What’s Wrong with the World

The men signed of the cross of Christ go gaily in the dark.

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What’s Wrong with the World is dedicated to the defense of what remains of Christendom, the civilization made by the men of the Cross of Christ. Athwart two hostile Powers we stand: the Jihad and Liberalism...read more

Recent Comments

This is not a good idea

Comment posted by Lydia on May 27, 18:47:

Smith doesn't do a lot of responding to comments since the move to National Review. It's just a less interactive atmosphere than it was when the blog was at First Things. So that really has nothing to do with my comment per se. Again, I was sorry to have to disagree with him on this one, as I have the highest respect for him and his work. I was not aware of a requirement for _both_ the cessation of spontaneous heartbeat and breathing _and_ whole-brain death in Catholic doctrine. Generally medical death cri ... [More]

This is not a good idea

Comment posted by William Luse on May 27, 18:08:

I notice that Smith has not replied to your comment. Re the Catholic Church - I think it approves of vital organ donation in principle if, according to JPII, spontaneous heartbeat and respiration have ceased, accompanied by "the irreversible cessation of all functioning of the brain, including the brain stem." But I doubt those criteria are very closely observed in the real world. ... [More]

This is not a good idea

Comment posted by steve hays on May 27, 14:51:

At this point I think the wisest precaution to becoming an involuntary organ donor is to cultivate an unhealthy lifestyle so that your organs will be unsuitable for harvesting! ... [More]

This is not a good idea

Comment posted by Lydia on May 27, 09:51:

I know exactly why you say that, Scott, and yet a lot of people have gotten to where we are in this area by the best of intentions in doing something they had no idea could be wrong. Something they even thought was morally praiseworthy, bringing good out of the evil of death. Not to be unpleasant, but even the Catholic Church approves of vital organ donation. Most Christian pro-lifers of all denominations approve of it. It's my considered opinion that insufficient attention in approving of it morally was gi ... [More]

This is not a good idea

Comment posted by Scott W. on May 27, 06:05:

The stench of "choice devours itself" is palpable. ... [More]

The necessity of natural law for medicine

Comment posted by The Masked Chicken on May 27, 00:48:

Oh, the old, "Is-Ought," nonsense. There are three level of laws (from highest to lowest): Divine, Natural, and Human. After proving that God exists by other means, the refutation of the is-ought mess proceeds easily. God, by his Divine Simplicity, has no distinction between is and ought, so the problem is meaningless for the Divine Law. When God says that this is the way it is, not only is it that way, but it ought to be that way. Nature has no choice in how it operates on its own (Nature can't change ... [More]

The necessity of natural law for medicine

Comment posted by Mike T on May 26, 11:13:

Anyone who believes that "is" cannot imply "ought" is going to have a lot of problems anyway. The presence of authentic hunger implies that you ought to eat. Anyone who cannot even agree with that would do us all a service by taking their opposition to the extreme on a hunger strike. ... [More]

The necessity of natural law for medicine

Comment posted by Lydia on May 26, 09:58:

Because the form of your argument -- at least as I understood it -- was something like this: Some people claim that the distinction between "is" and "ought" statements dooms natural law. But anyone who thinks that "is" statements can't imply "ought" statements will have great difficulty justifying current medical practices -- at least without also justifying medical procedures that most people object to. If there's a non-teleological standard that can justify standard medical procedures without also endors ... [More]

The necessity of natural law for medicine

Comment posted by Tony on May 25, 19:57:

by picking a criterion like, "Medical procedures are justified if they're consistent with the patient's desires, unless the procedure would be horrifying to the vast majority of people in the doctor's society." The criterion doesn't itself need to be justified; it just needs to avoid being itself unpalatable. But it IS unpalatable - to the person who wants to have his eyes gouged out. And, just for the record, the "unless the procedure would be horrifying to the vast majority of people in the doctor's s ... [More]

The necessity of natural law for medicine

Comment posted by William Luse on May 25, 06:58:

I don't follow. You can't get an ought from an is, but if the vast majority of people think something is horrifying, then it is, and I ought to think so too? ... [More]

The necessity of natural law for medicine

Comment posted by RK on May 24, 19:53:

Why should I care about that? Because the form of your argument -- at least as I understood it -- was something like this: Some people claim that the distinction between "is" and "ought" statements dooms natural law. But anyone who thinks that "is" statements can't imply "ought" statements will have great difficulty justifying current medical practices -- at least without also justifying medical procedures that most people object to. If there's a non-teleological standard that can justify standard medica ... [More]

If everything is holy, nothing is holy

Comment posted by Carol on May 24, 05:12:

It is not pantheism, it is panentheism--a sacramental rather than an inconoclastic worldview based on faith in the Cosmic Christ, Savior/Redeemer of the world/universe that is still believed and taught in the Orthodox Churches of the East. It is a very early Christian Tradition, implicit in Pauline theology and explicit in the writings of the Fathers (and Mothers) of the post-Apostolic Patristic era. Christ as Reconciler is the natural doctrinal soteriological development following Jesus as Justifier. ... [More]

The necessity of natural law for medicine

Comment posted by Ilion on May 23, 18:57:

"I certainly agree that if someone wants to get rid of proper functioning ears, eyes, or lets, he doesn't know what is objectively good for him. You are doubtless aware that many who identify themselves as transgender believe that it would make them objectively happier if they got rid of their biologically well-functioning genitals, and that doctors have lent themselves to this project as necessary technicians. My examples are not merely hypothetical. The example of cutting off healthy limbs is also not mer ... [More]

The necessity of natural law for medicine

Comment posted by GRA on May 23, 14:18:

According to Al: "Why should we do that?" Simple fairness and justice, perhaps? Sums up perfectly the reasoning of SJW types. ... [More]

The necessity of natural law for medicine

Comment posted by Scott W. on May 23, 08:18:

What's interesting to me is all the people on the left who will scoff (as in this very thread) at the notion that abandoning teleology leads to medical chaos, while presumably those *same people* use the T in the GLBTQ alphabet soup without irony, thus pledging their allegiance to the wonderfulness of gender reassignment! Indeed. And Steve Frank commenting at Crisis demonstrated that "T" shows the utter incoherence of the LGBT position: It’s also interesting to observe the cognitive dissonance that goes o ... [More]

When is expressing mere outrage constructive?

Comment posted by John Krivak on May 23, 07:28:

Well, one positive for those who express moral approval is that, unless guilty of the worst sort of hypocrisy, such advocates are not contributing to the problems they decry. For example, while crying out against abortion and child neglect or abuse, their own families are responsibly maintained. And this is a truly good thing, and we could use more like them. This all stands in the "do as I say but not as I do" advocates of a counter-morality who are genuine hypocrites. For example, the progressives who ... [More]

The necessity of natural law for medicine

Comment posted by Lydia on May 22, 18:58:

Yep, it's called "Bodily Identity Integrity Disorder." I was mentioning it in a comment above (BIID). The resemblance to gender reassignment surgery (and hormone use, etc.) is very clear. What's interesting to me is all the people on the left who will scoff (as in this very thread) at the notion that abandoning teleology leads to medical chaos, while presumably those *same people* use the T in the GLBTQ alphabet soup without irony, thus pledging their allegiance to the wonderfulness of gender reassignment! ... [More]

The necessity of natural law for medicine

Comment posted by Ilion on May 22, 17:25:

There is a psychological pathological condition whereby the afflicted person falsely believes that a perfectly normal limb "doesn't belong" to himself, isn't a proper part of his body. Frequently, these people will try to get a doctor to amputate the limb -- until recently, no doctor in the world would consent to be so used (*) (**) -- and, failing to get that "help", they may do things to injure themselves, so as to force a doctor to amputate the limb to save their lives. (*) I became aware of this con ... [More]

The necessity of natural law for medicine

Comment posted by Tony on May 22, 15:39:

"and homosexual sex acts don't result in families." They don't result in pregnancies. Family formation is a broader concept. No, they don't result in families. Homosexual persons may go out and arrange to get children, but it is not their sexual acts that result in their having families. When the resort is to creaky things like theology, natural law, and teleology, one should know that one has lost...A very interesting thing has been the lack of any good arguments on your side once this got into court ... [More]

The necessity of natural law for medicine

Comment posted by al on May 22, 15:11:

"Why should we do that?" Simple fairness and justice, perhaps? Justice Scalia was actually right for once (or twice - Smith). Once gay folk were able to form relationships without fear of legal harassment, it seems only natural that they would seek the same protections that exist for heterosexual couples as their relationships face exactly the same situations as those formed by the latter - i.e. property, children, and major life decisions around healthcare. That sort of defines Equal Protection. Anywa ... [More]

The necessity of natural law for medicine

Comment posted by Lydia on May 22, 12:50:

To clarify, I was taking "fitness-enhancing" in Grobi's claim to mean something extremely narrow, like "resulting in passing on one's DNA to large numbers of offspring." Obviously I was _not_ even granting for argument's sake that rape is "fitness-enhancing" in any broader sense such as "overall good for men." ... [More]

The necessity of natural law for medicine

Comment posted by Jeffrey S. on May 22, 10:56:

Lydia, Great post -- I think the medical analogy is fruitful and particularly interesting as an argument to use with our more secular friends who don't know much about natural law thinking. Related, I like the efforts of our friends in the ID movement to show how much basic biology is shot through with teleological concepts, even when the biologists themselves explicitly deny this! Meanwhile, for those who may not be familiar with some of his work, this is a classic post on the subject that responds to m ... [More]

The necessity of natural law for medicine

Comment posted by Tony on May 22, 10:37:

Some evolutionary biologists think rape behavior in male humans is a fitness-enhancing adaptation. They may be wrong about this, but whether they are is an empirical question. Their thesis has at least some initial plausibility, so let's suppose, for argument's sake, they are right. No, let's not. I reject the hypothesis ought to be considered seriously. Any proposed teleology of MAN that does not respect his intellectual nature, and his social nature, his foresight, and his orientation toward a good c ... [More]

The necessity of natural law for medicine

Comment posted by Lydia on May 22, 10:25:

If someone wants to get rid of her proper functioning eyes, ears or legs - which rarely, if ever, happens, by the way - she is deeply wrong about what's objectively good for her. It's so simple than that. How do we know what's objectively good for us? That's a difficult metaethical question, to be sure, but certainly the telos of our biological nature doesn't (always) give an answer, I certainly agree that if someone wants to get rid of proper functioning ears, eyes, or lets, he doesn't know what is object ... [More]

The peace of the city

Comment posted by Mike T on May 22, 08:59:

In 2015 such a man would probably be a compulsive porn user and would have been encouraged by his colleagues to divorce his b--- of a wife. He would be much more likely to have launched into a variety of soul-destroying activities, hardened his heart, called himself an atheist, and never repented. And that's _better_ because his double in 1955 didn't really know and love Jesus and do what he did for that motive? This guy is a fairweather friend whom we should be glad to see driven out of our churches? In 2 ... [More]

The necessity of natural law for medicine

Comment posted by Mike T on May 22, 06:44:

Suppose you had the anatonomy of an ant queen. Your telos would be an immobile life as a birthing machine, laying hundreds of eggs an hour. Wouldn't it be a good thing for you if you could overcome that telos? That telos doesn't exist in isolation from considerations about what is good for the rest of the colony. Changing her to give her normal mobility might be good for her, but disastrous for the rest of the colony. Therefore even if it is good for her, it may not confer any right to change her biology. ... [More]

The necessity of natural law for medicine

Comment posted by Grobi on May 22, 05:06:

The point, however, is that without teleology, understood as a guide to "ought," we have no sane, normative way whatsoever to understand the medical profession and its ends. Baloney. You are simply assuming that natural law theory and something like preference (subjective desire fullfillment) utilitarism are the only possible candidates in town. You should know better. Why is it good for eyes to see, ears to hear, and legs to walk? Because these things tend to contribute to an objectively happy and fulfill ... [More]

The necessity of natural law for medicine

Comment posted by Lydia on May 21, 18:57:

An alert reader points out to me that Steorts has been promulgating nonsense on this subject for quite a while. I had just forgotten his name in connection with it: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/263672/two-views-marriage-and-falsity-choice-between-them-jason-lee-steorts Bill Luse ably fisked the earlier version here: http://wluse.blogspot.com/2012/06/gay-marriage-and-denigration-of-women.html So obviously NR has kept Steorts on board in the intervening four years, even if that was the first time ... [More]

The necessity of natural law for medicine

Comment posted by William Luse on May 21, 18:51:

It can also be based on, for example, societal consensus on what types of conditions are desirable, or some mixture of the patient's desires and societal views. Is "desirable" code for good (as opposed to bad) or right (as opposed to wrong)? ... [More]

The necessity of natural law for medicine

Comment posted by William Luse on May 21, 18:44:

Not if human flourishing is better achieved through neo-local pair bonding and if that is the case then only experience will show us if bringing same sex, neo-local pair bonding under family law is a good thing. Why should we do that? Homosexual "pair bonding" doesn't result in a marriage, and homosexual sex acts don't result in families. ... [More]

When is expressing mere outrage constructive?

Comment posted by Beth Impson on May 21, 16:39:

Bill, nothing wrong with you. You're just smarter than the rest of us. ... [More]

The necessity of natural law for medicine

Comment posted by Lydia on May 21, 16:19:

If social consensus about goodness constitutes goodness for the human body and goodness in medical practice, then in principle social consensus could make it the case that the only good Indian is a dead Indian (that, for an Indian, a good heart is a non-beating heart, and that doctors should make Indian hearts cease to beat) and that a good female foot is one that has been tightly bound from earliest childhood. These would then become good in virtue of social consensus. Which is one way in which I, for one ... [More]

The necessity of natural law for medicine

Comment posted by Lydia on May 21, 16:01:

In any event, the "human desires" objection doesn't necessarily have to rest on the patient's desires. It can also be based on, for example, societal consensus on what types of conditions are desirable, or some mixture of the patient's desires and societal views. Why should I care about that? It seems pretty trivial to construct a criterion along those lines that'll adequately deal with cases involving patients who want to have their eyes gouged out and so foth. And equally trivial to construct a differ ... [More]

The necessity of natural law for medicine

Comment posted by Mike T on May 21, 15:50:

In related news, the head of the Boy Scouts wants to end the ban on gays. As I said, just expel them. Keeping them around, marginalized, is like cutting a tumor off from the site it was formed and letting it stay in the body. ... [More]

The necessity of natural law for medicine

Comment posted by RK on May 21, 15:38:

Sure, ridicule isn't argument -- a point that's worth keeping in mind when breezily dismissing the "medicine is justified by human desires" objection as "ethically insane." First of all, it's not obvious that there is in fact a coherent distinction in kind between cosmetic procedures and other types. Reasonable people have seemingly interminable disagreements about how to classify treatments -- human growth hormone supplements for idiopathic short stature, surgery for cleft palate or lip (in cases where the ... [More]

The necessity of natural law for medicine

Comment posted by al on May 21, 13:13:

"Polygyny is just ordinary marriage with multiple wives;..." "Morally, though, and in terms of nature, it would have made more sense in a way for heterosexual polygyny to have received approval _before_ homosexuality." Not if human flourishing is better achieved through neo-local pair bonding and if that is the case then only experience will show us if bringing same sex, neo-local pair bonding under family law is a good thing. We, however, do have much experience with polygyny, polyandry, and male - fema ... [More]

The necessity of natural law for medicine

Comment posted by steve hays on May 21, 12:14:

That's a basic problem with (re-)defining the scientific method in terms of methodological naturalism. By banishing teleological explanations from nature, there's no longer such a thing as a genetic defect or congenital heart defect or degenerative condition. There's no standard of comparison for how the body ought to work. Body parts and organs aren't *for* anything. There's nothing they are supposed to do. Medicine is like bioengineering. A physician must assume the viewpoint of an engineer. View body sy ... [More]

The necessity of natural law for medicine

Comment posted by Lydia on May 21, 11:05:

Well, I don't know about "fear," and I'm not terribly interested in debating with someone who thinks polygyny is _good_, but I am inclined to agree with you just that polygyny is less _unnatural_ than homosexuality. However, it is wrong and is not the original plan for marriage, and I think this can be seen in a variety of ways. Hence the ambiguous treatment of it in the Old Testament followed by Jesus' clarification of one-man-one-woman marriage in the new. Polygyny was in any event dying out of its own ac ... [More]

The necessity of natural law for medicine

Comment posted by Mike T on May 21, 10:54:

My suspicion is that Steorts is a closet SJW. Time and again we've seen people who show sympathy for causes like this or who "evolved" were in fact lying and held those views from the beginning. There's a powerful Gramscian element to how they operate on these issues. The only sensible solution for dealing with him is for NR leadership to terminate him and anyone who came in with him. One thing I've never understood about conservatives and natural law here is the fear of polygyny becoming legal if gay marr ... [More]

When is expressing mere outrage constructive?

Comment posted by William Luse on May 20, 18:31:

Suppose that you have a modest number of Facebook friends--say, three hundred or so. (Which is modest, believe me.) I have 66. What's wrong with me? ... [More]