Will Smith on reprogramming Hitler

Roger Kimball, in his blog, has an entry on the actor Will Smith’s “Reprogramming Hitler” comments. The subject is benevolence. It is well worth reading.

A quote: “The Australian philosopher David Stove got to the heart of the problem when he pointed out that it is precisely this combination of universal benevolence fired by uncompromising moralism that underwrites the cult of political correctness.” He goes on to quote Stove at length (go to the original site to read).

I thought it be helpful to extend Stove’s quote. To those who would suppose that, “Ought not wrongs to be righted?” is a rhetorical question, Stove writes:

It does not follow, from something’s being morally wrong, that it ought to be removed. It does not follow that it would be morally preferable if that thing did not exist. It does not even follow that we have any moral obligations to try to remove it. X might be wrong, yet every alternative to X be as wrong as X is, or more wrong. It might be that even any attempt to remove X is as wrong as X is, or more so. It might be that every alternative to X, and any attempt to remove X, though not itself wrong, inevitably has effects which are as wrong as X, or worse. The inference fails yet again if (as most philosophers believe) “ought” implies “can.” For in that case there are at least some evils, namely the necessary evils, which no one can have any obligation to remove.

These are purely logical truths. But they are also truths which, at most periods of history, common experience of life has brought home to everyone of even moderate intelligence. That almost every decision is a choice among evils; that the best is the inveterate enemy of the good; that the road to hell is paved with good intentions; such proverbial dicta are among the most certain, as well as the most widely known, lessons of experience. But somehow or other, complete immunity to them is at once conferred upon anyone who attends a modern university.

David Stove, On Enlightenment, Transaction Publishers, New Brunswick, New Jersey, p. 174

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *