Untangling the Webs by Jeff McAlister

Untangling the Webs

What We Can’t Not Know: A Guide
by J. Budziszewski
Dallas: Spence Publishing, 2003
(264 pages; $27.95, hardcover)

reviewed by Jeff McAlister

“Oh, what a tangled web we weave / When first we practice to deceive.” Sir Walter Scott penned these lines two centuries ago, but he could just as well have been describing early twenty-first century America. Some of us have become particularly adept at deceiving ourselves, justifying practices—sodomy, infanticide, even bestiality—that elicited universal opprobrium forty years ago. And the webs weaved in defense of such behavior are, well, tangled. Rationalizations of moral evil abound. Take Peter Singer, for instance, the Princeton University ethicist dubbed “the most influential living philosopher” by the New Yorker. Singer is a utilitarian who holds that pleasure is the only thing that has moral value; all that matters is maximizing pleasure and minimizing pain. Unlike such nineteenth-century utilitarians as John Stuart Mill, Singer takes the philosophy to its logical conclusions. As Professor Budziszewski, the author of this splendid new book, observes, a number of consequences follow:

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Jeff McAlister is a freelance writer living in Longview, Texas.

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