x_filesize')); // Sort image tag $OC_sortImg = 'current sort selection'; ?> ࡱ> '` bjbjDD 2&&aN ?4(BBBV^^^8|,V*JJJJJ%%%H*J*J*J*J*J*J*[+h-J*B%%J*, 6 JJ_*$$$BJBJH*$H*$$D'BB'J> P /^Q"\'H*u*0*d',.K#.''.B,(%:_$?%%%J*J*i$^%%%*VVVdVVVVVV,,,BBB Ironic Wrongdoing and the Arc of the Universe The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice Martin Luther King, Jr. The Arc My epigram is a familiar one in our culture. Barack Obama uses this quote often, attributing it to King, which, in spite of criticism, is correct. It is Theodore Parkers idea, but Kings formulation. Parker (1810-1860) was an abolitionist, a Unitarian minister, and a transcendentalist thinker in Emersons orbit. What he said is this: I do not pretend to understand the moral universe, the arc is a long one, my eye reaches but little ways. I cannot calculate the curve and complete the figure by the experience of sight; I can divine it by conscience. But from what I see, I am sure it bends toward justice. Parkers qualifications of the claim make it a statement of personal conviction, moderated by appropriate epistemic humility, but offering two methods of inquiry the calculation based on sight, which he says he cannot do, and the revelations of conscience. Kings epigram, on the other hand, is more like an ontological claim in the Kantian vein. King varied the epigram sometimes. He said it in the formulation above in a speech before the AFL-CIO in 1961, but on the steps of the Alabama State Capitol in 1965, he omitted the word moral, making it in effect a claim closer to the natural law tradition that justice is a natural tendency or even a telos under which all natural processes labor. I do not say that was Kings intention, but it is what he said. Sometimes King said I believe it bends toward justice, transforming the claim into an epistemic one qualified by a propositional attitude. The philosophical meaning of this idea, then, like any other, can be radically transformed by slight variations, vaulting us from one philosophical domain into the next, but clearly it is at least a geometrical analogy, in any formulation, since regardless of whether it is divined or discerned (by someone other than Parker I suppose), whether natural or moral, we are looking for an arc. We might also say that the geometry actually provides some warrant for the claim, or we might even say it provides a literal description of natural processes, but even so, it remains an analogy in form. And as a geometrical analogy, some analysis is possible, even if conclusive deductive or inductive demonstrations are unlikely to be forthcoming. I chose the epigram precisely because I want to try to cut across the standard debates in professional philosophy, while also trying to collect valuable insights from all of the major camps the consequentialists, the deontologists, the virtue ethicists, and even the natural law tradition. Especially in Parkers version, the geometrical analogy holds together in one thought the idea that there is an objective moral order, but without reducing the natural world to that order, or subjugating the moral order to natural laws or processes. And Parker is appropriately modest about our human efforts to discern the objective moral order, perhaps too modest. Others are decidedly immodest about claiming moral knowledge for themselves or their religious teachers or political heroes, and it is our collective suspicion of them that sets the recent Rortyan limit on our willingness to trust anyones final vocabulary. Here, for example, is Woodrow Wilson making Parkers point without the self-deprecating disclaimer: You can never tell your direction except by long measurements. You cannot establish a line by two posts; you have got to have three at least to know whether you are straight with anything, and the longer your line, the more certain your measurement. There is only one way to determine how the future of the United States is going to be projected, and that is by looking back and seeing which way the lines ran which led up to the present moment of power and opportunity. There is no doubt about that. There is no question what the roll of honor in America is. The roll of honor consists of the names of men who have squared their conduct by ideals of duty. There is no one else upon the roster; there is no one else whose name we care to remember when we measure things upon a national scale. . . we shall be certain what the lines of the future are, because we shall know we are steering by the lines of the past. I do not think Wilson could be taken seriously today, which may be the refutation of his claim here. And Wilson is not as eloquent or circumspect as Parker, but both are sanguine about the idea of a moral geometry, and they agree that a long view, in historical perspective, is required. But Wilsons standard of measurement is external to his conscience (at least in this passage), while Parkers is confined in an intuition or to the call of private conscience. My question is: Is there an external standard for moral geometry? Parker allows that there is, but claims not to be able to discern it. Wilson claims there is and that he can see it. I think that history has tended to vindicate the moral vision of both the abolitionist and the defender of a league of nationsalthough neither survived to see the world in which his central moral tenets became common sense. Most important for my purposes is the idea that the search for justice is to be carried out not in private conscience, but in and as a human community. We declare our moral vision in public, in the crucial cases, and the standard of our collective moral achievements could be, and I believe is, external to our individual abilities to get a view of that arc by the instrument of conscience. I want to claim, as against almost every current moral philosophy, that the tendency or direction of the development in which we participate is not only objective, but also both discernible and inexorable. In short, this is a claim about the consequences of wrong-doing and of doing rightthat insists upon taking a long view for its degree warrant. One weakness, I think, in the way that contemporary moral philosophy is done is that there is an entrenched habit of ignoring questions about the overall development of the human race in favor of a kind of discourse that can be applied only to individuals to determine whether they are or are not responsible, individually, for their acts of wrong-doing. The assumption that we can sort out moral principles by testing our intuitions, appealing to thought experiments and abstract arguments, depends upon a certain historical myopia rarely is it admitted that such reasoning assumes that the solution to, say, a trolley example, if binding, objective and valid, would be need to be equally applicable in the Roman Empire as it will be after the American Empire is itself ancient history. I am annoyed by the way contemporary moral philosophy ignores time and circumstance. If it is admitted that historical development is relevant to forming a moral judgment, our philosophical discourse about moral values is so greatly altered by the new question the pattern and meaning of historythat we can no longer carry on our conversation as we had before. So the question of development is conveniently ignored, on a mass scale, and lost is our best hope of getting a decent philosophical account (i.e., and objective account) of collective responsibility and moral obligation. Yet, I would point out that the major contributors of the frameworks for our present moral philosophies were all concerned with this larger question of community moral development over long periods of time, and all of them offered answers to such questions as collective responsibility and community moral obligation. From Plato and Aristotle, through Augustine, Aquinas, Hume, Kant, Bentham and Mill, Dewey even up to Rorty, MacIntyre and Rawls, we find that our major moral philosophers do confront the question of the long run. I do not think I am going out on a limb to suggest that todays philosophers are responsible for developing accounts of moral obligation that insist upon answers to questions of the long run. My plea here is that we take seriously for a few minutes that the idea that discerning the arc of the moral universe is an indispensable aspect of moral philosophy, and that a broader concern with the possibility of human progress in moral development cannot be cast aside if we want to be responsible in our moral thinking. I have been thinking about the consequences of wrong-doing, in a broad and humanistic sense, and I was led to consider, from my own philosophical viewpoint, which might be called, epistemically, an idealistic version of pragmatism, or metaphysically a process personalism, or methodologically an analogical realism, how I might handle the question of consequences, and how to pin down what is meant by wrong doing. As a sort of moral realist (however unrecognizable I may be to most who label themselves so), I am looking for an objective, external standard by which to justify moral claims, but unlike most moral realists, I want an argument that is sensitive to the possibility that the moral situation evolves, an argument that is sensitive to historical and cultural context, and an argument that does not commit me to any foundationalist epistemology or narrow method. I do not want to rely at all on conscience or any private or subjective evidence for discerning the arc of the universe. I do not discount the crucial role of conscience in human moral life, but as a source of philosophical evidence, it is problematic at best, although conscience does derive in part from objective social experience, the supplementation of that source from private or even divine sources leaves conscience partly inscrutable. If one can frame a decisive philosophical argument without appealing to such ambiguous sources of evidence, everyone is better off. I am not as bold as Wilson. I think the distinction between natural and cosmic evolution, on one side, and moral evolution on the other, is probably too complex for any of us to understand at this point in history, by any method of measuring we currently possess. Analogical reasoning is probably our best hope. The reason we ever argue by analogy is not because it yields optimal knowledge. It doesnt. Rather, we argue this was when the topics are complex because analogy offers the best method we have of getting some positive knowledge without over-estimating the scope and application of what we know. When we reason by analogy, we are always reminded that the disanalogies form the starting place and context of whatever positive relations are discovered. Analogy, properly pursued as a method of inquiry, can be a method of discovery as well as a method of analysis it cuts across the analytic-synthetic distinction, and the a posteriori-a priori distinction. Properly understood, analogical reasoning moves from difference to similarity. There is some necessity discoverable in analogical relations, some conclusions to which we are compelled by the form of the argument, but analogical relations are always held at a distance, never collapsible into identities because of their origins in different base terms (the initial disanalogy that leads us to notice and value the positive analogies). Is the moral universe exactly the same as the natural universe? I dont know, and neither does anyone else. In some ways, they seem different at least they seem to have both similarities and differences in the ways they unfold. Both seem to conform to times arrow, for example. Yet history is not quite the same as biological growth or the progression or succession of geological change. It is better to treat history, growth, and change as different from the outset, and to seek analogies as qualified by that recognition. If our common sense recognition of fundamental difference and important conditional similarity is not a good reason to argue analogically, I dont know what would be a good reason, but the difficulty of thinking about both the similarities and differences, without favoring one over the other, not only suggests the efficacy of analogical thinking, it also indicates the likely pitfalls of any other kind of reasoning. The arc of the moral universe is a geometrical analogy, broadly speaking, but in Parkers version, he makes it clear that actually calculus (rather than geometry) is his empirical model for a moral thinking (albeit one he cannot carry out). One of the first things that strikes me about this claim is that Bentham had the same idea: an empirical moral calculus. I want to run that arc analogy through a different conception of consequences, however, a pragmatic conception. Consequences I confess that I aim to retrieve a good deal of what has been lost in pragmatism due to Rortys pre-eminence, especially in pragmatic social and political thought. I am not complaining about Rortys success, since pragmatism wouldnt even be in the conversation without him, but if I had the power to do so, I would gladly set the renewed pragmatic school of thought on a different path. I will attempt to rework the Rortyan concept of irony in the next section, but for now, let us look in summary fashion at consequences. Peirces pragmatic maxim deals with consequences, but rarely is the true complexity of the maxim acknowledged. Here is an approach to it you havent heard before. Let us begin with the maxim: Consider what effects, which might conceivably have practical bearings, we conceive the objects of our conception to have. Then, our conception of these effects is the whole of our conception of the object. The economy of these two sentences is impressive; anyone can afford the time to read them, but only the few have the leisure to ponder their meanings. Let me summarize what these sentences might mean, operationally, bypassing the issue of what they actually do mean, which only a lifetime of study would likely reveal. Here are eleven steps to using Peirces pragmatic maxim, in approximately the order you would use them: When you think, remember you are thinking about some object. Ask yourself: How do I conceive of the object Im thinking about, i.e., what are its characteristics and limits? It turns out the object you are thinking about, under the conception you have of it, has effects on the world (whether you like it or not), so now just think of those effects. Remember the effects. Make a list if you need to. Now try conceiving of your object in a different way; that is, start with the same object (as far as you can tell), but think about it differently, in two separate acts of thought, using two different concepts, your first concept (with its effects) and then a second concept. Now list the effects of the second concept. Take stock of (all) the practical consequences that follow from thinking about it first one way, then the other by comparing only the effects. If there is no difference in effects, youre really thinking of the same object, so far as your concepts are concerned, and your thinking itself is not making any difference. If there is a difference in effects, youre really thinking of two different objects, at least potentially, because your thinking is making a difference, at least at the level of conceptualization. The differences are only discernible on the basis of different likely effects (on the world) of thinking about the object, conceptually, one way rather than another. The relevant practical consequences are a summation of the differences. Where there are no differences there are no consequences that can be understood conceptually. I will not enumerate the steps as I quickly apply this version of consequences to the moral and natural universe, but if you examine my summary below, you will be able to find each move. As you can see, I have rendered the pragmatic maxim analogically, the analogates being the two different ways of conceiving a postulated object, which is serving as a base term. Then I sorted out the similarities and held on to the disanalogies, asking how the disanalogies in conception (different effects on the world) imply (or dont imply) differing objects. I can discover by this method how my thinking about objects differently can have genuinely different effects on the world. Only the effects knowable by such analogical thinking are consequences in the morally relevant sense, and the variation in effects determined or discovered by our way of conceiving them constitutes the field of meaningful choices we actually have. But the knowability of consequences does not imply that they were, are or will be known, only that they can be known. We dont need to know why this is the case, only that it is the case and it is. We do not have much choice about what the object really is, in its totality (including its whole past, its unrevealed future, and whatever present existence it may carry that is beyond our power to take account of in experience), but we do have some measure of control over how we conceive of the object. The ground of that modicum of control is in the object itself, rather than wholly of our own making, since variant practical effects have been the measure of more than one conception in us, and we have been able to see the same object differently in light of those effects, as conceived. But how did we alter our conception of the object, so as to attain this result i.e., a set of consequences, as I define the term? There are many ways to alter the conception of an object, but skipping ahead in the story, I will report that the two major formal differences in our process of conceiving, that yield fruitfully different conceptions of variant practical effects, can be described variously as our making either deductions or inductions about those objects, or we could say (and this would be more accurate), our subsuming the object under a more generic or universal category, as opposed to generalizing from the particular object toward generic or universal categories, to which we presume it may belong. There is more to be said about this distinction, but that is beyond my present scope. The fastest and most fruitful way to alter your conception of an object is, therefore, to reverse the direction of your reasoning. But sometimes the reversal doesnt matter we get no difference in the effects, and in such a case, we may assume that the object we are dealing with is the same object inductively and deductively. This sort of discovery indicates to us that we are very likely in the presence of a natural kind. Whether I subsume the shiny yellow stuff before me under the molecular definition of gold on the periodic chart, or generalize properly from the sample through the various categories to which it may belong, makes no difference in its effects in practical action. Gold is gold. But the reversal of our thinking very often does have variant effects on objects in the moral universe. For example, generalizing from one case of death by capital punishment, drawing from it a maxim, and applying that rule in the direction of every similar case is very different from beginning with a universal concept of death by capital punishment and asking whether individual instances do or do not fall under it. The latter treats death by capital punishment as if it were a natural kind, and is an investigation of the definition of the concept, while the former cannot proceed without positing a practical norm for generalizing. This is not just death, but a kind of death we take to have a moral meaning. Successful generalization depends on a norm drawn from the moral universe, regardless of what we believe the moral universe is. For example, a subsumption might ask whether the death of Socrates or Jesus falls under the category of capital punishment, while a generalizing approach might ask what maxims we can draw from those cases of death to learn something about our (not fully determinate) conception of capital punishment. We have here a difference, then, in the effects of our conceiving the object one way rather than another, subsumption as against generalization under the governance of a norm. And what is forced upon us by the analogy is that capital punishment, to the extent that it falls under the category of deaths, is a natural occurrence in our natural world, just like any other event, and is further qualified by certain objective social and historical circumstances, and can be well described as such by a determinate judgment, but these descriptions will bear profound disanalogies to the way we conceive of the same event as something we can generalize from to form expectations about what will in fact happen in the future. For example, deaths by capital punishment are not necessarily rendered easier to predict in the future by our having generalized properly from a particular instance, so whatever knowledge comes from such generalization is different from categorical assertions, but not wholly different. When we generalize properly from particular instances, we do know something as a result, whether we generalize in the moral or the natural domain in either case we can get the maxim wrong and fail to know what is knowable, or we can get it right and learn something about the moral or natural universe and about the bend in the arc of either universe, or both. The question of consequences here, then is both a question of how we think about things and what our natural and moral world do and do not render knowable. If I have presented the analogy rightly, the issue of whether good is or is not a natural kind is now irrelevant, as is the entire is-ought problem. The argument is compact, I realize, but I just demonstrated analogically that there is an arc to the moral universe, and that consequences depend both upon what actually happens and how we think about it. We can unpack the argument in discussion if you like, but for now, take my word, I met the analogical burden of proof (which admittedly isnt a very high bar). Ironic Wrongdoing Rorty famously depicts irony as the ability to be circumspect toward our own final vocabularies, that preferred collection of morally charged marks and noises that make our private and individual lives meaningful to us. Ironism is the commitment to take fallibilism personally, to live out the norm fallibilism implies. I do not find ironism, so defined, to be either elevating of the human race or even privately workable. It is not a virtue. Try as I might, the older I get, the more congealed my final vocabulary becomes and the more I am inclined to trust it. To adopt such an ironism early in life might be feasible, but to maintain it as ones experience accrues, assuming one has gotten the benefit of that experience, is to deny the very continuity of that same experience and all the accumulated value it points to. In short, to be an Rortyan ironist in ones moral maturity means denying the value and even the reality of the arc of the moral universe, and to do so just as the whole damn thing is beginning to come clear (whether in ones vision or ones conscience, or both). It is not wise or pragmatic to require those whose moral vision and knowledge are coming into their fullness to doubt themselves so as to guard against the possibility of their making moral mistakes. To do so robs a community of its most fit moral guides. Theodore Parker, Woodrow Wilson, Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Mother Theresa were not Rortyan ironists, and even if they made some mistakes, we would not want them to be. The pragmatic reconstruction of irony is, however, a needful thing, not so much because of Rortys milk-toast idea; rather, reconstruction is required because sometimes we do things that are morally wrong without knowing it, without actually achieving a good epistemic position to learn why our actions are wrong and why their consequences are so terrible. We try earnestly to project our moral understanding into the future and to trace the arc, but, like Parker, our vision is weak. And no amount of suspicion about our own final vocabularies will prevent us from wrongdoing in situations when the facts of the natural and moral universe require us to act as if we do see the arc of the universe, whether by a calculation, or by divination from conscience. Thus, sometimes doubting your own final vocabulary is actually wrong, even when you might have the arc wrong (i.e., have failed to think well enough about it), but especially when you have it right. I have thought for a long time that pragmatism needs an alternative to Rortyan irony that preserves the key insight he had while not giving way to the self-undermining consequences of an unwarranted degree of moral self-doubt. Like many people, I have been impressed with the recent work of Andrew Bacevich, especially his 2008 book The Limits of Power. I am not certain I agree with his analysis, but Bacevich makes good use of some of the characteristic theses of Reinhold Niebuhr, and reading Bacevich led me back to Niebuhr, particularly to two books, The Irony of American History, and The Self and the Dramas of History. Here I found a number of ideas worth considering. Niebuhr creates an interesting framework for understanding history, and in this case, the history of wrong-doing and its consequences. Bacevichs book employs a Niebuhrian philosophy of history to trace, pragmatically and externally, the threads of consequence in the last half of the 20th century and up through the war in Iraq. His ideas about wrong-doing have little in common with any of the standard philosophical theories about wrong-doing and consequences this is not deontology, consequentialism, utilitarianism, or virtue ethics, although it shares some common concerns with all of them. It is a kind of pragmatism that is closer to the views of Peirce and Royce than to those of Rorty and Dewey which is to say that this type of analysis is probably closer to classical conservatism than to classical liberalism. It is communitarian and progressive, but not social-democratic, contractarian or individualist. For my purposes, so long as at least one act in the history of the universe was, is, or will be objectively wrong, my argument holds. I do not here wish to argue about the necessary or sufficient conditions for an acts being wrong. The reason I say this is that, with Peirce, I wish to remove all references to intuition, introspection, and the idea that we have any power of thought without signs, and to hold to external standards of judging. In short, I am following the restrictions on philosophical methodology advocated by Peirce in his famous essays of 1868 in the original Journal of Speculative Philosophy. I do not here assert that Peirce was correct to limit philosophy in these ways, but I will say that I hold the habits of the last twenty years to be sub-philosophical which allow professional philosophers to compare and contrast moral theories according to how well they justify our intuitions. This practice, euphemistically called conceptual analysis, does not facilitate progress in our moral thinking, as I have indicated earlier. So long as at least one act has ever been, is now, or ever will be (and note that I avoid here the modal statement) objectively wrong, I think my case can be adapted to any criteria whereby the act was accounted objectively wrong, and so will be consistent with virtue ethics, utilitarianism, natural law, and deontology, to the extent these approaches favor moral realism. I also do not intend to offer any view about what is phenomenologically describable as wrong, however objective the phenomenology may be. Those are interesting questions, of course, but I dont think they affect what I have to say. The way to insure that our reasoning about wrong-doing is free of introspection, intuition, or any claims about unmediated moral sense, is to use the example of wrong-doing that can be foreseen but does not discover its own wrongness, due to historical or other epistemic limitations. Niebuhrs conception of irony perfectly fills this requirement. He divides history into those episodes that inspire pathos in us and those that do not. Pathos occurs when historical distance enables us to see bad consequences that were unforeseen by the actors who were obliged to decide what to do under difficult epistemic conditions. Having done all they could to discern or divine the arc of the moral universe, many actors on the stage of history have been obliged to act in full understanding that they did not adequately grasp the portent and meaning of their actions, while others act with an erroneous conception of variant practical effects. We experience pathos as a function of the common sense that enables us to place ourselves in their position it is a kind of analogizing. The category of pathos, in Niebuhr, heals the split between natural and moral evil. The reason is that it doesnt matter whether the looming and unforeseen disaster is an earthquake or a military coup, the epistemic condition of ignorance moves us to pity anyway, and it is the presence of this pity that triggers the further analysis. Without pathos of this kind, our interest in history is bereft of any likelihood of acting upon present inquirers as a moral teacher. Pathos alone, however, neither deserves admiration nor warrants contrition. Alone, pathos is an aesthetic value that merely attracts our interest to the prospect of a moral lesson. Instances of unforeseeable (as distinct from unforeseen) natural events may inspire pathos, but all they teach is epistemic humility. But pathos can take two further forms: there is both tragedy and irony. Niebuhr says: The tragic element in a human situation is constituted of conscious choices of evil for the sake of good. If men and nations do evil in a good cause, they cover themselves with guilt in order to fulfill some high responsibility . . . Tragedy elicits admiration as well as pity, because it combines nobility with guilt. (Niebuhr, viii-ix) Tragedy in history requires conscious resolve by those who choose the evil for the sake of the good. When such actors have rightly judged their own actions, have well discerned or divined the arc of the moral universe, we admire them as well as pity them. We view the act as naturally achievable and morally necessary. An exemplar of this combined admiration and pity might be the case of John Brown, but his is an extreme case, of course. But irony is a more subtle idea. Niebuhr says that irony consists of apparently fortuitous incongruities in life which are discovered, upon closer examination, to be not merely fortuitous. He continues: Incongruity as such is merely comic. It elicits laughter. This element of comedy is never completely eliminated from irony. But irony is something more than comedy. A comic situation is proved to be an ironic one if a hidden relation is discovered in the incongruity. If a virtue becomes a vice though some hidden defect in the virtue; if strength becomes weakness because of the vanity to which strength may prompt the mighty man or nation; if security is transmuted into insecurity because too much reliance is placed upon it; if wisdom becomes folly because it does not know its own limits. (viii) An ironic situation is unstable because those who act within it are not conscious of the relation that is twisting or turning their choices to unforeseen consequences, and yet the relation is discoverable within their epistemic contexts. Should the relation be discovered by the actor or community of actors, the entire situation is irrevocably changed. For my purposes, we now need only add to this Niebuhrs conclusion that an ironic situation differs from a pathetic one by the fact that a person involved in it bears some responsibility for it. It is distinguished from a tragic one by the fact that the responsibility is not due to a conscious choice but to an unconscious weakness. (p. 166) To pursue resolutely and consciously an evil course of action for the sake of something deemed good, while undermining either the achievement of the very good one seeks or by tainting its goodness needlessly by the means whereby it is achieved is ironic wrong-doing. Truly tragic acts are not wrong, they just arent good. But ironic acts, inaccurately believed to be tragic by those who do them, are wrong. Dick Cheneys advocacy of torture for the sake of national security suggests itself as an example. I do not need a fine grained analysis of this conception of irony here, so long as all are willing to grant that at least one instance of such irony, as distinct from tragedy or plain pathos, has actually occurred in human history. Even one occurrence of ironic wrong-doing, so defined, establishes the existence of an objective, discoverable (but for a time undiscovered) relation, a relation morally relevant to wrong-doing and its consequences, that does not depend (for its power to determine wrongness of an act) upon anyones knowledge or judgment of its wrongness. Justice The one conditioning factor in my description of ironic wrong-doing is that the act must be discoverable as wrong by the actor or the community of actors. Yet, the ironic act is objectively wrong regardless of whether anyone knows it or believes it, and its wrongness is evinced in the instability of the moral situation. In short, the act of ironic wrong-doing should be discernible to our vision or at least divinable by conscience, in light of its incongruity with the arc of the universe. How could we demonstrate that any such wrong is discoverable? The pragmatic maxim is, of course, the answer to that question. Applied properly to any situation, discoverable differences in effects, if they rest upon the way we are conceiving of the object of our thought, should (and will) show themselves in light of a varied conception, and the fastest course to that varied conception will be to reverse the direction of ones thinking. To give an example, if Cheney were to be required to administer the torture, to suffer it, or witness its being used on a member of his family or a friend, to provide him with a concrete particular in his experience, and then if he had to posit the maxim which would be employed as a norm for the generalization of the practice, I believe he would discover rather quickly the variant effects in the actual world due to the difference between such generalization and the categorical way in which he habitually thinks about instances of torture as subsumable under the category of tragic evils we must enact for the sake of the good of security. He might even realize that torture could well undermine security or make it not worth having. I am saying that I believe the pragmatic maxim makes all ironic wrong-doing discoverable to the wrong-doers, because the consequences (the sum of possible effects) all belong to a universe that makes even moral knowledge possible, on an analogical basis. Niebuhrs concepts of pathos, tragedy and irony offer three pragmatic fence posts describing not a Wilsonian line in historical time, but an arc of the sort Parker claimed he couldnt see, which might or might not be limited by the patterns of history, and might transcend historical structure, for all we know.. The question of justice is, of course, a further concern. I will not attempt here to frame an associated account of justice, but I will say that it would appeal to ideally situated moral knowers in the infinitely distant future, and the opinions they would be determined to share. Niebuhr recommends contrition as a strategy for handling the proximate future, since genuine contrition is the proper response to the discovery of ones own ironic wrong-doing. Contrition is more likely to bring mercy than justice, but if we sincerely contemplate the high likelihood that we all carry around habits of thinking that make us vulnerable to being responsible for some daily degree of ironic wrong-doing, we may realize that we would prefer instruction in how to obtain mercy over some account of how to get justice.  Theodore Parker, Of Justice and Conscience (1853).  Woodrow Wilson, Gridiron Address, Washington D.C., February 26, 1916, in The Politics of Woodrow Wilson, ed. August Hecksher (Freeport, NY: Books for Libraries, 1970), 257.  C. S. Peirce, The Writings of Charles S. Peirce: A Chronological Edition, ed. E. Moore, C. J. Kloesel, et al. (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1986), vol. 3, 266.  A fuller account of the formal workings of analogy and its metaphysical and epistemological underpinnings is in REFERENCE REMOVED FOR BLIND REFEREEING.  Andrew J. Bacevich, The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism (New York: Henry Holt and Co., 2008).  Charles Sanders Peirce, Questions Concerning Certain Capacities Claimed for Man, and Some Consequences of Four Incapacities, both originally published in 1868, in The Essential Peirce, vol. 1, eds. Nathan Houser and Christian Kloesel (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1992), 11-55.  There are many thousands of examples of this kind of philosophizing, but an especially egregious instance is the methodology of Frances Kamms Intricate Ethics: Rights, responsibilities and Permissible Harm (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006). In his keynote address to the Mid-South Philosophy Conference in 2010, Alastair Norcross dismembers Kamms arguments and calls for an external standard of judging, representing the views not only of many consequentialists, but of all sane moral philosophers, I think.  Reinhold Niebuhr, The Irony of American History (New York: Charles Scribners Sons, 1952), viii. See also p. 166.      Another effect of this approach is to historicize knowledge appropriately. I take Collingwoods philosophy of history to exemplify this objective but analogical method. Beginning with the limitation on the historical knower that he cannot step out of his own time, Collingwood still believes objective histprical knowledge is available. As he says, historical knowledge is the re-enactment of a past thought incapsulated in a context of present thoughts which, by contradicting it [the present context], confines it [the past thought] confine it [historical knowledge] to a plane different from theirs [the people of the past and their context]. Collingwood, Autobiography (Oxford: Oxford UP, 1939), 113. 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L^`LhH. ^`hH. ^`hH. PLP^P`LhH.U?cp        LXXXLX(3330333033303330CM #@&$#@&"X-Ktay5" e /- *V2</> - h,:9p  $i,N-. 5z=T>"$?PAw B%KCYG G HaIJ.KZLF'P6R(R,RqS+TsX2,`mb4,f/6gQkvlb*mn"oxoEr}rt v'w~4xj{Qt|]}bv[w$wA[ ~'EImf3Xz7\}@ )!vdpeg85!gA'7+oW/J9 DC[Dcw0^h@0@UnknownGz Times New Roman5Symbol3& z Arial"1h{禖uHuH!4d2QHX ?3X2-Ironic Wrongdoing and the Arc of the UniverseRandall E. AuxierRandall E. Auxier Oh+'0 ( DP p |  0Ironic Wrongdoing and the Arc of the UniverseRandall E. AuxierNormalRandall E. Auxier4Microsoft Office Word@J6@x@ɯ/@\T/u՜.+,0( hp  Philosophy/LLP, SIUCH' .Ironic Wrongdoing and the Arc of the Universe Title  !"#$%&'()*+,-./0123456789:;<=>?@ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ[\]^_`abcdeghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz{|}Root Entry F0/1Tablef.WordDocument2SummaryInformation(~DocumentSummaryInformation8CompObjq  FMicrosoft Office Word Document MSWordDocWord.Document.89q