In response to the Heathen Republican: On denying jobs and training to combat veterans.
I think this is bullsh*t, Ryan*. Of course I can be motivated by principle.
- The Heathen Republican, September 24, 2012
Not hostile at all! I'm sure that there was no other way to say it that would have been effective and concise.
However, it is a little strange that you would say so without further argument. This is hardly the first time that you have been exposed to the idea that desires (but not principles) motivate intentional action. It's not even the first time that I have brought it up on a blog that you read.
It is true that principles do not motivate. A person who has no desire to adhere to your principle, to be considered a "principled man," or any other desire that would be fulfilled by adhering to it is not going to adhere to it. Without a reason for action, one will not act.
I'm sure that you have reasons to care about this principle as you understand it. Perhaps you think that it promotes happiness, perhaps you don't like the idea that someone else is getting special treatment, perhaps you believe that it is an important principle to have for the sake of order. I brought the point up because Burr has his own reasons to care for his side of the argument--reasons that, in the absence of any examination, are no better or worse than yours, despite your attempt to sum up the debate as "principles" vs. "feelings." The distinction is only meaningful when one side is being consistent with his own philosophy while the other is not, but that is not the case here.
I don't understand why the principle of equal protection under the law can be tossed out so easily in the name of a new group of individuals whom we want to call favored.
- The Heathen Republican
We do it all the time. What matters is why we do it. Our reasons to do it ought to outweigh the reasons to not do it: treating people differently under the law because of their race, for example, is unjustified; compensating people for their actions or for something unfair that has happened to them may not be.
It is fair enough that we are willing to help anyone who chooses to serve in the military. The option is available to you. I don't see why or how you differentiate between the compensation that servicemen already receive and the proposed employment opportunities described in this post. It is just another reward for their behavior and an incentive for others to follow. You can admit either that it is not a special status or that they already have an acceptable special status.
Again, the first question to address is: Should we do more? Only when we agree that we should do more is it appropriate to proceed to debate how. If you are so opposed to giving servicemen employment preference for even public sector work, perhaps you would prefer to just give them money for no further effort.
Ryan is a frequent contributor. He also writes for his own site, where logic is prized and the special debt we owe to combat veterans is not lightly forgotten.
Please visit Secular Ethics.
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Besides having been shot at, veterans often re-enter civilian life to find themselves behind those of us who didn't serve. You don't have to be a graduate of Bains Capital to be ahead of where you would have been without those additional years in the marketplace.
The conservative approach of thanks-for-your-service-see-you-around strikes me as inadequate. Describing these folks as unwilling to take responsibility is kind of shameful, I think.
I suppose my reasoning is a bit of reductio ad absurdum, in a moral sense. When a rigid application of conservative principle leads us to such a retched conclusion, perhaps it is time to reconsider the conservative principle.
Moreover, we have many values. Fairness is only one of them. This is not an argument that should be settled by a simple appeal to fairness, whose relevance in this case is, to put it lightly, disputable. It requires thoughtful discussion about the effects of different policies and the desires that we hope to promote or fulfill.
If only life were so simple that the best option were to always adhere to the same handful of principles...
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