Public Discourse has been hosting a debate over the ethics of lying, taking as the central case the activist Lila Rose’s deception of Planned Parenthood in the making of her sting video. Christopher Tollefsen wrote the initial essay arguing that lying is wrong in all circumstances, Christopher Kaczor disagreed, and Tollefsen responded. Robert George has weighed in in support of Tollefsen, and the folks at Super Flumina have offered some interesting arguments.
I’m interested in Jody Bottum’s piece defending Live Action. Bottum wants to consider Rose’s actions under a metaphorical sort of non-war Just War Theory, saying: “Of course, the fight against abortion is also not fought on abstract fields. Its battlegrounds are the political and social worlds, and for those worlds, Lila Rose’s ruse seems to me both fitting and clever.”
Prof. Tollefsen’s response to the war angle is this:
More importantly here, however, it is crucial to point out that the pro-life movement is not, in any but the most distantly metaphorical sense, “at war” with Planned Parenthood. To take such a claim strictly would raise unsolvable problems in terms of just war thought: who, for example, is the legitimate authority that has tasked Lila Rose with this work? And it would justify untenable conclusions, for if anything is justified in war, it is the use of arms. Yet the pro-life movement has, rightly in my view, converged on an understanding that the use of arms to stop abortion is not right: it provides a counter-witness to the value of life; it constitutes an unjustified attack on our nation’s overall legal structure; and it is unlikely either to bring peace or to result in a proportionate balance of benefits over harms. The appeal to war is thus a non-starter.
In other words, you should be careful about using military-grade JWT if you don’t want military results.