Thursday, January 19, 2006

Utilitarianism on the March

See this article by the Anchoress about churches being especially at risk for being taken by eminent domain.

The Supreme Court Kelo decision gave broad powers of eminent domain for private purposes; most typically, wiping out neighborhoods for "big-box" retail developments.

We've had that kind of law in Missouri for years, and now it is nationwide. In Saint Louis, the Galleria mall and Meacham Park developments are prominent examples of private developers using eminent domain to force out property owners. Classically, eminent domain was primarily used by governments for building roads.

The justification for this is the principle of the greatest good for the greatest number of people, or utilitarianism. And the greatest good for a local municipality is tax revenue. A large retail development will cause greater economic activity than residential housing, therefore is justified. Under this view, churches, which are tax-exempt, have no economic value whatsoever, and will be at great risk for being taken under economic eminent domain.

Utilitarianism is nonpartisan; in the Kelo decision, it was presumably right-wing corporate interests who won (and also big government). But the entire range of issues associated with the Culture of Death—abortion, euthanasia, radical animal rights, sex-ed, bestiality, group marriage, etc.—left-wing issues all, are all justified by using the same utilitarianism.

The entire utilitarian moral system is logically flawed and can lead to dangerous conclusions, like for example, genocide. The alternative moral system, virtue ethics, is what is used by the Church and is the traditional morality understood worldwide and throughout history. Virtue ethics is based on two main principles: objective morality and human nature. Utilitarianism is subjective and is based on abstract utility-preferences and not human nature.

But because utilitarianism is based on constructing a single 'utility function' (typically money) and not on a large number of moral values, it is easy to do. You can subjectively create any utility function that you like, claim that it applies to the greatest number of people, and then call the outcome 'ethical'. The system is based on subjective preferences and not on objective facts, which should raise warning flags for Christians, since we know that people often have preferences for doing wrong.

No comments:

Post a Comment