Noam Chomsky and Sam Harris recently engaged in a series of email correspondences about their disagreement regarding the morality of violence in certain contexts and the moral value (if any) in "intentions." I would be interested in this sub's reflections on the points of view expressed here.

I'd say intent can have consequences when acted upon. But if I'm blowing up a house for either good or bad intent the consequence remains the same regardless of what my intent in blowing it up was.

That is not what i meant. If Jack burned down his house, because "I wanted to kill my family" that is different then if Jack burned down his house, because "I'm a gambling addict and wanted the insurance payout". The immediate consequence is the same, but the expected future consequence depending on how justice is dealt will be different, because intent says something about future behavior which will have future consequences.

In this discussion they know what the "ends" are as the pharmaceutical plant was bombed killing people and robbing a poor African country of medicine. Sam Harris says the consequence shouldn't matter because Clinton was operating under a "good intent" because the pharmaceutical plant was a chemical weapons factory and Chomsky believes Clinton was acting under a "bad intent" trying to retaliate against the embassy bombing.

As far as the fact of that case go, I think Chomsky was correct and Sam Harris should have agreed to learn a little history and apologize.

What Sam Harris is arguing is that the intent behind Clinton's decision to bomb made it a moral action, which I think is odd in light of The Moral Landscape and Letter to a Christian Nation where he freely admits to being a consequentialist.

A lot of his arguments about why religion does immoral things is removed as well if he considers a "good intent" to be a redeeming factor as the religious fundamentalists he likes to rant against in Letter to a Christian Nation believe genuinely they are acting to create a better world.

Your assessment would be correct if intents were the only thing he considers to matter. A good intent acting upon bad information will still result in a bad consequence.

/r/Christianity Thread Parent