Distinguishing the ‘Moral High Ground’ from personal problems

David Bueche makes several good points in his discussion of Water Boarding: The View from the Moral High Ground at the American Thinker.

First is about the problem of binary arguments for things that exist in a continuum.

The use of the word “torture” as a catch-all phrase which makes no distinction to severity, intent, or other context is a smokescreen meant to end the conversation and stifle any meaningful dissent or perception of legitimate moral ambiguity.

Then there is the narcissistic nature of the pacifist as an example of the person who thinks he is on a moral high ground.

At this point in the conversation the pacifist usually says something like, “No – I don’t support either thing. They’re both bad!” This statement reveals the ultimately narcissistic nature of extreme pacifism – If I believe something strongly, I define the rules. In reality any interaction with another, by definition, is not unilateral. Even if you don’t believe in mugging people, the mugger defines your relationship, (usually at the point of knife), and you are confronted with the choice of accepting or rejecting this definition. His knife makes your “perfect world” irrelevant.

The key is that you can evaluate the quality of an argument as a first step in determining its worth. If the argument uses absolutes about something that has gray areas or if the argument is based on idealistic principles without regard to circumstances and consequences, then it is probably the wrong argument for the issue and belongs in a different kind of discussion.

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