Tag Archives: political philosophy

Humility and Conservative Ideology

It takes humility to be a conservative. In fact, I believe being humble is a big difference between liberals and conservatives. A liberal believes they are smart enough to engineer a society to conform to their own views of justice. A conservative acknowledges that people are unique and complex beings, who when put together form an even more unique and more complicated society that cannot possibly be fully comprehended by a single person or group. And without fully understanding something, says the conservative, there is no use trying to alter it “for the better”. There is a small chance the proverbial tinkerer will get it just right and the risk of unforeseen and unintended consequences is too high.

Lets use the economy as a case study. Liberals claim they can fix a bad economy by manipulating interest rates, regulating businesses and using fiscal policies such as deficit spending. Conservatives on the other hand realize that an economy is an immensely complex thing that is the sum of millions and millions of little decisions made by all the people in the economy each day. Because of this complexity, it is foolhardy to think that even the best minds in the world could ever take the perfect actions necessary to fix such a complex thing. Best to leave the managing of an economy to the millions and millions of interconnected yet impersonal people making their own decisions for themselves, and let the magic of the free market do its thing.

This is not to say that government fixing an economy is literally impossible. In theory, a government could take the exact right measures at the exact right time needed in order to improve economic conditions. But this task is simply too hard to complete and the risk of causing more harm than good is too high. It is the equivalent of having a first year biology student preform brain surgery. Yet liberal minded people still have the hubris to believe they can accomplish such a task.

Common Sense Libertarianism






I have posted this cartoon because it’s funny and shows the general stereotype of libertarians. I then posted the link above because it explains very well why the cartoon is not accurate (even if it is funny). Personally I agree with a lot of libertarian policy prescriptions because they make sense to me, but I would not call myself a hardcore philosophical libertarian by any means. Being a Catholic I can’t stand the “altruism is bad” arguments of Ayn Rand that too many libertarians take to an extreme. Philosophically libertarians believe that human liberty IS “the ultimate good”. I, however, believe that catholic ideals of being loving, charitable and forgiving are the ultimate goods (basically the morals of christianity to keep things simple for now). Liberty is still important in my view, and this is because (to paraphrase Pierre Manent) liberty is a means so necessary to the end that is “the good”, that sometimes liberty is confused with being an end in and of itself. In other words: a society flourishes the most morally, economically and socially when its people are as free as possible. Call it “Common Sense Libertarianism.”