Related to this past Monday’s Musing, Brad Delong has an excellent post this week on History, Politics and Moral Philosophy, which includes a response by Jeff Weintraub and many thoughtful comments from readers.
“Where explaining crosses into justifying–or excusing–is when you go on to say not just “we have pushed their buttons in ways that have, predictably, generated bad consequences” but also to say either that “in acting as they have, they have been their best selves and acted from praiseworthy and moral motives,” or that “given their circumstances, we cannot condemn them for not being their best moral selves.” Where I sit, I see many arguing that brutal theocratic thuggist terror-bombers are being (predictably) human, and that we ought to recognize that people will be human in calculating what we should do. I see very few Westerners arguing that brutal theocratic thuggist terror-bombers are being moral, or even that it is unfair to blame brutal theocratic thuggist terror-bombers for not being their best selves.
Where I sit, I see considerably more Westerners trying to spread ignorance by condemning explanations which they dislike as ‘excuses.'”