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Monday, October 04, 2004

Philosopher calls Bush an ethical adolescent

From an interview with Peter Singer in The Nation:

Katherine C. Reilly: You've called George Bush an ethical "adolescent." What do you mean by that?

Singer: Lawrence Kohlberg argues that most people go through certain stages of moral development. Using his categories, and looking at some of the moral judgments Bush makes--not so much the substance of the judgments as the way in which he reaches his judgments--it seems to me that Bush is at a stage that is typical of adolescent boys. Most, though not all of them, later go on to a more reflective view of morality. Bush appears not to have done so.

The question of who bears responsibility for the Abu Ghraib prison scandals is one you tackle briefly in the preface to the paperback edition, saying that President Bush made "scapegoats of those at the bottom of the military ladder." How did the President's moral leadership contribute to the abuses at Abu Ghraib? To what extent is he responsible?

First, the President is responsible because he began the war that led to the need for Americans to run prisons in Iraq. Obviously that's a situation in which the potential for abuse exists. Second, the President appears to have allowed his subordinates to set the standards for interrogation procedures. He did not use the authority of his office to insist on, and remind all Americans serving in Iraq of, the importance of strict adherence to the Geneva Conventions on the treatment of prisoners. Indeed, in detaining prisoners without trial at Guantánamo Bay, he himself violated one aspect of the Geneva Conventions. It is not surprising that other Americans under his command should have violated other aspects of them.


At 8:28 PM, Blogger Jeff said...

Calling George Bush an adolescent is a disgrace! He is nowhere near a level of maturity that most adolescents have obtained. His rich, sheltered life has left him no need to grow up since his infancy. It shows in his arrogance, daily. I have to seriously wonder if he still poops in a diaper and waits for the maid to clean up after. That scenario would seem to perfectly reflect his Iraqi war policies.


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