Friday, March 20, 2015

A repeat from last year that's been getting some hits recently.
Also in reference to the previous post, Zionism and philosophers.

Moral Realism as Moral Relativism - The Nuremberg Laws or the Final Solution in Gaza

"The leading legal philosopher in Israel" draws the line.

"Controversy over an Israeli scholar's "legal opinion" justifying cutting off water and electricity to Gaza."

Response and exchange.

Leiter: "David Enoch, the leading legal philosopher in Israel, who teaches on both the law and philosophy faculties at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, writes":
Apparently, one of the measures considered by the Israeli government against the Hamas in Gaza is to cut off Israeli supply of water and electric power to Gaza (which pretty much consists of all of the supply of water and power to Gaza). Israeli government lawyers are apparently opposed to such measures.

Here ends the good news, though, because right-wing members of the Israeli Knesset have found the legal scholar who would write an opinion permitting such practices: Professor Avi Bell, from Bar Ilan University and the University of San Diego School of Law, has written such an opinion. (Though he refused to share it with me, I now have a copy, and I’ll be happy to share it with anyone who may be interested; I should say, though, that it’s in Hebrew) An item about this appeared in the daily Haaretz.
Enoch is the author of Taking Morality Seriously: A Defense of Robust Realism
This book develops, argues for, and defends a strongly realist and objectivist view of ethics and normativity more broadly. This view — according to which there are perfectly objective, universal, moral, and other normative truths that are not in any way reducible to other, natural truths — is familiar, but this book is the first in-detail development of the positive motivations for the view into full-fledged arguments. And when the book turns defensive — defending Robust Realism against traditional objections — it mobilizes the original positive arguments for the view to help with fending off the objections. The main underlying motivation for Robust Realism developed in the book is that no other metaethical view can vindicate our taking morality seriously. The positive arguments developed here — the argument from the deliberative indispensability of normative truths, and the argument from the moral implications of metaethical objectivity (or its absence) — are thus arguments for Robust Realism that are sensitive to the underlying, pre-theoretical motivations for the view.
From Enoch's page. Click on the first link below before continuing.
My book Taking Morality Seriously: A Defense of Robust Realism was published in 2011. A paperback edition is supposed to come out any day now. Here's the publisher's website for it. And here it is on Oxford Scholarship Online, where you can also find the abstracts of each chapter.
For the first commentary on the book -- inspired by the picture linked above -- see David Heyd's Victorian Children's Story
 The final link is to a MSWord Doc. I'm reposted in its entirety below.
Taking Morality Seriously
A Victorian Children’s Story
David Enoch
(Simplified for real children by David Heyd)

Once upon a time there was a child whose dad had an obsession: he thought people are threatening morality by not taking it seriously enough. So he left everything and went to defend morality almost single handedly. He was so serious in his defense that he did not have time to read his child bedtime stories, spending much of his time in all kinds of demonstrations against all kinds of evil. When he realized that there is no way that he can defend morality in real life, he was shrewd enough to opt for defending it in a book. That made the child feel even worse, since now his dad was busy all day at the computer and in faraway conferences.

When the book came out, dad was cruel enough to read it to his child before sleep. The little child was sure that if his father had such tough time defending morality, its enemies must have been extremely powerful.

So the child asked, “Dad, what is morality?”. The father answered, “that you be a good boy”. “But I am a good boy” answered the angelic son, “why should everybody attack morality and force you to defend it so vigorously?”. “There are strange and evil people who are called expressivists, although they can hardly express themselves, and constructivists who should rather be called destructivists”, said dad. “You should take care when you meet them since they will call you “queer” and you know how bad this word is.

“But dad, I have had nightmares dreaming about all kinds of bad people – a coarse guard, a Simon who is black and burns, and someone who looks like Mackie the Knife – all taking morality very lightly; what shall I do?”. Loving dad said to his child, “this is only in your head; these bad guys are not real; they are only shadows?”. He kissed his son robustly and promised him that after hearing dad’s story, he will fall asleep and this time will see in his dreams moral facts rather than constructions and expressive attitudes. But before falling asleep, the child whispered, “Dad, can I see moral facts also when I wake up in the morning?”. “No”, said dad sternly, “you see them only in two places: in dreams and in my book”.
Enoch is thanked in the first sentence of the preface of A Just Zionism: On the Morality of the Jewish State, by Chaim Gans
The book presents an analysis of the justice of Zionism. After a short historical introduction, the first two chapters discuss the justifiability of Zionism's defining principles: its ethnocultural nature and the principle calling for the Jewish return to the Land of Israel, which is mainly based on the historical rights argument and the defense of necessity. It is argued that if these principles are properly interpreted, they are compatible with liberal justice. Chapter 3 argues that the hegemonic interpretation of Jewish self-determination common in Israel is justified only circumstantially and is applicable only to the domains of demography and security. Chapter 4 discusses the implications of this limited hegemony for the arrangements between Israel and the Palestinian people outside Israel. Specifically, it addresses the implications of the justice of Zionism with regard to the Palestinian demand for the return of Palestinian refugees to Israel, and some arguments concerning the just borders between Israel and a future Palestinian state. Chapter 5 spells out the implications of the limited hegemony conception of Jewish self-determination for internal Israeli policies. It deals with issues related to the inequality between Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel. The concluding chapter sums up the main points of the book and explains how Israel's implementation of a just version of Zionist ideology today would affect not only Zionism's moral standing in the present and in the future but also the legitimacy of Israel's reliance on the justice of the Zionist past.
The ghost of Panofsky, "Whichever book you open, you will find precisely the passage you need":
Chaim Gans, today in Haaretz,  Zionist settlers are wrong - but so are the post-Zionists

Hannah Arendt responds to Scholem
How right you are that I have no such love, and for two reasons: first, I have never in my life "loved" some nation or collective — not the German, French or American nation, or the working class, or whatever else might exist. The fact is that I love only my friends and am quite incapable of any other sort of love. Second, this kind of love for the Jews would seem suspect to me, since I’ve Jewish myself. I don’t love myself or anything I know belongs to the substance of my being… [T]he magnificence of this people once lay in its belief in God — that is, in the way its trust and love of God far outweighed its fear of God. And now this people believes only in itself? In this sense I don’t love the Jews, nor do I "believe" in them…. We would both agree that patriotism is impossible without constant opposition and critique. In this entire affair I can confess to you one thing: the injustice committed by my own people naturally provokes me more than injustice done by others.
"What do you think of the Jews?"
"They’ve put before them graven images."
"Images of what?"

And again, updating every day. These are the images from Gaza that are too graphic for many US news outlets to publish.  Enoch is not protesting this. My note to Leiter: "If [as Leiter argues] the law is only law and has no relation to morality then it is our moral obligation at this point to speak of morality and not of law."

Zionism as pathology. Idealism in the face of the world of events rationalizes from personal preference, collapsing ideal and self.
"I took the children with me, for they are too good for the life that would follow, and a merciful God will understand me when I will give them the salvation ... The children are wonderful ... there never is a word of complaint nor crying. The impacts are shaking the bunker. The elder kids cover the younger ones, their presence is a blessing and they are making the Führer smile once in a while. May God help that I have the strength to perform the last and hardest. We only have one goal left: loyalty to the Führer even in death. Harald, my dear son — I want to give you what I learned in life: be loyal! Loyal to yourself, loyal to the people and loyal to your country ... Be proud of us and try to keep us in dear memory ..."
The ghost of Panofsky. Often enough to deserve its own tag.
More from Enoch here. Again from Leiter who writes: "It's well worth reading, and makes a nice point." Wrong on both counts.
For example, the Palestinian side could hold a nonviolent campaign for national independence.
The world doesn't need philosophers; it needs historians.
More on Gans, here

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