All posts by Matt Veasey

Retired following a three decade career with the Philadelphia Police Department. Manager of mattveasey.com website and @philliesbell feeds on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Lifelong Philadelphia resident. Graduate of Saint Joseph's University. Married Conservative-leaning Republican politically and socially. Practicing Roman Catholic. Philly 4x4 sports fan. Huge baseball fan.

The philosophic problem of moral disagreement

There is little doubt that there is disagreement on many moral issues among individuals and groups of people. This includes nations and political parties within nations.

In the book “Whatever Happened to Good and Evil”, Russ Shafer-Landau puts forth that despite these disagreements, there is subjective morality.

In examining my own personal belief system, I find that he and I are in agreement on that issue. There is indeed subjective morality, despite the existence of moral disagreements among intelligent, educated people.

The ‘Argument from Moral Disagreement‘ basically states that if two open-minded, intelligent persons continually disagree about an issue, then there must be no objective truth to that issue.

The basic philosophic problem is the falsity of the premise itself – that simple informed disagreement equates to a lack of basic truth.

Shafer-Landau’s book gives an example from the physical sciences: in areas such as physics, chemistry, and geology, scientists may frequently disagree on some basic premise.

Yet those scientists remain committed to their being an objective truth to the issue being studied and disagreed upon. If this is so for non-moral areas, such as the physical sciences, why should it not be so for ethics?

Also, in it’s ‘Synopsis of the Major Arguments’ section, the book points out that ethics is related to philosophy: “ethical disagreement is a species of philosophical disagreement.”

Although there is disagreement in philosophy, this does not mean there is no objective truth to questions such as those regarding free will, good and evil, and even the very existence of God.

It is important that we recognize that moral disagreements are going to occur. People are fundamentally different from one another across any number of experiential communities: racial, religious, ethnic, geographical, sexual, political communities, just to name a few.

Each of these communities brings to bear their separate influences and pressures to our individual consciences. As to our morals, we are very much a product of the environments in which we have found ourselves during our lives.

We need to recognize that others of differing backgrounds are going to have different viewpoints and different morality than our own.

Still, this does not mean that one of us, or possibly even all of us, are not ultimately incorrect in our morality and ethics. That we are not thinking and acting in opposition to the way some objective moral truth would prefer to have us think and act.

Some possible consequences of moral disagreement include traumatic ones for humanity. For instance, there was a time in American history when a large part of our country felt that there was nothing morally wrong with human slavery.

There was a time in the 20th century when a nation and ideology, Nazi Germany, believed that systematic extermination of another group of people, mostly Jewish, was not morally wrong. Moral errors such as these have hurt, and even killed, numerous human beings.

People may have disagreed about these things on a moral level, but that did not undermine the objective morality which states that slavery and ‘ethnic cleansing’ are wrong.

The slave owners of the American South and the leaders behind the Nazi war machine may have been able to argue their position to those of a similarly twisted moral mind, but they would be hard-pressed to show how their positions and actions were objectively moral on any level.

In “Whatever Happened…”, Shafer-Landau puts forth that morality is objective. He further states that true intractable moral disagreement exists among people on only a few ethical issues, but that these disagreements are “especially widespread” and go “especially deep.

Shafer-Landau also writes that much of this ethical disagreement stems from certain people lacking adequate information, or failing to logically think through the information that they do have.

But Shafer-Landau posits that even if people did manage to achieve this level of thought, there would still be disagreements because there is so much at stake in ethical matters.

In addressing these critical matters, people tend to bring with them all of the accumulated biases formed from their cultural, religious, political, familial, educational, and other influences. This has the ultimate effect of “undermining neutrality”, and making it difficult to get at some consensus. He believes that, if we can think better and eliminate biases, then we can “shrink the scope” of moral disagreement.

I believe that moral disagreement is to be expected due to the wide variety of influences that individuals and societies come under in their respective experiences.

However, I also believe in subjective moral truths. I believe that absolute rights and wrongs do indeed exist. That some things, actions, and even people themselves are good and evil, despite the fact that other intelligent, informed thinkers might not agree with me on the specifics, or even on that idea in general.

My beliefs can be described further by my positions on the issues which I sited earlier. I believe that slavery in the American South was wrong, that all human beings have an intrinsic worth and that they should be respected as human beings, not as property to be bought and sold.

I also believe that efforts to effect the extermination of the Jewish people by the Nazis was wrong, and that not only mass exterminations in ‘ethnic cleansing’ efforts, but individual murder is wrong.

Human beings should not take the lives of other human beings, and the exceptions to that basic moral truth, such as to defend one’s own life, should be considered seriously, measuring greater good against the cost to humanity of the loss.

I believe that things such as murder, abortion as birth control, and suicide/euthanasia are taking innocent human lives, and are always wrong for men as a subjective moral truth.

Issues need to be discussed. Controversial topics need to be addressed, often publicly. And when a large, varied, educated, experienced public is involved, there are going to be a wide range of ideas on morality brought to the table in those discussions.

But in the end, the existence of those moral truths needs to be recognized. Seeking such truths out and applying them to our societal and individual lives should be the goal for all of us.

(THIS article represents a term paper that I turned in at St. Joseph’s University in a Sociology class this semester)

We’re not supposed to mention race…but I’m gonna

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Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama at Democratic primary debates in Philadelphia during October 2007

 

When evaluating someone as a person, or professionally, or for a position, their race should not matter, right?

Almost everyone would agree with this statement. Not all people, but most everyone, no matter their background. Certainly this would be most folk’s public posture. Race should not matter. But does it?

I put it to you that it most certainly does, and for proof we need look no further than yesterday’s Democratic Party primary on the Democrats side.

In that primary there were two candidates. Two “people” were battling for the votes of the Democrats in the Keystone State. One “person” was named Hillary Clinton; the other was named Barack Obama.

That’s who was running…two “people.”

So why then did exit polling show that 92% of black voters cast their ballots for the candidate named Obama? What did this “candidate” have that the other did not to gain that large a backing from any single constituency?

Did this candidate support a position that they so agreed with, more than the other candidate, that such on overwhelming degree of support resulted?

Was this candidate just so much better that anyone with half a brain could see it, and thus predict a landslide of such epic proportions across not only the black community, but across the general electorate?

Why, if indeed this candidate were so obviously superior, everyone should see it clearly, and then of course this candidate won the primary by a landslide, right?

Wrong.

This “candidate” named Obama did not win the primary battle in Pennsylvania. In fact he lost by ten full percentage points, a margin of over 200,000 votes across the Commonwealth.

How can that be? How can someone receive more than 9 out of 10 votes from a large constituency, and yet still lose the election?

Was the fix in? Did “the Man” rig the vote? What magic, what deception, what larceny could possibly have caused this travesty?

No travesty. No deception. No larceny. No magic. This race was decided on one overriding factor: race itself.

In my local newspaper of record, The Philadelphia Inquirer, the paper displayed a graphic on page A9 that, if you know anything at all about Philly demographics, tells the entire story. It breaks down the vote for either Clinton or Obama by voting Wards. Clinton support is shown in blue, Obama support in tan coloring.

Clinton won, and by huge margins, in the largely white sections of South Philly, Fishtown, Port Richmond and throughout the Far Northeast.

Obama won West Philly, Center City, and North Philly up into Germantown. If you are from Philly, you tell me what that tells you about the support that they each received. Honestly.

When 92% of any single constituency votes for any one candidate in an election that is seen by most observers as evenly matched, there is some overriding consideration being given by those voters.

When large sections of a city are so clearly divided among two candidates, and those sections of town have an overriding characteristic that defines them, you probably gain a clear insight into the voter’s minds. Again, if you are being honest.

The Inquirer, however, runs from that honest evaluation. They never, not once, show or describe the results by racial breakdown. They touch on it a couple of times.

On page one, buried six paragraphs deep, they speak of “Clinton’s big margin among white working-class voters”. On page A8 they mention that Clinton scored her victory winning “white men” among others, and Obama winning “blacks” among others.

The paper covers how younger voters, older voters, women, men, churchgoers voted. But they didn’t tell us or discuss the numbers racially.

Why not? Because they didn’t have those numbers?

Certainly not. You know they had those numbers.

The Philadelphia Inquirer and other local media outlets didn’t emphasize the voting along racial lines because it doesn’t fit into their social agenda. It doesn’t fit into what they, as elite thinkers, feel should be important to the rest of us.

However, it is those ‘rest of us’ who speak, in this case with ballots. And as happens time and again here in Philadelphia, and time and again across the country, an honest evaluation points out the obvious, no matter how much the media wants to bury it – race matters.

Our immediate-past Mayor, John Street, a black male, was once famously quoted being rarely and frankly honest about race:

“The brothers and sisters are running this city. Running it! Don’t you let nobody fool you, we are in charge of the City of Brotherly Love. We are in charge!” 

Did Senator Obama’s strategists see Philadelphia, and the election, in racial terms? Did they feel that they could count on those brothers and sisters coming out in droves for their candidate, simply because he is black?

The Inquirer reported that Obamabet heavily on winning big in Philadelphia” and elsewhereObama was counting on Philadelphia…

Why would this be so? What would make Obama and his insiders think they would win Philadelphia? Not only win it, but win it big?

After all, the only white Mayor in the city over the past 2+ decades, and the current Governor, the influential Ed Rendell, was supporting Hillary. Rendell is supposed to be a favorite son in Philly, and remains an influential power-broker here.

Not only that, but the current newly-elected Mayor, Michael Nutter, a black male, was firmly and publicly in Clinton’s corner? What could possibly make Obama think he could win here at all, let alone ‘big’?

One word: race.

Last week at my workplace, a black co-worker overheard Obama speaking on television, and commented in my presence that Obama inspired this person, and that this person couldn’t wait to vote for him.

I asked what positions of Obama’s had inspired this level of support. What beliefs did he have, what specific programs was he putting forth, what ideas was he espousing that had inspired so much support and enthusiasm.

The co-worker responded only with the statement “You know, just once before I die. Just once…” before trailing off in thought.

I replied with “Just once, what?” The person replied “Just once. That’s all I’m sayin.” Nothing more.

Left as the implication was that just once this person would like to see someone of their race elected to the presidency, and that was why Obama was receiving their vote.

No other reason. No policy. No idea. No program. Only one thing mattered: race.

I put to you that this person was a microcosm of black voter thought throughout the city and across the Commonwealth. Otherwise, what else would cause 92% of blacks to vote for a candidate who otherwise received the support of less than half the party, and indeed lost, state-wide?

Now, I may surprise you with my next statement: I don’t necessarily think that is a bad thing, or an illegitimate reason to support a candidate. I fully understand and sympathize with the idea that one would love to see someone of a similar background to theirs win election to our nation’s highest office.

Do you really think that my Irish-Catholic ancestors a generation ago weren’t ecstatic when JFK was elected, in large part relating to his Irish-American heritage and his Catholicism? They absolutely were, and they should have been.

But let’s not pretend that race is not only one factor, but the single, overriding, decisive factor, at least in the minds of the vast majority of the black community.

I also may surprise you with another statement, especially those who feel that the mere mention of race makes one a racist, a bigot, a Neanderthal, whatever: I would absolutely vote for a black candidate for the office of President of the United States, or any other office for that matter.

Of course for me, I wouldn’t be doing it because they were black, just as I won’t vote for a white man, an Asian woman, or anyone else because of their race or sex. I would vote for someone because they actually support many of the same ideals that I support.

This is where I believe the black community is making a mistake.

I could be wrong, but I believe that the vast majority of the black community does not want further taxes taken from their paychecks. I believe they do care if Islamofascist terrorists blow up the arena in which their favorite basketball team plays. I do believe that they care whether those same terrorists take over the school that their children attend. I believe that they do not want to go to work for forty or more hours each week, only to have their money taken and given to someone else who could work but won’t.

I believe that most black Americans are proud to call themselves Americans, are proud to serve their country. They understand that America is the greatest land in the history of mankind for equality and opportunity.

I believe that most Americans regardless of race are God-fearing folks who don’t want to hear rhetoric and excuses and whining. They want to be told the truth, and they want serious people in office representing them in all important matters.

In other words, I believe that at heart, most black Americans would be far better off served as to what they truly believe are their core values by the Republican Party.

If they can begin to see through the rhetoric spewed by many of the race-baiting leaders in their community, men like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, and begin to evaluate what the candidates stand for rather then what the color of their skin is, those black voters would find attractive candidates of every race.

Race matters, make no mistake, and it will play a huge part in the upcoming Presidential election if the Democratic candidate turns out to be Senator Obama.

I wish it weren’t so, I wish it didn’t matter; I wish everything could simply be decided on ideas alone, but that is simply ignoring reality.

If the Inquirer or anyone else wants to prove me wrong, produce the numbers to back up your claims. But my bet is that the topic continues to be ignored, or minimized, by the increasingly irrelevant established media.

Hope springs eternal on MLB 2008 Opening Day

 

After a long winter’s hibernation, hope once again begins to spring eternal. Today is Opening Day for most teams in Major League Baseball, including my own defending National League East Division champion Philadelphia Phillies.

When last we left the Big Leagues, the Boston Red Sox were dancing off the field having swept out the Colorado Rockies for their 2nd World Series title in four years. Terry Francona was proving to everyone that he indeed was a good manager, as most everyone in baseball outside of Philadelphia could have already told anyone willing to listen.

In a true winter of discontent, baseball was slapped around by the Mitchell Report in December, and suffered through more talk about players testing hot for performance-enhancing drugs than fans discussing the Hot Stove League.

But we weathered the storms, and the cold world is once again beginning to thaw. The past month has seen the return of Spring Training in Florida and Arizona, and now it’s time once again for the real thing. Play Ball!

This also means it’s time to go public with something that I do most every year in private – my own predictions for teams and players in the upcoming season in what I personally consider the Greatest Game that God Himself Ever Invented.

First, I am going to go through each division and predict the order of finish. Then I will give my predictions for the playoffs. Finally, I will give my call on the major post-season awards such as the MVP, Cy Young, Rookie of the Year, and the Manager of the Year.

Let’s start in the most interesting place for local fans, including myself. The National League East. This is a real difficult call, because I honestly see reasons to pick any from among the Phils, New York Mets, and Atlanta Braves.

I just believe that the Phillies have too much offense, and that the other two teams have as many problems throughout their team as a whole. Call it in this order: Phillies, Mets, Braves, Nationals, Marlins.

In the NL Central, the Chicago Cubs are the consensus favorites, and a sentimental choice since it has been a full 100 years since they last won the World Series. And you thought Phillies fans had it tough! Here is the way I see it: Cubs, Reds, Brewers, Astros, Pirates, Cardinals.

In the NL West, there are four teams with legitimate claims to being the favorite. I just happen to like the young players of the Arizona Diamondbacks, as well as their 1-2 ace punch of Brandon Webb and Dan Haren. Call it: DBacks, Rockies, Dodgers, Padres, Giants.

Over in the AL, the East will see the Bosox outdo the Yankees once again in another tough race. I see it as: Red Sox, Yankees, Rays, Blue Jays, Orioles. Look in this division for the Rays, with some of the best young talent in the big leagues, to begin to make the perennial big boys sweat.

In the AL Central we have two of the best lineups in the game in Cleveland and Detroit. The turnaround by the Tigers franchise in the past three years has been astounding, and they have a true Murderer’s Row offense, but the Tribe simply have more pitching. I think it goes: Indians, Tigers, White Sox, Twins, Royals.

The AL West has the rising star of the Seattle Mariners, and I think that this time around the slide past the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in a tough race. Call this one: Mariners, Angels, Rangers, Athletics.

The Wildcard races in both leagues should be similar to last season, with many NL teams battling and just a couple of AL clubs in the hunt. In the NL, I think the Mets will end up with enough to outlast the others this time. In the AL, the Yankees should be able to hold off the Tigers and Angels.

So we are down to my final important playoff predictions. Anyone who looks at this season and tried to predict here, over six months before the Series, who is going to win it is just speculating. No educated opinion is much better than any other. So this educated baseball fan’s view is this: the Cleveland Indians will take the next step, win the AL pennant, and move on to defeat the Arizona Diamondbacks in the World Series.

In the Awards department, give the NL MVP to Chase Utley of the Phils, and the AL MVP to Tribe centerfielder Grady Sizemore. The Cy Young Award will go to Dan Haren in the NL, and in the AL the award will go to Justin Verlander of Detroit.

There are so many variable in the Rookie race, but I will go with pitcher Johnny Cueto of Cincy in the NL and Clay Buchholz of the Bosox in the AL. Cincy’s Dusty Baker keeps his team in surprise contention and takes NL top manager, while the AL vote goes to the Tribe’s Eric Wedge.

It’s going to be a year for the Cleveland Indians and their fans to remember if I get things right: a World Series crown, the AL MVP, the league’s top manager. Though many are sentimentally rooting for the Cubs to end their century-old jinx, it will actually be the team with the 2nd-longest wait, the Tribe, who have not won since 1948.

But hey, my Phils do have a puncher’s chance. With their trio of MVP candidates and a great 1-2 starting punch, they really can go all the way. Heck, at least that’s what I believe, even sitting here watching the bullpen melt down in yet another Opening Day loss. After all, baseball is finally back, and hope springs eternal.

John McCain for President

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It has now been over a month since Mitt Romney ended his quest for the Republican Presidential nomination, and in the ensuing month leading candidate John McCain has dominated the only remaining contender, Mike Huckabee.

The nomination is McCain’s. He has earned it fair and square, by coming out as the last man standing in a field of tough, determined, experienced, qualified candidates.

During this month we have also seen and heard cries from the conservative wing of the Party, led by its most visible pundits, people such as Sean Hannity and Ann Coulter, that McCain is not conservative enough.

In Coulter’s case, she has even stated (I can only hope jokingly, she does have a tremendous sense of humor) that she would support Hillary Clinton over John McCain if it came down to that being our choice.

Well, Ann, it is indeed coming down to that choice. McCain vs. Clinton. Either that, or McCain vs. Obama. So it is getting to be time to let us know whether or not you were kidding.

It is time for the entire Republican Party to come together and begin to support our obvious 2008 Presidential nominee. It is time to say it loud and proud: John McCain for President!

Just as Romney made the announcement that he was ending his campaign, I was preparing an article supporting his candidacy. I was finally ready to get off the fence and declare myself in support of a candidate, and it was going to be Mitt.

I wanted to really get a chance to see what I felt was a great field of candidates take one another on in debates, and listen to their pitch to myself and the rest of America. As that process played itself out, I found myself shuttling back and forth between the impressive group.

Having read Rudy Giuliani’s masterpiece “Leadership”, and having watched his incredible display of that same quality in the wake of 9/11, and knowing the strength and commitment that he would bring to the serious issues of border control and the War on Terror, he was an early favorite in my book. His abortion stance bothered me, but more important to me was trying to size up the voracity of his pledge to nominate originalist SCOTUS judges.

As most Americans, I was extremely impressed with John McCain’s service to America, both in his heroic military sacrifices and his political career. I also found him to be the candidate that most reminded me of Ronald Reagan in style: say what you mean, and mean what you say.

I admit that I did have a concern about McCain’s age. When voting for a President just starting his first term, I would like to think that he can serve out two full terms if need be. Then I remembered how old the Gipper was when he was elected, and this began to alleviate that concern.

I became enamored with Mike Huckabee even before he first began to emerge as a populist “values” conservative to many of those types of voters. Huckabee’s message and style spoke to me in a way that the other leading candidates were not at that early point.

My concern was to the depth of the Arkansas governor’s conservative values from a fiscal and security standpoint. Huckabee had an attractive “underdog” quality going for him. He was the little guy from out of nowhere giving the big boys a run for their money.

There was a varied, yet talented, array of “lesser” candidates who were each making good points, and who each had pieces of the puzzle that I was looking for. Duncan Hunter was chief among them, and I was watching to see if his strong security message would catch on with enough of the Party to make him a truly viable candidate. He never got that traction.

Finally, there was Mitt Romney. Son of a former candidate for the nomination, and the strongest family man in the competition. His Mormon faith was never a problem for me. While that church has some idiosyncrasies that I find a little tough to swallow personally, I know that it is basically a Christian faith. Romney quite obviously did not embrace the worst of the church’s past beliefs such as polygamy. This was the most tried and true family man in the pack. He not only talked the family values talk, he walked the walk.

My belief was that eventually the candidates would battle and battle, and then begin to sort it out early this year, particularly on Super Tuesday. I had no idea that it would all sort itself out so quickly, before I could fully form my own opinion and express it publicly. By the time I was ready, Mitt was leaving.

So we’re down to the last man standing, Senator John McCain. And I would put it to the pundits in our corner who have bashed him in the past that it is time to get over it, and get behind the Party’s nominee.

There are many things that today’s Republican Party stands for that are in direct opposition to those things supported by the Democrats. Smaller government, lower taxes, stronger defense and security, originalist jurists, and many other issues both large and small.

It is very clear that the choice in America in 2008 will be between McCain, who stands with us on many of these issues, and either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama of the Democrats, who stand diametrically opposed to us on every one of them.

You can wish that there were an even more conservative candidate available, but the fact is that our Party voters have spoken in convincing numbers: they want John McCain this time around.

Now, it is the job of pundits to be independent, to not simply tow the line and follow like sheep. If pundits have a problem with a candidate they should voice it, that is their responsibility. However, if they are truly the conservatives that they say they are, then a time comes for choosing.

The choice is now between a man who has a strong rating from the American Conservative Union (McCain), and either a Clinton (do you really want four to eight more years of that) or the “Change” envisioned by Obama to a more intrusive nanny state.

The choice of a running mate will be very important for McCain. He needs to find a choice who will more strongly appeal to those conservatives in the Party who form its vital core. Someone who will help get out the vote, who will get us excited about both the present and the future of the Party. Someone with undeniable conservative street cred.

But in any event, for all Republicans, those in the far right conservative wing to those in the more moderate center, there is only one real choice in 2008. That is not the defeatist choice of staying home in protest, or the whining cry-baby choice of bashing our own candidate because we dislike a few of his past positions and attitudes.

The only choice for conservatives, for all Republicans, and the best choice for all Americans in 2008 is John McCain for President of the United States.

The great GOP race of 2008

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There will be no bigger topic during the 2008 year than the U.S. Presidential election. No matter what else happens in the world this year, the selection of the person who will lead the greatest nation on the planet at this time in our world’s history is going to have far-reaching effects. Those will be not just for our country, but for the entire world.

As the year moves forward, this blog will take regular looks at the candidates, their activities, their positions, and their lives as a whole, and will provide commentary and analysis with honesty and candor.

Let’s start off with a fairly basic assessment: every single major Republican candidate is better for the country than any of the leading Democratic candidates. A Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama, or even John Edwards for that matter, Presidency would be a near-disaster for the country.

Higher taxes, radically increased spending and debt, weakened defense and anti-terror initiatives, liberal Supreme Court nominations. The list of ruinous actions against our nation, the future of our children and grandchildren, is almost endless.

The good news is that the entire Republican field is strong, despite the fact that there is currently a lot of inside political maneuvering and fighting. Rhetoric aside, every one of these principled men is a stronger candidate than any of the Democratic possibilities.

Picking a winner from among Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee, Fred Thompson, and John McCain is essentially impossible at this stage. All have shown strengths and weaknesses, all have surged and dropped back in polls.

The buzzword floated by the Obama camp has been “Change”, harping endlessly on the belief that the American people want major changes in how things are done in Washington. Many in the press have taken that to mean generically that the public is going to vote in a Democrat just for change sake.

Fact is, this is President Bush’s final year in office, so there will be change, no matter which party candidate wins. When specific Dem candidates are matched up against specific Republican candidates, the polls show a close vote, and that will get only closer as the actual candidates emerge by summer.

In recent months, I have written that Mike Huckabee is not just a shooting star. That he can hold his place in the race for the long haul. I have also stated that I believe the final battle will find Romney taking a Veep role. I am absolutely hedging those predictions now.

Events of the past couple weeks show that anything goes this year, and I am not yet prepared to toss my hat into anyone’s ring. When I am, you will know.

So here is where we start 2008: a strong, diverse Republican field that is better than anything the Dems have to offer, and that I believe will yield a winning candidate in the end. But that will only be after one of the most interesting in-party scrambles in GOP history unravels. I will attempt to cover it all here for you, every step of the way, on a near daily basis.Stay tuned, it’s gonna be a great race!