Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Two Interesting Thoughts On The War On Terror

From Normblog, which I've linked to before:

In circumstances he judges not too risky, Bob, an occasional but serial rapist, is drawn to women dressed in some particular way. One morning Elaine dresses in that particular way and she crosses Bob's path in circumstances he judges not too risky. He rapes her. Elaine's mode of dress is part of the causal chain which leads to her rape. But she is not at all to blame for being raped.

The fact that something someone else does contributes causally to a crime or atrocity, doesn't show that they, as well as the direct agent(s), are morally responsible for that crime or atrocity, if what they have contributed causally is not itself wrong and doesn't serve to justify it. Furthemore, even when what someone else has contributed causally to the occurrence of the criminal or atrocious act is wrong, this won't necessarily show they bear any of the blame for it. If Mabel borrows Zack's bicycle without permission and Zack, being embittered about this, burns down Mabel's house, Mabel doesn't share the blame for her house being burned down. Though she may have behaved wrongly and her doing so is part of the causal chain leading to the conflagration, neither her act nor the wrongness of it justifies Zack in burning down her house. So simply by invoking prior causes, or putative prior causes, you do not make the case go through - the case, I mean, that someone else than the actual perpetrator of the wrongdoing is to blame.

And more from Mark Steyn:

And in the broader sense, the pathetic public execution of an innocent man on July 22 joins the events of July 21 and July 7 as a reminder of why a narrow, reactive law-enforcement approach to terrorism will always penalise the populace more than the terrorists. You win this war militarily (in the badlands of Pakistan and elsewhere) and culturally (which is a much tougher battle). Shoot-outs on the Tube aren't going to be much help - though, if they advance from Brazilians at Stockwell to theatregoers at Leicester Square, overcrowding at the Olympics isn't likely to be a problem.

Just food for thought, is all.