Saturday, July 23, 2005

So Who is Responsible?

So who exactly is responsible for the current situation that leads to the bombs on the London transport system?

There are a number of different responses to this question, most of which have a capacity to reveal a great deal about the entire moral structure that a person adopts.

The best answer at the moment seems to be to blame the criminals who are responsible for the bombs. This position is a truth-seeking objectivist one. It seeks out theories that have good explanations and match the facts. This position also implies that the holder understands that whilst there may be reasons for someone acting as they do, these people are not helpless amoral slaves of circumstance. They are instead moral agents with free will who are capable of reacting to a situation in any way they choose.

The fact that we are free to choose to behave in any particular way in response to the same set of circumstances means that when we choose to behave in a criminal and utterly immoral way, we should be held utterly responsible when we do. So whilst a terrorist bomber may say that he chooses to act this way because it is the only way that he could react to the problem of the invasion of Iraq, there is no need to see this as being the case, simply because it is patently NOT so. Such a person could, if he was serious about getting UK and US troops out of Iraq, for example, do precisely the opposite of what he chooses to do; he could call for an end to terrorist violence in Iraq, since a growth in such an idea would mean that troops could much more quickly be withdrawn.

In contrast to the objectivist and seemingly accurate moral assessment as described above, there are an almost infinite number of wrong moral evaluations and attributions of blame, many of which have found their way onto the internet and onto the pages of national newspapers such as the Guardian.

By way of a refutation of many of these faulty types of thinking, go see Norm's article in the Guardian, in which admirably attempts to sets the readers straight.


Hieronymous said...

Thanks for link to the Guardian article - brilliant. Particularly worthwhile as the link at the end of the article goes to a fantastic blog that I have bookmarked for a regular read. Paricularly enjoyed Agnes at her window and Kate McMillan's profile.

Carlotta said...

Yep, Norm's blog is a complete favourite here.