Friday, January 30, 2015

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I'm reading a paper called "Rules: The Basis of Morality...?" by Paul M. Churchland, an academic at the University of California, a professional knower of things, including ethical things, and he's making some not-so-groundbreaking-but-solid points about how morality doesn't follow from discursive rules and then I get to this (last paragraph italics mine):
Another illustration of the superfluity of rules to moral character emerged, without warning and to much amusement, in an interview of a moderately charming Georgia Congressman on the TV comedy show The Colbert Report. The topic of their extended discussion was a recent higher-court ban on the public display of the Judeo-Christian Ten Commandments in the foyer of a Louisiana courthouse, and the justice/injustice of their subsequent court-ordered removal from that public venue. The congressman, a Mr. Lynn Westmoreland, was defending their public, cast-bronze-on-granite display on a variety of grounds, but most trenchantly on the grounds that, collectively, those ten rules constitute the very foundation of our morality, insofar as we have any morality. Their public display, therefore, could only serve to enhance the level of individual morality... 
[blah blah Westmoreland couldn't remember past the first three Commandments which supports the thesis]... 
The fact is, the congressman is probably as good an example of worthy moral character as one is likely to encounter at one’s local post office or grocery store. After all, he inspired sufficient public trust to get himself elected, and he thinks morality important enough to defend it, with some passion and resourcefulness, on television. He is a presumptive example of a conscientious man with a morally worthy character. 

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