I need you to help me work through something that always nags me in the background.
It creeps up from time to time when dealing with clear cases of bad behavior or questionable beliefs. The general liberal take as I see can was summed up pretty well here:
And in a sense, I completely agree with them. I DO think ones environment has a great deal of influence on the choices one makes. My chances for being a miserable rotten human being would be magnified a thousand fold if I had been born into a Wahhabi Islamic home. It matters.
And yet, can't we still ask for SOME level of personal autonomy for our ethics? Is there no place in a mans life when he can either accept or reject something? Granted, doing so in some societies is infinitely harder than others, the burdens and costs of breaking with peers far more dangerous, but because of the differences in environments, do we forfeit the right to assign any personal culpability for rotten beliefs and rotten actions? Where does the blanket of societies influence end and ones own self begin? How can anyone be judged if we remove any personal culpability?
So far, I am at the place of acknowledging that many human beings who have done evil things and hold rotten beliefs towards their fellow man may well have turned out far kinder and more decent had they been lucky enough to be born into a more advanced and decent society, but unlike many liberals, I cannot absolve the group as a whole. Even if many would turn out decent, others, of their own choices and character would still be rotten to the core, and to give a sort of blanket amnesty is not something I would be happy doing either.
But like the liberals in that clip, I cannot say those Somali pirates who were killed in the rescue were evil to their core, I do not know enough to say where the influence of society ends and where the self takes over.
If you all were remotely religious I might ask if you thought GOD graded on a curve, but until I am told otherwise, my basic assumptions is that every one of you is a Hitchens type atheist, innately hostile to religion. But I think it is an interesting question, one I wish had a religious reader to think about and answer.