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The Rock versus the Scissors

A morality play:Test of maturity: Idea of something one opposes, conflict with broader principles. A hierarchial or carefully thought philosophy would accept (and possibly protect) enemies on one level to uphold principles or oppose foes on a higher level. Examples: American catchphrase 「I may not agree with what you say but I will defend your right to say it」, or the traditional solidarity between Anarchosocialists and state socialists against capitalists. To be able to do this (in the abstract) is difficult - we refrain from acting out some values in order to uphold more important ones (particularly difficult when the more important ones are not challenged often and so we don't need to be reminded of their weight).

Danger: taking this emasculation of action on one's values too far, either to the extent that:

  • We fail to continue to use appropriate means to embody our conflicts on those lower level
  • We fail to use harsher means in value conflicts on higher levels
Without some restraint, we fail to serve the higher values, with excessive restraint we fail to serve any values. We might consider, for example, people who would rely on the law to settle all value conflicts, as failing to be a moral agent (with the only coherent form being someone who truly held democracy as their only moral value), while we might note that those who ignore the law with abandon as risking damage against all the values embodied in the state. Someone who either would never break the law for the sake of their values or never have concern for the law in their actions is a flawed moral agent.