Sunday, March 06, 2005

Absolute fudge

KBJ takes on Jonah Goldberg's question from NRO's The Corner here. Very interesting reading. Oh, and the question? Are liberals or conservatives more likely to say that "the ends justify the means?" I think Jackson is spot on in his conclusions:
Liberals are more likely than conservatives to allow the ends to justify the means. We might say that while most liberals believe in rights, they take these rights to be defeasible or overridable by sufficiently good ends. Conservatives, it seems to me, are more likely to resist such overriding. If I’m right, then the average conservative is closer than the average liberal to the absolute deontologist [some things are always wrong, no matter what] end of the spectrum.
Liberals are more likely to fudge absolutes (they're so oppressive!), even when presented in the form of human rights (the penumbras and permutations of Roe, anyone?), but Jackson is right to point out that they don't have a monopoly on the practice. The phenomenon of one's "sense of justice overtaking charitable good sense" is common to both, but liberalism has greater conceptual problems with absolutes than does conservatism. Being Rationalists and, I would argue, too confident of their thinking ability, liberals can too easily seek to rationalize anything. Conservatives can fall in this trap as well, but it is harder. This is a small part of why I will choose the 'stupid party' over the 'evil party' every time. This is a big subject, so I can't say exactly where I fall. There's too many issues to consider. Probably I'm a non-absolute deontologist, with a few strong deontologist leanings. I do tend to fall into the middle of the pack on most political scales, albeit with a strong desire to see life, family and community upheld over bureaucracy, "professionalization" and ideology. That makes me mildly right wing over all and very right wing on a few things.

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