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John Adams Blog

The blog of The Antient and Honourable John Adams Society, Minnesota's Conservative Debating Society www.johnadamssociety.org

Friday, February 24, 2006

The Mess We've "Caused"

Father Andrew Greeley, about a year ago I think, made what I belive to be an especially pernicious argument that's relavent after the destruction of the Golden Dome. The outrage that Greeley was referring to was a bombing by the terrorists of Iraqi children receiving candy from US soldiers. He claimed the US was responsible for the horrible deaths of these many children because if we hadn't invaded, these children would be alive.

There is some truth to Greeley's statement. If we hadn't invaded, those children would, in all probability, be alive, just as it's true that the Golden Dome would, in all probability, still be standing.

But Greeley connects this fact to the Catholic just war principle. In that, it is morally acceptable to take an action (such as bombing) that causes both good and bad effects (removing the ability of bad guys to hurt people while killing innocent people) as long as A) your desire is for the good effect only (if you could acheive just the good effect you would) and B) the good effects substantially outweigh the bad effects (you can't wipe out an entire city to get one bad guy). I agree with the moral calculus, but Greeley misapplies it, as do all who say we "caused" the bombings of children or mosques.

The difference is, in my view, causation stops as soon as another moral actor enters the picture. If I drop a bomb that kills both a guilty person and an innocent person, I've caused both deaths. If I drop a bomb that kills only the guilty person, but some other person reacts to this by choosing to kill an innocent person, that other person caused the death of the innocent, not me, even if that other person would not have made that choice absent my action.

Greeley, and thos like him, have the peculiar bigotry of leftists to treat only Westerners (and Israelis) as moral actors. Other people are like animals or physical objects. They do what they do, we can reasonably predict what they will do, and all moral culpability falls on us. We didn't cause the Golden Dome to be bombed. The bombers did.

Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

Greely and others like him can make these arguments because they ignore the nastiness of Saddam's regime. It has been reported that 300,000-1,000,000 Iraqi's lie below the earth in mass graves victims of Saddam's regime. Another million died in Saddam's wars. If we just include the 300,000 figure, Saddam was killing nearly 300 people a week. Perhaps we should subtract this figure from Greely's death toll

Would Greely also argue that it was wrong for us to invade France in 1944. After all, its estimate that over 50,000 french civilians died as a result of our "liberation" of France from various bombings and colalteral damage. These people would not have died but for the invasion.

9:36 AM, February 24, 2006  
Blogger festivus said...

Some children have died from vaccinations. Under Greeley's argument, those who invented the vaccines and those who apply them are responsible for the deaths, but such a simple-minded argument ignores the the millions upon millions who lived because they got those vaccinations.

Another case of a failure to look at the whole picture.

10:28 AM, February 24, 2006  

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