The Vile Contradiction

Absolutes are inescapable. To say: “There are no absolutes” is an absolute statement. If it is true, then there are absolutes. If it is not, then why bother?

I was struck by the invincibility of this concept again when I read a blogpost by the British journalist Peter Hitchens, who was responding to a bland attack by a David Cheshire over the propriety of making public comments after the murder of a church organist in England on Christmas Eve–I won’t get into the details of the palaver, you can click the link if you want more.

What I wanted to point up was the statement of Mr. Cheshire: “The kind of moral absolutism you preach is just as likely to increase evil deeds because the only absolute in life is life itself. Once you elevate principles above everything, appalling things become justifiable.” Is this not an illustration of what I just said about the inescapability of absolutes? Is Cheshire’s moral statement absolutely true? If yes, then he’s contradicted himself by saying that there are no absolutes. Yet if there are no absolutes then why bother believing him? Maybe he’s wrong? That is what is really “appalling”!

Cheshire’s statement proves the truth of what Hitchens says at the beginning of the piece: that Cheshire, and others like him, merely want us to follow their whims and fancies rather than those of a conservative like Hitchens. It comes down to taste rather than moral persuasion based on argument. Is this a good way to determine ethical value? Why can’t people see the blunt self-refutation in this?

On another note, I made a meme (see above) based on a quote by Peter Hitchens from a post on his blog from a week ago. I hope it gets some traction, it’s a brilliant quote. Feel free to make good use of it!

(Image credit)