Saturday, August 06, 2005

James Doyle has a post at some place called normblog that I'm unfamiliar with. Wander away from the link I sent at your own peril. Based on an analysis of our ordinary conception of human agents as causing their actions, as it appears in common sense and (so we're told) legal doctrine, he argues that we can't say Blair caused the London bombings. Chris Bertram has a nice reply, even if he doesn't think his reply constitutes an argument. Not only is Bertram right that there's an alternate way of thinking of causation as it relates to persons within the social sciences, it's probably true that this way of thinking is much better suited to the case at hand, since we're examining a political

The other part of Doyle's post is an argument that we cannot hold Blair even indirectly responsible for the London bombings unless we antecedently assume that his decision to go to war was wrong. That would remain true even if Blair had been almost certain that the war would result in the bombings. There is a huge suppressed premise here. This assertion is only plausible if you assume that going to war with Iraq should be evaluated on deontological grounds.

The problem is that justifying the war on deontological grounds appears to be an absolute non-starter. Given the manipulation of intelligence, the defiance of international law and the constantly shifting rationales for war, the only option for someone interested in defending the war is to insist that it all doesn't matter, the war will be justified by the future stable, democratic Iraqi nation that's just waiting to appear. We killed a lot of people, and lied about it to boot, but everything turned out right--that's the exact form of a consequentialist argument.

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