hand, Jeb is not his brother's keeper, and so can not be held accountable for the fact that George W. was such a disastrous president.  (And to the holdouts who insist he was a good president, the current president is the best proof to the contrary.  George W. Bush was so bad the country elected Barack Obama--twice!--rather than endure another Republican president.)

On the other hand, I've had enough of the Bushes for my lifetime.  And enough Clintons for that matter.  What does it say about our democratic republic that, since 1988, only eight years will have seen someone other than Bush or Clinton in the white house?

In a well functioning organization, the most important positions are filled by the most impressive members of that organization.  Applying this theory to the present topic, three possible conclusions present themselves.

1) The most well-qualified people in our republic of over three hundred million people just happen to come from one of two families (three, if we count the Obama's);

2) The Presidency is not all that important, and so can be handled by mediocrities with little harm;

3) Our republic is highly dysfunctional.

I leave the answer as an exercise for the reader.