Sunday, August 28, 2005

Clarifying Some Additional Points on the Atomic Bombing Subject:
(With Dave Armstrong)

Since Dave has expressed the desire to not have a discussion on the material below in the private forum, I post it here to Rerum Novarum since what is noted there pertains directly to his attempt at arguing against the material in five of the eight threads to Rerum Novarum on the subject of the atomic bomb droppings (excluding this one). Briefly, they are accessible HERE. In the interest of fairness, I should note that Dave's thread from above does link to the first five threads duly noted at the latter thread. And while each of the posts in that thread deal with a different facet of the subject in question; at the same time, all of them are built off of what was posted in the first thread of the list. Having noted that briefly, let us move onto the purpose of this posting.

Though much of what is posted here is a duplicate of an email I sent to some parties in question (including Dave) yesterday morning, I have made some changes to the text in spots including the addition of three new footnotes. As Dave apparently wants to have this discussion fully in public view, I post this thread to respond to his manifested wish on the matter. Dave's words will be in black font and any sources I cite will be in darkblue font.

Hi Shawn,

Hola Dave!!!

I continue to vigorously disagree (so do many prominent orthodox Catholics such as Pope Paul VI, Fulton Sheen, etc.) that double effect can legitimately be applied in this instance.

Dave my friend, with all due respect, you are not engaging in dialogue on this subject yet. Instead, you are merely making assertions and stating names of people who agree with you. That is a fallacious approach to argumentation of no small import. Indeed, I have discussed the argumentation fallacies involved here not a few times including in two weblog postings -the first of which was posted in August of 2004 and the second in May of 2005.{1} With both postings, I pointed out five principles that needed to be taken into account for valid argumentation if seeking to argue from authority -three of which were as follows:

--On topics which are of a controverted nature (or where there are disagreements among recognized experts), it is fallacious to accept the opinion of an authority.

--In areas where there is disagreement among recognized experts, individuals then have to turn to various sources. However, whatever the sources turned to, the purpose cannot be for conclusions or opinions of said authority.

--Appeals to any presumable "authoritative" source should take into account (to the extent this is possible) the trackrecord of accuracy of the source being utilized. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa May 14, 2005)]

It cannot be denied that the subject we are discussing is one where there are disagreements from recognized experts on the matter...we can surely agree on that as it is a well established fact beyond debate. For that reason, it does not suffice to merely posit the opinions of experts whomever they are. You have thus far done this a lot and have not interacted with my actual arguments or the threads from our mutual friends Dr. Art Sippo, Greg Mockeridge,{2}, and also the points noted by my very good friend Tim Tull.{3} It is not a matter of merely disagreeing with us my friend, there must be posited viable arguments by you in return.

On the above score, even your citing thirdhand a presumed quote from a MAGIC operative falls into this since (i) they were quotes after the fact and (ii) in the midst of the Cold War arms race. There was a lot of second guessing at that point on various issues which is why I do not place much value (if any) in statements made long after the fact. What would carry more weight is if you had quotes from the person contemporary to the time...that is the only way to insure that the person being quoted was not in second-guess mode. There is also the question of whether their actual position was accurately rendered by the source you cited but that is another subject altogether.{4} Furthermore, that is not all that should be noted here.

It also bears noting that many of those who posit that such and such a party opposed the bomb droppings are quite selective with their citing of sources. That is not to say that it is a one-sided issue in that respect --or even that you would resort to such things of course-- but prooftexting is quite common for those who react to issues emotionally rather than engage them logically. The atomic bomb issue is one where reason and logic often take a back seat to solipsistic emotionalism and that needs to be recalled at all times. And while as a rule, you do (to your great credit) approach subjects with reason and logic, thus far on the issue in question, I believe your emotions are playing a larger factor than you would probably admit to.

I would be remiss at this point in not noting that this is a very gruesome subject matter to discuss as we are doing. But just as judges are supposed to leave their private opinions at the door when they enter the courtroom, we should act in like fashion in seeking to dialogue on these kinds of delicate issues to insure that we do proper justice to all sides involved. And one of those factors is considering the foundational presuppositions from which the lions share of the atom bombing critics (if not all of them) were operating from: that Japan was on the verge of surrender. That assessment (as the MAGIC cables themselves well confirmed) was a patently false one. If you needed any proof of this resolve -as well as the falsity of the "ready to surrender" claim, all you need to do is look at the events as they happened chronologically and do so from a logical frame of reference.

To start with, consider that the bomb on Hiroshima did not result in an immediate surrender by the Japanese. If they were really so interested in surrendering so readily (as the critics of the bomb droppings to a man almost uniformily asserted) then it only would have taken one bomb and they would have responded with acceptance of the terms of surrender on August 7th. But instead, after Hiroshima's bomb drop on August 6th, they had not surrendered. Two days later, the USSR declared war and even at that point, they still had not surrendered. President Truman then had the second bomb dropped on Nagasaki on the 9th and even then, there was no immediate surrender. Indeed, in case you did not know it, the Japanese government was deadlocked on whether or not to surrender after Nagasaki was bombed. The one who broke the tie was the Emperor Hirohito himself on August 10th. (And even then, an end to hostilities was not called by the Japanese government --in the person of Emperor Hirohito-- for five additional days after that.)

The hard cold truth of the matter is this Dave: the Japanese were not only not ready to surrender but they were intent on fighting to the last man...even going so far as to train the civilians in using weapons to help repel a presumed invasion of the islands. These are things that you need to account for that as well as the evidences I presented in my original posting to really see the picture in full. We cannot anachronistically retroject on these issues my is very easy to do since atomic bombs by their very nature are horrendous things. But that is not the way to have a viable dialogue on these matters.

Dialogue must involve some form of interaction and exchange of viewpoints. Thus far this has been a monologue of sorts between you and I.{5} I say this because posting names of people who disagree with me and Greg -and not considering the sitz im leben in the process- along with posting pictures to try and draw on the emotions of readers is not achieving that. In your other use of sources, you are heavily positing conclusions of others but conclusions and opinions are not what should be our concern here. It is the arguments advanced by said parties that is the issue.

I have put forth a theory{6} on this matter and it deserves interaction. Thus far, you have not done that in a fashion befitting a viable counter-theory. This is an area where we can disagree certainly but what sets those on this list apart from persons such as [certain-parties-who-shall-remain-nameless] is the willingness to enter into the arguments of the other. You have not put together cogent arguments yet but instead have merely quoted persons and opinions. I am afraid that will not do my friend...not by a long shot.

I think it is rather ludicrous, when you are talking 100,000 + deaths. See my analogy to the Detroit area being hit as a "military target" . .

But Dave, you admitted a week ago that you were not well acquainted with many facets of the discussion{7}...heck yesterday you even admitted to this in your posting viz. the nuances of double effect methodology. I cannot believe you assimilated it all in a couple of days my friend...not by a long shot. And furthermore, your very arguments themselves betray this as I will now briefly document using your own words from your posting on the matter:

In particular, the justification of "double effect" cannot, I think, be reasonably, plausibly maintained with regard to these bombings. There were simply too many civilian casualties. The scale of death and destruction does not allow it. It is -- with all due respect to my friends, who offer some very harsh criticisms of opponents themselves-- hopelessly naive and muddleheaded and a denial of concrete reality to suggest that these were only peripheral, and non-intentional, while military targets were primary intentions. [Dave Armstrong: Cor ad Cor Loquitur posting circa August 25, 2005)]

I explained how the principle applied in my August 26th posting on the did not have that thread to work with on the 25th so I have to extend to you some leeway of course.

I wrote the post outlining the double effect principle back on August 17th in a private email in about ten minutes. For that reason -and because of the complexity of the subject involved- I felt that it was necessary to submit it to a trained Catholic philosopher to analyze my arguments since I am not a trained Catholic philosopher by any stretch. For that I picked the very esteemed Dr. Philip Blosser (aka "Chris' dad").

The verdict from Dr. Philip Blosser (the trained philosopher) was that the arguments I used were sound ones. I noticed that in your posting (written before my double effect thread was posted), you were trying to disqualify the double effect principle on the subjective principle of quantity. You repeated this in your Detroit arguments of which you sought to recall me to in your comments boxes. Rather than bring this up publicly (for the time being) I remind you of your words above and will explain why this methodology will not wash. But first, the foundation of your arguments against double effect can be boiled down to this one sentence from your above paragraph:

There were simply too many civilian casualties.

The reason I posted a "points to ponder" thread on the subject of normative argumentation back on August 13, 2005 (four days before the original Hiroshima posting) was because I anticipated that this may well happen with those who disagreed on the issue of the bombings . And with the above words, you have played according to my predicted script by trying to make an objective principle of argument into a subjective one by postulating the subjective notion of "too many" into the mix. And with that, your entire thread of argument inexorably unravels.

Your use of "too many civilian casualties" is the downfall since you are then obligated to tell us what "enough" would be in your scenario. Would 50 be "enough"??? What about 1,000??? 10,000??? 40,000??? 70,000??? 100,000??? 400,000??? 1,000,000??? At what point is your subjective criteria of "enough" met and we have moved into the realm of the "too many"??? And furthermore, how can you objectively verify that you have reached the point of "too many" in your statements Dave??? That is a trick question actually because the answer of course is that you cannot. The reason you cannot is because you are arguing from a normative standard which is by its very nature subjective rather than objective. And that is why you have yet to actually enter into the subject of double effect and whether it does or does not apply.

I have argued that double effect applies to this subject and I have made my arguments in a non-normative fashion. You have disagreed and have done so on a normative fashion. Double effect argumentation however is not a subjective principle of argumentation which is to say that it is not normative. So in trying to argue against it with normative arguments, you are involving yourself in the logical fallacy of context-switching my friend.

For double effect is a universal principle and as a result it is both (i) non-normative as well as (ii) objective in its import. That is not to say that you cannot argue against it in the context whereby I have appropriated it of course. However, to do so you must strive to do so from a non-normative context if your arguments are to be viable theories with which we can comprehend and interact with.

Anyway, I hope this note has amply clarified some points that needed to be touched on. If it reads rather hard in spots, I apologize but I will not sugarcoat things as I see them. I look forward to a dialogue with you on these matters my friend with the confident hope that we can do so amicably. But one part of an authentic dialogue is frankness and it is with that in mind that I hope you approach what I have outlined in this thread.


{1} The reason for the second posting was because [the person in question] was falling into this trap and it seemed proper to revisit the subject in a briefer form than I had previously enunciated it in for that reason.

{2} The A-Bomb Drops on Japan: Is There Room In the Catholic Conscience to Support Truman's Decision? (Greg Mockeridge: From his weblog circa August 19, 2005)

{3} Tim was author of the most recent Rerum Novarum Guest Editorial and his knowledge of WWII is as extensive (if not more so) than the war archives themselves. For that reason, I will accept any corrections of fact that he has either for my posting or Art's should he send any. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa August 18, 2005)]

{4} There is also the issue of context in that we only have one source verifying the position of Brigader General Carter Clarke as being involved with MAGIC. We do not know from this whether or not he was in that position at the time of the bomb droppings or not. This is highly improbable for reasons I will not outline in brief. The reader is asked to notice that rather than merely posting names, I am actually making arguments and stating facts: the antithesis of my good friend Dave's approach to discussing this subject matter thus far.

To start with, at one point, all the intelligence cabels from MAGIC were under the same umbrella of control if you will but that changed in the early 1940's. The signal date of sorts was February 2, 1943: the date when there was a division made within the MAGIC cooperative of sorts by President Franklin Roosevelt. The divisions were along military service lines. Starting on February 2, 1943, the Navy was placed solely in charge of the Japanese intelligence cabels (their decoding, etc.) while the Army was given a new assignment altogether. Then-Colonel Carter Clark was the founder of Venona or the Russian chryptological branch of MAGIC charged with working on Soviet decoding. The agency under which that decoding was to take place was renamed the Signal Security Agency (SSA). This is not insignificant when you consider that Dave is quoting a third hand source from Brigader General Carter Clarke on Hiroshima fourteen years after the fact. For those who missed the problem with this source being cited, I will reiterate it at this time.

First of all, Carter Clarke was not a Brigader General in 1945 but was instead a colonel. And as he was in the Army and assigned to head up SSA in early 1943, Colonel Clarke would not have overseen the dispatches on the Japanese from at least early 1943 onward. The reason of course should be obvious: he was the founder of the Venona branch of the MAGIC network and the Army had no involvement in the Japanese decoding from that point onward. Colonel Clarke worked on Venona from February 2, 1943 through at least October of 1949...I am uncertain as to if he was involved with Venona past that point. Nonetheless, it is not even deniable that Colonel Carter Clarke was involved in the founding of Venona in early 1943 and that with Venona, Colonel Clarke was involved with Soviet cabels not Japanese ones. For this reason, citing him as MAGIC operative in the position as Doug Long does (in the context of Pacific Theatre codebreaking and information gathering under MAGIC) is very sloppy scholarship (to put it nicely).

So contrary to your assertions that I was "wrong" in what I said about MacArthur and MAGIC, the above material amply vindicates my position. I wanted to keep this private Dave but since you want it made public, there you go.

{5} Greg is involved too but he and I are discussing this from different angles in some respect. For that reason, I refer here only to the attempted dialogue between you and I since there are two different discussions going on with you on this subject: one with me and one with Greg.

{6} [W]hen one is dealing with a theory, they are dealing with both abstract notions as well as coordinating dynamic principles of action. One of the author's intellectual mentors once defined a theory as "a set of non contradictory abstract ideas (or as philosophers like to call them 'principles') which purports to be either a correct description of reality or a guideline for successful action."...

Having established a working meaning of the term theory, it is worth noting also that the word thesis according to the Merriam Webster Thesaurus is related to the word theory. (Both of them having a foundation in the term assumption.) A good way of looking at this in the current context is to view a thesis as "an abstract principle or proposition to be advanced and maintained by argument" and a theory as incorporating a thesis -or a series of theses -with a guideline for successful action. The reason for this is because a theory by its nature must involve either (i) a correct description of reality or (ii) a guideline for successful action. For this reason, any viable theory involves several principles if you will which work together.

Or another way of looking at it would be to consider that a theory is being conceived of a series of non contradictory coordinative theses or points of presupposition. When viewed in this light, a theory clearly is only as strong as the theses which support it. [Excerpt from the Rerum Novarum Miscellaneous BLOG (circa January 14, 2004)]

{7} Obviously, you and Greg have studied this particular matter in far more depth than I have. So I eagerly look forward to considering your arguments carefully when I return. [Dave Armstrong: Email to this list circa August 12, 2005 (as reiterated in your Cor ad Cor Loquitur posting circa August 25, 2005)]

Are we to believe that you have assimilated all of our arguments in the span of three days my friend??? Trust me, neither Greg nor myself are unfamiliar with the arguments advanced by people who hold to your general viewpoint. And speaking for Greg, we would appreciate if you give our greater in-depth study on these matters more due than you have done thus far.

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Threads on the Atomic Bomb Droppings, Military and Statistical Calculations, the Moral and Ethical Aspects of the Subject Matter in Question, Etc...
(A Rerum Novarum Recapitulation Thread)

To precede the next post I will add to this weblog, the following is a list of some of the threads on this weblog from newest to oldest dealing with the subjects in question. My reasons for this posting will soon become apparent{1} but first, let us revisit the eight threads posted on these subjects since August 17, 2005:

On Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and the Profound Problems With Ivory Tower Revisionist Pontifications (circa August 17, 2005)

Some Feedback on the "Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and the Profound Problems With Ivory Tower Revisionist Pontificatons" Thread (From Dr. Art Sippo circa August 18, 2005)

More Feedback on the "Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and the Profound Problems With Ivory Tower Revisionist Pontificatons" Thread (From Tim Tull circa August 19, 2005)

More Feedback on the "Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and the Profound Problems With Ivory Tower Revisionist Pontificatons" Thread (From Tim Tull on Dr. Sippo's Email circa August 21, 2005)

Points to Ponder --On the Atomic Bombs and Their Usage (By Dr. Art Sippo circa August 22, 2005)

And Yet More Feedback on the "Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and the Profound Problems With Ivory Tower Revisionist Pontificatons" Thread (circa August 25, 2005)

And More Feedback on the "Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and the Profound Problems With Ivory Tower Revisionist Pontificatons" Thread (circa August 26, 2005)

And Yet Still More Feedback on the "Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and the Profound Problems With Ivory Tower Revisionist Pontificatons" Thread (circa August 26, 2005)

Expanding Futher on the Subject of Double Effect Viz. the Atomic Bombings (circa August 26, 2005)


{1} See this link for details.

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