Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Kavanaugh mentions morality, Kant

John Kavanaugh, professor of philosophy at Saint Louis University, writes in America the Magazine about apparent "moral exceptionalism". This exception is not, "You're exceptionally moral," but rather, "Your morals are full of exceptions." He recalls the categorical imperative of Kant by writing,
It is this principle of universalizability that seems lost in contemporary discourse. About the only place it is practiced, at least ideally, is in sport contests—perhaps because it is only sport that we really take seriously. But in matters of the nation, the church, the economy and the world, moral exceptionalism holds sway. We seem unable to extend the rules we live by to others.
He cites excommunications of bishops who support women's ordination alongside the reconciliation of schismatic members of the Society of Pius X. America's request for Iran to refrain from nuclear armnament alongside the United States' stockpile of nuclear weaponry. Further, he mentions Tom Daschle not paying his taxes and President Obama not holding his line on bringing lobbyists into his staff.

1 comment:

Ben said...

I agree with his objections (and, I presume, your objections) to the three real-world examples offered in that last paragraph, the nuclear arms and such. But calling on Kant for the argument? I think we can all agree that universalizability is impossible on most every moral question. Can we really say that it's ALWAYS wrong to not pay taxes? In a lot of ways moral exceptionalism is killing America, but you who was born into a postmodern world can't deny some exceptions for moral exceptionalism.