Tuesday, July 08, 2003

Sniping from the sidelines

The argument on those other blogs over the Supreme Court continues, with excellent posts on both sides. KiwiPundit responds to the charge that he supports the retention of the Privy Council simply because their decisions accord more closely with his ideological biases with the following:

The notion that we should be free to act as we please unless the law says otherwise, is not connected with any particular ideology that I am aware of. Neither is the notion that government should treat us fairly and equitably, unless the law says otherwise.

NZPols has her own reply to this, but I think there's a much simpler one - namely to say "Bollocks; they're just part of an ideology that most of us agree with".

(This seems to be a similar sort of blindness to that suffered by certain Fundamentalist Christians. They're not religious; they just believe in the truth...)

In a more serious vein, freedom, fairness and equity are perfect examples of what philosophers call "hooray-words" - words which attract emotive agreement (and which consequently tend to be fought over in arguments such as this). Unfortunately, while everyone (well, most people) will go "freedom, fairness, equity, hooray!", the words mean very different things to different people. We need only consider Isaiah Berlin's distinction between positive and negative liberty, or the very different conceptions of fairness expressed by Rawls, Nozick and Aristotle to see this.

KiwiPundit's claim that his position isn't simply one of ideological preference is only credible if we don't look at it too closely. But I suspect that if he is forced to spell out exactly what he means by the hooray-words he's using, the ideological underpinnings of his preferences will become clear...