Monday, April 20, 2009


Every so often, I read something that really forces me to examine a preconceived notion. This article by David Friedman (quoted in it's entirety) is one such time.

If you want war, work for justice

I think it is a more plausible slogan than the usual version. If you and I disagree because I want an outcome more favorable to me and you want an outcome more favorable to you, there is room for compromise—as we see whenever people bargain over the price of a house. But if we disagree because I see what I want as just and the alternative as unjust and you see it the other way around, compromise looks to both of us like moral treason.

Consider the issue, currently a live one in Europe, of whether people should be fined for saying or writing things critical of Islam. For those who support the traditional liberal view, agreeing to a fine of five hundred dollars instead of a thousand dollars isn't a solution—any punishment at all is an intolerable violation of free speech. For some orthodox Muslims, on the other hand, permitting people to slander the Prophet is clearly unacceptable; if the government will not impose a fine large enough to stop such an outrage, it is up to the believers to stop it themselves.

That, I think, is part of the nature of beliefs about justice—they are absolute, bright edged, in a way in which preferences are not. The point is summed up in the Latin phrase Fiat justicia, ruat coelum—let justice be done though the sky falls.

Those whose bumper stickers read "If you want peace, work for justice" simply take it for granted that there is no question what is just; if you want to find out, just ask them. The problem with the world as they see it is merely that other people are insufficiently virtuous to act accordingly.
IMHO, this is spot on. I just took it for granted that peace requires justice. Now, to be fair, I do think that there is a lot of unanimous ideas of right and wrong. But not all of it is unanimous, and there's a great deal of disagreement on some topics, like abortion. I'm sure you can easily come up with others.

And this reminds me of some of the things that Rob Bell talks about in Velvet Elvis, e.g. brickianity.

I love it when I can find things that are surprising, but persuasive enough that I'm forced to think differently. Very cool.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


I've been posting on this blog for nearly 5 years. I had hoped that when I started it, that people would comment and provide feedback. I had hoped that, by putting out my opinions, that those who disagreed would come and help me check my thinking. And in doing so, I could learn something that I didn't previously know. Maybe I'd change my mind.

But I get so few comments. And I don't know why. It's certainly not because my thinking is above reproach. Those of you who have managed to garner a lot of comments, how do you do it?

On a side note: blogs that don't allow comments make no sense to me. I find almost no value in having a one-sided conversation. It seems about as useful as talking to a wall.