Conceptual Database

Here I (we) plan to develop a conceptual overview of all major issues affecting individual liberty, and provide (eventually) databases supporting conclusions about all of them. These issues would include

"family values"

conscription and servitude

gays in the military

health (incl. AIDS), behavior, biology, genetics, policy

"entitlements" and the "safety net"

freedom of speech

church and state

due process

race, gender, and affirmative action

competition and the workplace

My backup beta site is on Hometown AOL http://members.aol.com/JBoushka

 

Now, in the style of Nietzsche's The Gay Science, I want to print an overview of my philosophical concerns in the format of a sequence of aphorisms, not necessarily in the most logical order.

(1)

Judging from the way the United States military sometimes implements "Don't Ask Don't Tell" in an "all volunteer" service, it appears that the American people are falling into depending upon the rambunctious ignorance of its most disadvantaged young men to do the country's dirty work of "foxhole position" defense. This threatens the liberties of all of us. (Hence Steve May calls the policy "immoral.")

(2)

Civilization and ordered liberty cannot endure if every citizen just focuses upon "short term - one quarter at a time" self-interest. Enlightened self-interest implies the ability to take care of others besides oneself, at least sometimes.

(3)

Fairness, deservedness and reasonable equality of opportunity are all legitimate moral concerns. So are meeting the needs of those who really cannot take care of themselves. We have slipped into political-barter solutions, such as tax-and-spend, to deal with these unpleasant realities of an imperfect world. Sometimes, these big social programs (Medicaid, Medicare, social security) do seem to relieve us of obligations that otherwise might stay within families. History has always tended to resolve these "inequality" problems by dealing with large identifiable groups of people with adversarial ends. Instead, we should focus upon social justice as an individually moral matter, where people have what they deserve based on their own efforts, abilities, and to some extent service to others.

(4)

At the heart of these "moral" concerns we see deep cultural divides in our own society. Should a person's first obligation be to look after his own flesh and blood (above and beyond the responsibilities he has "freely chosen" by having children)? In a conservative paradigm, family obligation is the great equalizer. in a liberal view, family inheritance is the great perpetrator of undeserved wealth and patriarchal power structure. Both are partially right.

(5)

Homosexual attraction comes across to many people as a narcissistic distraction that interferes with getting society's adaptive dirty work done. Recognition of homosexual erotic interest makes men more conscious (often uncomfortably) of their own choices and of the obligations that go with these choices.

 

(6)

To advance and achieve anything of value in life, a person must weigh loyalty to the group-hand that feeds him (with its rounding errors of moral implementations) against hollowing out what he or she uniquely has to give, that no one else will.

(7)

Free speech is essential because truth and right is always being discovered. "Political correctness" assumes that moral questions have been resolved and that further disputative questioning of a "democratically" derived majority consensus unravels what has already been determined to be good and just. Many people think that "morality" must remain a fixed, unquestioned, dogmatic entity which causes no psychological static friction. They do not see that this makes them vulnerable to pundits. But morality needs to be viewed more as a matter of individual behavior and priorities. Scientific and moral discovery demands that all topics still be on the table.

(8)

Technological and now information delivery revolutions change the way people see themselves in relation to the communities that they inhabit. The information superhighway revolution makes information something that competes with energy and matter; it turns publicity into an economic asset with unknown future monetary value, and it makes the individual equal to the whole organization.

(9)

The conservative "don't ask, don't tell" paradigm implies a toleration, at best, and certainly not acceptance of gays and lesbians. Advocates for acceptance of gays often emphasize that homosexuality is a natural but biologically intrinsic condition, and seem to be saying that homosexuals should be regarded the same as everyone else (with "equal rights") because they are essentially "different" (though in a benign, trivial way). This is (from a mathematical point of view) a contradiction.   Sexual orientation is a much more complicated issue than race. (It may be more like religion in that it involves behaviors or behavioral inclinations.) The insinuation of the conventional "liberal" paradigm for "gay rights" for many people will be that homosexual behavior is acceptable only because homosexuals "can't help it."  That is insulting to me!

A "do ask, do tell" paradigm should assume that every adult has the fundamental right to make the choice of a consenting adult "significant other" without the interference of external society and certainly of the state.  This is the libertarian approach to equal rights for gays. Today, government by law (in its marriage, child care and military policies) defines gays as second class citizens and then turns around and contradicts itself by trying to "protect" gays from civilization except in the military and in family law.  This is illogical.

(10)

Conventional moral thinking views lifetime unconditional sexual commitment to one marital partner as an essential qualification for adulthood. The use of sexuality for one's own psychological purposes is seen as "dangerous," leading to a society of the "beautiful" and "all the rest."  Certainly, this new psychological freedom requires new responsibilities (such as altruism), just as would the freedom to live on another planet!  But same-sex marriage really presents the opportunity to bring all this together.

(11)

Some people aren't even aware of the need for moral thinking.  There is religious side that turns everything over to "Him," and there is the partying side that just says, "get a life."  These two extremes hardly know that each other exist. 

(12)

Social justice and economic freedom go hand in hand. It is impossible to present social and discrimination issues responsibility without thoroughly exploring the economic and technological climate in which these issue arise, and without explaining how economic devices and government tax policies impact social issues.

(13)

"Women tame men": where collective good and individual rights create some tension: (From my posting on Independent Gay Forum, 12/23/1999)

I just want to follow through a chain of thought, regarding the connection of same-sex marriage to responsibility.
-- An important consideration in social order, according to most political theorists (but maybe not libertarians) is providing a reasonable incentive for people to set priorities that involve being able to take care of others (children, parents) as well as those goals which are obviously more "self-expressive." This used to be unquestioned in earlier eras when survival depended on family and community solidarity, and has tended to become weaker in modern life in a technological, mobile society.
-- The family is apparently an ideal vehicle for this. So it is logical to propose (as does Jonathan Rauch repeatedly in his writings) that gays should both get same-sex marriage and be expected to use it. This seems to buttress the conservative paradigm of using "family values" as a tool for social justice and communal "morality." (Of course the family has its drawbacks, such as, in the minds of some people, preserving unearned wealth, and making people less mobile. But on balance, the nuclear family does help explain the explosive prosperity of mid 20-Century America and increasing standard of living).
-- So what is the beef for "conservatives"? Some of it may be personal discomfort with thinking about homosexuality; but, when you talk about "the law of large numbers," it is definitely true that (as Gilder and G Will write) "women tame men." Women provide a vehicle for men, after a one-per-lifetime period of somewhat narcissistic youthful romance, to become sexually committed to family obligations without having to be conscious of the whole process. (It's a bit of a mental con-game, Manchurian Candidate style.) Of course, this doesn't always work (by a long shot), lesbians may be even more stable than male-female couples (because women tend to prefer stability and nurturing behavior, at least when regarded in large numbers), and long term male couple relationships do occur.
But the important thing for a "conservative" is policy that works naturally for average people (and gives most average people a place in society) without too much pondering. (It also provides for the possibility of authoritarian discipline if this should be necessary because of some external disaster, like war or cataclysm). So, any idea that weakens the man-woman marriage as a central institution of society is resisted (indeed, same-sex Vermont-style partnerships or "marriage" are seen as diluting it).
Marriage policy (DOMA. etc) has always offended me because what it says to a gay person is: since your behavior and inclinations are a bit problematical for society as a whole, we will make you subsidize the sexual relationships of
"normal" people. People who do not seek heterosexual sex will be forced (at least on paper) to help support those who do!! People who have monogamous heterosexual relationships will enjoy privileges at the expense of those who don't. That seems to be what people like Gary Bauer want.
So we have a philosophical question: when will individual rights be allowed to increase if there is some complication or increased complexity for public order taken as a whole? The ethical answer is to expect personal responsibility that goes with the increase in new freedoms, as in our modern world.
Bill Boushka