Abstract The problem of “dirty hands” concerns the possibility that there are situations in which, no matter what one does, there is no way to avoid committing a moral wrong. By presenting a taxonomy, this paper contends that the different ways of responding to the problem correspond to different positions as regards the classic metaphysical theme of “the One and the Many.” It is then suggested that the best, because most realistic, response aligns with an approach that would have us move “towards One, as Many.” I. Introduction The problem of “dirty hands” has appeared in the literature of political philosophy only relatively recently. No doubt this is connected to the fact that, as Alasdair MacIntyre points out, far more has been written on the theme of moral dilemmas in the past fifty years or so than in all the time from Plato until then.1 Talk of dirty hands, after all, is the application of this theme to politics—to both ongoing governance issues as well as crisis situations such as the “ticking time bomb” scenario, which has become prominent in the literature. Imagine you’re a well-meaning elected political leader and your security forces have captured a terrorist. He knows the location of a recently planted bomb but he refuses to divulge it. If the bomb explodes many innocent people, whose safety is your responsibility, will surely die. Yet there seems to be no way of getting the necessary information without torturing the terrorist—and torture, you believe, is deeply wrong. What to do? Whichever you choose, moral taint seems inescapable. The metaphysical theme of “the One and the Many” is, of course, anything but young, but I believe there’s much to be gained from bringing it together with dirty hands. It has been formulated differently over the centuries, so I should begin by specifying how I do so. There seem to be four basic alternatives, four different conceptions of “monism” and “pluralism.” One is based on the question of numerical existence: how many entities are there, one or many?2 Another is a matter of mereological priority: ultimately, do wholes depend upon their parts or vice versa, making what’s really fundamental either the plural parts of the universe or the one whole?3 The third is concerned with kind: is there, or is there not, a plurality of fundamentally different entities given their qualities, attributes, or characteristics?4 The fourth and last alternative—which I believe includes, even sometimes entails, the others—is the one that I will be using here. It asks about the degree of connection between entities: are entities cohesive and so, together, do they exhibit a oneness, that is, constitute a unity; are they disconnected and fragmented, constituting a plurality; or are they somehow both? I want to refer to this conception with a neologism, hiburology, which has the Hebrew word for “connection” (hibur, חיבור) as its root. Unity and plurality were central preoccupations of ancient Judaism—or at least they were ever since Moses declared, upon having descended the mountain, “Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God. The Lord is One” (Deuteronomy 6:4).5 By contrast, mainstream ancient Greek thought was able to focus on mereology as much as it did because it took monism largely for granted. “A sense of the wholeness of things,” writes H.D.F. Kitto, “is perhaps the most typical feature of the Greek mind.”6 That this is no longer so typical suggests, along with the rise of questions about moral dilemmas, that there has been an important shift in Western civilization’s ongoing balancing act between Athens and Jerusalem. Be that as it may, let’s turn to the question of dirty hands. It is my contention that the different ways of responding to the question correspond to different positions as regards hiburology. Those sceptical about talk of inescapable dirty hands are all monists. To the orthodox among them, the unity of the practical world, the fact that all values ultimately fit together, means that there always exists a clean solution to every dilemma. To the unorthodox, there may be times when, the world being what it is, we are unable to avoid dirtying our hands; but the world can—at least in principle—be changed, indeed unified, thereby eliminating the problem of dirty hands. Pluralists take the opposite position: to them, the fragmentation of practical reality means that all genuine conflicts are, and always will be, irreconcilable, so the best we can do when faced with one is to strike a compromise, to reach an accommodation that will be more or less dirty. This differs from those who, paradoxically, combine both pluralism and monism. To the “pluramonists,” as I call them, while it’s often possible to take a unified and so clean approach, there will be times, indeed a plurality of them, when exceptions must be made and so our hands unavoidably get dirtied. Also different are the (often overlooked) nihilists, for whom we should be upholding neither the One, nor the Many, nor a paradoxical combination of the two; rather, what we should recognize is none other than the None. When we do we will see that, given the reality of moral void, anything goes, and that is why there is no need to worry about dirty hands. Finally, there is the approach that I favour, which aims to move between monism and pluralism, in particular, “towards One, as Many.” According to this approach, when faced with a conflict we should attempt a reconciliation, the clean integration of the values involved, in order to bring them closer to (though perhaps never quite reaching) a unified state. That said, it could very well be the case that, no matter how much we manage to change the world, reconciliation will be possible only some of the time. Unlike the pluralist, however, I don’t assume that this is our inevitable lot. I also believe that struggling for an accommodation only after there’s been an attempt at reconciliation constitutes a far more realistic approach, since who, after all, prefers dirtying their hands? I won’t argue extensively for this position here, so much as hope that it gains plausibility from the logical space it occupies on the intellectual map that I shall be presenting. For the map embodies a taxonomy that, I believe, improves upon the (often implicit) ones that have so far appeared within the various writings on dirty hands. II. Monism, Orthodox and Unorthodox By far the largest amount of space on this map is occupied by the various monist approaches, since monism has, of course, long been dominant in Western philosophy (there’s even a journal named after it). According to the orthodox monist, talk of inescapable moral taint ultimately reflects nothing more than “conceptual confusion.”7 Since there’s always, in principle, a solution to any moral dilemma, it follows that there’s always a clean, right thing to do. One may suffer from what Aristotle calls a tragic flaw and so be too stupid, weak willed, or wicked to either find the solution or carry it out, but that is another matter. Any dilemma’s parts are necessarily those of a unified whole, so doing the right thing cannot also consist of doing wrong—or at least not in the deep sense that should lead anyone to speak of guilt or invoke metaphors of dirty hands. True, compromises may have to be made along the way, but if they are carried out as part of a good action then there will be nothing immoral about them. One may end up feeling regret, but shame or remorse have no place since one will, again, have done nothing wrong. Orthodox monists can be divided into two groups: there are those, the mainstream, who are theorists, in the sense that they aim for fixed and unified intellectual visions, and there are those who are not. The latter, whom I plan to consider first, may be identified as Heracliteans given their adherence to one form or other of the Presocratic’s doctrine of the unity of opposites.8 And, although Machiavelli is usually read as the archetypal dirty-hands theorist, given his famous recommendation that political leaders must learn “how not to be virtuous,”9 my claim is that he neither acknowledges the problem of dirty hands nor is a theorist. For I class him with the Heracliteans. Both Isaiah Berlin and Michael Walzer interpret Machiavelli differently. To Berlin, Machiavelli is “one of the makers of pluralism” since he recognizes two separate, valid moralities: that of political life and that of Christianity. Machiavelli himself opts for the first over the second: “I love my native city more than my own soul,” he states. Berlin nevertheless thinks that Machiavelli goes astray—not so much because of this monolatry as because of his assumption that each of these moralities forms a unity. This makes Machiavelli’s approach a version of cultural pluralism (or at least dualism) that stops short of the more fine-grained, value pluralism that Berlin himself favours. To Berlin, no culture can be unified, since each contains a multiplicity of sometimes incompatible values. Berlin consequently sees Machiavelli as “guilty of much confusion,” since he appears to advance two inconsistent claims. On the one (clean) hand, he thinks that by making a clear choice for politics over Christianity we avoid moral squeamishness through eliminating any qualms we might have about difficult political decisions; it’s for this reason that, as Berlin puts it, “there is no trace of agony in his political works.” On the other (dirty) hand, however, Machiavelli appears to be aware that sometimes “great sacrifices” have to be made, since in “killing, deceiving, betraying, Machiavelli’s princes and republicans are doing evil things, not condonable in terms of common morality. It is Machiavelli’s great merit that he does not deny this.” For his part, Berlin would have us recognize that the political necessity of compromising common moral precepts means that value pluralism, and not only cultural pluralism, is inevitable. Thus does the dirty hand defile the clean one, making a sense of agony inescapable.10 By contrast, according to Walzer (or at least to how I read him), Machiavelli fully acknowledges the problem of dirty hands, and he does so not because his political ethic is ultimately pluralistic, made up of no more than separate, incompatible units, but because it is “paradoxical.” As I conceive of this, the claim is that there’s sometimes an incompatibility between the political ethic’s parts and the whole, one so acute that it can challenge the unity of the whole. The whole is what is upheld by the man who hopes “to found or reform a republic,” whereas its parts are those “moral standards” reflected in Machiavelli’s “consistent use of words like good and bad.” Machiavelli, then, affirms the One and the Many, together, and he does so in a way which makes room for inescapable moral dirtiness. This is why Walzer says that, for Machiavelli, the man who would take the necessary risks for power and glory must be ready to become someone whose “personal goodness … is thrown away.” It’s also why Walzer is, like Berlin, disturbed by the fact that we hear nothing from Machiavelli about his hero’s inner distress: “we want a record of his anguish, but he has no inwardness. What he thinks of himself we don’t know.” And we don’t because, supposedly, he’s too busy basking in his glory. Walzer, then, offers us a different reason than Berlin for Machiavelli’s complacency: it’s not so much that he’s confused as that his moral sensibility is suspect.11 I think both Berlin and Walzer misread Machiavelli. That he’s no theorist we can all agree, for theorists are none other than those who “have dreamed up republics and principalities which have never in truth been known to exist,” and they have done so because they fail “to represent things as they are in real truth, rather than as they are imagined.” Machiavelli’s alternative is still monistic, however, because it is Heraclitean. Two things suggest this right away. There is his consistent affirmation of unity, as with his typically classical republican equation of self-interested factions with corruption and his recommendation that the prince avoid fostering them. And there is his embrace of dynamic conflict, given the benefits that he believes accrue from strife between classes—classes which, because they fight over nothing other than how best to fulfil the common good, manage to avoid devolving into pluralizing factions.12 So there is a unified common good at the centre of Machiavelli’s favoured form of life (which, incidentally, comprises the politics of a republic rather than a principality: “government by the populace is better than government by princes”). To see how this conforms to Heraclitus’s doctrine of the unity of opposites we need to appreciate how its virtues, in order to be the virtues that they are, depend upon their opposition to each other, which is why they can also appear as vices. Consider ruthlessness. It is because men are, alas, what they are that Machiavelli believes those who would bring the Christian virtues into politics will bring everyone to ruin. The political leader must thus be ruthless, and this requires virility, steely determination, mercilessness, even cruelty. Notice that the first two of these four are necessary at least partly because of the other two: if mercilessness and cruelty weren’t so terrible, hence so difficult, then there would be no need for virility and steely determination. It’s only because ruthlessness involves vices that it also involves virtues, leaving us with a conception of the four as contrastively defined parts of a seemingly unified whole. And so when the prince ends up “taking everything into account, he will find that some of the things that appear to be virtues will, if he practices them, ruin him, and some of the things that appear to be vices will bring him security and prosperity”—and not only him since, as Machiavelli puts it just a few sentences earlier, the apparent vices are also “necessary for safeguarding the state.” Evidently, the division between appearance and reality is playing a major role here, but unlike the many theorists who also rely upon it, Machiavelli wants to embrace both sides. Because it, too, is a unity of opposites: the superficial dimension of what shows up, where we encounter prima facie virtues and vices that contradict each other, is encompassed by the deeper, unified reality that makes it possible for us to keep our hands clean. Accordingly, whenever the prince finds that he cannot avoid certain “vices,” Machiavelli tells us that he “need not worry so much” about them.13 This, then, is why we hear nothing from Machiavelli about agony or inner anguish. He may indeed be confused, or have a questionable moral sense, or both, but not for the reasons that Berlin or Walzer give. Because there is an overall, Heraclitean coherence to his approach. Machiavelli is a cultural pluralist who conceives of cultures as monistic, and of his preferred culture as an island, a unified “Machiavellian moment” amidst the flowing, chaotic waters of Fortuna-driven history. This is contradictory, to be sure, but in a way that is neither pluralistic nor paradoxical.14 Next in line among the Heracliteans are the dialecticians Hegel and Marx, for whom, like Machiavelli, all necessary evil is ultimately redeemable and therefore clean. In their case, however, this is understood to come about through progressive history, which has yet to culminate. True, Hegel believes that we’ve already reached the final reconciliation (“I am already familiar with the whole,” he says) but he restricts this to “the calm region of contemplation” as it has yet to manifest within “the History of the World, with all the changing scenes which its annals present.” And Marx would, of course, be among the first to point out that we have still not achieved a classless society. Despite these things, Lucien Goldmann seems to me to exaggerate only slightly when he suggests that, for both, “evil becomes the only path that leads to goodness.”15 I think we can say the same of Nietzsche who, although another Heraclitean, shares much with Machiavelli.16 Not that Nietzsche is a cultural pluralist, since his is a universal rather than partial monism. Moreover, Nietzsche is not only atheoretical but downright antitheoretical. As he says of himself, “I distrust all systematizers and avoid them. The will to a system is a lack of integrity.”17 It is because systems are unable to accommodate truly transformative change, the kind that affects every part, that they inevitably break down. They become decadent, which, according to the late nineteenth-century writers of the Decadent movement, consists of the “subordination of the whole for the benefit of its parts.”18 Hence Nietzsche’s assertion that, when it comes to the writings of theorists, life does not reside in the totality any more. The word becomes sovereign and jumps out of the sentence, the sentence reaches out and blots out the meaning of the page, the page comes to life at the expense of the whole—the whole is not whole any more. But this is the image of every decadent style: there is always an anarchy of the atom ….19Pluralism, in other words. It is in order to fight it that Nietzsche adopts an aphoristic style. Some would consider this counterproductive, or at the very least ironic, since the style’s fragmentariness appears to be inherently pluralistic.20 But once we follow Karl Jaspers and recognize that Heraclitus is “the philosopher to Nietzsche,” precisely because of the centrality he gives to “the strife of opposites,” then we can appreciate how the conflicting meanings asserted by Nietzsche’s aphorisms are meant to embody a kind of unity, the very one alluded to by Jaspers when he points out that “self-contradiction is the fundamental ingredient in Nietzsche’s thought.”21 So, when we are faced with a moral dilemma, Nietzsche would have us do anything but wring our hands over the possibility of soiling them; what we should do is simply get over it, even welcome the dilemma as an opportunity to embrace tragic joy. Evidently, Nietzsche shares with pluralists a rejection of the ascetic moral purity idealized by theorists. But his “realist” alternative is very different from theirs. Where pluralists emphasize dirtiness and so (what I would consider) genuine tragedy, Nietzsche is guilt-free, shame-free, indeed (I would say) tragedy-free. For just as “the holy saint” has the “highest instinct of cleanliness,” which is “a noble tendency,” Nietzsche believes that his own hands can remain immaculate.22 As mentioned, the theoretical monist’s hands are supposedly no dirtier.23 There are three main traditions here. The oldest is that of virtue ethics, with Aristotle its greatest proponent. His theory, which emphasizes the kind of person one ought to be, consists of an account of the virtues as well as of the prudential reasoning (phronēsis) necessary for achieving human well-being (eudaimonia) whenever a conflict has ruled out expressing the virtues merely by unreflective habit. Eudaimonia is the supreme good which contains and orders all the others; it is the target of prudential reason, which is concerned strictly with how to aim the arrow, since “the end cannot be a subject of deliberation, but only the means.” And it is because this end is unified, universal, and unchanging that we may give an account of it with theoretical reason (theoria). Not that its unity is as tight as the one asserted by Plato’s Socrates, for whom the various virtue terms are but different names for the same thing (Protagoras 329c–d); still, Aristotle’s doctrine of the unity of the virtues tells us that we cannot have one virtue fully without having all the others (Nichomachean Ethics 1144b33–45a2). While contemporary virtue ethicists such as MacIntyre do not accept such a strong version of the doctrine, they still believe that every dilemma can, at least in principle, be resolved and so that every truly virtuous act must contribute to the well-being of the actor as well as to the common good of his or her political community. If, when faced with a moral or political conflict, we manage to take full account of the particulars and so act as the virtuous person would, then our actions will be praiseworthy and there will be no stain on our character. Those who are truly noble or magnanimous can thus suffer the worst misfortunes imaginable and yet “even here what is fine shines through,” for no such person “could ever become miserable” (Nichomachean Ethics 1100b30–31, 34–35; see also 1166a29).24 The second theoretical monist tradition is that of consequentialists such as utilitarians. While they also reject the problem of dirty hands on the basis of a unified theory, it is one for which all justification ultimately depends upon achieving a certain state of affairs, the maximization of the happiness or utility of the greatest number. Though they differ over whether we should be focusing directly on the acts which produce the most utility or on the rules whose general observance will lead to doing so, all can be said to endorse the idea that since “utility is the ultimate source of moral obligations, utility may be invoked to decide between them when their demands are incompatible.”25 By affirming utility as a master value, then, the unity of all ethics and politics is assured and we can know precisely what’s required for further perfecting the world. However unlike with the third theoretical tradition, that of the deontologists led by Kant, this is a necessarily infinite and so interminable task, since there can always be more utility. Still, as long as everything we do contributes to maximizing it, then any compromises we make along the way should be considered clean. As for those deontologists, they believe we can keep our hands clean by respecting certain formal principles rather than by promoting some end. Kant’s ethics, it’s well known, is based upon a theory of liberty according to which we’re free when rationally autonomous, when our wills conform to the law as determined by practical reason. At such times we can be said to live in the moral order that Kant famously called “the kingdom of ends,” which consists of “a systematic union of various rational beings through common laws.”26 And given that “a collision of duties and obligations is inconceivable,”27 we should expect never to be confronted by dilemmas—whether within us or between us—that would make dirtying our hands inescapable. To be sure, there will be times when we have to face diverging incentives and make difficult choices, but it remains entirely up to us whether we will opt for the good maxims that conform to the moral law.28 When we do, our natural inclinations will “be tamed and instead of clashing with one another they can be brought into harmony in a wholeness, which is called happiness.”29 However when we don’t, Kant goes so far as to suggest that those who, say, help others because they prioritize a sense of sympathy for their plight over duty are, quite simply, evil.30 Note that, when it comes to the extramoral world, Kant appears ambivalent about whether it can be made to conform to the ideal. Sometimes he says it cannot, as with his famous declaration that this constitutes “the hardest task of all; indeed, its perfect solution is impossible; from such warped wood as is man made, nothing straight can be fashioned.”31 However sometimes Kant is more optimistic, as when he assures us that “in the end … the pure religion of reason will rule over all, ‘so that God may be all in all’.”32 Either way, politics cannot be counted on to get us there, since unlike the private realm of morality or “virtue,” in the public realm of “right” or “justice” law is applied coercively.33 Still, because this coercion ensures that people interact according to law, it should be recognized as rightful, especially when those interactions are consistent with others’ freedoms.34 At least in principle, then, dirtiness is avoidable even here, since rightful action just is that which is limited strictly when it cannot be reconciled with the free choices of others. The public domain is thus also a unity, albeit one that remains distinct from the private one which, given the absence of coercion, is not only unified but also perfect. Indeed, it’s possible to keep our hands clean even within Kant’s state of nature, the pre-state realm of “private right,” since people can always choose to get along within it simply by being “well disposed and law-abiding.” That said, the lack of a public legal authority means that it is, at best, a domain “devoid of justice,”35 which is why we all have a duty not only to leave it and enter civil society but also, if necessary, to coerce others to do so.36 And since this is possible, at least in principle—just as the public domain can, in principle, be reconciled with the private, for “there is objectively (in theory) no conflict at all between morals and politics”37—we may conclude that, for Kant, the practical dimension as a whole constitutes a unity. Hence its cleanliness. And that is it for the orthodox monists, both the Heracliteans and the theorists. I can’t help but accuse them of utopianism, since I conceive of the practical world as, at present, not even unifiable much less perfectible. This charge cannot be laid against the unorthodox monists, however. They at least agree that reality as a whole is not (yet) unified; what makes them still monist is their belief that there is nothing, in principle, preventing it from becoming so. Once again, we can identify two groups: there are those who are less sanguine about theory, and there are those who are less sanguine about the world onto which theory is to be applied. Plato leads the former. As I read him, he limits any flaws to our illusory thinking about or misperceptions of the world, since he views the world itself as perfect. This is why there are bound to be dirty hands among the living. One source of them lies in the seemingly irreconcilable demands of philosophizing well and ruling well (Republic 437e, 485a). Another arises strictly from ruling—not because it occasionally requires lying, since such lies are “noble” (Republic 414b–c) and so presumably clean—but because the limitations of our reasoning ability means that there are bound to be times when we will fail to solve a moral dilemma. Take the conflict between respecting human life and loyalty to one’s parent that is addressed in the Euthyphro. Socrates evidently believes that this is ultimately not really a conflict, since there must exist an action that both does justice to the fact that someone allowed another to die of lack of proper care and attention and upholds a son’s obligation to not file manslaughter charges against his father (3e–4d, 15d). Yet Socrates also clearly wishes Euthyphro to conclude that he should be far from certain about what to do. Dirty hands, then, seem inevitable—not, again, because reality makes it so, but because of our inability fully to grasp that reality. The second group of unorthodox monists has appeared only relatively recently. It arose partly because of its members’ need to defend unity in the face of what they viewed as credible attacks on it based upon contemporary value pluralism. Unlike Plato, these thinkers acknowledge problems in the world of practice rather than of theory and, in consequence, they see our ultimate challenge as that of transforming the former so that it conforms to the latter. To them, dirty hands are sometimes inescapable because, while the complete reform of the world of practice is possible in principle, in practice there will be times when we just cannot manage it. Indeed, to those such as Martha Nussbaum we will likely never be able to overcome all of the relevant hurdles, whereas others follow Charles Taylor in holding out hope that, one day, we will do so.38 III. Pluralism At the opposite extreme to the various monisms is, of course, pluralism. Pluralists assume that there is no unity, even just to hope for, whether in this world or any to come. As Berlin has declared: “the old perennial belief in the possibility of realising ultimate harmony is a fallacy.” Moreover, since existence is and always will be disunified, unified practical theories also have no place. Pluralists nevertheless differ in terms of how fragmented, or potentially fragmented, they take the practical world to be, and this is so concerning both scope and depth. Regarding scope, the question can be framed in terms of the degree of granularity. Some, such as Carl Schmitt, affirm a fundamental distinction between “friend and enemy” by approaching cultural pluralism: “Because the world of objective spirit is a pluralistic world: pluralism of races and peoples, of religions and cultures, of languages and legal systems.” Others, value pluralists such as Max Weber, Berlin, Stuart Hampshire, Bernard Williams, and John Gray, believe that not only cultures and groups but also individuals and the parts of individuals may be separated out. As for depth, the issue comes down to how different the fragments are. To some, they are so different that they can barely even collide, and when there’s “no discord and no unity,” to borrow a line from Karl Kraus, then there’s no need to worry about dirtying one’s hands. Hubert Dreyfus and Sean Dorrance Kelly, for example, advocate a surprisingly irenic Homeric polytheism according to which we should be open to responding to each god as it comes, one at a time; in so doing, we make possible the enjoyment of highly aesthetic, because sublime, “shiny” moments in our lives. Other pluralists are not so peaceable, however, and when there’s conflict they assume that there must be struggle, since whenever separate entities bang together there can be no escape from the zero-sum.39 The question then becomes how to respond to the antagonism. Those closer to Dreyfus and Kelly are decisionists: to Weber, Schmitt, and Gray, the gaps between the entities in conflict are just too large for there to be rational comparison; incommensurability, in other words, implies incomparability. This leads Schmitt, for one, to ask: “Wherefrom is the [strictly de facto] unity to come in this state of affairs?” and his answer is an authoritarian state, the only one capable of imposing a “strictly dogmatic elaboration of law,” as Augustin Simard aptly describes it.40 Weber and Gray, for their parts, are much more comfortable with the degree of order supplied by reaching accommodations through compromise.41 This is true of Berlin and Williams as well, though for them practical reason, understood as a highly contextual, not-fully-articulable sense rather than as something algorithmic, can help guide the negotiations that bring us there. When values conflict, it’s possible to rely upon a shared background, “the general pattern of life in which we believe,”42 in order to bridge the gaps between incommensurables. So the idea that “reason has nothing to say (i.e., there is nothing reasonable to be said) about which should prevail over the other” is “obviously false.”43 Hampshire would agree, which is why he, too, has emphasized the role that “adversarial reasoning” can play in conflict resolution.44 Still, whether rational or not, all these accommodations will be to some degree dirty. For regardless of where one can be found on the spectrum of positions between “impositions on” and “concessions to” an enemy, the compromising of either a value or a whole way of life means engaging in a degree of immorality, and this even though the action in question may be the right one overall. The same is true of those cases in which a value or principle has come into conflict only with itself, since its manifestation in a given context will always be unique and trading it off for more of the “same” value or principle elsewhere will always entail real loss. Indeed, to these pluralists, it is the real threat of conflict leading to dirtiness, in the worst cases tragically so, that ensures politics’ seriousness. Hence their belief that “what the opponents of the political want is ultimately tantamount to the establishment of a world of entertainment, a world of amusement, a world without seriousness.”45 IV. Pluramonism Pluralists conceive of dirty hands as the inevitable result of values conflicting outside of a unity. By contrast, pluramonists such as Michael Ignatieff and, most influentially, Michael Walzer see the problem as not merely contradictory but paradoxical. Ignatieff, raising the question of “whether emergency derogations of rights preserve or endanger the rule of law,” answers that such “exceptions do not destroy the rule but save it,” while Walzer, writing of “the moral politician,” tells us that “it is by his dirty hands that we know him.”46 Ignatieff and Walzer come to formulations such as these because they believe in not only unified theory, on the one hand, but also the plurality of exceptions, on the other. Thus does Ignatieff offer us both an avowal of the African proverb that “all truth is good” as well as the question “but is all truth good to say?” And when we turn to his realist novel, Charlie Johnson in the Flames, we find that it recounts a quest for unity in the form of “a certain truth” about an evil act, and yet this quest concludes with a character stating simply that “there are people” who commit such acts (plural) and “why they do it is not an interesting question.” As the ostensibly omniscient narrator declares on the book’s final page, “infamy is mysterious,” which suggests that behind such acts we will find not reasons but gaps in reason. Similarly, in The Rights Revolution, Ignatieff portrays rights as based upon a theory that provides a unified foundation for liberal society and as a conflicting plurality which requires negotiation, compromise. How to be true to both? Ignatieff’s paradoxical answer is that we must strike an ongoing “balance” between them.47 As for Walzer, he too can be found advocating theory within which, as we might expect, all is clean. This is as true of, say, the “hard choices” that a politician must make while conforming to Walzer’s theory of distributive justice as it is of the soldier who is “entitled” to kill enemy combatants under his theory of just war.48 Yet when it comes to calls for affirmative action programs in the United States, programs that would violate his theory’s equality of opportunity, Walzer, though originally rejecting them out of a belief that the situation hasn’t reached a crisis point, has come to accept them on a temporary basis.49 And regarding war, he has always insisted that there can exist moments of “supreme emergency” when it becomes appropriate to override the rules of warfare and fight unjustly, say by bombing civilians.50 Note that, despite his claim to follow Walzer on this point, John Rawls conceives of supreme emergencies as providing an “exemption” from the theory of just war, meaning that its prescriptions may be justifiably “set aside” and so we need not fear committing the “great evils” that are entailed by violating them.51 To Walzer, however, this would be too clean a way of looking at it: “When rules are overridden, we do not talk or act as if they had been set aside, cancelled, or annulled. They still stand and have this much effect at least: that we know we have done something wrong even if what we have done was also the best thing to do on the whole in the circumstances.”52 The sources of pluramonism run both deep and wide. We can identify one of them by taking account of what the anthropologist Mary Douglas has written about how the Lele, a tribe living in what is today the Congo, and the rest of us are said to conceive of the very idea of dirt. According to Douglas: “Dirt offends against order. Eliminating it is not a negative movement, but a positive effort to organise the environment … to make unity of experience.” All such orders inevitably fail, however—they disunify—and when they do religions sometimes respond by selecting an especially disorderly object and, instead of decrying it as yet more dirt, they elevate it by treating it as redemptive. This is the role that the pangolin, a very peculiar ant-eating mammal, plays for the Lele. Its strangeness certainly violates the order of their world but, rather than identify it as a disgusting taboo, they grant it a supremely sacred status such that, when it voluntarily wanders into the village, they kill and reverently eat it as part of a fertility ritual. “That which is rejected,” writes Douglas, “is ploughed back for a renewal of life.” Jesus is said to play a similar role for Christians (such as Douglas herself) and it strikes me that overriding the rules of war in response to a supreme emergency does the same for Walzer.53 Walzer’s main source for this, however, is not Christianity but Rabbinic Judaism. Consider Sam Ajzenstat’s essay on the theme of dirty hands in the work of the Jewish philosopher and theologian Emil L. Fackenheim. Ajzenstat reads Fackenheim as largely losing the Rabbinic insight which conceives of dirty hands in terms of a “paradoxical equilibrium” between the “unavoidable and inexcusable” aspects of an action.54 The idea is based on the complementary tension understood to arise from reconceiving the Hebrew Bible’s supposedly unified Written Law into a series of plural and conflicting obligations. These are then said to make way for the inspired creations responsible for the Talmud’s Oral Law and so for a revelatory means of connecting with God, the One. Walzer’s unity is that of secular theory rather than transcendent divinity, but his work nevertheless consistently affirms the very same paradoxical metaphysic of the One and the Many, together. Consider his account of what it means to be an American. Walzer rejects the monist E pluribus unum (“From many, one”) motto in favour of “many-in-one,” which he insists is not a matter of “incorporating oneness and manyness in a ‘new order’,” since “the conflict between the one and the many is a persuasive feature of American life. Those Americans who attach great value to the oneness of citizenship and the centrality of political allegiance must seek to constrain the influence of cultural manyness; those who value the many must disparage the one.” Similarly, when writing about “the tension between philosophy and democracy,” Walzer declares “[t]ruth is one, but the people have many opinions; truth is eternal, but the people continually change their minds.” So even though he does not “doubt that particular communities improve themselves by aspiring to realize universal truths,” he concludes that the people should accept the philosopher’s theory as a gift that must be interpreted before enforced, which to him means subjected to “the pluralizing tendencies of a freewheeling politics.” Because “in the world of opinion, truth is indeed another opinion, and the philosopher is only another opinion-maker.” Or as we might wish to put it: the one should become (one of) many, even though it’s the only one that’s genuinely one.55 All this echoes the Talmud when, regarding the numerous disputes between the relatively strict school of Shammai and the more accommodating school of Hillel, it declares: “Both these and those are the words of the living God. However, the halakha [law] is in accordance with the opinion of Beit Hillel.” That is to say: while both schools’ positions should be considered valid, in practice we follow Hillel (and we do so even though, and because, Shammai’s is the more true, since it is the one that captures the Torah’s deeper, spiritual dimension and so is studied by angels in heaven, unlike Hillel’s which is more superficial because relevant to us down here in the material world). Hence Walzer’s own comments on controversy and dissent among Jews: “it is important at least to notice the historical coexistence of principled singularity and practical pluralism. Revelation may be singular in character, the Bible may be a unified book (though it doesn’t read that way), but human engagement with this oneness is always, necessarily, a pluralizing and differentiating process.” The rabbi may not believe in God, but still.56 V. Nihilism To the nihilist, when nothing matters there is not only nothing in between which there could be a plurality of gaps, but also nothing to come into conflict in the first place. Whither dirty hands? We need, however, to distinguish between those who are nihilistic about the whole of the practical and so assume that there are no real values, on the one hand, and those for whom only certain circumscribed practical contexts should be conceived in this way, on the other. Judith Shklar, for example, is a pluralist about politics but, when it comes to war, she invokes General Sherman’s famous declaration that it is hell. This is why she situates it beyond the rules of good and evil, just and unjust. It falls in the realm of pure necessity, where the impulse to self-preservation extinguishes the very possibility of justice. It is the world of kill or be killed. In war the moral law as a set of binding rules is as silent as all other laws. Salus populi suprema lex, and the only remaining imperative is to end war as soon as possible, and in such a way as to avoid its recurrence. War, in this view, is not an extreme moral situation; it is wholly devoid of any moral compensation save personal courage. Even wars of survival are not just—merely inevitable.Now this is just the kind of view that leads Paul Fussell, an American historian and a veteran of World War II, to declare “thank God for the atom bomb,” and Chris Hedges, a writer and former war correspondent, to claim that war takes place in “another universe,” a “moral void.” They thus believe that we should have no moral qualms about doing whatever is necessary to bring it to an end and thereby erase (by violently closing, not by filling in) the massive hole in morality that it represents. When we do so our hands will be neither clean nor dirty since, as nihilists have always claimed, anything goes.57 VI. Between Monism and Pluralism Ask an orthodox monist and he or she will tell you that dwelling too much on the topic of dirty hands can be corrupting, since it makes people feel as if there’s no escape from the ethicist’s infamous slippery slope and this can lead them to relax their ethical standards. But there is no slope, objects the nihilist; or rather there is and there isn’t, interjects the pluramonist; while the pluralist will insist that ethics must take place upon it, making our central challenge that of finding politicians with the moral character that would keep them, and the rest of us, from sliding down it.58 For my part, I believe that there are times when we can climb up. Practical reality, at its most fundamental, is not only in between unity and plurality hiburologically but also holistic rather than atomistic mereologically. The atomist conception is reflected in the assumption that solid conceptual lines can be drawn between its parts, as Schmitt implies when he refers to “each legal atom”; or Rawls with his “primary goods” whose properties conform to a definition that contains the biconditional logical connective “if and only if” and so amount to necessary and sufficient conditions; or Hampshire with his idea that a value is the basis of an “absolute” moral claim that “contains its own sense, and explains itself.”59 In atomising or chopping up the things that interest them, along with failing to distinguish between mereology and hiburology, these analytic thinkers must then face the question of whether the things can in some way be put back together again. Rawls’s answer is that primary goods may be interlocked within a serially ordered, unified system of deontological principles that, as he later came to emphasize, is itself a “freestanding” and so atomic whole. Schmitt is willing to talk about a constitutional system, though only as long as it’s recognized as never fully unifiable, which is why he takes pains to emphasize that there will always be exceptions when it comes to applying its principles. And Hampshire, along with other value pluralists, once again insists that even disunified moral systems are impossible and so the best we can do when there’s a conflict is to negotiate in good faith. For, as Berlin once put it: “all efforts at conciliation … can only be achieved at some sacrifice to the critical faculty.”60 I disagree. Because what if we avoid the chopping block in the first place and recognize that the practical forms an organic, albeit disunified, whole? Then it would makes sense, when faced with a conflict, to try and reinterpret its parts, to search within one of them for its antagonist(s) and develop ways of articulating them harmoniously together. Although he favours what he calls “dynamic” over “flat” conceptions of values, those that have the potential to be “complementary, drawing on one another, not in conflict,” it’s important not to confuse my proposal with Ronald Dworkin’s approach, since he is a deontological theorist. This is why, adopting the metaphors of monist hedgehogs and pluralist foxes that Berlin made famous, he opens his last major work, Justice for Hedgehogs, by announcing that it defends “a large and old philosophical thesis: the unity of value.” It is what underpins his belief that, at least in principle, there is always a right answer to any value opposition, since it is never the case that “doing the right thing … all things considered, mean[s] nevertheless doing something bad.” Of course Dworkin is aware that people often disagree about values, but he views this as reflecting only their “apparent conflict”; in reality, “there are no conflicts but only mutual support.” The “reigning” practical principles “are too fundamental and important to compromise”; fortunately, they are “each part of a mutually supportive system,” a universal and ahistorical “theoretical structure” which philosophers can bring to light. Moreover, because of this, whatever contradicts the basic rights derived from those principles is to be “trumped,” and trumped cards are those which (to mix metaphors) get washed away into the discard pile. So there’s no sense in which they can be said to represent a “moral remainder,” that is, dirt on anyone’s hands. There is still a challenge to be faced, but it amounts to no more than the perhaps endless one of perfecting the already-unified theory. For, as Dworkin states, “it is unlikely … that we will ever achieve a full integration of our moral, political, and ethical values that feels authentic and right. That is why responsibility is a continuing project and never a completed task.”61 However it seems to me that, at best, Dworkin manages to advance a mereological claim about values’ holism, not the hiburological one about their unity. To him, “concepts must be integrated with one another. We cannot defend a conception of any of them without showing how our conception fits with and into appealing conceptions of the others. That fact provides an important part of the case for the unity of value.” But to say, as he does, that “the various concepts and departments of value are interconnected and mutually supporting” is to make two claims, not one. And to define “full value holism” as “the hedgehog’s faith that all true values form an interlocking network, that each of our convictions about what is good or right or beautiful plays some role in supporting each of our other convictions in each of those domains of value,” is, once again, to confuse mereology with hiburology.62 Consider the following. Say I wake up one morning and realize that I’ve two tasks to perform that day: finalize a paper that I’ve agreed to submit for publication (it is already late, no extensions are possible) and keep a promise to help a friend move to a new apartment (which is way out in Laval). It strikes me that I have roughly three options. I could drive to my friend’s place right away and spend the day helping him move, though this would leave me with no time at all to complete the article. I could leave around mid-day and spend half of the available time with my friend and half with the article—neither would get their due, but then neither would be wholly neglected either. Or I could leave in the evening after working all day on the paper—it would be finished but so too, I gather, would the friendship. Notice that a zero-sum dynamic seems inescapable: the more time I spend on the article, the less I have for my friend and vice versa. Simplifying somewhat, we could say that the value I place on meeting my professional obligations appears to be independent of and in a rivalrous relation with that of my friendship. This, at least, is how value pluralists tend to see things, and one can understand why Dworkin would be dissatisfied with the “moral compartmentalization” that it involves.63 Now what I call organic holism is present whenever there’s a degree to which the whole is in the parts and so every part is in every other part. And if this is true of values, then it makes sense to search within one of them for all of the others, including any with which that one happens to be in conflict. Say I call my friend to explain the situation. I might learn that he, too, cares a great deal about my professional success; after all, as he points out, he is my friend. This makes way for conceiving of the conflict in a new, nonrivalrous way—one, that is, which may be reconcilable, synergistic rather than zero-sum. Because what if it turns out that my friend prefers that I finish the article rather than help him move? If this is a possibility then it is because of the organic holism of values. But—and here’s the important point—it’s no more than a possibility, since we cannot assume that the values are unified, that the conflict is illusory, because it still may be the case that compromise will be unavoidable. What if I have let my friend down on numerous previous occasions as regards similar commitments? If so, then it may very well be wrong for me to accept his offer that I stick with the paper. While my professional success may indeed be a value that is contained within our friendship, this is not enough. The friendship may still require that I help with the move rather than meet my professional obligations. This means that striking a dirty compromise of one or both of the values involved may continue to be the best I can hope for. To repeat the point in very compressed form, holism in mereology does not necessitate monism in hiburology. Nevertheless, surely we should attempt a reconciliation before sullying ourselves with the compromises that attend any accommodation. And we should surely try to do so not only privately, when the whole in question is constituted by our values as individuals, but also publicly, when the whole is none other than a citizenry’s common good. Note that the latter requires that we reject the so-called “realistic view of communities,” the one according to which no community could ever serve as “a satisfactorily functioning whole.”64 I believe that this is what realism, properly understood, would have us do, since what could be more realistic than wanting to realise, rather than compromise, our values? So the problem is not only with monist theorists who fail to appreciate how enfeebling it is to enshrine values in abstract, hence brittle, principles in order to avoid the slippery slope. Pluralists also fail to realise that, in aiming to do no more than avoiding sliding down that slope, they ensure that our lives will often end up dirtier than they have to be. What could be more dispiriting? I would say the same of the pluramonists, who combine both of these weaknesses in their too-quick appeal to what appears to be no more than irrational creativity (for how else are we to arrive at the plural exceptions to unity?). And that the nihilists demoralize will surprise no one, not least themselves. In consequence, what’s needed instead of these and related approaches is a synergistic ambition, one that strives for reconciliatory solutions that would keep our hands clean. There is no guarantee of success, it is true. But we guarantee failure if we never try. Notes 1 See MacIntyre, “Moral Dilemmas,” in Ethics and Politics: Selected Essays, Volume 2 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 85. 2 See, for example, Aristotle, Metaphysics 988b20–989a18 on numerical monists, and 989a20–b20 on numerical pluralists. 3 For a recent defense of priority monism, see Jonathan Schaffer, “Monism: The Priority of the Whole,” Philosophical Review 119 (2010), 31–76; for priority pluralism, see E.J. Lowe, The Four-Category Ontology: A Metaphysical Foundation for Natural Science (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006). 4 This was Christian Wolff’s implicit question when, in 1721, he coined the term “monists (monisten)” to refer to those for whom all existence is either idealist or materialist. See the second preface to his Vernünfftige Gedancken von Gott, Der Welt und der Seele des Menschen, Auch allen Dingen überhaupt, ed. Charles A. Corr (Hildesheim: Georg Olms, 1983). 5 Note that the Hebrew word I’ve translated as “One” here is not yakhid (יחיד), which means “singular” in both the numerical sense and that of uniqueness, but ekhad (אחד), which can mean one both numerically and as oneness, the hiburological quality of being fully cohesive, hence unified or united. 6 Kitto, The Greeks (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1951), 169. 7 Kai Nielsen, “There Is No Dilemma of Dirty Hands,” in Paul Rynard and David P. Shugarman, eds., Cruelty and Deception: The Controversy over Dirty Hands in Politics (Peterborough, ON: Broadview Press, 2000), 140. 8 See G.S. Kirk, J.E. Raven, and M. Schofield, The PreSocratic Philosophers: A Critical History with a Selection of Texts (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983, 2nd ed.), ch. 6, nos. 199–209. 9 Machiavelli, The Prince, trans. George Bull (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1981), ch. XV. 10 The Machiavelli quotation is from his letter of 16 April 1527 to Francesco Vettori, in The Letters of Machiavelli: A Selection of His Letters, ed. and trans. Allan Gilbert (New York: Capricorn Books, 1961), 249; the other quotations are from Berlin, “The Originality of Machiavelli,” in Against the Current: Essays in the History of Ideas, ed. Henry Hardy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2013, 2nd ed.), 99, 61, 71, 79, 69. 11 The quotations are all from Walzer’s “Political Action: The Problem of Dirty Hands,” in Thinking Politically: Essays in Political Theory, ed. David Miller (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007), 284, 289–90. 12 The quotations are from Machiavelli’s The Prince, op cit., ch. XV. Disapproval of factions can be found in his The Discourses, ed. Bernard Crick, trans. Leslie J. Walker and Brian Richardson (London: Penguin Books, 1970), I.7, I.50, as well as in The Prince, ch. XX; and approval of strife in The Discourses, I.4. Few have done as much as Claude Lefort to help us appreciate the centrality of conflict for Machiavelli, though he goes too far when he describes this in terms of “disunity”: Machiavelli in the Making, trans. Michael Smith (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 2012), 224, 227. 13 The quotation in which Machiavelli favours republics over principalities is from The Discourses, op. cit., I.58; those following are all from The Prince, ch. XV. Machiavelli invokes a similar logic of cleanliness as regards those who would found a republic or principality: “It is a sound maxim that reprehensible actions may be justified by their effects, and that when the effect is good, as it was in the case of Romulus, it always justifies the action. For it is the man who uses violence to spoil things, not the man who uses it to mend them, that is blameworthy.” The Discourses, op. cit., I.9. 14 I first presented an account of Machiavelli along these lines in From Pluralist to Patriotic Politics: Putting Practice First (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), 146–47. “Machiavellian moment” comes, of course, from J.G.A. Pocock, The Machiavellian Moment: Florentine Political Thought and the Atlantic Republican Tradition (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2003, 2nd ed.). 15 Hegel, “Manuscripts of the Introduction,” in Lectures on the Philosophy of World History, vol. 1: Greek Philosophy to Plato, trans. E.S. Haldane (Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 1995 ), 142 (p. 80); and The Philosophy of History, trans. J. Sibree (New York: Dover, 1956 ), 457. As Emil L. Fackenheim remarks, to Hegel the modern world “is in principle final, but it is final in principle only”; or as he also puts it, Spirit is reconciled with the actual world “in thought only—not in life” (The Religious Dimension in Hegel’s Thought [Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1968], 213, 234). The Goldmann quotation is from his The Human God: A Study of the Tragic Vision in the Pensées of Pascal and the Tragedies of Racine, trans. Philip Thody (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1964), 301. 16 See, for example, Don Dombowsky, Nietzsche’s Machiavellian Politics (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004), ch. 4; and Diego A. von Vacano, The Art of Power: Machiavelli, Nietzsche, and the Making of Aesthetic Political Theory (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2007). 17 “Arrows and Epigrams,” §26, in Twilight of the Idols from The Anti-Christ, Ecce Homo, Twilight of the Idols, and Other Writings, ed. Aaron Ridley and Judith Norman, trans. Judith Norman (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005). 18 J.E. Chamberlin, Ripe Was the Drowsy Hour: The Age of Oscar Wilde (New York: Seabury Press, 1977), 95. 19 Nietzsche, “The Case of Wagner: A Musician’s Problem,” §7, in The Anti-Christ, Ecce Homo, Twilight of the Idols, and Other Writings, op. cit. 20 As Gilles Deleuze assumes in his Nietzsche and Philosophy, trans. Hugh Tomlinson (New York: Columbia University Press, 1983), 31. 21 Jaspers, Nietzsche: An Introduction to the Understanding of His Philosophical Activity, trans. Charles F. Wallraff and Frederick J. Schmitz (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1965), 350, 10. For an alternative but still monistic reading, one that fails to distinguish Nietzsche enough from Plato, see Walter Kaufmann, Nietzsche: Philosopher, Psychologist, Antichrist (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1974), ch. 2. 22 Nietzsche traces the birth and development of the moral theorist’s “ascetic ideal” in his On the Genealogy of Morality, ed. Keith Ansell-Pearson, trans. Carol Diethe (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007, 2nd ed.). And Nietzsche’s description of “the holy saint” is from Beyond Good and Evil: Prelude to a Philosophy of the Future, ed. Rolf-Peter Horstmann and Judith Norman, trans. Judith Norman (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), §271. 23 Much of what follows expands upon my entry, “Dirty Hands,” in Hugh LaFollette, ed., International Encyclopedia of Ethics (Hoboken, NJ and Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2015). 24 The metaphor of aiming an arrow at a target is from Aristotle, Nichomachean Ethics 1094a24; and the quote about deliberating only as regards means is at 1112b34–1113a1. As for MacIntyre, his position is based on a (mistaken) reading of Sophocles that shares much with the one I associate with Plato below. According to it, although we live in a unified moral order that guarantees the solubility of all ethical dilemmas, we may fail to perceive it properly. See After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2007, 3rd ed.), 142–45; and, for a more accurate, because pluralist, account of Sophocles, see Bernard Williams, Shame and Necessity (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993), 160ff; as well as Lauren J. Apfel, The Advent of Pluralism: Diversity and Conflict in the Age of Sophocles (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), chs. 6–9. MacIntyre later came to identify his approach with Thomas Aquinas: “Moral Dilemmas.” As for why, pace Michael Stocker’s Plural and Conflicting Values (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992) and Martha Nussbaum’s Fragility of Goodness: Luck and Ethics in Greek Tragedy and Philosophy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001, 2nd ed.), Aristotle would reject the problem of dirty hands, see Karen M. Nielsen, “Dirtying Aristotle’s Hands? Aristotle’s Analysis of ‘Mixed Acts’ in the Nicomachean Ethics III, 1,” Phronesis 52 (2007), 270–300; and Paula Gottlie, The Virtue of Aristotle’s Ethics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), ch. 6. 25 John Stuart Mill, Utilitarianism, ed. George Sher (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing, 1979 ), 25; see also A System of Logic, Ratiocinative and Inductive (New York: Harper and Bros., 1882, 8th ed.), bk. VI, ch. XII, §7; as well as Henry Sidgwick, The Methods of Ethics (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing, 1981, 7th ed. ), bk. IV, ch. II. 26 Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, 4:433, in Practical Philosophy, ed. and trans. Mary J. Gregor (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996). At 6:101 of Religion within the Boundaries of Mere Reason, in Religion within the Boundaries of Mere Reason: And Other Writings, ed. and trans. Allen Wood and George Di Giovanni (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), Kant says that the kingdom is “founded on principles that necessarily lead it to universal union in a single church (hence, no sectarian schisms).” 27 The Metaphysics of Morals, 6:224, in Practical Philosophy, op. cit. 28 See, for example, Religion within the Boundaries of Mere Reason, op. cit., 6:44. 29 Ibid., 6:58. 30 See ibid., 6:31–37; and the discussion in Richard J. Bernstein, Radical Evil: A Philosophical Interrogation (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2002), 17–19. Indeed, Kant goes even further: the propensity to do this is a kind of evil that is “radical, since it corrupts the ground of all maxims” (Religion within the Boundaries of Mere Reason, 6:37). I’m mentioning this only in a footnote since it strikes me as preposterous. 31 Kant, “Idea for a Universal History with a Cosmopolitan Intent,” in Perpetual Peace and Other Essays, trans. Ted Humphrey (Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing, 1983), 34; see also Religion within the Boundaries of Mere Reason, op. cit., 6:100. 32 Religion within the Boundaries of Mere Reason, op. cit., 6:121; at 6:124, Kant writes that “the faith of moral religion … [is] the only faith which improves the soul—a claim which, at the end, it will surely assert.” 33 On the domain of virtue, see, for example, Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, op. cit., 4:433–34; and part II of The Metaphysics of Morals, op. cit. On the domain of justice or right, see Religion within the Boundaries of Mere Reason, 6:95–96; part I of The Metaphysics of Morals; and “On the common saying: That may be correct in theory, but it is of no use in practice,” 8:290, the latter three in Practical Philosophy. 34 See Religion within the Boundaries of Mere Reason, op. cit., 6:98; and Metaphysics of Morals, op. cit., 6:230–31, 237. 35 Metaphysics of Morals, op. cit., 6:312. 36 Helen Varden, however, raises the case of those heroic individuals who joined the resistance to the Nazis during the state of nature that was WWII. She argues that Kant would see them as having “killed and injured other human beings because rightful coercion, as enabled by a public authority and public courts, was impossible. [So though] they were forced into their situation by the Nazis themselves—it was the Nazis’ fault—their violent response is still coming at a moral, in the sense of normative, cost. As embodied human beings, therefore, we can be forced into situations from which there are no morally unproblematic exits” (Varden, “Kant and Lying to the Murderer at the Door … One more time: Kant’s Legal Philosophy and Lies to Murderers and Nazis,” Journal of Social Philosophy 41 (2010), 403–21, 418). But surely, instead of saying that the members of the resistance felt forced, a Kantian would describe them as having chosen to be heroes in the sense that their actions were supererogatory, that is, beyond duty. So they could have avoided dirtying their hands simply by shirking heroism. On the greatness of those who, by contrast, fully face up to the inescapable need to dirty their hands, see Ariel Merav, “Tragic Conflict and Greatness of Character,” Philosophy and Literature 26 (2002), 260–72. 37 Kant, “Towards Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Project,” 8:379, in Practical Philosophy, op. cit. 38 See, for example, Nussbaum, “Why Practice Needs Ethical Theory: Particularism, Principle and Bad Behavior,” in Brad Hooker and Maggie Olivia Little, eds., Moral Particularism (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2000), 254; Taylor, Sources of the Self: The Making of the Modern Identity (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1989), 520–21; and “Charles Taylor Replies,” in James Tully and Daniel Weinstock, eds., Philosophy in an Age of Pluralism: The Philosophy of Charles Taylor in Question (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1994), 213–14. 39 Berlin, “The Pursuit of the Ideal,” in The Crooked Timber of Humanity: Chapters in the History of Ideas, ed. Henry Hardy (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2013, 2nd ed.), 17; Schmitt, The Concept of the Political, trans. George Schwab (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007 , exp. ed.), 26; Schmitt, “Staatsethik und pluralistischer Staat,” Kant-Studien 35 (1930), 28–42, 37 (my translation); and Kraus, “Heine and the Consequences (1910),” in The Kraus Project: Essays by Karl Kraus, ed. and trans. Jonathan Franzen (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2013), 17. Finally, for Dreyfus and Kelly, see their All Things Shining: Reading the Western Classics to Find Meaning in a Secular Age (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2011). 40 Schmitt, “The Way to the Total State ,” in Four Articles: 1931–1938, ed. and trans. Simona Draghici (Washington, DC: Plutarch Press, 1999), 15; Simard, La loi désarmé: Carl Schmitt et la controverse légalité/légimitié sous la république de Weimar (Quebec: Les Presses de l’Université Laval, 2009), 74 (my translation). 41 See Weber, “Politics as a Vocation,” in From Max Weber: Essays in Sociology, eds. and trans. H.H. Gerth and C. Wright Mills (New York: Oxford University Press, 1947); and Gray, Two Faces of Liberalism (New York: The New Press, 2000), esp. chs. 1–2, 4. 42 Berlin, “Introduction,” in Liberty, ed. Henry Hardy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), 47; see also 42; and “The Pursuit of the Ideal,” 18. 43 Berlin and Williams, “Pluralism and Liberalism: A Reply,” Political Studies 41 (1994), 306–309, 307. 44 See Hampshire, Justice Is Conflict (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000), ch. 3. 45 Leo Strauss, “Notes on Carl Schmitt, The Concept of the Political,” trans. J. Harvey Lomax, in Schmitt, The Concept of the Political, op. cit., 116. Strauss is able (or is he?) to avoid being a target of this criticism himself because of the highly pessimistic nature of his (in any case unorthodox) monism. 46 Ignatieff, The Lesser Evil: Political Ethics in an Age of Terror (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2004), viii; and Walzer, “Political Action: The Problem of Dirty Hands,” op. cit., 284. 47 Ignatieff, The Warrior’s Honour: Ethnic War and the Modern Conscience (Toronto: Penguin Books, 1998), 7; Charlie Johnson in the Flames: A Novel (Toronto: Penguin Books, 2003), 157, 156, 158; and see The Rights Revolution (Toronto: House of Anansi Press, 2007, 2nd ed.), esp. ix, 11, 34, 125. 48 Walzer, Spheres of Justice: A Defense of Pluralism and Equality (New York: Basic Books, 1983), 55; and Just and Unjust Wars: A Moral Argument with Historical Illustrations (New York: Basic Books, 1977), 36. 49 See Walzer, Spheres of Justice, op. cit., 152–54; and “Response,” in David Miller and Walzer, eds., Pluralism, Justice, and Equality (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995), 283. 50 See Walzer, Just and Unjust Wars, op. cit., 251–68; and “Emergency Ethics,” in Arguing about War (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2004). 51 Rawls, The Law of Peoples: With “The Idea of Public Reason Revisited” (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999), 98; and “Fifty Years after Hiroshima,” in Collected Papers, ed. Samuel Freeman (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999), 568–69, 571. 52 Walzer, “Political Action: The Problem of Dirty Hands,” op. cit., 286. Note that, on p. 280, the need to override is said to arise “not merely as an occasional crisis in the career of this or that unlucky politician but systematically and frequently.” This suggests dense and multiple one/many paradoxical moments. However when later Walzer comes to articulate “the One” in ambitious theoretical terms, i.e., his theories of just war and distributive justice, dirty-hands dilemmas become much less common. This makes him both more, and less, vulnerable to the pluralist Judith Shklar’s criticism of those “who like to think of ‘dirty hands’ as a peculiarly shaking, personal and spectacular crisis. This is a fantasy quite appropriate to the imaginary world, in which these people see themselves in full technicolor. Stark choices and great decisions are actually very rare in politics” (Shklar, “Bad Characters for Good Liberals,” in Ordinary Vices [Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1984], 243–44). 53 Douglas, Purity and Danger: An Analysis of Concepts of Pollution and Taboo (London: Routledge, 2002, new ed.), 2–3, 207. 54 Ajzenstat, “Judaism and the Tragic Vision: Emil Fackenheim on the Problem of Dirty Hands,” in Sharon Portnoff, James A. Diamond, and Martin D. Yaffe, eds., Emil L. Fackenheim: Philosopher, Theologian, Jew (Leiden: Brill, 2008), 9. 55 Walzer, “What Does It Mean to Be an ‘American’?” in Marla Brettschneider, ed., The Narrow Bridge: Jewish Views on Multiculturalism (New Brunswick, NY: Rutgers University Press, 1996), 269–70, 280, 272–73; and “Philosophy and Democracy ,” in Thinking Politically, op. cit., 5, 16, 17, 19. 56 “Both these and those …” is from the Talmud Bavli: Tractate Eruvin 13b (Digital Edition of the Koren Noé Talmud; available at http://www.sefaria.org). A similar view is expressed by Rabbi Nahman bar Yitzhak as regards a different dispute: “one who fears Heaven fulfills both opinions.” Talmud Bavli: Tractate Shabbat 61a. The idea of the Torah’s two dimensions has been advanced by the Kabbalist Rabbi Menahem Azariah de Fano (1548–1620): “The Torah essentially speaks about the spiritual worlds and, secondarily, alludes to the physical worlds.” Azariah de Fano, “Ma’amar Hoker Din,” 3:22 (my translation), in Asarah Ma’amarot (Venice, 1597); see also the section “The Superior Quality of Rejected Opinions,” in Chaim Miller, ed., Rambam—The 13 Principles of Faith: Principles VIII & IX (Brooklyn, NY: Kol Menachem, 2008, 2nd ed.), 128–30. On the Heavenly Academy of the angels, see the Talmud Bavli: Tractate Bava Metzia 86a. Finally, the Walzer quotation is from his “Pluralism and Singularity,” in Walzer, Menachem Lorberbaum, and Noam J. Zohar, eds., The Jewish Political Tradition, vol. 1: Authority (New Haven, CN: Yale University Press, 2000), 353. 57 Shklar, “Let Us Not Be Hypocritical,” in Ordinary Vices, op. cit., 80; Fussell, “Thank God for the Atom Bomb,” in Thank God for the Atom Bomb and Other Essays (New York: Summit Books, 1988); and Hedges, “War Is Betrayal: Persistent Myths of Combat,” Boston Review, July 1, 2002. 58 See, for example, Williams, “Politics and Moral Character,” in Stuart Hampshire, ed., Public and Private Morality (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1978). 59 Schmitt, Dictatorship: From the Origin of the Modern Concept of Sovereignty to Proletarian Class Struggle, trans. Michael Hoelzl and Graham Ward (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2014), 219; Rawls, A Theory of Justice (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999, rev. ed.), 350; and Hampshire, “Public and Private Morality,” in Hampshire, ed., Public and Private Morality, op. cit., 41. Note that, unlike most value pluralists, Hampshire came to recognize that at least some values must have relatively holistic cores, since they are partly defined in opposition to others: see Justice Is Conflict, op. cit., 34–35. 60 See Rawls, Political Liberalism (New York: Columbia University Press, 2005, exp. ed.), 10, 12, etc.; Schmitt, Political Theology: Four Chapters on the Concept of Sovereignty, trans. George Schwab (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005 ), 13; Hampshire, Justice Is Conflict, op. cit., ch. 3; and Berlin, Review of Ernst Cassirer, The Philosophy of the Enlightenment, English Historical Review 68 (1953), 617–19, 617. 61 Dworkin, “Do Values Conflict? A Hedgehog’s Approach,” Arizona Law Review 43 (2001), 251–59, 254, 259; Justice for Hedgehogs (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2011), 1, 118, 105, 11, 2, 262, 263, 163, 473, 192–93; and see Berlin, The Hedgehog and the Fox: An Essay on Tolstoy’s View of History, ed. Henry Hardy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2013, 2nd ed.). The point (a complaint) about trumped cards comes from Robin West, “Rights, Harms, and Duties: A Response to Justice for Hedgehogs,” Boston University Law Review 90 (2010), 819–37, 821, 824–25; and the expression “moral remainder” is from Bernard Williams, “Politics and Moral Character,” op. cit., 63. That there is (supposedly) no remainder echoes Kant for whom, when the grounds of obligations conflict, “practical philosophy says, not that the stronger obligation takes precedence (fortior obligatio vincit) but that the stronger ground of obligation prevails (fortior obligandi ratio vincit).” Metaphysics of Morals, op. cit., 6:224. As Alan Donegan points out, this means that the losing ground no longer “holds the field,” i.e., it leaves it altogether: “Consistency in Rationalist Moral Systems,” Journal of Philosophy 81 (1984), 291–309, 294, 307. 62 Dworkin, Justice for Hedgehogs, op. cit., 7, 10, 120. 63 Ibid., 105. I first presented something like this dilemmatic scenario in my From Pluralist to Patriotic Politics, op. cit., 85ff. For more on the relevance of this approach for ethics and politics, see also my Shall We Dance? A Patriotic Politics for Canada (Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2003); and Patriotic Elaborations: Essays in Practical Philosophy (Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2009). 64 Williams, “Pluralism, Community and Left Wittgensteinianism,” in In the Beginning Was the Deed: Realism and Moralism in Political Argument, ed. Geoffrey Hawthorn (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2005), 37. © The Author(s), 2018. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please email: email@example.com
The Monist – Oxford University Press
Published: Apr 1, 2018
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