Thursday, December 14, 2017

Consequentialism for me but not for thee

Even though the Alabama senate race is now at thing of the past, I'll make another observation, because the same issues repeat themselves in future race. 

Do Moore’s defenders not realize the extent to which religious freedom in this nation depends on a host of progressive judges and government officials complying with lawful court orders? For example, the ability to hire and fire pastors according to the dictates of the church and not the federal government was only recently reaffirmed by the Supreme Court. What if some state judge, somewhere, disagrees? If you accept Moore’s behavior on the bench, you must accept that any judge can defy the Supreme Court whenever he sees fit.

it's important to recognize that the main lesson we should learn from this article is that the secular left is watching us, watching to see if we really believe what we say we believe and then will translate that into what shows up even in the voting booth. The world is watching us.

Notice what the objections of David French and Albert Mohler share in common. They object to voting for Moore because it will have bad results. In the case of Moher, he thinks that sends a bad message. It's a bad Christian witness to the secular left. In the case of French, it's because, if socially conservative judges can defy the Supreme Court, then so can progressive judges. 

Now what's ironic about this appeal is that when some Christians defend voting for Moore (or Trump) by appealing to the dire results of allowing the Democrats to win, that's branded as consequentialism. But then, why aren't Mohler and French guilty of consequentialism when they resort to the same type of reasoning? 


  1. It seems to me that, minimally, these are not parallel kinds of consequentialism, and the French/Mohler sort isn't at all what is traditionally considered to be consequentialism.

    In the pro-Moore case, the argument is (very roughly) Elect Moore --> so that we get this kind of practical, real-world result (conservative legislation, judicial approvals, etc.). Or, Fail to elect Moore --> will result in real-world negative consequences.

    In the French/Mohler case, the argument is more like Vote Moore --> lose ground for objecting to subjunctive/hypothetical liberal parallel. Or Vote Moore --> abandon ideological consistency.

    That is to say the kind of consequences in view in the Mohler/French cases are less about concrete consequences, of the sort that consequentialism is normally concerned with.

    1. I agree with you that French/Mohler aren't guilty of consequentialism in the technical sense of the term. But by the same token, those who defend voting for Trump/Moore aren't guilty of consequentialism in the technical sense of the term. Critics of people who voted for Moore or voted for Trump in the general election routinely accused them of "consequentialist" ethics because voters argued that Trump/Moore were the lesser of two evils, or the equivalent.

      The problem is a failure to use the term "consequentialism" accurately, based on philosophical usage (which I've documented elsewhere), resulting in ad hoc exceptions where Trump/Moore voters are censured for outcome-based justifications while their critics raise outcome-based justifications for not voting for them.

  2. (Stephen Wolfe)

    "Evangelicals have sought after simplicity, but their theory is just simplistic."