Sunday, August 16, 2009

Just Because I'm Against Prohibition Doesn't Mean I Support Your Acloholism

So, this weekend, the wife participated in some panel discussions regarding the play, Birth (as noted in an earlier post). One aspect of birth that the "birth reformers" (for lack of a better term) evangelize is "informed consent". Basically, that means pregnant women (and couples) should be able to make choices about the way their birth will go. Naturally, this kind of jives with libertarian thought.

The wife sees a bit of a conflict in this; she fully supports the notion of informed consent (and, thus, free choice), but she finds it difficult to support certain choices that women will make.

I've heard similar thoughts about libertarianism - if I support people's freedom, how can I denounce their actions? Yesterday, I began to write a really long post about my particular libertarianish views - making a practical case for choice, abhorring coercion, etc, but now I think I'll just try to tackle this one issue.

This conundrum brings to mind a similar question regarding Christianity - a question we've all, no doubt, heard before: why do bad things happen to good people?

This, very roughly speaking, comes down, once again, to choice. If only "good" things happened to only "good" people, it seems a pretty easy to envision what would happen: everyone would be "good". In a discussion with an intelligent, faithful friend, he asked, rhetorically, would you really want to live in a world like that? My natural response was, yes... yes I would. But that's not really the point.

Basically, in a world where God bribes everyone to be good, is anyone actually a good person or would we merely be acting good?

For me, this equates to the macro-level moral case for libertarianism (the micro-level moral case would be that, to over-simplify, no one should be bossed around). The exercise of one's freedom isn't an inherently good or defensible thing, but, to paint with a bit of a wide brush, in order to wind up at a good result, people have to be able to make choices that bring them to that result. The value lies as much in the journey as it does in the destination. We cannot realize a good and just society without liberty.

Basically, without choice, there can be no virtue.

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