Monday, February 24, 2014

"moral claims on moral grounds"

     "The moral vocabulary that now prevails in the United States is less Marxist but no less vulgar, for it is just as adamant that all moral claims be translated into material terms.  The only difference is that material self-interest is now permitted to coexist with material altruism.  Bad behavior can be condemned only if it is shown to correlate with some quantifiable negative outcome like a greater likelihood of receiving a free or reduced-price lunch among gradeschoolers, a higher incidence of antidepressant use among adults, or a measurable decline in the national GDP.  Moral questions are treated as if they were, at the end of the day, merely empirical.  We are hesitant, almost to the point of paralysis, about making moral claims on moral grounds."

     Helen Rittelmeyer, "Bloodless moralism," First things no. 240 (February 2014), 34 (33-39).