This is such a sleepy blog that I doubt folks like Carlin Romano read it. Still, it’s a wonderful coincidence that, two weeks after my post comparing Romano with William Bennett, Romano himself has weighed in with a defense of the radio host — or as Romano refers to him, an “academic philosopher by training.”
Bennett … tried to spotlight what he considered the wrongheadedness of the argument â€” the notion, by his natural-law beliefs, that good economic consequences (lower crime) of an immoral act (abortion) can justify the immoral act â€” by countering with a more extreme hypothetical proposition or conditional.
The article is Romano at his best: effortlessly learned, spikily opinionated, genuinely enlightening. I gobble up everything he writes, and always learn something from him.
Still, I think, Romano might be missing, or deliberately gliding over, an important point when he argues that Bennett was engaging in “suppositional reasoning.” It’s true that his advocacy of aborting black babies was suppositional. (“Suppose that we abort all black babies,” he seems to be saying. “What could be expected to happen?”) But what preceded this point was emphatically not. “But I do know that itâ€™s true that if you wanted to reduce crime … ” he opened his remarks. This is not hypothetical — it’s a statement of conviction. His conviction is that black babies born today will commit crime at a greater frequency than white babies will. As I wrote before, this is empirically baseless, unless you believe that cultures are immutable.
Suppose, for instance that the African-American community began to embrace the philosophy of William Bennett. Black parents suddenly started reading The Book of Virtues to their children before bedtime. Self-reliance would skyrocket. Crime would plummet. Gambling would … well, let’s not go there.
[A note: the preceding paragraph is not suppositional reasoning. It is sarcasm.]