So, let's get this thing off to an uncontroversial start. I've been thinking about moral convictions, their value, and the problems that arise when various people have moral convictions that conflict. I'm mainly interested in thinking about these issues at the personal level, rather than the political. So my organizing questions concern the relationship between a person's moral convictions and the proper grounds for believing with convicition, as well as what a person may do in the service of his or her convictions. Thus, additional questions: Is tolerance incompatible with integrity? Does forbearance amount to an unacceptable compromise? Can we even, in a different sense, make compromises when it comes to our moral convictions? Or, on the other hand, is it ever reasonable to elevate a belief to a conviction? Yeats says no: "The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity." That seems wrong to me.
I'm giving a paper in Boulder at the RoME Congress in August where I suggest that moral convictions are valuable for a variety of (not only personal) reasons, but that they are risky, and must be handled with care. As the recent murder of Dr. George Tiller attests. That situation, and the mass of ensuing commentary, gets at some of my key worries. How can someone who has the conviction that abortion is murder not feel compelled to "do something about it"? I won't go through all the possibilities or link to all the raging. But I'm pretty sure that the start is to see that there are HUGE disanalogies making the pernicious comparisons floating about--that Tiller is comparable to Jeffrey Dahmer, and (the perennial view) that abortion is comparable to the Holocaust--incredibly irresponsible and basically vicious. (And I'm sure that seeing that doesn't require that a person have a settled view on abortion.) Perhaps more detail later, in the event that it's not obvious. Discuss.