On the question of allowing different states to experiment with their own regulations, which I covered in my last post on Rick Perry's Anti-Federalism, Kristopher wrote:
The inefficiency aside, there are some things that are so important that they can not be left to each state to handle differently, slavery being one example.
This is true.
But, I gave a question.
Are there things so important that they can not be left to each NATION - like slavery? In other words, are there arguments for a federal prohibition on slavery - that would justify calling in the federal army against those states that ignored that prohibition that does not also justify attacking another nation?
I am an advocate of humanitarian wars. I have argued that relations between nations ought to be governed by the same principles as relations between households. What this means is that I and others in the community owe you a great deal of latitude in how you run your household. However, when those actions cross the line into abuse, then neighbors - acting through community institutions - have a right and a duty to take action against that abuse.
This justifies a federal stand against slavery imposed on all the states. But it also justifies joint international action against tyrannical regimes such as those in Libya and Syria, where the murder and abuse of citizens is ongoing.
A common objection to this stand is to argue that this would argue for sending armies into countries all over the world. However, these principles do not, in fact, imply that we act imprudently. We have limited resources and, as with all limited resources, we should apply them where they do the most good.
Also, we have to admit that we do not always apply this principle justly. We permit injustices against dark skinned people living in a desert without oil, while taking an exceptional interest in the events in countries with oil.
However, there are those who argue that this means we should do nothing about abuses that occur in or near oil countries - that we should do nothing.
If a community was discovered to be inconsistent - allowing some parents to abuse their children with impunity while ending abuses in households where we have something to gain from the prosecution, the correct answer is not to allow abuse everywhere, but to treat more seriously those abuses we currently ignore.
While some of us can't know about every abusive, murderous regime on the planet, we can insist that those international agencies involved in identifying and ending these abuses take a more impartial view of the matter. Just as I do not know about every abusive parent in my community, but I can demand that community services not give special treatment to certain classes within the community.
Then comes the question of where we are going to draw the line on allowing different states to experiment. Is gay marriage one of those things where there should be a federal standard? Abortion? Physician-assisted suicide?
We are going to dispute the answers to these questions. That is a fact. I would argue that there should be a national standard - one that requires each state to recognize gay marriages, that protects a woman's right to refuse consent to the unwanted use of her body by another person, and . . . .
. . . and, on the question of physician assisted suicide, I have to say that the right answer depends on getting some data I do not yet have. This is one of the implications of being a moral realist. Moral facts are facts about the world to be discovered. They do not automatically appear in the mind perfectly formed and totally accurate.
So, even where there is a national standard to be adopted - a right answer - it may take some state experimentation to determine what that right answer is.