Dialectic

by Jason Stotts

What follows is the beginning of a story that I started to write two years ago. The purpose of the story was to create a modern dialectic on a philosophical issue so that the issue can be dealt with from many sides in a way that most people find accessible. This particular story will never be finished, it stands as it did two years ago with no corrections, but I may adopt the idea of a dialectical short story in the future as a vehicle to examine issues.

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In the small town of Granville, there are few people who take the time out of their packed day in order to examine some of the deeper issues in life. Those few who do, meet in a small group at a local coffee house to hold their discussions.

Tom: It’s great to be back at “Cup ‘O Joe”, this is one of the few places where I feel I can really be myself and just let my mind wander to all those abstract and impractical issues of philosophy that most people never even bother to think about.

John: I agree that it’s nice to be back, although I think that philosophy is more than just an abstract game that we play. Philosophy plays a vital role in all of our lives.

Dave: Please, John, spare us the melodrama. Philosophy is nothing but a game for us, the mental elite. Most of these plebeians have no idea of what Philosophy is, nor do they need it.

John: Tell me then Dave, who will you be voting for in the election coming up in the fall?

Tom: I don’t see what how that’s a philosophical issue, I thought that we were going to limit our discussions to pure philosophy and not to politics or economics or anything like that.

Dave: I agree, why would you even equate politics with philosophy?

John: Well, think about it. Every Political issue is philosophical, just look at issues such as gay marriage (moral), welfare (moral), taxes (moral), collective rights (moral and metaphysical). If you don’t think that Political issues are philosophical, then please point to a mistake I have made or find a counterexample to disprove me.

Dave: Why always with the Logic, John? You know that I don’t feel that Logic is important.

Tom: I don’t see any flaws in your argument, yet I still feel as if there might be something else. How about the issue of Medicare? That’s not philosophical, is it?

John: It absolutely is, in many ways. First of all, where does the money for Medicare come from.

Dave: What a stupid question, the government pays for it.

John: Precisely. Where does the government get this money? Does it sell goods and services to willing buyers as we businessmen do?

Tom: The government raises all of its money through taxes.

John: Is that moral?

Dave: What kind of question is that?!

Tom: I’ve never really thought about it…It’s legal, therefore it’s moral.

John: So the government can legislate morality now?

Tom: We all have to honor the state we live in, it raised us, and educated us, and we have a duty to respect it by following its wishes. If we thought it was a bad state, we could have left, they give us that choice.

John: I don’t agree with you, but that is beside the point as you didn’t even answer the question.

Dave: He certainly did. We have a duty to the state and we must act selflessly in accordance with our duty. Imagine what would happen if everyone questioned the state, there would be chaos. Since that is an unacceptable outcome, we should not do it. We must always judge our actions by the “Universalization Maxim”.

John: I think you have missed the point completely, as well as disregarded the question of whether the state can legislate morality. Let us look at an example and see if it can shed some light on our current problem. In the early twentieth century there was a government in a faraway land that called themselves the “National Socialist Party” or “NAZI’s” for short. This government took many actions which they declared to be legal, including the wholesale slaughter of everyone who had beliefs that were different than theirs. My claim then, is that this was completely immoral, although it was technically legal.

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