Sunday, September 25, 2016

Islamic Ethics: a very select bibliography

Here is a very select list of titles, in English, on Islamic ethics.” Of course ethics in Islam cannot be discussed without — at the very least — a corresponding knowledge of Islamic theology and jurisprudence. Still, and for eminently reasonable if not rational philosophical and comparative reasons, we can make sense of “Islamic ethics” as such, much in the manner we speak of and write about other kinds of religious ethics (e.g., Christian, Buddhist...). 
  • Ali, Kecia. Sexual Ethics and Islam: Feminist Reflections on Qur’an, Hadith and Jurisprudence. London: Oneworld, 2006.
  • Brockopp, Jonathan E., ed. Islamic Ethics of Life: Abortion, War, and Euthanasia. Columbia,  SC: University of South Carolina Press, 2003. 
  • Brockopp, Jonathan E. and Thomas Eich, eds. Muslim Medical Ethics: From Theory to Practice. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 2008. 
  • Cook, Michael. Commanding Right and Forbidding Wrong in Islamic Thought. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2000. 
  • Fakhry, Majid. Ethical Theories in Islam. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1991. 
  • Goodman, Lenn E. Islamic Humanism. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2003. 
  • Hourani, George F. Islamic Rationalism: The Ethics of ‛Abd al-Jabbār. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1971. 
  • Hourani, George F. Reason and Tradition in Islamic Ethics. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1985.  
  • Kelsay, John. Islam and War: The Gulf War and Beyond—A Study in Comparative Ethics.  Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1993. 
  • Kelsay, John and James Turner Johnson, eds. Just War and Jihad: Historical and Theoretical Perspectives on War and Peace in Western and Islamic Traditions. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publ. Group, 1991. 
  • Khadduri, Majid. The Islamic Conception of Justice. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1984.
  • Ramadan, Tariq. Radical Reform: Islamic Ethics and Liberation. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009.  
  • Ramadan, Tariq. Islamic Ethics: A Very Short Introduction. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016.  
  • Sachedina, Abdulaziz. Islamic Biomedical Ethics: Principles and Application. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009. 
  • Sajoo, Amyn B. Muslim Ethics: Emerging Vistas. London: I.B. Tauris, 2004. 
  • Sajoo, Amyn B., ed. A Companion to Muslim Ethics. London: I.B. Tauris, in association with The Institute of Ismaili Studies, 2010.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Movement for Black Lives: Policy Demands for Black Power, Freedom & Justice

Elizabeth Catlett, Black Unity (1968)
At the blog of the African American Intellectual History Society, Clarence Lang explains why

“[f]raming symbols and discourses—rendered in the form of images, platforms and demands—are the most critical aspect of any movement-building effort. At their most effective, they bring political coherence and focus to an activist community, convey meaning and goals to supporters and potential participants, mobilize constituents to action, and equip adherents organizationally to contest for legitimacy (and power). Along these lines, framing discourses can communicate insurgent ideas about what changes are necessary, rather than simply what reforms are deemed possible.”

There are numerous historical exemplifications, some well-known, others less so, of such “framing” by social movements and political groups in the diverse struggles for black freedom and self-determination in this country. The end of legal institution of chattel slavery took place, first, with the Emancipation Proclamation, followed by the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, abolishing slavery and involuntary servitude (although the exception that established ‘punishment for crime’ has led to notoriously nefarious consequences for the criminal justice system: ‘From the very beginning, the slave narrative, in both fact and fiction, has shaped America’s approach to crime control and punishment’*). Lang provides us with some historical exemplars by of a vivid and inspiriting backdrop to the attempt by The Movement for Black Lives (M4BL) to continue this tradition of “transformative agenda setting:”

“The work of movement framing has been an enduring feature of struggles for black freedom, though each wave of struggle has imagined black freedom in historically specific ways. This history includes the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs (1896), which promoted seven ‘Objectives’ for the education, economic welfare and social rights of women and youth during the early years of Jim Crow, and popularized the motto ‘Lifting as We Climb.’ It also encompasses the Universal Negro Improvement Association’s 1920 ‘Declaration of the Rights of the Negro Peoples of the World,’ which globalized a Black Nationalist vision of self-determination in the wreckage of the First World War. Similarly, the ‘Ten-Point Program’ of Oakland’s Black Panther Party for Self-Defense (1966) [I added this link] reflected an anti-colonial consciousness prevalent among urban youth of color. As another example, the ‘Combahee River Collective Statement’ (1977) spoke to a growing intersectional approach to both analyzing and combating oppression on the bases of race, class, gender, and sexuality. Moreover, in its 1998 ‘Freedom Agenda,’ the Black Radical Congress reacted to the retreat from racial equality and economic justice that had occurred during the successive presidencies of Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and William Jefferson Clinton, and offered a politically left alternative to the reactionary black conservatism of the 1995 Million Man March.”

The Movement for Black Lives is a coalition of over 50 groups and organizations that “engaged in a year long process of convening local and national groups to create a United Front,” united so as to articulate its “common aspirations” and formulate a “Platform” statement with “demands,” including the outline of some 30-plus policies. The “Policy Demands” revolve around the following topics: “the war on black people,” “reparations,” “investments and divestments,” “economic justice,” “democratic community control,” and “independent Black political power and Black self-determination.” In Lang’s words,

“On a bigger canvas, these ‘Policy Demands’ speak to the effects of a current neoliberal landscape characterized by, among other things, a denigration of social welfare expenditures and ideas of the public good; an emphasis on fiscal austerity and the punitive functions of the state; the deregulation of capital; widening gaps of wealth and privilege; the reduction of all social relations to private market exchanges; and the resulting atomization of the individual.”

Please read Lang’s post, and click on the links above for the specific policy demands. This is an impressive, timely and radical document that deserves wide circulation, discussion, and endorsement. 

* Donald F. Tibbs, From Black Power to Prison Power: The Making of Jones v. North Carolina Prisoners’ Union (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012): 181.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Alain Locke: Critical Pragmatist, Cultural Pluralist, and “Father of the Harlem Renaissance”

Painting by Betsy Graves Reyneau

Today is the birthday of the philosopher, Alain Locke: 
Alain LeRoy Locke (September 13, 1885 – June 9, 1954) was an American writer, philosopher, educator, and patron of the arts. Distinguished as the first African American Rhodes Scholar in 1907, Locke was the philosophical architect —the acknowledged ‘Dean’— of the Harlem Renaissance.” 
The following is from the introduction to the entry on Locke in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy by Jacoby Adeshei Carter: 
“Alain LeRoy Locke is heralded as the ‘Father of the Harlem Renaissance’ for his publication in 1925 of The New Negro—an anthology of poetry, essays, plays, music and portraiture by white and black artists. Locke is best known as a theorist, critic, and interpreter of African-American literature and art. He was also a creative and systematic philosopher who developed theories of value, pluralism and cultural relativism that informed and were reinforced by his work on aesthetics. Locke saw black aesthetics quite differently than some of the leading Negro intellectuals of his day; most notably W. E. B. Du Bois, with whom he disagreed about the appropriate social function of Negro artistic pursuits. Du Bois thought it was a role and responsibility of the Negro artist to offer a representation of the Negro and black experience which might help in the quest for social uplift. Locke criticized this as ‘propaganda’ and argued that the primary responsibility and function of the artist is to express his own individuality, and in doing that to communicate something of universal human appeal. 
Locke was a distinguished scholar and educator and during his lifetime an important philosopher of race and culture. Principal among his contributions in these areas was the development of the notion of ‘ethnic race,’ Locke’s conception of race as primarily a matter of social and cultural, rather than biological, heredity. Locke was in contemporary parlance a racial revisionist, and held the somewhat controversial and paradoxical view that it was often in the interests of groups to think and act as members of a ‘race’ even while they consciously worked for the destruction or alteration of pernicious racial categories. Racial designations were for Locke incomprehensible apart from an understanding of the specific cultural and historical contexts in which they grew up. A great deal of Locke’s philosophical thinking and writing in the areas of pluralism, relativism and democracy are aimed at offering a more lucid understanding of cultural or racial differences and prospects for more functional methods of navigating contacts between different races and cultures. 
Locke, like Du Bois, is often affiliated with the pragmatist philosophical tradition though somewhat surprisingly—surprising because Locke’s actual views are closer substantively to pragmatist thinkers Like Dewey, James, and Royce than are Du Bois’s—he does not receive as much attention in the writings of contemporary pragmatist philosophers as does Du Bois. Regardless, he is most strongly identified with the pragmatist tradition, but his ‘critical pragmatism’ and most specifically his value theory, is also influenced by Hugo Münsterberg, F.S.C. Schiller, Alexius Meinong, Frantz Brentano, and Christian von Erhenfels. From early on in his education at Harvard University, Locke had an affinity for the pragmatist tradition in philosophy. Locked developed his mature views on axiology well in advance of many leading pragmatists—e.g., Dewey and James. Among pragmatists, Locke has arguably the most developed and systematic philosophy of value, and offers many critical insights concerning democracy.” 
The Alain Locke Society was founded by Leonard Harris and Jacoby Adeshei Carter serving as its Executive Director: 
A Select Bibliography:
  • Cain, Rudolph Alexander Kofi. Alain Leroy Locke: Race, Culture, and the Education of African American Adults. Amsterdam, NY: Rodopi, 2003. 
  • Carter, Jacoby Adeshei and Leonard Harris, eds. Philosophic Values and World Citizenship: Locke to Obama and Beyond. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2010.  
  • Harris, Leonard, ed. The Philosophy of Alain Locke: Harlem Renaissance and Beyond. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press, 1989. 
  • Harris, Leonard, ed. The Critical Pragmatism of Alain Locke. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 1999.  
  • Harris, Leonard and Charles Molesworth. Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2008. 
  • Locke, Alain. Race Contacts and Interracial Relations: Lectures of the Theory and Practice of Race. Washington, D.C.: Howard University Press, 1916.
  • Locke, Alain (Charles Molesworth, ed.) The Works of Alain Locke. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012. 
  • Locke, Alain, ed. The New Negro. New York: Albert and Charles Boni, 1925. 
  • Stewart, Jeffrey, ed. The Critical Temper of Alain Locke: A Collection of His Essays on Art and Culture. New York: Garland Publishing, 1983. 
  • Washington, Johnny. Alain Locke and Philosophy: A Quest for Cultural Pluralism. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1986. 
  • Washington, Johnny. A Journey into the Philosophy of Alain Locke. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1994.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Steve Biko: 18 December 1946 – 12 September 1977

Steve (Stephen Bantu) Biko (18 December 1946 – 12 September 1977), “leader of the South African Students’ Organisation (SASO) and pioneer of the Black Consciousness philosophy, died in police custody at the age of thirty. Biko was arrested in the outskirts of Grahamstown on 18 August 1977. During his detention in a Port Elizabeth police cell he had been chained to a grill at night and left to lie in urine-soaked blankets. He had been stripped naked and kept in leg-irons for 48 hours in his cell. A blow in a scuffle with security police led to him suffering brain damage. Realising to a certain extent the seriousness of his condition, the police decided to transfer him to a prison hospital in Pretoria, which was 1133 km away. He died shortly after his arrival there. His death was confirmed by the commissioner of police, General Gert Prinsloo.”

This following is a small portion of an extract from Biko’s giving of evidence in the SASO/BPC [South African Students’ Organisation/Black People’s Convention] trial (1975-76, almost two full years!) of nine student leaders who “were found guilty under the Terrorism Act and sentenced to periods of imprisonment, three for six years and six for five years. The next day they were driven from Pretoria to Cape Town in the back of a police van, and from there taken to Robben Island.” Biko was queried by the defence lawyer, Advocate David Soggot (assistant counsel for Defence), Mr. L. Attwell, assistant counsel for the Prosecution, and the trial judge, Judge Boshoff.

“We try to get blacks in conscientisation to grapple realistically with their problems, to attempt to find solutions to their problems, to develop what one might call an awareness, a physical awareness of their situation, to be able to analyse it, and to provide answers for themselves. The purpose behind it really being to provide some kind of hope; I think the central theme about black society is that it has got elements of a defeated society, people often look like they have given up on the struggle. Like the man who was telling me that he now lives to work, he has given himself to the idea. Now this sense of defeat is basically what we are fighting against; people must develop a hope, people must develop some form of security to be together to look at their problems, and people must in this way build up their humanity. This is the point about conscientisation and Black Consciousness.”— Steve Biko: I Write What I Like Selected Writings (University of Chicago Press, 2002; first published in London: The Bowerdean Press, 1978): 114. 

Suggested Reading:  
  • Arnold, Millard, ed. Steve Biko: Black Consciousness in South Africa. New York: Random House, 1978.
  • Gerhart, Gail M. Black Power in South Africa: Evolution of an Ideology. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1978. 
  • Gibson, Nigel. “Black Consciousness, 1977-1987: The Dialectics of Liberation in South Africa,” Durban, South Africa: Centre for Civil Society, Research Report 18. 
  • Murray, Martin. South Africa: Time of Agony, Time of Destiny. London: Verso, 1987. 
  • Seekings, Jeremy. The UDF: A History of the United Democratic Front in South Africa, 1983-1991. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 2000. 
  • South African Democracy Education Trust, ed. The Road to Democracy in South Africa, Volume 2: 1970-1980. Pretoria: Unisa Press, University of South Africa, 2nd ed., 2010. 
  • Woods, Donald. Biko. New York: Henry Holt and Co., 3rd ed., 1991 (1978).

Friday, September 09, 2016

The Attica Prison Uprising, September 9 - 13, 1971

Please see my post here.

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

A Fearful Deference to the “Order of Things” Confronts Melville’s Billy Budd

I want to share this extraordinarily profound and eloquent (not ‘eloquent’ in the sense that a Trump supporter on CNN confidently described a recent campaign speech by Trump) passage from Tom Wicker’s book, A Time to Die: The Attica Prison Revolt (Haymarket Books, 2011; first published by Quadrangle/The New York Times Book Co., 1975). It comes at a point in the micro-historical narrative of events surrounding the Attica Uprising when “negotiations” with the prisoners in D-yard appear to have ended and Wicker has just gotten off the phone with Governor Nelson Rockefeller in a futile, last minute effort to persuade him to meet with the “Observers Committee” (which consisted of 14 individuals invited by the rebelling inmates and an additional 23 other members) so as to, among other things, buy time in order to enhance the probability that a “massacre,” as an otherwise predictable result of the effort by authorities to re-take control of the prison, would not occur. In short, Wicker was “hoping the governor would become alarmed from his descriptions of the violence he thought impending and would be encouraged by the possibility of reassuring the inmates with his presence:”

“He wondered if the trouble was not, rather, that to the Rockefellers of the world, those institutions, processes, and arrangements by which humans had sought to order their affairs had become, finally, more important than the people who had erected them and sought to live by them.

Perhaps that was why the state for all its good intentions and the system for all its idealistic trappings—democracy and representation and due process—so often produced injustice and myopia and indifference and rigidity. Perhaps that is why men like Tom Wicker [in the Preface, Wicker explains his use of the third person] could perceive the system as basically sound, the state as fundamentally well-meaning, the people as mostly decent—yet stumble time and again on the inequities and callousness and brutalities wrought in the name of society. Perhaps the fault lay not in any system but in men’s profound instinct to establish and maintain, at all costs, an order of things.

Never mind, if so, the intrinsic value of Attica, the ‘institution’ then in question, its palpable responsibility for the injustices and wastage happening within it. The state could sustain Attica, even call it a ‘correctional facility,’ because it was an institution, and official at that, a part of the order of things, serving that order against the frightening possibilities of unruly humanity, undisciplined conduct. Re-opening it, restoring the order, was more important than that many lives might have to be sacrificed to do it. Captain ‘Starry’ Vere could see no higher duty or obligation than maintenance of the King’s established naval code. Indeed, he told his brother officers that ‘in receiving our commissions we in the most important regards ceased to be natural free agents.’ So it was not only they who condemned Billy Budd to death, but only ‘martial law operating through us’—the order of things.

Similarly, neither Rockefeller nor any of his officials wanted to cause loss of life. But the order of things was operating through them. Institutions and processes required of them a way of doing and believing, a system of behavior, to which they gave allegiance, sometimes passionately, sometimes pragmatically, usually without question. ‘Tell me whether or not, occupying the position we do,’ Captain Vere demanded to know, ‘private conscience should not yield to that imperial one formulated in the code under which alone we officially proceed?’ Rockefeller could have put the question to Wicker as dispassionately. 

Institutions must not only function, whatever the end result; the order of things must be preserved. The powerful must not be at the beck and call of the powerless even when suddenly the powerless wield momentary power, for the powerful are obliged to meet great responsibilities to the order of things. That order gives them their power and must survive the moment. Governors must not deal as equals with lawbreakers; that would endanger the order of the things. Amnesty must not be granted to offenders; they must pay a debt to the order of things. If policemen and armies, being human, sometimes go too far, use unusual force, that is deplorable, but still they are the necessary enforcers of the order of things, what is the alternative? Only the unimaginable—that the order of things be sacrificed to life.”

The way we save now

Recently arrived in the Ratio Juris mailbag: William A. Birdthistle, Empire of the Fund: The Way We Save Now. As pensions fade into economic history, the rising empire of defined-contribution accounts has shifted the risk of inadequate retirement savings squarely onto the shoulders of individual workers. Birdthistle's new book ruefully observes: "For the most part, however, we are a nation of investing amateurs." The primary tool of 401(k) plans and IRAs — the mutual fund — has proved vulnerable to savings-eroding pitfalls. While investors struggle with financial literacy and the behavioral hurdles of saving for distant future contingencies, fund managers have far too much opportunity and incentive to stress marketing over the actual business of investing. The entire business is riddled with opportunities for financial professionals to exploit clients who are as ignorant as they are innocent.

America teeters upon a coming age of intergenerational social insecurity. Empire of the Fund lays out a thoughtful case for reform of the mutual fund industry and an infusion of financial literacy among investors. Nothing short of the financial future hangs in the balance.

Sunday, September 04, 2016

William Kunstler (July 17, 1919 - September 4, 1995)

William Kunstler at New York City rally protesting the carnage at Attica that led to the deaths of 29 inmates and 10 hostages killed by corrections officers and state troopers (recalling with James Forman, Jr., that ‘[t]he most sadistic crimes took place after state officials had full control of the prison’).

Today is the 21st anniversary of the death of William Kunstler (July 17, 1919 - September 4, 1995), the indefatigable Left-activist (‘cause’) lawyer and WW II U.S. Army veteran. Here is his Wikipedia entry, which is tolerable, all things considered, although it fails to mention that Kunstler was among those asked to negotiate on behalf of the rebelling inmates at Attica Correctional Facility, September 9 -13, 1971. Kunstler’s efforts on behalf of the prisoners in D-yard is discussed in Tom Wicker’s (also invited by the prisoners to assist in negotiations and a member of the ‘Observers Committee’) A Time to Die: The Attica Prison Revolt (Haymarket Books, 2011; originally published by Quadrangle/The New York Times Book Co., 1975) and Heather Ann Thompson’s Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy (Pantheon Books, 2016). Kunstler also represented one of the “Central Park Five” defendants, all of whom had their convictions vacated by New York Supreme Court Justice Charles J. Tejada on December 19, 2002 (they had completed their prison sentences at the time of Tejada's order). 

In 2009, two of his four daughters, Emily and Sarah Kunstler, completed a documentary about their late father, William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe.

Thursday, September 01, 2016

A Motley Manifesto for a People's Law School

I as not able to post this here in a timely fashion, so please see the (so to speak) manifesto at Religious Left Law. And note that this is intended for anyone passionately interested in the law, and thus not just for J.D. program teachers and students.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Marxism & Freudian Psychology: Towards an Emancipatory Synthesis — A Basic Bibliography

I have a comparatively short bibliography dedicated to the aim of synthesizing Marxism and Freudian (and/or post-Freudian) Psychology for complementary social scientific and emancipatory reasons: Marxism & Freudian Psychology: Toward an Emancipatory Synthesis. At the end of the list there are links to the much larger, respective compilations for Marxism and Freudian Psychology.

Friday, July 22, 2016

“Hear ye, hear ye!”… a new and important book on capitalism

We interrupt the regularly scheduled programming to bring to your attention notice of a new work by Anwar Shaikh, Professor of Economics at the Graduate Faculty of Political and Social Science of the New School University. Professor Shaikh’s latest book is Capitalism: Competition, Conflict, Crisis (Oxford University Press, 2016) a tome of over 900 pages (‘fifteen years in the making’) that has been well-received by critics both inside and outside the profession of Economics. I first learned of Shaikh’s work from his concise entries in the four volume, The New Palgrave: A Dictionary of Economics (1987), edited by John Eatwell, Murray Milgate and Peter Newman, and newly published in a more accessible series of paperback volumes, one of which is Marxian Economics (W.W. Norton & Co., 1990). And while re-reading an earlier and indispensable book he edited, Globalization and the Myths of Free Trade (Routledge, 2007), I decided to look him up again and learned of this new work. Professor Shaikh had Gary Becker(!) as one of his teachers (in the interview linked to below, Shaikh explains precisely why and how Becker influenced him), and speaks of Joan Robinson, Robert Heilbroner, and Luigi L. Pasinetti as among those who have helped shape his study of economics.

From his personal website, a short summary of the book:

“Competition and conflict are intrinsic features of modern societies, inequality is persistent, and booms and busts are recurrent outcomes throughout capitalist history. State intervention modifies modified these patterns but does not abolish them. My book is an attempt to show that one can explain these and many other observed patterns as results of intrinsic forces that shape and channel outcomes. Social and institutional factors play an important role, but at the same time, the factors are themselves limited by the dominant forces arising from ‘gain-seeking’ behavior, of which the profit motive is the most important.

These dominant elements create an invisible force field that shapes and channels capitalist outcomes. The book’s approach is very different from that of both orthodox economics and the dominant elements in the heterodox tradition. There is no reference whatsoever to an idealized framework rooted in perfect firms, perfect individuals, perfect knowledge, perfectly selfish behavior, rational expectations, and so-called optimal outcomes. Nor is there any need to explain particular observed patterns as departures from this Edenic state arising from ‘imperfections’ of various sorts. The book develops microeconomic and macroeconomic theory from real behavior and real competition, and uses it to explain empirical patterns in microeconomic demand and supply, wage and profits, technological change, relative prices of goods and services, interest rates, bond and equity prices, exchange rates, patterns of international trade, growth, unemployment, inflation, national and personal inequality, and the recurrence of general crises such as the current one which began in 2007-2008.”

See too this informative interview with Marshall Auerback of the Institute for New Economic Thinking on YouTube.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Should the Left Vote for a Third Party Candidate for President?

“Since there is no national organization around anymore that can set doctrinal boundaries for the left, there is today more room for expressing and acting upon the full range of issue and perspectives that actually constitute the radical, democratic, critical tradition. One can more easily be a Marxist in the morning, a pacifist in the afternoon, an environmentalist at dinner, and a feminist in the evening while going to church on Sunday [or the synagogue on Saturday, the mosque on Friday, the Humanist Society meeting on Wednesday…] and voting Democrat on election day.” — Richard Flacks, Making History: The Radical Tradition in American Life (Columbia University Press, 1988): 221-222.

The upcoming election is a binary choice (i.e., abstention or third party voting is morally and politically irresponsible), and here’s my brief argument as to why:

If one assumes (and it seems a reasonable assumption given what current numbers suggest and ‘experts’ are saying about the upcoming presidential election) that this presidential race will be fairly close and, furthermore, believes that Donald Trump is an immeasurably worse candidate than Hilary Clinton, than it would be politically (and I think morally) irresponsible to vote for a third party candidate of any sort, for that would be tantamount to giving your vote to Trump. If one believes a vote for a third party candidate amounts to a salutary or necessary expression of one’s ideals or acting according to one’s principles and is therefore justified in voting for a third party candidate under these conditions, one is being an idealist in the worst (or at least a pejorative) sense, the sort that ignores the real world consequences of one’s actions (in this case, simply the act of voting).

Even principled idealists take into consideration what is possible or probable when acting on their principles, and do not proceed come hell or high water (as we say), blissfully ignoring the (possible or, in this instance, likely) results of their actions. Voting “on principle” or according to one’s ideals sans consequentialist considerations may be seen as an act of moral “purity” in some sense (the attempt to ‘wash one's hands’ of this moral mess) when examined solely from the vantage point of the individual, but one’s actions are inevitably and inextricably bound up with the actions of others and contribute to the outcome of those actions. There are myriad other and more morally and politically responsible ways to directly realize or act on one’s ideals and principles: indeed, to vote for a third party candidate in the upcoming election may, over time, serve to thwart (even) the (partial) realization of one’s most cherished principles, values, or ideals.

To vote for a third party candidate under the aforementioned conditions amounts to the vice of “moralism” (what this means is fairly complicated, but for those interested, please see C.A.J. Coady’s brilliant little book, Messy Morality: The Challenge of Politics, 2008) which includes acting without “a breadth of understanding of others and of the situations in which she and they find themselves. In addition, or in consequence the moralizer is subject to an often-delusional sense of moral superiority over those coming under his or her judgment.” Lest I be misunderstood, I want to make it clear that I’m not saying that the rational dictates of prudence or consequentialist reckoning in this case trumps acting on moral concerns. Rather, and again in the words of Coady, “Morality should certainly be attentive to circumstances and the way it conditions what is possible.” So, and by way of a conclusion, we are faced in fact with a binary choice if we are to act in a morally and politically responsible manner, in other words, abstention or voting for a third party candidate is succumbing to the vice of moralism and feigning ignorance of the morally significant consequences of such a choice.