7 thoughts on “Realism, Righteousness, and Resistance

  1. As I said on the Book of Face: “Two cheers out of three for this piece …. Yes, Aristotle says we are neither beasts not gods — but he also says we are closer to gods than beasts, and should reflect this in our choices. And I can’t buy either the notion that tolerance depends on moral ignorance (if we were really morally ignorant, what grounds would we have for caring about tolerance?) or that tolerance rules out the idea of “culture war” in defense of the marginalised, against the cruel and bigoted.”

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    • Thank you for the two cheers! With respect to your concerns, I address them (to varying degrees) in the piece. About the cultural war against bigotry, my claim is that the righteous are prone to miss the target, and so rather than fighting the bigots, fight those who (often marginally) disagree and problematically call them bigots. As for moral ignorance, if that implies that there is a moral truth that we are too fallible to know, I reject it. Mine isn’t an argument from humility. Tolerance has pragmatic value.

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  2. I guess I have more agreement than disagreement with either of you, and suspect that you agree somewhat more than you disagree.

    Question for Joe: Isn’t there a legitimate role for “cancellation culture” or “culture war” in some contexts? Think of platforms like 8chan or the strategies and tactics of the alt-right and white nationalist movement. Groups like that want to purchase legitimacy in mainstream culture to promote an unambiguously fascist agenda. Shouldn’t they be resisted? If so, won’t cancellation culture have to be part of the mix? Our resistance to the farther reaches of the Right can’t be purely verbal or intellectual.

    Question for Roderick: Isn’t Joe right about some of the perils of contemporary righteousness? I agree with the examples Joe cites. Isn’t it wrong to treat sincere worries about gender re-assignment medicine (when it is sincere) as transphobic? Or skepticism about reparations as racism? More generally, even beyond what Joe says, it seems to me that there’s an unhealthy lust for condemnation in the air, a lust driven by a moralistic zeal that often outruns the desire for evidence. My recent posts on R. Kelly, Scot Peterson, Tulsi Gabbard, Lt. Vindman, and Katie Hill were all, in one way or another, a response to that.


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