Friday, May 13, 2005

Great Stuff! Keep reading!

Sorry for the misleading title to this post, but if I put the conservatism of doubt into one more post title, the blogosphere will start manufacuring antibodies to destroy it.

This post was prompted by Andrew Sullivan's latest elaboration of what the conservatism of doubt really means. As far as the concept of truth is concerned, Sullivan explains that here that conservatives of doubt use reason to identify truth and conservatives of faith don't. The critical faultline in American politics, according to this latest post, is essentially between rationality and irrationality.

I suppose that not every political system ever to exist in human history suffered from this divide; a few entirely irrational regimes must have come into existence at one point or another. The problem here is that the only rational response that one can make to the revelation that important political controversies with enormous stakes involved are sometimes determined by irrational decision making is to get used to it. And the first thing that any true conservative of doubt would be willing to admit is that irrationality in one form or another is going to be a part of political discourse for the indefinate future.

Another tricky problem that irrationality poses is that people who are thinking or acting irrationally may also believe that they are being perfectly rational. That Sullivan's conservatism of doubt seems indistinguishable from liberalism is because it is nothing more than what liberals have been claiming to be believe for decades.


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