Addio Per Due Settimane

My litigation calendar is now nearly cleared. My bags are almost completely packed. My reservations are made, my boarding passes printed. Contrary to what seems to be the conventionial wisdom, I think that since 9/11 there has never been a safer time for an American to fly. The bad guys are reeling from a decapitation, and yeah they’re mad, but think about it. What exactly have they done lately? They haven’t been able to so much as pull a fire alarm without authorization in a Balinese nightclub for years. So I’m looking forward to my flight, at least as much as anyone can look forward to the prospect of eighteen continuous hours in airports and airplanes.

My only contribution to the “torture, revisited” theme going this week up on the main blog is a repetition of what I’ve been saying for a long time on that subject: “No torture. Ever.” Did or did not torture help us get OBL? Does torture “work”? I don’t much care. No torture. Ever. Slavery works just fine as a basis for an effective economic system; it turns out that any kind of labor-intensive enterprise is more profitable when the labor force is owned rather than paid. But slavery is not justified by its utility. So too with torture. Navigating the moral dilemas of the world requires finding a balance between utilitarianism and deontology and no ethical justification of torture is ever going to boil down to anything but act utilitarianism — worse yet, act utilitarianism functionally reduced to its most simplistic and absurd iteration. Go ahead. Try to fashion a deontological argument that gets you to a result that it is morally acceptable torture for one human being to torture another. Just try it. I rather doubt you’ll be able to do so in a way that does not rely, ultimately, on utility. My opinion on the issue begins and ends with, “No torture. Ever.”

I’ll check to see if someone has proven me wrong on my philosophical proposition when I’m back from my trip. Because until then, I do not want to think much about public policy or philosophy or ethics or politics or law. Plenty of time for that sort of thing when I return.

No, I intend to fill my brain with thoughts of food and wine, art and beauty, history and modernity, the mundane lives of my third cousins and great-aunts, buying clothes and shoes and gifts, the inconvenience of recharging camera batteries through electrical converters, and getting charmingly lost (and un-lost again) on back roads through pastoral Tuscan and Emilian countryside. And because I don’t want to have thousands of Euros worth of roaming charges posting from my Droid, and becasue I don’t want to slog my computer around all over the place, I’ll be leaving you all to your own devices until my return. Which should see plentiful posting as insomnia sets in along with the jetlag. Until then, arrivederci, amici.

Burt Likko

Pseudonymous Portlander. Homebrewer. Atheist. Recovering litigator. Recovering Republican. Recovering Catholic. Recovering divorcé. Recovering Former Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. House Likko's Words: Scite Verum. Colite Iusticia. Vivere Con Gaudium.


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