Saturday, November 18, 2006

Note of an Upcoming Weblog Posting:

As it sits at the present time, the previously mentioned election review and analysis is on pace to be published on November 22nd of this month. Whether that timeframe is achieved or not depends on finding the time to finish and format it but that is where we are at with it at the present time.

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The Rerum Novarum Miscellaneous BLOG has been updated!!!

The new entry is a definition for the word "torture" since thus far no one I am aware of has shown an interest in doing that.

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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

"None Dare Call It A Zionist Conspiracy" Dept.
(With no apologies to Gary Allen)

The emailers words will be in dark red font.

Mr. McIlhenny,

I am aware that you and others like you are either in a deep state of denial about the Jewish conspiracies that abound world-wide or you are yourselves directly cooperating in them.

Now, before you cut me off as a lunatic, I insist that you hear me out. I have proof that Jews are basically into EVERYTHING and that you and your friends are all pawns and dupes (at best). There are even some among you who are masquerading as gentiles, while I have come into the possession of irrefutable evidence that some are Jews. One of your colleagues even has ties to the Israeli Mossad.

I am dead serious, Mr. McIlhenny and I will be coming forth with the evidence shortly. I must insist that you publish it, unless your pro-Jew, pro-Zionist sycophancy will not allow it.

We will all see, Mr. McIlhenny and the world will know whether you tried to cover this up or not.


Henrik Hassen

Why do people continue to think I am related to the Avery Island crowd of tabasco makers??? Look, it is not as if my name is absent this site or any other that I run so at the very least, my name should be spelled correctly. That minor issue aside, I am left wondering where people presume somehow that I am so "pro-Zionist" but I will get to that in a moment too.

My remarkable consistency over the years{1} includes a constant trackrecord of expecting at a minimum that those who either disagree with me or who kvetch about some issue over and over again that they (i) be reasonably civil and not not act like a pompous asshole, (ii) define their terms, (iii) make viable arguments, and (iv) document their sources. I have little patience with those who cannot meet this minimal threshold by my own admission.{2} But I am accustomed to being called a panopoly of names from "modernist" to "liberal" to "fascist" to "neo-con" to "Bush sycophant"{3} to "Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde", to "Satan's bedfellow", etc over the years. This is done (of course) by a consortium of carping cowards who demonstrate in their own words that they are intellectually dependent sorts who cannot meet the minimal requirements for a proper dialogue grounded in logic and reason as I noted above.

Now certainly, I have had no problems dispatching with such people's pitiful excuses for "arguments" with the only challenge being finding the time to do such things amidst my constantly-insufficient extra time for these matters. So in that respect, I see little different from this letter except the person involved actually claims they have "irrefutable proof" of their position. So for that reason (and despite no small degree of profound misgivings I have about what I am about to do), I will play along here and see what this Henrik Hassen fellow has to offer in the weeks ahead (if anything).

To be Continued...


{1} Modesty aside for a moment.

{2} It reminds me of those who think I am some kiss up to the Bush Administration when I mention an area or three where I agree with them at least to a macro extent. For every agreement I can think of with the Bush Administration, there is a disagreement if not two and I have not been shy in pointing many of them out over the years here at Rerum Novarum. Of course to actually have the integrity to admit to this is something that the contingent of carping cowards and intellectually dependent sorts cannot do lest they admit that they are lying like a carpet about what they say about me. But that is neither here nor there.

{3} And (of course) those who make arguments will have what they offer scrutinized and those who provide documentation of positions they take can expect to have their sources fact-checked. If the work is shoddy, I will not mince words or irenic tonalities saying so -particularly if it is someone whom I know can probably do a better job.

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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

On the Blues and Painting a Lyrical Picture of Reality:
(Musings of your humble servant at Rerum Novarum)

When listening to the blues Monday night on the car radio while enjoying a very fine Don Tomas Maduro, I decided on a whim to call a good friend of mine{1} whom I had not spoken to in a couple of months. As it was, he happened to be listening to the blues also at that exact same time. (What are the odds of that???) We discussed a number of subjects as we always do including on this occasion the subjects of honesty and integrity and how we both find these things in such short supply today by many persons whom would give the appearance of being pious or otherwise honourable. "Is it a coincidence" my friend asked "that the one sin that Jesus was most angry about was the sin of hypocrisy???" Frankly, I think not and after our conversation, I resumed listening to the blues CD I was listening to and a song came up which reminded me of what my friend and I were discussing. Here are the lyrics as composed by Don Nix and sung by Albert King circa 1970:

Ev'rybody wants to laugh
Ah, but nobody wants to cry
I say ev'rybody wants to laugh
But nobody wants to cry
Ev'rybody wants to go to heaven
But nobody wants to die

Ev'rybody wanna hear the truth
But yet, ev'rybody wants to tell a lie
I say ev'rybody wants to hear the truth
But still they all wanna tell a lie
Oh ev'rybody wants to go to heaven
But nobody wants to die

Ev'rybody wanna know the reason
Without even askin' why
Oh, ev'rybody wanna know the reason
Oh, without even askin' why
You know ev'rybody wanna go to heaven
But nobody wants to die

What more really needs to be said{2} than that???


{1} I refer here to my good friend Albert Cipriani -someone with whom I have a long history of passionate disagreements with but who never (despite those disagreements) has sought to go the route of showing disrespect for reason and logic. Nor was he at any time a public hypocrite. Insofar as sin makes everyone a hypocrite at least privately, I will not go there. However, there is the integrity required to admit to mistakes and do so to the extent they have been made -a point I have discussed more than once on this weblog over the years including here. Where it counts, Albert has always stood on principles and I have always appreciated that. Would that more friends (past and present) would have acted in like manner but I digress.

{2} Basically, that gets to the crux of it really: people want things they are not willing to do what is needed to get. They want to laugh but do not want to cry as if you can have one without the other. They want to hear the truth but they want to (and do) tell lies. And when it comes to things that happen, they want to know the reasons without asking why things happen as they do.

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On Torture, the Limitations of Dignitatis Humanae, Logic, Etc.:
(A Response to Dr. Michael Liccione)

[Update: I added a footnote to the text below after receiving an email responding to this thread which clarified a point I made in the text by providing additional support. -ISM 11/15/06 12:30pm]

It should be noted in advance that I was unaware of the academic credentials that Dr. Michael Liccione possesses; ergo my more personal references to him in the previous off-the-cuff posting.{1} I will therefore refer to him in a formal fashion in this note as befits someone with his manifested educational background{2} and because we are not well acquainted (yet). His words will be in dark green font and any citations from my previous posting made by him in his recent response will be in blue font.

Shawn McElhinney of Rerum Novarum ('SM' for short), a Catholic apologist well-known in the blogosphere, has undertaken to rebut my treatment of the Church's development of doctrine on the question of punishing heretics.

I am a person who writes on a variety of subjects which are of interest to me at a given point in time who happens to be Catholic, not a Catholic apologist Dr. Liccione. Nonetheless, I will presume in light of our general unfamiliarity with one another that this is not intended as a slight on your part. I make this clarification because I have no small degree of annoyance at the garbage that so often passes for "Catholic apologetics"{3} and as a result I do not want to be affiliated with them in the slightest -at least not directly.{4} But enough on that for now.

Be it noted that the point of my post was to argue that the Church's development of doctrine on this question does not constitute any negation of doctrine that had been infallibly taught by the ordinary magisterium. I'm sure SM agrees with that point, but he doesn't like what he takes to be my argument.

That can be noted but I disagree that there has actually been an authentic development of doctrine on this issue. That is where we part company Dr. Liccione. I explained this in the first of my public postings on torture and general norms and you may not have seen that thread. However, if you give it a review, you will understand with far greater accuracy what my actual position on these matters is.

Readers should also note that, on the nest of moral topics associated with that of the punishment of heretics, SM has disagreed with Mark Shea, who as far as I can tell agrees with me that the Church has come to recognize as intrisincally evil certain acts which many bishops and popes once thought fit punishment for heretics in a Catholic state.

Actually, that is not primarily what my disagreement with Mark Shea is Dr. Liccione. I disagree with the entire pattern of disgraceful antics Mark has involved himself in pertaining to the subject of torture in general for several reasons I have not viewed as appropriate to note publicly prior to this time. If he had conducted himself as gracefully as Dr. Scott Carson has or even as you have, things would be different. But that has not been the case at all and Mark has displayed some of the same noxious traits that are common to many who call themselves "Catholic apologists" and that is hardly the worst of it by any stretch of the tape.{5}

I make my rebuttal of McElhinney herein.


As usually happens when debating this issue, many others get conflated with it.


One is whether any sort of act that can reasonably be classifed as torture is intrinsically evil as opposed to being merely evil in most circumstances. Since the term 'torture' does not have a definition that's both consensual and decisive for the purpose, the question cannot be answered to everybody's satisfaction.

I agree and that is why I have noted the necessity of those who bandy about this term to define how they are applying it. I reviewed your site a bit before writing this response and it seems you have taught logic in academia. For that reason (and kudos to you for doing that btw) you should be among the first to agree with me that this whole issue being discussed in the absence of definitions is a problem. Furthermore, people like Mark Shea have been completely disingenuous in refusing to define their terms from the get-go.

It does not matter if you agree with me or not on the crux of this issue per se Dr. Liccione though I have explained my position more than adequately enough and been careful to explain how I apply the terms I use and the approach I have taken on this matter. I would though expect us to agree that discussions where terms are not explained as to how they are to be understood go nowhere and the deliberate refusal to explain terms is disingenuous and to be discouraged to no small degree. Far from merely refusing to define his terms, Mark has actually ridiculed those who have made this request publicly as if they are somehow asking for something indecent. While on the one hand, he has pointed to the definitions of others he has not bothered to explain how he understands this term. This is easy to demonstrate{6} and frankly is not even debatable.

But McElhinney isn't even totally forthcoming about his own, tentative answer; by his own account (see below), it seems he wishes to avoid giving scandal. That's a red flag in itself. Perhaps the brouhaha at Shea's blog has made him unwilling to be totally frank.

I have no problem at all with being frank, indeed I am usually criticized for refusing to play "see no evil, hear no evil" when it comes to the crap paraded about by catholic pundits, agenda provocateurs and apologists. The problem is opening up a plethora of subjects I do not want to talk about at this time.

At any rate, if I went on as SM does, I wouldn't be totally frank either.

We shall see...

Candor would not be politic even in ecclesiastical terms.

Other forms of misunderstaning appear in SM's critique of me, so let's get to it.

He claims that Dignitatis Humanae "does not contradict the injunctions of Lateran IV viz. persecuting heretics however it may appear," and cites his reply to Brian Tierney for his argument on that point. Having examined that reply, as well as SM's reply to Scott Carson, I find the nub of the issue in the interpretation of this passage from DH §2:

This Vatican Council declares that the human person has a right to religious freedom. This freedom means that all men are to be immune from coercion on the part of individuals or of social groups and of any human power, in such wise that no one is to be forced to act in a manner contrary to his own beliefs, whether privately or publicly, whether alone or in association with others within due limits.

The question, specifically, is what the phrase "within due limits" modifies. I've always taken it to be modifying the immediately preceding phrase "in association with others...."

This interpretation appears problematical for reasons of the syntax of the paragraph. First of all, one wants to avoid being too repetitive with words beyond what is necessary. The essential statement is as follows:

--The Council declares that the human person has a right to religious freedom and to be immune from coercion on the part of any individual, social group, or human power insofar as that they will not be forced to act in a manner contrary to their own beliefs within due limits.

To boil down the entire declaration to a single sentence, that would be it. Obviously, a single sentence is not enough to understand the teaching adequately because many of the words in that statement are not explained as to what is meant by them. But for the sake of this posting, it will have to do except that there are four factors which qualify the preciseness of this requirement. Dr. Liccione is only focusing on one of them rather than all four for whatever reason.

I would assert that it is far more probable to look at it as a modifying factor of everything subsequent to the declaration itself about immunity from coercion rather than just a modifying factor "in association with others" as Dr. Liccione has asserted. Instead, it would seem to denote four specific areas which one is not forced to act in a manner contrary to his own beliefs and those areas are (i) whether privately (ii) [whether] publicly (iii) whether alone or (iv) [whether] in association with others The clarifying within due limits applies to all four of these areas. The due limits are spelled out later in the declaration when defining the meaning of the concept of "public order" in conjunction with the traditional criteria of "the common good." To go over all of this with the detail it deserves would detract from my intentions here so that is all I will say on it at the present time except to direct readers back to my original detailed exposition on torture and general norms circa early October of 2006.

Such due limits might mean, for example, the forbidding of certain cult practices, especially those involving minors, or open attacks on public morality, such as what one sees at "gay-pride" parades.

I concur with this assessment.

(Of course even the latter wouldn't comport with the First Amendment as currently understood in American jurisprudence, but that is secondary; the focus here is meaning of the teaching of the Church.)

To go over the problems with activist judges is beyond the scope of this post; however, it can be more than adequately defended a hypothesis that the Founding Fathers intended the Constitution to allow for the defense of societal order. But that is a subject for another time perhaps.

I limit the scope of 'within due limits' as I do because, if one takes it to be modifying the whole previous part of the sentence, then it can be so interpreted that the alleged "right to religious freedom" would be no different in principle from a right extended only to Catholics.

People can place a lot of interpretations on a text absent context Dr. Liccione. I do not see how one can get around applying to the whole previous part of the sentence without their position being one of arrested development both logically as well as syntaxually.{7} You assert that you think this can be interpreted as any different in principle from a right extended only to Catholics but that would be to pay no heed whatsoever to the declaration's own explanation of what "due limits" is. If the latter is taken into account, it is evident that the right to civil religious liberty is not one extended only to Catholics. I have discussed this before and do not want to revisit it again at this time except in a footnote{8} perhaps.

That indeed is pretty much how it was understood in the Middle Ages.

This is true.

Some trads would have no problem with that, to be sure;

Which is unfortunate but again, true.

but if that's how DH is to be construed, it's not easy to explain how its teaching constitutes a substantive development of doctrine as distinct from a mere rhetorical game. It's more natural, as well as more common, to explain the passage in question as forbidding some forms of coercion not only practiced but mandated in the medieval Church.

I am not necessarily in disagreement with you on this in principle Dr. Liccione, only in how you appear to go about explaining it. Your approach seems to dismiss a lot of history wholesale in order to get to your position whereas my approach does nothing of the sort.

Now I claimed that the older teaching rejected by DH can be conveniently formulated thus:

(HP) Heretics should be punished with torture and/or death if their being so punished is necessary for the common good.

Yes you did.

SM criticizes that formulation as follows:

The problem with the way the statement is phrased is that it involves a normative or subjective element into the equation. It involves a value judgment in other words as to what should or should not be done. The only concern we need in the current context is not whether someone should be punished with torture or death under certain circumstances but only if they could. The latter is a non-normative or objective question in the sense that we are only interested in what can be done in these situations.

I'm afraid that illustrates the sort of confusion generated by assuming too sharp a distinction between value and fact. In the objective, factual, sense, of course heretics can be punished in any manner lying within the genius of the torturers.

That was not the point I was making Dr. Liccione. If torture in all formulations is ipso facto "intrinsically evil" than it cannot be used in any form period. My point in making the distinction is in asking if torture in some form or another --and again the lack of defining this term by those who kvetch on this matter publicly is no small annoyance-- is permissible.

But the question is not whether they can be so punished, but whether there are circumstances under which they should be. That's the question to which HP, or a proposition relevantly similar to it, is an answer. The phrasing of HP reminds us that making moral judgments typically involves the exercise of prudence and that this case is no exception.

I agree with your analysis in the paragraph above.

One might snippily dismiss the judgments HP calls for as "subjective," but that hardly makes them irrelevant. In general, the relevant question is how such judgments ought to be made; in the particular case, the question is what sort of punishment of heretics, if any, is necessary to serve the common good. One doesn't make that question go away by dismissing in advance any answer as 'subjective'.

I would suggest you familiarize yourself with what I wrote on these matters before presuming that I have snippily dismiss[ed] anything.

I had written:

Between the fourth and eighteenth centuries, most popes and prelates believed HP. Even St. Thomas Aquinas believed it. But the Church's development of doctrine has it that the torture and execution of people for their religious beliefs is a violation of their consciences, which is intrinsically evil inasmuch as it violates one of the most basic of human rights.

SM doesn't like that one bit. He replies:

Notice the bait and switch: Michael goes from "[h]eretics should be punished with torture and/or death if their being so punished is necessary for the common good" to claiming that they are not to be punished in that way whatsoever for their religious beliefs and what exercising those beliefs may or may not involve. This may appear to be not what I assert but consider for a moment the relevant factors involved in a nutshell:

---In a society where church and state are closely intertwined, heretics who were zealous in propagating errors which were seen rightfully so as undermining the common good of society were not tolerated. That does not apply in a society as we have seen construed in recent centuries but it also overlooks a key factor: the necessity of the common good factor. If the heretics so called are seeking militarily to infringe upon the rights of others and threatening their survival unless said persons or nations bow to coercion and accept the aggressor's religious beliefs, then such "persons and societies" (cf. DH §1) can under the rubric of self-defense of persons and society be tortured or executed within certain parameters.[...] It depends of course on how "torture" is defined.

Apparently, the subject of the question needs to be reiterated. The question is not about whether heretics seeking to use force on others should be physically resisted and punished. As far as I know, that is not in dispute.

Wanna bet??? Read what the apologists for Al Queda are saying publicly Dr. Liccione. What angers me so much on this subject is that they are doing just that under the cover of being "faithful Catholics" when indeed they are mouthpieces for sedition. If Dignitatis Humanae is considered in its logical import and in the light of tradition, it is not possible to accuse the Church of undermining the common good of society or just public order. But by the interpretation of people such as Mark Shea, that is not the case.

The question is whether heretics should be punished just for publicly propounding heresy, not just for actions which would count as crimes even if heresy were not at issue. I clarify the question in that way because that's precisely what's at issue in the DH passage quoted above. And I've already indicated what the natural interpretation of DH's statement would be, when taken as an answer to the question properly understood.

We are not addressing the same thing then Dr. Liccione.

Thus, I had claimed that, given the teaching of DH, " is never necessary to serve the common good by doing such an evil that good may come," where by 'such an evil' I meant torturing and/or execting heretics for publicly propagating heresy. What seems to have set off SM is that I was not crystal clear about the distinction between imposing heresy and merely propagating it.

No, that is not what angers me Dr. Liccione. I made the mistake of drawing you into the orbit of Mark Shea and Professor Kevin Miller and what are obvious flaws in their understanding of general norms of theological interpretation. That is not to say that your approach is free from potential problems of course but to get a better gauge of that would require a closer examination of your position than I have taken.

Thus SM replies:

Again, torture is not necessarily an intrinsic evil any more than the death penalty is. That does not mean that both torture and the death penalty are unable to be conducted in ways which are inhumane and objectively evil of course. But it does mean that not all means of coersing others or of executing them are intrinsically evil. The Pandora's Box that such a notion opens up is far wider than I originally asserted and I am frankly not sure I want to delve into it in the public medium at this time lest it scandalize some of my readers of a religious nature and start more fires than I care to deal with (metaphorically speaking).

Oy vay: doesn't want to light fires he can't put out!

Frankly Dr. Liccione, it is not that I cannot put them out, only that I do not think the time required to do so would be time well spent. Should I have the time to deal with them later on (and feel the inclination to), then it may be different.

OK, but SM doesn't have to do that in order to address my point, which he fails to do. I did not claim that "all means of coercing others or executing them" are "intrinsically evil."

Then we are not in disagreement it seems.

If SM wishes to define 'torture' simply as 'means of coercing', that is his affair; but he's going to be talking to himself, since nobody condemns all means of coercing others as intrinsically evil.

Apparently you have not been watching some of those who have made the "torture is intrinsically evil" argument very carefully Dr. Liccione because in the absence of those persons explaining what they mean by the word "torture", they by logical extension are saying just that. How else do you explain that they whine and kvetch about every kind of attempted coercion on the part of the US Government in trying to get information from Al Queda operatives as "torture" either explicitly or by logical inference in other things that they have said??? And then when this is pointed out to them, they lack the basic integrity to admit to what they are doing!!! Nonetheless, it is far more evident in what you wrote in your rebuttal that you have not done this and I apologize for presuming in my off-the-cuff email response to what you wrote{9} that you had.

What DH condemns, and I condemn, is forcing others to act against their conscience; yet in certain instances centuries ago, the Church enjoined the civil arm to do just that. Whether the means of doing so should be classified as 'torture' according to somebody-or-other's definition of torture is sometimes an interesting question; but I take it we all recognize the rack and the stake as forms of torture that were used to do to heretics just the sort of thing that DH implies may not be done.

I agree with this Dr. Liccione.

I also claimed that DH does not negate any teaching infallibly taught by the ordinary magisterium—a claim with which SM would surely agree. His objection is to how I reach that conclusion, not to the conclusion itself.

Yes and also because I saw in what you were writing an excuse to condone an undermining of national security. But that was because I was so livid over this whole subject that I presumed that you were on the side of those persons due to similarities in position at some points. However, similarly of position does not necessarily mean identical positions as I have often said; fidelity to principles requires me to acknowledge when I fall short of them as I did in this case.

Now I had said:

But since HP itself is a material conditional, the falsity of its antecedent makes it trivially true


So even if HP does meet the criteria for having been infallibly taught by the ordinary magisterium, it is trivially true.

That gets SM rather hot under the collar:

The crux of the issue is being avoided with the above statement so I will highlight it in bold font: Defending persons and society from the menace of heretics out to either undermine the common good of society or who seek to coerce people under threat of physical mutilation or death to violate their consciences and accept alien systems of thought is not "trivially true" no matter how you stretch the tape!!!

SM seems to think I consider this topic unimportant. Quite the contrary, of course, else I wouldn't have written more than one lengthy post about it.

We are obviously not too familiar with one another's work on some of these subjects Dr. Liccione.

It is evident that SM has completely misunderstood my use of the logician's term of art 'trivially true.' In logic, statements of the form 'P if Q' or 'If Q then P' are called "material conditionals." The truth-conditions on statements of that form are such that if the 'if-clause'—i.e., the antecedent—is false, then the whole statement is true regardless of whether the 'then-clause', the consequent, is true or false. That's why material conditionals whose antecedents are false are only "trivially" true. They are "if-then" statements but the condition, the state of affairs described by the 'if-clause', doesn't obtain; so it doesn't matter whether the consequent is true or not; the whole statement is true, but only "trivially" so in virtue of the antecedent's falsity.

As I noted above, I was seeing red when I wrote my original response for reasons which I hopefully have noted adequately above. As for the argument you make above about logic, you appear to be saying that the statement "P if Q" as the proposition depends on the truth of falsity of Q. For that reason, the falsity of Q would mean the falsity of P and therefore if Q as a variable changes, than its relation to P changes also. Am I understanding you correctly on this???{10}

From the standpoint of development of doctrine, then, it doesn't matter that HP is true; it's only trivially true. The doctrine developed in DH only goes to show what makes its antecedent false. And what makes it false is that, be they called "torture" or something else, attempts to force people to violate their consciences are intrinsically evil.

Unless (as I noted above) what is involved is a violation of the common good of society. This was the rationale used in the Middle Ages. What differs in the modern context is that ascertaining what is and is not "the common good" is a normative issue fundamentally. For that reason, logically an objective criteria is needed to help interpret "the common good" in a non-normative framework. DH does this by defining a new term for the Catholic lexicon "public order." To ascertain that something most not undermine "the common good" and recognize that how the latter is objectively verified is to consider how it relates to the "public order" of society. The latter provides an objective verifier to an equation that previously only had a subjective element to it. I have explained this before on numerous occasions{11} and presume that you are getting at essentially what I noted above.

SM complains about anti-Catholic apologists not wanting to do the work necessary to understand in context the magisterial statements they criticize.


He would do well to try to understand his Catholic opponents better than his Protestant opponents understand Catholicism.

This is a sword that cuts both ways Dr. Liccione. Nonetheless, for my part in the misunderstanding, I apologize to you.


{1} A similar thing happened in an earlier response to Dr. Scott Carson. As for this post, it is a revised version of an email I sent to someone who brought Dr. Liccoine's thread to my attention.

{2} [A] valid PhD does not grant them immunity from making crappy arguments. For that reason, focus on their arguments not their presumed "credentials" or lack thereof.

The truth is, one can be logical without being learned. My father did not have a high school diploma, could not read well due to poor vision, etc., but he hardly was incapable of making logical arguments. The two do not have an intrinsic connection insofar as they must be present at the same time. Obviously knowledge can assist someone in making an argument but the tools for making a proper argument are not (and never have been) a special preserve of the educated.

Indeed, the moment it is conceded (even tacitly) that one has to be learned to be logical is the moment that academic elitists can impose an intellectual tyranny onto the rest of humanity. The truth is, intellectuals are often quite stupid and can make stupid arguments. Likewise, recognized "experts" in a particular area of study also can make poor arguments or misjudge matters. This is why what must be assessed is the validity (or lack thereof) of a theory or thesis they seek to advance, not the status of the person involved. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa February 11, 2006)]

The above text is referenced to remind readers of an important principle not often recognized, not as any kind of commentary on Dr. Liccione's writings.

{3} I find the lack of charity and tact on the part of many who call themselves "apologists" to be disgraceful. However, that is not all as there is also (i) the tendency towards manufacturing conflict that those of that mentality so often display, (ii) their narrowminded dogmatism of their own opinions as somehow of requiring assent, (iii) the general shoddiness of their arguments on a whole panopoly of issues. I have have become convinced over time that the latter is due to the incapability of many of them to exercise the faculties of reason and logic and (in several cases) a kind of intellectual dependence.

There is also the issue of how disgracefully the Catholic apologetics establishment has refused to take seriously the problems that exist in this area and prefer to play "see no evil, hear no evil, smell no evil" and that as much as anything is why I want no affiliation whatsoever with them. (If said establishment powers show a reasonable degree of concern at cleaning up the Augean stables of Catholic apologetics, I will reconsider my position on apologetics methodology in general but not until then.)

{4} Before this comes across as sounding contradictory, I should note that just because I do not want to be confused as a Catholic apologist does not mean that there are not others who have an interest both in that affiliation and in cultivating their capabilities in this area. For that reason -and because I tire of those who only criticize and do not offer functional solutions to problems- I do have an interest in (and to a certain extent am involved in) fostering the development of people who want to do apologetics and how to do it properly.

{5} One of the reasons my tonality in the response to your stuff was less than amicable is that I sense there are certain aspects of this that you are not paying sufficient attention to Dr. Liccione. I have written on the subject of the fundamental rights of man often at this weblog --most recently touched on a bit in this post series-- and one of those fundamental rights is the right to life. Under the heading of the right to life is the right to survival and I see the shameful antics of Mark Shea as contributing to the aid and comfort of those in the war on terror who want to see us converted or killed. I see your arguments as doing the same in the absence of defining one's terms and if there is one thing I will not do it is stand by quietly and let any apologist, philosopher, politician, or pope endanger my right and the right of my loved ones to personal security and survival. Period.

{6} A reader responded to the original posting with this observation which clarifies the point I made a bit:

Mark has refused to define the term "torture" himself; however, in fairness he did refer to three definitions a number of times: the dictionary, "Check the regulations for treatment of prisoners that have been used by the military and police for the past 50 years," and the Interrogator's Golden Rule ("If you'd call it "torture" if it were done to you or a friend, then it's torture"). Each are laughable in their fuzziness. [Excerpt from an Email Correspondence (circa November 15, 2006)]

In other words, he is playing a disingenuous semantics game here and refusing to undertake the bare minimum requirements of an authentic dialogue on these issues.

{7} I think I just invented a word there ;-)

{8} A Few Notes On Dignitatis Humanae (circa July 18, 2003)

Some More Notes on Dignitatis Humanae (circa December 16, 2004)

Particularly applicable to this discussion is what is noted in the posting from 2004.

{9} The post material was a slightly expanded version of an email circulated to an inquirer.

{10} I believe I am familiar with the argument you make -having used variations of it myself over the years- but not as much with the technical terms to explain it.

{11} See footnote eight.

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