Irish Politics: A Pre-Election Primer

by Henry on January 25, 2011

It appears that the Irish election will take place on “February 25”:http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/breaking/2011/0124/breaking8.html. It should be an interesting one. Some basic briefing notes below: commenters should feel free to add stuff/disagree as appropriate.

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Kant and shooting down hijacked airliners

by Chris Bertram on January 25, 2011

In the UK we are being treated to “a rich and enjoyable series of programmes on Justice featuring Michael Sandel”:http://www.bbc.co.uk/tv/seasons/justiceseason/ . No doubt there will be quibblers, but I think he’s done a great job so far. Last night’s episode discussed Bentham, Kant and Aristotle and, for my money, both utilitarians (in the shape of Peter Singer) and various German Kant-fans came across as slightly unhinged. The moment that most summed this up, however, was discussion of the German Constitutional Court’s Kant-inspired dismissal of a law that would allow the federal authorities to shoot down a hijacked airliner destined to crash into a city with catastrophic loss of life. “Judgement here”:http://www.bundesverfassungsgericht.de/entscheidungen/rs20060215_1bvr035705en.html . According to these Kantians, even if the passengers are doomed to die in the next few minutes and shooting-down the plane will save many lives on the ground, to attack the airliner would show a lack of respect for their human diginity, purposiveness, endiness etc. and so is forbidden. For me, that looks like a reductio.