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« 'I know that which you know not' | Main | Opinions and effrontery »

March 30, 2006



Thabet - I think I have misunderstood what you meant by "apologist." I was thinking in terms of logicians that defend a religious faith (like Thomas Aquinas, al-Farabi etc) based on reason. It seems you literally mean someone whose apologizing on behalf of a person/persons whose done something wrong.

In this respect we have agency and constraint in behavior. To what extent are people the outcome of some chain of causality, from colonialism to 9-11, and to what extent are they fully in charge of their actions. I believe, as most do, that we have neither full agency nor full constraint in our choices.

Therefore, one need not be an apologist to cite colonialism as a factor in terrorism, merely that it is a factor. The fact that a child molestor was molested himself as a child, for example, helps explain his behavior but should not mean they do not pay any consequences. However, if a phenominon of child-molestors sweeps the city, then perhaps public policy officials should start thinking about systemic causes of the event, rather than thinking it the unlikely possibility that dozens of people randomly began committing the same morally reprehensible act.

So too with terrorism.


Yes, Steve; "apologists" are more commonly used to refer to 'defenders of faith' be they Christian or Muslim or Jewish and so on (although this faith need not be of a religious variety!). But this is largely a polemic, so I ignored or gloss over certain facts and emphasised others. A polemic against those who do not simply cite colonialism (for example) as a factor, to be used as an explanation, but to 'excuse' certain actions. That is they do rob them of their agency -- in much the same way as, I believe, many secular critics of religion rob religious women (mainly, but not only, Muslim) of their agency.

I did note that an explanation is not the same as excuse, although I suppose the line between the two is blurry at times.


Thabet - I understand where you are coming from. I guess what I'm saying is that while if a person uses colonialism to 'excuse' immoral behavior is wrong, it is similarly wrong to try to comprehend that immoral behavior WITHOUT colonialism.

We have to understand the choice, and the context of that choice to appreciate its meaning. Its one thing to oppose sucide bombing while you live in Orange County, California. Its another when you live in the West Bank. Now, I think the harming of innocents is an evil act even if done in retaliation, but nevertheless if I pretend like Palestinians have the same choices and luxuries as Israeli's, I'd be fooling myself!

Thus, I can state suicide bombing as wrong, absolutely, but when judging the Palestinians I can understand that their choices are different from mine. And thus we have the eschews of understanding.

It would be dehumanizing Palestinians to think that they committed an immoral act, without understanding why they did it and the choices they faced.


"Note, I am quite deliberately not entering the debate about the obligation of specific forms of clothing -- I don't think Muslim women need another man lecturing them on what they should and shouldn't wear. Their more capable than me of coming to an understanding of the issues!"

amen to that!and how very diplomatic!

liu wei

Correct. Help them live better.
An old Chinese saying:"people know how to behave when their barns are full."

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