LAW AND POLITICS
whoooo26505 at yahoo.com
Sat Dec 10 17:04:12 PST 2005
In reply to Frank Sandy:
Let me make an observation about the philosophical part of this discussion (not what the philosophy is being applied to or what brought it up, to which I confess not being completely attentive).
I think academia is failing students. It's failing them because it is creating a "bias culture." Everything is bias. Everything is just politics. Even when it is not "type-A" politics (Batman), it is "type-B" politics (Robin). The enthymeme here is that there are no standards, no reasonable expectations, no fundamentals, no demonstrably better answers, no integrity, no character, no ethics, no justification. We used to teach students to think; now we teach that thinking is merely a construction.
There is no question that this is: (a) an academic fad; (b) not supported by a disciplined philosophic inquiry into these concepts; and (c) largely the product of a generation of academics who came to power in universities and have now birthed a progeny.
There is most surely a distinction between law and politics, Sandy -- and it is not lost merely because Richard Posner has no use for a Socratic conception of epistemology. (I would look not at the number of times Posner says this or whether he is in Harvard Law Review this month; but rather at how he arrives at this position -- which is not very convincing, at least not philosophically). The truth is that justification and desire are separate from one another, but not necessarily OPPOSITE (that is key). This means that a proposition can be justified AND make us happy at the same time. (For example: the idea that capitalism is superior at allocating societal resources than Communism -- we westerners like this conclusion, it is true, but it also seems to be the case). Given that justification is separate from desire, but not always opposite to it, the key is how a person behaves when what seems to be correct is not what they like. Translation: the question is not whether th!
ere is a
distinction between law and politics; it is whether we have integrity any more.
If you teach people that bias is all there is, every time they lose, they will cry foul. This is, in fact, the culture that we are breeding now. Seek pleasure. Get yours. Cry foul if you lose. It's always someone else's fault.
We should be asking not whether law and politics has a distinction, but what can we do to make decision making (and the acceptance of it) better. We can believe that there are both faults in cognition and in a person's character -- that answers will never be certain and that Machiavelli lives -- but what cannot believe (because it is not worthy of belief) is that this state of affairs renders all possible choices equally arbitrary or sufficiently meaningless.
Dr. Sean Wilson, Esq.
Penn State University
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