Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.
Affiliated with the Program on Church, State & Society at Notre Dame Law School.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Inequality

I take your point, Rick, about the process by which wealth is produced and how those gains are distributed, although I'm not sure I agree that there is no moment at which gains (or, perhaps, expected gains) in wealth from entrepreneurship are allocated as between owners of capital and their employees and at which that allocation can be assessed from the point of view of its impact on inequality.  But I'm no economist.  Even if there were not such a moment, however, I don't think that the principle I'm endorsing is meaningless.  Another way to think about it might be to ask about the consequences of reducing inequality.  We might say that inequality should be reduced until the reductions begin to have a significant impact on the well being of those at the bottom (which should itself be viewed as based on a mixture of absolute and relative factors).

January 29, 2007 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Solum on "natural justice"

The superhumanly productive Larry Solum has posted a new paper, "Natural Justice."  Here is the abstract:

Justice is a natural virtue. Well-functioning humans are just, as are well-ordered human societies. Roughly, this means that in a well-ordered society, just humans internalize the laws and social norms (the nomoi) - they internalize lawfulness as a disposition that guides the way they relate to other humans. In societies that are mostly well-ordered, with isolated zones of substantial dysfunction, the nomoi are limited to those norms that are not clearly inconsistent with the function of law - to create the conditions for human flourishing. In a radically dysfunctional society, humans are thrown back on their own resources - doing the best they can in circumstances that may require great practical wisdom to avoid evil and achieve good. Justice is naturally good for humans - it is part and partial of human flourishing. All of these are natural ethical facts.

Natural Justice develops these claims in four stages. Part I contextualizes the claim that justice is a natural virtue in relationship to Hume's famous argument about deriving ought from is, Moore's open-question argument, and the so-called fact-value distinction. The upshot of the discussion in Part I is the claim that there are no clearly decisive objections to existence of natural ethical facts.

Part II traces the movement from neo-Aristotelian virtue ethics to virtue jurisprudence by articulating a theory of the judicial virtues. Among these are the virtues of practical wisdom and of justice. Practical wisdom or phronesis is best understood on the model of moral vision, which in the context of law is legal vision or situation sense. The virtue of justice is best understood as lawfulness. Just humans are law-abiding or nomimos - in that they internalize the widely shared and deeply held social norms of their social groups. This part concludes with the claim that a legally correct decision is the decision that characteristically would be rendered by a fully virtuous judge under the circumstances of the case.

Part III argues that natural justice can be understood on the model of natural goodness as articulated in the work of Philippa Foot and Michael Thompson. The intuitive idea is that justice as lawfulness is naturally good for reason - using social creatures in human circumstances. This part also articulates and responds to a variety of objections.

Part IV concludes by articulating the sense in which an aretaic theory of law that incorporates a natural virtue of justice as lawfulness can be viewed as an expression of the natural law tradition. The natural law idea that an unjust enactment is not a true law corresponds to two senses in which positive laws can fail to be nomoi (in the technical sense specified by virtue jurisprudence). First, a given enactment may contravene deeply held and widely shared social norms. Second, such enactments may be fundamentally inconsistent with the purpose of law - the promotion of human flourishing.

I'm very attracted to Professor Solum's (and others') efforts regarding aretaic jurisprudence.  My questions for him, and these others, are:  First, does "virtue jurisprudence" require a theory of the state, i.e., a theory that explains why it is (assuming that it is) the case that the state may employ coercion (i.e., the law) to push citizens toward virtue?  Second, does "virtue jurisprudence" require a teleological account of the person, in order to pour content into the idea of "human flourishing"?

January 29, 2007 in Garnett, Rick | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Controversy at Duquesne Law School

The Chronicle of Higher Education
January 29, 2007

Duquesne U. Ban on Politicians at Commencement Draws Protest Petition From Law Students

By KATHERINE MANGAN

Law students at Duquesne University were circulating a petition on Friday protesting a decision to bar two likely presidential candidates and a Pennsylvania congressman from speaking at the law school's commencement this spring.

The university's president, Charles J. Dougherty, said that three of the speakers whom the law dean, Donald J. Guter, had proposed inviting were inappropriate because their political views might offend people, and their beliefs might be at odds with the Roman Catholic Church's teachings.

In a letter to administrators of the Catholic university, Mr. Dougherty explained why he would not allow invitations to be sent to Sen. Barack Obama, an Illinois Democrat; Sen. John McCain, an Arizona Republican; or Rep. John P. Murtha, a Democrat from Pennsylvania. The two senators are regarded as leading contenders for their party's presidential nominations in 2008, although neither has officially declared his candidacy. Mr. Murtha is a strong critic of the Iraq war.

"I had two reasons for disapproving the politicians," the president wrote. "First, I believe that a high-profile partisan political figure is inappropriate for a commencement speaker. Anyone of that description, including all three proposed, is sure to offend large numbers in the audience."

"Even if such a speaker steers clear of political content," Mr. Dougherty continued, "it makes a political statement that we provided them an occasion and a platform -- and one in which there is no possibility for dialogue or the expression of alternative points of view." He said the university had no objection to inviting politicians and policy makers to discuss controversial ideas in forums where different sides could be aired.

The second reason, he said, "is the likelihood that some or all of these politicians have taken public positions on issues in opposition to Catholic church teachings."

"I have not done the research on these individuals to know this is true," he said, "but this possibility is another good reason to avoid politicians as commencement speakers."

The president did approve of Mr. Guter's fourth candidate to speak: Alberto J. Mora, a former general counsel of the U.S. Navy.

Mr. Guter, who became the law dean in 2005 after a high-profile career in the Navy, said he was new to academe but found the president's objections puzzling.

"Each person I invited I felt we had a reasonable chance of getting because I had either worked with him or worked with someone who worked with him," the dean said on Friday. He said he had approached the offices of the four men and asked staff members if their bosses would be interested in speaking. In each case, the answer was either yes or maybe. Mr. Guter had not, however, extended a formal invitation to anyone.

"My intent was to go to the president and ask for blanket approval for all of them and see who could come," he said.

Last year the Duquesne administration did not oppose another politician Mr. Guter invited as graduation speaker: Sen. Lindsey O. Graham, a Republican from South Carolina. "I must have missed a meeting when the policy changed," Mr. Guter said.

He added that he felt the candidates' views on topics like abortion were "non-issues" because they would not be mentioned during a commencement speech.

"Besides," he said, "I don't think Senator Obama has done anything to promote abortion, but he has written about the need to do everything possible to reduce the need for a woman to have an abortion."

The petition being circulated on Friday called on the president to reconsider his decision.

Michael V. Quatrini, a third-year law student and president of the school's Student Bar Association, was among those who objected to Mr. Dougherty's stance.

"I find it ridiculous," Mr. Quatrini said. "Barack Obama wouldn't be there to discuss gay marriage or any social policy the Catholic church is for or against. Graduation speakers are there to give us guidance and inspiration, and it seems crazy to pass up the opportunity to have someone of their stature here."

January 29, 2007 in Perry, Michael | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

More on the Controversy in the U.K.

The Guardian
January 29, 2007


These US-style culture wars seeping into Britain are an absurd distraction.
Hysteria over the gay adoption row, while Iraq is barely debated, reflects a wider insecurity among liberal progressives.
By Madeleine Bunting

On the same day as parliament was having its first debate for two and a half years on the Iraq war, the row blew up over the Catholic church's plea for exemption on allowing gay couples to adopt. No prizes for guessing which issue dominated the front pages, the blogs and the airwaves. While gay adoption and Catholicism prompted a vigorous, passionate debate, the one about the Iraq war languished down the running order.

Of course, it's daft. A war that has cost more than half-a-million lives and destabilised one of the most volatile regions of the world is finally being debated in the institution that purports to be at the heart of our democracy. Huge questions are at stake about the nature of Britain's relationship with America, the future of the Middle East and the lives of our servicemen. But a horrible combination of frustration, fear and fatigue has killed off our appetite to consider the Iraq war. In sharp contrast, gay adoption and Catholicism is an issue that will materially affect only a handful of people (no gay couple in their right minds wanting to adopt would approach a Catholic agency) but the set piece battle it provoked attracted huge attention.

Even odder, a cabinet and party which have faithfully followed Tony Blair into the Iraq war, whose squeaks of opposition to his "war on terror" have been so sotto voce as to be barely audible, suddenly discovered their voice last week. For several days, the rebels valiantly took to the airwaves to stand their ground in defence of the Equality Act - Lord Falconer, Peter Hain, Jack Straw and Alan Johnson. Their stolid defiance of alleged Downing Street sympathy for the Catholic church was welcome. But why now, why over this particular issue?

An important principle was at stake, of course. What's the point of an anti-discrimination law that allows exemptions to carry on discriminating? But the incident also illustrates how it's not just Blair who is thinking about his legacy. Many of his colleagues are also reflecting on a near-decade of dutiful loyalty and asking what it has achieved. In the tally, the Equality Act - along with other measures such as civil partnerships, the Human Rights Act and age discrimination - is a powerful balm for consciences bruised from years of marching obediently into the government lobby.

Historians will be able to pick apart Labour's poor record on tackling inequality and encouraging social mobility, its emasculation of democracy and fudged constitutional reform before even starting on its foreign policy. But the advances in human rights will represent Labour's most radical and courageous legacy. The parallel with the Labour governments of the 60s and 70s is striking. Their most enduring achievements were also in civil rights - decriminalisation of homosexuality, race relations and gender equality.

It is as if Labour has been hedged about by an economic system largely beyond its manipulation and it is only in the field of human rights that it finds scope to attempt to reshape society. Only in the area of human rights and anti-discrimination do Labour governments lead from the front, ahead of popular consensus, rather than trying to divine it from focus groups and faithfully reflect it.

Last week's rumpus was about much more than just an uppity cardinal, it was also one of those moments in public life snatched as an opportunity beyond Westminster for a bigger purpose. The hapless villain of the piece - the Catholic church - offered the perfect foil for a demonstration of liberal progressive moral superiority. The blogs hummed with an outpouring of anti-Catholic bile. Catholicism was lambasted as antediluvian, anachronistic and bigoted. In contrast, liberal progressives came out shining with moral fervour. Faith - of all varieties - has become one of the phenomena against which a demoralised post-socialist centre-left chooses to define itself.

AC Grayling offered a masterpiece of the genre on the Guardian's blog site, Comment is Free, in which he bewailed the "enslavement of the European mind by the absurdities of Christianity". He blamed Christianity for a thousand years of dark ages - for the daub and wattle instead of Roman arches and domes. "A struggle to escape the church's narrow ignorance and oppression saw the rebirth of classical learning ... in the Renaissance." Advances in learning and freedoms since are in jeopardy "now that toleration and secularity has allowed the cancers of organised superstition to regrow ... and in battling to stop progress, to return us to the dark of prejudice and irrationality".

Grayling's comic-book history is so extreme that it's funny. It wilfully omits how Christianity (and, incidentally, Islam) has fostered learning and science (even arches and domes) in Europe for hundreds of years - as well as providing the foundations for human rights and secularism itself. But it is his claim of the west's steady march of progress to the happy lands of a universal ideal of rationality and freedom that strikes so hollow. The more vehemently one hears liberal progressives claim progress, the more one wonders who they are trying to convince.

Increasingly, the stridency with which the non-religious attack the religious belies their own profound insecurity - that the progress they like to attribute to western or enlightenment values is a much-compromised property. It is challenged by almost everything we see around us: climate change, rising levels of mental ill-health, growing economic inequality fuelled by debt and hyper-consumerism. As Oliver James's new book, Affluenza, makes clear, the nostrums of the west's "good life" - success, fame, wealth - mask an extraordinary vacuity of purpose, a desperate, restless discontent.

Even on a more prosaic level, Jade Goody and Branscombe beach have been such absorbing spectacles because they echo our fear that the "progress" of rationality and freedom has done nothing to enlarge the human spirit. Indeed, the "larger freedoms of mind and action" of secular Europe cited by Grayling have proved just as much a licence for egotism as for noble achievement.

Having abdicated so much ground in political life - particularly over the economy - liberal progressives have to scrabble together another way to define their notion of progress, and they have recycled old anti-clericalism to attack religion. Faith has become a curiously faddish target in a new, ersatz politics. Judging by the outcry over the past few days, Catholics, or Christians in general, are lurking on every street corner to deprive the English of their most cherished liberties, as they have done all through history. The National Secular Society even raised the cry of English kings down the centuries last week: "Who runs Britain - the government or the Vatican?"

A version of America's culture wars has seeped into Britain, with edges of the same sort of hysteria that is all the more wildly misplaced in a country - as the British Social Attitudes survey last week reminded us - in which the majority is resolutely uninterested in religion. For those caught in the middle of this megaphone battle, sympathetic to the advance in human rights but alienated by the arrogant superiority claimed by liberal progressives and their diatribes against faith, it's an absurd distraction.

January 29, 2007 in Perry, Michael | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Still more on inequality

Returning to Tyler Cowen's argument about inequality and well-being, Eduardo writes:

. . .  I, however, think that a marginal increase in well being of the rich is not justifiable unless it -- at a minimum -- affirmatively improves things for those at the bottom.  Finally, depending on the size of the increase for the rich and the poor, the improvement for the rich might not be justifiable, even with a small benefit to the poorest, since the independent harm to social solidarity of added inequality might more than offset a small (absolute) improvment for those at the bottom.

I agree that the "harm to social solidarity" that could accompany increased inequality is a cost that, along with "improvement for those at the bottom," needs to taken into account when we evaluate a proposed policy or the state of affairs.  I disagree, though -- I think -- with the claim that "a marginal increase in the well being of the rich is not justifiale unless it . . . affirmatively improves things for those at the bottom."  One problem with this claim -- it seems to me -- is that it seems to envision "increase[s] in the well being of the rich" as somehow being bestowed from the outside, by some kind of all-seeing-well-being-allocator, rather than by, say, risk-taking, entrepreneurship, and skill.  (I realize, of course, that the rich could increase their material well being in other, less admirable ways, but we don't need to talk about inequality in order to criticize such increases.)  It seems too much to say that "the rich" (who are we talking about, exactly?) are categorically ineligible for what we normally would regard as just returns on investment, effort, and time unless those returns also cause or accompany increases in others' material well-being.

January 29, 2007 in Garnett, Rick | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

RIP Robert Drinan

Robert Drinan, S.J., died last night of pneumonia and congestive heart failure.  Although he was a controversial figure for many Catholics, he was tireless laborer in areas such as legal ethics and international human rights.  Rest in peace.

January 29, 2007 in Stabile, Susan | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Effects of the Minimum Wage

I agree with Rick that the consequences of a minimum wage matter -- in the same way that the consequneces of any morals legislation matter within traditional Catholic approaches to legal theory.

The empirical record on the minimum wage is a mixed one.  In a series of articles, David Card and Alan Krueger have found that modest increases in the minimum wage have actually increased employment.  Here's the abstract of a paper they wrote in 1994:

On April 1, 1992 New Jersey's minimum wage increased from $4.25 to $5.05 per hour. To evaluate the impact of the law we surveyed 410 fast food restaurants in New Jersey and Pennsylvania before and after the rise in the minimum. Comparisons of the changes in wages, employment, and prices at stores in New Jersey relative to stores in Pennsylvania (where the minimum wage remained fixed at $4.25 per hour) yield simple estimates of the effect of the higher minimum wage. Our empirical findings challenge the prediction that a rise in the minimum reduces employment. Relative to stores in Pennsylvania, fast food restaurants in New Jersey increased employment by 13 percent. We also compare employment growth at stores in New Jersey that were initially paying high wages (and were unaffected by the new law) to employment changes at lower-wage stores. Stores that were unaffected by the minimum wage had the same employment growth as stores in Pennsylvania, while stores that had to increase their wages increased their employment.  (Card, David and Alan B. Krueger, "Minimum Wages and Employment: A Case Study of the Fast-Food Industry In New Jersey and Pennsylvania." American Economic Review. September 1994: pp. 772-793)

See also David Card & Alan Krueger, Minimum Wages and Employment, 90 Amer. Econ. Rev. 1397 (2000) (confirming earlier results); Mark B. Stewart, The Impact of the Introduction of the UK Minimum Wage on the Employment Probabilities of Low-Wage Workers, 2 J. European Econ. Ass'n 67 (2004); Paul Wolfson & Dale Belman, The Minimum Wage:  Consequences for Prices and Quantities in Low Wage Markets, 22 J. of Bus. & Econ. Stat. 296 (2004).  Other studies (in fact, probably the majority of studies prior to Card & Krueger's work) have found modestly negative effects on low-wage employment.

So the economists can't seem to agree on this.  But, as in other areas of law, I think it's important not to lose sight of law's symbolic significance.  Making contracts to pay workers less than a minimum wage illegal has some communicative value independent of the actual consequences it generates for low wage workers.   Whether the positive effects of an increase in the minimum wage (in both communicative and concrete terms) outweigh the negative consequences is obviously a complex prudential calculation on which reasonable people of good will can differ.  I think a strong argument can be made, however, that, because negative employment consequences will be de minimis at some level (even for those who reject the Card & Krueger results) SOME level of minimum wage is morally required, if only for those symbolic reasons. 

Finally, even if folks like Posner turn out to be right, I don't think that relieves opponents of the minimum wage from the obligation to generate alternative proposals for ensuring that those earning sub-living wages in the absence of an adequate minimum wage law receive the material resources to which they are entitled as a matter of justice.  Since -- within the Catholic moral tradition -- the material well being of those at the bottom is a crucial measure of the justice of an economic order (along with the avoidance of excessive inequality, as we've been discussing), we as a society should be willing to tolerate even declines in aggregate wealth in exchange for absolute (and, to a point, relative) improvements for those at the bottom. 

Being opposed to tolerance of continuing poverty and excessive inequality does not commit one to any particular policy to remedy those problems.  But I would put the onus on those who oppose modest increases in the minimum wage to explain how they hope to combat poverty and excessive inequality more effectively.  I don't see those currently filibustering the minimum wage making heroic efforts to expand the EITC or to increase the rate of union representation in the private sector or to return the progressivity of our income tax to pre-Reagan levels.  Simply saying that the market will take care of it is not an option Catholics can endorse.

UPDATE:  I think I can explain the difference between Cowen's approach and mine more clearly.  Cowen (or really anyone who favors an exclusive focus on absolute well being of the poor) would appear to think a marginal increase in the well being of the rich is justifiable as long as it does not affirmatively harm the absolute well being of those at the bottom (some people who argue along these lines would refuse to honor increased envy among the poorest as a cognizable harm, though the arguments for disregarding envy have always struck me as unconvincing).  I, however, think that a marginal increase in well being of the rich is not justifiable unless it -- at a minimum -- affirmatively improves things for those at the bottom.  Finally, depending on the size of the increase for the rich and the poor, the improvement for the rich might not be justifiable, even with a small benefit to the poorest, since the independent harm to social solidarity of added inequality might more than offset a small (absolute) improvment for those at the bottom.

January 28, 2007 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Jack Bauer and evil

I agree with Rick (BTW, I am hooked on "24" also) that Jack Bauer has used evil means to obtain arguably good ends.  Jack seems to understand that engaging in morally evil conduct has a corrosive effect on his own personhood.  A couple of years ago, (am I remembering this correctly) his daughter Kim was seeing another field agent.  Jack wanted him assigned a desk job not justbecause of the danger involved but also because the negative personality effect.   

January 28, 2007 in Scaperlanda, Mike | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

From the 1/27/07 issue of The Tablet

[In connection with the news about a controversy in the U.K. that Gerry Whyte sent us earlier this week (here), this item--from the January 27th issue of The Tablet--is of interest:]

A Love Found Wanting

Martin Reynolds

This week, the Catholic Church stated that its adoption agencies would have to close if the Government forced them to accept applications from gay couples. Here, a gay Anglican priest describes how he and his Catholic partner took on a child and why they wish to do so again

We are a family with mixed religious backgrounds. Chris, my partner of 27 years, is a Roman Catholic and I am an Anglican priest. Our son is 19 now and preparing for college. We first got to know him 15 years ago, and for 10 years we were respite carers, with him staying with us for a third of his time. Then five years ago his family relationships broke down. He came to live with us permanently and we became his long-term foster carers. He is a wonderful lad whose severe learning difficulties and behavioural problems are but a tiny part of that whole person we have come to love with all our hearts.

At first we were reluctant to take him on full time for we already had my mother living with us and her frailty and health problems did not seem to be a good match with his needs. We should not have worried; they are firm friends and co-conspirators when our son is in the doghouse.

Our lives have all been transformed by this new family member and the extra-special care his needs demand. His prayer is awesome in its simplicity and directness and until recently he has enjoyed going to Mass with my partner. He occasionally comes with me - but he wants to say the Mass with me, and some of the congregation find that distracting.

While he has been preparing himself to start going to college in September our son has said that the one thing he wants more than anything else when he comes home are brothers and sisters. Chris and I were taken aback by this but, after a lot of thought and seeing how great he is with younger children in the family, we decided to try.

"Trying" in our case means applying to fostering and adoption agencies, and we did try, among others, the local Catholic adoption agency here in Cardiff, offering our experience and a loving home for two more children. Perhaps Chris was a little naive in thinking that as a Christian home bringing up the kids in the Catholic faith, this would somehow make the difference. As well as wanting the confidence that comes from dealing with fellow Christians, the Catholic adoption agencies have a super record of placing children with severe disability and giving first-class support afterwards.

The selection process for all adopting families is exhaustive. Highly skilled social workers spend long hours intruding very rightly in every area of your life. It takes many months of meetings to prepare a report for the adoption panel that will decide to support your application or not. Having been a panel member for many years I know how detailed and revealing these reports are and the struggle people endure to complete the process.

When we telephoned our local Catholic agency, the St David's Children Society in Cardiff, we explained our circumstances truthfully. The receptionist told us that they did not accept gay couples as adopters. To be turned down without even being asked your name, seems, in the circumstances, rather a harsh dismissal. Gerry Cooney, the agency's director, was disturbed by this account, and says, "Our policy written into our procedures for at least the last two years has been to redirect gay couples to local authorities and other voluntary agencies sympathetically and supportively." There are other agencies of course, and two have taken a keen interest in taking us to the panel stage, but since that day of rejection Chris has not taken our son to Mass at a Catholic church. Nor has he been able to go to Mass alone - a source of great sadness for both of us since our faith has been a driving force.

Rejection is something you must expect in this difficult process, we may still meet that at the end of the road when the adoption panel meets late in the year, but to meet rejection at the front door of your own Church is hard to bear and Chris is suffering.

The process of becoming a long-term foster parent or adopting is discriminatory in itself, and for the sake of the children it needs to be. The children we are contemplating taking into our lives and homes are among the most challenging (and rewarding) in our community. But we believe they deserve our getting a hearing. And if, after all the careful sifting and detailed analysis, we are found wanting, then so be it.

Of course we are not unaware that the language coming from the Vatican in recent years about gay couples has been increasingly tempestuous. But each time it seemed that the sensible bishops of the English and Welsh hierarchy have had the sense and compassion to rush to moderate its bitterest edges.

The document from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 2003 saying that giving adopted children to gay couples was "doing them violence" was a particular low point in my partner's relationship with his Catholic faith and each week he would remove pamphlets that referred to it from the back of the church. Now the bishops of England and Wales appear to want to toe the Vatican line. Last Tuesday I noticed that the Archbishop of Birmingham, Vincent Nichols, refused to take part in a live debate with the Labour MP Chris Bryant on Channel 4 News and insisted on being interviewed separately. Earlier in the day, Archbishop Peter Smith of Birmingham told Premier Christian Radio that he did not have time to discuss the issue with me on their Drivetime programme. I think the archbishops are afraid that we are going to ask some very difficult questions.

The fact is that there is great inconsistency in the Church's approach. Some Catholic adoption agencies in England and Wales welcome applications from unmarried couples with no faith - singles and even gay or lesbian singles. The real question here is that of civil partnerships, for the solid legal foundation that civil partnership (and marriage for same-sex couples elsewhere in Europe) offers to lesbian and gay people is being perceived by Rome as an enormous threat, and the adoption issue is almost a side bar to that.

In the end, of course, it all comes down to money. The Catholic Church might continue to discriminate against lesbian and gay couples if the Church found the millions of pounds it costs annually to run its adoption societies. In the current system most of the money comes from the Government and it will find it hard, if not impossible, to give the exemptions the Church asks for.

This is not an argument with two sides. This is not a debate between Catholic rights and gay rights - this is about very vulnerable children, thousands of them, waiting in inappropriate conditions for a loving family to help mend broken hearts. Many of these kids have disabilities - many have been in as many as 20 and more different short-term placements.

The children in our care system are who we should be putting first and for their sake alone the Catholic Church should move on. If its agencies place children with a gay or lesbian couple the whole world knows it will not be because they want to but because those acting for the children's best interests think that that is where that child might flourish - and if it is a home like ours, where the child would be taught the faith, so much the better.

And what of us? We have already had mentioned to us a couple of children who have such profound disabilities that they will never know the gender, yet alone the sexuality of the loving parents they need. They cannot see nor hear and will only know love from the tender way they are cared for. If only the Church could know this love.

January 28, 2007 in Perry, Michael | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Jack Bauer and moral philosophy

I love, and am completely hooked on, the tv-show, "24."  I would pay a substantial sum of money to somehow have the first five seasons erased from my mind, thereby making it possible for me to start over and enjoy them, like new, again.  So, I was curious about this op-ed, by Brian Carney, in the Wall Street Journal, about the "moral philosophy" of Jack Bauer.

Carney is impressed by the fact that, on "24", "tragic choices" abound, and are rarely presented as simple, or as having easy answers.  (This is not to say that the show proclaims there aren't right answers, just that it is rarely clear, ex ante, what they are.)

Fair enough.  That said, I would have liked for Carney to at least that at least some of the things Bauer has done -- with admirably other-regarding motives, of course -- are, well, evil.  Aren't they?

January 28, 2007 in Garnett, Rick | Permalink | TrackBack (0)